One of the common myths about PC gaming is that it is too expensive to get into. Yes, a solid 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 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. (There are exceptions to this, see below.)
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.
The $500 gaming PC build comes with a Ryzen 3 1200 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.
Ultimatley, 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||AMD Ryzen 3 1200|
|GPU||ZOTAC GTX 1050 Ti|
|RAM||Patiot Viper 8GB|
|HDD||Seagate 1 TB|
|CASE||Thermaltake Versa H17|
|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 Pentium G4560 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 writeup on the battle of APU vs CPU and that should help clear up when the new APUs make sense over a traditional CPU/GPU combo.
I might get a lot of flack for choosing an Intel Pentium G4560 processor over a Ryzen 3 1200 processor.
However, with the lack of graphics cards available and memory prices at insane levels, it is simply not possibly to fit in the $30 extra that is necessary to upgrade to the Ryzen 3 1200.
If the prices were normal, then you would definitely want to look to add a Ryzen 3 1200. And, when that time comes, I will update this guide to include a Ryzen 3 1200.
As for the GTX 1050 Ti included in this build, at the moment it is tough to even find them available. And, while they should be selling for ~$150 or less, if you are lucky enough to find one right now it’s going to cost you at least ~$220—if not more.
However, they can still be found in the low $200’s. And, at that price, 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. Although, both of those are also either much more expensive than they should be, or hard to find as well.
Even when crypto currency 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 because 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 purchasing 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.
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 great thing about building or buying a gaming computer is that it’s performance is not limited to the parts that initially go into it. That’s because, you can always upgrade a computer to be more powerful.
In this section of our $500 gaming PC build guide, we’re going to go over what specific upgrade paths you have to take this entry-level gaming PC into a high-end gaming PC capable of playing games on higher resolution and refresh rate monitors.
The first upgrade I’d make on this build is to get a new processor. We did go a little cheap on the CPU in this build to start in order to accommodate a graphics card that will allow you to play most games on higher settings on a 1080P monitor.
So, the first change you’ll want to make is to your processor. Check out this guide: The Best CPUs for Gaming.
Since we went with a B250 chipset motherboard, you’re going to be limited to Intel 7th generation chips. Unfortunately, Intel’s new 8th generation processors are not compatible with the 7th generation motherboards, despite the fact that they are both on the same socket.
However, Intel’s 7th generation chips are still amazing options. And, really, there are only three Intel 7th generation processors that would make sense for you to upgrade to.
They are an Intel Core i5-7500, an Intel Core i5-7600, and an Intel Core i7-7700. Any of these will give you a solid boost in system performance, as well as a decent boost in gaming performance. The i7-7700 is the ideal upgrade path, but the i5-7500 and i5-7600 are worthy options as well.
Processor Upgrade Options
- Mid-Range: Intel Core i5-7500 (Check Price)
- Mid-Range+: Intel Core i5-7600 (Check Price)
- High-End: Intel Core i7-7700 (Check Price)
The goal with your second upgrade is to add a bigger power supply so that when you have the budget to upgrade to a higher-end video card, you have a power supply that can accommodate it.
At the very least, I would look for a quality 550W power supply, as that is about the lowest capacity that can accommodate the best graphics cards on the market. But, to be on the safe side, a quality 600W-700W unit would be best.
Power Supply Upgrade Options
- Mid-Range: Corsair CX550M (Check Price)
- High-End: SeaSonic SSR-650RM (Check Price)
- Extreme: EVGA SuperNOVA 850 T2 (Check Price)
You’ll also want to upgrade to a roomier case that will accomodate a larger graphics card and give you more space to grow into. There are plenty of quality cases out there that will give you the extra space you need, will accommodate a bigger graphics card, and that cost under $100.
Case Upgrade Options
- Mid-Range: Phanteks P400S (Check Price)
- High-End: Corsair 570X (Check Price)
- Extreme: Cooler Master Cosmos C700P (Check Price)
And, finally, now would be a good time to add in an SSD to give your system performance a boost and to increase your storage capacity.
An SSD will significantly improve your system’s boot time, as well as make programs, files, and games load faster.
Right now, you can land a traditional 250GB SATA SSD for under $80, or a 500GB SSD for under $150.
SSD Upgrade Options
- Mid-Range: Samsung 860 EVO 250GB (Check Price)
- High-End: Samsung 860 EVO 500GB (Check Price)
- Extreme: Samsung 860 EVO 1TB (Check Price)
As I’ve said above, the GTX 1050 Ti in this build is going to allow you to play most games on higher settings on a 1080P monitor.
However, if you want to upgrade to a higher resolution and/or refresh rate monitor, you’re going to need a bigger and better graphics card in order to accommodate that monitor.
So, the next logical step will be to get a high-end graphics card.
When cryptocurrency miners aren’t ruining the graphics card market, higher end GPUs tend to start at about $300-$350 (like the GTX 1070 should be) and go all the way up to about ~$700 (like the GTX 1080 Ti.)
The more you spend on your graphics card, the better able you’ll be able to push games on higher resolution monitors. So, if your goal is to game on a 4K monitor and you have $350 to spend at the moment, you may want to wait a little longer to get a higher-end card so that you ensure that you’ll be able to play your favorite games at the highest settings.
Graphics Card Upgrade Options
Now that you have your new graphics card, it’s time to upgrade to a monitor that will fully utilize it.
If you’re looking for the best visuals possibles in your games, you’ll want to look at a 4K IPS monitor.
If you are a competitive gamer who wants a monitor that will give them an advantage while gaming, you’ll want to look at a monitor with a high refresh rate and low response time.
And, if you want the best of both worlds, you’ll want to check out a 1440P/144Hz+ monitor.
You could also look at ultrawide monitors, or getting a triple monitor setup (my personal favorite), too.
Monitor Upgrade Options
- 4K Resolution: Acer Predator XB321HK (Check Price)
- 1440P/144Hz: ASUS PG279Q 27″ (Check Price)
- Ultrawide: BenQ EX3501R 35″ (Check Price)
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 start system that they can grow into.