With smart component choices you can build a console-killing, prebuilt-PC-destroying budget gaming PC under 500 dollars
Last Updated: August 11, 2019
Planning the best budget gaming PC build for $500? In this strategic Q3 2019 component buying guide we break down how to spend your money wisely when building a new computer for gaming on a budget in this price range, to help you more easily and precisely pinpoint where the current best value is within the August market. Keep in mind another option you have when building a gaming computer on a budget is to find used or refurbished hardware parts to save money on your PC build. But if you want everything brand spankin' new, the following $500 gaming PC build is our best example right now of how to stretch your money for maximum frame rates.
Speaking of performance, the chief aim of this budget PC build guide for gamers is to maximize performance for 1080p gaming (full HD), but in meticulously tweaking this parts-list we also take into account everything else that makes for a good custom PC build including:
Due to current attractive pricing of AMD's excellent budget gaming graphics cards like the Radeon RX 570, at this point in time in Q3 2019 you can build a very good budget gaming PC build for $500, give or take a little depending on current pricing, and remember if you're not reusing accessories or your operating system you'll need to take that into account too). This custom $500 gaming PC build will provide buttery-smooth 60FPS performance in 1080p on medium/high settings in many popular games (and will play practically any game on the market, even the most demanding if you adjust your graphics settings).
Yup, you heard right; no need to outlay absorbents amounts to build a fast 1080p gaming computer, as a $500 budget gaming PC will provide performance that'll satisfy many a gamer. And for what it's worth, even though it's like comparing apples to oranges or Witchers to Skyrims (they're all tasty), a parts-list like this or similar will also beat modern consoles like the PS4 in terms of graphics quality (and about on-par with the PS4 Pro).
Only playing older games? Save money with a $400 gaming PC build
A very affordable yet capable RX 570 video card is the standout component of our current best budget gaming PC build for 500 dollars, as when maximizing gaming performance for any budget you want to think first and foremost about choosing a good video card for top performance. This particular GPU represents unbeatable bang for buck in this price tier right now in 2019.
Combined with a very cheap yet overall excellent value AMD Ryzen 3 1200 processor, and a good-quality set of affordable yet reliable supporting components including a decent full-sized MSI motherboard, 8GB of fairly-fast DDR4 RAM, and a quality budget PC case and PSU, and you have a very solid base to work with for years to come.
This $500 gaming PC build will perform very well now in 1080p on a 60-75Hz monitor, but also gives you plenty of future flexibility with a full-sized, good-quality budget motherboard, and an upgrade-friendly fairly-spacious mid tower case - not to mention easy overclocking ability to squeeze out extra FPS for no added investment should you choose to venture down that path (also possible using the stock cooler provided by AMD which isn't too shabby for mild/medium overclocks). You can even upgrade your processor later on to a faster Ryzen to bolster performance.
As with all the gaming PC builds we publish to help you in your research, our picks are based on a combination of extensive, objective research and analysis of the current market, blended with our own subjective opinion based on over a decade helping gamers make smarter purchase decisions.
But any recommendation we make is always backed by explanations of why they made the cut, estimated average FPS numbers of this build in a range of popular games based on studying multiple benchmark sources, and any relevant alternate component selections we think are also worth considering to help guide you in choosing the right parts for your particular wants and needs.
Despite the painstaking hours of research, meticulous review and benchmark analysis, and careful care put into all our custom PC build guides, always remember to do your own research to ensure you buy the right parts for your specific needs as everyone will have slightly different uses for their system.
Use these build guides as a roadmap to set your research off on the right foot, and we hope they come in handy, though if you find one to be exactly what you need you can rest assured they're a safe bet to get top quality and performance for your money. Let's get straight into the best $500 budget gaming computer build for Q3 2019 for smooth 1080p gaming over the next few years.
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Recommended $500 Gaming PC Build (Q3 2019)
|Graphics Card||PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 570 4GB||PowerColor|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 3 1200 (Quad Core, 3.4GHz, Unlocked)||AMD|
|CPU Cooler||Wraith Stealth Cooler (comes with Ryzen 3 1200)||-|
|Motherboard||MSI Performance B450 AM4 Gaming Plus (ATX, 4 DDR4 Slots)||MSI|
|RAM||Kingston HyperX Fury 8GB (2x4GB, 2666MHz, DDR4)||Kingston|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital Blue 1TB (7200 RPM, 64MB Cache)||WD|
|Power Supply||EVGA 500 BT (80+ Bronze, Non Modular)||EVGA|
|Case||Corsair Carbide 100R (Mid Tower, USB 3.0)||Corsair|
|Case Fans||Corsair Air Series AF120 Red 120mm (Twin Pack)||Corsair|
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Notable Build Features
|Estimated Wattage||~ 250W|
|RAM Slots||4 (2 slots free)|
|Max RAM Support||64GB|
|CPU Architecture||Ryzen Gen 1 ("Summit Ridge")|
|Built-in WiFi?||No (buy internal or external WiFi adapter)|
|Hard Drives Supported||6x SATA Drives, 1x m.2 SSD|
|VR-Ready?||Only Just (entry-level VR performance)|
|Front Panel USB Ports||2 x USB 3.0|
|Optical Drive Support?||Yes (2 x 5.25" Drive Bays)|
|Case Fan Options||Supports Upto 5 Fans.
Front: 2 x 120mm/140mm.
Top: 2 x 120mm
Rear: 1 x 120mm (included)
|Maximum CPU Cooler Height||150mm|
|Maximum Video Card Length||414mm (Top PCIe Slot)|
|AMD CrossFire Support||Yes|
|NVidia SLI Support||No|
Let's look at what the $500 budget build can do for you in some of the latest games in full HD resolution (1080p). As the numbers show below, you'll get very good performance in general including a flawlessly smooth 60FPS on high settings in many games. For less demanding games like Counter Strike Global Offensive, this budget rig is more than enough to play on a lighting-fast 144Hz gaming monitor (which is ideal for fast-paced FPS games like that). You could also easily play nicely on a 144Hz screen with Overwatch and Dota 2 (and easily League of Legends):
** FPS ESTIMATES TABLE FOR $500 BUILD CURRENTLY UNDERGOING UPDATE WITH MANY MORE TITLES TO BE INCLUDED **
As for more demanding games like PUBG and Witcher 3, you'll still get good playable performance - remember that 40FPS is really not that bad and for most people is a high enough frame rate for enjoyment of the gameplay. If you don't like 40FPS then turn down the settings to medium and you'll get near that buttery smooth 60FPS. Overall, building a PC for 500 dollars like this provides excellent bang for buck. Show me a prebuilt PC for this price that gives you these numbers... and you'll get 100 bags of cookies sent direct to your door first thing tomorrow. Ok, ok, I don't have said 100 bags, but doesn't matter 'cause you won't find one ;)
Let's begin the breakdown of the best budget gaming PC build in Q3 2019 with the brains of your battlestation, which may be second to your graphics card in terms of importance for 1080p (60-75Hz) performance but still a crucial selection when building a PC. As explained in our comprehensive PC building introduction for newbies (sidenote: don't miss that guide if you're brand new to building a PC) to assemble the optimal custom computer for gaming you want to allocate a nice chunk of your overall build budget to the graphics card. But at the same time, you still need to think about all your other components, and your CPU is an important choice.
For our purposes here of planning to build the best $500 budget gaming PC, you're limited to a CPU under 100 dollars if you want to include a very nice Radeon RX 570 video card (very doable at this budget). But that's absolutely fine, because with a budget CPU under 100 bucks you can get something decent enough to not hold back your GPU and to get great frame rates in 1080p on a 60/75Hz monitor (for 144Hz monitors you'll want to place more emphasis on your CPU choice as it requires a lot of CPU grunt to reach 144FPS etc).
So, right now your best bang for your buck CPU for gaming under $100 or so IMHO is the AMD Ryzen 3 1200, which has undergone nice price drops recently. It's not the fastest CPU in the world but for a budget gaming computer it genuinely is more than enough and won't hold you back in many games, again assuming all you're shooting for is 60FPS in 1080p (which is what most gamers aim for). Plus, the R3 1200 is a quad core CPU which means you also get decent multitasking performance. A dual core CPU just won't cut it these days and isn't something we can recommend on a budget as quad-core chips like this one are real cheap too.
R3 1200 vs R3 2200G for a Budget Rig
We've gone for the R3 1200 over the R3 2200G, your other option for an AMD CPU on a budget, as the R3 1200 is cheaper at the time of writing and performs pretty much exactly the same with a discrete GPU. In fact, the R3 1200 has been proven to outperform the R3 2200G in some games (as in, the 1200 with a graphics card compared to a 2200G paired with a graphics card as well - not to be confused with the 2200G's integrated GPU). Another advantage of the 1200 over the 2200G is there's more headroom for overclocking, and it comes with a slightly better stock cooler for that purpose as well.
Overall though, either R3 (1200 or 2200G) will serve you well and are great value buys right now in Q3 2019 on a real tight budget. But if you have more cash to splash on this rig, say 50 bucks more, but the next recommended $600 gaming PC build is slightly out of budget, your best bet to bolster this rig is getting the Ryzen 5 2600 instead which is now at a super attractive price after the new 3000 series launch and a more "future proof" CPU than the R3 1200. Yes, for discerning readers, getting an RX 580 instead of the RX 570 is the best way to directly improve the FPS of this build if you have a little extra money to spend, however I would suggest a R5 2600 and RX 570 combo over an R3 1200 and RX 580 combo (as the CPU is lacking in the latter config).
As for the most important gaming PC part of all, your trusty GPU (Graphics Processing Unit for any first-timers; don't worry we've all been there). For a budget gaming PC build under $500, to maximize gaming performance you'll want to spend around $120 to $170 on the best graphics card you can get your hands on, and on the current market that means your choices are as follows. On team Green you have the GTX 1050 Ti 4GB, the less expensive yet slightly slower GTX 1050 (2GB or the newer 3GB model depending on price), or the just-released GTX 1650.
Weighing in for the red team we have the RX 570 4GB, which can be found for as low as $130-$140 these days, as well as the 8GB versions of the 570 which can be had for slightly more. Out of all aforementioned GPUs, the RX 570 is the winner overall when it comes to gaming performance, which comfortably beats not only the older 1050 Ti but also the latest GTX 1650 (which is actually more expensive).
At the RX 570's current low pricing, an amazingly welcome sight indeed after the madness of GPU prices last year thanks to the Crypto bubble, it's hard to ignore and is clearly the best bang for your buck gaming GPU on the market right now in the budget category. It uses more power than NVidia's competing cards, but if that doesn't bother you then it's a no-brainer buy to maximize 1080p performance for a budget build.
As for whether to get a 4GB or 8GB 570, the performance difference is really not that much, especially in 1080p, so either is going to be just fine and it'll pretty much come down to the price difference that you find them at when you buy. If you find an RX 570 8GB for the same price (or on special for lower) as the 4GB models, just go for that, especially if you think you'd want to play in 1440p resolution as the extra 4GB of VRAM would come in handy for that. But if you're sticking to 1080p, still the most popular gaming resolution these days, then the 4GB is going to serve you well and is all you need so I'd just get that if it's at the lower price than the 8GB.
Picking the best motherboard for any desktop build is usually one of the trickier, confusing selections to make, as it's easy to get lost in the myriad of seemingly similarly-named boards with various features and little details and nuances. Shopping for a motherboard can easily and quickly make your head spin, even for the more experienced builder as even if you think you're a hardware pro one year, the next year the landscape could be flipped on its head with new chipsets, features, and all the nuances that comes with that.
So, for the best budget gaming PC build under $500 right now, you'll want a cheap-ish yet still-decent-quality board that has all the features to make a solid gaming base for now and over the next few years. MSI produce top-notch affordable models, and their full-sized ATX B450 Gaming Plus is no exception and does it in style with a very slick red and black design that stands out from many other budget motherboards on the market.
It has 4 memory slots which is nice for a budget board, although I personally would never buy a motherboard with only 2 slots unless it's a super-duper cheap rig as in that case you wouldn't be able to both take advantage of dual channel memory from the get-go AND have the extra slots for a nice and easy future RAM upgrade. It's also got good quality LAN and on-board audio as any modern motherboard should have these days, but that's worth pointing out as it is a budget board. It's also got USB 3.1 support. Simply put, a basic, inexpensive B450 AMD4 motherboard from a reliable manufacturer like MSI is all you need for a budget gaming PC build like this. Oh, and it's overclocking-friendly too for those who wish to push their little Ryzen 3.
Top Pick: Kingston HyperX Fury 8GB (2x4GB, 2666MHz, DDR4)
Honorable Mention: Kingston HyperX Fury Black 8GB (2x4GB, 3200MHz, DDR4)
8GB is all you need for the far majority of games right now to maximize performance now and into the near future, and plus you can't fit any more into a budget of 500 dollars/pounds/euros anyway. Patriot is also a solid name in the memory game. You don't need any more than 8GB of memory unless you're building a high-end gaming computer of around 1000 dollars or higher, or if you're assembling a streaming PC build or workstation setup where the extra RAM would actually really be worth the extra investment. But when building a budget gaming PC build for around/under $500 - or even $600-$1000 to be honest - 8GB is perfect and fitting 12-16GB into your parts-list would probably not be a smart allocation of your money as you're better off sticking with 8GB when on a budget and investing that saved money into your graphics card and/or CPU.
Also, we've included dual channel RAM (that is, 2x4GB sticks instead of the 1 8GB module) because you do see an increase in gaming performance with dual channel memory compared to single channel. It's not a huge difference in frame rates, and perhaps a 5-10FPS increase at the absolute best, but dual channel RAM is usually around the same sort of price so you might as well go for them if you can to crank out those extra few frames. As for speed, 2666MHz is the best value choice overall and you don't need any faster for this particular CPU, as opposed to APUs like the 2200G/2400G/3200G/3400G which would take more advantage of faster RAM (and is why we recommend 3000/3200MHz for our cheap $400 AMD APU build).
Top Pick: Western Digital Blue 1TB
Crucial BX500 240GB SSD (budget SSD) + HDD Above
Crucial MX500 250GB M.2 SSD (faster budget SSD) + HDD above
Sabrent 512GB Rocket M.2 SSD (even faster and larger budget SSD) + HDD above
For storage, we say "suggested" instead of the stronger "recommended" because everyone has different storage needs. Plus, storage is very flexible, and you can easily add more internal or external drives at any time. So whatever we list as storage for our builds is just a general suggestion that would be a good starting point for most people. For a $500 build, an SSD is most definitely feasible to fit in, but whether that means you get BOTH an SSD and normal hard drive (HDD) is up to you and whether or not you want a large HDD to begin with (though these days 1TB isn't really that large).
So, go wild with your choice of storage drives, but you can't go wrong with a 1TB HDD from WD if you want a nice amount of storage and a decent-speed, value for money traditional drive. But if you want a faster loading OS, do get an SSD as your main/boot drive instead (240-250GB minimum - I don't feel 120GB is worth it as it'll almost immediately fill up after installing Windows on there), and you can always add another HDD now or later for more storage.
450 to 500 watts is a good place to start when building a budget gaming rig, and for most setups this will be all the power you need now and for future upgrades. This $500 PC build has a fairly power-hungry RX 570, and the potential for overclocking your Ryzen CPU, but even with these considerations a 500 watt power supply is more than enough as you'll see from the total wattage of this particular parts-list in the specs above (up to 250w). But you don't just want to get any model you can get your hands on, as choosing a good computer power supply is always important - even for a budget gaming PC.
The EVGA BT we've included is an excellent value option, and a nice balance of quality and price. It's not a high-end, super high-quality and highly efficient unit, but it's not a cheap low-quality one either. It's a decent unit with a good efficiency rating of 80+ Bronze, which is really the minimum rating you want to shoot for. But this rating isn't the only indicator of a particular unit's quality, and you also want to investigate into multiple reviews and sources to confirm it's a reliable one, and that's exactly what we've found from our research.
Overall, the BT is a highly recommended value buy that will reliably power your precious parts for years to come without breaking the proverbial bank. The EVGA BQ is also worth considering if you want to spend a tad extra on a semi-modular design, which means you can detach excess cables that you don't use for a neater finished battlestation (the EVGA BT and Seasonic listed are non-modular, meaning all cables are fixed so you have to tuck them away if not using them, not a big deal for most people).
Top Pick: Corsair Carbide 100R (ATX Mid Tower)
Corsair Carbide Spec05 (ATX Mid Tower)
Cooler Master HAF 912 (ATX Mid Tower)
Phanteks Eclipse P300 (ATX Mid Tower)
Cooler Master Spec02 (ATX Mid Tower)
Now to the case for the $600 mid-range gaming build to house your precious parts for years to come, and the Corsair 100R is an excellent value mid-range tower that's hard to fault for around 50 dollars. It's got a basic yet good-looking clean design that isn't all in your face, but you can definitely spruce it up if you like with some LED additions (lighting strip or using LED case fans which we'll get to below). It does have a nice see-through side panel window to see your finished build in action.
Another real good value case from ever-reliable Corsair is the Spec05 if you want to spend a little extra for a bigger side window that gives you an unrestricted look inside your battlestation once fully operational. Our main pick (the 100R) does have a see-through side window, but it's a little smaller which you may or may not prefer as this creates a more low-key look. If you choose the Spec05, it comes with one pre-installed red LED 120mm fan in the front so get a couple more 120mm fans for this guy. The CM HAF 12 is an oldy but a goodie and still worth considering for budget builds in 2019 IMHO, and the Phanteks Eclipse P300 is also great value and rounds out our top case picks in this sort of $50 to $65 price tier.
Case Fan Setup for the Corsair 100R
The 100R only comes with one case fan though - a 120mm fan pre-installed in the back - so the question you're likely asking in your mind is whether or not you need another fan or two (or 3 or 4 or 5 - the 100R supports up to 5). For this type of gaming PC build, I would go for 2-3 fans in total, so that means buying 2 more fans.
You could actually get away with the one lone fan that the case comes with, but cooling and airflow would not be optimal and I wouldn't recommend it to keep your rig running long and strong. But feel free to try it out with just the one fan if your rig is going to live in a cool room, and then you can monitor temps and decide if you want more fans.
Only reasons you'd need to get more than 3 fans for this setup is if you're kitting out more high-end components, if you live in an usually hot climate, if you're doing some extensive overclocking, or for aesthetic purposes should you want to get a full set of LED fans for maximum lighting effects (not everyone's cup of tea though). So yeah, for most people, I'd suggest getting 2 extra fans, and Corsair's own AF120 ones are a good value choice:
Recommended Add-On Fans: Corsair Air Series AF120 LED Quiet Edition (Twin Pack, Red)
They aren't completely silent as you'd need to spend more for that, but fairly quiet overall to please most people. You have a choice between LED or non LED ones, and if you get LED ones use them as intake fans for maximum lighting effect or as exhaust fans instead for a softer effect. Lastly, something worth mentioning, you also have the option of getting the "Silent" version of the 100R case, which is only a tad more expensive but comes with 2 pre-installed fans instead of the standard edition's 1 fan. Something to consider, as that would mean better airflow out of the box, and less need for getting add-on case fans.
For your operating system Windows 10 is what we'd suggest for beginners. Linux is your other option but more complicated to use so not recommended unless you know what you're getting into. On a budget you'll want to get Windows 10 Home 64 Bit, and there's few ways to use it for your new PC build:
As for other good programs to consider installing to kick-off your new machine in style (such as anti-virus/malware, system/temps monitoring, handy utilities, etc) see our list of suggested applications for ideas:
What to Install on a New Gaming PC Build
Totally optional when building a PC in 2019 as not everyone needs to play/burn CDs/DVDs (or Blu-ray if you wanna get fancy). But if you want to include one for the $500 budget PC build, go right ahead if you're using our recommended Corsair 100R as it has room for up to two optical drives. Below is the value for money model we'd suggest but see all our top picks in our guide to choosing the best optical drive for a PC build.
When planning the best gaming PC build under $500 or so, if you're also buying accessories because you don't have any left over from a previous setup to save money, then you'll also want to be smart about your selections and pick good value for money yet decent models. Here are our top bang for your buck picks for this particular $500 budget build, but see our in-depth accessory buying guides (on our main menu up top) to see all our top picks for all budgets as well as tips on what to look for as a gamer.
Required: Phillips-head screwdriver (size #2)
Get Fancy: Full PC Toolkit
See our full photo-filled walkthrough for a written guide you can take at your own pace:
For video guides, see our current top recommended YouTube tutorials in our introduction to building gaming a PC.
If it's your first time, it really isn't anything to be afraid or overwhelmed by if you simply take your time, follow safety precautions carefully, and do one step at a time. Good luck and have fun.
First and foremost; if you're sticking to 1080p gaming, you likely won't find any need to upgrade the $500 rig for a few years as the RX 570 should deliver good frame rates in modern games for a while to come - assuming you don't mind turning down the settings to medium on more demanding titles (or potentially even low for super-demanding games of the future).
Where this rig may struggle in future is in the CPU department though, so if you find you're needing some more processing power in a couple years or longer, I'd look at throwing in a higher-tier CPU like the Ryzen 5 2600 or 2600X, or the newer Ryzen 5 3600 (so long as you do the necessary BIOS update that would be required to accommodate a 3000 series CPU like the 3600). Or if you find you do want to bolster graphics as well, consider upgrading to an RX 580 or RX 590 later on, or even a GTX 1660/1660 Ti, which would all dominate 1080p gaming. Futhermore, though it'll be a while until 16GB of RAM is necessary in most games, in a few years you'll want to think about adding another 8GB in the system.
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