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Building an affordable, yet powerful budget PC for 1080P gaming has never been so easy these days. Due to the improved manufacturing processes, and much more advanced technologies, computers are nowadays faster, and consume less electricity for the same amount of money. For a budget of $500 today you can get a very capable computer system that will satisfy most mainstream users. However, you’ll also get an affordable gaming station whose performance won’t match any gaming console currently available on the market.
Read also: The Best Laptops for $500
Unlike consoles, computers can be quite expensive, however, they tend to outpace consoles in terms of performance and versatility. Having that in mind, it is necessary to stress out that you can’t expect from a $500 PC build to smoothly run games on ultra settings at 1440P or 4K resolutions. But if you are looking for an affordable machine that’ll be able to play even the latest games at 1080P, then our $500 PC build will most certainly meet your needs.
Building an affordable 1080P gaming PC on a limited budget comes with certain compromises. In our build we’ve prioritized quality over some minor performance improvements. Since having 16 gigabytes of RAM is nowadays a standard, we’ve decide to follow the trends and not opt for a much cheaper, but weaker solution of having only 8 GB of RAM. This significantly decreased our remaining budget, however, we were still able to compose an excellent gaming PC build. Our system comes with a very capable quad core processor that features great single-threaded performance (something which is very important for gaming), and comes with a super-fast NVMe SSD which greatly reduces loading times in games and applications. We’ve also decided to go with a higher quality motherboard that will last longer, and will be able to support further system upgrades.
With the latter on our mind, let’s not waste words any further and take a look at our PC build.
|Processor||Intel Core i3-9100F 4-Core, 4.2 GHz Processor||Check price|
|Motherboard||ASRock H310CM-HDV/M.2, Micro-ATX||Check price|
|Memory||TEAMGROUP Elite Plus DDR4 16GB 2400 MHz Kit||Check price|
|Graphics Card||PNY GeForce GTX 1650 Gaming Overclocked 4GB||Check price|
|Solid State Drive||Kingston A400 480GB M.2 NVMe SSD||Check price|
|Power Supply||Thermaltake Smart 500W 80+ White Certified||Check price|
|Case||AeroCool Cyclon RGB Mid Tower Case||Check price|
If you sum up the prices of all the components listed above, you will get the amount of around $500. Since prices change every day, this amount may exceed our budget of $500 at the time you are reading this, however, this should only be by a small margin. Keep in mind that all of these components come with their own warranties, so when you consider that, this PC build proves to be a worthwhile investment. Since we are building this computer primarily to play latest PC games, it is necessary to examine its performance beforehand. Let’s take a look at our performance benchmark table below:
Expected Gaming Performance
|1080p Gaming @ High Settings||i3-9100F + GTX 1650|
|Assassin’s Creed Origins||56 FPS|
|Battlefield V||72 FPS|
|Far Cry New Dawn||61 FPS|
|Fortnite: Battle Royale||74 FPS|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt||57 FPS|
As you can see, our $500 PC build can run very demanding PC titles with favorable performance. All of the results listed above apply to “High” settings, not “Ultra”, so keep that in mind. Even though our GeForce GTX 1650 comes with only 4GB of VRAM, it is more than enough capable to run Battlefield V at more than 70 FPS on average, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt at slightly less than 60 FPS on average. Provided that you wish to upgrade the graphics card in the future, or go with a more powerful one, you can expect better performance results that the ones shown above. Altogether, our $500 PC is capable to deliver solid performance, which is great for achieving good results while being on a tight budget.
If you are interested in specific details of each individual component of our $500 PC build, then keep reading further.
PC BUILD DETAILS
Processor: Intel Core i3-9100F
Cores/Threads: 4C/4T | Base Clock: 3.6 GHz | Boost Clock: 4.2 GHz | L3 Cache: 6MB | TDP: 65W | PassMark Score: 6.825
Despite the fact that AMD’s Ryzen CPUs are nowadays very popular, it is foolish to think that Intel still doesn’t make great CPUs. The Intel Core i3-9100F is one such example. For an MSRP of $70, this quad-core, 4-thread processor is able to deliver outstanding performance. Even though it doesn’t shine in multi-threaded tasks, its single-threaded performance is on par with a well-known AMD Ryzen 5 3600 CPU which costs two times more.
Compared to its primary competitor, the Ryzen 5 1600, the i3-9100F runs at a very high frequency clock of 4.2 GHz and features 6 MB of cache. These are very impressive specifications for a budget processor featuring no integrated graphics solution. In short, the i3-9100F is a very capable CPU, and will be more than enough capable for performing some office work, as well as casual gaming. The latest i3-10100F processor is a great alternative to the i3-9100F, however, this CPU requires a newer and a bit more expensive motherboard that is compatible with it.
Motherboard: ASRock H310CM-HDV/M.2
Form Factor: Micro ATX | Socket: LGA1151 | Chipset: Intel H310 | Memory Support: 2 x DDR4 2666 | Features: 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16, 2 x PCIe 2.0 x1, 4 x SATA3, 1 x M.2
ASRock H310CM-HDV/M.2 is a solid budget micro-ATX motherboard that supports 9th and 8th Generation Intel Core processors. Featuring two DDR4 DIMM slots, this motherboard can address up to 32 GB of system memory, and can accommodate one graphics card in its single PCIe 3.0x 16 slot. This particular variant of H310CM features one M.2 socket that supports installation of a super-fast NVMe SSD drive. Along with that, this motherboard features 1 GbE LAN, 7.1-channel HD Audio, two USB 3.2 Gen1 rear ports, and an HDMI output. If, however, you decide to install additional PCI cards, there are two available PCIe 2.0 x1 slots that can be used. Featuring high density glass fabric PCB, this motherboard is well-protected against electric shorts that can be caused by excessive air humidity. Overall, the ASRock H310CM-HDV/M.2 is a good budget motherboard that will handle the i3-9100F CPU without any issues.
Speed: DDR4 2400 MHz | Timings: 16-16-16-39 | CAS Latency: 16 | Operating Voltage: 1.20V | Capacity: 2 x 8GB
Featuring the same performance as the G.SKILL’s RipjawsX Series memory modules, the TEAMGROUP’s Elite Plus DDR4 memory kits are the perfect alternative for users looking for an affordable, yet reliable DDR4 memory sticks. Designed specifically for gamers and enthusiasts, the Elite Plus RAM sticks feature helmet-like design with a killer visual style, and come with highly efficient aluminum heat spreaders that protect internal memory modules form overheating. With ultra low working voltage of only 1.2V, and decent CAS latencies, the Elite Plus memory sticks offer incredible performance for a very affordable price. The above mentioned 16 GB kit consists of two 8 GB sticks, each running at a frequency of 2,400 MHz. Paired with i3-9100F CPU they are able to deliver incredibly fast performance, which is why they’re an essential part of our $500 PC build.
Graphics Card: PNY GeForce GTX 1650 Gaming Overclocked 4GB
Boost Clock: 1725 MHz | Memory: 4GB GDDR5 | Length: 145 mm | Power Connectors: None | Outputs: 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI
The GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card is probably the weakest link in our $500 PC build. Even though it’s not a very powerful graphics card, it still does a pretty good job at delivering favorable gaming experience at 1080P resolution. Great thing about this card is that it’s extremely small, and that it requires no additional power supply connectors, because it draws enough power from the PCIe slot itself.
Another great thing about the GeForce GTX 1650 is that it costs only around $150, which is why we’ve decided to put it in our $500 PC build. If you scroll back up and take a look at our expected gaming performance table, you’ll see that this card can deliver good results on high settings and at 1080P resolution. If however, you aren’t satisfied with our choice, you can read our article about the best graphics cards under $200 in which you may find a better card that will suit your needs. Provided you have some extra money to spare, and want something more powerful, we highly recommend getting a Radeon RX 570 8GB instead of the GeForce GTX 1650.
Solid State Drive: Kingston A400 480GB M.2 SSD
Capacity: 480GB | Interface: M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 | Max. Read Speed: Up to 500 MB/s | Max. Write Speed: Up to 450 MB/s
When it comes to storage, our $500 PC build features no 3.5-inch hard drives, but it does come with a decently spacious 480GB super-fast M.2 NVMe SSD drive made by Kingston. The reason why we decide to go with the M.2 SSD, and not the classic SATA SSD is that the M.2 interface offers much faster read and write speeds compared to the SATA interface. Since M.2 drives communicate with the processor directly over the PCIe interface, the overall data transfer speeds are much faster, and thus enable you to greatly reduce system loading times, as well game loading times.
But besides being fast, the M.2 drives also occupy much less space. In fact, they are installed directly onto the motherboard, which means your case’s internal hard drive cages remain empty, thus enabling you to achieve better airflow through case, and reduce potential component overheating. The above mentioned Kingston A400 SSD provides good reading and writing speeds, and offers enough storage space to accommodate an operating system and multiple PC games and applications. In case you need more space, you can always go with a larger SSD, however, this will surely exceed our budget of $500.
Power Supply: Thermaltake Smart 500W 80+ White Certified
Form Factor: ATX | Capacity: 500W | Efficiency rating: 80 PLUS White Certified | Modularity: Non-modular
Even though having a 500W power supply for our budget $500 gaming PC is a bit of an overkill, it is never bad to have more power at your disposal than you actually need. In case you would want to upgrade your PC in the future, that extra power will easily cover the energy consumption of new components, so you’ll never have to worry about whether your PC will be able to withstand further system upgrades. In that sense, our choice of this power supply unit makes much more sense.
The Thermaltake Smart Series PSU is a very reliable and decent power supply unit which features 80+ White certification, and is able to sustain non-stop usage for long periods of time. Featuring 120 mm cooling fan, this PSU produces exceptionally low amount of noise, and its multiple connectors are able to supply different sorts of system components. Being powerful enough and simple, this a great PSU for building entry-level gaming system on a tight budget.
Form Factor: Mid Tower | Motherboard Support: ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX | Dimensions: 198 × 459 × 413 mm | Radiator Support: 1 x 120 mm | I/O Ports: USB 2.0 x 2, USB 3.0 x 1, HD Audio x 1, Mic x 1, SD Card Reader | Drive Bays: 2 x 3.5″, 2+3 x 2.5″
All gaming PCs should feature stylish and attractive PC cases. That’s why we decide to choose the AeroCool Cyclon RGB to house our $500 PC build. Despite the fact that this case offers very premium looks, it is incredibly cheap and feature-packed, which is why it is a perfect choice for building a budget gaming PC. Featuring transparent acrylic side window panel and elegantly design RGB LED front panel display with over 13 different modes, this case offers enough customization options for creating a neat and stylish PC build.
The AeroCool Cyclon RGB supports installation of high-end graphics cards that measure up to 371 mm in length, and offers CPU cooler clearance of up to 155 mm. Inside the case there is enough room to install an AIO liquid cooler, two 3.5″ HDDs, and up to five 2.5″ SSDs. At its front panel you can also find a USB 3.0 port, HD audio and microphone jacks, as well as an integrated SD and microSD card reader.
And that’s it! This is our best budget $500 gaming PC build for 2020. We hope our buying guide helped you in search of the information you were looking for. If you still feel confused, and need advice about buying, feel free to post a comment below. We will try to help you.