On the fence on whether or not to get a console or a new cheap 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 tight budget, but who want to be able to play their favorite games on at least medium settings on a 1080p monitor.
*URGENT: Due to extreme hardware shortages caused by the pandemic, it is currently very difficult to find new graphics cards (and other hardware) at reasonable prices. As of right now, if you want to buil a new gaming PC, your best bet is to check the used market for a video card, or you can look at a pre-built gaming PC (see our recommendation below) instead of building your own system.
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 i3-10100f quad-core (eight-thread) processor, a GTX 1650 Super 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, Valorant, Rocket League, or older games like Skyrim, 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 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.
This $500 PC build also comes with a 650W power supply, which will allow you to upgrade to a higher-end GPU in the future with no problems.
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…
Part List for $500 PC Build
|CPU||Intel Core i3-10100f|
|GPU||MSI GTX 1650 Super|
|RAM||Patriot Signature 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.
*Note: Due to changing prices and components going out of stock, we update the part list in this guide on a regular basis to reflect the current trends. However, it is much easier to update the components to match current trends than it is to rebuild the system every time a component goes out of stock. So, since the video below is a bit older, the current list of parts posted above is quite different than the $500 gaming PC build that we posted a video on a few months ago. The video will still give you a good idea on what the building process looks like as well as how the $500 list of components will perform.
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 i3-10100f paired with a GTX 1650 Super 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 3200G 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 Intel Core i3-10100f over the Ryzen 3 3100.
What it really all comes down to at the moment is total price involved and availability. Currently, the Intel Core i3-10100f is easier to find, it’s cheaper, and it has plenty of affordable motherboard options available.
The Ryzen 3 3100 goes in and out of stock frequently and is currently ~$20 more expensive than the i3-10100f. So, while both of these processors will serve you well, at the moment, the i3-10100f is the option we prefer due to its availability.
While we’ve used the GTX 1650 and RX 580 in this build in the past, you can currently find a GTX 1650 Super graphics card at a pricepoint that makes it the best option for this system. The GTX 1650 Super trades blows with the RX 580 in most games and outperforms the GTX 1650. So, as long as the GTX 1650 Super stays at a lower pricepoint than the RX 580 and not too much more expensive than the GTX 1650, it makes sense to put in this build.
Of course, either of the other two options are good. If you want to save some money (but sacrifice some performance), the GTX 1650 is a worthy option. Or, for a similar price you can opt for the RX 580 instead.
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 a GTX 1650 Super to a GTX 1650, RX 570, 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).
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 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 cheap $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||
|Thermaltake Tt eSPORTS||
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 cheap gaming PC build will serve any budget-oriented gamer well as a starter system that they can grow into.