Want to build a gaming PC but have only $500 in your budget? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Out $500 gaming PC build has everything you need to play both esports and AAA titles at 1080p resolution without the need to set details to low.
Now, a low budget build means lots of compromises but we tried to keep them to a minimum. For instance, the board used is cheap but it is quality enough to run a really powerful CPU in case you decide for an upgrade down the line. Next, 4 DIMM slots on the board allow you to add up to 16GB of memory to the 8GB base memory listed in this build.
The SSD is just a 256GB one but it should offer enough space until you buy a cheap, 1TB hard drive. Finally, we didn’t want to cut corners on the power supply. We decided to equip this build with a quality PSU that’s a bit of an overkill but powerful enough to support future CPU and GPU upgrades. Anyway, let’s start with the CPU.
CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3300X
The Ryzen 3 3300X is by far the best gaming CPU for those on a budget. First of all, its gaming performance is in line with the Core i7-7700K and, depending on the title, very similar to the 6-core Ryzen 5 3600 and eight-core Ryzen 7 3700X. The CPU could be a great choice for those who want to enter the high refresh rate gaming on a budget. It’s also the best choice for those building a gaming rig that costs less than $500.
This CPU has enough juice to provide excellent gaming performance for at least a couple of years. As long as cross-gen games are coming out, you’ll be fine. You should think about upgrading once we start receiving news about proper next-gen titles that’ll come out only for PC and next-gen consoles. And that time is still at least a year away, probably closer to two years.
When paired with the RX 570 (our GPU choice for this build), the 3300X can be used for esports titles and even for playing AAA titles in 1080p, if you’re ready to lower some graphical details. And our motherboard of choice can be equipped with something like the Ryzen 7 3700X in the future, allowing you to ride this build for a number of years, even after you replace the current CPU and the graphics card.
Graphics Card: XFX RX 570 4GB
The best bang for the buck graphics card you can buy today. The RX 570 has super competitive pricing and is a perfect fit for this budget gaming build. The card is good enough to run any esports title at silky-smooth 60 FPS. You will have to adjust some settings in selected titles (read Apex Legends) to reach that level of performance but it’s more than doable.
When it comes to AAA games this card can offer about 40 FPS at high settings in most games of today. System hogs such as RDR 2 will run at 40 FPS with medium settings applied but that’s still better than what the current consoles can offer. Combined with the Ryzen 3200G this card is good enough for any current-gen game and we believe it will run next-gen games just fine. At least for the first couple of years, until we start receiving proper next-gen titles and not cross-gen games made both for current and next-gen consoles.
Motherboard: Gigabyte B450M DS3H
The motherboard is the key component of this build. We could’ve picked some dirt cheap A320 board and be done with it but we think that a B450 board is much better even though it’s more expensive. Enter the Gigabyte B450M DS3H. First of all, this motherboard has good enough VRM to run Ryzen 7 3800X on stock clocks. Hell, if you provide any kind of active cooling over the VRM unit this board can run the Ryzen 9 3900X.
This means that down the line, once you save up money, you can upgrade to an 8 or 12-core 3rd gen Ryzen CPU for cheap, once the current-gen CPUs receive price cuts. But it gets better. AMD confirmed that 4th gen Ryzen CPUs will use the AM4 socket found on this board. While the company later changed this decision, it pivoted, again, and now it’s official – B450 and X470 boards will support Ryzen 4000 CPUs.
Since each new generation of Ryzen processors has better and better power optimizations there’s a good chance you’ll be able to fit a future 8 or 12-core Ryzen CPU on this board. That means a massive upgrade down the line which will allow you to game during the whole PS5 and Xbox Series X era without building a brand-new gaming rig. That’s great news for all gamers on a budget out there and the main reason why we went with this board.
Other than better upgrade potential compared to any current Intel board, the Gigabyte B450M DS3H comes with a limited set of features that should be enough for mainstream users. 4DIMM slots with support for up to 64GB of DDR4 running at 3600MHz. One M.2 and four SATA connectors. Two PCIe x16 slots out of which one runs at full x16 speed with the other running at x4 speed. And one PCIe x1 slot. You also get Realtek Gigabit LAN and the audio section with support for up to 7.1 channel setup. Not bad for the price.
Memory: Patriot Viper Steel Series DDR4 8GB (2 x 4GB) 3200MHz
When it comes to memory, 16GB is too expensive for the $500 budget. We went with 8GB of DDR4 3200MHz RAM instead. 8 gigs of memory is enough for stutter-free 1080p gaming, if you don’t go overboard with visual settings. This 2x4GB kit allows dual-channel memory setup, which offers noticeable performance improvement compared to a single-channel setup.
The best of all, since our motherboard pick features 4 DIMM slots you’ll be able to fit another 8 or even 16GB of memory down the line and be set for the entire PS5 and Xbox Series X era.
Storage: Silicon Power 256GB SSD
A $500 budget means a small SSD but this 256GB Silicon Power drive should be good enough for the start. You can install the operating system, fill the drive with your go-to multiplayer titles, and then fit a couple of single-player games. Once you get some money get a cheap 1TB hard drive and solve the storage issue. The SSD in question is very affordable and offers decent performance for the money. Bigger brands are more reliable but they also sport noticeably higher prices.
PSU: Thermaltake Toughpower GX1 600W 80 Plus Gold
Yes, this 600W 80 Plus Gold PSU is a clear overkill for this build. The thing is, PSU prices on Amazon at the moment are in a state of constant turmoil. We’ve found that this PSU is cheaper than most 500W and 550W PSUs sans those coming from no-name brands.
Now, 80Plus certification is by no means a warranty of PSU’s quality. But if a model coming from a big brand known for excellent power supplies has 80Plus Gold certification you can be pretty certain it is a quality PSU. Since the situation with PSU prices and availability is still insane, there’s a good chance you won’t find this PSU at this price at the moment of reading this piece. If that’s the case, follow the guidelines we shared in our $750 gaming PC build article:
Don’t cheap out on PSU. Getting a cheap power supply can fry your system or damage your components. It’s better to save more money and get a decent PSU than to get a no-name brand or a PSU without the 80Plus certification.
80Plus Bronze is the minimum you should go for. 80Plus Gold and Silver PSUs are a bit better but 80Plus Bronze is just fine for virtually any gaming rig. Also, don’t go with suspicious brands you’ve never heard about, especially if they have low user rating.
Finally, 550W should be a minimum for a gaming rig. That way you won’t have to get a new PSU in case you upgrade to a new CPU and/or graphics card. You can maybe go with 500W but that’s only if you don’t plan on getting a powerful CPU or GPU in the future.
Case: AeroCool Cylon RGB Mid Tower
|Motherboard Form Factor||ATX, mATX, Mini-ITX|
|Dimensions||198 x 459 x 413 mm|
|Drive Bays||2 × 3.5” (can be used for 2.5” drives)
3 × 2.5”
|GPU Clearance||371 mm (346 mm with front fan installed)|
|Max number of Fans and Radiators||3 × 120mm fans and 1 × 120mm AIO radiator front
1 × 120mm back
1 × 120mm fan top
|Front I/O Ports||1 × USB 3.0
2 × USB 2.0
HD Audio & Mic
SD Card Reader
Finally, the case. As you suspect we’ve picked an affordable case that isn’t the ugliest of the bunch and that offers a solid number of storage bays and has room for a decent number of case fans. The AeroCool Clyon looks rather nice and you can turn off the RGB strip on the front if you don’t like it.
The case features a see-through side panel and has a decent airflow with space for three 120mm fans on the front, and one 120mm fan on the top and rear side. Liquid cooling support isn’t great. You can install one 120mm radiator on the front and that’s it.
But there are 5 drive bays. 2 for 3.5” hard drives and three for 2.5” SSDs. You can turn the two 3.5” bays into 2.5” bays if you need it. The case can host ATX, mATX, and Mini-ITX boards and has enough room for a regular ATX PSU. If you need a case with a better liquid cooling support, get the Rosewill TYRFING. That one has space for a 360mm AIO radiator on the top side and another 120mm radiator on the back.
Overall, this $500 gaming PC build cuts lots of corners but at the end of the day, it should provide a pretty solid 1080p gaming experience. The CPU is good enough to run lots of current titles at steady 60 frames per second and the graphics card is perfect for medium to high 1080p gaming. 8 gigs of RAM isn’t the sweet spot but it’s enough memory to provide stutter-free experience if you’re using medium or high settings.
The main strength of this build is its high upgrade potential. The motherboard is good enough for 8 or 12-core current or future Ryzen CPU. You can fit another 8GB or 16GB of memory. The case has enough space for many storage devices. And the PSU is powerful enough to run almost any graphics card and CPU combo.