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 computer 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 processor, a GTX 1050 Ti 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.
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.
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 GTX 1050 Ti|
|RAM||Corsair Vengeance 8GB|
|HDD||Seagate 1 TB|
|CASE||Thermaltake Versa H15|
|PSU||MasterWatt Lite 500W|
|ODD||Install O.S. from USB drive|
Grand Total: $480-$530
*Component prices fluctuate daily. Click here for current pricing.
**Price includes the components that make up the tower only. Windows 10 is included in the list, but 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…
With the release of AMD’s Ryzen APUs, many budget-oriented gamers are finding a decent alternative to a budget CPU-GPU combo. However, while both of 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 a GTX 1050 Ti 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 and have used the 2400G in our $400 gaming PC in the past, too.
It’s a tough decision in choosing the i3-8100 over the Ryzen 3 1200 and Ryzen 3 2200G. The 8100 is the better processor, but in the past, there were no budget-friendly motherboard options available for it. Now that there is, there is just enough room in a $500 budget to fit it into this build.
A Ryzen 3 1200 and Ryzen 3 2200G and a compatible B350 motherboard would also work well in this build, but in my opinion, the 8100 is the better option now and offers a better platform to upgrade in the future. However, if you want to have the ability to overclock, or you want to end up with as many cores/threads as possible in the future, then you might want to go the Ryzen route, at their higher-end options will allow you to overclock and will come with more cores and threads. Of course, though, an affordable B350 or B450 motherboard isn’t really conducive for serious overclocking, so you’d have to spend more to get a higher-end AM4 motherboard now, or you’d have to upgrade it in the future.
As for the GTX 1050 Ti included in this build, at the moment, they are a bit overpriced. They should be selling for ~$150 or less, but right now they are going for a minimum of ~$170—if not more.
However, even at about ~$170 they are still able to just fit into this $500 gaming PC.
If you can’t find a GTX 1050 Ti at an acceptable price, you might have to jump down to a GTX 1050 or an RX 560, or downgrade the i3-8100 to a Ryzen 3 1200 or Ryzen 3 2200G and keep the 1050 Ti.
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 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 a GTX 1050 Ti to a GTX 1050 or RX 560.
Yes, it’s true…
We didn’t include Windows 10 in the price of this build.
But, we do have a couple of reasons for that.
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.)
Windows 10 for Free?!
Finally, it is actually incredibly easy to get Windows 10 for free. In fact, you can go straight to Windows 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.
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.
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.
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.
|Razer DeathStalker Expert||/10|
|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 and your budget grow.
Ultimately, this build will serve any budget-oriented gamer well as a starter system that they can grow into.