The Best Gaming PC Under $500 – 2020 Guide

In this guide, we will extensively talk about the great options you have when looking for the best gaming PC under $500.

As we all know, the two major platforms in the gaming scene are the console and PC. Consoles are meant for people who just want something convenient – you buy it, bring it home, pop some games on, and you’re good to go. PCs, on the other hand, are a little bit more complicated. You can manually configure parts, settings, files – the works.

The growing interest in PC gaming has pushed technology development to a new level, amassing a great deal of consumers diving into the hype.

The constant innovation that manufacturers have been putting out – in an attempt to one-up each other in the price-to-performance arena – has been a key factor in keeping the competition balanced and healthy.

In the past, getting a decent gaming PC for less than $500 was extremely challenging, if not impossible.

But now technology has advanced so much that it allows for components to be more accessible and affordable, making this price range a much more appealing route for those looking to dip their toes into the world of PC gaming, or improve their current setup.

The Best Gaming PCs Under $500 in 2020

ProductGraphics CardProcessorOur Rating
iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming PCNVIDIA Geforce GT 710 1GBAMD Ryzen 3 3200G 3.6GHz4.4
CUK Stratos Micro Gaming DesktopRadeon Vega 8 iGPUAMD Ryzen 3 3200G Quadcore4.4
Lenovo 510A DesktopRadeon Vega 8 iGPUAMD Ryzen 3 3200G Quadcore4.5
iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming 134Av2Nvidia GT 1030 2 GBAMD Ryzen 3 3200G Quadcore4.5
SkyTech Blaze VR Ready PCRadeon RX 580 4 GBAMD Ryzen 3 1200 Quadcore4.4
CUK AsRock DeskMini A300W Mini Desktop PCRadeon Vega 11 iGPUAMD Ryzen 5 3400G Quadcore4.2
Gaming Desktop Custom SystemRadeon Vega 8 iGPUAMD Ryzen 3 2200G Quadcore4.2
iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming FHW002Nvidia GT 710 1 GB Graphics CardIntel Core i3-9100F Quadcore4.6
CUK Lineage Gaming DesktopNVidia GeForce GTX 1050 Graphics Card 2GBIntel Pentium G4400 Dual Core Processor 3.30GHz4.4

Please note, some of the PCs in this article cost a little more than $500. At the time of writing, the majority were either under $500 or were very close to that figure. Some products were included that are a little more than $500 because they are still good value and are relatively cheap.

iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming PC

iBUYPOWER has been a major player in the prebuilt PC scene for years now. While they are most known for their high-end units, the brand doesn’t forget to give some love to the entry-level market, especially with this offering. Here are the specs you will be getting for this particular model:

  • AMD Ryzen 3 3200G Quadcore
  • 8 GB DDR4 2666 MHz RAM
  • 1 TB HDD
  • Nvidia GT 710 1 GB Graphics Card
  • Windows 10 64-bit OS

For entry-level gaming, the iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming PC is more than enough for your needs. The Ryzen 3 3200G is a quad-core processor from AMD’s Ryzen lineup – their most successful series to date. More power-efficient than the previous FX lineup, the 3200G consumes a lot less electricity while providing improved computing performance, enough for games and other productivity workloads.

It has 8 GBs of DDR4 RAM, which is more than enough to run games like esports titles and casual ones, all without stuttering or crashing issues. 1 TB of storage space can hold a lot of games as well, albeit being a tad slower than an SSD. An Nvidia GT 710 is hooked onto it as a dedicated GPU, but in reality, the integrated Vega 8 graphics processor on the Ryzen 3200G is more capable in running games.

It does have some style points going for it with the aRGB tempered glass case and the bundled RGB keyboard and mouse, giving it the sleek look with lighting accents adding some bling to the setup. It also comes with loads of USB ports and a Wifi functionality for your convenience.

Pros:

  • Esports and casual games
  • Great budget CPU
  • Decent RAM
  • Decent storage
  • Neat appearance

Cons:

  • Dedicated GPU is weaker than the integrated GPU of the processor

CUK Stratos Micro Gaming Desktop

If you can spare a few more bucks and bump your budget into the $600 territory, the CUK Stratos Micro Gaming Desktop is hard to pass up. Another unit using the Ryzen 3 3200G, this particular offering is sure to pack that impressive entry-level gaming performance without the need for a dedicated graphics card.

  • AMD Ryzen 3 3200G Quadcore
  • 16 GB DDR4 3000 MHz RAM
  • 256 GB SSD
  • Radeon Vega 8 iGPU
  • Windows 10 64-bit OS
  • 500-watt power supply

But what takes the cake is the impressive 16 GB kit of 3000 MHz DDR4 memory hooked onto this bad boy. This allows you to run other programs like an internet browser or office software on top of your games – without worrying about crashes or stuttering when playing. The Radeon Vega 8 integrated graphics unit takes care of your game rendering, which is perfect for esports and casual titles.

You also get a 256 GB SSD, which is lighting-fast, albeit somewhat low in storage capacity. This is great for fast PC and program start up, so you won’t have to wait half the time when loading something up. A decent 500-watt power supply also comes with the unit, allowing you to upgrade parts in the future without running out of juice headroom.

Airflow is one of this unit’s strong suits, with 6 high-rpm RGB fans that provide efficient cooling over the components while giving you that aesthetic bling that can be appreciated from the outside thanks to the solid chassis with a tempered glass side panel.

Pros:

  • Decent CPU
  • Impressive RAM
  • High-speed storage
  • Decent power supply wattage
  • Capable integrated GPU
  • Good airflow

Cons:

  • Pricier
  • Low storage capacity

Lenovo 510A Desktop

It seems like the Ryzen 3 3200g takes the MVP award for this one, as the Lenovo 510A Desktop sports it in the package for that decent entry-level gaming experience. As mentioned earlier, this power-efficient processor has improved computing performance in comparison to its predecessors without the excess heat and power-hungriness at all.

  • AMD Ryzen 3 3200G Quadcore
  • 8 GB DDR4 2666 MHz RAM
  • 256 GB PCIE M.2 SSD
  • Radeon Vega 8 iGPU
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit OS

While it doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card, the integrated Vega 8 GPU can punch above its weight class, providing decent performance in esports titles and less-demanding sandbox games. It also holds 8 GBs of 2666 MHz RAM, split into a 4 GB x 2 configuration so it can run in dual-channel mode, which is known to improve performance on Ryzen-based systems.

Once again, the tradeoff between speed and capacity is apparent with the 256 PCIE SSD – which is slightly faster than ordinary SATA SSDs, and leagues faster than conventional HDDs. Of course, you can’t store as many games in the limited space, but your PC is sure to be snappier in almost every aspect.

It comes in a neat black chassis that is kind of choked in terms of airflow, but it doesn’t really matter since there is minimal heat generation in this setup. You also get Wifi and Bluetooth support, multiple USB ports, a card reader, an optical drive, and a free keyboard/mouse combo to complete the package.

Pros:

  • Good for esports and casual games
  • Decent CPU
  • Practical RAM configuration
  • Fast storage
  • Decent integrated GPU
  • Small footprint

Cons:

  • Poor airflow

iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming 134Av2

Another iBUYPOWER selection enters the fray with the iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming PC, coming at a different configuration than its sibling above. That being said, it’s no slouch, as it comes with a dedicated graphics card that can offload some of the work from the CPU, allowing the whole unit to perform better.

  • AMD Ryzen 3 3200G Quadcore
  • 8 GB DDR4 RAM
  • 120 GB SSD + 1 TB SSD
  • Nvidia GT 1030 2 GB
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit OS

Still sporting the trusty Ryzen 5 3200G – which is a great all-rounder CPU – the iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming PC ups the ante by enlisting the help of Nvidia’s GT 1030 GPU, another budget-oriented graphics card that can hold its own with regards to modern games, whether it be esports or triple-A titles. Of course, you will still be limited to lower frames or resolutions, but it packs consistency, ensuring you get a smooth gaming experience no matter what.

It has the standard 8 GB DDR4 setup, which is more than enough for your gaming and productivity needs, but the storage configuration is where this PC shines. A small but fast 120 GB SSD holds your OS (and can accommodate a game or two) for that snappy response and overall performance, while the 1 TB HDD can hold the bulk of your files and games, allowing you to download more titles in the long run.

It comes with multiple USB ports, is Wifi-ready, and a keyboard and mouse bundle for your convenience. The case is also stylish, carrying the iBUYPOWER branding, a tempered glass side panel, and RGB lighting accents.

Pros:

  • Esports-ready
  • Decent CPU + GPU
  • Great 120 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD combo
  • Comes with free keyboard and mouse

Cons:

  • RAM increase would improve performance

SkyTech Blaze VR Ready PC

Configuring a PC in the $500 price range is quite tricky, becoming a balancing act on what to prioritize and what to cut out. The SkyTech Blaze VR Ready PC is one such unit, but all things considered, it is one impressive performer in this specific price bracket.

  • AMD Ryzen 3 1200 Quadcore
  • 8 GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1 TB HDD
  • Radeon RX 580 4 GB
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit OS

Unlike the entries above, the SkyTech Blaze VR Ready PC resorts to the first-generation Ryzen lineup with the Ryzen 3 1200. There is a minimal performance difference per generation, and this particular CPU doesn’t have an integrated GPU – but that won’t matter as a dedicated RX 580 graphics card is included in the package.

The Radeon RX 580 is leagues better than the entry-level GPUs above, making it one of the most popular mid-range graphics cards in recent years. It can handle demanding triple-A titles well and churn out consistent frame rates at medium to high graphics settings, making this one of the best spec’d configurations in the list. Most of all, this GPU is VR-ready, allowing you to enjoy VR games in the comfort of your own home. It houses 8 GBs of DDR4 memory for that decent multitasking functionality as well.

Where the SkyTech Blaze PC falls short is the storage, as while it comes with a 1 TB HDD, there’s no SSD. Don’t let this discourage you, though, as you can easily add an SSD to the system for faster response times and a seamless overall feel.

It comes in a neat chassis with tons of USB connectivity, Wifi functionality, good airflow via multiple case fans, and a free keyboard and mouse combination.

Pros:

  • True console-killer
  • Decent CPU
  • Powerful GPU
  • Large storage capacity
  • High airflow

Cons:

  • No SSD (though has a 1TB HDD)

CUK AsRock DeskMini A300W Mini Desktop PC

Are you worried that your limited space will prevent you from hosting a standard-sized PC? Fret not, as the CUK AsRock DeskMini A300W PC is specially configured to give you decent gaming performance in a small form factor package.

  • AMD Ryzen 5 3400G Quadcore
  • 16 GB DDR4 2666 MHz RAM
  • 512 GB NVME SSD
  • Radeon Vega 11 iGPU

Bumping the budget to a few bucks over $500, the CUK AsRock DeskMini hosts a generous increase in performance thanks to its utilization of the Ryzen 5 3400G, which is a step up from the Ryzen 3 3200G. While still being a quadcore processor, it supports hyperthreading – making it a 4-core, 8-thread workhorse. This doesn’t only equate to better gaming performance, but improves productivity functions as well.

Apart from that, it now hosts a Radeon Vega 11 integrated GPU, which is more powerful than the Vega 8 iGPU of the previous selections. Paired with 16 GBs of 2666 MHz memory, it can blast its way through esports titles and even take on demanding games by pushing out a consistent number of frames per second.

Another great feature of the CUK AsRock DeskMini is the spacious 512 GB NVME SSD, which is basically a faster version of a regular SATA SSD. Now you can have the speed and capacity you need without requiring frequent storage device upgrades over the next couple of months.

It comes with decent connectivity options, which include USB and Wifi. Do note that it doesn’t come with an operating system – so ensure that you have a genuine copy before going for this particular unit.

Pros:

  • Great CPU
  • Decent iGPU
  • Significant RAM size
  • Fast and spacious SSD
  • Small form factor

Cons:

  • No OS included
  • No keyboard and mouse included

Gaming Desktop Custom System

You can still get a decent gaming experience with the budget king of the list – the Gaming Desktop Custom System gives you excellent price to performance value! While you shouldn’t expect the best and greatest graphics settings at a constant 60 fps output, this custom rig provides a decent platform for casual esports enthusiasts to start on.

  • AMD Ryzen 3 2200G Quadcore
  • 8 GB DDR4 2400 MHz RAM
  • 240 GB SSD
  • Radeon Vega 8 iGPU
  • Windows 10 64-bit OS

From the first iteration of AMD’s APUs, the Ryzen 3 2200G is a decent entry-level processor that also packs a Radeon Vega 8 integrated GPU. While this means that it can’t quite get to the level of a system with a dedicated GPU, it is more than enough for esports titles, which are easy to run in the bare minimum of specs.

It sports a basic 8 GB 2400 MHz memory kit, which takes care of basic gaming and multitasking needs. A 240 GB SSD is thrown in the mix, which gives you a snappy experience from the get-go, albeit limiting your storage capacity by a significant amount.

Where this PC shines, though, is the inclusion of a decent 450-watt power supply, opening the doors for future upgrades – especially in the graphics department where the system unit lacks. All of these are housed in a decent-sized RGB case, which adds an aesthetic appeal to give off that gaming vibe.

Pros:

  • Decent CPU + integrated GPU
  • Fast storage
  • Good ram
  • Futureproof power supply
  • Cheapest option

Cons:

  • Limited storage space
  • No peripherals included

iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming FHW002

This particular version of the iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming PC swings for team blue as it sports an Intel 9th generation quadcore processor instead of the usual Ryzen counterpart. Specifically sporting the Intel i3-9100F, a great entry level processor that provides a decent gaming performance and is on-par with the low-end Ryzen chips when it comes to productivity applications.

  • Intel Core i3-9100F Quadcore
  • 8 GB DDR4 RAM
  • 120 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD
  • Nvidia GT 710 1 GB Graphics card
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit OS

Intel systems are inherently snappier in terms of Windows performance out of the box, which is further improved by the inclusion of a 120 GB SSD acting as the main drive of the PC. 8 GBs of DDR4 memory provide you with decent gaming performance, as well as other applications such as document editors and browsers. You also get 1 TB of HDD storage, which is spacious enough for a number of games, as it can accommodate larger file sizes.

You can’t expect a phenomenal gaming performance with the Nvidia GT 710, though, limiting your options to lighter esports titles and older casual games. Worry not, as this isn’t the endgame state for the PC. The highly-capable processor can be paired with a more powerful GPU in the future, should you choose to upgrade.

It comes in a stylish RGB case with a tempered glass side panel and RGB fans for that added visual appeal, while providing decent airflow at the same time. You also get a handful of USB ports, Wifi connectivity, and a keyboard and mouse combo.

Pros:

  • Decent processor
  • Entry-level gaming
  • Decent RAM
  • Fast SSD storage
  • Generous HDD capacity
  • Upgradeability

Cons:

  • Subpar dedicated GPU

CUK Lineage Gaming Desktop

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 fast 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 1080p gaming which is pretty good at this budget.

Overall, this option is worth considering but we feel like you’d be better off going with one of the alternative options above that are a little more modern.

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

Advantages of PCs Over Consoles

It’s no secret nowadays that even with a budget of $500, you can already get a PC that beats a console in value – hence the term ‘console killer’. But what exactly makes a PC superior to consoles?

  • PCs are great all-rounders for productivity. Not only do you get the multimedia and gaming capabilities found in consoles, but you also get to edit documents, photos, and other work-related functions out of the box.
  • It’s no surprise that the growing PC community has made game developers shift their target market towards making PC games. While there are console exclusives, the plethora of games supported by the PC platform ensures you have a wide selection to choose from.
  • Modularity is one of the PC’s strong points. Due to PC parts being modular, you can go ahead and replace stock ones with aftermarket offerings that are more powerful.
  • Keyboard and mouse gaming feels much more natural for many players.
  • Most competitive games are hosted on the PC platform. So if you are eyeing a career in the competitive scene, getting a PC is a great way to start it.
  • Gaming PCs are almost always ahead of consoles in their respective price points. Maxing out frames without compromising image quality adds up to an enjoyable overall experience.

Buy or Build? The Biggest Dilemma

The beauty of PC gaming is that you can either go with the pre-built route or build the whole thing from scratch. Building your own PC gives you more control over what goes into the system unit, which is important if you know what you want to run and get the best value out of your budget. Most of the time, it also presents a great upgrade path for futureproofing.

Prebuilt PCs, on the other hand, are configured from the manufacturer or distributor so you don’t have to deal with the hard stuff, like assembling the unit or installing the OS and programs. You also get the benefit of a comprehensive warranty on all the parts, instead of the tedious goose chase that comes with individual warranties when building on your own.

We will tackle prebuilt PCs in this guide, however, as it is a much more convenient choice for most readers – especially as there are literally thousands of variables if we were to look at custom builds.

What to Look for When Getting a Prebuilt Gaming PC

With a budget of $500, what can you expect from a prebuilt gaming PC? With prices becoming more and more competitive, getting console-level performance or better at this price point is more than viable. But what do you need to consider before jumping the gun?

As we are focusing on gaming-related workload, the PC needs to have a decent graphic processing unit/graphics card. These can either range from low-end to mid-range graphics cards, which are already acceptable for 720p to 1080p gaming. These graphics processing units render the graphics on your game, so ensure the PC you’re getting has a capable one installed. Or, you could get a PC with an Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) – a CPU with a GPU integrated into it.

Speaking of the CPU or the Central Processing Unit, one should stick to models that are current and relevant. Intel’s Core series or AMD’s Ryzen lineup are great choices, and going lower than these is a no-go.

Next is RAM or random-access memory, which loads your games and programs whilst they are being used. The bare minimum for system ram is 8 GB – anything less than this will underperform. Also, the DDR4 standard is being widely used now, so it’s safe to stick with a system that has 8 GBs of DDR4 ram.

Of course, storage should be considered as well, as these will hold your games and files. This is usually tricky, as storage usually comes in two forms – Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and Solid State Drives (SSD). HDDs are mechanical devices that are inherently slower but are more affordable per gigabyte, while SSDs use flash memory which is fast but is typically more expensive in nature. Balance out your needs for performance and speed when shopping for a prebuilt.

While these aren’t really that important in relation to the aforementioned factors, the power supply and motherboard options on prebuilt PCs can be considered if you want an upgrade path in the future. Ensure that the power supply has enough wattage to power your upgrades, and take into account the RAM slots, graphics card slots, and storage ports of the motherboard if these are to be expanded upon in the future.

Conclusion

After compiling this extensive list of the best gaming PCs less than $500, there is one notable trend – most of them are held back by mismatched specifications.

Don’t let this discourage you from getting a prebuilt, though, as these machines are still up to the challenge, especially in providing you an enjoyable gaming experience.

These prebuilt options are also great starting platforms for those who don’t want to shell out a ton of cash in one sitting, while still giving you the necessary headroom to upgrade individual parts in the future.