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Budget gaming PC build for under $500

This gaming PC rig costs less than most smartphones. Here's what we put inside

PC build-out guide
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Who says a gaming PC has to be expensive? That’s one of the wonderful things about PC gaming. You can spend as much as you like and have a great time no matter what your budget is. Sure, if you have thousands to spend you’ll be able to play today and tomorrow’s AAA games at 4K with all the bells and whistles (save for maybe ray tracing) but if you only have a few hundred to spend, you can still have a beautiful gaming experience with decent frame rates.

You just need to know what to buy; That’s where we come in. This guide will round up the best gaming hardware deals available today to give you a great starting point for your own budget gaming PC build for under $500.

If you have a little more to spend, check out our guides on building gaming PCs under $1,000 for 4K gaming or for high-refresh rate gaming.

The build and what it can do

We’ll go into more detail about the hardware we’ve chosen below, but this is a quick summary of what we’ve picked if you want to just dive in and buy them right now.

Note: All of the products listed below are purchasable from Amazon and were found on the site during our research for this article. It’s worth making sure that prices are accurate before buying as they do change regularly. Unfortunately, they also quickly sell out — especially when we recommend them. If you don’t see an item in the module below or the price looks off, just click through the link on the individual component listings below.

In this guide we’re also focusing entirely on the PC itself, so you’ll need to budget for a monitor, mouse, and keyboard if you don’t have them already.

[amazon-product-bundle id=2290177]

The overall build is mATX to help save on cost, but it also makes this a compact and attractive build that won’t take up a tonne of space on your desk. There should still be plenty of space and scope for upgrades though, so if you want to upgrade your CPU, memory, storage, or graphics card in the future, you can do so one component at a time without locking yourself in to a costly overhaul.The above build might be based on a restrictive budget, but the end result is a hell of a lot of power. The CPU is entry level. but very capable. When paired up with the mid-range graphics card we’ve chosen, you’ll be able to get 60 FPS (frames per second) in esports titles like CS:GO, DotA 2, or League of Legends with ease. It’s not going to play today’s AAA games at anything above medium settings at 1080p, but if you play with the options available, you’ll be able to make things prettier or faster depending on your preference.

Once you’ve bought your components, if you need some help putting it all together, follow along with our step-by-step guide and we’ll walk you through the whole process.

CPU: AMD Ryzen 2200G ($95)

AMD’s second-generation Ryzen CPUs have proved to be hotly competitive with Intel. The best part? They’re very affordable. The 2200G exemplifies those plus points. Although it’s a quad-core in a sea of hexacore chips, it still offers great performance and can hit 3.7GHz when boosted. It also comes with onboard Vega graphics cores, so if you don’t quite have the budget for a dedicated graphics card yet, this CPU is all you need to get started with entry level gaming.

If you do use the onboard graphics though, don’t expect the same level of performance as the GPU we recommend below.

If you want more performance and have an extra $50 to spend, you could opt for a 2600. Don’t consider the 2400G, it’s not that much more powerful despite the near 50 percent increase in price.

Motherboard: Gigabyte AB350M-DS3H ($70)

The Gigabyte AB350M-DS3H is actually running an X370 chipset, although some of those more advanced features have been disabled, so you’re getting a more expensive chipset than the price tag might suggest. It still features four memory slots, support for M.2 storage drives, RGB LED lighting support, and high-quality audio capacitors.

It is technically a first-generation Ryzen motherboard, so there’s a chance that you will need to flash the BIOS to make it work with our second-generation CPU, but that’s unlikely this far into its life cycle. If you find that you do, you can borrow a Bootkit direct from AMD.

Graphics card: Asus ROG Strix RX 570 4GB ($157)

Although often eclipsed by its bigger brother, the RX 580, the RX 570 is a fantastic 1080p gaming card, and at today’s prices it’s a real steal. It stomps all over the competition at this price point, easily beating out the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti and even holds its own against the GTX 1060 3GB. The extra GB of memory really helps prevent bottlenecking in some titles too.

Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 2,666MHz 8GB ($50)

A single stick of 8GB might not seem like a lot of memory these days, but for most gamers it’s more than enough to be getting on with. You could opt for two sticks of 4GB if you want to take advantage of dual channel memory right now, but they tend to be a little more expensive.

We’d instead recommend getting just a single stick of 8GB now and in the future, when you feel it’s necessary, pick up a second identical stick for a full dual channel 16GB setup. At $50 a stick, they are far from expensive, and 2,666MHz is fast enough for this entry-level build.

Storage: Seagate BarraCuda 1TB HDD ($45)

We would have loved to fit an SSD into this build — they’re a lot faster than hard drives and make an impact on the gaming experience. However, it was a necessary sacrifice to keep the build within our $500 budget. With 1TB of storage this hard drive will give you plenty of space for all of your games. If you don’t mind sacrificing install space, a 250GB SSD like the Kingston A400 would be a good choice.

Better yet, extend your budget by $30 and get both. That way you’ll have a fast operating system and super quick load times in a couple of games and then plenty of storage space for everything else.

Power Supply: EVGA 500 B1 80+ Bronze ($40)

EVGA makes some fantastic entry-level power supplies and the 500B is a great example of that. It’s also 80+ Bronze certified so is quite efficient too.

There are some alternatives you could opt for if you prefer, but we’d caution against opting for unknown brands or a weaker wattage rating for this build. The RX 570 needs quite a bit of juice for a mid-range card, and cheap PSUs have a tendency to take other components with them if they fail.

Case: Thermaltake Versa H17 ($40)

Thermaltake’s Versa H17 is a fantastic entry-level mATX case with some great high-end features. It looks good, has separate thermal chambers inside to help segregate toasty components, and provides some great cable management aids.

We’d suggest adding a second cooling fan to the front when you get a little extra budget. The one in the rear is a good place to start, but it may not be adequate long term.

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