Build a budget Ryzen gaming PC for $550 or less

With Ryzen 3, you can build a console-beating, quad-core gaming PC for under $550—or even $500.

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Cheap Ryzen gaming PC overclocking, final thoughts

You can get even better performance out of this budget Ryzen rig. The whole reason to create a Ryzen 3 build with a B350-based motherboard is to take advantage of the platform’s unique ability to overclock—and I’m happy to report that the Ryzen 3 1200 overclocks just as well as its bigger brothers.

Even using the tiny Wraith Stealth cooler included in the box, I was able to push the CPU all the way up to a 3.9GHz all-core overclock with AMD’s Ryzen Master software at 1.325 volts. I could’ve pushed it even further with a more potent third-party cooler, as the CPU worked fine at 4GHz at 1.35 volts—aka the maximum AMD recommends for long-term use—but cranking the voltage sent temperatures skyrocketing from 57 degrees Celsius at 3.9GHz to 66 degrees at 4GHz. Better safe than sorry with pricey PC hardware!

radeon master overclock Brad Chacos/IDG

AMD’s Ryzen Master overclocking software shows our final overclock settings.

Overclocking the Ryzen 3 1200 and performing PCWorld’s other Ryzen-boosting PC performance tips (like enabling higher memory speeds and AMD’s custom power plan) really improved the underlying feel of the system. Responsiveness improved on the desktop, and minimum frame rates noticeably improved in games, creating a much smoother experience.  

Average frame rates didn’t jump much, but that’s to be expected in this rig, as the gaming experience is limited by the modest graphics card. The overclock would help more if you ever decide to upgrade your graphics hardware. The higher clock speeds will also improve performance in many non-gaming desktop programs, but that’s not the purpose of this article.

ryzen 3 1200 gaming pc 75 Brad Chacos/IDG

All in all, this Ryzen 3 1200 system is a damned decent gaming PC on a doable budget, and it has one hell of an upgrade path for the future.

The motherboard supports the latest high-end storage technology, while AMD’s long-lasting AM4 support means you could drop in a second- or third-gen Ryzen chip in a few years to breathe new life into the rig. Simply swapping in a Radeon RX 580 or GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card to replace the GTX 1050 would transform this from a decent entry-level gaming PC into a 1080p powerhouse capable of playing games at well north of the hallowed 60fps with all the visual bells in whistles enabled.

That’s a hell of a lot better than your $550 would get you just a few months back. Affordable quad-core computing is finally here, and it’s finally built for the future.

Just keep an eye on your games’ texture quality—and buy an SSD as soon as you’re able.

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