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 i5-9400F six-core processor, a GTX 1650 graphics card, 8GB of DDR4 memory, and a 480GB SSD. This combination will allow you to play most games on 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.
And, it will also provide ~60+ FPS or higher on more-demanding titles as 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 550W power supply, which should be powerful enough to allow you to upgrade to a higher-end GPU in the future.
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: While we have built this PC with the Ryzen 5 2600 in the past, the 2600 is currently harder to find and, as a result, has a much higher-than-normal price tag. So, we’ve opted for the Intel Core i5-9400F for the time being.
Part List for $500 PC Build
|CPU||Intel Core i5-9400|
|GPU||MSI GTX 1650|
|RAM||Patriot Viper 8GB|
|ODD||Install O.S. from USB|
Grand Total: $470-$530
*Component prices fluctuate daily. Click here to check current pricing.
**Price includes the parts that make up the tower only. You’ll need an operating system and Windows 10 costs ~$100 for an activation key. However, you can still install Windows 10 for free and it will work indefinitely without activating it with no problems—there will just be a watermark at the bottom left of your desktop asking you to activate it.
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 AMD Ryzen 5 2600 paired with an RX 580 will be more powerful than AMD’s most powerful APU, the Ryzen 5 3400G.
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 older 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 Ryzen 5 2600 over the i3-9100f and Ryzen 3 2200G. The i3-9100f is a better processor than the Ryzen 3 2200G and it only costs about $10 more.
The Ryzen 5 2600 is a better all-around processor than the i3-9100f, though—thanks to its higher core and thread count. The Ryzen 5 2600 does come in at ~$20-$30 more expensive and, for purely gaming purposes, the i3-9100f will perform on par with the Ryzen 5 2600 in most scenarios—especially in games that don’t utilize more than four cores.
However, the Ryzen 5 2600 can be overclocked (whereas the i3-9100f cannot) and will offer better multi-core and multi-thread performance. So, since the price difference between the two isn’t so significant and the i3-9100f has been hard to find as of late, we opted for the Ryzen 5 2600.
And, really, with a $500 budget, the combination of the Ryzen 5 2600 and the RX 5500 XT make for a perfect duo in terms of price-to-performance.
*NOTE: While the Ryzen 5 3600 has been released, it costs nearly $80 more than the Ryzen 5 2600 and wouldn’t make sense with this budget.
While we’ve used the RX 580 in this build in the past, the newer RX 5500 XT offers more performance at a similar price point. The 5500 XT will provide about a ~10% bump in performance in most games. You can still opt for an RX 580 in this build if you find it at a significantly lower price than the RX 5500 XT. And, if you’re playing non-demanding titles like League of Legends or Rocket League, the performance difference between the RX 580 and RX 5500 XT probably won’t be noticeable.
If you’re planning on playing more demanding titles, though, the extra performance that the RX 5500 XT will offer over the RX 580 will be worth having.
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 5500 XT to an RX 570.
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.