The Best $500 Gaming PC Build For 2020 | Top Budget Desktops

Updated: September 23rd, 2020By: BrantonBudget Builds, Gaming PC Builds741 Comments

PC build for 500
best budget gaming pc build for 500 dollars

Trying to build yourself the best budget gaming PC build for $500? Well, this particular build is going to put those dollars to good use! It's fully-equipped with an AMD R5 2600, a 4GB RX 570, 8GB of RAM, and 240GB of SSD storage!

This budget gaming PC build is packing enough power to handle your favorite games in 1080p without an issue. You won't be playing GTA:V on ultra settings by any means, but the performance will be comparable to (usually better than) modern consoles like the Xbox One or PS4 so that you can still have a solid gaming experience.

In newer or graphically demanding games, expect this budget build to manage medium settings at around 60fps in 1080p. Less graphically intensive games like CS:GO, DOTA, LoL, and other games like that won't have any problems running at 60-100fps+ in 1080p.

If you were to head down to any local store and spend $500 on a cheap desktop, chances are you’re going to walk away with little more than a paperweight that struggles to run Minesweeper at 20fps in 720p, not to mention any games that you actually wanted to play... So, why not skip that headache?

In comparison, building your own budget-level gaming PC will set you up with waaayyyyy more gaming potential. Plus, you can say “I built that.” However, many of my readers have asked me to recommend a pre-built option at this price range, so here it is:

Best $500 Gaming PC and Under 

Acer Aspire TC-865-UR14 Desktop

Disclaimer, I don't own this personally, but my aunt got my little cousin this build and I have played a few games of League of Legends on it. Additionally, I watched him play some other games like GTA and Starcraft.

Overall, it's a pretty good pre-built gaming computer for the price. It's definitely better than I expected.

Acer Aspire desktop

Specs:

  • 9th Generation Intel Core i5-9400 
  • 8GB DDR4 Memory
  • 1TB hard drive
  • 802 11ac Wi-Fi Gigabit Ethernet LAN & Bluetooth 5 0
  • 9 USB ports, 2 - HDMI ports & 1 - VGA Port
  • Windows 10 Home USB Keyboard & USB Mouse
  • Ram: Ddr4 Sdram

If you don't want to build one yourself I highly recommend this option. It's not quite as powerful as the build I recommend below, but it's still pretty solid.

Best $500 Gaming PC Build

thermaltake versa h15 matx case

Thermaltake Versa H15

mATX case, comes with 1x 120mm fan. Equipped with front USB 3.0 & 3.5mm audio jacks.

b450 motherboard

MSI B450M Pro-M2

mATX size, AM4 socket, B450 chipset motherboard. 6x USB, 4x SATA + 1x M.2.

intel i3 8100 processor

AMD R5 2600

6-core/12-thread 3.9GHz CPU. Comes with a good CPU cooler.

graphics card

PolorColor Red Dragon RX 570 4GB

4GB GDDR5 VRAM, great 1080p performance – better than consoles. 1x HDMI, 1x DVI and 3x DisplayPort.

power supply unit

Thermaltake Smart 500W

A reliable non-modular 80+ White rated power supply. Comes with a 5-year warranty.

8gb ddr4 ram

8GB HyperX FURY DDR4 RAM

2x4GB 2666Mhz DDR4 RAM. More RAM can be added if needed.

solid state drive

Kingston A400 240GB SSD

A lightning quick 240GB SSD. More storage can be added as needed.

REQURED TOOLS

The tools you need:

That’s really all you need to assemble your new desktop. All of the mounting hardware and cables will come with the parts listed above. The only time you might need something extra is if you’re modifying the build on this page.

HOW TO BUILD YOUR PC

Super Simplified Build Steps:

  1. Install the power supply into the case
  2. Install the processor (CPU)
  3. Seat RAM in the motherboard
  4. Mount the CPU cooler (don’t forget thermal paste if you're not using a stock cooler!)
  5. Insert the motherboard’s rear I/O plate into the case's rear I/O slot
  6. Mount the motherboard in the case (get your i/o ports through and use the middle standoff as a guide)
  7. Plug your graphics card into the motherboard
  8. Install storage drives
  9. Plug all power and data cables in where they're required (storage, case, motherboard, graphics card, etc)
  10. Turn your PC on
  11. Install your OS
  12. Install and update ALL drivers
  13. DONE!

In-depth Walkthrough

If you’ve never built a computer before, then you probably want to take some time to learn the basics before getting ahead of yourself. To do that you have a couple of options you can choose from.

The first, and probably the easiest way for most people to learn is finding a walkthrough on YouTube from a reputable tech channel. Here’s one by BitWit as an example.

Alternatively, I’ve put together an in-depth guide on how to build a PC as well as a FAQ to address the most common questions and problems. I've also put together a short post covering 10 of the most common mistakes people make when building.

Recommended Add-ons

Add-ons like SSDs and optical drives are by no means necessary, but they may give you a better experience. Others, like an Operating System, are basically mandatory but you have more options than just Windows 10. 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

Windows 10 USB Installer

Windows 10 is your best bet when it comes to picking an operating system in terms of out-of-the-box compatibility. This version is a USB-based installer.

samsung optical disc drive

Samsung Ultra-Slim External CD DVD±R/RW

External optical drives have quickly become 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. 

Build Breakdown

This $500 gaming PC build is going to get you into modern games and playing them on mid-high settings pushing 60fps or better in 1080p. Some games are still going to give this build some issues at the highest settings, but it's still going to outperform (or at least keep up with) next-gen consoles like the Xbox One and PS4!

This build will run games like Apex Legends, PUBG, Fallout 4, GTA:V and pretty much anything else on mid settings or better while getting great performance! Less graphically intensive games like CS:GO, DOTA, LoL, or anything along those lines, will easily run at 60-100fps+.

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.


Case: The Thermaltake Versa H15 is a very decent mATX-sized case (Check out the best mATX cases here) that'll easily fit everything in this build and then some. It comes with 1x 120mm fan but has room to mount 2 more in the front if you wanted to (it's not required). 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 before deciding on one! This isn't the only one that will work with the $500 gaming PC.

best cheap gaming pc build

Motherboard: The MSI B450M Pro-M2 motherboard used for this build is relatively basic, but it still gives you everything you'll need and will still have room left for future upgrades. It supports the AM4 socket type that AMD's newest CPUs require, making it compatible with not only the R5 2600, but with stronger CPUs like the R7 2700 or R5 3600. This board comes with integrated audio, a built-in ethernet controller, 6x USB ports, 4x SATA 6GBs ports, a M.2 slot for super-fast SSDs, and room for 4 DIMMs of RAM. 


Processor (CPU): AMD's R5 2600 is the absolute best CPU you could buy for under $180 right now. It simply can't be beat when it comes to price vs performance - at all. It has zero competition at this price point and you'd be crazy not to run it in your own build.

The R5 2600 is a 6-core/12-thread CPU with a max boost clock rate of 3.9GHz. It's an unlocked processor, meaning you can overclock it. The stock CPU cooler it comes with, the Wraith Stealth, is more than good enough to keep up with light overclocking. If you want to step up your overclocking, you should strongly consider upgrading your CPU cooler beforehand.


Graphics Card (GPU): The 4GB RX 570 is a budget beast when you take into consideration it's super-low power requirements and very reasonable price point. PowerColor's Red Dragon RX 570 4GB is definitely no exception and is a great choice for your dedicated graphics card!

An RX 570 can easily manage 1080p gaming while consistently outperforming both current gen consoles in every game out there.


Power Supply (PSU): When it comes to power, this build doesn't require a whole lot and a 500W supply like EVGA's 500 BQ is going to work great while giving you all the power you need. It's a good semi-modular 80+ bronze power supply which means it'll be at least 80% efficient, it also comes with a nice 3-year warranty if anything were to ever happen. A nice add to our budget build.


System Memory (RAM): 8GB stick of RAM is basically the standard when it comes to a gaming PC. Some games do require more, but as a general rule 8GB is enough. Since AMD Ryzen processors like the AMD Ryzen 5 perform the best with at least a speed of 2666MHz, I've included 2x4GB sticks from Kingston's HyperX FURY lineup of DDR4 RAM.

With that in mind, the motherboard will still have 2 slots open meaning you can add another 8GB or more, if you need to.


Storage: Starting with a 240GB SSD is a great foundation. It's more than enough to install Windows 10, the most important programs, and a few games. Beyond that, you'll likely need more storage.

Luckily, adding storage is the easiest part of PC building and it's as simple as plugging in power and data and voila, you have more space!


Overall, this build is perfectly tailored for games like Fortnite, CS:GO, Overwatch, LoL, Rocket League, and anything else along those lines. More graphically intensive games like GTA:V, Battlefield 1, The Witcher 3, and so on, will still run better than on consoles but don't expect to play on max settings.

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 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.

windows 10 gaming pc build

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.

Peripherals

If this budget beast is the very first gaming PC you’ve owned, chances are 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, I've hand picked some awesome budget-minded peripherals matched to this build's budget level to cover each of these basic needs, check them out below!

asus 23 inch 1080p monitor

Asus VS247H-P 23-inch 1080p monitor

23″, 1080p 60Hz, 2ms response time – Great for gaming 

keyboard and mouse combo

CM Storm Devastator 3 KB+M Combo

An awesome keyboard + mouse combo from Cooler Master for around $35!

corsair hs50 gaming headset

Corsair HS50

Easily one of the best gaming headset you can get for under $50, in my opinion.

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 unless you want to spend way more. 

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 wifi adapter

TP-LINK Archer T6E

Internally mounted WiFi adapter. 2.4GHz or 5GHz. 

usb wifi adapter

TP-LINK Archer T3U

An awesome dual-band USB WiFi adapter.

Conclusion

This 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 way more versatile in terms of what you can do.

When it comes down to it, this budget beast is going to outpace next gen consoles by giving you noticeably higher frame rates and better graphics (more often than not). If you wanted even more gaming potential, your best bet would be upgrading the graphics card to something more powerful like a GTX 1660 or RX 580.

Once your build is all put together, you might find that a little extra customization is in order. Once you're at that stage, you might want to wander over to my post about 3 of the easiest ways to customize your PC.

All-in-all, you really couldn't ask for a better build on a $500 budget, it's going to completely blow your mind when you start loading up your favorite games! 1080p 60fps is well within reach and I think you'll find that this build has WAY more power than you'd expect!

If you have any questions check our PC build FAQ or ask me the comment section and I would be happy to help! 

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Branton

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Hey there! I'm Branton, the founder and lead editor here at PC Game Haven. Since our launch in 2015, we've helped thousands upon thousands of gamers build their dream desktops, find the perfect peripherals, and more. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to get in tough!

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Janelle
Janelle
June 2, 2020 11:56 pm

 
Will this be good enough to stream with and if I upgrade the GPU will i be able to run games on higher settings?

Anonymous
Anonymous
March 27, 2020 1:57 pm

What would witcher 3 look like on this

Cameron Shippey
Cameron Shippey
February 29, 2020 8:46 am

could this pc run games like madden cod ww2 apex etc,

Anonymous
Anonymous
February 28, 2020 5:17 am

does this build come with fans and also can I make this an RGB lighting build?

Anonymous
Anonymous
February 12, 2020 1:06 pm

Do you know if this could run Arma 3 well?

admin
admin
February 14, 2020 3:53 pm
Reply to  Anonymous

It can definitely run vanilla Arma 3… But, it wouldn’t be great. Once you start adding mods, it’ll really stress this system. Arma is a very CPU-dependent game (especially modded) and would require something a little more beefy.

Anonymous
Anonymous
January 26, 2020 6:04 pm

Can you play dota 2 with this? also I have school and uses a lot of Microsoft word products.

Lucas
Lucas
January 3, 2020 10:05 pm

Is this pc VR ready