I've been gaming for over 25 years. Now I play and write about it full-time. Have a question? Feel free to ask it in the comment section.
Looking for a cheap way to play your favorite games on PC? I don't blame you. I prefer the PC gaming experience to any other option. Fortunately, it doesn't cost a lot.
Below, I'll give you a $300 to $350 build that not only plays Fornite and Valorant at 60FPS on competitive settings, but that also gives you somewhere to upgrade from in the future.
What CPU Should You Buy?
While this PC is very affordable your CPU will affect how your PC performs for years to come.
And even though you can find a cheap CPU and graphics card combo performs better than the options I'm going to give here, you're better off going with a path that allows you to save for a graphics card later on.
That's why we'll be focusing on a CPU that has decent integrated graphics and good enough processing power that you can safely add something like the XFX Radeon RX 580, GTX 1050 TI, or better and still get great performance.
Ideally, you'd go with AMD's Ryzen 3 3200G or Ryzen 5 3400G at their retail prices of $100 and $150. However, pricing for these lately has been more like $150 and $200.
So, the i3-10100 is a great place to start here. It has 4 cores and 8 threads and decent integrated graphics (albeit much worse than the 3200G).
The Ryzen 3 3200G is not only fantastic as a cheap $100 CPU, it’s actually defined as an APU. APUs place the CPU and GPU together on a single die. For the Ryzen 3 2200G, this translates into solid graphical performance in Valorant and Fortnite by using Radeon Vega 8 Graphics. The Ryzen 5 3400G uses Radeon Vega 11 Graphics so does give you more performance for around $40 more.
Already Have an Old Graphics Card?
You may want to consider using what you have now and adding it to this build. When your budget goes up, you can add additional RAM, storage and a dedicated GPU to this build in order to get great 1080p performance in AAA titles.
Ryzen 3 3200G vs Ryzen 5 3400G vs i3-10100
|Details||Ryzen 3 3200G||Ryzen 5 3400G||i3-10100|
Cores / Threads
4 / 8
Operating / Max Frequency
3.6GHz / 4.0GHz
3.7GHz / 4.2GHz
3.6GHz / 4.3GHz
Radeon Vega 8
Radeon RX Vega 11 Graphics
Intel UHD Graphics 630
Graphics Base Frequency
L 1/2/3 Cache
Max PCIe Lanes
Parts List for our $300 to $350 Valorant and Fortnite PC Build
|Part||*$300 to $400 PC Build||$300 Build|
AMD Ryzen 3 3200G / *5 3400G
MSI A320M-A PRO MAX
**MSI B460M-A PRO
Patriot Viper 4 Blackout 4x2GB 3200MHz
G. Skill Aegis 8GB DDR4-3200
Kingston A400 240GB SSD
Kingston A400 240GB SSD
Thermaltake Smart 430W
Thermaltake Smart 430W
Upgrading to a GPU
While I'll be listing benchmarks for these processors below, you may want to think about what GPU to upgrade to in the near-distant future.
While you could get a graphics card for around $150 like the GTX 1050Ti, in the current market I think you'd be better off waiting until you have enough for something like the RX 580.
GPU stock is limited right now too. So, don't be afraid to build with something like the i3-10100 and then upgrade when stock is more readily available.
Valorant FPS Test and Benchmark Video for Ryzen 3 3200G
Ryzen 3 3200G Fortnite Test (Video)
As you can see in the benchmark above, the 3200G keeps you above 60FPS on these settings most of the time. Let's take a look at how much better you can do with the 3400G.
i3-10100 IGPU Benchmark
The benchmarks from the i3-10100 is a bit underwhelming; however, it will play Fortnite or Valorant in 720p at a playable framerate.
The i3-10100 as an Option - Valorant Benchmark
As you can see, if you're trying to constantly be above 60FPS, the Ryzen 5 3400G does do a better job. That being said the Ryzen 3 3200G does work and costs 50% less overall.
Both of these benchmarks are in 1080p on the same competitive settings, so if you're willing to play in 720p the Ryzen 3 3200G will certainly get better frames.
Overall either one of these solutions should work not only on Fortnite and Valorant but on many of today's most popular games. That includes games like Wow, CSGO, Hearthstone, LOL, Apex Legends, and more!
Good and Cheap $300 to $350 Fortnite / Valorant Build
Our budget for this build admittedly assumes a couple of things:
- You shop multiple manufacturers for the best price.
- You look for rebates for the power supply, case, and motherboard, and spend no more than $125 on all three of them.
- You spend no more than $50 on your hard drive. There are several 240GB solid-state drives in this price range as well as 1TB hard drives. (We prefer the solid-state option.
What Motherboard Should You Buy?
It's hard to put a lot of your budget into a motherboard because it won't make a lot of difference here in terms of performance.
And while Ryzen's processors are compatible with multiple generations of their processors, you'll need a BIOS update if you purchase an older motherboard.
MSI MAX Motherboards
MSI's MAX motherboards have an already upgraded BIOS so that not only you can purchase a less expensive board, but that also it's compatible out of the gate.
For this build, we're going with the MA320M-A Pro MAX. It's an inexpensive option, but it's compatible with our processor, supports our high-speed memory, and has a future slot for a graphics card if you choose to upgrade.
What RAM Should You Buy?
While I don't recommend a particular ram kit, I recommend you buy something that's over 3000MHz and at least 2x4GB. While 16GB would be ideal in the long-run if you plan to upgrade, it's more than fine for our current system.
In 2020, I've put Patriot's Viper Blackout because it's inexpensive, quick, and good quality.
Overall, we’re quite satisfied with the Ryzen 3 3200G. It’s a budget gaming CPU, that also allows you to upgrade to a higher-end graphics card down the road. It’s the perfect placeholder for those waiting for a volatile GPU market to settle down again.
If you're willing to spend around $50 more, the Ryzen 5 3400G will give you better performance and a better CPU to upgrade from later on down the line.
Use a 2x4GB or 2x8GB Kit for Memory With Ryzen 3 3200G
As an APU, the Ryzen 3 3200G thrives on dual-channel memory. I tested this a while back with my $150 PC build that used the AMD A4 7300 APU. Using a dual-channel, performance can be improved by around 50 percent! So, it’s clearly no joke here. If you go with an APU, don’t forget the dual-channel memory!
As we haven’t personally tested the difference between a single and dual-channel configuration here, we recommend Tech Yes City’s video of the 2400G here. He starts his comparison around the two-minute mark of the video, and the results are absolutely staggering.
Recommended System Requirements for Fortnite
Fortnite’s recommended system requirements are a bit more demanding than their minimum ones. So, you’ll want to adjust the game to some optimal settings.
Recommended System Requirements
- Nvidia GTX 660 or AMD Radeon HD 7870 equivalent DX11 GPU
- 2 GB VRAM
- Core i5 2.8 GHz
- 8 GB RAM
- Windows 7/8/10 64-bit
Minimum System Requirements
- Intel HD 4000
- Core i3 2.4 GHz
- 4 GB RAM
- Windows 7/8/10 64-bit + Mac OSX Sierra
In spite of recommended and minimum system requirements here, Fortnite plays well with the Ryzen 3 2200G on medium settings. If you want to go beyond this, the 2200G will certainly support a mid-range graphics card.
The rest of the parts here are fairly interchangeable. We went with a decent 80 Plus power supply that has more capacity than you’ll need. This is ideal if you plan on upgrading to a dedicated GPU later on.
The DIYPC case mentioned above is cheap and gets the job done, but I’ve used many others that are better options at the $20 to $30 price point. This is especially true if you can find them on rebate.
I highly recommend a solid state drive for your system here. This makes everything from loading Fortnite or Valorant to your daily PC use so much faster. I can’t imagine having anything else. If you need to, add a high capacity drive later on or take one from a previously built computer.
What do you think of this build? Is it worth building? Would you take a different route? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
© 2018 Brandon Hart
Jonathan Alexis on June 26, 2020:
The ryzen 3 3200g is more than enough for low settings any game at 1080p if it's not something like battlefield 5.
Jacob on May 11, 2020:
Would you be able to play fortnite comoetive with ryzen 3 no stutters
Xavier Kitching on August 21, 2019:
What’s the video card