5 Best Prebuilt Gaming Desktop PCs Under $500 – 2018 Reviews

5 Best Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $500 - 2018 Reviews and Top Picks

After spending 96 hours testing 8 popular prebuilt gaming PCs, we’ve finally concluded that the Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 is the best prebuilt gaming PC under $500. This utilizes a Ryzen 5 processor and a dedicated AMD graphics card. Playing AAA title games can be done smoothly with no compromise. You may see that the Acer Aspire TC-780-ACKi5 has a faster processor but this lacks something our top pick has. Read on to learn more about it.

Our Pick
Lenovo IdeaCentre 720

Lenovo IdeaCentre 720

The best prebuilt gaming desktop under $500

This is the best deal you would find in the $500 price range. A Ryzen-powered gaming computer that’s supplemented with an AMD RX 560 graphics card.

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Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 compromises nothing. The entire system is able to handle AAA title games - as long as you’re smart enough to tone down some in-game graphics.

For a price that’s under $500, it’s unlikely that you’ll bump into a gaming machine this powerful. This is why we decided to choose this as our personal pick from all the prebuilt computers we tested.

A Gamer’s Pick
CUK Axiom TS

CUK Axiom TS

A powerful prebuilt gaming PC overall

Not only that it runs the latest AMD Ryzen processor but this has a Vega 8 onboard graphics card. With the included 120GB SSD, you’ll experience faster boot and loading times overall. Since this is small and compact, transport wouldn’t be an issue.

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Elegance and compact - this is what the CUK Axiom TS is about.

Regardless if you have a small space left to spare on your desk or not, this should fit perfectly. The design is slim but there’s more to this rig than meets the eye. Under the hood, it’s powered by a Ryzen processor with an onboard Vega 8 graphics.

If being small is an important factor to you, then the CUK Axiom TS should meet your specifics.

Runner Up
Acer Aspire TC-780-ACKI5

Acer Aspire TC-780-ACKI5

A fast prebuilt computer

The best Intel-powered gaming PC under $500. This has an i5-7400 processor that’s paired with 12GB of raw DDR4 power. On top of that, you have 2TB of storage space to store all your favorite games in.

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The Acer Aspire TC-780-ACKi5 is all about speed.

This is a solid foundation for those who own a spare graphics card or planning to upgrade to a beefier one anytime soon. Not only that you have a powerful i5-7400 processor but this also offers you a hefty 2TB of storage space on top of 12GB DDR4 memory to handle multiple applications opened at once.

Also Great
Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5

Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5

A decent prebuilt computer for the price

The TC-780-AMZKi5 is yet another gaming PC you should invest in if you can’t get the TC-780-ACKi5. This utilizes the same powerful processor and also has 2TB of storage space for you to store your games in. However, it only has 8GB of DDR4 RAM but still handles multitasking pretty well.

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Even though this only has 8GB of RAM, it’s still capable of handling games smoothly. The processor boasts a lot of processing power that guarantees speed and performance. It also comes with a 2TB HDD for you to store whatever games you have in mind or fancy.

For the price, it’s guaranteed to give you the future-proofing you need - just prioritize on getting a decent graphics card first and you’ll be unstoppable.

Great Pick
HP Pavilion 570-P020

HP Pavilion 570-P020

A budget gaming pc prebuilt from HP

An Intel prebuilt gaming PC that boasts a powerful i5-7400 processor. On top of this powerful processor, you also have 8GB of DDR4 RAM and 1TB space for your games and other media files.

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HP has been known to manufacture a lot of durable products over the years.

If you wish to invest in a gaming computer that’s sure to last, the HP Pavilion 570-P020 is here. Not only that you have a powerful processor that’s sure to handle multiple application all at once but you can also store whatever games you want - thanks to the 1TB of storage space.

You can also watch Blu-Ray movies and write media files with included DVD Drive.

How We Choose

Like our best prebuilt gaming PC under 400 roundup, we checked the most recent prebuilt gaming PCs released by Acer, iBuyPower, CyberPowerPC, Dell, HP, CUKUSA, Lenovo, and other big manufacturers of gaming PCs.

From there, we scoured the internet to see which prebuilt gaming PC gamers have invested in. We didn’t just read top results from Google and other search engines but instead, we went to forums to get real information from real consumers.

We checked hundreds of actual customer reviews from Amazon, NewEgg, eBay, and other well-known eCommerce websites to see real-world experiences. To further our understanding on the performance of the 8 prebuilt gaming PCs, we checked in-depth video reviews and comparisons.

After spending 7 hours gathering and comparing customer reviews, we finally came up with our 8 initial candidates.

We specifically came up with 8 candidates that showcase different features to meet everyone’s needs.

To make it easier, we have a Which Prebuilt Gaming PC is Best Suited For You? section for those who are confused or unsure. Read more about it below.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Prebuilt Gaming PC

For the price of $500, you want to get an entry-level gaming computer that requires the least upgrade to experience gaming with 60FPS at 1080p resolution. 

Below are a few items you need to consider…

Processor

A powerful processor is a start. The purpose of going with a decently-powered processor is to take one worry out from the list.

The builds we have on the list are with processors capable enough to give you speeds you need for a smooth gaming experience. This means you really don’t need an upgrade unless you really need to, or that you have the financial capabilities to take it to the next level.

Graphics Card

The graphics card is likely the first thing you want to upgrade after a few weeks or so.

As stated, the processors on the list are capable of handling average gaming use. However, a GPU upgrade should make tremendous differences. A 4GB GTX 1050 Ti should be enough to experience 1080p gaming with an average count of 60FPS.

Do this and you have a monstrous build that’s almost ready.

RAM

An 8GB of RAM is the common threshold for today’s games. Our list boasts 8GBs of RAM with Dell Optiplex 7010 SFF as an exception since it has 16GB of DDR3 RAM.

This means a RAM upgrade isn’t really necessary with the builds presented. Going with any system on the list should give you enough time to breathe and worry about getting a graphics card or an SSD instead.

Storage Space

You have to sacrifice things such as space if you go with SSD. On the flip side, a 1TB HDD may give you enough space to store all your games but will load and boot relatively slower than SSD.

SSD also is pricey compared to HDD but even a 120GB SSD storage should be enough to crank up your system’s speeds. Most of the time, going with at least 1TB HDD is always a great start.

Nevertheless, whether or not you get an SSD is out of the questions because it’s advisable to go with a hybrid storage system - 120GB SSD for system files and 1TB HDD for games and personal files.

Chassis/Case

Remember that airflow is very important to keep your temperatures down. As much as possible, you want to choose one that has enough room for future upgrades. The bigger the chassis, the better it will be.

LED lights and other aesthetics may benefit your eyes but if this doesn’t provide enough airflow to keep the system cool, you’re better off shopping for another one that does.

How We Tested

Testing the prebuilt gaming PCs is pretty much straightforward. We installed the following games and recorded benchmark results:

  • PUBG
  • Fortnite
  • Overwatch
  • GTA V
  • Rocket League
  • Battlefield 1
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • The Witcher III

We spent hours playing games just so we could test and see what the rig is really capable of.

After playing hours upon hours of playing games and benchmarking, we confirmed that the Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 can handle games in 1080p resolution with a few adjustments in the game’s graphics settings. With CUK Axiom TS’s Vega 8 graphics card, it’s expected to also perform well.

The rest of the contenders on the list were somewhat disappointing out of the box but make no mistake, the Intel Core i5-7400 is a powerful processor. It just needs a dedicated graphics card so you could really see the jump in performance when playing games.

So instead of stopping there, we decided to further our test and hooked up a GTX 1050 Ti graphics card to the Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5, the Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5, and the HP Pavilion 570-P020.

To our surprise, it actually performed way better than our top pick. This is why we highly recommend you get this if you have a GTX 1050 Ti graphics card (or newer) lying around. More of this explained in detail below.

For those planning to upgrade to a newer graphics card anytime soon, we recommend you skip the first two and go straight ahead to the rest of the prebuilt gaming PCs on our list. Just make sure you compare the three and choose one according to your needs. Or you could simply browse among the best prebuilt gaming PC under 600 right away if you want to avoid installing a graphics card in the future yourself.

Disclaimer: The prebuilt gaming desktops we tested were purchased and were not sent or sponsored to make biased opinions or feedback.

The 5 Best Prebuilt Gaming Desktop PCs Under $500 of 2018

Details Our Rating
Our PickLenovo IdeaCentre 720

Lenovo IdeaCentre 720

  • cpu: AMD Ryzen 5 1400
  • gpu: AMD RX 560
  • ram: 8GB DDR4
  • storage: 1TB HDD
4.2/5
A Gamer’s PickCUK Axiom TS

CUK Axiom TS

  • cpu: AMD Ryzen 3 2200G
  • gpu: Radeon Vega 8
  • ram: 8GB DDR4
  • storage: 120GB SSD
4/5
Runner UpAcer Aspire TC-780-ACKI5

Acer Aspire TC-780-ACKI5

  • cpu: Intel Core i5-7400
  • gpu: Intel HD Graphics 630
  • ram: 12GB DDR4
  • storage: 2TB HDD
4/5
Also GreatAcer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5

Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5

  • cpu: Intel Core i5-7400
  • gpu: Intel HD Graphics 630
  • ram: 8GB DDR4
  • storage: 2TB HDD
3.8/5
Great PickHP Pavilion 570-P020

HP Pavilion 570-P020

  • cpu: Intel Core i5-7400
  • gpu: Intel HD Graphics 630
  • ram: 8GB DDR4
  • storage: 1TB HDD
3.8/5
#1

Lenovo IdeaCentre 720

We’ve scoured every prebuilt gaming PC on the internet and this is the best in the $500 price range.

This is powered by a Quad-Core Ryzen 5 1400 processor that’s capable of handling multiple applications and tasks at once without any compromise in performance. If you’re the type of gamer who wants to listen to music while playing games or even watch some videos on your second monitor, this is perfect for you.

On top of utilizing a powerful processor, this also has an RX 560 graphics card, which is capable of handling AAA title games fairly well. You may see performance deficit if you max out all in-game graphics settings but toning it down to high or medium should give you an average of 60FPS gaming and even over 100FPS in some games.

1. Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 unboxing

In fact, PUBG on medium settings and The Witcher 3 with a mix of high and medium settings can be played with an average of 40FPS. Other games like Project Cars on high and Rainbow Six Siege can be played with an average of 60FPS.

8GB of RAM is enough to give you the speed you need to make opening files and web browsing is lightning fast. For average gamers, it’s guaranteed to give you zero lag time when opening files.

As long as storage space is concerned, you sure have more than enough. This holds a 1TB HDD of storage space to hold all your favorite games in and even your favorite movies.

It also has a metallic theme that you can proudly display on top of your desk. If you want to watch DVD movies or write media files, pop the DVD drive open and you’re good to go.

Performance-wise, this never compromises anything for the price. So, if you want the best under $500, you can stop here. However, the others might be better suited for your needs so make sure you compare them respectively.

#2

CUK Axiom TS

It’s all about being compact and sexy.

The CUK Axiom TS may be slim and all but mind you, this tiny gamer desktop is powered by a Ryzen 3 2200G processor with an onboard Vega 8 graphics card.

To top that off, the 8GB of DDR4 Memory RAM lets you open files and browse the internet instantly.

As long as performance is concerned, this quad-core processor is capable of handling multiple tasks all at once and there will be no performance deficit.

Even with the music playing in the background, playing games isn’t compromised.

2. CUK Axiom TS unboxing

Thanks to the Vega 8 graphics card, games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, GTA V, Rocket League, and Overwatch can be played with an average of 60FPS. Although you may need to lower the in-game settings to medium with a mix of low to get the best experience.

If you wish to upgrade anytime soon, then it’s best that you need to know about the following:

  • This is a small case - upgrading to a GTX 1050 Ti down the line might need a bigger case to accommodate the graphics card inside.
  • You are only limited with 120GB of storage space - being mindful with the games you want to install is something you need to consider.

Overall, this is a great entry-level gaming computer for the price under $500, especially if you upgrade from the small chassis to a bigger one.

#3

Acer Aspire TC-780-ACKI5

The Acer Aspire has a lot of power out of the box - but with a disappointing flaw.

When it comes to future-proofing, this is a solid choice we’d recommend. This runs a quad-core i5-7400 processor that can handle many applications at once with a guarantee of no deficit in performance.

3. Acer Aspire TC-780-ACKi5 unboxing

As long as storage is concerned, you have plenty. In fact, you have 2TB of storage space to store whatever games you want to play. But before you do that, there are a couple major things you need to keep in mind and we’ll talk about the downsides in a bit.

This has a DVD drive that you can use to watch Blu-Ray movies or write media files. To top that off, this is WiFi ready so you can do without the ethernet cable.

Opening media files and browsing will be done in an instant since this has 12GB of pure DDR4 RAM. Not to mention that it also comes with a keyboard and mouse.

it also comes with a keyboard and mouse

Everything about this is great so far but you might want to upgrade the soonest you can and get a decent graphics card like the GTX 1050 Ti or better . This is because the unit only utilizes the integrated Intel HD graphics 630.

Performance-wise, there’s no compromise. However, this can’t really do you wonders in terms of gaming unless you install a decent graphics card.

If you do have one lying around, this is what we would recommend over the other contenders on the list.

 

#4

Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5

Everything about the TC-780-AMZKi5 is relatively similar to the TC-780-ACKi5. The only difference is the RAM.

Starting with the processor, you get no compromise in speed and you still get the solid performance of the quad-core Intel Core i5-7400 processor.

4. Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5 unboxing

As long as storage space is concerned, you still have 2TB of storage space. This is enough space to store about 80 25GB games. On top of that, you get a free keyboard and mouse.

It shares the same black-themed design and build with the TC-780-ACKi5. The main difference you’d notice is the RAM. This has 8GB of DDR4 RAM compared to the 12GB you would find in the TC-780-ACKi5.

you get a free keyboard and mouse

And like the TC-780-ACKi5, this requires a dedicated graphics card so you can start and really enjoy games.

If you can’t afford the TC-780-ACKi5, then this should be a smart alternative. If you do have a dedicated graphics card lying around, then by all means, get this one.

#5

HP Pavilion 570-P020

The HP Pavilion 570-P020 may only have 1TB of storage space but it does utilize an Intel Core i5-7400 and that’s what made the cut.

When it comes to future-proofing, you’re better off getting a more recent processor first than anything else.

Here’s why…

A graphics card can be plugged into just about any motherboard as long as the right amount of voltage is supplied from the power supply. The processor, however, has to be compatible with the motherboard. So if you want to upgrade your CPU, it’s likely that you will also have to upgrade your motherboard, which is more costly.

Going with a decent processor like the i5-7400 gives you all the future-proofing you need right off the bat. This is a powerful processor that does a pretty good job at handling many windows opened at once.

5. HP Pavilion 570-P020 unboxing

You may have only 1TB storage space with this one but let’s face it, 1TB of storage space is still plenty this 2018 unless you are into professional content creation, design, and video editing.

Out of the box, this may not do well in gaming but getting a decent graphics card as your first priority or upgrade opens up new heights and opportunities to experience better in-game quality and experience.

You have 8GB of RAM in this build and that’s still plenty this 2018. So, unless you want to stream while playing games or do professional content creation, 8GB is fine. Another thing that’s great about this prebuilt gaming PC is the fact that this comes with a free USB keyboard and mouse.

Again, it may not give you the best performance out of the box but should be worth the wait until you get a decent graphics card. Overall, this is a perfect foundation for entry-level gamers.

Which Prebuilt Gaming PC is Best Suited For You?

Spending $500 for a killer gaming computer is somewhat short - but is enough to give you a solid foundation for future upgrades.

It is best to get a stronger CPU at the start with a decent integrated graphics card and upgrade from there. This is the most effective way to get the best gaming experience with only a few tweaks down the line.

If you want the best you could get your hands on for the price of $500, then our top pick should give you the best value for your money - guaranteed.

However, if you want a more powerful processor for future-proofing, go with of the Acer Aspire TC-780-ACKi5, Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5, or HP Pavilion 570-P020.

In case you’re the enthusiast type and you want to build your own $500 gaming PC, make sure you check the best gaming PC build under $500 so you will be guided accordingly from scratch to competion of your build.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, it all boils down to your priorities and how you plan to upgrade down the line. Choosing the best prebuilt gaming PC this 2018 depends on what you really need.

If all you want is the best budget gaming PC prebuilt in the $500 range to play AAA title games, you’ll never go wrong with the Lenovo IdeaCentre 720. Get the CUK Axiom TS if you wish to invest in a prebuilt gaming PC that you can use right away at the expense of sacrificing graphics for performance.

For solid future-proofing investments, the Acer Aspire TC-780-ACKi5, Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5, or HP Pavilion 570-P020 should give you the best performance down the line. Just make sure you prioritize getting a decent graphics card as your first upgrade.

With that laid out and set, which among the list is best for you as an entry-level gaming rig? Tell us down the comments below!

Sources

  1. Brad Chacos, Don't build a gaming PC right now. Buying one premade can save you hundreds of dollars, PC World, January 26, 2018
  2. Matt Hanson, Best budget gaming PC 2018: top gaming desktops for less, TechRadar, April 13, 2018
  3. Alaina Yee, Best gaming PC deals: Desktops that offer better value than DIY, PC World, February 6, 2018
  4. Joel Santo Domingo, The Best Gaming Desktops of 2018, PCMag, December 28, 2017

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