If you want the best gaming computer to play all your favorite games at 1080p under 500 dollars that will own 2018 you can’t even think about buying a pre-built computer.

You MUST find the best components that fit this tight budget and build the PC yourself. You will get a lot of benefits from building your own custom gaming computer and the best part is that you will discover here that’s a lot easier than you may think!

With the new GPUs models released in August 2016, the AMD’s RX series and the Nvidia’s GTX 10xx series you can get an AWESOME build just around the same price as consoles but much more powerful.

Building your own custom PC can be overwhelming but don’t fear. Here you will find all the resources you will ever need to succeed in your mission.

Best $500 Gaming PC Builds

I put the builds here so you can easily navigate to them in case you already know what you want.

For those whose aren’t 100% sure about what to choose between Intel and AMD, keep reading!

Intel Or AMD? What To Choose?

Up until recently, choosing between the two giants to get the core parts of a gaming pc (CPU + Motherboard) was a no-brainer: Intel had better prices and better performance.

But then, at the beginning of 2017, AMD released the Ryzen processors family and they changed the game radically.

That’s a really good thing. Intel was getting too comfortable in his dominant position and we know what happens in this kind of situations: Intal has been a little lazy and less aggressive in their technical achievements causing some sort of stagnated growth.

I’ve decided to create two separate builds for each Budget Build, so you have more options to choose from based on your personal preferences

Now, the market has revitalized, AMD is pushing hard and Intel is trying to take back his omnipotent position.

So, where are we now? We have plenty to choose from, really good options to build awesome gaming computers with either AMD or Intel CPUs, that’s why I’ve decided to create two separate builds for each Budget Build, one for each CPU brand, so you can compare them and chose the one you feel more in love with.

Intel i3 VS Ryzen 3

In order to get a real taste of what each CPU can do, I’ve prepared a couple of tables with some critical information of both processors families.

Note: for the $500 build, we are mainly concerned about the i3-8100 and the Ryzen 3 2200G. I’ve added the other two processors to the tables to show you a more global image of the different CPU families.

 

Technical Specifications

So, we will start taking a look at the basics: the technical specs. What differences can you see at first glance?

Ryzen+ 3 VS Coffee Lake i3 - Technical Specifications
Ryzen 3 2200GRyzen 3 2400Gi3-8100i3-8350K
Cores/Threads4/44/84/4
Base Frequency3.5 GHz3.6 GHz3.6 GHz4.0 GHz
Turbo Boost3.7 GHz3.9 GHz--
L3 Cache4 MB6 MB8 MB
DRAM SupportDDR4-2933DDR4-2400
Integrated Graphics (IGP)Vega 8Vega 11GT2: 23 EUs
IGP Base Freq1100 MHz1250 MHz350 MHz
TDP65 W65 W91 W
Price (RRP)$100$165$120$175

Ryzen Pros

  • Both Ryzen 3 CPUs can be overclocked. Intel i3 8100 can’t
  • The Ryzen 2200G is significantly cheaper than its Intel counterpart (around $20)
  • Higher RAM speeds supported

Intel Pros

  • The performance per core is higher

And last but not least… same TDP and same Cores/Threads.

Due to the higher number of cores, Ryzen CPUs are especially recommended for multi-core applications, such as video editing, deep learning, graphic design, …

In this case though, the processors we are analyzing for this budget share the same cores/threads configuration, which difficult answering the great question: which one is better for gaming?

Gaming Benchmarks

We’ve seen that the Ryzen 3 CPUs are cheaper than Coffe Lake’s i3, but also a little less performant.

Whatever their specifications are, we still have one question to answer: how do they perform on some of the most played games?

Here you will find some benchmarks done with a system with 16GB DDR4 memory and GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card.

In case you wonder why a GTX 1080 is used, this is the reason: to avoid the bottlenecks caused by the CPU and get the most accurate CPU tests results as possible.

Ryzen 3 VS Coffe Lake i3 - Games Benchmark (Avg. FPS, 1080p, Ultra)
Ryzen 3 2200GIntel Core i3-8100Ryzen 3 2400GIntel Core i3 8350K
Battlefield 1104121107148
GTA V50595269
Assassins Creed Origins43464852
The Witcher 373878891
Watch Dogs 246545554
Ryzen2-3-VS-Coffee-Lake-i3-Games-Benchmark

 

 

Remember that, for the current build, we are only interested in the i3-8100 and the Ryzen 3 2200G, that is, the blue and yellow bars.

As you can see, there is a significant difference ranging between 3 to 17 FPS. Even though they both have the same cores and threads and similar clock speeds, these tests reveal that games are better optimized for Intel processors, like it or not.

We could only balance these results if we overclock the Ryzen CPU, which would event the tests results.

My Recommendation

In this price range, the Ryzen doesn’t stand out in anything (unless you want to overclock it), offering just the same number of cores/threads as its Intel counterpart and less performance per core. So, these are the two scenarios I see for this budget:

  • If you want the best gaming experience, go for the Intel Build
  • If you really want to use the Ryzen CPU in your build, get the AMD Build and overclock it.

With all the previous data in mind, I hope it is now easier for you to make the best decision possible on what type of PC you want to build.

If you have any question, please leave a comment below! 🙂


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Adrian Benavides

I've been always an avid gamer with limited resources. This led me to learn how to build the best gaming computers within tight budgets. Now, I want to share the knowledge I've acquired over the years with the world!

64 thoughts on “Best Gaming PC Under $500 – Console Killer! (July 2018)

  1. Hi, Adrian

    I love this opportunity to build something I’ve never build before. Your article was detailed and engaging and you also gave me a super video to watch. That’s awesome.
    I can’t tell you anything about this video because I’ve never done it before but it sure looks fun.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Tove

  2. Hi, Adrian

    I love this opportunity to build something I’ve never build before. Your article was detailed and engaging and you also gave me a super video to watch. That’s awesome.
    I can’t tell you anything about this video because I’ve never done it before but it sure looks fun.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Tove

  3. Hey Adrian, excellent post that you have here! I never imagined building your own gaming PC. It sounds like a decent amount of work, but it also sounds like it can be a ton of fun. You clearly have a passion for your subject, and I love that about your site. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Thanks for your comment Austin, I’m glad you liked my site. This means a lot to me 🙂

      It’s true that the idea of building a custom computer can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have the right resources to learn how to do it. Anyone who is willing to learn can build their own computer in a few hours!

      Regards,
      Adrian

  4. Hey Adrian, excellent post that you have here! I never imagined building your own gaming PC. It sounds like a decent amount of work, but it also sounds like it can be a ton of fun. You clearly have a passion for your subject, and I love that about your site. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Thanks for your comment Austin, I’m glad you liked my site. This means a lot to me 🙂

      It’s true that the idea of building a custom computer can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have the right resources to learn how to do it. Anyone who is willing to learn can build their own computer in a few hours!

      Regards,
      Adrian

  5. I built a computer one time several years ago. I wish I had this post back then. It would have helped big time and also saved me a lot of time. What a great post and very thorough. Thanks so much. I may have to build another soon now with your help.

    1. I know what you are talking about, that’s exactly what happened to me when I first tried to build my gaming computer. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what parts should I choose, how to optimize the budget, how to avoid bottlenecks…

      And that’s the motivation behind this site, I want to help people so they don’t need to struggle with the boring thingies.

      Thanks for you words Mark, this really encourages me to keep up the hard work.

  6. I built a computer one time several years ago. I wish I had this post back then. It would have helped big time and also saved me a lot of time. What a great post and very thorough. Thanks so much. I may have to build another soon now with your help.

    1. I know what you are talking about, that’s exactly what happened to me when I first tried to build my gaming computer. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what parts should I choose, how to optimize the budget, how to avoid bottlenecks…

      And that’s the motivation behind this site, I want to help people so they don’t need to struggle with the boring thingies.

      Thanks for you words Mark, this really encourages me to keep up the hard work.

  7. Hey there, saw your website on WA and thought I would let you know what I thought. This is a great direction because I know a lot of people who game and some people who want to game but buying a gaming PC is just sometimes too expensive and puts them out of reach. I know a few people who have built in or around the 2k to 3k range. So giving some advice to save money is never a bad ordeal 🙂

    1. Thanks, Elliot! I think there are many people with a misconception about building custom computers. You really don’t need to spend more than 800 dollars to build a badass computer so you can play all latest games at the highest graphic quality.

      Your friends really must be serious gamers if they have those expensive computers! I would really love to see them.

  8. Hey there, saw your website on WA and thought I would let you know what I thought. This is a great direction because I know a lot of people who game and some people who want to game but buying a gaming PC is just sometimes too expensive and puts them out of reach. I know a few people who have built in or around the 2k to 3k range. So giving some advice to save money is never a bad ordeal 🙂

    1. Thanks, Elliot! I think there are many people with a misconception about building custom computers. You really don’t need to spend more than 800 dollars to build a badass computer so you can play all latest games at the highest graphic quality.

      Your friends really must be serious gamers if they have those expensive computers! I would really love to see them.

  9. Hello, after looking at the benchmark for this GPU (RX 460) it doesn’t quite hit 60fps. This is some what of a problem. Is there another GPU for around the same price that will hit that 60fps mark that will work for this build?

    1. Hi Robert,

      For Gaming purposes, the best CPU + GPU combination is an Intel i3-6100 paried with a GTX 1060 3GB or a RX 470 4GB. The cost of those two GPUs is around the $200.

      You can still hit the 60fps with the RX 460 if you lower graphics settings to mid levels, depending on the game.

        1. Yes of course. There are two options rounding the $600 price range.

          The cheaper option mounts a GTX 1060 3GB and the total cost at this moment is around $584. You can find it here: http://pcmasterracebuilds.com/the-best-gaming-pc-builds-by-price#SD_ECOG_600_IN

          If you want something more powerful, a computer that you won’t need to upgrade in the coming 4 years, then I would recommend you SD VR 650 IN, which it is $80 more expensive. This builds mounts the GTX 1060 6GB.
          You can find the details here: http://pcmasterracebuilds.com/affordable-virtual-reality-gaming-build-under-650

          Both builds will run all current games at 1080p, Ultra settings and 60 FPS. The only difference between these two builds s the GPU’s VRAM, which I think it will be crucial in the next years for the new games to be released. So depending on what games do you intend to play, you should buy one or another.

          Let me know if I can help you with any other question you may have on this matter 🙂

  10. Hello, after looking at the benchmark for this GPU (RX 460) it doesn’t quite hit 60fps. This is some what of a problem. Is there another GPU for around the same price that will hit that 60fps mark that will work for this build?

    1. Hi Robert,

      For Gaming purposes, the best CPU + GPU combination is an Intel i3-6100 paried with a GTX 1060 3GB or a RX 470 4GB. The cost of those two GPUs is around the $200.

      You can still hit the 60fps with the RX 460 if you lower graphics settings to mid levels, depending on the game.

        1. Yes of course. There are two options rounding the $600 price range.

          The cheaper option mounts a GTX 1060 3GB and the total cost at this moment is around $584. You can find it here: http://pcmasterracebuilds.com/the-best-gaming-pc-builds-by-price#SD_ECOG_600_IN

          If you want something more powerful, a computer that you won’t need to upgrade in the coming 4 years, then I would recommend you SD VR 650 IN, which it is $80 more expensive. This builds mounts the GTX 1060 6GB.
          You can find the details here: http://pcmasterracebuilds.com/affordable-virtual-reality-gaming-build-under-650

          Both builds will run all current games at 1080p, Ultra settings and 60 FPS. The only difference between these two builds s the GPU’s VRAM, which I think it will be crucial in the next years for the new games to be released. So depending on what games do you intend to play, you should buy one or another.

          Let me know if I can help you with any other question you may have on this matter 🙂

    1. @disqus_zoJIWU3HyO:disqus yes you can. The EGVA GTX 1050 Ti has three ports: 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, 1x DVI.

      You won’t have any problem with with the DVI, but on the other hand, you will need to get a VGA to DisplayPort or VGA to HDMI adapter (http://amzn.to/2p5cD1U).

      May I ask why do you want to have one monitor with two active feeds?

      1. Thanks. I did some more research and I understand that now and also I meant just to use 2 separate monitors.

  11. How would this computer play games like, path of exile, csgo, league, etc. I am not looking to play highly graphiced games, i am just in the need of a new pc, that can handle the games i mentioned above, thanks.

    1. 1. Any standard ethernet cable will do the job.

      2. No other fans are required for a proper cooling, unless the computer were to be located in a hot room or exposed to other extreme wather conditions.

  12. So I built this and have it running but when I started it up I got a message saying reboot and select boot device. This is my first time building a computer so I am a little clueless. How would I proceed from here, all I bought was the the first group of Items?

    1. Hey Jack! Congratulations for building your first desktop computer 🙂

      You get that message because you haven’t installed any OS yet. If you want to install Windows, you can do it via a USB stick or an official DVD installation (you can find a link in the peripherals section of this post).

      I’d recommend you to install it via USB. You can download a free win 10 image from the official microsoft page here: https://www.microsoft.com/software-download/windows10

      Then, to create the bootable USB, use Rufus (free software): https://rufus.akeo.ie/

      You will be required to enter a key during or after the installation. It’s up to you to use a legal copy of windows or find a preactivated (illegal) windows image.

      Let me know if you need more help 🙂

  13. How many fans will this need? Does it work fine without them?

    Also, would this still work if I swapped the processor for an i5-7500 and the power source for the 500W version?

    1. The case’s stock fan and the i3 7100’s stock fan is enough.

      The i5-7500 would be bottlenecked by the GTX 1050 Ti, so there is really no point to upgrade the CPU unless you also want to upgrade the GPU to a GTX 1060. If you want to do that, then take a look at the 800 dollar build.

      If you want something in between the 500 and 800 builds, then take a look at the 600 dollasr build, which include the GTX 1060 upgrade only. For gaming computers, upgrading the GPU is always a better investment compared to upgrading the CPU.

  14. I built the pc but the ssd has not arrived yet, and I tried to start the system but it will not turn on. does the ssd have to be installed in order for it to boot to bios?

  15. Hi!

    This will be the first time that I would build a pc and i decided to use this build. Unfortunately, my local supplier does not have all of the parts listed above. So, I decided to make do with what they have. Will this list be alright?

    Intel Core i3-7100 3.9Ghz Kabylake Processor

    MSI B250M Pro-VH

    Gigabyte GTX 1050 TI OC 4GB GDDR5

    Kingston HyperX Fury 8GB Single DDR4 2133

    Seagate Barracuda 1TB ST1000DM010 (SATA 6Gb/s) Hard Drive

    Corsair CX500 500W 80Plus Bronze Power Supply

    Thermaltake Versa H21 Windowed Mid-Tower

    1. Yeah I know, it’s being difficult to find some parts lately, especially graphics card and ram…

      Your list is absolutely perfect. The only thing I would mention is that you should add another 8GB of RAM as soon as you can, so you can take advantage of the Dual Channel architecture. Other than that, you can go ahead and start building your build 🙂

      If you want to learn about the dual channel thing, check this post: https://pcmasterracebuilds.com/the-best-ram-by-price/#How_To_Choose_The_Best_RAM_Modules

  16. Just want to comment on “Almost every exclusive console game ends up coming out on PC”

    My response: All Mario games. All Zelda games. All Kirby games. All Starfox games. Uncharted series. The Last of Us. The Metroid Series. Shadow of the Colossus. The Kingdom Hearts series. Ico. The Ratchet and Clank series. Banjo-Kazooie games.

    Not trying to start anything, I believe that all consoles and PCs have a place in gaming and all have great games. But I believe your point is erroneous, as I have just listed some of the greatest games of all time (and some that aren’t as great, but still experiences I don’t regret.) A better statement would be “PC has more exclusives than every other console combined.”

    1. I agree with you in almost all what you said. What I tried to say with that sentence is that you can play console exclusive games on your computer via emulators, the latest Zelda for example.

      But I admit it can be a little confusing, as this only is true if you wait long enough for the emulators to be released and capable of running games at stable frame rates.

      I will definitely extend this segment a little further in the post. Thank you so much for the input 🙂

  17. Just built this pc, reusing a case I had and using a Corsair CX550M power supply instead of the EVGA 430W. Lets just say Im impressed.

    This is my first gaming pc and didnt want to spend a lot of money to get started, not knowing if I would enjoy it. Graphics perform great without a hitch, no artifacts. Was able to play PUBG with default settings at 60FPS. The SSD performs well and boots up nice a quick.

    Thanks for your info, saved me a ton of time researching what performs well and doesnt. Would recommend ******

    1. I’m really glad you could build your first gaming computer successfully!

      Thank you so much for taking your time writing your experience and for your encouraging words 🙂

    1. That will depend on what you already have. If this is your first PC ever and you don0t have any monitor or keyboard/mouse, then yes, you will need to buy some extras/peripherals. But they are not required per se.

    1. Of course you can! Just remember to plug the HDMI cable into the GPU port, and not into the motherboard’s.

      Also, the GPU has DVI and DisplayPort ports, but these are generally used on monitors.

  18. At the bottom of the page, the Intel Build link goes to the AMD one, and the AMD Build link goes to the Intel one.

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