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 in late 2018.

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. Being a budget build, this one is not capable of advanced features like overclocking, but with this level of performance, you won’t feel the need to for many years to come.

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: October 2018

Component
Description
Price
Graphics Card
GTX 1050
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050
$139.99 on Amazon
CPU
i3-8100
Intel Core i3-8100
$118.99 on Amazon
Memory
8GB DDR4
Corsair Vengeance 1x 8GB DDR4
$47.99 on Amazon
Motherboard
Gigabyte H310M A
Gigabyte H310M A
$55.99 on Amazon
Storage
1TB HDD
1TB Western Digital Blue HDD
$44.99 on Amazon
Case
Corsair Carbide SPEC01
 Corsair Carbide Series SPEC01
Check on Amazon on Amazon
Power Supply
EVGA-500W-powersupply
EVGA 500 W1
$41.95 on Amazon

 

 

Graphics Card

For this build, we’ve chosen the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050 2GB graphics card. This particular version includes a mild factory clock boost to squeeze out additional power without compromising system stability or producing excessive heat.


GTX 1050

This card is part of Nvidia’s 10-series of graphics cards and supports a horde of excellent features including:

  • Microsoft Direct X 12, Nvidia 3D Vision, Nvidia G-Sync, Ansel in-game image capture, and more.
  • Easily tune the core clock speed in different modes – OC Mode: Base 1404 MHz / Boost: 1518 MHz. Gaming Mode: Base: 1379 MHz / Boost: 1493 MHz.
  • 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 video memory.
  • WINDFORCE 2x cooling system with dual fans to keep temperatures low.
  • 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 claims it can deliver 1080p gaming at 60FPS and support up to 8K display at 60Hz.

More features and specifications can be found here.

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 8100.

This is the latest 8th Generation Intel CPU that is currently one of the best performing budget processors on the market, even beating the AMD Ryzen equivalents in benchmark scores.


Intel i3-8100

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

  • Four-core, 3.60 GHz – a very good clock speed without having to overclock.
  • Fantastic performance in games at this price point.
  • Launched in Q4 of 2017 so is recent 14nm technology.
  • It’s based on Intel’s latest “Coffee Lake” architecture meaning if in the future you find you need more CPU power, you can easily upgrade to a six core i5 or even an i7 without changing your motherboard!

Click here to find more details and specifications.

Memory

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

Corsair Vengeance LPX

  • DDR4 standard – the latest development in PC memory using less power and generating less heat
  • CAS latency of 16 (CL16)
  • 2400MHz
  • Single 8GB RAM 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.
View more details on this particular RAM here.

 

Motherboard

This motherboard is a standard, entry-level model that is compatible with the latest 8th generation Coffee Lake CPUs.
While it doesn’t support overclocking, the Gigabyte H310M-A board is perfect as an entry-level motherboard because it’s reliable, has a solid feature set and is excellent value.

H310M-A-motherboard

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 BIOS with full graphical interface.
Inbuilt on-board surge protection and anti-sulfur corrosion resistance design also gives you extra peace of mind that your hardware will last.
It also boasts extra features like power saving functions such as Fan Stop and single click power-saving, RGB Fusion which supports RGB LED strips if you want to install case lighting, and more.

 

  • LGA1151 socket
  • Form factor: Micro ATX (22.6cm x 18.5cm)
  • Chipset: Intel H310 Express Chipset
  • Slots: 1x PCI-Express 3.0 x16 Slot, 2x PCI-Express 2.0 x1 Slots
  • SATA: 1x M.2 connector, 4x SATA3 6Gb/s connectors
  • Memory Support: 2 x DDR4 DIMM (Max 32GB); Support for DDR4 2666/2400/2133 MHz memory modules
  • Onboard graphics: 1 x Display Port and 1 x HDMI port
  • Onboard Gigabit network LAN module: Intel GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
  • Support for Windows 10

More details and specifications can be found here .

Storage

Since this is an entry-level PC build, we’ll stick to the basics and put in a fairly standard 1TB hard drive. We’ve opted for a 7200rpm drive from Western Digital, a reputable brand.
WD 1TB Hard drive

  • Comes with a 2 year manufacturer limited warranty
  • 7,200rpm drive speed for fastest performance
  • Huge 1TB of storage space
  • Includes ‘IntelliSeek’ technology which calculates the best seek speeds to lower power consumption, noise and vibration

If you feel the need and have the budget, you could also opt for a solid state drive (SSD) which will give a very noticeable speed boost over a hard drive, however for this entry level build, a SSD was just a bit too expensive to squeeze in.

Case

Corsair Carbide SPEC01
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, and a clear viewing window to show off your hardware.

  • This case comes with a single 120mm red LED case fan with the ability to add another four fans.
  • Huge clear 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 future additions and other extras.

It also comes with a multitude of safety protections against over voltages, under voltages, short circtui protection and more, so you can have peace of mind that your computer hardware is well protected.
EVGA-500W-powersupply

  • Single 12v+ rail – this offers the most compatibility & reliability for powering demanding components.
  • 80+ White certification – 80+ certification ensures quality and a minimum 80% 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 GUA883 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.

 

 

16 Comments

  1. Hi, I’m considering building a desktop and am wondering if this is still the best $500 build that you recommend in 2017. Many thanks.

    • Hi Dewi,

      This build is still great value right now but we will be tweaking it a little over the next month with some minor upgrades as prices come down on the new generation of processors.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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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