The Best Cheap Gaming PC Build For $500

In $400-$800, Custom Builds by Branton484 Comments

cheap 500 dollar gaming pc build

Looking to build yourself the best possible gaming PC for $500? This one is it! With a brand new i3 7100, a 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.

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:
  1. Install the Power Supply into the Case
  2. Install the processor (make sure the arrows line up)
  3. Install RAM (make sure they are in the right way before you try to seat them!)
  4. Mount the CPU cooler
  5. Place the rear I/O plate
  6. Mount the motherboard to the case (get your i/o ports through and use the middle standoff as a guide)
  7. Plug your GPU in
  8. Install any storage
  9. Plug everything into the appropriate spots
  10. Turn it on / Install OS & drivers!

Video Walkthrough

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: March 23rd, 2017

  • VIVO V02

    mATX tower, comes with 2 fans, front USB 3.0 & 3.5mm audio jacks.
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  • Gigabyte GA-B250M-DS3H

    mATX, 6x SATA3, 6x USB. Supports LGA 1151 socket CPUs and up to 2400MHz RAM.
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  • Intel i3 7100

    “Kaby Lake” 3.9GHz dual-core processor with hyper-threading. Comes with a CPU cooler.
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  • Gigabyte GTX 1050 Ti

    4GB GDDR5, very strong 1080p performance. HDMI, DVI-I, and DisplayPort outputs.
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  • EVGA 600 BQ

    600W, 85% efficiency, 3-year warranty.
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  • Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 RAM

    1x 8GB stick, 2400Mhz, CL16. Adding more RAM is definitely an option!
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  • Seagate BarraCuda 1TB HDD

    3.5 inch, 7200 RPM, 64MB cache, quiet & reliable!
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Optional/Suggested

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.

  • Windows 10 (USB Installer)

    Windows 10 is your best bet when it comes to picking an operating system. This version is a USB installer.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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Details

For right around $500, this budget-level gaming PC is going to get you into modern games and playing them on mid-high settings pushing 60fps 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-v02VIVO’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 2400MHz DDR4 RAM, which makes it a perfect match for a build running a Kaby Lake processor like the i3 7100, but it will also support other 7th gen Intel CPUs from the i5 or i7 lines. It comes with integrated audio, a built-in ethernet controller, and 6 USB ports.

Running Intel’s brand new hyper threaded dual-core i3 7100 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 7th 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 GTX 1050 Ti is a complete budget beast when you take into consideration it’s super-low power requirements and very reasonable price point. Gigabyte’s 4GB GTX 1050 Ti 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 $150! Otherwise, it’s completely capable of running the vast majority of AAA games on (at least) medium settings in 1080p @ 60fps+.

The semi-modular EVGA 600 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.

Some people might recommend that you cheap out on your power supply, but I would never put your components at risk like that!!!

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!)

Operating System

When it comes to choosing which operating system to run, you’re going to have to consider a couple of points. Your budget, and what you really need.windows-10-home

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.

Extras

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!

  • Asus VS238H-P

    23″, 1080p 60Hz, 2ms response time – Great for gaming
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  • 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.
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  • Creative Sound BlasterX H5

    Easily one of the best gaming headset you can get, in my opinion.
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  • 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″!
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WiFi

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.

  • TP-LINK TL-WDN4800

    Internally mounted WiFi adapter. 2.4GHz or 5GHz.
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  • TP-LINK TL-WN722N

    USB WiFi adapter. 2.4GHz
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Conclusion

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! 

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Author

Branton

The first game that I ever played on a PC was Ultima Online in 1999, and since then I have been hooked on PC gaming, and putting together awesome builds. Thanks for stopping by!

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484 Comments on “The Best Cheap Gaming PC Build For $500”

  1. For the build you did for Jonathon, could you post a link for which i5 processor to use? Also, would that be good for video editing, auto desk inventor, and to add a graphics card to later if I decide I do want to use it for gaming?

    1. Hey Hennen,

      You could get by with an i5 if you’re only capturing/streaming console gameplay, but it won’t be ideal – you’ll want to look at an i5 7500 or 7600. It’ll be a lot better than if you tried to do it using an i3, that’s for sure!

    1. Hey again Hennen,

      The i5 7600K wouldn’t be a great pair for the mobo in this build; you could use it for sure, but you wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the 7600K’s ability to be overclocked without changing the motherboard to one running the Z270 chipset (this one runs the B250 chipset). Also, you’d need to grab an aftermarket CPU cooler also as “K” model CPUs don’t come with stock CPU coolers.

      Long story short, running that CPU with this mobo would ultimately be a waste – you’d be better off with an i5 7500 imo.

      Hope that helps!

  2. I built the computer exactly as shown, windows 10, everything works fine as far as I can tell, I get one single beep every boot up but doesn’t look like it does much. But when trying to play Conan Exiles it says “DX11 featured level 10.0 is required to run this engine.” I can’t find a fix for it nor even update my driver from GeForce, it says it isn’t compatible with my windows?

    1. Hey Jacob,

      It sounds like you have to do some system updates to get your version of Windows up to the most recent – 10-series Geforce drivers aren’t compatible with anything older than version 1511 of Windows 10 (I think we’re on version 1607 right now). Once you run Windows Update, you should be able to update your graphics driver and then you’ll be able to play Conan in all it’s laggy & dangly glory 😀

      Hope that helps!

  3. Would the graphics card in this build still be compatible with the i5 7500 that you linked? Thanks for all of your help!

    1. Yep, it definitely would be! It’s not a problem and if there’s anything else I can help with just let me know 🙂

  4. What kinds of games will this computer run?
    Because i want to run games like overwatch and rainbow six siege.

    1. Hey Trey,

      There’s nothing that it won’t run, on medium-high settings! Less intensive games like Overwatch could be maxed out, but just high settings would give you around 100fps+ on average.

  5. Hey Branton, I have all of the parts for the build you recommend (this one, but with an i5 and no graphics card yet). Could you give me a list of what all needs to be done to the computer after all of the parts are in. I know I need to put windows on, but is there anything else?

    1. Hey Hennen,

      Once everything is put together and Windows is installed, all you need to do is update/install your drivers. When you first get into Windows you’ll want to run Windows Update to get all of the important system stuff, then you’ll want to update your graphics driver once your GPU comes in and you install it. Until that GPU comes in, you can use the i3 7100s integrated graphics by hooking your monitor up to your motherboard.

      Hope that helps!

    1. Hey Kevin,

      You could, but it wouldn’t be a great idea. For starters, you would have to change the motherboard to one using the 6-year-old LGA 1155 socket, that socket is so uncommon anymore that the boards using it are extremely expensive now, $100+ for really low-end ones usually. Secondly, you would have to try and find some 1333MHz or slower DDR3 RAM (more expensive than new DDR4 RAM) as the i5 2500K can only support that speed or slower (compared to the i3 7100’s 2400MHz DDR4, this translates into an absolutely massive variance in performance in favor of the i3). Lastly, the i3 7100 will either outperform or perform the same as the i5 2500K in 99.9% of games, and it’s cheaper to buy now as well as upgrade in the future.

      Hope that helps!

    1. The vast majority of them, yep. You’ll still need to manually grab your GPU drivers through Nvidia’s Website, or even better would be via GeForce Experience because then you’ll always know when new drivers release moving forward 🙂

  6. Do you need processor coolers? I’m building my first pc and from the videos I watched, everyone has them. Does this build come with them? If not,what would you suggest to use?

    1. Hey Sam,

      Yep! You definitely need a CPU cooler 🙂 The i3 7100 comes with one that will be more than sufficient for this build.

      Hope that helps!

    1. Not a clue, Kevin!

      The 500W was quite a bit cheaper just a few days ago, but that’s just the nature of PC components. That said, go for the 600W without a doubt 🙂

  7. Hey.
    I plan on buying this build ( with minor modifications) this christmas, do you think it will be cheaper? In that case, how much cheaper? Will it still be relevant?

    1. Hey Robin,

      It’s almost impossible to say how much prices will change that far into the future – it’s hard enough trying to deduce where they’ll be a month from now 🙂 It will still be relevant for sure, but by then you might also be able to get something more powerful for the same cost, like I said it’s hard to say as Christmas is too far into the future to provide an accurate estimation.

  8. Got everything assembled and installed. It’s working perfectly. Just wanted to say one last big thank you for all of your help!

    1. Awesome! I’m glad to hear that everything went smoothly 🙂 If there’s anything else I can help with down the line, don’t hesitate to ask!

  9. Hey i ordered everything inculding the windows 10 usb version. The mother board comes with a cd. And the vivo case doesnt have a prebuilt cd disc driver. Do i need to buy the cd driver and Install it on the pc?

    1. Hey Joshua,

      It’s recommended that you pick up an optical drive if you don’t have one kicking around, but chances are you won’t need it for the driver disc. When you install Windows it should give you the basic drivers to get online using LAN so you can grab the most recent drivers online (you would have to do this anyways).

      Hope that helps!

  10. Hey I have 2 questions. One, I am very scared to build my own PC. Is there a company that could build it for me after I buy the parts? Also would this be worth it to buy and use for about 2 years or would I have to upgrade?

    1. Hey Ken,

      There might be a computer shop locally that could do it for you, but it’s really not a difficult process at the same time. Everything goes together pretty much like Lego and you’ll have a nice diagram showing you where all of the wires go 🙂 I think you could tackle this project and get it done without an issue!

      Two years is a good life expectancy for a build like this, after that you’ll want to look into upgrading the CPU and GPU for sure.

    1. Your motherboard came with a manual that contains wiring diagrams that’ll show you exactly where everything goes 🙂

  11. The Manual only tells about the cpu cooler wire, 24 pin wire, hhd led powerswitch etc, and the 1 terabyte. It doesnt tell about the power supply

  12. I was thinking about splurging a bit and buying an RX 480 instead of this Ti. Would this graphics card increase the performance of the build, or would there be some kind of bottleneck affect? Also thanks a bunch for the build!

    1. Hey Anthony,

      The RX 480 is definitely a step above the GTX 1050 Ti and would increase the performance by quite a noticeable margin. There won’t be any kind of bottlenecking.

  13. I’m looking for a budget build to run x planes 11.

    Recommended Hardware Requirements:
    CPU: Intel Core i5 6600K at 3.5 ghz or faster.
    Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more.
    Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better or similar from AMD)

    1. Hey Jordan,

      A PC to meet the recommended specs for X Planes 11 is going to run upwards of $1200 with all things considered (including your operating system, etc). That said, the lowest you would want to go would be something like my $700 or $800 builds (the only real difference is the $800 one has an SSD and a slightly better graphics card), either of them would allow you to play X Planes 11 and other newer flight sims, just not on the highest settings. If you do go for one of those two builds, you will also want to add another 8GB of RAM for a total of 16GB as simulations are generally RAM hogs.

      Hope that helps!

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