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Black Friday 2018 deals: The cheapest gaming PC you can build

You can roll a FreeSync-ready PC for an incredible $272.

thinkstock 500773792 cpu processor
Thinkstock

This year's sky-high component prices made it more expensive to build a PC, but relief is finally in sight. Black Friday is once again bringing low prices on components, sweet combo and bundle deals, and extras like free video games.

Now is a great time to roll a new rig, so like in 2016 and 2017, I wanted to see how cheap we could go using Black Friday deals. To my surprise, you can build a 2nd-generation Ryzen system that's FreeSync-ready and includes Windows for an astonishing $272.

That beats last year's PC by $100. The gravy train doesn't stop there either. You can also build 1080p/Ultra machine for about $530 and a 1440p system for a little over $650.

The only downside? Some of these deals expire today, so get shopping if you like these parts lists.

Update, 11/20/2018: You can't do Builds #1, 2, and 3 for this cheap anymore (alas), but you can get close. Go with this $18 Corsair 500W PSU at Newegg (must use coupon code EMCEERP22 at checkout and also file $20 mail-in rebate by 12/17/2018) and wait for $60 Patriot DDR4/3000 RAM at Newegg to go on sale on 11/23. Your final total for each build will still be very good!

Update #2, 11/20/2018: Looks like there's a cheaper RX 570 available from Newegg, so I've updated Build #3 with it. It also turns out that you can also get an OEM license of Windows 10 Home from Newegg for $85 on Friday—I completely missed that.

Update #3, 11/22/2018: There's a 8GB version of the RX 570 available for just $135 after $30 MIR. I've added the info to the notes for Build #3.

Build #1: The cheapest gaming PC possible

Part Name Price

CPU

AMD Ryzen 3 2200G[1]

$80

Motherboard

Gigabyte GA-AB350M-DS3H AM4 mATX[2][3][4]

$50

RAM

GeIL Evo Spear DDR4/2400 8GB (2x4GB)[5]

$50

Graphics Card 

Radeon Vega 8 Graphics (on-board)

$0

Storage

Kingston A400 120GB 2.5-inch SATA SSD

$24

Case

Rosewill Magnetar Gaming ATX Case[6][7]

$20

PSU

Thermaltake TR2 500W 80+ Bronze Power Supply[8]

$15

OS

Windows 10 Home 64-bit OEM license

$33

Total:

$272

Build notes:

  1. The Ryzen 3 2200G is limited to one per household and in-store pickup only. It is also available from Newegg on Nov 24 for $90.
  2. This motherboard needs its BIOS updated to work with the 2200G. Please refer to this AMD page for instructions on how to obtain a boot kit, if you require one.
  3. This motherboard lacks onboard Wi-Fi, so you’ll have to spend another $15-30 on a wireless adapter if you can’t use an ethernet connection.
  4. Sale ends 11/24.
  5. Sale ends 11/18.
  6. Sale starts 11/23.
  7. Technically, this isn't the cheapest gaming PC possible, since I could have saved another $2 on the case, but even I have aesthetic standards.
  8. Sale ends 11/18. Price is after filing $30 mail-in rebate by 12/8/18.

At under $275, this PC is the cheapest I've managed yet. It sports a nicer case than previous years' builds, too. Not too shabby for Black Friday season where deals are more scarce and conservative.

That said, this rig comes with caveats. First off, as in previous years, you must live near a Micro Center to get this system at this price. (You can build it for just $20 more if you buy the 2200G at Amazon or Newegg, though.)

You'll also have to be quick on the draw to get some of these components at their listed prices. In particular, that Thermaltake 500W power supply is an insanely good deal, so don’t miss out on it. (Be sure to file the mail-in rebate! I recommend setting a reminder for the filing deadline.)

And of course, this system lacks a discrete graphics card. That's a step down from last year's build, which was powered by RX 560 and could hit 1080p on Medium settings. While the Vega 8 in the 2200G can hit at 1080p on Medium settings for some games, it'll run more comfortably at 720p in strenuous modern titles.

Still, you're getting a FreeSync-ready system for $272 inclusive of Windows 10. That's just bonkers. And you can drop in a faster Ryzen processor down the road, if you so desire.

If you find this build too constrained as-is, you can very easily upgrade it with other Black Friday deals. My first suggestion is to spend a little more for the RAM. The 2200G's gaming performance improves when paired with faster RAM, and jumping up to DDR4/3000 DIMMs will only cost another $10. (Sale starts 11/23.)

I'd also add a 1TB hard drive—SSDs are cheaper than HDDs this year, which is why this system has only 120GB storage.

All told, these additional upgrades will bring up the cost to $320, and should make for a PC that will keep you happily occupied until a graphics card deal tickles your fancy. (If one ever does.)

Note: If you’re wondering about that $30 price for Windows 10, that’s done through a method Brad Chacos has recommended to our staff for a while now—buying a product key through Kinguin. It works, but be sure to get the Buyer Protection. The site functions like an eBay for software, and that insurance will protect you from any bad sellers.

If you prefer buying software from only reputable sources, you can purchase a Windows 10 Home 64-bit OEM license from Newegg for $110. (You can save $10 if you buy the DVD version.)

Build #2: The cheapest 1080p gaming PC possible

Part Name Price

CPU

AMD Ryzen 3 2200G[1]

$80

Motherboard

Gigabyte GA-AB350M-DS3H AM4 mATX[2][3][4]

$50

RAM

GeIL Evo Spear DDR4/2400 8GB (2x4GB)[5]

$50

Graphics Card 

PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 560 4GB[6]

$85

Storage

Kingston A400 120GB 2.5-inch SATA SSD

$24

Case

Rosewill Magnetar Gaming ATX Case [7][8]

$20

PSU

Thermaltake TR2 500W 80+ Bronze Power Supply[9]

$15

OS

Windows 10 Home 64-bit OEM license

$33

Total:

$357

Build notes:

  1. The Ryzen 3 2200G is limited to one per household and in-store pickup only. You can also purchase this CPU for $20 more through Amazon or Newegg.
  2. This motherboard needs its BIOS updated to work with the 2200G. Please refer to this AMD page for instructions on how to obtain a boot kit, if you require one.
  3. This motherboard lacks onboard Wi-Fi, so you’ll have to spend another $15-30 on a wireless adapter if you can’t use an ethernet connection.
  4. Sale ends 11/24.
  5. Sale ends 11/18.
  6. Price after $20 mail-in rebate.
  7. Sale begins 11/23.
  8. Technically, this isn't the cheapest gaming PC possible, since I could have saved another $2 on the case, but even I have aesthetic standards.
  9. Sale ends 11/18. Price is after filing $30 mail-in rebate by 12/8/18.

This system, which tacks on a cut-down version of the RX 560 to Build #1, outdoes last year's cheapest build. You'll pay about $15 less for a nearly identical parts list, and it sports a dual-channel memory configuration.

However, to get this system for $357, you'll have to be quick on the draw and buy some components before their sales end. That Thermaltake 500W power supply in particular should not be missed, otherwise you'll pay double for a similar PSU.

Like Build #1, I'd recommend adding on a 1TB hard drive for storage. It also doesn't hurt to spend $10 more on faster DDR4/3000 RAM. (Sale starts 11/23.) That'll bump up the total to $405.

Even if you don't choose to upgrade, you'll still enjoy games at 1080p on Medium settings, though your framerates will be a little lower than with a full-fat RX 560.

Build #3: The cheap 1080p gaming PC I'd build

Part Name Price

CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 1600[1]

$130

Motherboard

MSI B450-A Pro AM4 AM4 ATX[2][3]

$60

RAM

Patriot Viper 4 DDR4/3000 8GB (2x4GB)[4]

$60

Graphics Card 

Gigabyte RX 570 4GB[5][6][7][8]

$130

Boot Drive

Intel 545s 256GB 2.5-inch SATA SSD[9]

$35

Storage

Toshiba P300 1TB 7200rpm hard drive

$38

Case

Rosewill Magnetar Gaming ATX Case[10]

$20

PSU

Thermaltake TR2 500W 80+ Bronze Power Supply[11]

$15

OS

Windows 10 Home 64-bit OEM license

$33

Total:

$521

Build notes:

  1. You can also purchase this CPU at Micro Center for the same price, but Micro Center limits purchases to one per household and via in-store pickup only.
  2. Sale begins 11/23. Price is after $15 mail-in rebate.
  3. This MSI motherboard lacks onboard Wi-Fi, so you’ll have to spend another $15-30 on a wireless adapter if you can’t use an ethernet connection.
  4. Sale begins 11/23.
  5. Sale ends 11/24. Price is after $20 mail-in rebate.
  6. This GPU comes with two free games.
  7. The original card chosen for this build was a PowerColor Red Dragon RX 570 4GB, which cost $140.
  8. You can also instead opt for a 8GB version of the RX 570 for just $5 more (after using code EMCEERE58 at checkout, and also filing $30 mail-in rebate within 21 days of purchase and by 12/17/2018).
  9. Sale begins 11/23.
  10. Sale begins 11/23.
  11. Sale ends 11/18. Price is after filing $30 mail-in rebate by 12/8/18.

A fine line divides frugality and being a cheapskate. In this build, I prioritized a better future experience over saving as many pennies as possible.

However, if you want to scrimp, you can choose to go with the motherboard, RAM, and SSD from Build #1 and #2. That'll drop you to exactly $500 for this build. If you also skip the 1TB drive, that further reduces the total to $462.

I don't recommend doing any of those downgrades, though. What sets this PC apart from the cheaper ones above is its cushier level of performance: You get a six-core processor with twelve threads, a motherboard with the latest chipset, a fast SSD, and 3,000MHz RAM. All these parts will hum along smoothly for much longer, allowing you to focus on just GPU and HDD upgrades later on.

But even those won't be necessary for a few years. As configured, you should get a solid 1080p/60fps on Ultra settings with this machine, though you will need to dial down one or two settings in demanding modern games to maintain that level of performance.

Of course, you can upgrade to an RX 580 if you don't want to make any compromises. It's definitely not necessary, however.

Build #4: The cheap 1440p gaming PC I'd build

Part Name Price

CPU

AMD Ryzen 7 1700X[1]

$140

CPU Cooler

Corsair Hydro H60 120mm[2]

$50

Motherboard

MSI B450-A Pro AM4 AM4 ATX[3][4]

$60

RAM

Patriot Viper 4 DDR4/3000 8GB (2x4GB)[5]

$60

Graphics Card 

ASRock Phantom Gaming X RX 580 8GB[6][7]

$190

Boot Drive

Intel 545s 256GB 2.5-inch SATA SSD[8]

$35

Storage

Toshiba P300 1TB 7200rpm hard drive

$38

Case

Rosewill Magnetar Gaming ATX Case[9]

$20

PSU

Corsair CX650M 650W 80+ Bronze[10]

$40

OS

Windows 10 Home 64-bit OEM license

$33

Total:

$666

Build notes:

  1. The Ryzen 7 1700X is limited to in-store pickup only. You can also purchase this CPU for $10 more at Newegg (sale starts 11/23).
  2. Sale begins 11/23. Price is after $10 mail-in rebate.
  3. Sale begins 11/23. Price is after $15 mail-in rebate.
  4. This MSI motherboard lacks onboard Wi-Fi, so you’ll have to spend another $15-30 on a wireless adapter if you can’t use an ethernet connection.
  5. Sale begins 11/23.
  6. Sale ended 11/18. Alternatives: Asus RX 580 Dual 8GB ($185), Gigabyte RX 580 Gaming ($200), and ASRock Phantom Gaming X RX 580 ($200).
  7. This GPU comes with two free games.
  8. Sale begins 11/23.
  9. Sale begins 11/23.
  10. Sale begins 11/23. Price after $20 mail-in rebate.

Cheap is relative. If you care about gaming and content creation but you're on a budget, this build's for you.

The final cost is rather appropriate, because this machine's a beast. Not only do the 1700X and RX 580 have plenty of muscle, but this configuration also comes loaded with liquid cooling, a speedy SSD, fast RAM, and room to overclock.

You can of course tinker with the configuration—for example, you may want to invest in a case that supports more fans. That would allow you to go with a $50 Cooler Master ML240L 240mm liquid CPU cooler instead of the 120mm Corsair model I chose. (Sale starts 11/23; must also file $10 mail-in rebate.)

Or you could splurge on a different processor. If you prefer second-gen Ryzen, the Ryzen 7 2600 is $150 at Micro Center and $160 at Amazon right now. You can also upgrade to a Ryzen 7 1800X for $200 at Micro Center.

But you don't need to change a thing to have a badass rig. This system should keep most budget builders satisfied for a good long while.

Final notes

  • If this is your first build, you can read up on how to put everything together in our step-by-step guide.
  • All of these builds are FreeSync-ready, so if you'd like to find a compatible monitor, check out our curated list of early Black Friday deals and our coming list of curated Black Friday deals.
  • Some component deals involve mail-in rebates. Be sure to file those and track them until they arrive, otherwise you could be paying $30 extra (or more, depending on the build) for these PCs.
  • These builds don’t factor in sales tax. Depending on where you live, you may have to pay up to an additional 10 percent for parts.
  • To get Amazon's faster two-day shipping for free, you can sign up for a 30-day Prime membership if you haven’t already done so in the past.
  • If you buy anything from Newegg, be sure to sign up for a two-year Shoprunner trial, which gets you free two-day shipping and free return shipping on many items.
  • As always, keep in mind that these deals can expire early if quantities run out.
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