Best Cheap Prebuilt Gaming PCs Under $500 – 5 Budget Desktops 2019

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

After spending nearly 100 hours testing 8 popular prebuilt gaming desktops, we’ve concluded that the is the CUK Axiom TS best prebuilt gaming computer under $500. This PC utilizes a Ryzen 3 APU processor that has a dedicated Vega 8 graphics card. It should be possible to play most AAA titles at low-medium settings with little to no compromise.

But don’t be fooled. Despite being cheap prebuilt gaming PCs, these 5 desktops are top of the (budget) line and you can’t go wrong with any of them. If you’re interested to see what sets them apart and which one fits your needs best, then read on.

And if you’re feeling adventurous and like saving a little cash by doing it yourself, then check out our guide that can show you how to build your own custom PC with less than $500.

Our Pick
CUK Axiom TS

CUK Axiom TS

A powerful prebuilt gaming PC overall

Not only does the CUK Axiom TS run the latest AMD Ryzen processor, but it also has a Vega 8 onboard graphics card. With the included 120GB SSD, you’ll experience faster boot and loading times. Moreover, its compact design means that transport shouldn’t be an issue.

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

Whether you only have a small space left to spare on your desk or not, this should fit perfectly. While the slim design certainly catches the eye, there’s more to this rig than looks. Under the hood, it’s powered by a Ryzen processor with an onboard Vega 8 graphics card.

If being small is an important factor to you, then the CUK Axiom TS should be just right.

More Storage
Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5

Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5

A decent prebuilt computer for the price

The TC-780-AMZKi5 is very similar to the HP Pavilion 570-P020 below. It's one major change? This one has 2TB of storage space for you to store your games in.

The HP Pavilion 570-P020 also has 8GB of RAM which is still capable of smoothly handling most games. And the powerful processor guarantees speed and performance. It also comes with a 2TB HDD for you to store whatever games you fancy.

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

Also Great
HP Pavilion 570-P020

HP Pavilion 570-P020

A prebuilt budget gaming PC from HP

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

HP has been known to manufacture a lot of durable products over the years. So if you’re rough on your electronics (or maybe have a pesky pet or destructive toddler), then the HP Pavilion 570-P020 could be your match.

Not only do you have a powerful processor that’s sure to handle multiple applications 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.

AMD Powerhouse
Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 (90H10005US)

Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 (90H10005US)

Another good gaming desktop under $500

This is another good deal in this price range. A 4 cores/8 threads Ryzen-powered gaming PC that can crush AAA title games at 1080p if paired with an entry or mid graphics card.

Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 compromises nothing. The entire system is capable of handling older AAA games. It can also run some of the newer AAA titles-- as long as you’re smart enough to tone down some in-game graphics.

For $500, the Ryzen 5 1400 in this build is a great component to build around. It is worth noting this used to be our top pick, but they switched from using a decent RX 560 GPU to a slower AMD R5 340 GPU. As such, if you are looking at used versions be wary of which GPU you are getting.

Budget Pick
iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming Desktop (ARC 031A)

iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming Desktop (ARC 031A)

A budget gaming PC with a dedicated GPU

This budget pick is just that: a budget pick. That’s to say, this pick is best if you’re on a budget and can’t spare the extra small expense that the other PCs on this list represent.

The iBUYPOWER enthusiast gaming desktop computer doesn’t need any immediate upgrade like most of the featured above. It already has 12GB of DDR3 RAM and a dedicated graphics card that can handle games pretty well. Though the GPU may not be as powerful as some of today’s entry-level cards, it still performs well, nonetheless.

How We Choose What to Test

When choosing which prebuilt desktops to test, we first checked the most recent releases 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 computers gamers have actually been using. We didn’t just read the top results from Google; 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 gather real-world experiences. We also 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 that showcased different features as to best meet a variety of gaming needs.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Prebuilt Gaming PC

For $500, you aren’t aiming to get the best computer on the market, you are trying to get an entry-level gaming computer that requires the least amount of upgrades to experience the newest releases with a 1080p resolution at 60FPS. Still, it’s surprising just how far the best gaming computer under $500 can take you nowadays.

In the process, there are several factors that need to be considered.

Processor

First and foremost, you want a powerful processor. Why? Because a processor is the key to future-proofing or ensuring that you don’t have to upgrade your computer anytime soon.

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.

That’s why our list favors rigs that come with powerful processors rather than graphics cards.

Graphics Card

Based on our above logic, the graphics card is likely the first thing you’ll want to upgrade on one of these rigs to get it from being merely good to being great.

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

RAM

Having 8GB of RAM is the common threshold for modern gaming. In fact, that’s why all of the desktops on our list boasts at least that much.

This means a RAM upgrade isn’t really necessary with any of these builds.

Storage Space

When it comes to storage space you have two options: SSD or HDD. For the purpose of this review, you don’t need to know much than this: SSD is fast but expensive while HDD is slow but cheap.

Ultimately, it is less about which type of storage you’ll use and more about how much you’ll use of each since 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

Never forget, airflow is one of the most vital factors in keeping your computer’s temperatures down. As much as possible, you want to choose a computer whose case has enough room for future upgrades. Broadly speaking, the bigger the better.

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 (and What) 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

Note: Some of the recent games such as Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, Devil May Cry 5, Anthem, and Resident Evil 2 may need more power that what’s inside the most powerful one on the list. But can still be played with huge sacrifices in the graphics department.

We spent hours playing games just so we could test and see what each rig is really capable of. (Obviously, we have very hard lives.)

After playing hours of games and benchmarking the results, we confirmed that the CUK Axiom TS can handle games in 1080p with a few adjustments to the game’s graphics settings.

The rest of the contenders on the list were somewhat disappointing out of the box. But make no mistake, the Intel Core i5-7400 and the Ryzen 5 1400-- which the Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5, the HP Pavilion 570-P020, and the Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 (90H10005US) use-- are powerful processors. They just need dedicated graphics cards to become solid gaming PCs.

The iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming Desktop (ARC 031A) is installed with a 3-year-old GT 710 graphics card but it does handle games.

Instead of stopping there, we decided to do some further testing by hooking a GTX 1050 Ti graphics card to our 3rd, 4th, and 5th picks. To our surprise, this adjustment made them actually perform way better than our top pick.

For those planning to upgrade to a newer graphics card soon, we recommend you skip our first pick and go straight ahead to the rest of the prebuilt gaming PCs on our list. There’s a couple reasons for this:

  1. Our number 1 pick has a small case, so most GPUs will be to large to fit.
  2. A PC can be a great bargain for what is includes within this price range while not scaling well into other price ranges. For instance, it might be better in the long run to have a good processor and upgrade your GPU, but if you only have $500, then you have to worry about the here and now which means you should seek more balance.

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 PC Under $500

ProductDetails
CUK Axiom TS

CUK Axiom TS

  • cpu: AMD Ryzen 3 2200G
  • gpu: Radeon Vega 8
  • ram: 8GB DDR4
  • storage: 120GB SSD
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Acer 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
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HP Pavilion 570-P020

HP Pavilion 570-P020

  • cpu: Intel Core i5-7400
  • gpu: Intel HD Graphics 630
  • ram: 8GB DDR4
  • storage: 1TB HDD
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Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 (90H10005US)

Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 (90H10005US)

  • cpu: AMD Ryzen 5 1400
  • gpu: AMD RX 560
  • ram: 8GB DDR4
  • storage: 1TB HDD
Check Current Price
iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming Desktop (ARC 031A)

iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming Desktop (ARC 031A)

  • cpu: AMD FX-6300
  • gpu: GT 710
  • ram: 8GB DDR4
  • storage: 120GB SSD
Check Current Price
#1

CUK Axiom TS

It’s all about being compact and sexy. Now a lot of you may think that being sexy means hot, but no. We’re even surprised ourselves that it handled the heat pretty well.

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

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

As far as performance is concerned, this quad-core processor is capable of handling multiple tasks all at once. Even with the music playing in the background, playing games isn’t compromised.

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 attain this.

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

  • This is a small case - upgrading to a GTX 1050 Ti down the line might require a bigger case to accommodate the graphics card inside.
  • You are limited to 120GB of storage space. There’s no question: you will need to be mindful of the games you want to install.
#2

Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5

Everything about the TC-780-AMZKi5 is similar to the TC-780-ACKi5. The only notable difference is the RAM, which is 8GB of DDR4 RAM instead of 12GB; consequently, this computer is cheaper and potentially represents a better value for those on a tight budget.  

Acer Aspire TC 780 AMZKi5 unboxing

It has the same great processor, the same lackluster graphics card, and the same 2TB HDD of storage. It even comes with the same free keyboard and mouse. It also shares the same black-metallic design with the TC-780-ACKi5.

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

Mouse

If you can’t afford the TC-780-ACKi5 or would prefer to put that extra money towards a new graphics card than towards 4GB of extra RAM, then this could be a smart alternative.

#3

HP Pavilion 570-P020

The HP Pavilion 570-P020 may only have 1TB HDD of storage space but it does utilize an Intel Core i5-7400, and that’s just one of the reasons why it made the cut. Because aside from the fact that this is also manufactured by HP - a very reputable brand, it also comes with a

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 a lot of open Windows all at once.

HP Pavilion 570 P020 unboxing

Since the HP Pavilion uses many of the same parts as the two above Acer Aspire’s, it may not perform great out of the box. As such, buying a new graphics card may be your first priority.

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

#4

Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 (90H10005US)

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.

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 settings 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 lightning fast.

As far as storage space is concerned, its 1TB HDD of storage space should be more than enough to hold all your favorite games and even some of your favorite movies.

It also has a metallic finish 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.

Proportional to its price, this model compromises nothing.

#5

iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming Desktop (ARC 031A)

If you are strictly limited to spending only $500, then we highly recommend the iBUYPOWER Gaming Desktop (ARC 031A).

This doesn’t need an immediate upgrade in the graphics department like some of the options above. Even though this utilizes a 3-year-old GT 710 graphics card, it is still capable of handling AAA titles.

iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming Desktop unbox

Paired with 12GB of DDR3 RAM and a 120GB SSD storage, gaming should feel fast-- just be mindful enough to tone the graphics settings down if you wish to play modern AAA titles like PUBG and other graphically demanding games.

What makes this perfect for budget buyers is the free keyboard and mouse it comes with. This lets you save you at least $30 out of the box. It isn’t as fancy as other high-end keyboards/ mice but performs fine enough for casual use.iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming Desktop unbox 2The case has a black design that will go with most setups and themes. Plus, it comes with a free LED rear fan, unlike most prebuilt gaming PCs.

In the connectivity department, you have the following at your disposal:

  • 1x HDMI
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • 2x USB 2.0

Overall, it's a gaming PC you can use and play games on out of the box. So if your budget is strictly limited to under $500, or you can't afford to get a GPU upgrade in the future, this is the perfect prebuilt gaming desktop for you.

 

Conclusion

Honestly, spending only $500 for a killer gaming computer means your final product is going to inevitably fall a little short -- but it is enough to give you a solid foundation for future upgrades.

  1. If all you want is the best prebuilt gaming PC under $500 to play AAA title games, you can’t go wrong with the CUK Axiom TS.
  2. Get the and the Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 (90H10005US) or the HP Pavilion 570-P020 if you wish to invest in a prebuilt gaming desktop that you can use right away at the expense of sacrificing graphics for performance.
  3. For solid future-proofing investments, the Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5 should give you the best performance down the line. Just make sure you prioritize getting a decent graphics card as your first upgrade since it already has a 2TB HDD storage.

If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll never go wrong with the iBUYPOWER Gaming Desktop (ARC 031A). It has a decent processor that can fairly handle games with ease. Plus, with the dedicated GT 710 GPU, you have a ready-to-game machine that does better than the dedicated AMD R5 graphics card of the Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 (90H10005US).

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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