10 Ways Of Getting A Gaming PC For Cheap

If you’ve ever wanted to play games on a PC, you might have been put off by the high price: many gaming PCs cost over a thousand dollars/pounds, after all.

But luckily there are many different ways that you can get a gaming computer on the cheap, either through savvy second hand shopping or looking for deals on certain hardware (PC components). I also discuss a few other tips and tricks to know in this video.

If you prefer text over video, please read on for the guide/transcript version of this video.

Video Transcript And Guide

Hey everyone, PC gaming is awesome but it’s not always cheap to build (or buy) a gaming computer that can play all of the latest games. After all, even a “mid range” graphics card can cost many hundreds of pounds (or dollars), and then all the other components can cost many hundreds more. So in this video I wanted to run through all the different ways that you can get a gaming PC for cheap. 

Yard Sales

At the annual Glebe neighborhood garage yard sale which took place in the Glebe area of Ottawa
At the annual Glebe neighborhood garage yard sale which took place in the Glebe area of Ottawa

Firstly, yard sales (or car boot sales as we call them here in the UK) can sometimes have some pretty good deals on PCs – especially if someone has moved out, and they’re having a bit of a clear out. The main downsides here, of course, is that you can’t actually test the computer works and you won’t easily be able to see what hardware is inside the computer. You might be able to see what the graphics card is if there’s a window in the case, but the CPU will almost certainly be covered by a cooler. This is where trust comes in – hopefully the person selling the computer can tell you what hardware is in the PC, and whether there are any problems with it. Go with your gut though and don’t buy the computer if you don’t trust that it’s a genuinely good, working computer.

Also this brings me onto a general point which applies to all 10 of the tips that I’m going to cover in this video. If you plan on paying $150 (for example) on a PC, you probably aren’t going to get a super powerful computer that can play all the latest games at 4K resolution. You might need to adjust your expectations and accept that gaming at 1080p and 30fps is going to be more likely. This doesn’t mean that you should just buy the first computer you see though – if it has a GTX 1070 and a 7000 series Intel CPU, that means it’s 8 years old which might actually be fine for 1080p gaming, but just don’t go paying $800 for that PC. Before GOING to a yard sale, try and look around at second hand PCs ONLINE to see roughly what they are worth and then you’ll be  in a better position to shop with confidence – and also haggle prices down if someone is listing them a bit too high.

Dumpster Diving

Four blue and green color plastic dumpsters on the city street n — Photo
Four blue and green color plastic dumpsters on the city street n — Photo

My second suggestion is a bit unethical and potentially illegal in some parts of the world, so always do your research first. Dumpster diving involves looking inside big dumpsters and bins, often at the back of tech companies and shops, and seeing if they contain any computers. Now it’s very unlikely that you’ll find a super modern PC with an RTX 4090 in a dumpster, for example, but some people have found half decent computers with this method. This is especially true for college dumpsers at the end of term time – sometimes you have students from wealthy backgrounds who simply chuck out their “old” tech instead of packing it all up. I continue to point out, though, that dumpster diving is not allowed in some parts of the world – so please be cautious with this method.

FreeGeek Or Similar

Third – see whether there is a scheme like Free Geek near you. These great schemes are often non-profits that aim to recycle and restore old hardware – meaning that you can often buy or receive a low cost PC through them. Some even have schemes where you can “earn” a computer in return for volunteering for them, which can be a good way of helping others while eventually getting a computer. These local tech charities will also be a reliable way of getting a computer – you KNOW that it will have been thoroughly tested and it doesn’t have a load of faulty hardware inside of it, for example.

Surplus Sales

Hooking my laptop up to a monitor screen
Playing a PC game via my laptop (connected to a 4K monitor)

Next up – have you noticed just how many computers local schools, colleges and big companies have? After a certain number of years, many of these organizations will upgrade the “old” computers too, meaning that they sometimes donate or sell them on, either via surplus stores or local tech stores. So you could try contacting local schools or companies and asking them if they have any old PCs going for sale. YES these might not be super powerful computers, but maybe you could upgrade them bit-by-bit with an SSD, some new RAM and a graphics card and eventually turn this budget PC into a budget gaming powerhouse.

Dell Resellers

This brings me onto my fifth point – so many companies use Dells, partly because Dell has generous bulk buying and corporate discounts. In fact I was recently in my local vets and they had dozens of Dells… it almost seemed like they had more Dell PCs than employees! Naturally these computers end up getting “disposed of” after a set period of time, and these often end up being sold by resellers on eBay. Just search for refurbished Dell Precisions and you’ll see a LOAD of results. These can allow you to bag a gaming PC for a low price – just double check that the computer has a graphics card, or at least has a free PCIexpress slot so that you can ADD a graphics card later on (because relying on the CPU’s integrated graphics often won’t be enough). The only downside of SOME resold PCs is that they use proprietary power supply units and you sometimes can’t add extra PCIexpress power for the GPU. In this case, you will want to buy a low power GPU like the RX6400 from AMD or the GTX 1650 from NVIDIA – both will work fine for 1080p gaming.


Loads of gaming PCs on Facebook Marketplace
Loads of gaming PCs on Facebook Marketplace

The sixth option is to explore Facebook Marketplace. This can be a great resource… but also a terrible resource. It can be full of awesome deals from parents who are “recycling” their children’s old PCs for a low price… or it can be full of deluded PC builders who think that their 8 year old PC is still worth $2000. This goes back to my point earlier about doing your research and knowing roughly what a PC is worth, although naturally when a listing mentions the CPU or GPU you can then Google this to find out the age of the computer – and also whether it’s still powerful or not. So Marketplace can be a good way of finding gaming PCs that were AMAZING 6 years ago but will still run many games, especially at 1080p – just be sure to check the seller’s reviews too to ensure that they aren’t a scammer or something.

Build It Yourself

My partially built Ryzen 5900X build with 750W PSU and slightly older RX480 GPU
My partially built Ryzen 5900X build with 750W PSU and slightly older RX480 GPU

My next suggestion is to consider building a computer yourself. YES this can cost you THOUSANDS if you want a super expensive build with all the latest hardware, but it IS actually possible to pay a few hundred dollars (or pounds) and get a half decent gaming PC – especially if you use refurbished parts, or you hunt for hardware that is on sale. I recently purchased a refurbished Corsair PSU, for example, and it works just fine for me – just be sure that you get a long enough warranty on any refurbished parts. Equally subreddits like buildapcsales and buildapcforme have some great posts showing exactly how you get a gaming powerhouse for a good price. While building your own PC can seem a bit scary at first, it’s actually quite straightforward and I’ll put some links in the description to some great build guides and information.

Check For In-Store Deals

Number 8 ties into this too, and it’s to look for deals in traditional “brick and mortar” stores like Best Buy and Micro Center. These sometimes have some really good clearance or open-box deals on key hardware like the CPU, motherboard, graphics card and more – and sometimes you can even get a bundle which includes the CPU, motherboard and RAM pre-built for less than it would cost to buy each part individually. This can allow you to build your own PC for a really competitive price, and it will be a more reliable option than diving in dumpsters or ringing up a dozen local companies to see if they have any surplus PCs.

Hardware Deals

The box of a AMD Sapphire RX 6700XT Radeon graphics card GPU
The box of my AMD Sapphire RX 6700XT Radeon GPU

Next up, there are online communities that “specialize” in buying, selling and swapping used computer hardware – Reddit’s hardwareswap springs to mind, and this can often be a more reliable source of buying cheap hardware than Marketplace which can be more of a lottery. That’s because many of the sellers on hardwareswap are knowledgeable and friendly PC builders who are just clearing out their old components, or maybe they work in PC repairs and end up with lots of old gear. Either way, if you purchased a Dell Precision from an eBay reseller (for example) and just need a graphics card, this can be a great way of getting a reliable GPU at a good price.

Is Cloud Gaming An Alternative?

Screenshot of the GeForce NOW application
Screenshot of the GeForce NOW application

My tenth point is to consider exploring cloud gaming INSTEAD of buying a powerful gaming PC. That’s because with cloud gaming, the games are actually rendered on a cloud server – and the game’s graphics are then streamed to your PC. This might sound like it would be laggy, but I tested GeForce NOW out recently and it was a brilliant service – I didn’t notice any lag at all, to be honest. Xbox Cloud Gaming is another example of PC cloud streaming and both of these DO require you to pay for the best results, but it’s something to consider because buying a basic £200 computer and THEN putting the savings into a cloud membership can still work out much cheaper than spending £100 on a gaming PC (for example). The main downside of cloud gaming is that you WILL need reliable internet – your ISP speeds should ideally be 100 Megabits per second or more, AND you should have a reliable router or mesh Wi-Fi system. That’s certainly one option to consider though – gone are the days that you NEED to pay £500 or more for a graphics card, in my opinion.

And that covers off the 10 ways that I can think of to get a budget gaming PC but what about you? If you can think of any more, then please let us know down in the comments.

cropped A picture of me Tristan
About Tristan Perry

Tristan has been interested in computer hardware and software since he was 10 years old. He has built loads of computers over the years, along with installing, modifying and writing software (he's a backend software developer 'by trade').

Tristan also has an academic background in technology (in Math and Computer Science), so he enjoys drilling into the deeper aspects of technology.

Tristan is also an avid PC gamer, with FFX and Rocket League being his favorite games.

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!

Leave a comment