Looking to build yourself the best possible gaming PC for $500? This one is it! With an i3 6100, a powerful GTX 1050 Ti, 8GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, you’ll be gaming at 60fps in 1080p in the majority of AAA games!
If you were to go into any store and spend around $500 on a desktop, you’re going to walk away with a hunk of junk that struggles to run Solitaire in 720p, let alone any game that you’re actually planning on playing. But, building your own gaming PC will set you up with something with wayyyy more gaming potential, and plus, you can say “I built that.”
Keep in mind that the price listed below is only for the tower itself, and you will still need a keyboard, mouse, monitor, some kind of audio and an operating system to make it complete.
- A couple different styled/sized screwdrivers
- Anti-static wristband (optional but suggested)
That’s about all you’re going to need, seriously. If this is the first gaming computer you’ve ever built, it might seem like a daunting process that only an expert could complete, but you would be wrong. Building your own gaming PC couldn’t be easier, and there are a ton of concise guides out there that will walk you through the process.
If you’re still thinking that it’s a super-difficult process, just click (or tap) below, skim through the video, and then you’ll know for sure.
Here are the basic steps that I follow when building:
- Install the Power Supply into the Case
- Install the processor (make sure the arrows line up)
- Install RAM (make sure they are in the right way before you try to seat them!)
- Mount the CPU cooler
- Place the rear I/O plate
- Mount the motherboard to the case (get your i/o ports through and use the middle standoff as a guide)
- Plug your GPU in
- Install any storage
- Plug everything into the appropriate spots
- Turn it on / Install OS & drivers!
Instead of me typing out a ton of of words to explain this process, why not watch this video put together by EasyPCbuilder.com? He does a great job of explaining everything in detail, and is going to get you running in 30 minutes.
Keep in mind that it’s not the exact same build, but the process is really similar. There’s really only 1 way to do things, and it’s pretty hard to mess anything up if you’re being careful.
Cheap Gaming PC Build for $500
Updated: January 1st, 2017
mATX tower, comes with 2 fans, front USB 3.0 & 3.5mm audio jacks.
LGA 1151, mATX, integrated ethernet controller (wired internet) and basic audio. Will also support a 6th gen i5 or i7.
Intel i3 6100
3.7GHz, dual-core with hyper-threading. Comes with a CPU cooler.
Zotac GTX 1050 Ti Mini
4GB GDDR5, very strong 1080p performance. HDMI, DVI-I, and DisplayPort outputs.
EVGA 500 BQ
500W, 85% efficiency, 3-year warranty.
Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 RAM
1x 8GB stick, 2400Mhz, CL16.
Western Digital Blue 1TB HDD
3.5 inch, 7200 RPM, 64MB cache, quiet & reliable!
Add-ons like SSDs and optical drives are by no means necessary, but they may give you a better experience. If you’re planning on installing your OS from a disc instead of a USB flash drive then you’ll definitely need an optical drive.
120GB PNY CS1311 SSD
Up to 90,000 IOPS read and write. An SSD is the single best upgrade to make your PC feel faster but it won’t increase FPS in games. View
Samsung Ultra-Slim External CD DVD±R/RW
External optical drives are quickly becoming the standard over their internally mounted counterparts, and it’s easy to see why! This one is definitely one of the cheaper & better options to consider. View
For less than $500, this budget level gaming PC is going to get you into modern games and playing them on mid-high settings pushing a constant 30fps or better. Some games are still going to give this build some issues at the highest settings, but it’s still going to outperform next-gen consoles by a lot! Keep in mind that the price above is for the core components only, you will still need an operating system, and any other peripherals you don’t currently have.
This budget build will run games like Rust, Fallout 4, ARK, GTA and pretty much anything else on high settings or better while getting great performance! Less graphically intensive games like CS:GO, DOTA, LoL, or anything along those lines, will all run well above 100fps.
VIVO’s V02 case is a very decent mATX-sized case that’ll easily fit everything in this build and then some. It comes with 2 fans but has room to mount a total of 5, not that you would need that many in a build like this. There are no optical drive bays on this tower and to read/write discs you’ll need an external ODD like you’ll see listed under the “Potential Upgrades” section. Keep in mind that there are tons of choices when it comes to cases and you should definitely shop around for one that you really like! Don’t like the blue fans? Why not change them out for some red fans instead?!
The motherboard in this build is relatively basic, but it still gives you everything you’ll need for this build and it’ll still have room left for future upgrades. It supports the LGA 1151 CPU socket type and DDR4 RAM, which makes it a perfect match for a build running a Skylake-based processor like the i3 6100, but it will also support other 6th gen Intel CPUs from the i5 or i7 lines. It comes with integrated audio, a built-in ethernet controller, and 4 USB ports.
Running Intel’s hyper-threaded dual-core i3 6100 is a great starting point for a build with potential to grow, not only is it a strong entry-level CPU, but it also requires the same “socket type” as the stronger 6th generation i5 and i7 CPUs. Although it’s technically only a dual core processor, its hyper-threading feature allows it to run multiple “threads” per core which results in a quad-core like experience (and most programs/games will view it as such).
The brand new GTX 1050 Ti is a complete and utter beast when to take into consideration it’s super-low power requirements and very reasonable price point. Zotac’s 4GB GTX 1050 Ti Mini is definitely no exception other than it’s the lowest priced 1050 Ti available right now, making it somewhat hard to get your hands on – don’t pay more than $160! Otherwise, it’s completely capable of running the vast majority of AAA games on high settings in 1080p @ 60fps+. Don’t worry about the poor reviews as they’re leftovers from when the 1050 Ti initially released and the scalpers were trying to sell them for insanely high prices, that’s pretty much subsided now and ~$150 is a very good price for a 1050 Ti.
The semi-modular EVGA 500 BQ power supply I chose will supply you with an ample 500W of power, more than enough to safely run this build with any upgrades you might want to add. Having a semi-modular power supply is always a bonus because you don’t have the mess of dealing with cables that you’re not using, you just unplug them instead. If you feel that 500W sounds too low, you can always upgrade to the 600W BQ for not too much more.
8GB of RAM is pretty standard when it comes to a gaming PC, but having more is always good. For this reason, I went with a single 8GB stick to leave you the option to easily add more. Running a dual-channel pair would get you a very small (4% or so, basically unnoticeable outside of benchmarks) performance boost, but it’s really not necessary to do and you will be fine with a single stick. If you want to add more make sure it’s at least the same speed, but a matching pair from the same company is even better.
This $500 budget-level gaming PC will definitely outperform next-gen consoles by a long shot, and when you consider how much power you’re getting, $500 is pretty cheap for a gaming PC. You’ll be able to run most modern games like GTA:V at 60fps and you’ll be laughing at your console counterparts still stuck at 30fps (if they’re lucky!)
Windows is currently the best option when it comes to having access to a wide-array of compatible programs, but, it’s also the most expensive option. Picking what version has become somewhat limited recently, and since the newest version of DirectX requires Windows 10, that’s basically our option to keep up with the tech advances.
However, there is also a free alternative, and that’s Ubuntu or another Linux-based OS like SteamOS (I wouldn’t really suggest SteamOS at this point). As Linux is becoming more and more popular, more dev studios are extending their support out to Linux-based operating systems as well, so you can expect more AAA games to support Linux as we move forward.
Keep in mind that to installing Ubuntu on your new PC will require you to create your own installation disc / flash drive. It’s not really a difficult process by any means, but it’s just another step to take into consideration. If you wanted to create your own bootable flash drive for either OS, you can find good instructions here.
If this is the absolute first gaming PC you’ve ever owned, then chances are high that you don’t have a very good keyboard + mouse combo, or that your monitor is sub-par to really enjoy your experience. Or maybe you don’t have any kind of speakers / headset?
If you don’t have these basic peripherals, you’re definitely going to want them. At the very least you’re going to need a keyboard, a mouse, some kind of audio, and a monitor. Luckily for you, we’ve featured some awesome budget-minded products to cover each of these basic needs, just check them out!
23″, 1080p 60Hz, 2ms response time – Great for gaming View
CM Storm Devastator II KB+M Combo
An awesome keyboard + mouse combo from Cooler Master for around $30! Available with red, green, or blue backlighting. View
Creative Sound BlasterX H5
Easily one of the best gaming headset you can get, in my opinion. View
Reflex Lab Mouse Pad
Super smooth, very accurate, and extremely comfortable to use! Reflex Lab mouse pads are available in 4 sizes from your basic 9″ x 8″ right up to a whopping 36″ x 18″! View
If you plan on using a WiFi connection, then you’re also going to need some kind of WiFi adapter as very few motherboards come with it built-in.
You have a couple of options, either a USB-based WiFi adapter, or one that mounts internally, but you only need one. USB is more convenient and much cheaper in most cases, but they’re often less reliable than an internally mounted unit.
All-in-all, this cheap budget build is absolutely over-the-top when it comes to spending $500 on your own custom gaming PC. It’s a little more pricey than your average next-gen console, but it’s also a lot more powerful and you can do a lot more with it.
This build will completely dominate next-gen consoles by offering higher frames per second, and just overall better performance (and entertainment) per dollar spent. Sure consoles can do quite a bit now, but they still can’t compete with PCs when it comes to sheer versatility!
You really couldn’t ask for a better build on a $500 budget, and this one will completely blow your mind when you start loading up your favorite games!
If you have any questions ask me the comment section and I would be happy to help!