This post recommends the best gaming PC you can build for under $500. If you’re willing to spend a little extra on a pre-built machine, we recommend the iBuyPower Enthusiast Gaming PC. It’s powered by AMD’s latest APU - Ryzen 2400G series and 8GB DDR4 & 120GB SSD.
Getting into PC gaming can be a little intimidating, but by following our guide for the best budget gaming PC under $500, will ensure you have all the tools you need to create the perfect gaming rig for your needs. Furthermore, with this budget build, you’ll be able to enjoy all your favorite AAA games without breaking the bank.
In the modern age of computing and technology many will be surprised what a $500 budget can buy, however what we have here is the best gaming rig you can purchase for that price tag. Think 1440p gaming, VR compatibility and more! All sounds too good to be true? Well it's not, you just need to know which areas to prioritize and which to compromise....
So, what else sets it apart? Well, let’s take a look:
High Performance. The graphical performance of this build is easily on par with that of the PS4 Pro (if not better) and easily trumps the original PS4. The CPU is also a significant step up from the power of the PS4 Pro’s (which is roughly equivalent to an Athlon X4 860K).
Upgradeability. This build has been purpose designed to serve one specific goal, decent gaming performance at an affordable price whilst still having the ability to upgrade in years to come. Take the CPU and GPU as prime examples. You can upgrade both your CPU and GPU to much more powerful counterparts in the future thanks to the versatile MOBO we've gone for which in theory should last much longer than anything else in it's price range.
Simplicity. We went with a builder-friendly case for this rig. We've deemed this case to be the perfect size for beginner builders and isn't too complicated when you get into the thick of it. It comes equipped with 3 off the shelf fan's which means no additional cooling has to be purchased, however, if you are planning on upgrading down the line you have the piece of mind that further cooling assistance can be purchased if required.
How We Choose the PC Components
Here at WePC, we have years of experience building computers and giving advice to friends, families and our readers. All of our build recommendations have been carefully researched, utilise similar builds we have completed ourselves in the office or for personal use and most importantly are built with budget and performance in mind. We work tirelessly to ensure our builds are up to date, efficient and offer high performance to the lucky reader who is going to build it.
We don't just use our own knowledge and experience, we also keep up to date with the latest tech in our industry and use various benchmarks to allow us to quickly compare multiple components. We also check our builds daily, to ensure everything is still in stock and the price still offers you the best bang for buck. We are here to support you.
The Best Budget $500 Gaming PC Update:
Intel Core i5-9400F Six-Core Processor
The i5-9400F provides great gaming and all-around performance at a fair price. It also avoids bottlenecking the strong GPU in this build.
MSI Gaming Radeon RX 570 8gb GDDR5
The RX 570 is widely considered the best budget gaming GPU in today's market which still provides fantastic performance.
Ballistix Sport LT 8GB Kit (4GBx2) DDR4 2666 RAM
With a full 8GB of RAM, this powerful $500 build has the ability to multitask and game at the highest level for it's price range.
Seagate BarraCuda 7200RPM Hard Drive 1TB SATA
Unless you’re already a PC gamer with a large library 1TB of storage should be a great starting point.
Corsair VS Series 450 Watt 80 Plus White PSU
We've had to go for the non-modular PSU for this build, however, 80+ white certification and the peace of mind which comes with buying Corsair deem the 450w perfectly acceptable.
MSI B360 Motherboard
A budget motherboard that shouldn’t give you any issues. No overclocking and limited memory speeds in this price range, though.
Thermaltake Versa H22 ATX PC Case
An astonishingly cool (aesthetically and literally) budget case that dominates other value options in the same price range.
If you want a good cheap $500 dollar gaming pc, you’re in the right place. Now, let’s hop into the belly of this beast.
The Intel Core i5-9400F will offer great performance for everyday usage and can run most games at 1080p, where you will start to see the cards limitations is when you want to render and stream. Despite this, it’s still one of the best budget CPUs you can get right now, and it trounces AMD’s options in this price range, especially in terms of gaming performance. However, this CPU caps out right around the level of the 1080 so it’s worth keeping this in mind when thinking about upgrading your build, or else you run the risk of bottlenecking.
The RX 570 is considered the top budget GPU in the $160 range right now and comes equipped with all the punching power of its master, the RX 580. This GPU can easily provide 1080p 60fps in most modern games on max settings following our benchmark stress tests and will easily max out older games as well. One thing worth mentioning however is how the RX 570 is’nt quite ready for VR gaming or higher resolutions. Certainly forgivable for a budget card under $170 however. Its performance is far above that of the PS4, and around that of the PS4 Pro. For the best graphical performance you can get in this range, look no further. MSI’s version of the RX 570 comes equipped with a fantastic dual fan configuration which is both super quiet and extremely efficient.
This Ballistix Sport Line RAM kit offers 8GB of DDR4 RAM, which should be all you need for most gaming and multitasking scenarios. It’s pretty solid value for the price range and the slight bump in clock speed naturally makes it better than a lot of entry-level DDR4 RAM kits you’ll find out there. As many will likely know, the Ballistix range was originally under the Crucial brand and was renowned for being well built and having quality performance. Since they parted ways they have managed to keep the same build quality and reliability whilst trying to expand into other computer hardware areas such as SSD’s and peripherals. In short, decent RAM for a cheap price with solid build quality.
When you have a $500 build which houses both an i3 quad core processor and a RX 570 you realise somewhere a long the way compromises need to be made, and thus we come to the HD. This is certainly a starter storage solution and at 1TB is probably considered below average for today’s game capacity. However it will certainly do the trick for now giving you plenty of storage to load the majority of your primary games and Windows onto. If you’re just getting into PC gaming, chances are you don’t have a large enough Steam library to stuff this full of games. By the time you’ve built that library, you should have the money to get another HDD as a storage upgrade, or even get an SSD to use a priority/boot drive for your favorite titles. MORE: Best Gaming Hard Drives
Unfortunately we weren’t able to equip our $500 build with a modular PSU and you can thank the rising prices for this. However what we have equipped this build with is a perfectly acceptable 450w white rated PSU from Corsair which pretty much guaranteed build quality and longevity. Since it isn’t modular it will be a little bit more difficult to build around but certainly not impossible by any stretch. In any case, don’t go any cheaper than this- a bad PSU translates to a bricked PC or a house fire.
This is a budget build, so we couldn’t afford to spend extra for features like overclocking. Honestly, it wouldn’t really make any sense anyway- it’d just be a waste of money for features you can’t access yet. If you want an OC-capable build today, go with one of our high-end machines, my recommendation is our $800 build. For this machine at this price range, however, the MSI B360 ATX Motherboard is pretty much perfect. It may be an entry-level motherboard, but this is still ultimately an entry-level PC, and you don’t yet have the budget to get the components to justify something more expensive. Motherboards also don’t really affect gaming performance at all, so even when you do upgrade you’ll be just fine. MORE: Best Gaming Motherboards
The Thermaltake Versa H22 may not look like a budget case, but it is one. It’s just…a really, really good one, with a sub-$40 price tag, great airflow and a clean aesthetic design. We’ve yet to experience any actual problems with this case and consider it to be fantastic value for money. It, unfortunately, doesn’t have a glass viewing window but does come equipped with plenty (1x) out-of-the-box cooling fans. The case, as stated above, comes with 1 cooling fan already, however if you want to accomplish the case’s full airflow potential I would recommend getting a couple extras 120mm fans. You’ll sometimes find compromises like these in this price range, but fortunately adding an extra intake fan should only run you about $10-$15- we have a recommended fan pick listed in optional upgrades below. You simply can’t find a more versatile gaming case for under $40 and this is one of our top value picks. MORE: Best PC Cases
Why is This The Best Cheap $500 Gaming PC Today?
If you’re into playing AAA games or competitive shooters, then this is the best budget gaming PC you can get your hands on in it's price range.
The 8GB RAM allows you to comfortably play just about any game (8GB is still the threshold for gaming) while also letting you do some multitasking on the sides.
Both the CPU and the GPU of this cheap gaming PC build are enough to deliver 1080p gaming with an average of 60FPS for most titles. (You may have to play around with the settings some for newer AAA games to maintain that frame rate).
What games can this PC run?
In this section, we’re going to tell you how this game should be able to run your favorite games.
- Fortnite - Fornite should run great at high-to-max settings in 1080p60.
- PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds - PUBG should run at medium-high settings in 1080p60.
- Monster Hunter: World - MHW should run at medium-high settings in 1080p60.
- League of Legends - League will do just fine at max settings in 1080p60.
- Dota 2 - See above.
- Overwatch - Overwatch should do well at high-to-max settings at 1080p60.
- Rainbow Six: Siege - Siege should perform at medium-to-high settings in 1080p60.
- Warframe - Warframe is pretty light, so max settings @ 1080p60 should be easy to achieve with this build.
- Grand Theft Auto V - GTA V is pretty intensive, so expect medium-to-high settings at 1080p60 and lower framerates if you decide to max it out.
- Team Fortress 2 - TF2 should generally perform fine at 1080p and 1440p, but due to the weaker CPU in this build it won’t have the most stable performance without a performance config.
Similar Prebuilt Gaming PC Under 500 dollars
As many will already know, you pay a premium when you buy pre built rigs, so ideally you’d want to build a cheap gaming PC yourself and save money in the process (or get a better value for your budget). However, some people aren’t comfortable even trying to build their own gaming PC.
If that’s the case for you, then don’t worry. Here are some options for you:
Upgrade Path for This Build
Our best budget gaming PC in the 500 dollar price range is already a potent machine on its own, but what if by making a few tweaks and pushing your budget ever so slightly you could improve the performance considerably.
Rhetorical question. This is PC gaming. Of course, you can do that.
NOTE: These will raise the price of the build!
Where better to start when considering an upgrade for your $500 build than RAM? Corsair’s Vengeance LPX 3000Mhz is currently fantastic value and really adds a tonne of performance power to an already solid build. Having 16GB of RAM is really going to open up a whole new door in terms of what this rig is capable of achieving. If you have the spare money in the budget we would definitely recommend this upgrade.
This small 250gb Samsung SSD is the cheapest one I’m willing to recommend, but offers great storage capacity and performance in its price range. By investing in an SSD, you can store your OS and a few of your favorite games inside it for rapid-fire load and boot times. An SSD is one of the best upgrades you can make for your machine, since it’ll offer the largest quality of life improvement. If you choose an SSD, be sure to buy it and mount it first during your OS installation, so you can make the most of your performance!
For a graphical punch which will surpass that of the PS4 Pro, bump up your GPU to a GeForce GTX 1660. The 1660 is more than enough to thrash games at 1080p High/Max, and is a worthy upgrade for this build and shouldn’t be bottlenecked by the 8100 CPU. If you’d like even more graphical power, I’d recommend taking a look at the GTX 1660Ti and the $800 Gaming PC. However, note that such a massive leap in performance will come with a similarly massive leap in price.
If you want to reach the Thermaltakes full potential we recommend kitting it out with 2 of these, relatively cheap, additional fans. With all 5 fans installed you will reap the rewards of Thermaltakes brilliant design which has been engineered to enhance cooling. MORE: Best Case Fans
OS Options and Recommended Peripherals
Ideally, you’d already have some or all of these things before buying the best gaming computer under $500. Unfortunately, we don’t always live in an ideal world, so we’ve provided this section just in case you need it.
While your computer is a very powerful machine, it’s unfortunately capable of very little without an operating system. Operating systems, such as Windows are used by the PC to provide a standard environment for applications and user interactions. So, make sure you buy a Windows 10 license. Alternatively, if you would prefer a Windows copy on DVD then you can purchase this from Amazon. If you want to do PC gaming, Windows is your best option. If you’ve purchased a retail Windows license for one of your previous PCs, you should be able to transfer that license to your new build.
But, if you haven’t, you’ll either need to buy Windows 10 or deal with Ubuntu/Linux Mint for some time. We highly recommend installing your OSes via USB, both for faster install speeds and to save on physical media shipping/the cost of an optical drive. We’ll dive into that more later in the article.
Mouse and Keyboard
When most people mention peripherals, these are what come to mind. Your mouse and your keyboard are your primary forms of input and interaction with your PC, and if you don’t have some already, here’s a few that we recommend!
Razer Deathadder Elite Gaming Mouse
The Razer Deathadder Elite mouse is insanely good value and for that price, you will be getting one of the best shapes on offer for gaming. This ergonomic mouse has been designed with comfort in mind, it features more than enough DPI for anyone and boasts a seriously good optical sensor. If you would prefer to cut the cord and go wireless then take a look at some of our wireless recommendations here. Alternatively, you can view some of our more budget mice picks here. MORE: Best Gaming Mice
Redragon K552-RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
The Redragon K552 is an entry-level mechanical gaming keyboard. If you’re serious about writing or gaming, a mechanical keyboard is a necessity. A nice mechanical keyboard under the $50 price range with some impressive features too! The board features RGB, Macro customisation, quick clicky Blue switches, and simple yet stylish design. This is a TKL board so there is no number pad and if you think you would prefer a number pad then maybe consider some premium alternatives.
SteelSeries QcK Gaming Surface
The Steelseries Qck gaming surface is largely considered to be one of the best and most comfortable pad’s available in today’s market. The QcK has been specifically designed with gamer’s in mind and the tightly woven fabric has been optimised for control and speed. A great pick. MORE: Best mousepads of 2019
Razer Gaming Bungee V2
No one wants to be in a situation where they’ve invested in a great gaming PC and discover they have no way to actually play the video games they paid for. If you don’t have an old monitor or HDTV sitting around, here’s our monitor recommendations.
ASUS VG278Q 27"
Our current top pick for gaming monitors to accompany your new build is the ASUS VG278Q Gaming Monitor and it’s perfect for gamers. This pick is under $300 and it has everything you would want from a high-end gaming monitor. The monitor boasts a 144Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time and superb value for a monitor of this quality. MORE: For a more premium recommendation see here.
Another important part of your gaming experience is your audio! A lot of work goes into soundtracks and sound design in video games and if you want to enjoy that side of things, you’ll need good enough sound hardware to do it. Here are a few recommendations to start you off!
Creative Inspire T12 2.0 Multimedia Speaker System
Some great speakers to start out with are the Creative Inspire T12 Speakers. At just under $45, these provide a high-quality audio experience without breaking the bank. While you’ll still need to buy better speakers for things like surround-sound and a subwoofer, the T12 set will be perfectly fine for getting you started listening to music and watching your films. MORE: Best Speakers
HyperX Cloud Stinger Gaming Headset
A good gaming headset to start with is the HyperX Cloud Stinger! With great build quality, directional audio and a built-in mic, you’ll be ready to communicate with your teammates in-game and destroy rivals. This is a solid headset from HyperX but if you are after a more premium audio experience then check out some of its competitors.
Last but not least, let’s talk about actually getting online. You have two options: Wi-Fi or Wired.
ASUS PCE-AC56 PCI Wireless Express Adapter
For WIFI go with the Asus AC56 PCI Adapter. It supports all the latest Wi-Fi standards, has good reviews, and comes at a great price!
Wired (Ethernet Cable)
With Wired, you’ll want to invest in an ethernet cable. A high-quality 25 foot ethernet cable off Amazon will only run you $8, and for your trouble with wires, you’ll enjoy much more stable network performance in your games.
So, finally you've arrived at the section in this article which hosts a whole bunch of helpful building tips if you're a beginner builder.
We know there's a lot of common mistakes that rookies make when PC building (it’s just part of the learning process) and that’s why we wrote a guide to nip that in the bud. For you to successfully build your $500 gaming PC, you need the right guide to do it correctly and efficiently.
Before you even get there, though, we know you’ll have a lot of questions. And, well, we’ve already answered a lot of commonly asked PC building questions here.
Invest In Anti-static Equipment
Alright, time to get serious about Static Shock (+20 internet nostalgia points if you remember this cartoon).
If you electric discharge while assembling your rig, you could ruin your components! While this is a rare occurrence that can be avoided with the right grounding practices, you can save yourself a lot of stress by just investing in some cheap equipment.
An anti-static mat or an anti-static wristband will help you avoid tragically frying your electronics while assembling them. If you only buy one, we recommend the wristband. It may cost a little extra, but that is worth the peace of mind while building your gaming PC.
Be sure to check out our how to correctly use an anti-static wristband guide if this is your first time using it.
Watch Building Guides
This Tek Syndicate video guide will walk you through every step of the PC building process. This is our favorite guide on the topic thanks to its brevity, but it might be a little fast for you, so don’t be afraid to look for some other guides (and leave them in the comments; maybe you’ll find our new favorite).
If you supplement it by paying close attention to the instruction manuals included with your new components, then everything should go right.
You’ll find that most of the difficulty involved in PC building is being careful and being patient. In other words, it’s pretty much the same skillset involved in making great Lego creations. Good luck with the standoff screws, though. Those suck.
If you’re still overwhelmed by the entire process, then you might find our comprehensive guide on How to Build a Gaming PC useful. This guide covers everything from planning a budget to long-term computer maintenance.
Install OS Via USB
We’ve already recommended which OS you should use, but now let’s talk about installation. Don’t spend extra on having a disc shipped to you or buying a disc drive when you can just install your operating system via USB.
And we’re done!
Once you order your parts and put them together you’ll have what we consider to be the best gaming desktop for 500 dollars. While you may not have the biggest muscle on the market, you can always upgrade later on thanks to the flexibility of the PC platform.
While a console gamer may save more up front when purchasing a console, you’ll save much more in the long run by utilizing Steam, GOG, and Humble Indie Bundle sales to get the best games cheap. Oh, and don’t forget the wonderful, free modding community which extends the life of your games significantly.
Welcome to the world of PC gaming. Enjoy the best budget $500 gaming PC!
Tell us what you think of the build! Are there improvements you want to add/recommend? Comment down below and we’ll debate!