Best Gaming PC Build Under $500 for 2023

On the fence on whether or not to get a console or a new cheap gaming PC? This solid $500 gaming PC build will have you playing any game on medium settings and most esports titles on max settings.

Best $500 Gaming PC Build
One of the common myths about PC gaming is that it is too expensive to get into. Yes, a high-end gaming PC will cost you a bit more upfront than a console. However, you can do more with a PC than you can with a console. And, the reality is that a gaming PC doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In this guide, we’re going to present you with a solid-performing $500 gaming PC build and go over what it is capable of.

First, though, it’s important to note that you can get a more powerful system for your budget by building your own PC. And, considering how tight of a budget you are working with, building your PC will allow you to squeeze as much performance out of your $500 budget than will choosing a similarly-priced prebuilt system.

Fortunately, building your own PC is not difficult (check out the FAQ section for our Step-by-Step Build Guide.) And, while choosing compatible components takes a bit of research, we’ve handled that for you with this guide.

The affordable gaming PC build listed below is perfect for gamers who are working with a tight budget, but who want to be able to play their favorite games on at least medium settings on a 1080p monitor.

If you want to browse more affordable PC build options, check out our Cheap Gaming PC Build guide.

Part List for $500 PC Build

Intel Core i3-12100F GIGABYTE H610M S2H V2 ASRock Challenger Intel ARC A580 Thermaltake Versa H18
CPU Intel Core i3-12100F


MOBO Gigabyte H610M






SSD Crucial 1TB


CASE Thermaltake Versa H18




Grand Total: $470-$530



*Component prices fluctuate daily. Click ‘Price on Amazon’ to see the most-up-to-date price.

**You’ll need an operating system. Windows 11 is free to download but a license costs ~$125. However, you can still install Windows for free and it will work indefinitely without activating it—there will just be a watermark at the bottom left of your desktop asking you to activate it.

Next Option: $600 Gaming PC Build »

$500 PC Build Overview

This $500 gaming PC build comes with an Intel Core i3-12100F quad-core processor, an ASRock ARC A580 graphics card, 16GB of TEAMGROUP’s 3200MHz DDR4 memory, and a 1TB NVME SSD from Crucial.

How good is this array of hardware?


The combination of the i3-12100F, ARC A580, and the 16GB of RAM will allow you to play most games on higher settings on a 1080P monitor.

For non-demanding popular titles like Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, League of Legends, Valorant, Rocket League, or older games like Skyrim, etc. this PC will run then on medium-or-higher settings with a high framerate.

This build will also work for running more-demanding titles (like Starfield, Assassin’s Creed, God of War, Elden Ring, etc.) as well, but you will have to lower the settings a bit to achieve a consistent playable framerate.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find that kind of performance out of a $500 prebuilt PC.

It’s the perfect cheap gaming PC for gamers who don’t have a ton of money to spend, but who want a solid entry-level machine that will allow them to play their favorite games.

Check out the benchmarks below and the FAQ section for a better idea of what this build is capable of.

Quality Case & PSU for Upgrades

This system also comes with an MSI 550W 80 PLUS Bronze-rated power supply, which will allow you to upgrade to a mid-tier GPU in the future with no problems.

And, you get a Thermaltake Versa H18 case that has a tempered glass side panel, a full length PSU shroud, will offer plenty of room for a larger graphics card, and will provide adeqaute airflow.

Ultimately, if you’re looking to get into PC gaming without dropping thousands of dollars on a new machine, the part list below will get the job done for you…

*NOTE: If you don’t want to build your own PC, click the “Shop Pre-Builts” button in the section above to see a similarly priced pre-built gaming computer.

ARC A580 Benchmark

Intel Arc Goes Where NVIDIA Won't: A580 GPU Benchmarks & Review vs. A750, RX 6600, & More

Build FAQ

If you’re still on the fence about building your own PC, or you have questions before you make your decision you have three options:

  1. Use the form below to get help on your decision
  2. Ask a question in the comment section below
  3. Scroll through the FAQ below for answers to some common questions

The section below also highlights some of the decisions we made in this part list as well as goes over future upgrades you can make to take this system to the next level.

1. How Do I Build This PC?

You will need to assemble all of the individual components you have purchased into a working PC. Fortunately, this process is not difficult! And, it’s a lot of fun. If you’ve never built a PC before, use our Step-by-Step PC building guide to walk you through the process.

How to Build A Gaming PC: Step-by-Step

2. Why Not Go With an APU?

AMD’s Ryzen APUs are a popular processor option for many budget gamers. Their integrated graphics are good enough to run most games on at least lower settings. However, while AMD’s new APUs are solid alternatives to a budget GPU/CPU combo, at the $500 price point, an Intel Core i3-12100F paired with an ARC A580 will be more powerful than AMD’s most powerful APU.

I’ve put together a more thorough write-up on the battle of APUs vs CPUs and that should help clear up when the new APUs make sense over a traditional CPU/GPU combo. As of right now, we use the Ryzen 5 5600G in our $300 PC build.  We’ve also used APUs in our $400 gaming PC in the past, too, but currently that’s another budget-range where it makes more sense to go with a CPU and dedicated graphics card.

3. Intel Core i3-12100F vs Ryzen 3 4100 or Ryzen 5 4500?

It’s a tough decision in choosing the Intel Core i3-12100f over the Ryzen 3 4100 and Ryzen 5 4500. All three are solid performers for their price and they all offer excellent CPU upgrade paths.

Right now, the i3-12100F is the stronger of the three processors and it is cheaper to pair it with a budget H610 chipset motherboard than it is to pair a Ryzen 5 4500 with a budget B450 chipset motherboard.

The cost of the Ryzen 3 4100 and a compatible B450 motherboard will only be about ~$20 less expensive than an i3-12100F. We felt the performance difference that the i3-12100F offered was the better option.

However, you could make a case for opting for the 4100 if you think you can squeeze a higher-end GPU into the build. Right now, though, there’s a big price gap between the ARC A580 (~$160) and the next logical GPU upgrade (over ~$200).

4. Why Only An ARC A580?

In the past, we’ve been able to fit a much more powerful GPU into the $500 build. However, with higher GPU prices, the ARC A580 is currently the only video card option that makes sense.

You could forego a dedicated graphics card altogether and opt for one of AMD’s APUs (namely, the Ryzen 5 5400G or the Ryzen 7 5700G). The cost would be similar and, while you might not get as much overall GPU performance right now, you would be setup well to upgrade in the future, because all you would need to do is add a higher-end graphics card.

We opted for the i3-12100F/ARC A580 combo, though, as it will offer more performance now.

And, as mentioned above, if you can find a good deal on a GPU better than the A580, you could drop the CPU down to a Ryzen 3 4100 to make room for it.

5. Why Is the Price Higher Than $500?

Even when cryptocurrency miners aren’t driving up graphics card prices, or there are global supply chain issues, or we’re seeing the highest inflation in decades, individual PC hardware prices fluctuate on a daily basis.

So, if I update this guide one day and the total price is under $500, it’s possible that the next day—or even within just a couple of hours—the price could be higher (or lower.)

If you see the prices on this guide go over $500 and you can’t afford to go over that budget, you’ll need to alter the build a bit in order to keep the price down.

While I do try to update this guide on a regular basis, if you want to see a version of this build that gets updated more frequently, check out our Affordable PC Build guide that I linked to at the top of this page.

Also Read:

6. Why Isn’t Windows 11 Included in the Price?

Yes, it’s true…

We didn’t include Windows 11 in the price of this build.

But, we do have a few of reasons for that. You will need an operating system for your new build. And, while you can just pay ~$125 for a Windows 11 license from Microsoft, there are ways to get around paying that much.

At ~$125, a copy of Windows will drastically reduce the kind of performance you can get out of a $500 budget.

So, below, I’ve listed three different ways you can either forego purchasing Windows 11, or get it at a discounted price so that you can allocate more money to the actual hardware in your build.

Also Read: How to Install Windows 11 Without a Microsoft Account

You Could Always Go With Linux!

First, Windows 11 isn’t 100% necessary in order to build a gaming PC. You could, instead, go with a free Linux-based system.

However, the downside of Linux is that it doesn’t support nearly as many games as Windows.

But, if you’re strapped for cash, you could always go the Linux route to start with. And, then when you have some more money, you can purchase a Windows key and switch over.

Windows 11 on the Cheap!

The second reason why we did not include the cost of Windows 11 in the build is that there are ways to get it for less than the full retail price (~$125).

Sites like and have Windows 11 keys for as low as $30. And, we have purchased copies of Windows 11 from Kinguin with no problems.

However, there is some risk in dealing with Kinguin or G2A. For more information on that matter, check out our guides on whether or not Kinguin is legit and whether or not G2A is legit.

The short answer is that Kinguin and G2A should probably be avoided for Windows keys, but if you don’t mind the somewhat blackhat nature of it all, it is an option that a lot of people choose. (And, if you do purchase a Windows 11 key from Kinguin, make sure you add the Kinguin Buyer’s Protection.)

If you don’t like the idea of purchasing a Windows key from a third-party site, if you’re a college student or you serve in the military, you can get Windows 11 for 10% off through the Microsoft store.

Windows 11 for Free?!

Finally, it is actually incredibly easy to get Windows 11 for free. In fact, you can go straight to Microsoft’s website and download Windows for free. If you download it to a USB, you can boot from that drive on your new computer, and install Windows with no key necessary.

And, you’ll actually get a working copy of Windows.

The problem is that the free version of Windows won’t be licensed unless you register it with a legit key.

However, a lot of people have reported that you don’t really lose much if you never end up registering your copy of Windows.

And, you could always build your system now, install the free copy of Windows 11, and use that until you can afford to purchase a full license. That would give you an extra $125 to spend on your CPU/GPU combo now, and that could potentially give you a lot more performance to start out.

Is it the most ethical way to go about it? Tough to say. Microsoft doesn’t stop you from adding it to your PC for free, though. And, with such a tight budget, that extra $125 would mean a significant downgrade in components. So, I say skip purchasing a Windows license so that you can maximize your in-game performance now.

7. How to Upgrade this Build

The main goal with all budget PC builds is to eventually upgrade them so that they offer ideal in-game performance.

There are three main ways to upgrade a PC to get better gaming performance out of it:

  1. Upgrade your GPU
  2. Upgrade your CPU
  3. Add more/upgrade your RAM

First, Upgrade Your GPU

In this $500 build, the first thing I would upgrade would be the graphics card. It’s going to have the biggest impact on your in-game performance (as the i3-12100F is an adequate processor for 1080P gaming.)

The following GPUs would make for a good upgrade:

  • RTX 4070
  • RX 7700 XT
  • RX 7800 XT

Just note, though, that a serious GPU upgrade is going to require that you upgrade the 550-watt power supply in this build. You could always alter this build to feature a higher-end power supply so that you can easily swap in a better graphics card down the road. But, that will definitely take you over the $500 budget.

Second, Upgrade Your CPU

The Intel Core i3-12100F is by no means a high-end processor. But, considering that most modern games rely more heavily on GPU performance than they do on CPU performance, the 12100F will work just fine for 1080P gaming for the forseeable future.

So, it would make sense to hold off on upgrading the 12100F as it won’t be a bottleneck even after you’ve upgraded your GPU.

Still, though, it would be good to upgrade it eventually as there are more powerful options out there. With the motherboard in this build, the following processors would make worth upgrades:

  • Intel Core i5-12400(F)
  • Intel Core i7-12700(F)

Of the two, we’d opt for the i7-12700 or 12700F as those will offer you more cores and threads.

It’s important to note that while the motherboard in this system could house a newer 13th generation Intel CPU like the i7-13700, those CPUs are a bit more power hungry than 12th gen Intel CPUs and, so, a 13th gen Intel CPU may be throttled by this motherboard.

So, if you do want to upgrade to a 13th generation or 14th generation Intel CPU, you’re also going to want to upgrade the motherboard to a chipset that will provide the new CPU an appropriate amount of power.

Third, Add More Storage

The 1TB Crucial NVME SSD should hold you over for a time. But, most modern gamers can fill up 1TB of storage quick. So, after you’ve upgraded your GPU and CPU, it would be a good idea to add a second SSD so that you have plenty of space to hold all of your favorite games.

Conclusion: A $500 PC Build Can Give You A Lot More Than You Think

The $500 gaming PC build listed in this guide is capable of playing any game on a 1080p monitor. And, through a few different upgrades, it can transform from a decent entry-level gaming PC, into a high-end gaming desktop.

And, really, that is one of the main advantages of going with a gaming computer over a console. Whereas a console’s hardware can’t be upgraded, a computer can be upgraded and added to as your demands as a gamer grow.

Ultimately, this cheap gaming PC build will serve any budget-oriented gamer well as a starter system that they can grow into.

Get Help With Your Build: If you need help putting together a part list for your build? Fill out the form below or ask your questions in the comment section!

Gaming PC Help

Fill out the form below to get help in choosing the right PC for your needs and budget.

Hey, I’m Brent. I’ve been building PCs and writing about building PCs for a long time. Through, I've helped thousands of people learn how to build their own computers. I’m an avid gamer and tech enthusiast, too. On YouTube, I build PCs, review laptops, components, and peripherals, and hold giveaways.

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130 thoughts on “Best Gaming PC Build Under $500 for 2023”

  1. I’m going to answer jhanelle, John, and Twan. Jhanelle: I recommend buying the Zalman z7 neo, it fits everything and comes with 4 RGB fans, only 75$ on amazon. John: The CPU comes with a cooler, the intel cpu’s with K’s on the end don’t. Twan: i5/i7 10th gen, or if you want a more modern cpu then you have to change the motherboard, my different brand recommendation is a Ryzen 7 5700g which is SUPER CHEAP rn only 186$ also comes with a free cooler any day.

    • The man won’t answer so I will. If you want a different brand or gen, get a different motherboard. But if you’re talking about just Intel then maybe an i5/i7 would be good. It can work on a wide range of games, demanding or not.

  2. I have looked to this in conjunction with other guides, and this one doesn’t mention cooling at all. How is that included in the guide?

  3. I am soon to be building my own system and was wondering with the budget setup list, would this system support the usual ODD drives, and to what extent the size (storage) would the limit be? Also, can one add any additional SSD’s without issues? Remember, that later this year Windows 11 comes out…

  4. The graphics card you have listed is $500 by itself used, not available new. I went looking to see if I could match the steamdeck for the price, but the state of GPUs right now makes it ridiculous.

  5. How well would this work with Warzone? I’ve never had a pc before and I’m wanting to get into it really bad just for Warzone. Does it come with browsers to download it? Lol I know I probably sound dumb

    • This could probably do those well im 99% sure it would run space engineers on medium-high graphics but minecraft shaders, you will have to look more into that yourself but im sure it would run it 🙂

  6. This is great and all but when I looked at the prices of it, a single component was over the price they said this would be. either I missed something, or this has gotten more pricy over time.

  7. Im finally done with console never playing it again i have a 400 to 500 dollars Budget i need help getting any gaming pc that run 144 fps

  8. Hello i am Seth (age 15) and i chose to build this pc but i have run into a problem, at the time of writing this the mother board included on this site is either not available from the seller linked above on amazon or more expensive from a different seller. Is there a different motherboard that would work the same but less pricey but also be compadable with all of these components?
    thanks Seth

  9. lol the GPU is now selling for almost 500 itself. Best go with an integrated, like the AMD Athlon 3000g. Yeah, it’s not as powerful, but it’s selling for 100 on Amazon. I managed to get a pretty ok starter M-ATX build together on Amazon for only 350. Uses most of the same components. Found a monitor for 95, so I got a full setup (minus keyboard and mouse, but they’re like 15 bucks) for less than the price of the unit here. Again, not as powerful, but I plan to wait till GPU prices go down to upgrade.

  10. I am looking to build a computer from start to finish complete with monitor. This computer will be used for email, photo storage, internet, school stuff (I am a teacher), a VERY LITTLE gaming. I am looking to build one between $500-$600 or lower. Thanks.

    • Yes it is.I have this computer for my minecraft server and an i9 rtx 3070, 16gb ram, 1tb ssd for my main computer. This computer is able to handle a spigot server for 256 people very cleanly and nicely. I use this server for my friends and family (a total of 17 people), and my youtube channel Moonlite ASD. The max i’ve tried is 300, and even that ran smooth. so for at least 4 people? Definitely, but the question arises, are you going to play and run the server on this computer or use this just as a server, and seperate computer for a game like I did. Sorry for the long talk, but short answer, yes, but if your gaming all on this pc, dont allocate more than 2-3gb to the server. If you use a second pc, use 7-8gb, it doesnt matter yes

  11. Are cases interchangeable? Or are these parts picked specifically to fit this case. I have been looking at a couple that are maybe $10 or $20 more expensive but have a nicer eye appeal.

  12. Hello Brent, my name is Kevin and I am 14 years old. I will soon be building this PC and I want to know if it I requires a wifi card for internet connectivity. Will any card be compatible or do a need a specific type? I didn’t see anything about it, thanks.

  13. Am I able to run Google chrome tabs in the background while playing a game? I noticed that there isn’t a cooler included so I just want some clarification.

    • I have no idea, I asked him the same question. Just look up the type of motherboard this is and see which ones are compatible.

  14. Can you do a build on the latest one I have no experience in building this pc but I’d like to find out. This is the one with the 10th gen core intel one.

    • You’re right. I believe the last time I updated this build I had to drop down from a GTX 1650 Super to a GTX 1650 and I automatically replaced all instances of “GTX 1650 Super” with “GTX 1650” without checking to see how that affected that context of that section of this article. I’ve updated the guide now that the GTX 1650 Super will fit in the build again.

  15. I’m looking to build something very similar to this. I’m thinking of upgrading the processor to an i5 and the ram to 16gb and expanding to 32 later. What upgrades would you recommend without breaking the bank?

  16. When I try to install DRV_VGA_INTEL_19H1_TSD_SZ_W10_64_VER26201006952_20190722R Driver for an asus prime H310M-E R2.0 suggestion you made about 3 weeks ago. It says Error, system does not meet minimum requirements would this make my system crash on game like fortnite.

  17. I’m looking to build this pc bit I’ve noticed that there is no CPU cooler and no thermal paste are these necessary to build the PC?

    • they are not necessary per se, but you can get a cheap air cooler to make the cpu last longer.You will only need a highend cooler if you are overclocking.

  18. Looking to build a rig very similar to this one, I just have a couple of questions. Does this build have a cooling system? Also, do you have to order the cables separately? Thanks.

  19. I was thinking about buying this PC build but I went to amazon to check the price and it was about 600$ and I found a PSU that that is cheaper with the same wattage and better reviews. I also have a question. Why get gaming RAM?

  20. Does this motherboard have built-in WiFi? If not, is it better to get a mother board with that feature, or buy a WiFi card, and which WiFi card would you recommend?

    Last time I built a PC, it was upgrading my 386 to a 486. WiFi didn’t exit. A SoundBlaster was pretty essential.


  21. I would like to build this machine with the addition of a cd/dvd-rw drive and a card reader. Aside from a different case, what would be required to add them to the build? Thanks!

  22. I like this combo for under 500 however I still want a case that offers a 3.5 bay for optical drive and is this board compaitable to add wifi and a 5.0 BT? Finally can this graphic card run freesync for monitors?

  23. What would you swap out if your just going to program and code. Not huge games either. I’m guessing the GPU? Let me know what you would trade since gaming won’t be used.

  24. Hi, since we’re using a separate graphics card, can I use the i3-9100f “without processor graphics” version CPU?
    Any discussion the MOBO, or is it your go-to board?

  25. You can grab a legit Windows 7 key online for cheap, seeings how it is out the door now; then use that key with the free Windows 10 download, and it will get converted into a fully-registered Windows 10 OS. Whichever version of Win7 you have, is what version of Win10 it will convert to (ie, Win7 Pro will become Win10 Pro, etc.)
    Great write-up!

  26. I am a truck driver and have the ability to power a desktop PC however I I’m not sure how I could build it for stability to handle the shock of going down the road Sylvester the RAM and graphics card do not end up removing themselves from the motherboard any help would be appreciated

  27. I planned on making a PC based on your recommendation. One complication is that I got a processor for Christmas (Ryzen 2700x).

    I still want to stay on the 500-600 budget. Would the mobo here be too little and result in me not taking enough advantage of the processor?

    Also, would I need more fans for the case? If so, would a case like this that comes with a couple fans already make up for the extra cost?

  28. Hi Brent,

    Thank you for the good information, just one question. Why is the “XFX RX 580 8GB” GPU included on the parts list while the writeup covers information about the “XFX RX 570 4GB” GPU? Are both these parts interchangeable and what would the difference in performance be?

    • Hey Brendan, thanks for reading and commenting.

      Sorry for the confusion. I need to update the writeup to include the RX 580 8GB (will do that right now). Sometimes I update the part lists of these builds globally and then come back and update the text later. So there can be a delay.

      But, yes, the 580 and 570 are interchangeable in this instance. The performance difference is about a 10-15% bump in average FPS across most games.

      Here’s a video that benchmarks the two GPUs in seven games:

      You could save some money and stick with a 570, though. And, if you’re playing non-demanding games like League of Legends, Rocket League, Dota 2, etc. the performance difference between the two GPUs probably isn’t going to be noticeable. But, for more demanding titles, that extra 10-15% that the 580 offers will definitely help.

      Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  29. Hey there!

    So when putting this on parts picker I received this warning.

    “Some Intel H310 chipset motherboards may need a BIOS update prior to using Coffee Lake Refresh CPUs. Upgrading the BIOS may require a different CPU that is supported by older BIOS revisions.”

    I did a little research, but was wondering if you had trouble with this cpu motherboard combo?

    • Hey Rich,

      Yes, some H310 motherboards do need a BIOS update before they can use 9th gen Intel CPUs. Looks like the motherboard I had in this build was out-of-stock regardless. I switched it to the REV 2.0 version:

      That one says it’s compatible with 9th gen CPUs out-of-the-box (and, some of the reviewers back that claim up).

      Hope this helps!

    • Hey Michael, yeah the Corsair CX 450M will work fine in this build. But, if you want to upgrade to a mid-range or higher-end GPU (like an RTX 2060 or 2070) in the future, it probably won’t be enough.

      This Seasonic 550W PSU would work well and costs less than the Corsair CX450M:

      It’s not semi-modular, though, so it won’t be as easy to do cable management with.

  30. As of today (4-27-19) this is almost 600 for all the parts, excluding the OS… Why has it shot up so high, and what are suggestions to make it cheaper without compromising too much?

    • With the PC you can change all of the parts and upgrade it in the future while the Xbox one x is stock. You cannot upgrade any of the parts ever so when Xbox scarlet comes out you would have wasted money on that while if a new line of processors came out you would be able to upgrade your PC immediately and you would be getting higher frames then you ever would on an Xbox one x

  31. Hey Brent! Just got this build all setup today and was wondering what upgrades you would reccomend over time to turn it into that oh-so-desired high end beast PC?

  32. Wonderful guide! Although I would personally ditch the DDR4 RAM for a DDR3 setup. You usually can’t take advantage of DDR4 speeds on a budget PC and it costs you more.