Can You Build a Gaming PC for $500?

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,747   +3,640
But when you say gaming PC I think what needs to happen is the resolution that you intend to play at needs to be at the very beginning of the term “gaming PC“.

Building a 1080P gaming PC is a hell of a lot cheaper than building a 1440P gaming PC or a 4K gaming PC.

In fact: now that we have the 3090 claiming “8K gaming” I can also use the term “8K gaming PC“.

if I was one of these manufacturers I would actually slap a small sticker on my computers that told everybody exactly what kind of gaming PC it was. The target would be 60 FPS gaming so I would have a sticker that says “4k@60fps” for example.

$500 also seems a bit low to me considering that just about every part that you put into a computer including the operating system is more than likely going to cost more than $apiece.

I disagree with the assertion that pre-builds are a bad idea because getting all of these parts, having them shipped and paying tax on them is more than likely going to exceed $500 especially when you factor in that the operating system alone is going to cost you close to $100.

A pre-build in a store like HP/Dell or Asus is usually purchased in bulk and then slashed in price during sale periods.

HP typically has $800 gaming PCs that steadily depreciate until a major sale like Black Friday or President’s week.

That means that it’s possible to get a gaming PC with a graphic card like a 1550, 155Ti, 1660 Ti or 1060 once they go on discounts. And that’s simply so the store can clear them out of inventory.

The reality is you ain’t really “PC gaming” on no $500 unless you make major sacrifices.

You can’t even buy many of these games anymore for less than $80 because they hit you over the head for the full edition of the game.
 
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Nobina

Posts: 2,725   +2,372
If you're planning on playing esports titles and older games forever then this could work. If you see a new title and you want to play it then you will have to upgrade which makes it not inexpensive anymore. And a console while more powerful will also be supported for a few years at least so it will definitely outlast that PC.
 

BSim500

Posts: 706   +1,500
"We've purposely not considered second hand parts for our $500 build for one simple reason: the cost for a lot of items, even those 4 or 5 years old, is still surprising high."
That's the first place savvy budget builders will look though. When doing a similar build for a friend, I picked up a 6GB GTX1060 on Ebay for £92 (non-mining) by bidding on a "quiet" day. Save another £40 buying a Ryzen 3100 over a 3400G and that takes the premium down to just £52 difference for a massive +300% more GPU and a lot faster CPU. If a 1050 / 1050Ti will do (which even for the 2GB version is still double the fps in games like Witcher 3 & Fortnite on low VRAM presets), then no-one's going to argue over going £20 over-budget for such a huge gain.

The 3400G made sense two years ago at the peak of the mining boom and the "tail end" of the console generation, but quite honestly if $499 is some "hard" limit for a new gaming rig that's supposed to last them the next several years, then I'd just tell someone to buy one of the new consoles rather than take a sub 750Ti class APU (that was already low-end 6.5 years ago and is already running at 20-40fps @ 720p Low in Control today) and end up with unplayable fps vs next year's next-gen games.
 

redhat

Posts: 120   +120
I bought computer with a Core 2 Duo CPU but because I didn't have extra $50 I bought an ATI HD4350 which was disaster for gaming. If you are on a budget just be patient a little until you can add $ 100-200 graphics card that will change the performance significantly.
 
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Ludak021

Posts: 306   +218
If you are going with "probably not so legal" windows key, you can get a retail win 10 professional key (not OEM, retail!) for <$5 ...OEM for even less. Installed those several times to people, they work fine.
 

Cycloid Torus

Posts: 4,667   +1,470
When I begin to build a 'new' system, I start with the software I want to run. Then I determine the resolution and fps that I need. Next I shop (heavily - sometimes for months) for the GPU which will give me what I want in a condensed package (some cards are just too big, power hungry or overpriced). Then I fill in the rest of the system - used - from workstations or high end business machines coming off lease (slightly more than 5 years old - triple channel DDR3 is good, multithreading CPU with 4 core or 6 core is nice, especially if the frequency is >3.4Ghz). I happily pay a slight premium for a Windows 10 Pro sticker and pick up a good quality 22"-24" LED monitor. Some vendors offer extended warranties and this can be worth a small premium too. At the end of this process, I like to buy really good quality SSD with 500GB or so. Since the license is already tied to the machine, just installing OS downloaded from Microsoft and getting on the internet is usually sufficient to have a full legal operating system.

Like fishing, you need to have patience.
 
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Avro Arrow

Posts: 382   +397
I bought computer with a Core 2 Duo CPU but because I didn't have extra $50 I bought an ATI HD4350 which was disaster for gaming. If you are on a budget just be patient a little until you can add $ 100-200 graphics card that will change the performance significantly.
When did you do this? If bought this within the last five years, both the CPU and GPU would be terrible for gaming. It also depends on which Core2Duo because a Wolfdale E8400 is VERY diffrent from a Conroe E6300 despite them both being Core2Duos. As for the HD 4350, well, of course it's going to suck because that's not a gaming card.

The old ATi HD nomenclature was actually a meaningful numbering system. After the HD, this is what things meant:
The first digit indicates the generation
The second digit indicates the series, the card's intended purpose:
9 = Dual GPU (HD 5970)
8 = Top-level enthusiast gaming (HD 4870)
7 = Specialty (HD 4770)
6 = Mainstream Gaming (HD 4650)
5 = Budget Gaming (HD 4550)
4 = Multimedia (HD 5450)
3 = Office use and top-end IGP (HD 4350, HD 3300)
2 = Mid-range IGP (HD 3200)
1 = Budget IGP (HD 3100)
The last two digits are actually a single two-digit number that indicates the card's rank in their series. The numbers were always multiples of ten with the first digit being odd:
90 = King of the hill (HD 4890)
70 = High End (HD 5870)
50 = Mid Range (HD 5450)
30 = Entry Level (HD 4830)

So your HD 4350 was a fourth generation video card that came out in 2008 and was never designed for gaming, even when it was new. It was designed for office use even back then so it's no wonder that it sucked at gaming because it would have even back in 2008. You see, there's a difference between being frugal and cheaping-yourself-to-death. You cheaped yourself to death.
 
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redhat

Posts: 120   +120
When did you do this? If bought this within the last five years, both the CPU and GPU would be terrible for gaming. It also depends on which Core2Duo because a Wolfdale E8400 is VERY diffrent from a Conroe E6300 despite them both being Core2Duos. As for the HD 4350, well, of course it's going to suck because that's not a gaming card.

The old ATi HD nomenclature was actually a meaningful numbering system. After the HD, this is what things meant:
The first digit indicates the generation
The second digit indicates the series, the card's intended purpose:
9 = Dual GPU (HD 5970)
8 = Top-level enthusiast gaming (HD 4870)
7 = Specialty (HD 4770)
6 = Mainstream Gaming (HD 4650)
5 = Budget Gaming (HD 4550)
4 = Multimedia (HD 5450)
3 = Office use and top-end IGP (HD 4350, HD 3300)
2 = Mid-range IGP (HD 3200)
1 = Budget IGP (HD 3100)
The last two digits are actually a single two-digit number that indicates the card's rank in their series. The numbers were always multiples of ten with the first digit being odd:
90 = King of the hill
70 = High End
50 = Mid Range (Also the number used if there was only one card in the series, like HD 5450)
30 = Entry Level

So your HD 4350 was a fourth generation video card that came out in 2008 and was never designed for gaming, even when it was new. It was designed for office use even back then so it's no wonder that it sucked at gaming because it would have even back in 2008. You see, there's a difference between being frugal and cheaping-yourself-to-death. You cheaped yourself to death.
I was not aiming for cheap card (2009). I just ment that cus I did not have extra 50 $ I was forced to buy something terrible so my advice is: always if u cant buy something good it is better to be patient and wait until you get extra $$ to buy good one.
 
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Bulllee

Posts: 67   +43
When did you do this? If bought this within the last five years, both the CPU and GPU would be terrible for gaming. It also depends on which Core2Duo because a Wolfdale E8400 is VERY diffrent from a Conroe E6300 despite them both being Core2Duos. As for the HD 4350, well, of course it's going to suck because that's not a gaming card.

The old ATi HD nomenclature was actually a meaningful numbering system. After the HD, this is what things meant:
The first digit indicates the generation
The second digit indicates the series, the card's intended purpose:
9 = Dual GPU (HD 5970)
8 = Top-level enthusiast gaming (HD 4870)
7 = Specialty (HD 4770)
6 = Mainstream Gaming (HD 4650)
5 = Budget Gaming (HD 4550)
4 = Multimedia (HD 5450)
3 = Office use and top-end IGP (HD 4350, HD 3300)
2 = Mid-range IGP (HD 3200)
1 = Budget IGP (HD 3100)
The last two digits are actually a single two-digit number that indicates the card's rank in their series. The numbers were always multiples of ten with the first digit being odd:
90 = King of the hill
70 = High End
50 = Mid Range (Also the number used if there was only one card in the series, like HD 5450)
30 = Entry Level

So your HD 4350 was a fourth generation video card that came out in 2008 and was never designed for gaming, even when it was new. It was designed for office use even back then so it's no wonder that it sucked at gaming because it would have even back in 2008. You see, there's a difference between being frugal and cheaping-yourself-to-death. You cheaped yourself to death.
Although I laughed out loud at your last sentence..can't get much cheaper than me.
My old pal gave me his cast off video cards when he upgraded.
He gave me motherboards(rarely fail),memory(rarer to fail) and psu's too.
The mighty 7970 he gave me fried itself from the outside in thanks to a bad case.
Getting back to the article it is getting harder to build a console killer even before the console is out in the wild.
 
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pcnthuziast

Posts: 916   +556
If 500 is the budget and gaming is the only thing the person will be doing, getting a console is literally the only option that makes sense.
 

neeyik

Posts: 1,460   +1,617
Staff member
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I'm sorry, but for option 2 it makes no sense to take the 3200G. The 3100 is faster, newer and cheaper. It has a Zen2 core instead of a Zen+.
Unfortunately, the Ryzen 3 3100 doesn't have an integrated GPU and it's also slightly more expensive than the 3200G on the likes of Amazon and Newegg. Absolutely it's a better processor, but if one was really capped to $500 with a monitor, then it wouldn't be an option. Drop the monitor, though, and there could be enough budget left for a second hand Radeon RX 480, for example.

Edit: DOH!! That's what was suggested in the article :laughing:

Lots of great advice from everyone in the comments too! (y) (Y) :)
 
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toooooot

Posts: 1,325   +626
I'd try to find some parts used at this price, specifically monitor, GPU, CPU, and possibly a good brand PSU.
 

Tom Sunday

Posts: 34   +5
Gaming for $500 is a real stretch. For people with super-tight budgets those in the first place should never consider in purchasing 'risky product keys' for Windows 10 and with most of those coming from China. Yes the price sounds good but 75% of the time there are registration problems and no direct Microsoft support will ever be made available. Simply Bill Gates did not get your business and to be sure I am not a friend of Bill Gates and company. There is no such thing with a 'grey-market-key' for a quick phone call to the Microsoft's support to activate the key and once done you'll be good to go. Microsoft reading the key will know in a heartbeat where you are coming from. Then transferring your Chinese OS validation to another new PC in the future is a sticky point as well! End result: For the less fortunate man on the street taking a hit even for $30-plus is a big deal. Was glad to see that 'Pre-build' ideas were out and that DIY was recommened. Most and especially USA branded pre-builds come with upwards of 35%-40% markup considering that the botique shops reap big discounts on the hardware side alone. Further they are not proffering the most up-to-date & cutting-edge hardware and building-choices. Technology simply moves too fast and their older stock needs depleting first. In that option #1 has merit as most of the newer processors with integrated graphics work just fine for casual gaming. It's even more than good enough for most Adobe programs. Saving Money: Many of us and the less privileged like me more frequently than not shop 'Amazon Warehouse' for used and returned electronics, but do forgo any of the special ready to go out of the box HP/Dell (Black Friday deals) since they are all propiatary hardware based with no system repair or upgrade future.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 382   +397
I was not aiming for cheap card (2009). I just ment that cus I did not have extra 50 $ I was forced to buy something terrible so my advice is: always if u cant buy something good it is better to be patient and wait until you get extra $$ to buy good one.
Ah, ok. Well, at least now you know how to read those old HD part numbers so you don't get completely screwed next time. You're 100% correct though because something that would cost maybe $100 would've been far better. To be honest, the HD 4350 would be worth maybe $10 today. For $50, you should have been able to get at least a Radeon HD 5870. I hope that it helps because it's really old and (mostly) useless knowledge at this point.

I really have too much useless knowledge gumming up my brain. :laughing:
 
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But when you say gaming PC I think what needs to happen is the resolution that you intend to play at needs to be at the very beginning of the term “gaming PC“.

Building a 1080P gaming PC is a hell of a lot cheaper than building a 1440P gaming PC or a 4K gaming PC.

In fact: now that we have the 3090 claiming “8K gaming” I can also use the term “8K gaming PC“.

if I was one of these manufacturers I would actually slap a small sticker on my computers that told everybody exactly what kind of gaming PC it was. The target would be 60 FPS gaming so I would have a sticker that says “4k@60fps” for example.

$500 also seems a bit low to me considering that just about every part that you put into a computer including the operating system is more than likely going to cost more than $apiece.

I disagree with the assertion that pre-builds are a bad idea because getting all of these parts, having them shipped and paying tax on them is more than likely going to exceed $500 especially when you factor in that the operating system alone is going to cost you close to $100.

A pre-build in a store like HP/Dell or Asus is usually purchased in bulk and then slashed in price during sale periods.

HP typically has $800 gaming PCs that steadily depreciate until a major sale like Black Friday or President’s week.

That means that it’s possible to get a gaming PC with a graphic card like a 1550, 155Ti, 1660 Ti or 1060 once they go on discounts. And that’s simply so the store can clear them out of inventory.

The reality is you ain’t really “PC gaming” on no $500 unless you make major sacrifices.

You can’t even buy many of these games anymore for less than $80 because they hit you over the head for the full edition of the game.
You pay the same amount of tax on a $500 prebuilt as you do on $500 of individual components. And if you order on Amazon shipping is often free. And as the article mentioned, you can get really cheap Windows keys in a lot of places, but you don't even have to activate Windows to use it. As far as prebuilts giving you a better value, unless you're buying from a small shop like Cyberpower or Maingear, you're going to get the cheapest motherboard, CPU cooler, and power supply the OEM can source, which means your future upgrade options are basically zero. They do get bulk pricing on parts, but you still end up paying more for the same specs because you have to pay them to put it together and set it up for you. And any prebuilt in the $500 range is going to have integrated graphics too, as well as single channel memory (which will severely hamper integrated GPU performance) and likely only one storage device, either a hard drive or a small SSD. But yeah, if you're going to be gaming $500 isn't going to get you very far. Bump it up to around $700-800 and you get a lot more performance.
 
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Bulllee

Posts: 67   +43
Gaming for $500 is a real stretch. For people with super-tight budgets those in the first place should never consider in purchasing 'risky product keys' for Windows 10 and with most of those coming from China. Yes the price sounds good but 75% of the time there are registration problems and no direct Microsoft support will ever be made available. Simply Bill Gates did not get your business and to be sure I am not a friend of Bill Gates and company. There is no such thing with a 'grey-market-key' for a quick phone call to the Microsoft's support to activate the key and once done you'll be good to go. Microsoft reading the key will know in a heartbeat where you are coming from. Then transferring your Chinese OS validation to another new PC in the future is a sticky point as well! End result: For the less fortunate man on the street taking a hit even for $30-plus is a big deal. Was glad to see that 'Pre-build' ideas were out and that DIY was recommened. Most and especially USA branded pre-builds come with upwards of 35%-40% markup considering that the botique shops reap big discounts on the hardware side alone. Further they are not proffering the most up-to-date & cutting-edge hardware and building-choices. Technology simply moves too fast and their older stock needs depleting first. In that option #1 has merit as most of the newer processors with integrated graphics work just fine for casual gaming. It's even more than good enough for most Adobe programs. Saving Money: Many of us and the less privileged like me more frequently than not shop 'Amazon Warehouse' for used and returned electronics, but do forgo any of the special ready to go out of the box HP/Dell (Black Friday deals) since they are all propiatary hardware based with no system repair or upgrade future.
Well I'll dip my hardware in a deep bowl of soya sauce and get on with then.
 
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Gaming for $500 is a real stretch. For people with super-tight budgets those in the first place should never consider in purchasing 'risky product keys' for Windows 10 and with most of those coming from China. Yes the price sounds good but 75% of the time there are registration problems and no direct Microsoft support will ever be made available. Simply Bill Gates did not get your business and to be sure I am not a friend of Bill Gates and company. There is no such thing with a 'grey-market-key' for a quick phone call to the Microsoft's support to activate the key and once done you'll be good to go. Microsoft reading the key will know in a heartbeat where you are coming from. Then transferring your Chinese OS validation to another new PC in the future is a sticky point as well! End result: For the less fortunate man on the street taking a hit even for $30-plus is a big deal. Was glad to see that 'Pre-build' ideas were out and that DIY was recommened. Most and especially USA branded pre-builds come with upwards of 35%-40% markup considering that the botique shops reap big discounts on the hardware side alone. Further they are not proffering the most up-to-date & cutting-edge hardware and building-choices. Technology simply moves too fast and their older stock needs depleting first. In that option #1 has merit as most of the newer processors with integrated graphics work just fine for casual gaming. It's even more than good enough for most Adobe programs. Saving Money: Many of us and the less privileged like me more frequently than not shop 'Amazon Warehouse' for used and returned electronics, but do forgo any of the special ready to go out of the box HP/Dell (Black Friday deals) since they are all propiatary hardware based with no system repair or upgrade future.
There actually is a specific phone number you call for Microsoft product activation. The activation wizard will give you the number if your key fails to activate. It's all automated. Most of the time they keys you're buying aren't stolen or already used, and Microsoft doesn't really have a way to track keys except for which ones have been used and which haven't. Anyway, you call the number, get an automated menu, go through a few options and they send you a link. You go there, enter the installation ID and if it's approved they'll send you a code to enter to complete activation. I've done this at work dozens of times, failure rate is minimal.
 
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Avro Arrow

Posts: 382   +397
Although I laughed out loud at your last sentence..can't get much cheaper than me.
My old pal gave me his cast off video cards when he upgraded.
He gave me motherboards(rarely fail),memory(rarer to fail) and psu's too.
The mighty 7970 he gave me fried itself from the outside in thanks to a bad case.
Getting back to the article it is getting harder to build a console killer even before the console is out in the wild.
That's not so bad. If your friend's cast-off stuff wasn't more than seven years old, it would still be useable. I agree that building a console-killer is VERY hard these days but you have to keep one VERY important thing in mind.

When you get a console, you have to pay between $60-$80 PER GAME. They don't have Steam sales and you can't get keys from sites like Kinguin, CDKeys and GreenManGaming. I haven't paid more than $30 for a game in years because I buy the key from those sites and download the game from Steam. Speaking of Steam sales, a few days ago I got both Gothic Battlefleet Armada and Gothic Battlefleet Armada II with all the DLC content for under $50CAD. Also, you have to pay extra for online play with consoles but (for some reason) not with PCs. I have Ace Combat 7 on PS4 and PC. I have to buy online Sony credits to play online with the PS4 but PC online play costs nothing. Suffice it to say, all of my online play has been with my PC. :D

When the cost of the games is factored in, it's actually not very hard. Let's say you get a PS5 and ten games. Those ten games will cost you $600-$800. Let's say $700 and PC games cost you half of that (it's less than half for most but it's an easier calculation for non-math wizards like me).

So, you'll have $350 to play with. Add $62 to the $100 paid for the R3-2200G and you'll get a MUCH better gaming CPU for $162:
AMD R5-2600X for $162 at newegg.com
So, now you have $350-$62=$288. It just so happens that $288 is more than what you need to get a very decent gaming card, the one that, according to BitWit, murdered the GTX 1660 Ti (that video's a scream, you should watch it):
PowerColor RX 5600 XT for $280 at newegg.com
I think that the Ryzen 5 2600X and the RX 5600 XT are a pretty fine combination for 1080p and entry-level 1440p gaming (depending on the title of course).

Never forget that Sony and Microsoft always lose money for each console sold. The reason that they do this is that they know they'll get you on the games themselves. Just comparing hardware costs between consoles and PCs isn't a fair comparison because of the consoles' MUCH higher operational costs.

Moreover, as Nick pointed out, PCs do more than just game. Windows-based PCs are by far the most versatile technological tools in the world. Web use, multimedia, office applications, etc. These days, the only thing that a Windows-based PC can't do is rip you off and leave you bankrupt like Apple can.

There's a reason that we're called "THE PC MASTER RACE" :laughing:
 
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Avro Arrow

Posts: 382   +397
Gaming for $500 is a real stretch. For people with super-tight budgets those in the first place should never consider in purchasing 'risky product keys' for Windows 10 and with most of those coming from China. Yes the price sounds good but 75% of the time there are registration problems and no direct Microsoft support will ever be made available. Simply Bill Gates did not get your business and to be sure I am not a friend of Bill Gates and company. There is no such thing with a 'grey-market-key' for a quick phone call to the Microsoft's support to activate the key and once done you'll be good to go. Microsoft reading the key will know in a heartbeat where you are coming from. Then transferring your Chinese OS validation to another new PC in the future is a sticky point as well! End result: For the less fortunate man on the street taking a hit even for $30-plus is a big deal. Was glad to see that 'Pre-build' ideas were out and that DIY was recommened. Most and especially USA branded pre-builds come with upwards of 35%-40% markup considering that the botique shops reap big discounts on the hardware side alone. Further they are not proffering the most up-to-date & cutting-edge hardware and building-choices. Technology simply moves too fast and their older stock needs depleting first. In that option #1 has merit as most of the newer processors with integrated graphics work just fine for casual gaming. It's even more than good enough for most Adobe programs. Saving Money: Many of us and the less privileged like me more frequently than not shop 'Amazon Warehouse' for used and returned electronics, but do forgo any of the special ready to go out of the box HP/Dell (Black Friday deals) since they are all propiatary hardware based with no system repair or upgrade future.
I don't know where you get your "information" but I've been using Windows 10 Pro that I got using a key from Kinguin back in March of 2017 and I live in Canada. I set it up exactly as Nick described and it was downright easy. I've used it since then on both my R7-1700 and now my R5-3600X without any issues whatsoever. Well, no issues that weren't caused by Windows just being Windows anyway.

That key worked perfectly and nobody asked me which country I live in. Since then, I haven't paid full Steam price for any game either. If you don't want to take advantage of it, that's fine but why would you come on here and LIE to scare other people into not doing it also?

Bad form man, bad form!
 
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