The best possible $500 gaming PC build will get you up and playing at standard HD 1080P resolutions with game settings scaled back for optimal FPS gameplay.
This gaming PC build is a back-to-the-basics type build that focuses solely on getting as much performance as we can out of each dollar spent. That means no bells and whistles, only pure performance and focusing on the necessities of our build.
Do note that Amazon prices, (especially electronics) fluctuate significantly and quite literally by the hour, so depending on when you read this guide, the price of the components might exceed the $500 mark depending on whether a certain component has increased on price due to stock levels or demand.
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The Best $500 Gaming PC - Build Overview: What To Expect?
In the modern age of computing and technology, many will be surprised at what a $500 budget can get you. Long gone are the days of console domination, you can now get a PC for under $500 that can pretty much hold its own against any of the top console contenders.
With that, let’s take a closer look at what makes this build, what we can expect in terms of performance, and what compromises were made along the way to stick to that strict price budget.
This $500 gaming PC build comes with an Intel AMD Ryzen 5 3400G quad-core (eight-thread) processor, a Radeon RX VEGA 11 Integrated GPU, 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 competitive popular titles like Fortnite, League of Legends, Valorant, Rocket League, etc. this PC $500 Gaming PC will run them with a high framerate with no problems.
Full Part List
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G
The Ryzen 5 3400G is a great starter CPU with integrated graphics (Radeon RX Vega 11). The Ryzen 5 3400G runs at a base clock of 3.7GHz, versus 3.6GHz for the Ryzen 3 3200G. The Ryzen 5 3400G comes with a built-in AMD Radeon RX Vega 11 GPU, with 11 graphics cores of its own running at up to a 1,400MHz clock speed.
This ASRock motherboard is the cheapest of the B450M range and provides 3rd generation Ryzen CPU support straight out the box, which is essential for this build. It features a next-generation Hybrid Digi Power design which enables an efficient and clean power delivery to the CPU.
Patriot Viper Steel Series DDR4 8GB
The Patriot Viper Steel Series RAM sticks are a reliable and cost-efficient choice for a budget build such as this one. Considering that this build doesn’t have a dedicated GPU, we opted for dual sticks for boosted performance with two sticks of 4 GB, bringing the total to 8 GB of dual-channel memory running at 3000MHz.
SSD ADATA SU635 480GB
An SSD is almost essential in today’s PC world due to faster read and writes times over the more traditional HDDs. They might cost more but it is well worth it for the vast difference in performance. The ADATA SU635 480GB SSD is perfect for this build, it’s exceptional value for money providing a decent amount of storage and read/write speeds of up to 530/s/440/s.
EVGA BR 500W 80+ Bronze
The EVGA BR 500W is an average quality 80+ Bronze power supply which also features 2×6+2 PCIe connectors if you plan on pairing the PC with a GPU in the future; nothing special here but the quality and value is good.
The main reason why we chose the EVGA BR 500 W 80+ Bronze power supply for our cheap gaming PC is that it has 80 PLUS bronze certification, so it is quite reliable, and 500 W power supply is enough for this $300 Budget gaming PC.
Zalman S3 ATX Mid Tower
The Zalman S3 ATX PC Case isn’t going to win any awards for style, but this budget case still has a lot to offer. Zalman has equipped it with a pre-installed 120mm fan, giving you some cooling straight out of the box.
Although this build will never overheat, Any other additional fans will allow you to produce a fully-fledged airflow solution for even lower temps when the build is under stress. It’s a compact case with a sleek and refined aesthetic.
So, what exactly can you expect from such an affordable PC build?
Well, there are two things to highlight: upgradeability and console-like performance (and by this, we mean the Xbox One and the PS4).
Full disclosure: this build relies on the integrated Vega 11 graphics, courtesy of the Ryzen 5 3400G APU.
As such, it’s actually better suited for esports than it is for AAA titles, and you’ll actually get slightly worse framerates in AAA titles on this PC than you would on a console. We know that this may put off some of you, but we feel that our reasoning is solid, and we’d very much appreciate it if you considered this.
Now that we’ve presented an overview of the build and what you can expect from it, let’s dive deeper into each component, starting with the brain of the build.
CPU – AMD Ryzen 5 3400G
AMD’s robust built-in Vega 11 graphics processing
Cores Threads: 4/8 | Boost CPU Frequency: 4.2GHz | Cache: 6MB | TDP: 65w | PCIe Version: 3.0 | Unlocked for Overclocking: Yes | In Box Cooler: Wraith Spire | Socket: AM4
The AMD Ryzen 5 3400G is marketed as part of the 3rd Gen Ryzen family, the CPU cores are actually built on the previous-gen Zen+ architecture and the 12nm FinFET process, although this is still an upgrade from the 14nm Zen cores in the Ryzen 5 2400G.
One of the most noteworthy things about AMD’s Zen series of APUs is how comparable they are to the SoCs used in Microsoft’s Xbox One/Xbox One S consoles. When looking at AMD’s new Ryzen 5 3400G, we can see that AMD’s APU offers more raw GPU compute performance; though the Xbox One features some hardware advantages.
What is interesting here is that integrated graphics on PC now offers console-like performance levels, giving the Ryzen 5 3400G a serious amount of gaming potential. While PC games do not have the same levels of low-level optimisations as consoles, it will be fascinating to see if we can hit the same performance levels/resolution targets as an Xbox One.
Motherboard – ASRock B450M-HDV
It provides noticeable improvements over the B350 chipset
Manufacturer: Asrock | Chipset Type: AMD Promontory B450 | CPU Socket: AM4 | Memory Slots Available: 2 | RAM Memory Maximum Size: 32GB | RAM Memory Technology: DDR4 | Supported Motherboard : Micro ATX | USB 2.0 Ports: 2
The ASRock B450M motherboard is an entry-level board that offers excellent features at an affordable price point. It’s the perfect starter to any budget build and comes equipped with Ryzen 1st/2nd/3rd Gen support, up to 3,466MHz RAM support, and the reliability that comes with buying ASRock products.
The ASRock B450M has everything you’ll need at the moment. Best of all, the motherboard is compatible with 3rd-gen Ryzen processors right out of the box, so you won’t have to make any changes to the BIOS before you start using your new PC.
The power delivery of the motherboard is quite impressive and it provides 4 + 3 phase power delivery. You can do decent overclocking on this motherboard too, and if you later upgrade to processors like Ryzen 5 2600 or 3600, you can easily overclock them to 4.0 or even 4.1 GHz. The power components are coupled with good heat-sinks and you don’t have to worry about the high temperatures of the VRM.
As for the price of the motherboard is concerned, it is one of the cheapest B450 motherboards in the market, and even then it often goes on sale, which makes it a beautiful product.
Memory – Patriot Viper Steel Series DDR4 8GB
Offers excellent performance at a relatively affordable price
We’ve gone for Patriot Viper Steel DDR4 8GB 3200MHz RAM for our $400 build, as it offers excellent performance at a relatively affordable price tag. It’s pretty much the perfect pairing for the Ryzen 5 3400G.
4 GB of RAM isn’t enough for gaming as it is, and that’s without a portion of these resources going towards the graphics. You also don’t want to save the extra couple of bucks by opting for RAM slower than the standard 2400MHz, and going dual-channel is also highly advised as it will significantly improve the performance of an APU.
With all this in mind, the RAM we’ve opted for in this build is the Patriot Viper Steel Series with two sticks of 4 GB, bringing the total to 8 GB of dual-channel memory running at 3000MHz.
While this is a completely respectable amount of memory, for now, we still highly recommend closing all unnecessary background programs while gaming, for increased performance.
With 8GB at your disposal, you are in a great spot to begin with and when you start to get bottlenecked, you can upgrade up to 32GB (2x16GB).
Powerful random read/write speed
Hardware Platform: PC | Hardware Interface: SATA 6.0 Gb/s (Curved) | Digital Storage Capacity: 480 GB | Data Transfer Rate: 520 Mb per second | Compatible Devices: Desktop
We have selected ADATA SU635 480GB for our custom build, which is currently priced at $49.99. For the same price, one can get a 1 TB HDD, but the performance drop is significant, not to mention that booting windows on an HDD these days seem intolerable. Therefore, you should go with this cheap SATA SSD, which will allow you to play many games before you run out of disk space. Moreover, you can upgrade the disk space by buying a 2 TB or higher-capacity HDD later.
If you’ve never used an SSD before, be prepared to get new socks, because this SSD will knock them right off. It’s no NVMe, nor is it the fastest SSD out there, but even the slowest SSD is miles faster than a regular hard drive and will be a noticeable step up for anyone willing to invest in it.
As for the performance of this SATA SSD is concerned, you get powerful random read/write and sequential read/write of 520 MB/s and 450 MB/s respectively. The MTBF of this device is quite good, too, at 1,500,000 hours. The operating temperature of this SSD is – 40 to 85 degrees, which means that even during heavy loads, you won’t suffer from any kind of failure.
Power Supply – EVGA BR 500W 80+ Bronze
Efficient power source at an affordable price point
A power supply unit in a computer has a crucial part in efficiency and long-term use. The top recommendation that we can give you is not to settle on power supplies with unknown or generic brands just because you want to keep your budget tight. Settling over to cheap brands may not be a great investment since they might wear off quickly after just months of using it.
The worst part is that it may even damage other computer components. It is always safe to pick a branded PSU with a rating of 80+ Bronze, just like the EVGA 500 BR that we chose. It comes with an 85% higher efficiency rate under high or regular workloads. So far, it is one of the best brands for PSUs that avid and frugal gamers can always pick.
This EVGA 500 BR is also equipped with a quiet fan, which the manufacturer states to run for a longer lifespan. The easy and on-the-go installation of this power supply is also impeccable since you can simply plug and play, wherever you go.
PC Case – Zalman S Zalman S3 ATX Mid Tower
We have selected Zalman S3 ATX Mid Tower for our $500 build because it is one of the cheapest yet sturdy cases that provide the latest features as well.
A case is like a house to your system components, and it provides a lot of functions. First of all, the compatibility of your system components is greatly dependant on the case, and if your case does not support the components, you won’t be able to install them in the first place. Moreover, the case is one of those components that are directly visible on the desk, and you don’t have to take a peek as you would do for the motherboard, cooler, or graphics card.
The case is the most underappreciated component in most PC builds. Oftentimes inexperienced builders will just pick something cheap that (hopefully) has enough room for everything, without any consideration for airflow.
This design will never go out of style, whether you’re gaming or working. It can also support a microATX or mini ITX motherboard for extensive performance. This CPU case is one of the most affordable yet high-quality cases you could ever find online.
What Games will it Run?
We’ve already discussed how the integrated graphics on the Ryzen APUS are good enough to run most games on a 1080P monitor on lower settings. But, as a clear view of the power of this build:
For competitive eSports games that aren’t super demanding, then this build will have you covered. If you want to play AAA titles, this build will be able to run them at medium settings 60 FPS, but you shouldn’t expect to get a stable framerate at 1080P—although, reducing your monitor’s resolution should help there as well.
This build will provide 60 – 120FPS in all competitive online titles, you can also do some simple video creation, photo editing, multitasking, and more with this build. Keep in mind, though, that if you’re trying to be an aspiring game streamer, you might have to save up to get the Mid Range or High End builds that we have created.
How to Upgrade this Build?
Upgradability is also another important factor to account for when you’re building your gaming PC. In reality, gamers don’t really stick to one hardware, they would always aim for better upgrades. Plus, your components will not last forever too. Don’t get too excited when upgrading too, you have to minimize the number of components that need upgrading, so you can prioritize which hardware needs the upgrade the most.
Below are our most recommended upgrade options that will boost your in-game performance exponentially. The products below are fully compatible with the above build and can be swapped out with no ramifications.
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
The first and probably most influential (in terms of performance) upgrade for this build is the CPU. If you’re looking to seriously bolster the computational power this thing has then we recommend the Ryzen 7 3700X as it offers hugely improved performance 8-Core, 16-Thread Unlocked Desktop with Wraith Prism LED Cooler. Now, even though this is a wise move and not too painful on the wallet, this upgrade does come with a few conditions.
Firstly, if you remove the 5400G then you are completely removing any graphical input you have. The Ryzen 7 does not have integrated graphics. So, if you’re looking to upgrade the CPU then we strongly recommend getting an additional GPU as well. That then puts you into the realms of $500-$600, which is considerably more, but that’s the price you will have to pay to see a serious increase in performance.
ASRock Challenger D Radeon RX 5600 XT OC 6GB (14Gbps) 192-bit GDDR6
This build uses an APU, meaning it uses an integrated GPU. However, you can upgrade the GPU while still utilizing the APU as your CPU.
The 5600 XT is a great card and would be a worthy upgrade for the $500 gaming pc build, being able to play games at reaching over 144FPS. You will benefit from improved graphics and FPS across all games with this extremely well-priced card.
READ MORE: Best Graphics Cards 2021
Seagate Barracuda 2TB 7200RPM
This Seagate Barracuda drive is amazing for backup storage and always comes at a great price. The 240GB SSD that currently sits in this build is ideal for your O/S and some primary games. However, sooner or later, it will struggle to accommodate your growing library. For that reason, this additional 2TB HDD from Seagate is the perfect backup storage solution for those who need it.
Pheripherals & Accesories to Add
Mouse - Logitech G502 Hero
The Logitech G502 HERO is a great wired gaming mouse that feels well-made and has a premium look. It has a ton of programmable buttons, low click latency, and a wide customizable CPI range. Though it’s rather heavy, it comes with five removable weights to allow you to customize the weight to suit your preference.
The Logitech G502 HERO is a very good mouse for FPS games. It has low click latency, and a wide customizable CPI range and adjustable polling rate. It also has 12 programmable buttons, feels very well-made, and is quite comfortable if you can get a good grip on it.
Monitor - Acer G226HQL
You don’t see many monitor that have a 1080p (1920 x 1080) display for under $100. This is definitely the cheapest 1080p monitor that I’ve came across and if it wasn’t for the fact that it doesn’t have an HDMI.
You’ll be able to hook up via DVI or VGA, and it actually comes with the right cables to do so. If you are a gamer looking to really optimize your display then you might have to tinker around with the settings, but if you are just looking for a gaming monitor on a budget, then this really is good enough and does a great job for gamers in my opinion.
It’s the best option out there (it’s a budget monitor) but the screen brightness and vibrant colors combined with the excellent viewing angles really standout perfectly like a painting and can make your gameplay standout like a 3d painting thanks to the 1.78:1 ratio.
If you want to get higher performance since you’re runnning up to 144 FPS take a look: Best Gaming Monitors 2021Guide
Keyboard - Bloody B975
A gaming keyboard is mostly a mechanical one, and that is why we are suggesting a great mechanical keyboard for budget gaming. Bloody B975 is one of the latest keyboards that provide with optical switches, top-notch RGB lighting and Doubleshot keycaps. It is surely a bit on the expensive side, but it is worth every penny.
The design of the keyboard is good for the most part. However, the included wrist-rest is quite ugly. The keyboard comes with either brown linear switches or orange clicky switches.
For gaming, we would advise going with linear switches, and these are one of the best linear switches that we have used in our lifetime. The switches feel super smooth, have a fast response time and are great at bouncing back.
The acoustics profile of the switches is also excellent, and it provides a unique sound. You can use lots of lighting styles through the software and even create your animations if you want. Moreover, each switch is stabilized with stabilizer wires, which is why there is very less wobble in the switches.
That’s pretty much everything you need to know about the custom build and the hardware it comes with. We can’t promise that the price of the build won’t fluctuate, but we’ll make sure to keep the article updated even though these trying times so that it presents the best possible value at all times.
For a lot of gamers who are stuck with older laptops or desktops that can’t run modern games, just being able to run newer games would be a huge upgrade. And, really, that’s who this build is for: people who have an extremely tight budget, but who just want to be able to play mostmodern games.
This system also has a simple upgrade path to becoming a solid mid-range gaming computer, too. So, it will not only work well for right now, but it will also give you plenty of potential for the future as well.
So, there you have it, our comprehensive guide to the best custom gaming PC for under $500. If you’re looking for a PC that’s geared up towards 1080p 120FPS gaming and gives an immersive experience then look no further, this PC does it all.