5 Ways You Can Build a Cheap Gaming PC for Under $100 – MakeUseOf

Want to enjoy PC gaming but don’t have the money? Incredibly, it’s possible to build a cheap gaming PC for under $100.
Gaming PCs are incredibly expensive. You could be spending upwards of $500 even for the most basic set ups and over four times that amount for something nearing top-end. The current price of graphics cards (GPU) thanks to cryptocurrency mining hasn't made the situation any easier.
In short, gaming is expensive.
So, is it really possible to find a gaming computer under $100? Well, yes, it is. If you know where to look, you can get a PC good enough for playing popular titles like Fortnite or Black Ops 4 at with reasonable video settings.
Keep reason to find the five ways you can get a cheap gaming PC for under $100.
With a good quality gaming PC you can play pretty much any game available. The same is not true for a budget machine. A sub-$100 budget is not going to get you a PC that plays the latest AAA titles. The only way that can work is with a full gaming PC and then a secondary, cheap device for in-home streaming, and that's kind of cheating.
But as noted above, games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and many others can be played on hardware that you can buy for under (or perhaps just over) $100.
Your first option is to sniff out a series of bargains for your gaming PC. You're going to build an entire PC from scratch, and will need to find:
This can be done for under $100, as demonstrated by this Redditor. Most of the parts in that example (which had a price of $103, admittedly) were bought on eBay, but there are plenty of other places online where you can find cheap computer parts.
You'll notice from the linked price list that the biggest outlay was on the graphics card. This is a situation that isn't going to get any better. Mining cryptocurrencies relies on graphics cards, making the prices for GPUs skyrocket. This has had an impact on lower spec, older cards too. Consequently, you may need to spend longer on your bargain hunt, or skimp on storage.
Related: Best Budget Graphics Card
If you prefer retro gaming, the Raspberry Pi 4 is a cheap, small single-board computer (SBC) that is perfect for the task.
While the best model for this is the 8GB Raspberry Pi 4, your $100 budget won't stretch that. But it will manage a Raspberry Pi 4 with 4GB. The computer also has a 64-bit Broadcom BCM2711 SoC with a quad-core Cortex-A72 running at 1.5Ghz. Measuring the size of a credit card, the Pi 4 has dual micro-HDMI ports, an Ethernet port, 802.11ac wireless networking, Bluetooth 5.0 BLE, two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0, and runs from a USB type-C power supply.
Related: The Raspberry Pi 4 Reviewed
A Raspberry Pi 4 with 4GB of RAM (a 2GB model is also available) will leave you with enough for additional storage (a used HDD or SSD can be connected) or a case with effective cooling.
Building a retro gaming PC is just the beginning for this computer. You might even turn it into an arcade gaming machine!
Read More: RetroPie Gaming Stations You Can Build This Weekend
What if someone just gave you an old PC? A key example: your employer is buying new PCs and doesn't want to spend money decommissioning old ones. Instead, your employer gives the old computers to the employees to take home and use.
What you would have, potentially, is a device ready to be upgraded. Your $100 PC budget could then be spent on the key items you need for gaming. This might be extra RAM or a faster CPU but will probably be the graphics card. If it's a cheap gaming computer you're building, spending more on the GPU makes more sense.
It doesn't have to be from work, either. Perhaps a relative has a PC they're getting rid of, or even your school or college.
Another option for a cheap gaming PC under $100 is a PlayStation 4. These currently sell on eBay for less than $100 without games, but you won't be needing those.
The PS4 can run Linux. So, you can install Steam and access of the Linux-compatible games you've already bought. In fact, a PlayStation 4 running Linux could potentially be more powerful than any of the other cheap gaming PCs in this list.
However, hacking a PS4 to install Linux isn't easy. But if your console has the 7.55 firmware or lower, you basically have a $100 dollar gaming PC ready to go.
While it's not PC gaming, streaming games from the cloud isn't strictly console gaming either.
Plenty of PC games can be played in the cloud and streamed to your TV. Sometimes this is via an existing PC, but other cloud gaming services enable you to play via Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, or a Chromecast. All of these will cost under (or a little over) $100 over the course of the year.
Services you should consider:
Remember: cloud gaming might be an affordable alternative to PC gaming, but it requires a fast internet connection. You'll need at least 30Mbps for smooth, reliable, HD graphics, and this might increase your budget further.
Read More: Best Cloud Gaming Services
Incredibly there are five ways you can enjoy PC gaming for less than $100. Four of these methods involve computer parts, some construction, and/or installing an operating system, whereas the fifth is a bit of a cheat, but stays in budget.
You can enjoy cheap PC gaming under $100 with the following methods:
Whichever method you choose, have fun gaming!
The new model features a 20 percent larger screen the Series 6 watch.
Deputy Editor for Security, Linux, DIY, Programming, and Tech Explained, and Really Useful Podcast producer, with extensive experience in desktop and software support. A contributor to Linux Format magazine, Christian is a Raspberry Pi tinkerer, Lego lover and retro gaming fan.
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