On the fence on whether or not to get a console or a new budget-friendly gaming PC? This console-killing $500 gaming PC will have you playing any game on medium settings and most esports titles on max settings.
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 console-killing $500 gaming PC build and go over what it is capable of.
Yes, you heard me correctly…
You can get a $500 gaming PC that is better than either an XBox One or a PS4.
The affordable gaming PC listed below is perfect for gamers who are working with a budget, but who want to be able to play their favorite games on at least medium settings on a 1080p monitor.
For starters, you’re typically going to get the best bang for your buck if you build your own computer rather than buying one pre-built.
And, fortunately, building a PC really isn’t that difficult to do.
However, if you don’t feel up for building your own computer, I’ve also linked to a similarly-priced pre-built gaming PC for ~$500. It won’t quite have the same performance, but if you absolutely do not want to build your own system, it will serve well as an entry-level gaming PC.
This $500 gaming PC build comes with an Intel Core i3-8100 quad-core processor, an RX 570 4GB graphics card, and 8GB of DDR4 memory. This combination will allow you to play most games on medium-to-higher settings on a 1080P monitor. For non-demanding popular titles like Fortnite, League of Legends, Dota 2, Rocket League, etc. this PC will max them out with a high framerate with no problems.
This system will even handle newer games like Apex Legends and The Division 2 fairly well.
It’s the perfect budget 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.
This $500 PC build also comes with a 450W power supply, which should be powerful enough to allow you to upgrade to a mid-range GPU in the future. Although, if you want to upgrade to a higher-end graphics card, you’ll need to upgrade to a bigger power supply as well.
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…
|CPU||Intel Core i3-8100|
|GPU||ASUS RX 570|
|RAM||Corsair Vengeance 8GB|
|HDD||Seagate 1 TB|
|CASE||Thermaltake Versa H15|
|ODD||Install O.S. from USB drive|
Grand Total: $480-$530
*Component prices fluctuate daily. Click here for current pricing.
**The price includes the individual parts that make up the tower only. Windows 10 is included in the list, but it will cost extra—and you will definitely need an operating system one way or another.
Here are some common questions that people ask before they purchase this build…
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 i3-8100 paired with an RX 570 will be more powerful than AMD’s most powerful APU, the Ryzen 5 2400G.
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 2200G in our $300 PC build. We’ve also used the 2400G in our $400 gaming PC in the past, too, but that’s another budget-range where it makes more sense to go with a CPU and dedicated graphics card.
It’s a tough decision in choosing the i3-8100 over the Ryzen 5 2600 and Ryzen 3 2200G. The 8100 is a better processor than the Ryzen 3 2200G, but the Ryzen 3 2200G is ~$20 cheaper and will still perform well.
The Ryzen 5 2600 is a better all-around processor than the i3-8100—thanks to its higher core and thread count—but it comes in at ~$30-$40 more expensive. And, for purely gaming purposes, the i3-8100 will perform on par with the Ryzen 5 2600 in most scenarios—especially in games that don’t utilize more than four cores.
But really, the main reason why the Ryzen 5 2600 isn’t featured in this build is that its higher price tag would make it impossible to fit an RX 570 4GB graphics card into this build, which means you’d have to drop down to a GTX 1050 or RX 560 and you’d lose a ton of in-game performance as a result.
So, with a $500 budget, the combination of the i3-8100 and the RX 570 make for a perfect duo in terms of price-to-performance.
With GPU prices finally stabilizing, the RX 570 is now down to a reasonable price. And, while I have had the GTX 1050 Ti in this $500 build in the past, the reality is that the RX 570 outperforms it in pretty much every game.
The only difference now, though, is that the two cards are priced the same. So, whereas I wasn’t able to fit the RX 570 into a $500 budget in the past, with a more stable GPU market, it is now much easier to do so. And, that’s good news for you, because the RX 570 is capable of delivering excellent performance on a 1080P monitor. In fact, you should expect to be able to run pretty much any game at at least medium settings. Most games, though, you’ll be able to run on higher settings and still get a high framerate.
Even when cryptocurrency miners aren’t driving up graphics card prices and memory doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to buy, 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.
As of right now, the easiest way to do that would be to drop down from an RX 570 to a GTX 1050 or RX 560.
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.
Yes, it’s true…
We didn’t include Windows 10 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 your best bet is to just pay ~$90 for a Windows 10 license, there are ways to get around paying that much.
Below, I’ve listed three different ways you can either forego purchasing Windows 10, or get it at a discounted price.
You Could Always Go With Linux!
First, Windows 10 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 10 key and switch over.
Windows 10 on the Cheap!
The second reason why we did not include the cost of Windows 10 in the build is that there are ways to get it for less than the full retail price (~$90-$100).
Sites like Kinguin.net have Windows 10 keys for as low as $30. And, I have purchased a copy of Windows 10 from Kinguin with no problems.
However, there is some risk in dealing with Kinguin. For more information on that matter, check out our guide on whether or not Kinguin is legit.
The short answer is that Kinguin 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 10 key from Kinguin, make sure you add the Kinguin Buyer’s Protection.)
Also, if you’re a college student or you serve in the military, you can get Windows 10 for 10% off through the Microsoft store.
Windows 10 for Free?!
Finally, it is actually incredibly easy to get Windows 10 for free. In fact, you can go straight to Microsoft’s Windows download page and download the Windows 10 media creation tool to a USB drive, 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 10 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 10, and use that until you can afford to purchase a full license. That would give you an extra $100 to spend on your CPU/GPU combo now, and that could potentially give you a lot more performance to start out.
Along with your new gaming PC, you’ll also need a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse (if you don’t have them already.)
The good news is that there are quite a few budget-friendly 1080P gaming monitors available that will work well with the $500 PC build listed above.
And, the same goes for an affordable gaming keyboard and mouse.
Below is a list of our top picks for budget-friendly monitors, keyboards, and mice.
No, your $500 gaming PC isn’t suited for 4K gaming and it can’t push a 144Hz 1440P monitor. But, to be honest, 1080P gaming is still more than satisfying for the majority of gamers.
And, your $500 budget build is more than capable of handling games at 1080P.
As I mentioned above, there are plenty of affordable 1080P monitors on the market. And, so if you don’t already have a monitor you can use for your setup, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get one.
You can even pair this build with a monitor that has a 144Hz refresh rate and is compatible with AMD’s FreeSync technology. The higher refresh rate and AMD’s variable refresh rate technology will allow for an exceptionally smooth in-game experience.
Taking price into consideration, we’ve listed three solid 1080P monitors below at a few different price points to suit your needs.
Your keyboard and mouse are incredibly important to your gaming experience. You cannot game without either. (For some games, you can game with a controller. Check out our guide on the best controllers for PC gaming.)
And, while “gaming” keyboards (and mice) were luxury items for gamers in the past, nowadays there are a lot of budget options out there.
In this section, we’ve picked out a few different budget keyboard options.
If you’re looking for a solid keyboard to pair with your new $500 gaming computer, these are worthy options that won’t cost you a ton of money.
|Redragon K552 KUMARA||/10|
|Thermaltake Tt eSPORTS||/10|
The mouse is to the gamer what the sword is to the warrior. If you can’t properly handle your mouse, you likely won’t have success in your favorite games.
That is why it’s important to have a decent-quality mouse.
And, more specifically, one that has a decent range of DPI adjustments and multiple programmable buttons. These will help you fine-tune your mouse so that you can dominate your favorite games.
In the section below, we’ve chosen three different options for budget-oriented gamers who are looking for a decent-quality gaming mouse.
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 beast of a computer.
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 build will serve any budget-oriented gamer well as a starter system that they can grow into.