How To Build A Budget Gaming PC For Under $500

Building a powerful gaming PC on a budget might seem like a challenging task, but it’s entirely possible. By choosing your components carefully, you can build an incredible gaming rig for less than 500 bucks. While it won’t perform as well as higher-end gaming PCs, it can still deliver incredible graphics and great performance.


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Budget gaming rigs are best for average games. If you wish to play very resource-intensive games, or if you want high-end graphics (like 4k gaming), it’s recommended to up your budget a little, so you can afford a higher-end graphics card and CPU. Let’s take a look at the components you will need to build a budget gaming computer.


PC Case: A House For Your PC

budget computer case

Your PC case stores all the important components of your PC, including your motherboard, power supply unit, and all the other components listed below.

There are plenty of budget PC cases out there. A PC case shouldn’t take up a large portion of your budget; it just needs to have enough space to house your setup.

Smaller cases are generally cheaper, often going for just around $50. These are designed to fit smaller form factor motherboards, such as Micro-ATX motherboards. Some may come with built-in fans or support for liquid cooling systems. Of course, larger cases can also accommodate smaller motherboards, but it’s an extra expenditure that isn’t really necessary.

Motherboards: Micro-ATX Boards Are A Perfect Budget Gaming Choice

budget MSI motherboard

The motherboard, on the other hand, is one of the most important components of your gaming rig. It determines how much RAM you can install, how fast your RAM can be, the type of CPU you can buy, and more.

To save money, consider getting a Micro-ATX motherboard. It’s a smaller form factor, but it’s still great for gaming, and you can usually get one for under 100 bucks.

Regular ATX form factor motherboards are fine too, but they can cost a bit more, and they’ll also require a larger and more expensive case. There are also Mini-ATX motherboards, which are even smaller than Micro-ATX motherboards, but they aren’t that great for gaming.

Micro-ATX motherboards usually support at least 64 GB or RAM, but try to look for one with DDR5 RAM support (it’s faster). Also, if the motherboard comes with dual-channel memory support (evidenced by color-coded RAM slots), that’s an added bonus.

They tend to have only one PCIe slot (usually an x16 one), but that’s enough for one GPU.

inserting graphics card in PCIe slot

Another thing to consider is storage support. All motherboards will support an HDD or a 2.5″ SSD via SATA ports, but not all will support M.2 form factor SSDs. If you want an NVMe M.2 SSD, which is a bit faster than a SATA SSD, you will need a motherboard that supports it.

Check out our guide on installing an SSD for more information about the difference between the different types of SSDs.

Another thing to consider is which type of CPU the motherboard supports. Some come with LGA sockets, others with PGA sockets. In addition, some cheaper motherboards may not support newer generation CPUs, which is ideal for gaming. Check out our CPU installation guide for more information.

Finally, check the video graphics ports available on your motherboard. Does it come with the latest DisplayPort and HDMI ports? HDMI 2.1, for example, is pretty fast, but only newer motherboards support it.

CPU: Intel And AMD Offer Excellent Choices

buget CPU Intel

Both AMD and Intel, the two major manufacturers of CPUs, offer various budget CPU choices. Like the motherboard, the CPU is one of the most important components of your gaming PC, so it’s worth spending more on it.

You can usually find CPUs at under $150, such as Intel Core i3 and even i5 CPUs. The AMD Ryzen 5 series is also an excellent choice on a strict budget. Either way, make sure your motherboard supports that CPU before buying it.

Ideally, you should look for a CPU with integrated graphics. If you don’t plan on buying a graphics card (although you should for moderate to heavy gaming), it’s critical. Other things to look for in a CPU include clock speed (3.5-4.5 GHz should be the minimum) and the number of cores it has (four is the minimum, but six is even better).

One reason to choose Intel CPUs is that all of them (except the unlocked ones, marked with a K in the model number) come with a stock cooler in the box. That will help keep your system cool and allow you to save even more money. Otherwise, you’ll have to buy a CPU fan compatible with your CPU and motherboard; they start at just around $10-15.

RELATED: A Beginner’s Guide To Installing A CPU For Your Gaming PC

Storage: M.2 SSDs Are Best

budget SSD SATA

Storage comes in many forms, but for gaming, SSDs are recommended.

Storage isn’t that expensive, but you should put a priority on storage space and on choosing an SSD. 512 GB of storage is the minimum you should have for gaming.

Spend more on an SSD vs. an HDD, as it’s much faster. However, it’s not usually worth spending a lot more on an NVMe M.2 SSD than on a SATA SSD, as the speed difference is minimal.

In general, be prepared to spend up to $50 on storage. Just make sure that if you buy an M.2 SSD if the form factor is compatible with your motherboard.

RAM: Dual Channel DDR4 Memory

Crucial M2 SSD

RAM is also incredibly important. Fortunately, it’s usually not that expensive. Be prepared to spend up to $50 on RAM.

For moderate to heavy gaming, at least 16 GB of RAM is recommended. More is better, but more RAM is also more expensive, and we’re on a budget here. If you can get 32 GB of RAM and still make the budget, even better!

RELATED: A Beginner’s Guide To Installing RAM For Your Gaming PC

Graphics Card: Save Money With Secondhand GPUs Or Lesser-Known Brands

Intel ARC GPU

Next, we have to buy our graphics card. If your processor comes with integrated graphics, it might be enough for light gaming. However, if you plan on doing heavier gaming, you will need a dedicated GPU.

Unfortunately, while graphics cards are incredibly important, they can be expensive. While both NVIDIA and AMD, the two main GPU manufacturers on the market, offer budget choices, it can be hard to find room for them in a $500 budget.

One way to save money is by buying a pre-owned GPU. Secondhand GPUs often still operate extremely well, but make sure you buy them from a trusted seller.

There are also lesser-known brands that sell new GPUs for less than $150, such as Biostar and XFX. They often work just as well as NVIDIA and AMD GPUs, and without extra bloatware. Finally, Intel also offers budget Intel Arc GPUs. Either way, ensure motherboard compatibility before buying a GPU.

RELATED: A Beginner’s Guide To Installing A Graphics Card For Your Gaming PC

Power Supply Unit: The Lifeline Of Your PC

EVGA PSU 750

We will also need a good PSU to power our rig. EVGA and Thermaltake are popular budget PSU brands, but there are many others.

You can typically save money by buying a non-modular PSU instead of a modular one. However, make sure that the PSU has enough wattage for your CPU, graphics card, and other components. Otherwise, it won’t be able to power your PC. It’s recommended to add an extra 100-200 of wattage to account for power usage spikes.

Most cheap PSUs will start at around $50-80. It’s worth spending a bit more if there is a chance you will add additional components, such as an extra storage drive, to your PC later.

We haven’t included a monitor and other peripheral devices, such as a keyboard and mouse, as we’ve been focusing on the actual PC build.

However, if you happen to be looking for a cheap gaming monitor, there are several new and pre-owned ones on Amazon for less than $100. Look for those with at least a 1080p graphics and a quick response time of less than 5ms.

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