Best Gaming PC Build Under $500 (Updated for 2018)

  • Best Gaming PC Build Under $500 (Updated for 2018)
  • cpu
  • gpu
  • ram
  • hdd
  • psu
  • mobo

PART LIST

  • cpuRyzen 3 1200 CPUView
  • gpuEVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti SC 4BView
  • ramPatriot Memory Performance Viper Elite 8GBView
  • hddWestern Digital 1 TB 7200RPM HDDView
  • psuCorsair CXM 450W 80+ Bronze CertifiedView
  • moboASUS PRIME A320M-KView
  • caseThermaltake Versa H15View
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Getting into PC gaming can be a little intimidating, but by following our guide for the best 500 dollars PC build, you’re going to find it’s much easier than it looks on the outset. Plus, with this budget build, you’ll be able to enjoy all your favorite AAA games without breaking the bank.

Our Requirements For The $500 Gaming PC

But first, let’s talk about the requirements we set out when making this build. This build is optimized to be the best within its price range at the time of writing, and also to be as beginner-friendly as possible.

High Performance. The graphical performance of this build is slightly below that of the PS4 Pro, but it wipes the floor with the face of the original PS4. The CPU is also a significant step up from the power of the PS4 Pro’s (which is roughly equivalent to an Athlon X4 860K) and it shouldn’t bottleneck you much if you decide to upgrade your graphics card.

Upgradeability. The beauty of the PC platform is the ability to upgrade- because of this, we’re on AMD’s latest motherboard architecture. You can upgrade both your CPU and GPU to much more powerful counterparts in the future, should you ever be looking to have more performance.

Simplicity. We went with a builder-friendly case for this build. While you probably should buy an extra fan or two for optimal cooling, you shouldn’t have a problem starting out with what we’ve given you.

Components of The Half-Grand Grandmaster Update:

Ryzen 3 1200 CPU
cpu

Ryzen 3 1200 CPU

The Ryzen budget beast CPU that’s dominating Intel’s budget offerings.

EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti SC 4B
gpu

EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti SC 4B

EVGA’s overclocked 1050 Ti gives competing cards a run for their money.

Patriot Memory Performance Viper Elite 8GB
ram

Patriot Memory Performance Viper Elite 8GB

Patriot’s superb 8GB RAM offering for this price range.

Western Digital 1 TB 7200RPM HDD
hdd

Western Digital 1 TB 7200RPM HDD

Western Digital’s solid 1TB drive is the best you can get for the money.

Corsair CXM 450W 80+ Bronze Certified
psu

Corsair CXM 450W 80+ Bronze Certified

A great power supply from Corsair keeps this computer’s heart beating.

ASUS PRIME A320M-K
mobo

ASUS PRIME A320M-K

A great, high-quality entry-level Ryzen motherboard for the budget-conscious enthusiast.

Thermaltake Versa H15
case

Thermaltake Versa H15

Thermaltake’s Versa case provides the perfect body for the Half-Grand Grandmaster.

Estimated $560.97 at Amazon

(Price are accurate as of November 16, 2017)

order this gaming pc build

Build Breakdown

Now, let’s hop into the belly of this beast.

cpu

The Ryzen 3 1200 CPU is one of the best budget CPUs you can get right now, and it effectively decimates Intel’s options in the same price range. With this CPU, you’ll be able to enjoy your games without any CPU bottlenecks for mid-range GPUs up to the GTX 1060. Past that, you may want to upgrade to a higher-end Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5 or Intel i5.

The Ryzen 3 1200 also bundles a Wraith Stealth Cooler, which should give you some pretty good cooling performance- much better than you’d get from an Intel stock cooler. All-in-all, the Ryzen 3 line is a great recommendation for budget builds, and has earned our highest reservations.

gpu

The GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is the best budget GPU in the $100 range right now, providing 1080p 60fps in most modern games on medium settings. It will easily max out older games on high to max, but beware that the 1050 Ti isn’t quite ready for VR gaming or higher resolutions.

Its performance is far above that of the PS4, and around that of the PS4 Pro. For the best graphical performance you can get in this range, look no further. EVGA is also one of the best manufacturers you can go to for an Nvidia GPU, thanks to their superb RMAs and customer service programs.

ram

8GB of RAM will offer you more than enough RAM for gaming scenarios, with some great multitasking capabilities on the side. Even if you’re using a RAM hog, like Chrome- within reason. Patriot also makes some pretty great memory, so you shouldn’t have to worry about these RAM sticks throwing out some errors out of the blue after a few months of usage.

hdd

Western Digital makes some pretty great hard drives, and their 1TB Hard Drive is the best you can find in its price range right now. Other hard drives in this price range either have much lower storage capacity or have much lower RPM, which translates to much worse speeds in file transfers and loading times.

psu

The Corsair CXM 450W PSU is a solidly built power supply from a reputable manufacturer that offers all the power you need for this build. In fact, it offers quite a lot more with this build’s estimated wattage (a mere 211W), so you have plenty of room to move up in the future.

mobo

The ASUS PRIME A320M-K is an entry-level motherboard with great build quality and support for the AM4 CPU socket, including the Ryzen processors. It’s a great all-around motherboard, but it does come with a downside: a lack of overclocking functionality. If you’d like to overclock your Ryzen processor to squeeze better performance out of it, you’ll need to spend a bit extra in order to snag a motherboard that can do it, like this one.

case

The Thermaltake Versa H15 is an aesthetically-tight, airflow and builder-friendly case from our friends over at Thermaltake. Thermaltake isn’t the most prominent of case manufacturers, but they’re still fairly good and will provide generally well-built cases to house your precious hardware. This case is perfect for the Half-Grand Grandmaster for that reason.

Potential Upgrades

Our Half-Grand Grandmaster is a potent machine on its own, but what if you could make it harder, better, faster, stronger?

Rhetorical question. This is PC gaming. Of course, you can do that.

NOTE: These will raise the price of the build!

ssd

This ADATA SSD is the cheapest one I’m willing to recommend, but offers great storage capacity and performance in its price range. By investing in an SSD, you can store your OS and a few of your favorite games inside it for rapid-fire load and boot times.

An SSD is one of the best upgrades you can make for your machine, since it’ll offer the largest quality of life improvement. If you choose an SSD, be sure to buy it and mount it first during your OS installation, so you can make the most of your performance!

gpu

For graphical punch on par with the PS4 Pro, bump up your GPU to a GeForce GTX 1060. The 1060 is more than enough to thrash games at 1080p High/Max, and is a worthy upgrade for your build.

If you’d like even more graphical power, I’d recommend taking a look at the GTX 1070 and the $800 Gaming PC. However, note that such a massive leap in performance will come with a similarly massive leap in price.

Cooler

If you want to invest in better cooling for your build, buy these fans. They’re $25 a pop and should help your system run much cooler than it would otherwise.

OS Options and Recommended Peripherals

Ideally, you’d already have some or all of these things before buying the $500 gaming PC. Unfortunately, we don’t always live in an ideal world, so we’ve provided this section just in case you need it.

Operating System

    While your computer is a very powerful machine, it’s unfortunately capable of very little without an operating system. Operating systems, such as Windows or Android, are used by devices to provide a standard environment for applications and user interactions.

    If you want to do PC gaming, Windows is your best option. If you’ve purchased a retail Windows license for one of your previous PCs, you should be able to transfer that license to your new build.

    Operating System

    But, if you haven’t, you’ll either need to buy Windows 10 or deal with Ubuntu/Linux Mint for some time.

    We highly recommend installing your OSes via USB, both for faster install speeds and to save on physical media shipping/the cost of an optical drive. We’ll dive into that more later in the article.

    Mouse and Keyboard

      When most people mention peripherals, these are what come to mind. Your mouse and your keyboard are your primary forms of input and interaction with your PC, and if you don’t have some already, here’s a few that we recommend!

      For Starters: ($15)

      For Starters: ($15)

      If you’re just starting out, go with the Logitech MK120 Kit. It includes a cheap mouse and keyboard for a low price.

      Despite the price, this Kit is ubiquitous across school and office environments for respectable build quality. These will last quite a while under extended use, while costing you very little in the process.

      For Advanced Users: ($100)

      For Advanced Users: ($100)

      If you want to invest in a great gaming mouse, the Logitech G502 comes highly recommended. It retails anywhere from $50-70 most of the time, but its solid customization and build quality provide all you need out of a pro-level gaming mouse.

      The Redragon K551 is an entry-level mechanical gaming keyboard. If you’re serious about writing or gaming, a mechanical keyboard is a necessity, and this one offers all the benefits of mechanical without breaking the bank.

      A nice mechanical keyboard at the $40 price range used to be considered a unicorn. Fortunately for us, this myth has come true.

      Monitor

        No one wants to be in a situation where they’ve invested in a great gaming PC and discover they have no way to actually play the video games they paid for. If you don’t have an old monitor or HDTV sitting around, here’s our monitor recommendations.

        If these are still too expensive for you, we recommend taking a look on eBay for some cheaper monitors or downgrading to one of our cheaper builds. There’s no point in investing in high-end gaming hardware if you can’t afford a monitor that’ll benefit from it.

        For Starters: ($100)

        For Starters: ($100)

        The lowest range we start with here is at $100, for an entry-level 1080p monitor with low, gaming-optimized response time. In this range, our recommendation starts with the Asus VH238H monitor.

        For Advanced Users: ($180+)

        For Advanced Users: ($180+)

        Of course, maybe you want to spend a little more to get a truly gaming-optimized experience. This being the case, we recommend investing in a 144hz monitor!

        A 144hz monitor boasts a higher “refresh rate”, which essentially allows you to see higher framerates. Seeing higher framerates results in better reaction time and a smoother gaming experience- making 144hz monitors highly recommended for your gaming experience.

        For some entry-level 144hz, start with the Acer GN246HL at about $180. If you’re willing to spend just a little more, the Acer XF240H will add height adjustment and swivel to your ultra-smooth gaming experience.

        Sound Options

          Another important part of your gaming experience is your audio! A lot of work goes into soundtracks and sound design in video games and if you want to enjoy that side of things, you’ll need good enough sound hardware to do it.

          Here’s a few recommendations to start you off!

          Serviceable Speakers

          Serviceable Speakers

          Some great speakers to start out with are the Logitech Z130 Speakers. At just $20, these provide a high-quality audio experience without breaking the bank.

          While you’ll still need to buy better speakers for things like surround-sound and a subwoofer, the Z130 set will be perfectly fine for getting you started listening to music and playing your games.

          Gaming Headset

          Gaming Headset

          A good gaming headset to start with is the Corsair Raptor HS40. With great build quality, directional audio and a built-in mic, you’ll be ready to comm with your teammates in games and have good spatial awareness.

          Spy decloaking behind you in TF2? Someone ulting in Overwatch? With a good headset like this one, you’re sure to hear these important audio cues and be able to react in time.

          Getting Online

            Last but not least, let’s talk about actually getting online. You have two options: Wi-Fi or Wired.

            Wi-Fi is more convenient, but isn’t recommended for competitive gaming scenarios due to unreliable network conditions. But to have the option available, invest in the TP-Link Archer T4U.
            It supports all the latest Wi-Fi technologies at a good price.

            With Wired, you’ll want to invest in an ethernet cable. A high-quality 25 foot ethernet cable off Amazon will only run you $8, and for your trouble with wires, you’ll enjoy much more stable network performance in your games.

            Building Tips

            Before you build your PC, here are some tips in case you’re a first-timer. No need to run in blindly here.

            Invest In Antistatic Equipment

            anti-static wristband

            This one is quite important: if you let off electric discharge while assembling your rig, you could ruin your components! While a rare occurrence that can be avoided with the right grounding practices, you can save yourself a lot of stress by just investing in some cheap equipment to make sure your stuff is safe.

            An anti-static mat or an anti-static wristband will help you avoid tragically frying your electronics while assembling them. If you only buy one, we recommend the wristband.

            It may cost a little extra, but that is worth the peace of mind while building your gaming PC.

            Watch Building Guides

            The embedded Tek Syndicate video will walk you through every step in the process of building your own PC. This is our favorite guide on the topic.

            And if you supplement it by paying close attention to your instruction manuals, nothing should go wrong during the building process.

            You’ll find that most of the difficulty involved in PC building is being careful and being patient. In other words, it’s pretty much the same skillset involved in making great Lego creations: just take your time and follow the instructions, and you won’t have any problems.

            Good luck with the standoff screws, though. Those suck.

            Install OS Via USB
            USB

            We’ve already recommended our OSes, but now let’s talk about installing them. Don’t spend extra on having a disc shipped to you or buying a disc drive when you can just install your operating system via USB.

            To install Windows 10 over USB, download the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. Using this, alongside a 4GB+ USB stick, will create a Windows USB stick that you can utilize for easy installs.

            For Linux distributions, use UNetbootin or Rufus instead.

            Closing Thoughts

            And we’re done!

            Once you order your parts and put them together, you’ll have the best gaming desktop under $500. While you may not have the biggest muscle on the market, you can always upgrade later on-  thanks to the flexibility of the PC platform and you get to enjoy its various benefits.

            What a console gamer may save by buying a console, you’ll save so much more by utilizing Steam sales to get the best games cheap, free mods that extend the life of your games significantly, and even PC-exclusive productivity features and applications.

            Welcome to the world of PC gaming. Enjoy the Half-Grand Grandmaster!

            Not the right one for you?

            Check out these 2 recommended builds around your budget range