Our Best Cheap Gaming PC Under $500 in 2020 & 2021

PC Guide is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. 

Expert Recommendations

We have the experience and the know-how to help you select the perfect product for you. Our industry veterans know what they are talking about and how to cut through the jargon to make your job choosing the right machine as easy as possible. Read more

We all know that high-end PCs are far superior in terms of graphical quality and FPS rates over their console counterparts, but creating a budget PC that keeps up with console hardware is somewhat of a challenge. $500 however goes a long way in making a gaming rig that challenges the top-spec consoles out there. As with all the budget builds we feature, functionality comes first, so this one doesn’t come with the maximum levels of RGB, but we have tried to beef up the aesthetics to make it more attractive. Unfortunately, due to various factors, the prices of the hardware listed fluctuate daily. We aim to update all of our builds as much as we can to ensure they are as close to the specified build price as possible.

Build Details

With a $500 budget, we’ve been able to separate the graphics card and CPU to maximize performance and graphical capability. Due to this, the Ryzen 5 2600 is a fantastic choice for the build, providing 6 cores and 12 threads, minimizing GPU bottlenecking. You’re also looking at a clock speed of 3.4GHz right out the box and the overclocking capability of up to 3.9GHz if you want to supercharge it.

For this build, we’re looking for a motherboard that supports third-generation Ryzen processors at a reasonable price. The MSI B450M does exactly that. You’re getting the trusted MSI name, built with top of the line materials, alongside some extra features such as their core boost technology, improving the overall performance of your CPU.

Purchasing RAM for your PC is something that should be carefully considered. It needs to have good speeds and reliability to last under heavy stress. The Vengeance range from Corsair is the prime example of stellar quality RAM at a good price point. The two 8GB sticks of Vengeance LPX that we’ve gone for here give you 3600MHz memory speeds and enough power to keep up with your gaming requirements.

As previously mentioned, we’ve been able to stretch the budget in this build to have a dedicated GPU instead of the combined chip from the lower-priced PCs. The XFX Radeon RX 570 RS XXX we’ve gone with is probably the best value GPU in this price range, giving you a huge 8GB worth of memory and solid 1286MHz speeds. Additionally, it is overclockable, allowing you to push the performance even further.

Fast storage is almost a necessity nowadays for preventing you from getting bogged down in load times. The PNY CS900 is exactly that, it gives you 535MB/s seq. read speeds and 500MB/s seq. write speeds which are brilliant for such a low price. The 240GB storage should be more than enough for the time being and if you need further storage, using a large HDD to accompany it could be ideal.

A visually pleasing case at budget prices can sometimes be a tricky task, but the AeroCool Cyclon range ticks the right boxes. It comes with a clear acrylic window to show off your rig’s insides, as well as a diagonal RGB light strip on the front. It also has some nice functional features with sd and micro sd slots on the top, in addition to an internal dual chamber design for maximum ventilation.

The Thermaltake Smart 500W PSU has an efficiency rating of up to 86% which is vital for keeping energy consumption down. As well as being efficient, the intelligent smart series ultra-quiet cooling fan regulates the temperature extremely well, delivering excellent airflow at low noise levels. The 500 watts of power is also more than enough for this gaming rig.

What Games Can This PC Run?

With any gaming PC you’ll want to know what games it can run and what FPS you’re likely to be expecting. The list below shows off some of the more graphically intensive games as well as some popular ones for you to get an idea of how this $500 rig is performing.

  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – 1920×1080 High 135FPS average
  • Dota 2 – 1920×1080 High 105FPS average
  • Fortnite – 1920×1080 High 100FPS average
  • Rocket League – 1920×1080 High Quality 140FPS average
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege – 1920×1080 High 80FPS average
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – 1920×1080 High 75FPS average
  • Overwatch – 1920×1080 Epic 110FPS average
  • Warframe – 1920×1080 High 120FPS average
  • GTA V – 1920×1080 Very High 70FPS average
  • Forza Horizon 4 – 1920×1080 Ultra 75FPS average
  • Monster Hunter: World – 1920×1080 High 60FPS average
  • Hitman 2 – 1920×1080 High 60FPS average
  • The Witcher 3 – 1920×1080 High 70FPS average
  • Total War: Warhammer II – 1920×1080 High 50FPS average

Building Tips

With this being somewhat of an entry-level budget build, you may be new to the whole PC building scene, so we’ve detailed a few tips and tricks to help you succeed. If you’re a more experienced builder you can skip this section or potentially brush up on some techniques you might not have heard of.

Use Anti-static Equipment

Electrical components are fragile at the best of times so taking care when building is essential. However, what many don’t consider is the effect static electricity can have. If a static discharge occurs, it can damage your components beyond repair, which then means a whole lot of wasted money. You can avoid any potential component damage in a couple of ways, with the most common being; using an anti-static mat for your components and wearing an anti-static wristband when assembling.

Prepare your toolkit in advance

You’re going to want to get your tools ready because you don’t want to start to assemble your rig and not be able to due to not having the correct equipment. There aren’t masses of tools you need to successfully assemble a PC but what is essential, is a screwdriver with multiple bits. There are a few screws that are needed to secure both the components and assembling the case itself. These can usually be fitted using the same Phillips bit, with the most common being #2. However, make sure you have a #1 and #3 just in case.

Essential Software

Operating System

Now you have your fresh new build, you need some operating software to actually use the machine. There is no disk drive in this one so you may be wondering ‘how am I going to install my operating system?’ well, it can actually be installed via USB. Whether you go with Windows or Linux, you will have to download the respective files onto a spare USB and plug it in when booting.

Graphics Card Drivers

You want to be looking at the highest resolution possible and that means ensuring you have the latest graphics card drivers installed. This is vital in your new build as you could be stuck with stock drivers that are not only out of date but give you a sub-optimal resolution. Go to the maker of your graphics card website which in this case is Nvidia, and find the correct drivers.

Antivirus Software

You’re going to want to protect your PC from any attacks, so installing antivirus software is a must-have. There are a variety of providers with different levels of protection but if you’re just wanting a piece of free software, we recommend Avast. Avast’s antivirus protection is the most basic you can get, but for free, there’s no complaining from us.

Web Browser

Choosing the web browser that caters to all your surfing needs is always down to personal preference. We would recommend either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox as these are the fastest browsers out there, and the most widely used across the world. Some argue that while Chrome is the fastest browser out there, it does utilize a lot of memory, so choosing Firefox could be the way to go if you feel the same.

Conclusion

With the $500 budget for this build, we’ve been able to build a more than respectable gaming rig that not only competes with the consoles of today but beats them in many aspects. The FPS levels you’ll be getting in games like Monster Hunter World and Witcher 3 on high graphical settings will definitely suffice, and if you’re looking to play the latest AAA titles, you’re still going to get relatively good performance with such budget components. Overall, if you’re expecting high FPS on max settings for the latest releases you might fall a bit short, but we think you’ll be more than happy with the gaming prowess you get for $500. If you did end up building this rig, enjoy your new PC! Be sure to check out our other articles if you have any issues or want to explore different options!

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

Comments 2

  1. Avatar pc god says:

    where is the pc cooler and power supply

    • Hi, the CPU cooler is bundled in with the chip, it’s the wraith spire cooler. For the power supply, we selected a Thermaltake 500w variant which can be seen under our case choice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

It's the biggest hardware launch in an age! Find out where to buy the NVIDIA RTX 3080 online right now with our regularly updated page right here.