Best $500 Gaming PC Build

If you’re looking for a cheap gaming PC for under $500, don’t go anywhere. We’ve got an excellent Intel LGA 1151 PC build here with a lot of different possible variations.

The PC you see here will deliver performance an $800 PC could barely do just a few years ago.

You’ll be able to run all e-sports at 60 FPS on max settings easily with out build. Games like PUBG, Fortnite, Rocket League, GTA V, and Overwatch as well as most AAA titles should run well on this build as well.

It destroys all the consoles in terms of performance — the ancient Radeon graphics unit on the Xbox 1 and PS4 don’t even come close.


What Do We Look For in a PC?

This is a budget build, so we didn’t have the privilege of being able to pick and choose our favorite parts while disregarding price.

Maximum Performance

At this price range, optimizing the build for the highest possible in game FPS is our most important task as performance is much more of a problem for budget PCs than mid-range of high-end PCs.

Value

We filtered out dozens of individual components for every category in order to find those with the best price to performance ratios, while at the same time leaving out specific models that have bad reliability records.

Upgradability

A lot of people build a totally new PC every few years, but many others will incrementally upgrade their PC with new parts to keep away obsolesce without burning a massive hole in their wallet. This is why we always make our builds upgradable.


Our Gaming PC for Under $500

PRICE
$480 - $520
No set price as pricing of components changes day to day *
CPU
Intel i3 8100
A very basic and affordable two-core CPU running at 3.9 GHz.



GPU
ASUS STRIX RX 570 4GB
Problaby the best budget GPU you can fit in a $500 budget.
Motherboard
MSI Pro Series Intel H310 VD
This budget Micro ATX motherboard will provide everything you need for this build for an affordable price.
Memory
CORSAIR Vengeance LPX 8GB
We were only able to fit 8 GB of RAM in our budget, but you add another stick in the future to double both speed and capacity.

HDD
WD Blue 1TB SATA 7200 RPM 3.5"
One terabyte of reliable hard drive storage from the most popular consumer PC hard drive.
PSU
EVGA 500 BQ 80+ Bronze
This 80+ Bronze rated 500W EVGA power supply will provide more than enough power for all your components.
Case
ROSEWILL Micro ATX Mini Tower
An affordable and small Micro ATX case that has an acrylic window on the side!

This product will likely go a little over-budget, but not to the point where it should cause any issues with your budget. However, if you budget is truly capped at $500 with zero wiggle room, scroll down to the bottom of the page to find ways of switching components to reduce the price of this build.

 Parts List


The Intel i5 8100 is a deceivingly good CPU. Despite it’s namesake of just being and “i3”, it has the same amount of cores as the previous 7th gen i5 7500 (4 cores) and is also virtually identical to the i5 7500 in performance.


A lot of PC builders recommend allocating around 40% of your total budget to your graphics card for any given gaming PC build. There is a logic behind this type of thinking, as the graphics card is the most important component in the gaming PC. However, this is something that you can’t really do at the lower end of the budget spectrum without making unjustifiable compromises in other areas of the computer.

The RX 570 costs around 30% of our $500 budget, which I think is the sweet-spot of what you should be spending on a GPU at all budgets.

This ASUS RX 570 is also a pretty good value for it’s price, being over 20% cheaper than the RX 580 while only being ~15% worse in performance.


Designed for high performance overclocking, the Vengeance LPX is a good piece of RAM. It’s the exact same RAM that we use in our high end PC builds (Though the $1,500 and $2,000 builds use the quicker 3000MHz version). We decided to include one stick of 8GB ram instead of two 4GB sticks because:

  1. It costs less
  2. It allows you to add in another RAM stick in the future

However, using only one RAM stick means that your memory will be slower due to you only utilizing only one channel.

8 GB is definitely enough memory for a $500 build today, but the ability to easily double your RAM capacity in the future is a great way to futureproof your computer.


 Motherboard

MSI Pro Series Intel H310 LGA 1151 VD

This is basically the same motherboard we use on our $1000 build guide. It’s ugly looking and doesn’t have the wide array of ports and connects a full sized ATX motherboard would have, but it does everything it needs to do for this build well.

The motherboard does not affect the performance of your other components at all — whether it’s the CPU, GPU, RAM, storage, or anything else — so it’s the last thing you should spend a lot of money on unless you have a very large budget.


This component is not officially in this build guide!

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to officially include an SSD in this build guide, as it would make the build almost 50 dollars over-budget. However, we still highly highly recommend spending the extra 25 bucks or so and get yourself a cheap SSD.

The overall experience with you PC will be so much better with Windows OS and your main applications on the SSD as solid state drive load times at around ten times faster than that of hard drives.


Because of budget constraints, we were only able to include a single 1TB WD Blue drive in this under $500 PC build.

It’s a fairly reliable hard drive for it’s price, and it’s our favorite budget hard drive.


500W of power should be much more than enough for your system as this build will only pull 300W at it’s peak power consumption.


If you’ve been on other webpages that showed $500 gaming PC builds, they might’ve also recommend the ROSEWILL FBM-X1 case. It’s no coincidence — it’s a really good case for it’s price. It has a stylish design and an acrylic panel that covers it’s entire left side.

Note that the FBM-X1 is a Micro ATX form factor case. If you aren’t using the Micro ATX motherboard in this guide, instead opting for a full sized ATX motherboard, you’ll to get a larger full-sized ATX case.

Upgrade Options for this Build

If you can stretch you budget a bit beyond $1000, here are upgrade options over our current $1000 build.

 CPU

See Options

Intel i5 8400

If you don’t use your CPU for just gaming and need a bit more CPU juice than what the i3 8100 delivers, we recommend upgrading to the i5 8400, the CPU that we use for our $800 and $1000 PC builds.

The i5 8400 barely edges out the i3 8100 in single-core performance, so don’t get the i5 if you aren’t going to use the six cores that it has. However, the i5 8400 destroys the i3 8100 when you utilize all the cores (as expected), beating the i3 8100 by 60% in multi-core benchmarks.

 GPU

See Options

Sapphire Pulse RX 580 8GB 

The most obvious upgrade to a $500 PC is a GPU upgrade. Upgrading from a RX 570 to an RX 580 will yield a modest 15% increase in graphics card performance. It might not be worth bringing the total cost of this PC to around $600, but this is the upgrade that will result in the biggest gaming performance boost.

Upgrading to a RX 580 will definitely not bottleneck the i3 8100, but you don’t want to put the i3 together with a GPU that is stronger than the RX 580 or GTX 1060.

 CPU Cooler

See Options

Just use the stock cooler if you're budget is this low.

 Motherboard

See Options

Gigabyte B360M DS3H

Though we don’t see much of a need for a better motherboard than the MSI H310 in the build guide, we have an another Micro ATX motherboard that have slightly more features than the MSI H310 without being much more expensive.

The Gigabyte B360 has 4 USB 3.0 ports and 4 RAM slots, compared to 2 USB 3.0 ports and 2 RAM slots on the MSI H310. Though we don’t know why you would need more than 16 GB of RAM on a $500 PC anytime soon, at least you have that option to upgrade to have four sticks of RAM on the Gigabyte B360M

 Storage

See Options

Samsung 860 Evo 500 GB 2.5″ SSD

The worst part of this build is that we couldn’t really include an SSD in it without making it go overbudget. While buying a cheap $25 120 GB SSD to use for Windows OS and a few games is an okay solution, having a high performance and high capacity SSD you can use as your main drive is so much better.

For high performance SSD’s, Crucial and Samsung are the go brands. Samsung’s 850/860/870 EVO is by far the most popular consumer SSD on the market today.

If you don’t have a huge library of Steam games you never play and 500 GB is enough storage for you, you don’t even need to get a hard drive.

One mistake by a lot of newbie builders is to not buy an SSD, SSDs blow HDDs out of the water in terms of pretty much everything. SSDs are the new frontier.

 PSU

See Options

Seasonic FOCUS Semi Modular 550 Gold 550W 80+ Gold 

If you’re planning to stay with this PC in the long run, adding upgrades as the years go on, it is a good idea to invest in a high quality PSU that you will never have to change.

The Seasonic FOCUS 550 is the same PSU that we recommend in our $1000 PC build, and comes from the most reputable PC power supply manufacturer — Seasonic.

Although this Seasonic might look close to the cheap EVGA PSU in this $500 build, with both PSUs having semi-modular cable setups and similar power outputs (550W/500W), the Seasonic’s massive premium in price is justified by superior build quality,  better internal components, and an excellent 7 year warranty.

 Case

See Options

CORSAIR Carbide SPEC-04 ATX Case | Tempered Glass

Though the Masterbox case we recommended in this build guide is a high quality case for it’s price, it is still a small form factor Micro ATX case, meaning that you can only install an Micro ATX motherboard on it. While the motherboard in this build guide is a Micro ATX form factor motherboard, if you want a full sized ATX case for whatever reason (for future new PC builds or just breathing room), the CORSAIR Carbide SPEC-04 is a good case.

With a sexy design and a full-sized tempered glass size panel, the Carbide is a pretty good case.

Options to Reduce the Cost of Build

We did a little false-advertising here for this guide, as we usually do.

So it's only far that we give you some different component options so you can keep the cost below $1000 or possibly even $900.

 CPU

See Options

AMD Ryzen 3 2200G

If this build didn’t have a dedicated GPU, the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G would be the obvious choice over the Intel i3 8100 because the Ryzen beats both the i3 in price and integrated graphics performance.

Even though the i3 8100 is probably better for this build, the Ryzen is not far behind at all in performance — it also significantly undercuts the i3 8100 in price.

However, you will need to buy an AMD AM4 motherboard instead of an Intel LGA 1151 motherboard if you go with this Ryzen 3 2200G.

Here’s some affordable AMD AM4 mobos:

MSI Arsenal Gaming AMD Ryzen 1st and 2nd Gen AM4

ASUS PRIME A320M-K AMD Ryzen AM4

 GPU

See Options

We do not recommend cutting costs by downgrading the GPU for this build. The RX 570 is by far the best budget graphics card on the market today.

It’s comparable in performance to the GTX 970, which was considered a high end GPU until fairly recently and a GPU that sold for $400 just a few years ago.

When you compare the RX 570 to the GTX 1050Ti, it’s not even close. Though the two cards retail for around the same price, the RX 570 dominates the GTX 1050Ti in every single performance metric. It’s a total mystery to us why the GTX 1050Ti has the majority of the low-end GPU market share when it’s so badly outmatched by the 570.

Unlike the 1050Ti, the GTX 1050 and RX 560 are actually around $25 cheaper than the RX 570. But the RX 570 is pretty much twice as fast as both of them so lol.

 Motherboard

See Options

Nothing much we can really do here. The MSI Pro Series H310 is already one of the cheapest LGA 1151 motherboards so there’s not many corners you can cut here.

 Storage

See Options

The cheap 1 TB WD Blue hard drive in the build is already crap-tier as a main drive. Why would you want anything worse?

 PSU

See Options

EVGA 400 N1 400w

The cheapest EVGA power supply. It’s got ugly cables and n 80+ certification, but this is not a very demanding build so you should be ok.

 Case

See Options

You won’t find any case cheaper than the Rosewill FBM-X1.

Peripherals

Though the components inside your PC are by far the most important for your gaming experience, you still have to put some though into what your peripherals are, even for an ultra low-budget PC like this one.

Here are some recommended peripheral options that we tailored just for this $500 build.


Monitor

1080P - Acer SB220Q

1080 x 1920 | 75 Hz | 21.5" | 4ms | HDMI | VGA

The SB220Q is the best budget 1080P gaming monitor for sale right now. Being released recently in Q2 2018 and built by a reputable manufacturer, the SB220Q is not some old model that sellers are trying to liquidates

It has a refresh rate of 75 Hz with HDMI and the AMD FreeSync, with will work with the RX 570 in this build or all other Raadeon cards to reduce screen tearing in games.

It does not have built in speakers.

1080P - Sceptre E248W

1920  x 1080 | 75 Hz | 23.8" | 4ms | HDMI | Display Port

If you like the idea of having a slightly larger 1080P monitor that still is very affordable, this monitor is a good choice. The Sceptre E248W doesn't have Free-Sync, but it still has a 75 Hz refresh rate with HDMI and has the same thin-bezel design the previous monitor has.

It also has built in speakers, so you don't need to buy dedicated speakers if you are fine with the weak built-in speakers.


Fans - ARCTIC F12 Standard

120mm | 1350 RPM |Max. Airflow 74 CFM | 5-12 V

The ARCTIC F12 Standard is a good quality budget airflow fan. You could get working PC fans for even cheaper, but they would likely be loud and have poor quality.


Keyboard - Redragon K552 Mechanical

Mechanical | RED LED | Cherry Blue Equivalent Switches| 87 Keys | Compact

You probably aren't expecting to get a mechanical keyboard if your budget for a PC is this low. This Redragon keyboard doesn't look fancy or have a bunch of keys, but it's a legit mechanical keyboard that costs about as much as a cheap membrane keyboard.


Mouse - Logitech G203 Prodigy RGB

6000 DPI | RGB | Wired | 2 Custom Buttons

The Logitech G203 is a solid performing budget gaming mouse. It's one of the best cheap gaming mice, as it performs pretty close to most $40-$50 mice from companies like Logitech and Razer.

Compared to more expensive mice, it just lacks extra features like 10k+ DPI and a bunch of extra buttons -- not any core functionality.


 Audio

Headset - Logitech G430 

A great Logitech budget headset with good sound quality and comfort.

Speakers - Logitech S120 2.0 Stereo Speakers

Here is a very cheap set of PC stereo speakers that should work as you PC speakers if your monitor doesn't have any built-in speakers. Obviously not a good speaker, but very good value.


Operating System - Windows 10

Buying a Windows 10 key the proper way is pretty expensive, but there's ways you can save a lot of money and achieve the same result.

You can go on reseller sites, the most well known of which is Kinguin, and snatch a key for around $30, 1/3 of what an official key would cost.

Or you can just literally just not use a key, since Microsoft actually allows you to install Windows 10 without a key. You will just have a permanent watermark on the bottom right of your screen and limited ability to customize colors and backgrounds in Windows.

Building Your PC - Putting it All Together

Building your first PC probably seems like a daunting task -- it certainly did for me when I built my first one -- but it's fairly easy these days because there's just so many resources on the internet on how to build gaming PCs.

We I recommend is that you watch a ton of PC building guides on Youtube while your're waiting for your parts to arrive. This you'll be more ready to put your components together when they do arrive and you'll lower your risk of failing or damaging your fragile components.

This video is fairly short for a PC building guide, but it's a great way to start to get familiar with the PC building process.

Our Other Build Guides

Icons made by itim2101 from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

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