Best Gaming PC Under $500
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First-time custom PC builders can find the entire process a little intimidating, it’s OK though, we’ve all lived through those head-scratching days. That’s why we’ve created this easy-to-follow guide to the best gaming PC under $500. It will ensure you have all the tools you need to create the perfect gaming rig for your needs. Furthermore, with this affordable build, you’ll be able to enjoy a wide selection of games without breaking the bank.
In the modern age of computing and technology, many will be surprised at what a $500 budget can get you. Long gone are the days of console domination, you can now get a PC for under $500 that can pretty much hold its own against any of the top console contenders. With that, let’s take a closer look at what makes this build, what we can expect in terms of performance, and what compromises were made along the way to stick to that strict price.
You can also check out our budget gaming PC page for recommendations from various price ranges.
VIDEO: $500 GAMING PC BUILD!
What You Get For Your $500
As you can imagine, putting together the best custom PC build for under $500 was no easy task. Many compromises were made along the way to be able to extract the maximum level of performance out of this build. Before the GPU shortages, you may have been able to squeeze a relatively good dedicated card into this price range, however, now we must settle for integrated graphics. The performance difference between the $400 and the $500 builds is minute but this build has optimal RAM and a beefier storage solution.
The case was another area of compromise. These are affordable components here but even though the case may not be one of the best, we still wanted to use one that was user-friendly and easy for first-time builders to get to grips with.
You can expect the AMD-based $500 build to handle 1080p/60FPS gaming across a few AAA titles with lowered settings. This APU will also easily play a lot of popular esports games too, giving you a wide variety of entry-level options.
We have bolstered performance with the included 16GB of RAM, a solid amount for gaming, and an SSD storage device. You can expect snappy boot times for Windows and your games, along with some future-proofing from the RAM.
AMD Vs Intel
The $500 gaming PC build takes advantage of AMD’s APU. The APU is essentially a CPU and GPU combined, giving you performance in most games when playing in 1080p and under. You may have to compromise on graphical settings for some games to be playable but esports titles performed well in our tests.
AMD is head and shoulders above Intel when it comes to integrated graphics, making them the superior choice when dealing with PC builds down the lower end of the scaler.
How We Choose
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, utilize similar builds we have completed ourselves in the office or for personal use, and most importantly are built with value 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 the buck. We are here to support you.
How We Test
We build each of our selected PC’s from scratch to make sure all the parts we recommend work well together, fit into the selected case, and provide the best performance possible for the price range.
Once built, the PCs are used in the office for everyday work as well as a range of games from light to heavy-duty. While we test, we also run benchmarking tests to see how well our builds perform, all while keeping an eye on the temperature of the components themselves.
We tested our AMD builds against their Intel counterparts and found that these CPUs performed better across the board, and for a lower price. This is why we only recommend an AMD version.
We know how much some of our readers enjoy overclocking their PCs, so we made sure to test that out too. So, you can feel safe knowing that these machines can be pushed beyond their basic capabilities. But, please make sure you know how to overclock before trying to over-task your builds.
NOTE: Due to the ongoing effects of the global coronavirus pandemic, some retailers are experiencing stock issues. WePC constantly updates our pages to reflect current availability, so if the PC or part you want shows as out of stock, check back later or check out these alternatives.
Best Gaming PC Under $500 Component Details
If you want a good gaming PC for under $500, you’re in the right place. Now, let’s hop into the belly of this beast.
Our $500 Custom Gaming PC Build
Our best custom-built gaming PC for under $500 is one of the best for those looking for a more affordable gaming experience. While the components in this build are considered entry-level, they still provide excellent levels of performance for the price.
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G
3.7GHz - 4.2GHz
This processor comes to shelves boasting 4 cores and 8 threads clocked at a base speed of 3.7GHz and can be boosted to 4.2GHz, more than enough to handle most tasks out there. It has been custom designed for gamers and has decent single-core performance, perfect for games. The multi-threaded nature of this CPU also makes it better equipped for when it comes to computing tasks. As this is one of AMD’s APUs, it features integrated graphics in the form of Radeon’s Vega 11, giving you adequate performance in 1080p and below.
GIGABYTE B450M DS3H V2
For a custom build at this price range, the Gigabyte B450M DS3H motherboard is pretty much perfect. It might not be a premium motherboard but it still offers a bunch of features and is ready for upgrades when the time comes. Furthermore, you don’t yet have the funds to get the components to justify something more expensive at this price range anyway. Motherboards also don’t really affect gaming performance at all, so it fits into this build nicely.
Patriot Viper Steel Series DDR4 16GB (2 x 8GB) 3200MHz
8GB (2 x 4GB)
The Patriot Viper Steel kit offers 16GB of DDR4 RAM, which should be more than enough for most gaming and multitasking scenarios. It displays solid value for money 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, Patriot has a proven track record of providing RAM with fantastic performance and reliability.
Crucial BX500 480 GB
SATA 6.0 Gb/s
As with most builds at this end of the price category, compromises have to be made to ensure the performance power is up to scratch. With our $500 custom build, the storage capacity has taken a slight hit. We had to opt for the Crucial BX500 SSD that offers rapid load/boot times. Furthermore, as a first-time gamer, 480GB is going to be enough for your operating system and primary games so I wouldn’t worry too much. All being said, you will need to upgrade your capacity at some stage. Luckily you can pick up an HDD for around $50 which should serve you well as a backup library.
The Thermaltake S100 PC Case is a brilliant example of quality for less. It comes to shelves offering reasonable out-of-the-box airflow, a clean and user-friendly design, and a bunch of build-friendly features as well. It’s a pretty rock solid case that should last you for the foreseeable future too with a 120mm rear case fan pre-installed. It may not be one of our best PC cases, but it certainly offers everything you’d need for this build at an affordable price tag.
EVGA BQ 80+ Bronze 500W Semi Modular PSU
Unfortunately, we were unable to equip our $500 build with a modular PSU, however, the EVGA BQ 500W PSU we’ve equipped this build with will power this machine like a dream and will provide great efficiency for years to come.
Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $500
So, you’ve got this far and you’re now thinking, all this PC building malarky seems like a big ask, would it not be easier to buy a ready-made PC? And the simple answer is yes, probably.
The issue with a prebuilt, as many will already know, is you pay a premium for the luxury of not having to assemble the parts yourself. So, ideally, you’d want to build an affordable gaming PC yourself and save money in the process (or get better value for your hard-earned cash). However, some people aren’t comfortable even trying to build their own gaming PC, and for those folks, here are our best-prebuilt options for under $500.
We have given the best recommendations for 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 HP Pavilion Gaming PC. It’s powered by one of Intel’s 10th-gen i3 processors, 8GB of RAM, a GTX 1650 Super.
HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop (GTX 1650 Super)
Build Benchmark: What Games Can This PC Run?
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
The Witcher 3
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
Total War: Warhammer II
Things To Consider
At this stage in the article, you should have a pretty good idea of whether or not this build suits your needs. We’ve discussed exactly what this build offers in terms of performance, and have gone into more detail on how each of the hardware choices impacts this build. Now, let’s go over the areas which need to be considered before buying this build.
Below, we have listed the most important areas of a prebuild. Let’s waste no further time and get straight into it.
One of the most important areas to consider before any PC purchase is your budget. By that, we mean will you be able to build a PC that meets your performance requirements with the funds you have set aside. Some people think $500 is going to buy you the ultimate gaming computer that smashes VR and 4k gaming at 100FPS. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
That being said, we’ve custom-designed these PCs to handle a variety of game titles in 1080p. FPS will vary as some games are more taxing than others, but for the most part, playable FPS is achievable if you have the settings optimized just right.
$500 Custom Gaming PC Vs Prebuilt
Building your own gaming PC is always going to offer more value, however, we understand that not everyone wants to tackle the challenge of a self-built machine. Stock has become a bit of an issue of late too, making it harder than ever before to build your own gaming PC. Well, this is where a $500 prebuilt gaming PC could be worth your while but there are a couple of things to know first.
The first thing to note is that you are probably never going to get a prebuilt gaming PC that offers the same performance at the same price. If you were to spend your $500 on a prebuilt, you are likely to see a lower-end CPU with fewer cores/threads, possibly smaller capacity RAM and storage, and lesser quality PC cases and supplies.
All of this is because prebuilt manufacturers are a business and they make money through prebuilt computers by adding a markup (labor costs). This is fair enough but it can impact the value you get and when its at the lower end, every penny counts.
Upgradability and Future-proofing
Another major player in a custom PC build is how easy you can upgrade it down the line. As most will already know, technology is moving quicker than ever and games are now increasing in both computational demand and size. For that reason, we’ve built this PC with both upgrades and future-proofing in mind.
Both builds have CPUs that should serve you well for the next couple of years straight off the bat. However, the motherboards have been chosen as they can accommodate a number of extra storage drives, more powerful GPUs, better CPUs, and additional RAM if you feel the need to increase.
We all understand what overclocking is, it’s a way of increasing the performance of your build by manually boosting the clock speed, voltage, and timings of your hardware (all at no extra cost might I add). However, what many don’t know is that not all hardware is geared towards overclocking. Just ask our friendly video guy that pushed an entry-level motherboard too far recently.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, you need to be careful when overclocking your hardware. Our build is geared towards light overclocking and will respond to manual overclocking if a better CPU cooler is fitted. That being said, both these chips have been pretty well optimized so extracting any real-world performance gains might be a little tricky.
Ease of building
As a first-time builder, you always want to consider how difficult the build might be to put together. We’ve opted for a build-friendly case with decent build quality that helps simplify the build process. Cable management was, to our surprise, fairly easy to tidy up and pre-installed standoff screws made the entire process move along much quicker.
We used an iFixit PC building toolkit to help with the assembling of this build. It’s also worth mentioning that an anti-static wristband is advised for first-time builders as it completely eradicates any possibility of static damage.
Remember, this build isn’t solely designed for gaming, even though that is its main purpose. We’ve also taken into consideration its ability to handle stressful workstation tasking and multi-tasking processes. Thanks to the impressive CPU and RAM pairing this build should be able to handle tasks such as live streaming and video editing with no problem whatsoever.
Of course, browsing and media tasks don’t phase this build, however, where you will start to see diminishing performance is when rendering large video files. If you plan on doing that sort of thing, I would recommend upgrading the processor to something a little beefier.
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Finally, we have the aesthetics of the build. Aesthetics are usually one of the first things to be sacrificed in an affordable build, as stylish designs usually come with a premium price tag. Unfortunately, this build comes with an entry-level case which, if truth be told, isn’t the most attractive-looking case we’ve ever seen. That being said, where it falls short on aesthetics, it makes up for with its user-friendly design.
Build A Gaming PC By Price
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Best Prebuilt Gaming PC Brands
Every recommended prebuilt gaming PC in this article is from a reputable manufacturer. You are probably wondering how we know what the best gaming PC brands are? Well, we have done our research and purchased PCs from these brands.
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Calculating The PSU Wattage
Making sure your PSU provides the correct amount of wattage to your custom build PC is an essential part of the build process. For that reason, we’ve created a handy PSU calculator which will work out exactly what PSU wattage your components require – no matter how many changes you make.
Our best gaming PC in the $500 price range is already a potent machine on its own, but what if by making a few tweaks and pushing your spending amount ever so slightly you could improve the performance considerably.
Rhetorical question. This is PC gaming. Of course, you want to do that.
NOTE: These will raise the price of the build!
The 6 core, 12 thread Ryzen 5 3600 is one of AMD’s third-generation high-end desktop processors, renowned for excellent value multi-core performance. Thanks to the arrival of the recent Ryzen 5000 series, we’ve seen the price of 3rd-gen CPUs plummet. This price reduction brings excellent value to the table, helping us recommend a powerful GPU too.
It comes to the table equipped with an increased clock speed capable of 4.2GHz max boost speed. It comes pre-equipped with a Wraith Spire cooler and is excellent value for money. Overall, this should provide all the gaming performance you need, as well as acceptable streaming and video rendering performance.
When the prices begin to revert back to what they once were, you may be interested in upgrading to a dedicated GPU. We have gone for the Radeon RX 580 as it was a value champion for quite some time, offering great results for the price. This graphics card can play any title in 1080p and deliver results in high settings, giving you everything you need.
The build features some fast SSD storage but you may need some extra HDD space for all your other files. This 2TB BarraCuda will certainly do the trick, giving you plenty of storage to load the majority of your media files and possibly some games on too. 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.
MSI ARMOR 8GB OC RX 580
Seagate Barracuda 2TB 7200RPM
AMD Ryzen 5 3600
Peripherals & Software
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.
For the best gaming performance and general compatibility, Windows 10 is your best option. If you already have a retail-bought Windows license on another PC, you should be able to transfer over your installation with little-to-no issues. If you don’t, however, you’re probably going to have to fork out for the cost of a brand new Windows 10 installation. If that is the case we recommend using the Windows 10 USB Flash Drive. It allows you to install Windows directly from a Flash Drive, rather than needing a DVD drive. If you are looking to protect your system you may want to include an antivirus program too.
The Razer Deathadder V2 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.
MORE: Best Gaming Mice
The ASUS VG278Q is a 144Hz monitor with a very generous 27″ display. It currently features in our best gaming monitors for under $300 article and for good reason. It has everything a gamer would want and comes at an affordable price point, what more could you ask for?
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.
ASUS VG278Q Gaming Monitor
1920 x 1080
Razer DeathAdder V2
Focus+ Optical (PWM 3399)
Medium (127 x 70 x 44mm)
Windows 10 Home USB
Creative Inspire T12
ASUS PCE-AC56 PCI Wireless Express Adapter
IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
2.4Ghz or 5GHz
Custom PC Building Tips
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.
How To Build A PC
Never built a PC before? Let us guide you through everything you need to build your first PC, even if you’re a complete beginner!