Gaming PCs have a reputation for being powerful, but they also have a reputation for being expensive. It’s not unearned. The best GPU and CPU on the market will cost you a pretty penny, and it used to be that getting together a decent gaming PC for under $500 meant building it yourself. That’s no longer the case, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to be cautious when shopping for a gaming PC.
The best gaming PC under $500 won’t be able to perform alongside top of the line rigs, but it’s still a far cry from a lot of the PCs available at that price today. We’re here to help you distinguish the best gaming PC under $500 models available today and help you understand the most important specs.
- 10 Best Gaming PCs under $500
- 1. CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming PC
- 2. Alienware Aurora R7 7906SLV Gaming Desktop
- 3. iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming PC
- 4. SkyTech Blaze VR Ready RGB Gaming Computer
- 5. CUK AsRock DeskMini A300W Tiny Desktop
- 6. HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop Computer
- 7. CUK Continuum Micro Gamer PC
- 8. Dell PowerEdge T30 Premium Business Mini Tower PC
- 9. Acer Aspire TC-780 Desktop
- 10. Lenovo Ideacentre 720 18L Desktop
- Gaming PC Under $500 Buyer’s Guide
10 Best Gaming PCs under $500
1. CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming PC
The Best Value for Performance Around
CyberpowerPC exclusively makes PCs catered towards the gaming community, and the result are some of the best machines on the market today. But while the GXiVR8060A8 strips things down for the sake of gamers with a tighter budget, it still keeps value disproportionately high to the price. This gaming PC incorporates a ninth generation Intel Core chip as well as an AMD Radeon GPU for some of the best performance in this range.
But the price of this hardware for manufacturers is pretty standardized, CyberpowerPC manages to keep their gaming PC among the best thanks to the fine tuning they've done here. This gaming PC has been optimized for DirectX 12, and it's been built from the ground up with the needs of virtual reality gaming in mind. It's a commitment to excellence that's made it a consistent best of winner from some of the biggest PC gaming publications.
2. Alienware Aurora R7 7906SLV Gaming Desktop
Built With Customization in Mind
The base version of the Alienware Aurora R7 may be a bit lacking in the sort of specs the most serious gamers need, but with tons of options to upgrade it, you can easily start with a budget gaming PC and turn it into an exceptional gaming PC as your budget allows. Storage and memory are very easy to upgrade even if you don't have any experience or tools available, and with the hefty combination of CPU and GPU at work here, you can count on it to be future proofed for some time to come.
This is a great looking PC too. It manages to sport a slick and futuristic aesthetic without veering into the sometimes gaudy sensibilities that many gaming PC models sport. And holding everything together is the Alienware Command Center - a very smart utility that helps you create your own game modes, configure lighting, and monitor your heat levels.
3. iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming PC
iBUYPOWER is another budget gaming PC manufacturer with a smaller and more technical approach to creating systems for gamers. The build quality in particular is exceptional here, and the tempered glass provides protection while giving you a nice internal look at the guts of your gaming PC as well as displaying your cool and fully customizable RGB lighting effects.
While they may not be a big name on an international level, iBUYPOWER's customer service team can provide you with some of the best advice around if you're new to customizing or overclocking a gaming PC. And unlike a gaming PC you might buy from a bigger name, you can rest easy knowing that you're getting a stripped down and lean machine focused exclusively on gaming and with no bloatware to contend with whatsoever.
4. SkyTech Blaze VR Ready RGB Gaming Computer
It's still impossible to say whether virtual reality gaming is going to fully usurp more traditional video gaming, but the SkyTech Blaze is prepared in either case. It's fully prepped for use with all of the modern virtual reality headsets designed for PC, and it includes some decently paired AMD processors to ensure that it can keep pace with more modern games too. You won't be running the latest games in 4K at the highest settings, but it's a good VR starter PC, and competitive gaming is clearly a priority.
SkyTech takes a very spartan approach to how they loaded up this PC. It comes with a keyboard and mouse but not a monitor, and it comes with Windows 10 pre-installed while not including any bloatware. The philosophy here is purely on performance, and it's a choice that will suit the more serious gamers in the audience.
5. CUK AsRock DeskMini A300W Tiny Desktop
Computer Upgrade King is an official ASUS partner, and they've taken a dedicated partnership with ASUS and transformed it into an opportunity to produce some of the most best gaming computers on the market. The first thing you'll notice about the DeskMini is just how tiny it is. With max dimensions of six inches, it can almost fit in the palm of a hand - but just because it's small in stature doesn't mean it doesn't have a big heart.
The APU finds a nice balance between price, size, and performance, and while it can't hold pace with the best, it's a perfectly sensible choice for a gaming PC under $500. And if you want to get truly serious with your gaming experience, you can easily rig up to three different monitors up at the same time. There's even four different storage options for saving your favorite games.
6. HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop Computer
The HP Pavilion has been a staple of personal computing for decades now, but HP's latest entry to the line is anything but ordinary. It sports one of the best looking designs we've ever seen in a compact frame, and it's packed with some pretty solid hardware that can really take your gaming experience to the next level. The inclusion of the GTX graphics chip alone makes it worth paying attention to for anyone looking at a computer that logs in at under $500.
But this isn't just a run of the mill computer slapped with a "gaming" designation either. This PC may come in for under $500, but it also offers some pretty solid gaming features. All of this is handled through the HP Omen Command Center which allows you to handle everything from network prioritization to RGB lighting to streaming your favorite games over ethernet or Wi-Fi connection.
7. CUK Continuum Micro Gamer PC
The craftsmanship in builds from Computer Upgrade King are largely unparalleled, and we highly recommend the Continuum if the specs on other gaming computer builds you're looking at aren't quite up to snuff. An incredibly compact frame makes this computer easy to take with you for LAN parties and gaming while you're out of town, and there's plenty of space available for upgrading some of the core hardware components on this computer.
Just keep in mind that you'll need to do a little more assembling than you would from a computer that came from one of the bigger manufacturers. But the Wi-Fi dongle is smartly designed and pretty easy to set up, and the lack of an operating system means that you won't have to worry about any bloatware once you get this gaming computer up and running. It may take a little more work, but the value you get is unmatched.
Central Processor: AMD Ryzen 3 3200G
Graphics Card: AMD Radeon Vega 8
Memory: 16 GB DDR4
Storage: 256 GB SSD
Accessories: Mouse and keyboard
RGB Lighting: Yes, six fans
8. Dell PowerEdge T30 Premium Business Mini Tower PC
The PowerEdge T30 isn't built to be a gaming PC, but the features that make this one of the most powerful business towers available for under $500 also makes it a smart choice for gamers who are willing to think a little outside the box. The Xeon processor isn't built with gaming in mind, but it offers a higher level of stability than you'll find even with an i7 processor.
The lack of an operating system, meanwhile, means gamers will have a lot more flexibility to create the system they want and not have to worry about bloatware eating up all of their processing power. Is it the best gaming PC? No. But for people on a budget, it can split the difference well and operate as one of the best dual use gaming and professional PCs available to anyone.
9. Acer Aspire TC-780 Desktop
The Acer Aspire wants to help you aspire to better. By pairing a later generation i5 processor with an integrated graphics card, Acer has really managed to work smart with their price point of under $500. Windows 10 comes pre-installed, and the sleek black tower design will look just as good in the office as it will in the game room at your house or apartment.
Some clever design choices have been made elsewhere as well. The inclusion of a hybrid hard drive gives you the best combination of capacity and performance, but the sound system here is an unusual highlight. While most PC manufacturers are just fine packing in a couple of dinky two watt speakers, this PC is actually capable of being expanded to support 5.1 surround sound. It may take some time and money, but it's one of your best choices if you want a hub for casual gaming.
10. Lenovo Ideacentre 720 18L Desktop
The IdeaCentre 720 may not have been built to compete with the best gaming computers, but this workhorse of a computer is actually well equipped for the task. Unlike many of the best gaming monitors on this list, it includes a pretty powerful dedicated graphics card - a decision that only works because of the smart inclusion of a powerful AMD chip. It interfaces well with your graphics card without costing an arm and a leg for the privilege.
This is a computer built with upgrades in mind, and you don't need much experience to get to the process of customizing it. The back panel pops out, and the interior is neatly designed so that you can easily pop in a new hard drive or a memory expansion without having to even use any tools. It's an unconventional choice for the best gaming PC models of 2020, but it's a choice that works.
Gaming PC Under $500 Buyer’s Guide
When it comes to buying a budget monitor, “under $500” can mean a lot of things. It can mean a gaming PC that naturally comes in at under $500 or one that requires a little patience to catch it at the right price. Given how limiting a PC under $500 can be, we’ve decided to opt for a little bit of both with our list. In either case, you don’t have to base things off of our opinion alone.
We’re going to provide you with some context about all of the important features and specifications so that you can get a solid gaming build for under $500. Just keep in mind that getting the cheapest gaming PC means making a decent amount of sacrifices, so you’ll want to get a strong understanding of exactly what you’re looking for in a gaming PC under $500.
The central processor is the living brain of a gaming PC, and even the cheapest PC for gaming should place an emphasis on this above all else. Given the low price range, AMD processors tend to dominate in gaming PC models under $500. While AMD can’t keep up with the Intel Core series in terms of raw performance, they work really well with integrated graphics cards and offer one of the best ways to get a gaming PC for under $500.
But Intel is the biggest name in the gaming PC business for a reason. If you’re only spending $500 or less, you can generally expect to find an Intel Core i5 processor. More rare to find for under $500 is a gaming PC with an Intel Core i7 processor.
We generally consider an i5 the recognized standard for gaming, but gaming PCs with i7 processors can run new games at impressively high settings. But considering you’ll likely only get an integrated graphics card if you’re spending under $500, it might not be worth the upgrade. Finding well matched CPUs and processors is especially important when shopping for gaming PCs under $500.
The importance of a video card in gaming PCs is sometimes overstated, but there’s no doubt that a graphics card is going to be important when shopping for a gaming PC under $500. Unfortunately, the low price of these gaming PCs means that you might have to opt for an integrated rather than discrete graphics card. Integrated graphics cards share RAM with the CPU, and that can get pretty crowded very quickly. If you are going to go with an integrated graphics card, we generally prefer AMD, since their CPUs and GPUs get along especially well with one another.
If you’re calculating for a discrete graphics card in your budget gaming PC, things will have to be a little tighter. A GPU is one of the most expensive components in a gaming PC, and getting one under $500 may make it worth waiting for a deal. Finding gaming PCs under $500 that can handle more than casual gaming will very likely require a discrete graphics card. We’ve already put together a guide that can help you understand the intricacies of how a GPU can affect the performance of PCs under $500.
RAM (Random Access Memory) is one of the most important pieces of hardware for day to day operations, but it’s, fortunately, a spec you can pay a little less attention to when shopping for a $500 gaming rig. RAM is essentially the short term memory of a gaming PC, and it serves as arguably the most important assistant to your central processing unit.
RAM takes information that your CPU will need to reference regularly and stores it away for easier access. And while we generally recommend a RAM of at least 8 GB for gaming, $500 gaming rigs are also pretty lightweight in terms of the overall design. If you have to opt for 4 GB, go for it, although we generally urge aiming for at least double that, especially in games like The Witcher 3, which process a lot of data for quests, equipment, and environmental drawing.
RAM is also one of the cheapest components and the easiest to replace, and that makes it a more flexible choice in terms of how much you want to prioritize it. But memory upgrades aren’t limitless. The size of your case and the size of your motherboard can both affect how much room you have available for RAM, but most manufacturers will list the maximum expansion capacity. In either case, look for a gaming PC under $500 that also offers an easy to open access panel so you can just pop memory in when you have the time and also the money to do so.
- You might also like our article on the best 1440p monitors for gaming.
- Want to optimize your workspace, even more, consider a monitor arm.
- On a budget? Check out the best cheap gaming mouse.
Modern games are big. Games like the latest Call of Duty can require large gigabytes of storage right off of the bat, and that becomes even more of a concern once you account for the fact that system updates crowd out your storage capacity even more. That’s why it’s important to find storage that can match your gaming habits. If you spend most of your gaming time simply streaming, storage won’t be an issue, but it can quickly become a hassle as your Steam library starts to fill up.
We recommend that you do a quick audit to figure out your optimal storage capacity. Determining how much space you need free now and how much you might need in the future can go a long way towards creating a more immersive experience. Fortunately, as with RAM, storage is very easy to upgrade – and you have the option to both install a new internal drive or simply connect an external one using a USB cord.
There are two types of drives. SSD (Solid State Drive) and HDD (Traditional Hard Drive). An SSD offers the fastest speeds around, but an SSD costs significantly more than a traditional hard drive. An SSD is generally preferred in gaming because of their durability and incredibly fast read/write speeds, but an SSD is expensive too. For more budget priced models, the opportunity for an SSD is one we recommend following through on. A few computers even use a hybrid drive that puts together both an SSD and an HDD into a single package -for the best of both worlds.
Many of the manufacturers here are smaller brands that focus exclusively on creating stripped down and customized gaming PCs for just a little more than it would cost you to build yourself. But you’ll also have to worry about accessories. Monitors are rarely packed in with gaming PCs under $500. It’s a cost cutting measure, but it also gives you a lot more freedom to pick out the components that work for your $500 gaming rig.
As a way of bringing added value to their product, a lot of manufacturers offer something else in addition to or as a replacement for a Windows 10 install. A combination pack of mouse and keyboard are regularly packed in with a lot of these models.
Shopping for a budget gaming PC is usually all about optimizing your specs with the very limited amount of money available to you, but RGB lighting is such an inextricable part of gaming culture that it needs to be discussed. Many budget models come with adjustable RGB lighting placed on the fans or elsewhere within or around the enclosure. We don’t recommend taking it into too much consideration as a part of your budget, but it is a prominent presence in overall gaming PC design.
Many manufacturers – especially brands like Razer that focus exclusively on gaming – allow some dense customization through compatible apps or software. Think long and hard about how much aesthetics matter to you, though, as you shouldn’t sacrifice performance for the sake of some cool lights.
There’s only one name to really consider when you’re figuring out what OS you want your $500 gaming machine to run on: Windows 10. While both Linux and Mac have their advantages, neither can hold a candle to Windows 10 in terms of how many games are available. Fortunately, if a budget priced gaming machine comes with an OS, it will likely be Windows 10, and it will also likely come with no bloatware attached at all. Going with a smaller brand can definitely be an asset!
Can you game on a Mac or a Linux machine? Sure. But your options are going to be significantly more limited. The dominant presence of Windows 10 PCs in games comes down to the fact that most games are built for PC and then ported over to other platforms when and if possible.
If you want to get a gaming PC cheap, there are some options available. But you need to be wary of the fact that the cheap gaming PC market is absolutely flooded with some subpar PC models. Getting quality performance for under $500 isn’t easy, but it can be done. We’ll keep our list updated with gaming PC models available for under $500, and you can always dig deeper into our guides if you decide you’d rather build a budget gaming PC from scratch. With a little elbow grease, you can stretch your $500 gaming PC budget even further.