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Best Budget Gaming PC Build Under $500

Best Budget Gaming PC Build Under $500

Best Gaming PC in 500

Not always we can spend more than our budget to get what we want. And, with the increase in prices of the integral parts of a Game-Ready PC, it has become a problem for the DIY enthusiasts and PC builders to assemble a good rig while trying to stay within the limits of their budget.

Let’s try and assemble a hypothetical PC while trying to stay under $500 in costs.

Best Gaming PC in 500

The Budget

This is not the place to discuss how the many factors are causing the enormous price fluctuations in PC parts, but without sparing a few words on that, we can not justify our assumed budget.

For whatever reasons (hint for another article… wink wink), the prices of memory modules have risen massively, making RAMs and GPUs way pricier than they should have been. Also, for another set of reasons, which are very outrageous and have seemingly obvious solutions, GPU prices have risen even higher!

And despite the prices slowly coming back down as the market stabilizes and the reasons gradually vanish, they are still high enough for someone who is looking to get some good time playing with his friends and doesn’t really want to spend a fortune building something he would use as a form of entertainment rather than as a profession.

Irrespective of what kind of use a PC is going to be put through, $500-$600 can be considered a sweet spot for performance per dollar ratio, as long as it is not used for resource-heavy content creation, rendering, etc. It is a decent amount to use and still provides some room for good choices.

Though we will try to stay below $500, due to the fluctuating prices, it can be anywhere between $500 and $600; so, prepare to spend a little extra than what we will probably show here. If you can’t find good deals anywhere, use the links in this article and you might just find the components for a better price than you have found till now… the keyword, though, is ‘might’.

Deciding on the performance and features

Building a budget PC under $500 is all about making compromises – many articles will say this, but I won’t. That is because I have made extensive tests with three different hardware combinations and none of them showed any weakness despite costing well within our budget. It is not about compromises, it is actually about leaving out features that you can do without, shiny stuff like custom graphics and RGB lights, etc.

So, the first course of action is deciding what exactly we need from our rig.

If we want ALL games to run at 1080p 60fps at high-ultra settings, then we have to be very careful about how we distribute the budget and which components to prioritize.

If we want ALL game to run at 1080p 60fps at anything from medium to high settings, then we literally have the perfect budget to use – we might even be able to throw in some nice bonus stuff.

If competitive gaming is our objective and graphical fidelity is not an absolute requirement, then no budget will be able to provide a better performance per dollar ratio.

With all those information in mind, let us set ourselves the first objective and try to stay below the $500 limit.


Choosing the components

After deciding what we want from our rig, we now have to decide which component to put the most priority on. Since I believe in personal choices, I will provide three combinations from which any can be chosen as the template for your own build.

GPU or the Graphics Card

First, we need to choose the GPU as it will be the heart and soul of any gaming rig build. The three options are –

Let’s see how these three GPUs fit our budget as well as our performance expectations.

Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti

The GTX 1050 Ti is a very unassuming beast that has mostly remained outside the clutches of the price surge. The Zotac version we have chosen features a whopping 768 CUDA cores clocked at a base 1392 MHz and a boost 1506 MHz, has a memory clock of almost 7 GHz and 128-bit memory bus and comes in a 4 GB GDDR5 variant.

How does all that translate to in terms of power? Well, consider this – you can play any game at 60fps at 1080p at ultra-settings, with the exception of a few titles maybe where you have to tinker with the graphics settings a little to get smooth framerates. It supports three displays and has HDMI 2.0, DisplayPort 1.4 and DL-DVI connectivity options. Outside of games, it can actually support 4K HD Video playback at 60fps!

AMD Radeon RX 560

If the 1050 Ti was a beast, Radeon RX 560 is a behemoth in our budget. It has a lower max clock frequency than the 1050 Ti but has way more stream processors than the former one has CUDA ones. But due to other performance factors, it can actually support games at 4K! The 1050 Ti can, too. But it is not recommended as it puts the card under extreme stress. But RX 560 can support a few highly optimized games at 4K as long as the graphics settings are brought down a little.

But, I prefer the 1050 Ti for only one reason – it is rated at 75W instead of RX 560’s 125W. The Radeon seems to increase the power-bills, thus not giving any real benefit by the $40-ish difference with the 1050 Ti.

Ryzen 5 2400G

And, finally, we have the Vega 11 in the Ryzen 5 2400G. Let me start off by pointing out how absolutely awesome the names sound – Vega and Ryzen! It feels so sci-fi and gives that feeling of blazing fast; mysteriously powerful artifact sound-alike, that Vega GPU is! Aside from the brilliant names, the integrated GPU based on Vega is also one of the most powerful available.

CPU or the Processor

So, now that we have our possible GPU, let’s start building around it. If the GPU was the heart, the CPU is the brain of any rig – and we have to choose wisely, here.

There are three routes to take, again. Two of them are future proof, one is not.

  1. AMD FX-8350
  2. Intel Pentium Gold G5600
  3. AMD Ryzen 5 2400G
AMD FX-8350

Let us start with the first choice. FX-8350 is a really capable processor that can handle virtually any load that you can put on it. Its multiple cores help in the content creation and show its usefulness when multiple apps are running at the same time. Despite most games using only two cores at most, having the extra cores is definitely a benefit for all your recording and streaming purposes. It has its problems, though. The single core performance is not very good and the processor struggles to work as the newer titles get released, despite them using its multi-core functionality by utilizing multithreading. The real drawback of the processor is the fact that it is a dead-end in terms of forwarding upgradeability. AMD’s FX series runs on AM3+ motherboards and the newer processor series are made for AM4 socket. So, the only upgrade option is to use the even more beastly FX-9xxx processor.

Despite the drawback, FX-8350 is a solid choice for our budget.

Intel Pentium Gold G5600

If future-proof is something you need your rig to be, then going for Intel’s Pentium series is a good idea. Based on the latest 8th Generation Coffee Lake CPU Architecture, it is the best that Intel’s got until the much-anticipated Canon Lake is released. And what a best it is – it shows a 45% increase in performance over the Kaby Lake CPUs. The G5600, especially, has it all when it comes to gaming requirements and the integrated GPU is powerful as well. The Intel HD 630 is actually found to be powerful enough to run latest games though at lower graphics settings than is standard. It has a clock speed of 3.9 GHz, more than enough for most modern games. It has two cores which are hyperthreaded, which means there are 4 threads or logical cores.

Now, our third CPU is different – because they are so new, there is barely any motherboard that runs it without BIOS upgrades. The Ryzen second generation, though, is any budget PC-builders’ dream APU, with its more than decent clock-speed, the flagship GPU integrated into it and plays fair with the future-proof socket from AMD, the AM4. There’s not much to say about it since it is such a great choice… Just be ready to make a BIOS update!

Let us go ahead and choose our motherboards while we are still discussing CPUs. For FX 8350, the best choice would be this ASUS motherboard. It has all the necessities wonderfully covered and cuts out the needless shine and big-name features to provide a low-cost motherboard for a CPU that has a serious grunt! The board may be a little dumb choice for as beastly as the FX 8350, but it is the only one in our budget.

For the G5600, Gigabyte provides the only low-cost solution. Again, a very basic board with almost no gaming-dedicated features; but it is a good and sturdy board which will probably outlive your PC.

For the Ryzen 5 2400G, your best friend will be a B350 from MSI. They are known to be reliable, come packed to the brim with features, but seriously cuts out on any of the fluff that is not needed.


RAM, HDD, Case, & Power Supply Unit

RAM

For RAM, if you are using FX 8350, you can use DDR3 RAMs, which costs anything from $50 to $80 for an 8 GB module. Due to the fluctuating prices, it is impossible to assume a price. For example, on the day of writing, I had my eyes on a $53 8 GB module. Search the various online sites, check out the local PC chop stocks and choose the one that fits your bill. Stay with 8 GB, and you will be able to maintain your $500 budget.

For G5600 and 2400G, you will need DDR4 RAMs, in which case you have to be ready to pay anything from $70 to $100 for 8 GB modules – again, the cheapest you can find, as long as they are good quality, go for it!

Storage – HDD

Next comes storage – and we have some good cheap choices. A Seagate Barracuda 1 TB HDD can be found for as low as $45. Or a WD Caviar Blue will work equally well for almost the same price.

We had to cut out SSD storage. There a couple of reasons for that – one, it would have forced us to cut costs on the GPU side of our budget which sounded a bad idea. Really though, which one would someone prefer? A 30 second boot time and a minute game load time with absolutely awesome in-game graphics and 60 fps? Or lightning-fast load times and boot times, and laggy gameplay, screen-tearing and less than impressive graphics? I know I would take the former. So, let’s not get an SSD for this build.

If you absolutely have to use an SSD, then go ahead and try to find a 1050 Ti mini. They cost less than the OC edition and will free-up part of the budget for the SSD.

Case and PSU

That leaves us with the case and PSU. In these cheap-ish builds, I try to get a good medium or small case with integrated Power Supply. But this build is going to be really powerful despite being cheap. The FX 8350 is as power hungry as AMD Piledriver CPUs come. So, I went for a Corsair VS450 for the Ryzen and Intel build while choosing the Cooler Master 500W for the FX 8350 build.

A very easy to handle, maintain and the well-built case could be Thermaltake Versa N21 if you can find it for less than $50. It looks very futuristic with its strange angles and has a lot of space for any upgrades or rebuilds you want later on. If the aesthetic value is discounted, you can go for Thermaltake v3 or a Cooler Master case.


Final Cost Estimate

As it is clearly visible, the Intel build with a cheaper RX 560 build, or a Ryzen build suits us perfectly. But the others are not below $500, so why include them? My idea behind including them was that many of the PC builders will have a couple of those parts lying around anyway.


FX 8350 Build:

Type Item Price
CPU AMD – FX-8350 4GHz 8-Core OEM/Tray Processor Check on Amazon
Motherboard ASUS M5A97 R2.0 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard Check on Amazon
Memory G.Skill – Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory Check on Amazon
Storage Western Digital – Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive Check on Amazon
Video Card GeForce GTX 1050 Ti OC Edition 4GB GDDR5 Check on Amazon
Case NZXT – S340 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case Check on Amazon
Power Supply EVGA – SuperNOVA G3 750W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply Check on Amazon
  Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts  
  Total Approx. $630

G5600 Build:

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Pentium Gold G5600 Desktop Processor 2 Core 3.9GHz Check on Amazon
Motherboard ASUS M5A97 R2.0 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard Check on Amazon
Memory G.Skill – Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory Check on Amazon
Storage Western Digital – Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive Check on Amazon
Video Card Radeon RX 560 GAMING OC 4G REv2.0 Check on Amazon
Case NZXT – S340 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case Check on Amazon
Power Supply EVGA – SuperNOVA G3 750W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply Check on Amazon
     
  Total Approx. $590

2400G Build GPU inbuilt:

Type Item Price
CPU/GPU Inbuilt AMD Ryzen 5 2400G Processor with Radeon RX Vega 11 Graphics Check on Amazon
Motherboard ASUS M5A97 R2.0 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard Check on Amazon
Memory G.Skill – Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory Check on Amazon
Storage Western Digital – Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive Check on Amazon
Case NZXT – S340 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case Check on Amazon
Power Supply EVGA – SuperNOVA G3 750W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply Check on Amazon
     
  Total Approx. $480

The HDDs outlive everything they are plugged into, the RAMs are quite resilient as well if they are of good quality, etc. Some of the builders might even have the CPU/Motherboard on hand and can use this guide to build up from that component. Or, readers might be able to get the parts in combo deals which costs significantly less. Even getting them from Craigslist or local reseller might make them cheaper than they are.

So, for those situations, building a $500 PC with those configurations is quite feasible.

Games you can Play on this $500 PC

Now that we have built a really powerful PC at around $500, let’s figure out what we can or can not use that gaming PC for. According to our tests, any of the three PCs should handle basic video editing, using Blender and other jobs related to creating awesome gaming content with surprising ease. If you later want to get into serious Blender designs or advanced video editing, drop in another 4 or 8 GB RAM module and any of the three setups will serve you for the foreseeable future.

But, we didn’t set out to make THAT rig… this is an article to make a gaming PC under $500. So, how well does our PC handle some of the most demanding games? Let’s find out!

Far Cry 4/5

See Also

If any of you thought I write way too much about Far Cry, well you’d be right because I absolutely love the whole series! This is one series that never failed to provide me with 100+ hours of fun with their main releases. And as optimized they are, they are a dream to run on any moderately powerful PC!

Far Cry 4 will be that awesome title that you will be able to throw caution to air and throw all those graphics switches all the way to max. Don’t worry, your PC was made to handle the load!

If everything was set up perfectly and you optimized your PC following our guide here, you should get a stable 55-60 FPS at 1080p.

Far Cry 5 might be a bit of strain at mas settings. Consider dropping a few settings and post-fx options for a smoother fps count, the game looks gorgeous anyway!

GTA 5

Despite it being last gen. compared to the present releases, it still acts as one the best benchmark example that a PC can be rated by comparison. And, with these builds, you can almost go ahead and max everything out – maybe leave the samplings and other Very intensive options on low or medium since they were built for a 1060 or a 1070 – and you will still get 45fps in high population areas in the city and 60fps almost everywhere else.

Destiny 2

Here’s a game that is loved and hated by a fair number of people. Either way, most end up trying it anyway. So, if you’re planning to try it you can rest assured that your PC was built to run it in 1080p at 75+fps with the right graphics settings. If you are not confident about tweaking the settings much, then go for the defaults and it should still do 60+fps.

Fallout 4

Here’s another old yet favorite title. At its highest settings, it can be hungrier than an unfed Lion. But tone the settings down a little, and it suddenly becomes a graphical masterpiece that your PC can handle with respectable ease.

Fortnite and Overwatch

Coming to the battle royale and esports genre, you can rest assured that 100+fps is absolutely feasible with some expert tinkering in the graphics settings. Again, don’t do anything and you can still potentially get 100+fps, which is why this PC is so special and gives a great performance per dollar ratio.

Fortnite runs especially well on the Ryzen build and Overwatch favors the Intel build – I have no idea why, but they do and this might be a fact to consider when building the PC.

Counter Strike: Global Offensive

The classic esports title will be a dream on this setup. You will find it impossible to go below 100fps with any settings and play style – and, actually, CS:GO is one game that can probably be played even at a higher resolution than 1080p and still have very high fps count. The game is so well optimized that even being as old as it is, the highest graphics settings look absolutely beautiful, despite still being not very taxing on the system.

Rainbow Six: Seige

Talking about esports would be incomplete without mentioning this superb title. The PC combinations we discussed are built so well for esports that any of the three can handle R6: Siege without any problem. Due to a slightly higher graphics requirement, it might be better played on slightly lower graphics settings, especially on the Ryzen build.

Future Upgrade Path

This is a very important factor to consider while building budget PCs. Since PCs tend to grow with us, knowing probable upgrade paths might just help us save a lot of wrongly spent dollars later down the road.

As I said earlier, the FX 8350 is an almost no-upgrade build in terms of CPU. You can waste some dollars on the better motherboard for overclocking and liquid cooling loops, but they won’t make the single core performance any better than it really is. The Ryzen is by far the most upgrade-able build due to AMD’s plan of using AM4 as the platform they’d support well into the future.

Intel’s habit of coming up incompatible technologies and costlier processors make upgrading possibility a strain on the wallet. But with the recent releases, Intel seemed to have caught on and the sockets and southbridge will probably remain relevant a little longer this time around – and the newer generation Canon Lake might make even more sense compared to Coffee Lake, as long as they don’t need new motherboards all over again.

The obvious upgrade in about two years time would be the GPU. Due to their universal compatibility with PCIe ports, you can change from Nvidia or AMD to the other, if you can get a better card than you’re using for cheaper in comparison. Also, Intel is rumored to be making their own Graphics Cards; so it might prove to be a great choice aside from the two obvious giants once it is released.

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