The Greatest $500 PC Gaming Construct

Building an affordable gaming PC can be just as fun as building a high-performance monster. If you are careful with the components you buy, this can be surprisingly powerful too. This guide will show you what it takes to build the best $ 500 gaming PC that can play almost anything at 1080p if you feel like tweaking the settings a little.

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You will also need to build the PC yourself, as pre-built systems for the system manufacturer's expertise and quality testing can cost hundreds of dollars more. However, don't be intimidated. Building your own PC is easier than you might think, and we have a great guide to walk you through the process.

If you're on a higher budget and want to focus more on 4K or high refresh rate games, we have good guides for that too.

What this build can do

Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

The individual components are described in detail below. However, for an overview of the build and its features, here is a general overview of what we are working with.

Note: All of the components listed below are available from Amazon and were found during our research on the website. It is always worth checking the price of each part before committing to purchase as these change regularly. Unfortunately, they also sell out quickly – especially when we've published a guide recommending them.

product price
processor AMD Ryzen 5 2600 $ 149
Motherboard Gigabyte B450M DS3H $ 72
R.A.M. 8 GB Patriot Viper Performance 3,200 MHz $ 32
graphic card MSI Armor OC RX 570 8 GB $ 179
camp Kingston A400 240 GB SSD $ 27
case CoolerMaster Q300L $ 45
power supply EVGA BA 500 Watt 80+ bronze $ 50

Since this is a budget creation, most of the components that we have chosen are budget offers. The budget market is in an weird limbo right now as Nvidia and AMD are pushing new graphics cards and AMD and Intel are gearing up for a new generation of CPUs. Our final price at the end of 2020 was $ 554. Prices fluctuate, however, so it's always best to check prices on Amazon or Newegg.

But with everything together we can happily say that you can play esports games like Fortnite, Dota 2, CS: GO or League of Legends at well over 60 frames per second. If you're more into older AAA games like GTA V, you can play those at 1080p too. However, you will need to lower some settings to get the most out of this build.

The only real difference between budget games and the most expensive gaming rigs is that instead of limiting everything to ultra, you have to tweak the in-game settings to suit your needs. Your gaming experience will be just as fun, but the games won't run as fast or nicely.

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600

AMD's Ryzen processors started a fire among Intel when they debuted in 2017 and have been in tears ever since. The Ryzen 5 2600 is a few generations old at this point and was replaced by the Ryzen 5 3600 at the end of 2019. However, the 2600 is still a powerful chip. With six cores and 12 threads as well as a boost clock of 3.9 GHz, the 2600 shouldn't have a problem in most titles. It also comes with AMD's Wraith cooler, which is a surprisingly powerful unit when compared to other bundled CPU coolers. However, you should upgrade to an aftermarket CPU cooler or AIO cooler if you get the chance.

However, timing is an issue with the 2600. Its replacement, the 3600, has now been replaced by Ryzen 5000 chips. We don't currently have processors in the same price range as the 2600, but that should change soon. Once AMD's Ryzen 5 replenishes 5000 chips – an inevitability we'd assume at some point next year – the price of the 3600 should come down. However, it is currently $ 100 more expensive and comes without a cooler. Therefore, the 2600 remains our recommendation. If you have an extra $ 50 left, you can upgrade to that Ryzen 7 2700X, which comes with two more cores, four more threads and a higher clock rate.

Motherboard: Gigabyte B450M DS3H

Gigabyte B450M card

There aren't many budget B450M motherboards out there. So if you're not really looking to save a few bucks here and there, the Gigabyte B450M DS3H is a great board. It only has a single PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, but multiple graphics cards don't make much sense anyway. It also has a PCIe 2.0 x4 slot for expansion cards and a PCIE 2.0 1x slot. It supports memory speeds of up to 3,600 MHz and leaves some room for overclocking with the kit we chose. It also has an M.2 memory slot if you want to go with that type of storage in the future.

The Gigabyte B450M DS3H has a good 4-phase VRM, which makes overclocking our CPU a little easier, and offers full support for 3rd generation Ryzen processors with a BIOS update. Perfect if you want to upgrade later.

RAM: 8 GB Patriot Viper Steel 3,200 MHz

Viper Steel DDR4 stick

With storage prices this low, we can get a high-speed kit without worrying about the price. Our motherboards support up to 3,600 MHz RAM out of the box, so you can get the most out of this kit and leave some headroom for overclocking. We chose 8 GB as this should be enough for the budget gaming we are aiming for. However, you can find 16GB kits for around $ 60 if you shop around.

If you plan to do a lot of internet surfing or bother streaming while gaming, 16GB is a good upgrade. Alternatively, buy the 8 GB Patriot Viper Steel and one more in the near future when you've saved up for it.

Graphics: MSI Armor OC RX 570 8 GB

The graphics cards of the RX 500 series from AMD are a few years old, but still amazingly powerful. The RX 570 is arguably the best bang-for-your-buck card in the world, no matter what Nvidia has to offer. It offers amazing performance for the price and easily beats through almost any 1080p game. The model we chose has 8GB of video memory, which is more than enough for 1080p (in some games it can even reach 1440p). We recommend the 4GB model if you want to stay under $ 500, however. Inventory is generally low for RX 570 cards, but especially under $ 150 for RX 570 4GB.

As of late 2020, this MSI 8GB model will be the best option available. While it weighs a bit on the budget, the added price is well worth it. At around 180 US dollars, the RX 570 8 GB is well above its weight class. The closest competing option is Nvidia's 1060 3GB, which not only offers 5GB less video storage but is around $ 80 more expensive.

However, if you are interested, we recommend that you pick up an RX 570 quickly. As AMD pushes its new RX 6000 cards forward, the remaining RX 570 inventory will slowly dry up. Hopefully that should bring other budget options. Currently, however, budget builders are limited when it comes to GPU options. The RX 570 is still the best among them.

Storage: Kingston A400 240 GB SSD

This Kingston A400 SSD doesn't give us a lot of storage space – around 200GB after Windows and all of its updates. However, this is enough for some games. This SSD will load your operating system and these games quickly. 500GB SSDs isn't much more, or you can opt for a 1TB hard drive instead, though you'll notice the speed difference. Alternatively, you can purchase the 120 GB SSD for an inexpensive and a 1 TB hard drive and create a sufficiently fast cache drive using AMD's StoreMI technology.

Case: Cooler Master MasterBox Q300L

The Master MasterBox Q300L cooler This is a case we recommended for high-end builds and budget options as it is an excellent chassis for the money. It provides you with dust filters, a side window to view your components, and some useful inputs and outputs on the front. It's under $ 40 and gives you the features that were limited to chassis over $ 100 years ago. You may want to add a fan or two in the future to improve cooling. In the standard configuration, however, this mATX housing offers you everything you need for an affordable gaming PC.

Power supply: EVBA BA 500 Watt 80+ bronze

The EVGA BA 500 watt power supply is as simple as it gets. It is a non-modular unit that passes certification for minimum efficiency – 80+ bronze. It's the bare minimum, but the BA 500 Watt isn't the cheapest power supply on the market. For non-exciting power supplies, they are one of the most important components in your system. Hopefully a solid one will survive many upgrades.

While 500 watts is enough for this system, we recommend buying a power supply with a little more power if you plan on significant upgrades in the future. Although we recommend the EVGA BA 500 watt, there are other options. Corsair has a number of inexpensive power supplies like that semi-modular CX550Mand Cooler Master offers some fully modular units at a reasonable price, such as the Cooler Master MWE Gold.

If you're planning on choosing your own PSU, stick with the popular brands – Corsair, EVGA, and SeaSonic are top of the range in the PSU space – and make sure the PSU is rated for at least 80+ bronze efficiency.

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