If you have $1,000, it’s pretty easy to build a good PC whether you’re using AMD’s Ryzen and Radeon chips, Intel’s Core and Arc processors, or other hardware. But what if you have closer to $700? Although it’s much more challenging to build a PC without major compromises for $700, it’s not impossible, and we’ve done it using all AMD hardware. If you follow our guide to the letter, you’ll have a gaming PC that can easily run games at 1080p and 1440p with a framerate of 60 FPS or more.
Additionally, we’re assuming you’re buying your PC parts brand-new, but you don’t have to. On such a small budget, it wouldn’t be a bad idea buying many components used, particularly the CPU and GPU. You can use those savings from buying used hardware to either lower the overall cost of your PC or to get better hardware for the same price. For this guide, we’re ignoring used hardware and are just considering what you can buy new.
These are the best parts for a budget AMD PC build in 2023
AMD Ryzen 5 5500
The cheapest Ryzen CPU
The best bang for buck possible on the AM4 platform
$97 $160 Save $63
The Ryzen 5 5500 is a low-end AMD CPU that has six cores, 12 threads, and 16MB of L3 cache, half that of its higher-end but more expensive counterpart, the Ryzen 5 5600.
- Less than $100
- Good for gaming at 60 FPS or a little more
- Decent productivity performance
- No PCIe 4.0
- Somewhat slower than the 5600 in games
On a budget of $700, we have to rule out Ryzen 7000 and the AM5 platform as a whole since it’s just too expensive. But because Ryzen 5000 and AM4 motherboards are so cheap today, that’s perfectly okay. In the current market, there’s two budget Ryzen 5000 CPUs worth considering: the Ryzen 5 5500 and the Ryzen 5 5600. They’re both six-core CPUs using the Zen 3 architecture, but the 5500 is $50 cheaper, or 7% of the entire budget. Despite the 5500’s downsides, it’s ultimately a better purchase than the 5600 and maximizes the bang for buck in this build.
The 5500 isn’t a normal Zen 3 CPU; in fact, it’s an APU that has the integrated graphics disabled. This means the 5500 has 16MB of L3 cache (like all other Ryzen 5000 APUs) rather than the 32MB seen on the 5600 and other 6- and 8-core chips. It also has a lower frequency than the 5600, though you can overclock to make up for that. Consequently, the 5500 is somewhat slower than the 5600 in the worst-case scenario, but if you’re usually gaming at 60 to 90 FPS, you wouldn’t be able to tell too much of a difference, if any, between these two CPUs.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the 5500 is the fact that it only has support for PCIe 3.0, whereas the 5600 has PCIe 4.0. This means the best PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs won’t be able to run at full bore, and it also means that AMD’s cheapest RX 6400 and 6500 XT GPUs aren’t an option since they perform terribly on PCIe 3.0. Those cards aren’t great anyway, and we probably wouldn’t have recommended either of them, but having only PCIe 3.0 is still disappointing.
Despite all the drawbacks, going with the 5500 over the 5600 is important for sticking to the $700 and being able to recommend faster and higher quality parts where it matters. $50 will go far on a build like this, and the little extra performance from the 5600 just isn’t worth it in our opinion. Missing out on PCIe 4.0 is less than ideal, but you can upgrade to a CPU with it later.
AMD Radeon RX 6600
The best value AMD GPU
Great for 1080p and 1440p gaming
$200 $260 Save $60
The AMD Radeon RX 6600 is a budget graphics card geared towards 1080p gamers. It’s a solid option to consider for those who’re looking to enjoy 1080p gaming without spending too much money on high-end cards.
- Costs just over $200
- Capable of 60 FPS and higher at 1080p and 1440p
- Doesn’t consume too much power
- Iffy supply situation
- Takes up a big chunk of the budget
One of the reasons why we chose the Ryzen 5500 over the 5600 in the CPU section is because it makes the Radeon RX 6600 much more feasible to buy. You can find it for around $230, give or take $10 or $20, so it’s not cheap on a budget of $700. However, it’s way, way faster than the RX 6500 XT, the GPU directly below the 6600 in price and performance. The 6600 enables great framerates at 1080p and 1440p, from 60 FPS to even 140 without much problem.
The 6600 is the lowest-end version of AMD’s midrange GPUs, and it’s basically 70% of an RX 6700 XT. It has 28 Compute Units (or CUs) and 8GB of GDDR6 memory, compared to 40 CUs and 12GB on the 6700 XT. It’s on par with the RTX 3060 and Arc 750 in most titles without considering ray tracing, which is significantly slower on the 6600.
There could have been a serious dilemma on this build when it came to choosing between the Radeon RX 6500 XT and the 6600, because the 6500 XT costs about $60 to $80 less, which is a massive amount of money in the overall budget. However, the 6500 XT performs terribly on PCIe 3.0, with less than half the performance of the 6600. We would have to recommend the Ryzen 5600 CPU over the 5500 in order to get PCIe 4.0, which would render the savings on the Radeon RX 6500 XT to $30 at best, and since the 6600 is almost twice as fast as the 6500 XT anyway, you might as well go for the 6600.
The Radeon RX 6600 takes up a third of the budget, and this is where you might want to go with a used GPU. The RX 5700 and 5700 XT go for less than $200 on eBay at the time of writing and have similar performance, though you will have to accept worse power efficiency and potentially worse driver support in the future, along with the general downsides of buying used. If you’re committed to buying a new GPU though, the 6600 is the one to get, and the 6500 XT is not.
MSI PRO B550-VC ProSeries
The best budget AM4 motherboard
A balance between low pricing and future proofing
MSI’s B550-VC PRO ProSeries is an AM4 motherboard with support for PCIe 4.0 SSDs and GPUs, and has a midrange 10+2+1 stage VRM.
- Midrange 10+2+1 phase VRM
- Supports PCIe 4.0 SSDs and GPUs
- Provides an affordable foundation for future upgrades
- Can’t use PCIe 4.0 if you buy the 5500
For a budget PC, you could just buy the cheapest motherboard available and call it a day, but that’s not a great idea if you ever see yourself upgrading in the future. The cheapest motherboards have tiny VRMs, limited if any support for PCIe 4.0, and very few slots for SSDs, RAM, and other devices. That’s why we recommend spending $140 on MSI’s B550-VC PRO ProSeries, a motherboard that will support basically any upgrade you could conceivably make, saving you lots of money in the long run.
What we mainly care about here is the VRM, which is a 10+2+1 stage design. Weaker and smaller VRMs can’t run higher-end CPUs at full bore, but a 10+2+1 stage VRM is enough even for a Ryzen 9 5950X to achieve at least close to its maximum performance. Additionally, the B550-VC has PCIe 4.0 support for GPUs and SSDs whenever you upgrade to a PCIe 4.0 capable CPU.
The rear I/O is very limited, however. There are just eight USB ports, only four of which are USB 3.2. Additionally, the LAN port is only for gigabit Ethernet, and uses Realtek instead of Intel. At least there’s the full six audio ports and a BIOS flash button, but that’s not enough to make the I/O anything but mediocre overall.
If you’re focused primarily on performance and upgradeability, MSI’s B550-VC PRO will do the job. Its VRM is just enough for the Ryzen 9 CPUs if you want one, it’s got PCIe 4.0 on one M.2 slot and the x16 slot for GPUs, and it has an extra M.2 slot for PCIe 3.0 NVMe drives. It’s a good compromise between the requirements of the budget and what you’ll want in the future.
Arctic Freezer A35
The best budget CPU cooler
A CPU cooler with great bang for buck
Arctic’s Freezer A35 is a value-oriented CPU air cooler that costs less than $40 but can cool even some higher-end CPUs.
- Super cheap
- Good performance, especially for 65-watt Ryzen CPUs
- Could struggle with 105-watt Ryzen 7 and 9 CPUs
Since the Ryzen 5500 comes with a cooler, you could just decide not to buy a CPU cooler, but we recommend getting one if you want low temperatures, low noise, and overclocking potential. There aren’t a ton of super cheap coolers that are worth getting today, but Arctic’s Freezer A35 is a notable exception. It’s just $35 and can cool the Ryzen 5500 more than adequately, and can even be used with higher-end CPUs.
The A35 isn’t just good for cooling the 5500, though it certainly operates much more quietly than AMD’s stock cooler and will also enable significant overclocking. Getting the A35 is also an investment for future CPU upgrades, to chips like the Ryzen 7 5700X or 5800X3D, or even the Ryzen 9 5900X or 5950X. Though we should mention that using a 5900X or 5950X isn’t ideal on the A35 and you might see some thermal throttling and/or high fan speeds to keep the temperature down, however.
If you know you’re going to get irritated by fan noise, you should probably get the Freezer A35 and use it instead of the cooler that comes with the Ryzen 5500 CPU. And even if you do end up getting a higher-end cooler to handle a 5900X or a 5950X in the future, you’ve only spent $35 extra, which isn’t a huge loss. You could also spend an extra $15 or so and get a more midrange cooler like Noctua’s NH-U12S Redux.
Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 RAM
The best value DDR4 RAM
High-end performance for just $40
$42 $66 Save $24
Corsair’s Vengeance LPX DDR4 memory is affordable, reliable, and it has one of the lowest profile designs around. Plus, it supports XMP with a one-click setup.
- One of the cheapest DDR4 kits you can buy
- Low latency and sweet spot frequency
- Low profile
- Design doesn’t look very good
It’s almost not even a question what RAM kit you should get for this PC. Corsair’s Vengeance LPX RAM is so cheap and so fast that there’s quite literally no other option that makes sense unless you have several hundred dollars more to spend. It’s one of the best kits of DDR4 memory you can buy, at only $40 to $50 for a 16GB kit.
Besides the price, the thing we like the most about Vengeance LPX are the specs. It’s rated at 3,200MHz and has a CAS latency (or CL) of 16, which is very low. Much more expensive kits of RAM only get to CL15 or CL14, sometimes with lower frequencies since improving clock speed often comes at the cost of latency (also true for the other way around). Even the fastest DDR4 kits rated at 4,800MHz won’t provide a significant performance boost unless you have a high-end CPU and play games at high framerates.
Whether you’re building on a budget or something high-end, Corsair’s Vengeance LPX is a very good option for memory. The only thing we don’t really like about it is that its design is kind of boring, or even a bit ugly. Not that this matters for a budget PC, but if you ever get a larger budget down the line, you may be tempted to replace it just for looks alone. It’s good that it’s low profile at least.
Crucial P3 Plus
Best cheap NVMe SSD
Good enough performance and plenty of space
$52 $100 Save $48
The Crucial P3 Plus is a step up from the company’s popular P2 series, striking a balance between value and performance. With a transfer speed of up to 5000MB/s, these drives will be a great drive for an OS or games.
- 1TB model is just $50
- Fast enough
- PCIe 4.0 speeds not available with the 5500
If you’re following our guide to the letter, you’ll have a motherboard that’s capable of PCIe 4.0 but a CPU that can only do 3.0. You might be wondering if it’s really worth getting a PCIe 4.0 SSD since it’ll just run at 3.0 speeds. The thing is, some PCIe 4.0 SSDs are so cheap that you might as well buy them, such as Crucial’s P3 Plus. It’s a little over $50 for the 1TB model and unlocking its full potential is a good incentive to upgrade the CPU in the future.
The P3 Plus is a budget PCIe 4.0 SSD, so it only has sequential reads and writes of 5,000MB/s and 4,200MB/s respectively, which is just barely into PCIe 4.0 territory. In PCIe 3.0 mode, the performance wouldn’t be much lower, and that’s for sequential workloads, which is basically moving large files around. Random reads and writes are more relevant, and while they’re not exceptional, they’re good enough according to most reviews.
There might be an argument for top-end PCIe 3.0 drive like Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus. It would have about equal sequential performance and likely better random reads and writes. On the other hand, it’s a tad more expensive, and it will eventually go out of stock, so we feel more comfortable recommending the P3 Plus, which should remain available for some time.
EVGA 550 BP
The best cheap power supply
Budget but solid enough
EVGA’s 550 BP power supply is rated for 550 watts and carries an 80 Plus Bronze efficiency certification.
- Enough wattage for upgrades
- Trusted brand
There’s no shortage of cheap power supplies out there, but it’s a bad idea to just go out and buy some bargain bin, no-name model for your PC. Off-brand power supplies are often loud, struggle to hit the rated wattage under heavy load, and may even have faulty protection mechanisms. It’s definitely worth spending the extra few bucks to get a PSU from a trusted brand like EVGA, and its 550 BP power supply is what we recommend for this build.
As one of the most reputable brands in the power supply industry, we have a lot of confidence in anything EVGA makes. Even still, EVGA backs up the 550 BP with a 3-year warranty. Besides reliability, the wattage and efficiency rating are the other big draws of the 550 BP. 550 watts is enough for a mix of midrange and high-end components, and a Bronze rating is decent enough. However, the cables on this unit aren’t modular, which could make cable management complicated and cumbersome.
At $55, the 550 BP is cheap enough to fit in the budget and gives plenty of power for current components and future upgrades. You might want to eventually upgrade if you want modularity and need more power for higher-end parts, though. Increasing the budget slightly for a modular PSU with a little more power is also an option, though not necessary for this build.
The best cheap PC case
A great value and good for cooling
The Zalman S2 is an affordable mid-tower PC case, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not worth your time. This sleek-looking chassis has plenty of premium features usually found in more expensive cases.
- Three included fans
- Good front intake airflow
- Tempered glass side panel
- Fan speed can’t be adjusted on included fans
Usually, it’s not super important to get a particular case for any build since there are plenty of options out there that can accommodate a wide variety of components, but when you’re on a budget it’s different. We can only afford to spend about $70 on a case for this build, and one of the best options at this price point is the Zalman S2 chassis, which has exceptional bang for the buck.
The main reason we’re recommending the S2 is the fact that it comes with three 120mm fans, which is going to be a big help in cooling down the CPU and GPU. Good intake airflow at the front makes those fans worth having, too. The fact that it also comes with a tempered glass side panel is also nice, though it doesn’t impact performance.
However, there are some problems with the S2. Those three 120mm fans don’t use 4-pin connectors, meaning no fan speed control whatsoever, which is undoubtedly going to be annoying for some. Additionally, the official product page says only 120mm radiators are supported, which basically makes an AIO not worth using at all (though it does seem like there’s room for at least a 240mm radiator). At least the 156mm clearance for CPU coolers means top-end air coolers will fit just fine.
Overall, the Zalman S2 is a good deal but does have flaws. You could spend a little more for some really good cases, assuming you can afford it. If you’re not bothered by the S2’s downsides though, you’ll be enjoying a pretty good value for performance and build quality.
Budget AMD PC build guide: Price breakdown
Here’s how everything comes together and how much you’ll likely pay for this particular set of components. Obviously, these are just the prices at the time of writing and it’s almost certain that the price of these components will go up and down over time. Of all the components here, the ones you might expect to have the most price fluctuation are the CPU, GPU, PSU, and case, but we’re only talking about a few dollars here or there.
AMD Ryzen 5 5500 processor
AMD RX 6600 GPU
MSI PRO B550-VC ProSeries motherboard
Arctic Freezer A35 CPU cooler
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR5 RAM
Crucial P3 Plus 1TB SSD
EVGA 550 BP PSU
Zalman S2 mid-tower case
For a budget gaming PC like this, it’s important to try and buy the fastest GPU possible and cut back on other components as much as you can without compromising too much. You may notice that this build uses the same RX 6600 our $1,000 mainstream AMD PC build guide uses, but saves about $250 by opting for the AM4 platform, which offers cheaper CPUs, motherboards, and RAM. You won’t always be able to hit framerates higher than 120 FPS on this build, but if you prefer playing in the 60 to 90 FPS region, you’re getting about the same gaming experience for less.
Of course, a PC is nothing without peripherals, and we didn’t discuss those in this article. We have separate guides for headsets, mice, keyboards, and more. You should also join the XDA Computing forums if you want to discuss making a PC based on this build guide; our community members can offer additional recommendations and advice.