The best budget gaming PCs

The best cheap gaming PCs with all the GHz and RAM a newcomer could want

The best gaming PCs under £500

by William Lobley |

Gaming PCs are exciting things for video game enthusiasts. While consoles offer an accessible method of playing the latest and greatest titles, a gaming PC offers users the chance to fine-tune their experience and unlock a new hands-on appreciation for their beloved pastime.

If you’re new to the world of gaming PCs, searching for the right computer can be a daunting process, both financially and technically. Many popular prebuilt rigs can start at over £1,000, with the option of configurable components only adding to the cost. Custom-built PCs are commonplace too, often heralded as a more cost-effective way of getting into high-spec PC gaming. While - with the right skills and time on your hands - this is true, in a world already heavy with jargon, abbreviations, and acronyms, a self-build can feel like an overwhelming prospect.

The best budget gaming PCs shortlist:

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be like that. If you’re on a budget, we’ve rounded up the best gaming PCs for under £650 (with some even coming in under £500). These PCs have the specs needed to see many of the most popular PC games running with ease. These PCs will also provide a solid foundation for future upgrades. After this, all you have to do is choose your new gaming keyboard and mouse.

Looking to spend a little more on a gaming PC? Read our guide to the best gaming PCs under £1,000 here.

At the bottom of this page, we’ve included a quick reference guide to the system specifications for some of the most popular PC games, including Fortnite and Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Warzone. There’s also a guide to some PC terminology, like CPU, GPU, and SDD.

Here are our picks of the best gaming PCs under £650:

Please note: Due to ongoing issues in supply chains, some gaming computers and their components are hard to come by. As a result, some of the PCs we have listed below may be out of stock or built to slightly different specifications than we've mentioned. All specifications and stock availability were correct at the time of writing.

Best gaming PC under £650:

Lenovo IdeaCentre i5 8GB 512GB GTX1650 Super Gaming PC

Lenovo IdeaCentre i5 8GB 512GB GTX1650 Super Gaming PC

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Showcasing the speediest elements of the price range is the Lenovo i5 Gaming PC. A nicely packaged rig, this build provides gamers with a 2020 Intel i5-10400 CPU (2.9GHz/4.3GHz) and 8GB of DDR4 RAM (which can be upgraded easily for a quick performance boost). The graphics run through a GeForce GTX 1650 Super with 4GB of DDR6 RAM to its name, providing a smooth performance, particularly with fast-paced and high-action gameplay. Bolstering these efforts is a 512GB NVMe SSD, which is adept at reducing load times on larger games.

Pros Cons
• 2020 Intel i5 CPU • Only 8GB RAM, though an upgrade is easy
• NVMe loading times • Only 512GB storage
• Robust graphics card
Specifications
CPU: Intel i5-10400
RAM: 8GB
Graphics: GeForce GTX 1650 Super 6GB
Storage: 512GB NVMe
OS: Windows 10

HP TG01-2010na Ryzen 3 8GB 256GB 1TB GTX1650 Gaming PC

HP TG01-2010na Ryzen 3 8GB 256GB 1TB GTX1650 Gaming PC

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While the Lenovo above offers up speed, this HP build runs a little slower but offers plenty of storage via a 256GB SSD and 1TB HDD. So, you get quick OS booting via the SSD and plenty of Steam library storage with the HDD. This isnu2019t to say that this HP lacks in other areas - the AMD Ryzen 3-5300G is a good starter CPU, with six cores and a clock speed of 4.0GHz/4.2GHz. Taking control of the graphics is the GeForce GTX 1650 with 4GB of GDDR5 RAM, while 8GB DDR4 RAM supports (a quick 16GB upgrade would improve things here, though). Elsewhere, it boasts a tonne of connectivity and a slick-looking case.

Pros Cons
• Reliable beginner’s CPU • 8GB RAM will need upgrading
• Reliable GPU
• Good storage and connectivity
Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 3-5300G
RAM: 8GB
Graphics: GeForce GTX 1650 4GB
Storage: 256GB SSD and 1TB HDD
OS: Windows 10

Fierce RGB AMD Gaming PC

Fierce RGB AMD Gaming PC
Amazon

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Taking advantage of the impressive powers and affordable price of AMD Ryzen tech, this Fierce build is a good starting point for gaming PC newcomers. The Ryzen 5 CPU (3.9GHz/4.4GHz) and 16GB RAM provides enough power to keep games running smoothly on modest settings. Thereu2019s no dedicated GPU rather the PC uses AMDu2019s integrated Vega graphics processing - this is fine for a beginner rig, as a GPU can be installed later to boost the overall performance. Thereu2019s an SSD that can load the OS quickly on system boot and a 1TB HDD for storing a healthy Steam library.

Pros Cons
• Nice AMD Ryzen CPU • No dedicated GPU
• 16GB RAM
Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
RAM: 16GB
Graphics: AMD Radeon Vega 7 Integrated
Storage: 240GB SSD and 1TB HDD
OS: Windows 10

Xum Intel Gaming PC

Xum Intel Gaming PC
Amazon

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By combining an Intel i7-2600 CPU (3.4GHz/3.8GHz), GTX 1050 Ti 4GB graphics card and 16GB RAM, this gaming rig by Xum is a surprisingly accomplished machine considering the price. It will introduce PC gaming newcomers to smooth and quality gaming on a range of popular titles, including CS:GO, Apex Legends and Fortnite. Single-player PC gaming experiences should also be exciting, with larger open-worlds on modest graphics loading quickly with a stable performance. It carries a budget NVMe SSD which will help boot times stay short, and the 1TH HDD will keep games catalogues until youu2019re ready to play.

Pros Cons
• Intel i7 CPU • Older Intel CPU with limited overclocking potential
• 60fps capability on many titles • RAM is only DDR3
• NVMe SSD and HDD
Specifications
CPU: Intel i7-2600
RAM: 16GB
Graphics: GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD and 1TH HDD
OS: Windows 10

ADMI Ryzen 5 3400G

ADMI Ryzen 5 3400G
Amazon

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This build takes full advantage of the AMD Ryzen 5's CPU capability. The quad-core processor can comfortably clock 3.7Ghz, with 4.2GHz being possible with a modest overclock. The 11 graphic cores deliver remarkable performance, boasting in-built Vega 11 Radeonu2122 Graphics capable of running 1080p games on medium quality. The 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 RAM will suffice for most PC gaming newcomers. However, those looking to get the most out of the Ryzen 5 will want to upgrade eventually or add a dedicated graphics card.

Pros Cons
• Capable AMD CPU • RAM upgrade will be needed eventually
• Good base for future upgrades • Integrated GPU
Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3400G
RAM: 8GB
Graphics: Onboard Vega 11 Radeon™ Graphics
Storage: 1TB HDD
OS: Windows 10
Specifications
CPU: Intel i7-2600
RAM: 16GB
Graphics: GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD and 1TH HDD
OS: Windows 10

Palicomp AMD Gaming PC

Palicomp AMD 860K
Amazon

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This build from Palicomp is the cheapest gaming PC on our list. Leaving plenty of change from a budget of £500, this basic gaming rig will allow you to grab a budget monitor, keyboard and mouse for your first PC gaming adventures. It runs on a dual-core AMD Athlon 64 with 8GB DDR4 RAM, which is a modest combination, but one that will allow older PC games and single-player titles to be enjoyed. Thereu2019s a 2GB graphics card, too, which helps free up more space on the CPU and offer a little lift to the performance.

Pros Cons
• Very affordable • Will struggle with the latest and greatest games
• GPU included
• DDR4 RAM
Specifications
CPU: AMD Athlon 64
RAM: 8GB
Graphics: Nvidia GT1030 2GB
Storage: 1TB HDD
OS: Windows 10

Fierce RGB Gaming PC Bundle

Fierce RGB Gaming PC Bundle
Amazon

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The Fierce RGB Gaming PC Bundle is a great little all-in-one buy for a new PC gamer. Inside the tower, thereu2019s an AMD Ryzen 3 3200G CPU (3.6GHz/4GHz) with integrated Vega 8 graphics, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1TB HDD for storing a big olu2019 Steam library. This PC isnu2019t going to keeping with the very latest releases, but it does grant access to the huge wealth of PC gaming content from the last decade. Adding to this entry-level rig is the bundled 21.5-inch monitor, gaming headset, LED keyboard and mouse.

Pros Cons
• All-in-one bundle • Limited gaming power
• Nice entry-level rig to build up • Budget peripherals
• Great for kids • Only trial OS
Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3200G
RAM: 8GB DDR4
Graphics: Onboard Vega 8 Radeon™ Graphics
Storage: 1TB HDD
OS: Not included, Windows compatible

Related: The best gaming headset | The best gaming chairs

It’s not all about the rig…

Well, that’s not entirely true. The system is hugely important – but there are a few other things to consider that can also really help to level up the PC gaming experience. First and foremost, a gaming monitor is going to help you maximise the visual enjoyment of a title – so we’ve rounded up the best for those on a budget.

Equally as important is the aural experience. To truly immerse yourself in a game, you’re going to want one of the best gaming headsets around or, if you fancy waking up the neighbours, a set of the best gaming speakers.

Console gamer making the jump to PC? While you’re in for a treat, you may want to grab a PC gaming controller to help the transition feel less alien.

Popular Game Specs Quick Reference Guide

Specifications as reported by wepc.com

Fortnite

CPU

Minimum: Core i3 2.4GHz / Recommended: Core i5 2.8GHz

RAM

Minimum: 4GB RAM / Recommended: 8GB RAM

HDD

Required: 16GB free space

GPU

Minimum: Intel HD 4000 (integrated graphics) / Recommended: Nvidia GeForce GTX 660, AMD Radeon HD 7870, or equivalent with 2GB memory or higher VRAM.

OS

Required: Windows 7, 8.1, or 64-bit Windows 10

Minecraft

CPU

Minimum: Intel Core i3 3210, AMD A8 7600 APU, or equivalent / Recommended: Intel Core i5 4690, AMD A10 7800, or equivalent

RAM

Minimum: 4GB RAM / Recommended: 8GB RAM

HDD

Minimum: 1GB free space / Recommended: 4GB RAM free space

GPU

Minimum: Intel HD Graphics 4000 or AMD Radeon R5 series, NVIDIA GeForce 400 Series, AMD Radeon HD 7000 series / Recommend: NVIDIA GeForce 700 Series or AMD Radeon Rx 200 Series

OS

Minimum: 64-bit Windows 7 or later / Recommended: 64-bit Windows 10

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Warzone

CPU

Minimum: Intel Core i3-4340, AMD FX-6300 or equivalent / Recommended: Intel Core i5-2500K, AMD Ryzen R5 1600X Processor, or equivalent

RAM

Minimum: 8GB RAM / Recommended: 12GB RAM

HDD

Required: 10-20 GB of storage space

GPU

Minimum: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650, AMD Radeon HD 7950, or equivalent / Recommended: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660, AMD Radeon R9 390, AMD Radeon RX 580, or equivalent

OS

Minimum: 64-bit Windows 7 or later / Recommended: 64-bit Windows 10

Terminology 101

CPU

A Central Processing Unit, or CPU, processes and executes instructions. Processors often consist of multiple cores, and the higher the number of cores the more processes it can carry out, improving performance. CPU is clock speed is also important, and is measured in GHz. Typically, an average gamer will want between 3.5Ghz and 4GHz.

RAM

Random Access Memory, or RAM, is a component that temporarily holds bytes of information for quick and random access by the CPU. The information will be related to programs and services that are in use. The more RAM available, the more quick-access information there is available to the CPU, thereby improving computer performance.

Gamers will want no less than 8GB of RAM.

DDR3 RAM versus DDR4 RAM

DDR3 and DDR4 are generations of RAM. DDR3 was introduced in 2007, and DDR4 in 2014. The main differences between the two relate to voltage used, latency times, clock speeds, and overall performance. For most entry-level users, the variations between the two will not matter, as both perform very well. The difference becomes more important when upgrading motherboards, CPUs, and RAM, as the two types cannot be interchanged or exchanged. Newer machines tend to use DDR4, though DDR3 is still readily available and can be more affordable.

Graphics Cards

A graphics card’s job is to convert CPU data into visual output. There are many types, specifications, and sizes of graphics card. Typically, these cards have dedicated RAM and processor(s), and fans and heat-syncing solutions. Sometimes graphics cards are referred to as GPUs, which is just an abbreviation of the card's processor name, a Graphics Processing Unit.

Dedicated graphics cards improve the visual experience and improve a PC’s overall performance – they are seen as essential components for gamers.

Some CPUs and motherboards have in-built graphics cards. While acceptable for standard computer usage, these in-built options are insufficient for high-performance gaming, especially when compared with dedicated graphics cards.

What is the difference between HDD and SSD memory?

Hard drive disks (HDD) are mechanical, writing, and reading information on spinning disks (or platters) via an actuator arm, which moves across the platter. The platters are broken down into a series of tracks and sectors. It's within these that data is stored and addressed with a location.

Solid State Drives (SSD) write and read using flash memory, much like USB flash drives. Data is stored in grids and blocks, and though the process is more complicated than in HDD, the available space is utilised more efficiently thanks to a series of processes that go on behind the scenes.

HDD is reliable, though they are large and rely on mechanical procedures to store, write and read memory. SSD is a newer technology and uses no moving parts: it's far quicker at data retrieval, is smaller in size, and runs more efficiently. SSDs are popular within the gaming community due to their rapid load times. HDDs are cheaper, and are available with much larger storage capacities.

It is common practice within the gaming community to have both an SSD and HDD in a build.

Your frequently asked questions answered:

What key features should I look for in a gaming PC?

If you’re a newcomer to the PC gaming world, here are a few things to look out for to ensure that you’re getting a good system, even if it’s cheap.

CPU: The brain of your PC needs to be able to think quickly. Aim for no less than 3.5 GHz, unless you prefer older or more basic titles. 4GHz is a strong place to start if you can get it.

RAM: This helps your CPU perform, improves load times and helps multitasking. Gamers will want a minimum of 8GB, but 16GB is more comfortable and a little more futureproof.

Graphics Card: Not entirely necessary on an entry-level system or for those with basic gaming needs, but nice if you can get it – it’ll help speed up the system and smooth out the display. Remember, once you’ve bought your system you can always add in a graphics card to improve performance – it’s a simple and highly satisfying upgrade.

Storage: An SSD is the dream ticket - they seriously reduce load times and can improve game performance. However, the ones included in budget rigs tend to have a small capacity. A HDD with 500GB or 1TB capacity coupled with these smaller SSDs is ideal, or you can upgrade to one of the best SSDs yourself for a surprisingly modest price.

Is a gaming PC better than a normal PC?

Whether a gaming PC is better than a normal PC is hard to say – it depends on the PCs in question. If you look at the essential components (Motherboard, CPU, RAM, HDD, SSD, etc.), you’ll see that they are both just computers. It’s the quality and performance of the components that make the difference.

A PC that has been built for gaming will typically have a faster CPU, more RAM and additional components, like a graphics card, which optimises the system’s performance making it more capable of handling large amounts of data efficiently and quickly. It’s these qualities that lend themselves to gaming. There’s nothing inherently ‘different’ about the systems.

Technicalities and the infinite variables aside, an optimised gaming PC is better for gaming than a standard, normal PC.

Best RAM GB?

If you can afford it, 16GB. However (you’ll sense a running theme here), the answer to this question can change a little depending on your need. A gamer who spends all their time with Minecraft is going to have vastly different needs to the dedicated Microsoft Flight Simulator pilot.

As a general rule of thumb, a gamer is going to want no less than 8GB of RAM – DDR4 if possible, but DDR3 is more than acceptable for a newcomer's budget rig. This is going to see you running a swathe of games with a decent performance. Those who know that they are aiming to play resource-heavy games, or looking to futureproof their system, are going to want to aim for around 12GB to 16GB.

We’d recommend checking the recommended specs on the games you want to play and go from there.

Remember that a solid RAM GB count is going to offer you benefits outside of gaming. With 8GB to 16GB of RAM, a system will have enough grunt to run image, music and film editing software and general multitasking.

Can RAM affect FPS?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is yes, but…

RAM is only one element to consider when you’re looking to maximise your FPS (frames per second). The RAM that you find on your motherboard helps your CPU. As the brain of your system, the more space and speed your RAM can give the CPU, the better as it increases load times and improves general performance. Having said this, RAM shouldn’t be the first place you look when you’re worried about FPS.

The RAM on your GPU is more important. This RAM is dedicated solely to holding visual information (hopefully freeing up your motherboards RAM and CPU reserves, too). If the RAM on your graphics card is low (sub-4GB), then HD gaming will be tricky and this is where you’ll want to make some changes.

Here's a quick video from Techquickie for more information on RAM:

Related : The best graphics cards

William Lobley is a Senior Content Writer and reviewer for WhatsTheBest, specialising in technology, gaming and outdoors. He also writes for Empire Online.

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