Discover high-value components for building the best gaming PC under $500. Unleash affordable gaming performance without breaking the bank.
It can be difficult to build a gaming PC for under $500 because you have to squeeze every last dollar out of your budget in order to put together a system that functions properly. First-time custom PC builders may find the entire process intimidating; that’s why we’ve prepared this simple guide to the best gaming PC under $500.
It will guarantee that you have every part required to assemble the ideal entry-level gaming setup. Furthermore, you’ll still be able to play an extensive collection of games with this reasonably priced configuration.
A $500 budget can get you a lot in the modern age of computing and technology, which will surprise many. The days of APUs and console-only alternatives are long gone; these days, you can buy a PC with a dedicated GPU for less than $500.
Even though many of the parts that make up this computer are from earlier generations and are regarded as entry-level, we still believe they function well today. Still, at this price point, you should have realistic expectations.
The best gaming PC prebuilt for under $500
Looking for a hassle-free gaming solution under $500?
Consider the STGAubron Gaming PC with an RTX 2060 GPU. While its components are not the latest, it provides a ready-to-play experience, making it an ideal choice for entry-level 1080p gaming.
- CPU: Intel Quad Core i5-4590
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
- RAM: 16GB RAM
- Storage: 512GB SSD
Opting for a prebuilt system like this offers convenience, though it comes at a premium compared to building your own. For those less inclined to assemble their PC, the STGAubron Gaming PC stands out as a solid prebuilt option, ensuring a straightforward gaming setup without the complexities of building from scratch.
So, if you’ve come this far and find the intricacies of building a PC daunting, perhaps buying a prebuilt gaming PC is a simpler choice, and most likely, a better one.
The drawback with prebuilts, as many are aware, is that you pay extra for the convenience of not assembling the parts yourself. Ideally, constructing an affordable gaming PC on your own would save money or offer better value.
Yet, some individuals might not feel at ease attempting a DIY build. For those in this category, our top prebuilt pick under $500 is the STGAubron Gaming PC with an RTX 2060 GPU.
While its components are a few generations old and not as modern as a custom build, it’s ready to plug in and play. This makes it suitable for entry-level 1080p gaming, providing a hassle-free option for those uncomfortable with building their own system.
Best Gaming PC under $500
1. Desktop CPU
- CPU Model: Intel Core i3
- CPU Speed: 2.5 GHz
- CPU Socket: LGA 1700
Although Intel’s 12th gen series is no longer the latest, it still utilizes the current LGA 1700 socket, offering a reliable entry-level choice for PC builders.
The chosen processor, the Core i3-12100F, features 4 cores and 8 threads, with a base clock of 3.3GHz that can be boosted to 4.3GHz. With commendable single-core performance, it proves ideal for entry-level gaming, while its multi-threaded capabilities enhance efficiency in various computing tasks.
- CPU Socket: LGA 1700
- RAM: DDR4
- Chipset Type: Intel H610
- Memory Clock Speed: 2133 MHz
The MSI Pro H610M-G, though not premium, offers essential features for this budget build and allows for future upgrades without breaking the bank.
Motherboards have minimal impact on gaming performance, making the MSI PRO H610M-G an ideal fit for this build.
- Core Clock Speed: 2491MHz Boost, 1626MHz Base
- Stream Processors: 1792
- Memory Size: 8GB GDDR6
- PSU Required: 550W
We manage to fit in a dedicated GPU under $500, opting for the AMD RX 6600. While categorized as entry-level, it delivers commendable results in 1080p gaming across various settings. While expectations should be tempered for AAA games, this card excels particularly well in esports titles.
- Speed: 3200MHz
- Size: 16GB (2x8GB)
The Teamgroup RAM kit provides ample 16GB of DDR4 RAM, suitable for most gaming and multitasking needs. It offers solid value for money, and the slight increase in clock speed sets it apart from many entry-level DDR4 RAM kits available in the market.
- Digital Storage: 500 GB
- Hard Disk Interface: NVMe
- Hard Disk Size: 500 GB
In our $500 custom build, storage takes a modest cut with the WD Blue SN570 SSD. Despite the compromise in capacity, it ensures rapid load/boot times, sufficient for the operating system and a couple of modern titles. Consider expanding storage in the future.
- Motherboard Compatibility: Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX
- Case Type: Mini-Tower
- Material: Alloy Steel, Plastic
- Cooling Method: Fan
The Cooler Maste PC Case is a budget-friendly choice offering reasonable out-of-the-box airflow and a user-friendly design. It comes with one pre-installed 120mm case fan, providing a solid and durable option for the build. Additional fans may be considered for improved airflow upon GPU upgrades.
- Output Wattage: 600W
- Form Factor: ATX
- Cooling Method: Air
- Power Supply Design: Non-Modular
Our $500 build features the Thermaltake Toughpower GX2 PSU. While not modular, it efficiently powers the system, providing ample headroom for quieter operation and potential future upgrades. With 600W, it ensures stability and longevity for your gaming setup.
Factors to Consider before buying PC under $500
1. Future-Proofing and Upgradability
Consider the ease of upgrading your PC in the future, given the rapid advancements in technology. This custom build aims for upgradability, with a motherboard accommodating additional storage drives, powerful GPUs, better CPUs, and extra RAM for future enhancements.
Before diving into any PC purchase, your budget takes center stage. A $500 budget sets certain limitations, and it’s essential to manage expectations. While this custom-built PC targets 1080p gaming, expectations should align with optimized settings for playable FPS across various titles.
Understanding overclocking’s potential is vital. While our build supports light overclocking, not all hardware is geared toward it. Careful consideration and possibly upgrading the CPU cooler are advised for effective overclocking.
Recognizing that the build serves purposes beyond gaming, its ability to handle tasks like live streaming and video editing is noteworthy. While it excels in browsing and media tasks, upgrading the processor may be advisable for intensive rendering of large video files.
Aesthetics, often sacrificed in budget builds, play a role in this entry-level case. While it may not be the most visually appealing, its user-friendly design compensates for the aesthetic compromise.
6. Ease of Assembling
For first-time builders, the ease of assembling the build is crucial. The chosen build-friendly case with decent quality simplifies the process, and cable management is manageable. Using tools like an iFixit PC building toolkit and an anti-static wristband is recommended for a smooth assembly process.
Custom Build PC vs. Prebuilt
Choosing between a custom-built and a prebuilt gaming PC involves weighing value and convenience. Custom builds typically offer more value, but acknowledging the challenges of self-assembly is crucial.
While prebuilt may lack identical performance at the same price, they provide a hassle-free alternative. However, prebuilt often come with compromises in CPU, RAM, storage, and build quality due to added labor costs.