The Best Gaming PC Under $500 – 2018 Guide

Consoles have several advantages over PCs. They are cheaper, more convenient to use and maintain, and give you a lot of bang for the buck. But if you want raw power, performance, and the best graphics, PCs are the way to go. Until recently, PC gaming was considered to be an expensive enthusiast niche. That is no longer the case and you can now even get a gaming PC under $500.

The PC industry is changing rapidly, faced with a lot of pressure. The prices of components are falling like never before. Back in the day, you could never consider proper gaming rigs for anything under $800-$1000. But these days, even $500 gaming rigs are feasible. It’s easy to choose a gaming PC when budget is no option, but when you are limited to $500, you have to look and think a bit harder about exactly what you need and what you don’t need to play the games you want.

If you don’t have the patience or inclination to build your rig, you can easily buy one ready made online. We have compiled a shortlist of the best pre-built gaming PCs available around the $500 mark.

 

Some Advantages Of PCs Over Consoles

To truly beat a modern console in graphics, you will probably need to spend over $1000. But decent budget rigs can still have some advantages over consoles:

  • For starters, everyone needs a PC at home. So why not get one with some gaming ability?
  • Most console games are available on PCs. But many PC games are not available on consoles.
  • You can upgrade a PC with newer, more powerful parts. But you cannot do that on a console.
  • For online gaming and e-sports, PCs are often a better choice.
  • Some game genres (like FPS & RTS) simply work better on PCs with a keyboard+mouse combo.

 

Buy or Build A Gaming PC?

When it comes to gaming PCs, a very popular option is to buy all the parts separately and assemble it yourself. This way, you can bring the costs down somewhat. Building your own rig gives you a lot of freedom. There are lots of components to choose from, and you may be able to snag some expensive parts like graphics cards at a cheaper price deal on some online sites.

But assembling a PC is not for everyone. If you don’t have the know-how, skills, inclination, or time, buying a pre-built PC might be the best option. The cost benefits of assembling are more apparent when you are building high-end rigs worth thousands of dollars. In the budget segment, buying is a very viable option indeed.

 

What To Expect For The Price From A Gaming PC Under $500

At around the $500 mark, you cannot expect top of the line specs comparable to a PS4 or Xbox One. To match the PS4 Pro on graphics, you would probably need an AMD RX 470 or an NVIDIA GTX 1060. These cards would be totally out of the question for a $500 build.

But you have a better chance of matching an older PS4, which would need an AMD R7 or NVidia GTX 750. You may be able to find a rig with something close to that in the $500-600 range. But more often, you will see low to mid-range cards, like the AMD R5 or Nvidia 600 and 700 series.

As for processors, anything from a dual-core Pentium to i3, i5 and powerful AMD FX series can be found. These are more than enough for everyday tasks and has decent gaming chops as well. Ordinary HDDs will be more common in this budget, though you may be able to find a rig with a small SSD in it for faster performance. As for RAM, 8GB is the standard option.

 

The Best Gaming PCs Under $500 Reviewed

Lenovo 310S 2017

This is a budget PC from Lenovo with some limited gaming capabilities. It has a very slim tower, which makes it an excellent option if you want to save space. The main specifications are:

AMD A9-9310 Processor
8GB DDR4 RAM
1TB HDD
AMD R5 Graphics Card
Comes with Mouse and Keyboard
Windows 10 OS

The main strengths of the 310S lie in its processor, RAM and storage space. The A9 processor is strong enough to handle essential day to day tasks and browsing at the home or office. This desktop tower has a very slim build due to the processor. The A9 series of APUs from AMD is originally a laptop processor. Hence the compact size.

The 8GB DDR4 RAM and 1TB storage capacity is enough for the basic user. But the gaming capability of this PC is very limited due to the R5 onboard graphics. It is a very weak, entry-level graphics card, not really capable of running modern high-end games. You can probably run older titles in lower resolutions on it.

Pros:

Slim and compact tower
Decent RAM and storage
Comes with Windows 10 OS
Mouse & Keyboard in the package

Cons:

Uses a laptop processor
Weak graphics card
Can only handle casual and old games

 

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iBuyPower Gaming Enthusiast Desktop PC AM010A

As the name suggests, this is a PC built for some dedicated budget gaming and not just an office rig with casual gaming capabilities. So it has the flashy looks that you would expect from a gaming rig. The AM010A has the following specs:

AMD FX-6300 6-core processor 3.5GHz
8GB DDR3 RAM
1TB HDD
NVidia GeForce GT710 Dedicated Graphics Card 1GB
Keyboard & Mouse
Windows 10 Home 64 Bit OS

There are several bright spots in this configuration from iBuyPower. The AMD FX-6300 is a very capable desktop processor, quite popular in budget gaming builds. The combination of that six-core processor and 8GB RAM is enough to handle most recent games.

The main bottleneck in this PC is obviously the GT 710 graphics card from NVidia. This is a low-level card, designed mainly to provide an improvement on the integrated onboard graphics you find on most processors these days. It may be able to handle some new games on low settings. It can probably handle very old low impact games and MOBA titles with ease.

Pros:

Good AMD 6-core processor
Decent RAM and storage
Looks like a proper gaming PC
Comes with Windows 10 OS

Cons:

Weak Nvidia Card
Cannot handle newer games

 

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CUK Lineage Gaming Desktop

The CUK Lineage is the first rig in our shortlist with a proper gaming graphics card. So you can expect some decent performance from this sober looking tower with a white exterior. Let’s check out the specs to see how and where they have cut down on costs:

Intel Pentium G4400 Dual Core Processor 3.30GHz
8GB DDR4 RAM
1TB 7200 RPM HDD
NVidia GeForce GTX 1050 Graphics Card 2GB
Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
No other accessories

This dual-core Pentium processor-based rig is the cheapest one its series from CUK. And here, the main bottleneck will come from that processor itself. Several modern AAA games will not run on dual-core CPUs. But you can expect most titles from recent years to run. Just expect things to slow down in CPU-intensive areas of the game.

Other than that everything else looks pretty solid in this rig. The HDD has a faster 7200 RPM system, which is better for gaming. The GTX 1050 is an efficient GPU, capable of medium-graphics performance on modern games. It can do some limited 1080p gaming which is pretty good at this budget.

Pros:

Excellent mid-range graphics card
Good RAM and fast hard disk
Comes with Windows 10
Can handle some 1080p gaming

Cons:

Dual core CPU is a bottleneck
Does not come with any accessories

 

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iBuyPower Gaming Desktop PC AM8140A

The second PC from iBuyPower on our list has the same AMD processor. But it is coupled with a better graphics card. They also seem to have taken design cues from older iMacs from the look of things. Let’s see the specs first:

AMD FX 6300 6 Core Processor 3.5GHz
8GB DDR3 RAM
1TB HDD
AMD RX 550 Graphics Card 2GB
Windows 10 Home 64 Bit OS
Keyboard & Mouse (special gaming accessories are optional)

The AM8140A looks like a very capable entry-level gaming PC from the look of things. We have already mentioned elsewhere the popularity of the FX series from AMD for budget gaming. The six core FX 6300 offers basic performance comparable to an i3 from Intel but can do more with some overclocking.

But the most attractive feature of this rig is that AMD RX 550 graphics card. It is a budget monster, capable of running most e-sports games like CS-GO and League of Legends on medium or high settings. If you are more focused on these online games, this PC should be perfect for you.

Pros:

Decent AMD 6 core processor
Budget graphics card for e-sports
Comes with accessories
Good RAM and storage

Cons:

White tower doesn’t look very cool (personal opinion)
Rather expensive

 

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CyberPowerPC Gamer Ultra GUA510 Gaming Desktop

With its dark black tower and glowing red bits, the GUA510 looks every bit like a proper gaming rig. Like many other budget gaming PC builds out these, these towers also use the popular AMD FX series of processors. Let’s check out the rest of specs to learn more:

AMD FX 4300 Quad-Core Processor 3.8GHz
8GB RAM
1TB HDD
AMD R5 230 Graphics Card
Windows 10 Home OS

The FX 4300 has been around for a while now, having been released in early 2012. This processor is considered as the cheaper little brother to the more popular 6-core AMD FX processors we have seen on some other rigs in our list so far. As for performance, the FX 4300 is comparable to the dual-core Pentium G4400, and will surely slow down some newer CPU-hungry games.

The RAM and storage are all decent, with nothing exceptional on offer. The graphics card is also similar to the processors, in that it is an older entry-level card from 2014. As such, don’t expect the R5 to run modern titles on anything above low settings, if at all they run. You can probably run older games and MOBA titles with ease on this rig.

Pros:

Good looking tower
Decent RAM and storage
Comes with Windows 10 Home
Eight USB ports

Cons:

Older entry-level CPU
Old low-power Graphics card
Cannot run newer AAA titles

 

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AMD Quad Core Gaming Desktop PC

If looks could kill, this AMD pc certainly has what it takes, with a sleek black tower with menacing green lights. This custom built setup has the cheaper AMD A-series APUs, which combine a processor with a powerful onboard graphics chip. Let’s check the specs for more info:

AMD A10 7700K Quad Core Processor 4.0GHz
16GB DDR3 RAM
2TB HDD
AMD Radeon R7 Graphics Card (onboard)
Gigabit Ethernet Wireless, DVD-RW Burner Drive,
Windows 7 OS

Let’s start with that AMD A-10 APU processor. They have been around for more than a couple of years now. If you can add a dedicated graphics card separately, (like an R9 for example), you can expect some decent mid-range performance in games from the last 2-3 years at least. With the onboard R7 card, AAA titles may not run so good. But you can get 40+ frames per second on online games like CS-GO and Overwatch.

The 2TB hard disk and 16 GB RAM are some of the stronger features on this AMD PC. It also comes with some notable extra bits like a DVD burner, wireless card, and 5.1 surround sound card. But the lack of the latest Windows 10 is a minor flaw. This is a decent setup that you can improve considerably with a decent dedicated card.

Pros:

High RAM and storage
Decent for e-sports games
Comes with DVD drive and WiFi card
Looks amazing

Cons:

No Windows 10
Needs a dedicated GPU for proper gaming

 

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Quality Refurbished Computers Custom Dell Gaming Desktop

When you are on a budget, a refurbished PC is often an excellent option, if you can find reliable dealers. With this particular build, you can get your hands on a fast i5 processor, which is not something you would find brand new on $500 budget. Let’s check the other specs:

Intel Core i5 3.1 GHz Processor
12GB DDR3 RAM
120GB SSD (New)
1GB Nvidia Graphics Card (model not specified)
Windows 7 Pro with MS OFfice
Keyboard, Mouse, WiFi Adaptor

There are a few things that stand out in this spec sheet, both good and bad. On the plus side, you get an i5 processor which is a staple in mid-range gaming PCs, way above the usual low budget options. Coupled with 12 GB RAM, your CPU will most certainly not be the bottleneck for AAA gaming. The inclusion of a 120GB SSD also increases the gaming ability of this PC considerably.

So it is a real shame that the graphics card seems to be the main weak point in this PC. They have not specified the actual series of the NVidia card. We can safely assume that it is a low-end video card like a GT 610 or 710. The gaming capabilities would be rather low with those cards. But this is still a good option if you can upgrade to a better dedicated card in future.

Pros:

Excellent i5 processor
Outstanding SSD storage
High RAM
Comes with accessories

Cons:

Refurbished PC
Probably low-end graphics card

 

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Acer Aspire Desktop TC-780-ACKI5

This is a proper multitasking all-rounder of a PC from Acer, ideal for home use. It has some decent processing power inside a subtle black tower case. Let’s dive down into the spec sheet:

Intel Core i5-7400 Processor 3.5GHz
12 GB DDR4 2400MHz RAM
2TB HDD 7200 RPM
Intel HD Graphics 630
Windows 10 Home OS
DVD RW Drive

The main highlight of this Acer package has to be that 7th generation i5 processor. It offers excellent performance and should be able to run most modern games when coupled with a decent dedicated graphics card. The 12 GB of RAM and faster 720RPM harddisk also helps with the gaming performance.

This PC lacks a dedicated graphics card, which really cripples its gaming abilities. Integrated cards like the HD 630 are not capable of high-end gaming. They can run casual games and older titles pretty well. You may even get some relatively new titles to run in low graphics settings. If you can upgrade this system, with a better card like the GTX 1050 or an AMD R9, it would be a real beast for some mid-range gaming.

Pros:

Powerful mid-range Intel processor
High RAM and big HDD
Comes with Windows 10 Home
Has a DVD drive

Cons:

No dedicated graphics card
Can only do low-end gaming at best

 

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Conclusion

A $500 budget throws some interesting options in the pre-built gaming PC market. You will find some underwhelming rigs, along with a few decent all-rounders, and some really powerful beasts held back by weak graphics cards. You really have to think and consider the specs a bit more carefully than when budget is no issue. One option would be to buy a powerful CPU, like the Intel i5, and add a decent graphics card later. But if you want to game from the get-go, look for AMD options with a mid-range graphics card for best results.

 

 

The Best Gaming Machines Series:

The Best Gaming Desktops:

 

 

 

 

The Best Gaming Laptops:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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