Best Cheap Prebuilt Gaming PCs Under $500 – 5 Budget Desktops 2018

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 Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 is the best-prebuilt gaming computer under $500. This PC utilizes a Ryzen 5 processor and a dedicated AMD graphics card. It should be possible to play most AAA titles 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.

Or better yet, you can check Amazon’s Black Friday Deals Week or our Black Friday Gaming PC deals to see the best prebuilt deals this holiday! Currently, the best prebuilt gaming PC this season is the iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming Computer Desktop PC AM010A. And here are some more the best we found:

26%
iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming Computer Desktop PC AM010A AMD FX-6300 3.5Ghz,...
62 Reviews
iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming Computer Desktop PC AM010A AMD FX-6300 3.5Ghz,...
  • System: AMD FX-6300 6-Core 3.5 GHz (4.1 GHz...
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 710 1GB Dedicated...
  • Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.0 | 2 x USB 2.0 | 1x...
37%
Apple iMac MK442LL/A 21.5" Intel Core i5-5575R X4 2.8GHz 8GB 1TB, Silver
Apple Computer - Personal Computers
$1,699.00 - 37% $1,066.35
11%
CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme VR GXiVR8100A Gaming PC (Intel i7-8700 3.2GHz,...
Cyber Power - Personal Computers
$1,119.99 - 11% $999.00
6%
CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme VR GXiVR8060A5 Gaming PC (Intel i5-8400 2.8GHz,...
Cyber Power - Personal Computers
$849.00 - 6% $799.00
7%
CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Master GMA4000A Desktop Gaming PC (AMD Ryzen 5 1600...
Cyber Power - Personal Computers
$1,079.99 - 7% $999.99
10%
iBUYPOWER Gaming PC Desktop 9200 i7-8700K 6-Core 3.7 GHz |Liquid Cooled|...
iBuyPower - Personal Computers
$1,549.00 - 10% $1,399.00
10%
CYBERPOWERPC GXiVR8080A3 Overclockable Gaming PC Desktop (Liquid Cooled...
Cyber Power - Personal Computers
$1,999.00 - 10% $1,799.99
11%
CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme VR GXiVR8100A Gaming PC (Intel i7-8700 3.2GHz,...
Cyber Power - Personal Computers
$1,119.99 - 11% $999.00
5%
CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Master GMA1392A Gaming PC (AMD Ryzen 7 1700 3.1GHz, 8GB...
Cyber Power - Personal Computers
$639.99 - 5% $609.99
11%
CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Master GMA1396A Gaming PC (ARGB-Liquid Cooled AMD Ryzen...
Cyber Power - Personal Computers
$1,799.99 - 11% $1,599.00
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.

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

For $500, it’s unlikely that you’ll bump into another gaming machine this powerful. In short, that’s why we decided to choose this as our personal pick.

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.

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.

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.

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 very similar to the TC-780-ACKi5. It utilizes the same powerful processor and also has 2TB of storage space for you to store your games in. Its one major change? It only has 8GB of DDR4 RAM.

Even though the TC-780-AMZKi5 only has 8GB of RAM, it’s 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.

Great Pick
HP Pavilion 570-P020

HP Pavilion 570-P020

A budget gaming pc prebuilt 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.

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

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 Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 can handle games in 1080p with only a few adjustments to the game’s graphics settings. The CUK Axiom TS-- armed with the Vega 8 graphics card-- also performed 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-- which the Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5, the Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5, and the HP Pavilion 570-P020 use -- is a powerful processor. It just needs a dedicated graphics card to really see the jump in performance.

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 entries. 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 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.

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
Lenovo IdeaCentre 720
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5-1400
  • GPU: AMD RX 560
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4
  • Storage: 1TB HDD
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CUK Axiom TS
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 2200G
  • GPU: Radeon Vega 8
  • RAM: 8GB 3000MHz DDR4
  • Storage: 120GB SSD
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Acer Aspire TC-780-ACKI5
  • CPU: 7th Gen Intel Core i5-7400
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphics 630
  • RAM: 12GB DDR4
  • Storage: 2TB HDD
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Acer Aspire TC-780-AMZKi5
  • CPU: 7th Gen Intel Core i5-7400
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphics 630
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4
  • Storage: 2TB HDD
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HP Pavilion 570-P020
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-7400
  • RAM: 8GB RAM
  • Storage: 1TB HDD
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#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.

 

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.

#2

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.
#3

Acer Aspire TC-780-ACKI5

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

When it comes to future-proofing, this is a solid choice. This runs a quad-core Intel i5-7400 processor that can handle a lot of applications at once with no performance deficit.

 

Acer Aspire TC 780 ACKI5 unboxing

As far as storage is concerned, you have 2TB of storage space to store whatever games you want to play.

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.

 

Keyboard

Everything about this is great, but you might want to upgrade to a decent graphics card, like the GTX 1050 Ti, as soon as possible since the unit only utilizes the integrated Intel HD graphics 630.

The performance is great, but the PC really can’t reach its full potential without a better graphics card. However, if you do have one lying around-- or don’t mind upgrading-- this is the best PC on the list.

#4

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.

#5

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.

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.

If all you want is the best-prebuilt gaming PC under $500 to play AAA title games, you can’t go wrong with the Lenovo IdeaCentre 720. Get the CUK Axiom TS if you wish to invest in a prebuilt gaming desktop 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.

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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