Gaming PC Build Under $500

500-pc-gaming-build

Introduction

Many gamers are after a good gaming PC build for under $500, which is a reasonable budget that can get you a very decent gaming machine.

In this article we’ll provide you with the parts list that will construct a formidable gaming PC which has been custom-optimized for the $500 price range.

Every part has been selected to get you the optimal bang-for-buck in terms of graphics quality and chug-free processing.

If you’re interested in this gaming build, be sure to read our commentary on the individual parts and why we think each of these is a good fit in this build.

We’ll touch on optional extras and also give a run-down on the upgradability of the recommended hardware, so you’re all set for now as well as the future.

We really feel this particular build beats most gaming PC builds under $500, which often tend to sacrifice a good processor for graphics card (at the loss of game speed) but judge for yourself – without any further ado, here is our $500 gaming PC build:

Parts List

Last Updated: April 2016

Component
Description
Price
Graphics Card
EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Superclocked
CPU
Intel Core i3-6100
Memory
41U7Fm0SRQL
Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB
Motherboard
71bVkwbsoIL._SL1000_
Gigabyte GA-H110M-A
Storage
500GB Western Digital Blue HDD
Case
 Corsair Carbide Series SPEC01
Power Supply
EVGA 500 W1

 

 

Graphics Card

For this build, we’ve chosen an EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Superclocked edition. This particular version includes a mild factory overclock to squeeze out additional power without compromising system stability or producing excessive heat.

This card is part of Nvidia’s 1000 generation of cards and support a horde of excellent features including:

  • Microsoft Direct X 12, Nvidia MFAA, Nvidia Adaptive V-Sync and much more.
  • Increased clock speed – Stock: Base 1290 MHz, Boost: 1392 MHz. Superclock: Base: 1354 MHz, Boost: 1468 MHz.
  • 4GB of dedicated GDDR5 video memory.
  • Low power consumption, meaning less heat and a less demand on your power supply.
  • Ports: 1 x DVI-D, 1 x HDMI and 1 x Display Port.
  • Nvidia claimed, 1080p gaming at 60FPS!

 

CPU

With some games becoming increasingly more CPU demanding it’s important to not under spec your CPU. Since this is a budget gaming build it’s also important to not over spend unnecessarily and blow out your budget. With these points in mind, we believe we’ve chosen the best gaming CPU for the money in this price bracket, the Intel i3 6100.Intel i3-6100

 

There’s a few key reasons why we believe this CPU is the ideal choice at this price point.

  • Dual core, 3.70 GHz – a very good clock speed without having to overclock.
  • Fantastic performance in games at this price point.
  • Includes Hyperthreading (acts as a quad core in some applications)
  • It’s based on Intel’s latest “Skylake” architecture meaning if in the future you find you need more CPU power, you can easily upgrade to a quad core i5 or even an i7 without changing your motherboard!

Memory

8GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX make the cut for this build with the following specs:Corsair Vengeance LPX

  • DDR4 – the latest development in PC memory using less power and generating less heat.
  • CAS latency of 14 (CL14).
  • 2400MHz
  • 8GB single stick.

While the latency and speed of memory is not particularly important in a gaming build, it’s still nice to have some quality RAM installed. Installing a single 8GB stick instead of two 4GB sticks means you have room to install more memory later if you ever find you need it.

 

Motherboard

Again, this Motherboard is another one of our popular choices. The Gigabyte GA-H110M-A board is reliable, has a solid feature set and is excellent value.

This motherboard provides the basic connectivity you’ll need to support all of your components in this build and also has a super easy to use UEFI BIOS. In fact, it has two which means you have a backup BIOS if anything goes wrong with the first.

 

  • LGA1151 socket
  • Form factor: Micro ATX (22.6cm x 17.4cm)
  • Chipset: Intel H110 Express
  • Slots: 1x PCI-Express 3.0 x16 Slot, 2x PCI-Express 2.0 x1 Slots
  • SATA: 4x SATA3 6Gb/s Ports
  • Memory Support: 2 x DDR4 DIMM; MAX 32GB; Support for DDR4 2133 MHz memory modules
  • Onboard graphics: 1 x HDMI port
  • Onboard Gigabit network LAN module: Realtek GbE LAN (10/100/1000 Mbit)

 

Case


We’re going for the Corsair Carbide series SPEC01 Gaming Case. We think this case looks great, has a solid build quality and will easily fit all of the components in this build. It also comes with a red LED case fan to keep your components cool.

  • This case comes with a single 120mm red LED case fan with the ability to add another four fans.
  • Huge side viewing window to show off your computer hardware.
  • Can fit a graphics card up to 420mm in length! Plenty for this build.
  • Basic front panel controls and ports in a convenient high position including one USB3.0 and one USB 2.0 port.

If you want to customize the appearance of your case, head over to our post on computer case lighting for some ideas.

Power supply

Finally, to power all of your gear we’ve included an EVGA 500W power supply. This offers plenty of power for your new system with enough capacity to support futureEVGA 500W additions and other extras.

 

  • Single 12v+ rail – this offers the most compatibility & reliability for powering demanding components.
  • 80+ Bronze certification – 80+ certification insures a quality and efficient power delivery meaning more power, less heat!
  • 3 year warranty

 

 

 

Buy this system on Amazon »

 

 

Optional Extras

In our budget builds we typically don’t include optical drives – e.g. DVD / BluRay drives. These days, many people install their operating system (usually Windows) via a USB drive and games via digital download (e.g. Steam). If this is what you’ll be doing, check out our blog post on how to install Windows 10 from a bootable USB. If you’d rather use an optical drive or just find them handy to have we’ve included an option below which will suit most builds.

 

 

Blu-Ray – LG Electronics 14x Internal BDXL Blu-Ray Burner

LG WH14NS40

 

 

DVD – Lite-On 24X SATA Internal DVD+/-RW Drive

Lite-On IHAS124-14

 

 

Case Fans – Cooler Master SickleFlow 120

You may also want to add some extra airflow to your case, especially if you live in a hot area. These Cooler Master fans are a good balance between airflow, noise and price. They also come in a choice of several colors so you can try to match any other lighting you may want to add to your case if you like.

Cooler Master SickleFlow 120

Performance

A $500 custom gaming PC can be a tight budget to work to, but the build that we’ve put together here definitely optimizes every dollar that you spend. When choosing computer parts, it’s important to have the right kind of cost allocation to each piece of hardware.

With a gaming build, you want to max out your graphics card performance as much as you can, without compromising on processor power or system memory. It can be a difficult balance, but the parts list we’ve compiled is an excellent template (or starting point, if you want to customize it further).

If this is your first gaming PC you’ll definitely get an awesome experience out of it, particularly if you haven’t been playing on a customized gaming build before. We have reviewed pre-built ‘gaming’ computers (the CyberpowerPC Gamer Ultra GUA3100A comes to mind) with a similar overall price and when we looked at the hardware performance it was lacking due to a poor choice of graphics card. In many cases, building your own computer will own any similarly priced pre-built system in terms of performance, especially since it gives you the flexibility to customize your hardware.

Let’s Talk Game Titles

This build exceeds the recommended minimum hardware for most popular titles like Battlefield, Skyrim, GTA V, Counterstrike GO, Witcher 3, World of Warcraft, Black Ops 3, Starwars Battlefront, Fallout 4, etc., so you’ll be able to play pretty much most of the games you’d ever want to without chugging or lag.  For some of the more intensive games, don’t expect to be able to max out settings at 1080p or higher resolutions and still get super-smooth play though – you may need something more highly specced like our $800 gaming build or higher (depends how much you want to spend).

That being said, if you are coming from a pre-built system or older hardware, this build will be a very nice upgrade. The parts we’ve chosen should be good for at least a few years, but if you ever do find the need to upgrade individual components, it’s easy enough to do so due to our choice of a very versatile motherboard and CPU socket.

 

 

14 Comments

  1. Just a couple questions, if I were to use this as an everyday computer also, will it allow good dual monitor and multitasking? If so, can I also have gaming on one monitor and other things, such as netflix, on the other?

    • Also, once I build it, can it connect to HDMI through the monitor? and display port for dual monitor? Im new to this whole thing and how it works differently from say an xbox one

      • The GTX950 graphics card that we’ve listed comes with multiple output ports (3 x Display port, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI), so you can use any of two these to connect to each of your dual monitors.

        Just be careful that you are plugging your monitors into the Graphics Card display outputs (as opposed to the display outputs available on the motherboard). It can be a common mistake to connect monitors to the motherboard instead of the graphics card, which means that you are not actually using the graphics card, but instead the on-board motherboard graphics!

    • Hi Kyle,
      Yes this computer will work great as an everyday computer. The graphics card has multiple outputs which will allow you to run dual monitors simultaneously, meaning you can definitely use it for multitasking such as running games on one screen and have other applications displayed on the other.

      Just be aware that sometimes playing videos or running graphics-processing type activities on the second monitor may have the potential to slightly affect gaming performance, depending on how demanding the game is and a whole host of other factors. Other general non-video tasks should not generally impact gaming performance.

  2. Hi I was considering purchasing the $500 build but I am not that great with computers and I need a computer that I can start using right away for school without having to put it all together. I was wondering what would be a good pre-built desktop that can run world of warcraft and league of Legends well for around $500?

    • Hi Sky,

      Building the PC yourself will mean better value for money and higher performance in games. If you’re willing to give it a shot you should be able to work it out with some help on this site.

      Otherwise, Asus make a great pre-built desktop computer for around that price if you don’t want to build the PC yourself. It doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card but the on-board intel graphics is capable of playing games like Leage of Legends, WoW and even Counter Strike GO at lower settings. If you need better performance in the future you can upgrade to a dedicated graphics card when you have the money.

      All of the details are in our guide here: Asus M32CD review.

      If that’s not quite your style there’s another very popular choice, the Cyberpower GUA3100A. It does have a dedicate graphics card but it’s very low-end and performs roughly on-par with the on-board intel graphics in the Asus M32CD. Check out our detailed review of this one too: Cyberpower GUA3100A Review.

      I highly recommend you have a read of both of the above reviews and let us know if you have any questions!

  3. Sorry, I’m very new to building computers, but the motherboard said “Onboard graphics: 1 x HDMI port”.

    Does this mean I can’t connect 2 monitors without an adapter?

    • Hi William,
      Well spotted, but it’s no cause for concern. There are two ways to output to a display monitor – either by the onboard graphics on the motherboard, or from a dedicated graphics card if you have one installed. Both the motherboard and the graphics card will both have some kind of display outlets (either HDMI, VGA, DVI, display port, etc) to allow this.

      You would only use the motherboard video outputs if you don’t have a dedicated graphics card in your computer.

      It is a common mistake for newbies to plug in a monitor to the motherboard output port even when they have a dedicated graphics card – the problem with this is that it basically means you are not using the graphics card at all!

      In this build we’ve got the dedicated GTX 950 graphics card, so you would connect all your monitor/displays to the output ports on the graphics card and ignore the redundant ones on the motherboard, since we’re not using on-board graphics for this build. The GTX 950 does have enough outlets to support 2 monitors (Ports: 1 x DVI-I, 1 x HDMI and 3 Display ports).

      Hope this helps, let us know if you have any other questions!

    • Hey Troy,
      We typically leave the cost of an operating system (OS) off our builds, since many people may be upgrading a previous computer and can port their existing licence key across. If you haven’t got room in your budget for a operating system, there are free alternatives available – for example, a Linux or BSD operating system.

      That being said, we would recommend the Windows 10 OS for the best compatibility with most games.

  4. Do you guys have a video of someone assembling this build? I’m buying a gaming pc for my son and I, and am seriously considering this build. However I have never built a pc.

    • Hey Lathaniel,

      Good choice! You and your son will be very happy with our $500 gaming build and you’ll definitely get excellent performance for dollar value with this build over a pre-built system.

      We don’t have a video of someone assembling this exact build, but fundamentally all computer hardware is very similar to install so we can refer you to a very good instructional video by Newegg instead. This will walk you through pretty much everything you’ll need to know for building a PC.

      It’s very nicely broken up into chapters as well, which makes it a bit easier to navigate. If you are set on our $500 gaming build you may want to skip over the ‘Choosing Parts’ sections of the video if you like and head straight to the ‘Preparation and Tools’ chapter to save some time and get started right away.

      You can view the video here:

      Let us know if you have any other questions or get stuck at any point – we’d be more than happy to help! Good luck.

  5. I’m thinking of putting this together but just wondering how it goes for internet connectivity? Does it come with any wireless capability if I don’t want to plug in by cable or do I need to get something additional?

    • Hi Jeff,

      This PC build will handle any kind of web browsing activity you can throw at it and then some. As for wireless, no this build doesn’t include a wireless adapter but not to worry you can simply purchase a USB wireless adapter. Here are two solid options.

      Latest and greatest – supports Wireless AC and N for high speed data transfer. Good for future proofing but only really matters if you plan to move files around your local network.
      Asus USB-AC56

      Solid and affordable – supports Wireless N, the previous version but still the most common. More than enough for most home internet connections.
      D-Link DWA-130

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