Best Budget Gaming PC Under $500, This Cheap Build Is On Steroids
I am excited to show you guys how to make the best budget gaming PC build under $500. I also know how it is when you are on a tight budget so we will be looking into some cheap parts making sure to stay on target. If you are just into buying good pre-built gaming computers I will show you some of my top picks within our price point for that as well.
However, I highly recommend you build your own console killer PC because it is a blast! This machine is going to smash through high settings with great FPS and you are going to absolutely love it.
Either way we are going to have fun today because computer building and gaming are both awesome activities. I always love talking about computer hardware as well so follow along and learn how to build your own gaming PC 🙂
Best Intel Budget Gaming PC Build Under $500
CPU / Processor – Intel Pentium Processor G3258 4 BX80646G3258
Motherboard – MSI Computer Corp. LGA1150 H81M-P33
Graphics Card – EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB
Total Cost: $475-$525 Current Price: $487.41 (under budget)
The above Intel build is my top pick right now for the $500 budget range. It is based on min / maxing every single piece of hardware to completely optimize the machine for gaming specifically. Sure it will be awesome for other functions but gaming is our #1 priority here. A couple other builds to check out if you have the budget would be my $600 and $700 options.
The heart of the build is a powerful GeForce GTX 1060 3GB card that is pretty much the best right now for its price point. Paired with it is an Intel Pentium Processor G3258 dual-core chip. It is an inexpensive chip that runs cool and is overclockable with factory cooling.
The G3258 is actually very powerful for the money and as you may know a graphics card is WAY more important to a GAMING build then the CPU. We want one that holds great bang for buck value.
Another important thing to note is that there are very few games that fully utilize 4 or more cores out of the processor so the best thing to have is a CPU with a lot of performance per core which the G3258 certainly does. It also has a great upgrade path in that down the road you can throw in a Intel i5 or i7. In short its a flippin’ awesome chip for ~65 bucks.
To fit the expensive price tag of an GeForce GTX 1060 3GB in this build we did have to go with a smaller case and omit an optical drive. If you like for an extra $15 or so you can go with a little fancier case such as the Corsair Carbide Series Mid Tower and add in an ASUS DVD-RW for another $20 but it is up to you. Below will be my recommended optional parts such as these.
I feel at this point most people will install their OS off a USB drive and download everything else. If you are really hardcore about sticking to the $500 budget just go with the smaller case and no optical drive. WE NEED THE POWER!!! 🙂
Best AMD Budget Gaming PC Build Under $500 Option #1
CPU / Processor – AMD Athlon X4 860K Black Edition CPU Quad Core
Graphics Card – EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB
Total Cost: $450-$550 Current Price: $529.36
This AMD build features the GeForce GTX 1060 3GB once again but this time with an Athlon X4 860K Quad-Core processor. Other then the motherboard and CPU it is virtually identical to the 1st one in both build and concept. We save money for the best graphics card possible while still building an awesome overall gaming rig.
As I said earlier in the article very few games are properly utilizing extra cores in a CPU. Those games do exist and so building a machine with the 860k will give you piece of mind going forward. It is also fairly overclockable. However the “per core” performance will be lacking compared to any Intel chip basically.
The other important thing to note is that the FM2+ chipset has hit its peak and your not left with much of an upgrade path with the 860k CPU.
To sum this one up: This is still a great build out of the gate for playing PC games. Build this one if you are #1 an AMD fan and #2 looking for a more set it and leave it experience.
Best AMD Budget Gaming PC Build Under $500 Option #2
CPU / Processor – AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor Black Edition
Graphics Card – EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB
Total Cost: $500-$600 Current Price: $552.33
Lastly I thought I would add in what I think to be a well rounded cheap gaming pc build that is great for gaming and excels more in versatility and multitasking. It is going to cost a little more but you may see the value here. Honestly you may lose a few FPS over the Intel build above but this is a really great choice.
It costs a bit more because we get to utilize the 6-core AMD FX-6300 processor and Corsair Carbide Series SPEC-01 Mid Tower giving you a truly complete package overall.
When you are working with a 500 dollar budget it is sometimes hard to stay within the lines! There is so much cool gear out there for gaming computers but I did my best to compile the best hardware possible for this build.
Keep in mind that part prices will go up and down from time to time as well. So we all know that time moves quickly in the tech world. Due to this fact my parts list is also subject to change as things get outdated.
It won’t likely change very often but no matter what the same principals for how I design a gaming PC will ring true.
When I am looking into a case for a gaming computer at this price range I am just looking for something that looks decent, is functional and compatible with the rest of our parts. As with everything else it must be inexpensive to fit the running theme. I know everyone’s taste in style is different so feel free to pick out whatever case you wish or use the one I recommend. No wrong answers here.
What Processor to Use?
I decide next whether I am using an AMD or Intel processor for the system and usually for a tighter budget AMD has great bang for buck options. Because of this AMD is what I will typically use up until that higher price bracket comes into play. Lately Intel has been doing pretty awesome in the budget CPU scene as well hence the multiple build options above.
The Rest of the Machine
For the rest of the parts we are looking mainly for great performance and compatibility at a reasonable price. I like to get the most memory/storage per dollar. As far as the power supply goes you really don’t want to completely skimp here because PSU’s are known to die from time to time and as you know there is no gaming if there is nothing to power your gaming machine. It needs to be of high enough quality and watts for the other parts we are using.
Graphics Card – Most Important Part Of A Cheap Gaming PC
LASTLY we save the lions share of the budget to spend on our graphics card. Since our focus here is on a gaming rig we need to make sure we have a capable graphics processor behind it. After all we won’t be only using this for Facebook.
Don’t get me wrong ALL of the other parts inside the PC are important too.
It is just that trying to save money on this portion of the build is not the place to look for it. You can really bottle neck your gaming performance. I recommend spending roughly $150-$200 on the GPU alone out of our $500 allowance.
Additional Items of Interest
Operating System – Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
WiFi – Wireless USB Adapter
Optical Drive – Asus 24x DVD-RW Serial-ATA OEM DRW-24B1ST
Keyboard & Mouse Combo – Redragon S101 VAJRA USB Gaming Keyboard + Mouse
Headset – Sentey Gs-4730 Gaming Headset
Speakers – Creative A250 2.1 Multimedia Speaker System
Extras Explanation Extravoganza
Above are some completely awesome yet inexpensive computer peripherals. These would make great options for you if you don’t have all the equipment needed for gaming.
Your monitor size will be up to your preference but typically the larger you go the more expensive. You really just want a decent 1080p monitor with a good response time.
A gaming keyboard and mouse are usually of higher performance and precision then standard counterparts.
Headsets, or speakers with a mic, is needed when playing online multiplayer games. It is also good for social reasons whether you use it to talk to team mates or online dating (hey I don’t know you!) 🙂 haha.
This site has a lot of gaming gear reviews so even if you are looking into a mid range monitor, keyboard, mouse, headset or speakers you will want to check those out as well. Take a look at those and if you are ever looking for them again you can access it from the header bar of the website.
The Operating System Dilemma
Yes. You can utilize a version of Linux for your gaming PC and you will have a perfectly functional rig. Linux is a pretty cool open source platform with many versions. One of the popular ones being Ubuntu.
Linux OS is free to use, which is totally awesome, but there is one major flaw for the average gamer.
Well besides the fact that the “average gamer” is already familiar with Microsoft’s Windows. There is also the glaring dilemma that many of your favorite titles will not support being used on a Linux OS.
So let me be completely honest here. Unless you are a complete Windows hater and a Linux hipster (which is totally cool I can accept that)… Then you will be using Windows. A fun thing to do is to have both of them installed so you can play around with Linux as well.
Listen. I know a lot of you guys will be using various methods of obtaining the most current Windows operating system because you do not want to spend the extra +/- $100 on software but listen to my advice please.
It is best to just straight up buy your OS. In the long run it is worth it to just bite the bullet so that you can easily get your updates and play by the rules. If you are one of those rebels without a cause well then so be it. I won’t ask you ’bout your business so you won’t have to tell me no lies. 🙂
How to Build a Budget Gaming PC Under 500 Dollars
If you are all excited to build a gaming PC but need a bit of help doing it you can check out that link. It goes to my page where there are some good resources and extra information on the topic.
For your first time building a PC I suggest you learn as much as possible about it but don’t let all the information scare you one bit. Anyone can do it really and this can end up developing into one of your favorite hobbies.
This video shows you how to build a PC. Check out my “build a gaming PC page” to see other videos as well as more specific advice on this sort of project.
Building a Gaming PC vs Buying a Pre-Built
Ahh the age old question. Should I build or buy my cheap gaming PC? You will find the internet flooded with opinions but lets try and think of this more objectively. One of the things you will hear from a lot of old school builders like myself is, you HAVE to build your own! Another smaller group of people will flame that mentality saying it is a waste of time and a newbie should just buy a pre-built machine and progress slowly into building their own.
That 2nd thought process is right in some aspects so let me tell you why you should buy a pre-built and after that I will go into why you should build your own.
Buying a gaming PC that is already made and ready to go out of the box can certainly be a viable option. Nothing wrong with it at all actually. The pro’s are you can get going immediately after you receive your machine. Another being that if you aren’t ready to jump strait into building a PC you can buy one and later on, by upgrading / replacing parts you will get your feet wet before jumping strait into it.
Most importantly I want to make sure you know that no, you DON’T have to build your own computer. There is a reason people are saying that you do but it is not always exactly why you think they are. You see PC building becomes an awesome hobby and many people get as much enjoyment out of it as they do gaming. Well maybe almost as much.
So here is what I think. If it seems fun and interesting to you then I would urge you to give it a shot. I am one of those people who love putting gaming PC’s together and other then it being a fun side hobby you also tend to get more value for your dollar spent. Along with this comes more time commitment on the flip side.
Whatever you decide to do is completely cool and I will back you 100%. I mean the main thing is, we are doing all of this because we love it. Not because it is a chore. Next I will show you my top picks for pre-made cheap gaming PC’s under $500 (and close to) if this is the route you choose to go.
My Top Picks for Pre-Built Gaming Rigs
Right now there aren’t a ton of great options available in the realm of cheap gaming computers. For under $500 I have found 3 options that I will list below but bear in mind these are just my top picks for now and not set in stone forever. Like with hardware, prices vary so expect that to happen.
#3 Budget Gaming PC Under $500 – CybertronPC Patriot (Red) TGM1293D Gaming PC
- Processor: AMD A4-5300 3.40GHz Dual-Core
- RAM: 8GB SDRAM DDR3
- Hard Drive: 1TB SATA III
- Onboard Graphics: Radeon HD 7480D GPU
- Disc Drive: 24X DVD±RW Dual-Layer Drive
- Operating System: Windows 8.1 64-Bit – Eligible for Windows 10 Free Upgrade After Purchase
- Extras: Keyboard and Mouse Included, WiFi Built in
This CybertronPC is fairly inexpensive and at times can be seen as low as $400 or so on Amazon. As-is, the machine would be fine for playing games that are less demanding on graphics out of the box. Stuff such as League of Legends or some of your steam games would be alright.
Even so I would recommend you go out and get a dedicated graphics card because the on board GPU is really bottle necking this system.
Everything else is pretty much on par with what you would be looking for other then possibly the processor. It is an A4 Dual-Core chip. You may well want a machine with more performance and cores. As you will see with my later picks you can find options out there that are more beastly but at a little bit more cost.
At the end of the day this option could be good for some of you depending on what you will use it for but be on the look out for a graphics card to pair with it.
- Processor: 2.9 GHz Intel Core i3
- RAM: 4 GB DDR3 1600mhz
- Hard Drive: 500 GB SATA 5400RPM
- Graphics Card: Custom Nvidia Maxwell GTX CPU
- Operating System: Windows 8.1, Free Upgrade to Windows 10
- Size: 7.87 x 7.87 x 2.17 inches
The Alpha is an interesting twist in the plot here. The unique thing about this tiny rig is that it is a PC / Steam machine hybrid.
Although at the base price without any upgrades we are a little lower end then our number one pick. However, this can be upgraded fairly easy.
A couple of the upgrades you can do fairly reasonably is to up the amount of RAM and add a solid state drive. These two things will help add longevity to the life of the machine and up performance a bit. Take a look at my Alienware Alpha review to read more about it.
I think if Steam is something you are into then this is really the way to go. I love that you can jump inbetween the Steam interface and Windows as you wish. You can play a lot of games on medium and high settings with this PC. Alienware has done a great job at making their console alternative product.
#1 Budget Gaming PC Under $500 – CybertronPC Borg-Q (Blue) TGM4213A Gaming PC
- Processor: AMD FX-4130 3.8GHz Quad Core
- RAM: 8GB SDRAM DDR3
- Hard Drive: 1TB 7200RPM
- Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce GT610 1GB Video Card
- Disc Drive: 24X DVD±RW Dual-Layer Drive
- Operating System: Windows 8.1 or 10 Home 64-Bit
- Extras: Keyboard and Mouse Included
CybertronPC has brought us once again another cheap gaming computer in their Borg-Q. Out of the comparable machines here this one comes equipped with the higher performing hardware. This should be expected because we are at the full budget price.
This PC comes equipped with nice quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, 1 TB HDD, a GeForce GT610 Graphics Card and keyboard/mouse included.
The only thing you may feel the need to upgrade a ways down the road will be possibly the graphics card but I think that and the other hardware should last you quite a good while.
This is my top pick for pre-built PC’s under $500. I believe you will have to do the least work getting it up and going (instant) and will have the most time before you feel the need to upgrade. It should definitely suit your gaming needs.
Epic Conclusion Time
It is indeed a rockin’ quest to find the best budget gaming PC build under $500. Whether creating a gaming PC build or buying a pre-made it is hard to work with a small budget but I think I provided some awesome options here for you!
I am not going to try and bash you for whatever decision you make because dude (or dudette) your getting a del… I mean custom gamer-centric PC! When that happens it is a great day for sure. The choir sings and the clouds open up to the sunny sky.
My last thought will be this. If you DO want to put the time in because building your own computer seems like an awesome idea then go ahead and go for it! It will be amazing to gaming on a PC that you built yourself.
Also know you will end up with a better overall product with higher performance right out of the gate. The choice is yours and if you need anything just let me know and I’ll be here for you!
Are you completely stoked to build or buy a new gaming rig? You gotta tell me your upcoming plans :). Was I able to help you in some way with my article? I’d love to share in your experiences so let me know! If you are interested in another build of mine please check out my gaming PC build under $400 or even $1000 if you’re feelin’ frisky. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to drop me one anytime at the bottom of this page. Likes, shares, tweets and +1’s are greatly appreciated as well.
Founder of Level Up Your Gear