When you’re trying to build a good performing PC, but would still prefer to keep the expenses to a minimum, you might want to take a look at Intel’s Core i5-10400 CPU. Even though it’s a locked model, it comes with great performance for gaming and other computationally remaining tasks.
When paired with the right hardware, this intel CPU is great for a budget gaming build. In this build, it sits on an MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus motherboard which gives you quite a lot of upgrade options, and it’s paired with an RX 5500 XT graphics card. Add to this 16GB of RAM, and a 500GB SSD, and you’ve got yourself a good budget Intel Core i5-10400 PC Build.
CPU: Intel Core i5-10400
Not everyone intends to overclock their CPU, and if you’re limited with your budget, you might be looking at locked processors that still perform well to save a few bucks. Intel’s Core i5-10400 is a great choice if that’s what you’re after, with a reasonable price and great performance.
Even though locked, the i5-10400 still comes with six cores and twelve threads, which makes it a great performer for everything from games to multi-core workloads and even game streaming. It has a base clock of 2.9GHz, but when pushed hard, it can boost up to 4.3GHz, which is pretty respectable for a budget, locked CPU.
What’s also really nice is that the CPU comes with a 65W TDP, which means that you can use a reasonable PSU for your build, but also that you can keep it cool without an aftermarket cooler. Intel has included their stock cooler in the box, which does keep temperatures at a reasonable level.
Overall, the Core i5-10400 is a great way to get Intel’s latest CPU model without spending too much money and is a great choice for a gaming build.
Motherboard: MSI MPG Z490 Gaming Plus
Even though we’re looking at a locked CPU, we still suggest pairing it with MSI’s MPG Z490 Gaming Plus motherboard, which does allow for overclocking. The reason for this is rather simple – there aren’t any good value B or H chipset models, and a Z chipset gives you the option to upgrade later on and get overclocking capabilities.
The MPG Z490 Gaming Plus is an excellent motherboard, too. It comes with four DIMM slots that take dual-channel memory, and to make it even more impressive, you can go for up to 128GB of memory at 4800MHz, something you won’t find at this price with other motherboards.
Furthermore, you’ve got two M.2 slots, one of which has a heatsink to keep your SSD cool, as well as an excellent VRM section that keeps power delivery stable and reliable, regardless of how hard you’re pushing your CPU. You do get 2.5GbE LAN, which keeps networking taken care of, and there is a pre-installed I/O shield, too.
Add to this support for MSI Mystic Light RGB, and the included lights, and you’ve got a great motherboard that looks nice, too.
GPU: XFX RX 5500 XT Thicc II Pro
Radeon’s RX 5500 XT is one of the best value graphics cards at the moment, especially for people looking at a 1080p gaming build. If you’re one of those people, XFX’s Thicc II Pro variant of the RX 5500 XT should make it to your shortlist, as it’s a very nice variant of the GPU.
To begin with, the Thicc II Pro naming means that you’re looking at a dual-fan design. Not only does the GPU look nice inside a case, but the two fans are great at keeping temperatures at a reasonable level, even when you’re pushing the GPU hard.
Specs-wise, you’re looking at 8GB of GDDR6 memory, which should be enough for most modern titles. The GPU’s Game Clock is 1717 MHz, which is rather reasonable, but the maximum boost clock sits at 1845 MHz, so you have a bit of wiggle room in terms of frequencies. With 1408 stream processors, you won’t be pushing high/ultra settings on AAA titles, but for competitive games, it’s more than enough.
Add to this the fact that you can run it from a 450W PSU, and you’ve got yourself a steal.
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB 3600MHz
People who are looking for value RAM that still looks nice inside a PC case should look no further than Corsair’s Vengeance LPX kit. Its price is very wallet-friendly, the performance is pretty much what you’d expect, and Corsair does a lot of testing with these kits so you know they work well.
First things first, this is a 16GB kit that comes with two 8GB sticks, so you get dual-channel memory. Even though Intel doesn’t demand high frequencies as much as AMD’s Ryzen does, this is still a 3600MHz kit, so performance will be stellar. There’s also the C18 timings, which are pretty great for such a kit.
As we mentioned, Corsair does a lot of testing with the Vengeance LPX kits. Not only does it test performance on each stick to ensure it lives up to their standards, but it also tests compatibility between the two sticks you get in the kit. This minimizes any issues and potential compatibility problems.
Last but not least, while there are no RGB lights on the Vengeance LPX kit, you get a low profile heatsink that won’t cause issues with any beefier CPU coolers.
SSD: Western Digital SN550 500GB
Unless you want to wait for your OS to load, or get stuck in your games’ loading screen, an SSD is pretty much a necessity in a build today. And with prices going down, you can get a large SSD for a reasonable price without much issue. A great example of this is Western Digital’s SN550 SSD, which comes ina a 500GB capacity, yet keeps the price affordable.
This is an M.2 NVMe drive and one that isn’t compatible with a SATA slot. With the motherboard we suggest, this shouldn’t be an issue, but it’s still something to keep in mind. The speeds you can expect are up to 2400 MB/s read and 1950 MB/s write, which aren’t the highest you can get from an NVMe drive, but they’re still much higher than what any SATA drive can achieve.
While its performance isn’t particularly special, it’s very reasonable for an SSD at this price. Pair it with Western Digital’s claim of 600 TB written before any potential failure, and this is a rather durable SSD, too. It’s a great choice for a variety of uses, especially on a budget.
HDD: Western Digital Blue 1TB (optional)
While we did mention SSD prices coming down, a mechanical hard drive should still be your go-to solution when you want to add as much storage as possible to your system, and you don’t care too much about speeds. And when reliability matters, nothing beats Western Digital’s Blue drives.
The 1TB model is a 7200 RPM drive, which is not the fastest mechanical drive out there but is still rather reasonable. 1TB should be more than enough for you to store some games you don’t play too often, or your shows and movies – you won’t mind an extra second or two of waiting when you’re loading the next episode.
With the Blue 1TB hard drive you will get a WD Edition of the Acronis True Image cloning software, so you can transfer data easily when necessary. And best of all, you get Western Digital’s reliability and quality control, which does speak volumes about the quality of this hard drive. While it won’t win any speed awards, it’s an optional addition to your build that will allow you to add a lot of storage for a more-than-reasonable amount of money.
PSU: Thermaltake Smart 500W
Thermaltake might not be the first name that springs to mind when you’re looking at power supplies, but their Smart series should change your mind in that regard. The entire series, even though a bit old at this point, is made to provide reliable power for users who build their systems with a limited budget. And for a build based around Intel’s Core i5-10400, the 500W model should suffice.
To begin with, this is an 80+ certified power supply, which does give you a typical efficiency of at least 80% under load. This isn’t as good as a Gold, or even Bronze rated PSU, but it’s still somewhat of a guarantee for reliability. It also comes with a few protections that will ensure nothing bad happens to your build, such as OPP, OVP, and SCP. All the components inside are of high quality, too.
The only downside of the PSU is that it’s not even semi-modular, which might leave you struggling to manage your cables and keep them all tidy and out of sight. However, at this price, and when you factor in the 5-year warranty, you really can’t be complaining – it’s still a great PSU.
Case: Aerocool SHARD
If you’re limited with your budget, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get a nice looking case that has good airflow and reasonable cable management capabilities. Aerocool’s SHARD checks all those boxes and still comes at a great price.
To begin with, this is a mid-tower case. While one of the sides is completely acrylic (no tempered glass here, unfortunately), you do get a PSU shroud that will keep any PSU cables out of sight and will give you a better, cleaner look to your build overall. At the front is a diagonal RGB strip that has a few predefined modes of lighting, and does add a bit of flair to the case.
Inside, you can fit an ATX motherboard, and you’re looking at plenty of cooling options – three fans at the front, two fans at the top, and one fan at the rear should have you settled. There’s only one fan supplied here, so you will need to get your own if you want to add more.
Last but not least, aside from the PSU shroud, you get plenty of cable management room around the back, behind the motherboard tray, which wraps up a pretty great case overall.
Windows 10 Home
While there are free operating systems available out there when you’re building a system for gaming and working, what you need is one that will allow you to use just about any software you need, and play any game you want, and nothing beats Windows 10 in that regard. There’s a reason why Microsoft’s latest OS is the most popular OS at the moment.
You might notice that we’re recommending the Home edition instead of the Pro one. The main reason for this is that you’ll be saving a lot of money, and you won’t be losing out on any of the essential features. You won’t get some of the virtualization features though, which you might need. Aside from this, the two editions are virtually the same.
Windows 10 comes with things such as advanced protection that includes an antivirus, firewall and internet protection, as well as mixed reality capabilities and Game Mode to help with games. There’s also Windows Hello, which lets you log in quickly and without a password by using a biometric-enabled webcam, or a fingerprint reader. You should consider it as your OS of choice.
Liquid cooling: NZXT Kraken M22
Even though you won’t be overclocking the Core i5-10400, and it does come with a stock cooler, adding a liquid cooling solution will bring the temperatures lower and will increase the overall durability of your system. And when you’re trying to save a few bucks, the best way to go is NZXT’s Kraken M22 AIO.
You’re looking at a single 120mm fan that’s attached to the radiator, and it’s NZXT’s Aer P fan, optimized for static pressure. It gets a lot of air to the radiator and does lower temperatures quite a bit when compared to a stock fan. The fan is also pretty quiet, which does help with overall system noise.
The Kraken M22 is also compatible with NZXT’s CAM software, which gives you control over the RGB lights on the cooler itself but also lets you set up things like custom fan curves, pump speed, and liquid temperature. It does give you a lot of options and the ability to set things up just how you like them.
Add to this the tubes that are braided for strength and durability, and the six-year warranty, and you’ve got yourself a great AIO.
Wi-Fi Adapter: Techkey USB 3.0 Wi-Fi Dongle
It’s always recommended that you go for a wired connection when gaming, but when you don’t have the option to do so, a reliable Wi-Fi connection should do the job rather well. And a great option is Techkey’s USB 3.0 Wi-Fi dongle that comes with a single antenna.
This is an 802.11ac capable dongle, which means it works both at 2.4GHz, and 5GHz. It has a maximum speed of 1200Mbps, which is pretty fast and should be more than enough for any gaming scenario. Reliability is great, and you won’t notice any packet loss or similar issues.
Techkey has also made sure that other wireless signals such as Bluetooth don’t cause any interference, so you can game undisturbed. It’s a great option if you need Wi-Fi, and the more than reasonable price makes it even more attractive.
- Good for 1080p gaming, especially with not-so-demanding competitive titles where you can push higher details
- Good for 720p streaming
- Great for lighter workloads that don’t demand plenty of cores or high frequencies, such as lighter development tasks or graphic design