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 Gaming PC Computer Desktop Element Mini 9300. It’s powered by one of AMD’s 3rd-gen CPUs - the Ryzen 3 3100, an RX 550 GPU, 8GB of RAM, Wi-fi, and a 240GB SSD storage solution.
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 budget 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 budget build, you’ll be able to enjoy all your favorite AAA games without breaking the bank. Whether you choose Intel or AMD, both have the capacity to achieve an immersive gaming experience across a number of platforms and game styles.
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 it's 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 budget.
Budget - 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. Let's start with the hard drive. Unlike our $400 build, the $500 only comes with 240GB of SSD storage. Even though this is a sizeable chunk smaller, it was still worth reducing in order to accommodate the RX 570 GPU. This is where the main performance difference between the $400 and the $500 builds comes from.
The case was another area of compromise. We had to go for the Thermaltake Versa H22 over something a little more aesthetically pleasing. Even though we compromised on looks, we still wanted to use a case that was user-friendly and easy for first-time builders to use. The Thermaltake ticked all the right boxes in this department.
Performance - From a performance standpoint, both AMD and Intel builds are pretty closely matched here. As a collective, we'd expect them both to be able to handle 1080p/60FPS gaming across the most popular AAA game titles. We can thank the quality of modern-day CPUs and the powerful GPU for these build characteristics. Furthermore, both showcase excellent multi-tasking and workload tasks such as video editing and image rendering. The AMD build is better equipped for these kinds of tasks, but both can perform them to acceptable levels. You wouldn't want to go too hard on the rendering though.
AMD Vs Intel - The AMD motherboard is a new MSI ProSeries MAX B450 which comes with Ryzen 3rd Gen support. This means the AMD build is fully ready for future upgrades when the day arrives. The Intel comes with an equally impressive CPU and a like-for-like motherboard. Both CPUs should push the GPU to its limit and you won't be in danger of bottlenecking anytime soon.
You'll probably notice that the Intel build is a fair bit more expensive than the AMD, and that's simply down to Intel products being more expensive than AMD's right now. It's a real struggle to piece together an Intel build that lives up to our performance requirements and is future-proof. We toyed with the idea of using an 8th gen CPU, but overall we found it just wasn't up to scratch with our needs.
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, utilize 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 the buck. We are here to support you.
How We Test the PC Components
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 PC’s 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 CPU’s 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 PC’s, 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.
The Best Budget $500 Gaming PC Update:
AMD Ryzen 5 1600
The Ryzen 5 1600 provides great all-around performance at a fair price. It also avoids bottlenecking the strong GPU in this build.
XFX Radeon RX 560
The RX 560 is one of the best budget gaming GPU in today's market which still provides fantastic performance.
XPG GAMMIX D20 3200MHz 16GB (2x8GB)
With a full 16GB of fast RAM, this powerful $500 build has the ability to multitask and game at the highest level for its price range.
ADATA SU635 240GB
This 240GB of SSD storage should be a great starting point, loading games, and applications ultra fast.
Thermaltake Smart 500W
We've gone for a non-modular 500W PSU for this build, with the build quality that comes from Thermaltake.
ASRock B450M PRO4
A fantastic, reliable motherboard at an affordable price with plenty of features.
Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L
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.
This processor comes to shelves boasting 6 cores and 12 threads clocked at a base speed of 3.2GHz, more than enough to handle the most popular AAA game titles out there. That being said, it can be boosted to 3.6GHz with AMD’s precision boost. It has been custom designed for gamers and has superb single-core performance, perfect for games. The multi-threaded nature of this CPU also makes it a stand out performer when it comes to multi-tasking, giving you a better experience with heavy workload tasks on a budget. All-in-all, a fantastic CPU at an affordable price tag.
The RX 560 might not be the best card on the market, but it’s still considered one of the top budget GPU in this price range – coming equipped with all the punching power of its master, the RX 570. 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 isn’t quite ready for VR gaming or higher resolutions. It can handle some lesser intensive VR titles but doesn’t provide you with that immersive experience you would want. Certainly forgivable for a budget card under $200 though. Its performance is far above that of the PS4, and around that of the PS4 Pro. If you’re looking for the best graphical performance you can get for around $150 then look no further. The XFX RADEON RX 560 offers superb aesthetics, excellent performance power, and an efficient cooling solution to boot.
XPG GAMMIX RAM 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 products with fantastic performance and reliability, their RAM is no different and is one of a few go-to brands that we use here at WePC.
As with most budget builds, 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 240GB Adata SSD to make sure we have enough room in the budget for the bolstered RX 570 GPU. That being said, it’s still an SSD that offers rapid load/boot times. Furthermore, as a first-time gamer, 240GB 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.
For a custom build at this price range, the ASRock B450M PRO4 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 budget 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.
The Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L PC Case is a brilliant example of quality on a budget. It comes to shelves offering great 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.
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 the budget. By that, we mean will you be able to build a PC that meets your performance requirements with that budget. 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 be able to handle AAA 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.
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 the Thermaltake Versa H22 as it offers nice build quality and it 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 what so ever.
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. Maybe the 9600K for example.
Finally, we have the aesthetics of the build. Aesthetics are usually one of the first things to be sacrificed in a budget build as stylish designs usually come with a premium price tag. Unfortunately, this build comes with the Thermaltake Versa H22 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 in its user-friendly design.
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.
What games can this PC run?
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive - 1920x1080 Low 135FPS average
- Dota 2 - 1920x1080 High 105FPS average
- Fortnite - 1920x1080 High 100FPS average
- Rocket League - 1920x1080 High Quality 140FPS average
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege - 1920x1080 High 80FPS average
- PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds - 1920x1080 High 75FPS average
- Overwatch - 1920x1080 Epic 110FPS average
- Warframe - 1920x1080 High 120FPS average
- GTA V - 1920x1080 Very High 70FPS average
- Forza Horizon 4 - 1920x1080 Ultra 75FPS average
- Monster Hunter: World - 1920x1080 High 60FPS averag
- Hitman 2 - 1920x1080 High 60FPS average
- The Witcher 3 - 1920x1080 High 70FPS averag
- Total War: Warhammer II - 1920x1080 High 50FPS average
Achieving 60FPS in nearly all single-player games at a resolution of 1920x1080 and high graphical settings, our $500 build is capable of playing some of the most demanding games. Total War: Warhammer II is too much for the RX 570 in this title, so if you’re looking for that 60FPS sweet spot in this highly demanding RTS game, you’d be better served with our $600 build.
The more expensive build will also allow for higher framerates or let you crank the resolution or graphical settings higher for a more immersive experience. Online competitive games obviously pose no issue this custom build, at worst producing 75FPS on average in the poorly optimized PUBG. Our $500 build is a massive step-up from the $400 build thanks to the dedicated graphics card and six-core Ryzen processor pairing.
Prebuilt Gaming PC Under 500 dollars
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 a cheap gaming PC yourself and save money in the process (or get better value for your budget). 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 the $500 budget.
If that’s the case for you, then don’t worry. Here are some options for you:
Our best budget 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 budget 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!
For a graphical punch that will surpass that of the PS4 Pro, bump up your GPU to a GeForce GTX 1660 Super. The 1660 Super 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 RTX 2060 and the $800 Gaming PC. However, note that such a massive leap in performance will come with a similarly massive leap in price.
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. MORE: Best Gaming Hard Drives
If you want to reach the Thermaltake’s 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 Thermaltake’s brilliant design which has been engineered to enhance cooling. MORE: Best Case Fans
Operating System & 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.
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.
Mouse and Keyboard
In the competitive community, the difference between winning and losing can literally come down to the peripherals you have chosen. For that reason, the team has put together a list of peripherals that suit this builds price range.
Let’s take a look at what’s going to give you the edge over your competition.
Razer Deathadder v2
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. Alternatively, you can view some of our more budget mice picks here. MORE: Best Gaming Mice
Redragon K556 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
The Redragon K556 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 customization, 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 optimized 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.
They have been custom selected to match the performance power of the custom build.
ASUS VG278Q 27"
The ASUS VG278Q is a 144Hz monitor with a very generous 27″display. This is the largest display in the Nitro range and we have already had good things to say about the smaller 24″ version so with this having more features for gamers it should stack up fairly well. 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?
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.
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.
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 Our PC Building Guide
Our WePC budget PC build video guide will walk you through every step of the PC building process. From installing your CPU and thermal paste to installing the motherboard and doing the cable management, we have you covered.
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.
So, there you have it, our comprehensive guide to the best custom gaming PC for under $500. If you’re looking for a PC that’s geared up towards 1080p gaming and gives an immersive experience then look no further, this PC does it all. Even though some compromises were made along the way, we think you’ll be more than happy with the performance power of this console killer.
Why not leave us a comment letting us know what you think of this build, or, better yet, jump on over to our community page and start a thread of your own!