With smart component selections you can stretch a 500 dollar budget further than most gamers realize when building a PC
Last Updated: May 2, 2019
If you're planning the best gaming PC build under $500 (US dollars; around the same for UK pounds, though obviously a fair bit higher for readers in Canada and Australia) this in-depth Q2 2019 buyer's guide is here to help you spend your money wisely and choose the current best bang for your buck gaming components on the market in May or June.
Due to recent price drops of AMD's formidable 1080p graphics card, the RX 570, at this point in time you can build a very good budget gaming PC build for only $500 that will give you buttery smooth 60FPS performance in 1080p on medium/high/ultra settings in modern games.
Combined with an excellent value for money budget gaming processor from AMD, the Ryzen 3 1200, as well as a good-quality list of supporting components including 8GB of fast DDR4 RAM, a decent-sized 1TB hard drive, and a high-quality budget PC case and power supply - and you have a very solid base to work with for years to come. It's a rig that'll perform very well now in 1080p on a standard 60-75Hz monitor, but that 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 (and possible using the stock cooler provided by AMD which is quite decent).
The following sample budget PC build is based on our in-depth, quarterly revision of the current market; a combination of careful objective analysis blended with our own subjective opinion based on years of designing optimal bang for buck builds, and is our best attempt of stretching a $500 budget when building a gaming computer in mid 2019. The chief aim of the parts-list is maximum gaming performance for the money, but we also consider everything else that makes a good budget gaming PC build including component reliability/quality, longevity/flexibility, adequate airflow/cooling, and last but not least picking matching parts that'll look awesome when your battlestation is fully operational.
However, we don't just throw a build in your face and say "just buy it", now infamous words in the world of tech, nor do we recommend this exact parts-list to every single budget gamer. Instead, this sample build is here to help you along in your planning of the right $500 gaming PC build for your wants and needs, and serves as a base from which you can continue your research; after all, tweaking a build to your own definition of perfection is part of the fun.
We back up our current recommended parts with explanations of exactly why each carefully-considered component made the cut for this latest edition, as well as taking a look at the next-best alternative picks that came close to making it into the build and that are also worth considering. We also dive into estimated frame rates of what ballpark performance you can expect from a parts-list of this calibre, and list some excellent bang for your buck peripherals to go along with the $500 budget gaming PC build.
However, if after doing your own research you feel that this particular $500 build is perfect for your needs, you can rest assured that it's a pretty safe way to maximize this kind of budget and end up with a fully compatible, value for money system. Without further fluff let's get right into the details that matter, and I present to you the $500 Console Killer.
Even though it's like comparing apples to oranges, this custom desktop will beat standard modern consoles like the PS4 in terms of graphics quality, and will be about on-par with high-end consoles like the PS4 Pro. But either way, nothing beats PC gaming for its superior ability to get a super smooth 60FPS, something consoles just can't do.
See Also: $600 "Mid-Range" 1080p Gaming Build (faster 1080p and entry-level 1440p)
Best $500 Gaming PC Build (Q2 2019)
PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 570 4GB
AMD Ryzen 3 1200 (Quad Core, 3.4GHz, Unlocked)
Wraith Stealth Cooler (comes with the Ryzen 3 1200)
MSI Performance B450 AM4 Gaming Plus (ATX, 4 DDR4 Slots)
Kingston HyperX Fury 8GB (DDR4, 2x4GB, 2666 MHz)
Western Digital Blue 1TB (7200 RPM, 64MB Cache)
EVGA 500 BT (80+ Bronze, 500W)
Corsair Carbide 100R (ATX Mid Tower)
Corsair Air Series AF120 Red 120mm (Twin Pack)
$490 - $530 (US)
(Adds All Parts to Your Amazon Cart in 1 Click)
Notable Build Features
|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?||Yes (but 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|
|Full Motherboard & Case Specs||MSI B450 Gaming Plus | Corsair 100R|
Performance Overview by Resolution
720p (1280 x 720):
900p (1600 x 900):
1080p (1920 x 1080):
1440p (2560 x 1440):
4K (3840 x 2160):
BRUH. JUST DON'T
Estimated Frame Rate for 1080p on High Settings
Aggregated Benchmarks for 1080p HIGH Settings
(Ryzen 1200, RX 570 4GB, 2x4GB DDR4 2666MHz)
|Fortnite||60 - 70 FPS
|PUBG||40 - 50 FPS|
|Overwatch||100 - 110 FPS|
|CSGO||150 - 190 FPS|
|DOTA 2||100 - 140 FPS|
|GTA V||65 - 75 FPS|
|AS Origins||40 - 60 FPS|
|Battlefield 1||55 - 75 FPS|
|COD WW2||80 - 100 FPS|
|SW Battlefront 2||55 - 70 FPS|
|Witcher 3||40 - 55 FPS|
|Far Cry 5||45 - 65 FPS|
Top Pick: AMD Ryzen 3 1200 (Quad Core, 3.4GHz, Unlocked)
Honorable Mention: AMD Ryzen 3 2200G (Quad Core, 3.7GHz, Unlocked, APU)
Let's begin the breakdown of the $500 build's components with the CPU, which you could consider the brains of your new system. The CPU, also known as the processor, is responsible for all the quick mathematical calculations and processes and comes in only second to the graphics card as the most important component when building a computer for maximum gaming performance.
So, as explained in our comprehensive first-time PC builder's guide, to assemble the optimal custom gaming computer for your budget (ie to get the best gaming bang for buck) you want to throw down more money at your graphics card then any other component. But at the same time, you want to pick a good enough CPU for the games (and resolution and settings) you'll be playing to get the sort of performance you want, and choose a well-balanced pairing of graphics card and CPU that maximizes your frame rate.
In this particular situation, when building a computer on a budget under/around $500, you're limited to a CPU under 100 dollars, and right now your best bang for your buck bet IMHO is the AMD Ryzen 3 1200. This one has dropped in price in recent times and you can find it for well under $100, which makes it an excellent overall value choice that'll give you all the performance you need for great 1080p performance. Plus, it's a quad core CPU which really is the minimum you want to shoot for when building a PC in this day and age, which will also give you decent multitasking non-gaming performance.
We've gone for the 1200 over the newer Ryzen 3 2200G as the 1200 is cheaper at the time of writing and performs pretty much exactly the same with a discrete GPU; in fact, the 1200 has been proven to outperform the 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 Ryzen 3 (the 1200 or the 2200G) will serve you well and are great value buys right now in Q2 2019.
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.
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 5-15FPS 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.
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. Highly recommended value buy that will reliably power your precious parts for years to come, without breaking the proverbial bank.
Although it must be mentioned, a slightly better PSU choice for your budget gaming PC, and one from one of the most trusted manufacturers, would be the 500w Seasonic listed above. The EVGA BT is good enough for this build and cheaper at the time of writing hence why we chose it as our top pick right now, but I'd consider getting the Seasonic instead if it's the same price as the EVGA. 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).
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.
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. Corsair's own AF120 ones are a good value choice. They aren't silent but fairly quiet overall, and you have a choice between LED or non LED ones. 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, which is only a tad more expensive but comes with 2 pre-installed fans instead of the standard edition's 1 fan.
No surprises here. Windows 10 (64-bit if you wanna get technical) is what we'd suggest (Home edition if you're on a budget), and there are a few different ways to buy and install it on the $500 budget gaming PC.
As for other quality, helpful programs to consider installing to kick-off your new gaming computer in style, see the best applications to install on a new gaming PC which includes our current top recommended anti-virus/malware, hardware monitoring, utility programs, and so on.
Like all our gaming desktop computer builds, we don't include an optical drive as it's a totally optional part of building a PC in 2019 as not everyone needs to play or burn CDs and 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 does indeed have room for two optical drives (remember not all cases do these days). Below is the model we'd suggest in terms of bang for buck, but you can see all the best optical drives for PC builds here.
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.
That wraps our budget PC build guide for Q2 2019 based on our comprehensive quarterly analysis of the current market blended with our own subjective opinion based on years designing optimal systems. We hope it helps you in your research. When you're ready to install your parts and you like to learn by reading, see our detailed guide to building a PC step by step which includes photos from our latest real-life budget gaming PC build. For video tutorials, see our recommended videos over at our newbie 101 guide for first-timers.
Good luck and enjoy! Building your first rig is always a ton of fun. Lastly, please note the links in this guide may be affiliate links; clicking them earns us a small commission if you make any type of purchase and helps to support the site and the time that goes into these guides. This does not affect our recommendations in any way though. Thank and good luck guys.
- Analyzing B450 for AMD Ryzen: A Quick Look at 25+ Motherboards
- GeForce GTX 1650 Review: Turing at $150 But Is It Any Good?
- Radeon RX 570 vs. GeForce GTX 1050 Ti What's the Best $150 GPU Right Now?
- XFX RX 570 RS 8GB XXX Edition Review
- PowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 570 4GB GDDR5 Official Specifications
- Western Digital Blue 1TB 7200RPM Desktop Hard Drive Specifications
- Carbide Series 100R Mid-Tower Case Specifications
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