A Good Cheap $300 Computer Build for 2015

Our $300 Build features a 4.4GHz overclocked Pentium G3258 and AMD’s R7 260X. A killer combo in a PC Build with a budget between $300 to $325.

Value 1080p Gaming Performance for $300-$325:

While it may not seem like a lot of money, going from our $200 build to $300 build makes a world of difference in terms of performance. I’ve heard from many gamers that it’s simply not worth it to build a PC up until $500. As a result of this build, I feel that this mentality might change.

Perhaps it’s Intel’s new G3258 that makes this all possible or even that graphical performance per dollar has climbed upwards over the last few years while graphical requirements for games haven’t kept up. Either way, the Gaming PC at this price range is not only possible, it also greatly outperforms the likes of consoles in this same price range.

G3258 Vs. Athlon 750k

Even at stock speeds the G3258 performs better than the 750k overclocked in Battlefield 4, a game that should be able to take advantage of the 750ks additional cores. While this flip flops on a few games, the Intel Pentium G3258 is nearly always the winner with a reasonable overclock.

While some might point out that the Athlon 750k can be overclocked with a cheaper motherboard, the same can now be said about the G3258. This is because BIOS updates from motherboard manufacturers now allow overclocking of the Pentium G3258 on H81, B75, H87, and H97 chipsets. Considering the G3258 is found as low as $55 while the 750k is $70 at the time I’m writing this article, this decision has become an easy one.

The G3258 is the star of the show for this fight.

The G3258 is the star of the show for this fight.

How well does the G3258 overclock with a cheap motherboard?

When put with a high-end machine the G3258 can safely overclock to about 4.7GHz. Results for this may vary based upon the quality of the CPU you get and the hardware you use; however, for this build using a high-end setup simply doesn’t make sense. Instead, we’re left trying to get the motherboard that will give us the best overclock or value for the money. In the Tom’s Hardware article, I quoted above the MSI H81M-P33 was used to overclock the Pentium G3258 to a stable 4.5GHz at 1.3 volts.

This gives you an insane amount of performance for what could even be under $100. It’s a safe bet that there could be another motherboard out there that can give equal or better performance to this one at the $50 price range; however, in the research I’ve done I haven’t come across it.  This Anandtech thread should give you a very good idea of the performance testing that’s out there so far.

A Good Under $300 to $350 Gaming PC Build with Parts List:

Part Thoughts:
CPUIntel Pentium G3258Incredible overclocker and will overclock with certain budget boards. A Bios update may be required for some.
Graphics CardGigabyte R7 260XFantastic performance for around $100 after rebate.
Power SupplyEVGA 430w 80 Plus PSUA good value for the money. Also look for sales on the CX 430 as well as the 500w version of this same model.
MotherboardMSI Motherboard H81M-P33A 4.5GHz overclock is possible with this motherboard.
RAMCrucial Ballistix 4GB or model CT51264BA160BNothing special about this ram. Fast and cheap.
Hard Drive250GB WD Caviar BlueI like this series because it's reliable and cheap. Quadruple the capacity for double the price here.

Good Gaming Graphics Cards Under $100 for Q1 2014:

If you’re looking hard in this price range, then most likely you’ll find two options that stick out above others; the R7 260X for $99.99 and the GTX 750 Ti as low as $119.99. Whether the 750 Ti is worth it performance-wise really depends upon the game that you’re playing. The difference in performance can be up to 10% between these two graphics cards but usually hovers in the 0-5% range. The card you end up choosing and whether or not you plan on overclocking will also vary your results. To stay within our budget, we’re sticking with the R7 260X.

Average FPS Benchmarks for the R7 260X:

Crysis 3 1080p Medium + FXAA: 43.2

Battlefield 4 1080p High Quality: 44.8

Total War Rome 2  High quality and Medium Shadows: 81.8

Benchmark Disclaimer: As you can see it’s a good performer overall. These numbers are indicative of using a higher-end CPU but should still give you a good reference point since they’re using a stock card without an overclock.

Benchmark Source: http://www.anandtech.com/show/7764/the-nvidia-geforce-gtx-750-ti-and-gtx-750-review-maxwell/17

EVGA 430 Watt PSU

It’s cheap and affordable, but I hold no loyalty to it. The EVGA 80 Plus 430 Watt PSU is my pick for this month. Look for other options as well in the month you build this PC.

Power Supply Options Under $25 to $30:

While you could certainly be tempted to go with a cheap power supply, don’t. That being said in the $30 range you can still get a 400+ 80 PLUS certified option from a decent manufacturer. This month I’m going with the EVGA 430 Watt PSU, but this option might change for you based upon what’s available. If you plan on expanding much in the future, the 500w version of this power supply might well be worth it for $10 more.

Thoughts for the Rest of the Parts:

Everything else for this build should meet a small budget. For Hard Drive, I recommend the Western Digital Caviar Blue series. The 250 GB version starts at around $25 moving up to the 1TB at $50. For RAM this month we’re going with 4GB of Crucial Ballistix. It’s on sale for around $35, is reliable, and reasonably fast. Adding an additional 4GB is an easy upgrade that many will want to make in the future or simply purchase with the initial build.

For your case, you’ll want to find something that’s both inexpensive and good. This month I like Antec’s VSK-40 Micro case, but better options can certainly be found in the $30 price range when on a rebate. Look for the Cooler Master 430, 431, or Rosewill Challenger on sale for a good deal as an alternative to the Antec Case we’re currently using.

Overall Thoughts on the $300 to $350 Gaming PC Vs. Xbox One and PS4:

Price and performance for this build are really off the chain in comparison to the $300 build we featured earlier this year in our top gaming computers series. If you want to extend the budget for this build, I’d consider upgrading the graphics card first before the CPU. It’s hard to not get excited for a fun build like this one but as always I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts in the open discussion area below this page.

Which would you rather buy?

View Results

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  • Ale Carregha

    Is this easily upgradedable? And also what case do you recommend if it is my first time building a PC. What screen should I use (can I use my macs?). How much does an operating system cost?

  • 4 Elements Productions

    I thought this was the $500 build? When i clicked the $500 build it brought me to the $300 build??

  • Cross Seigfried

    Is it necessary to overclock the G3258 for games like Dayz Standalone?

  • sarfrazk9

    Its good but still its not balanced . hard drive is just only 250gb and graphics card is awesome . therefore you can play all the latest games like gta v , battlefield 5 etc but the space they need, i would say that this hard drive cannot even store more than four games and then you will have to delete your old games for installing new ones and thats not good .

    Secondly , ram is also low as compared to the graphics card but yes still it makes sense as ram can be upgraded but graphics card cannot .

    But what i want to say is that the pc should be balanced rather than focusing on one thing . for 50 dollars more the same can be built with more storage and more memory and even better motherboard and processor. But still liked this build .

    For different builds refer to my site

  • Reda Alami-Nassif

    Is the only requirement for the power supply that needs to be 430w?

    • sarfrazk9

      430 watts is more than enough . it can be used to supply power to even higher end cards like gtx 780 or 970

  • Carl Miner

    Help!!!!????!!!! I need the above described gaming computer put together, ready for purchase, for my son, with technical support at some point. Can anyone please help??? I’ve been going on circles for weeks!

    • Justasxz

      well it will be hard to find exact pc just purchase the parts at same shop and ask them to build pc for you usually they ask some additioanal 10€ but its worth it

  • Jared

    So are operating systems free or did I miss something?

    • Alex Ohannes

      For Linux users, they are! :)

      • alyxw

        Hahahahaha Linux on a gaming computer.

  • Malachi Byars

    What Gaming PC case would you recommend for the $300 gaming PC?

  • connor

    doesn’t this mobo need a bios update before you can use this CPU? so won’t i need to use another cpu first to update the bios and then put in the g3258?

    • kamran

      The bios update is for the overclocking of the chip not to use it. If the chip and CPU match then they work

  • Joe

    Hello Brandon
    I was wondering if you are going to do a under 300 gaming pc build for 2015 soon?
    I will be following you’re instructions and building my first pc with my hard earned allowance. Thanks much

    • admin

      Joe, It’s coming shortly. Thanks for your comment.

      • Cory

        I have a $500 budget what’s is the best possible gaming rig you can make. I’m a complete noob at this.

        • admin

          Scott I’m going to be posting a link to all of my updated builds tomorrow. Stay tuned.

          • ethan

            Hey dudes… Im kind of a noob at this… what kind of optical drive do i need? thx