For $500, you aren’t aiming to get the best computer on the market, you are trying to get an entry-level gaming computer that requires the least amount of upgrades to experience the newest releases with a 1080p resolution. Still, it’s surprising just how far the best gaming computer under $500 can take you nowadays.
In any case, before you go out and buy any old PC, there are several factors that need to be considered first.
What can you expect from a prebuilt gaming PC under $500?
When buying PCs towards the lower end of the scale it is very important to check out the specifications first. Whether you’re spending thousands or a few hundred, the last thing we want is to waste our cash, and while setting a budget is a great way to do this, the PC still needs to be able to run your chosen games.
The processor is going to be mostly responsible for making your general use feel snappy. When dealing with prebuilt computers for under $500, you can expect older processors at the helm, with fewer cores and threads than the more premium options.
As prebuilt gaming PC’s under $500 fall into the entry-level category, the graphics cards that feature are often older generation cards, if any. These days, PCs at this price point will usually feature integrated graphics (powered by the CPU/ APU) and may struggle to play the latest games in any setting other than low. The same can be said for esports titles too but they work very well with esports titles, especially when playing in 1080p. You may have to lower resolutions below 1080p in some titles just to get a relatively good experience.
Having 8GB of RAM isn’t ideal but it isn’t a major issue either. While we always try and recommend 16GB of RAM, this isn’t very realistic when we have a $500 budget. This means that the RAM is one of the areas you may want to upgrade in the near future.
When it comes to storage space in $500 prebuilt computers you are unlikely to get dual storage solutions but they do feature SSDs.
The SSDs included will usually be around 240GB to 500GB and give you just enough room for your operating system and favorite games. If you like to store a lot of media files on your PC you may want to buy yourself an HDD to store them, saving your SSD for gaming.
I’d recommend checking out our SSD vs HDD page to find out more about storage.
Prebuilt gaming PC under $500 Vs Custom
We always recommend that you build your own computer here at WePC and that is for one simple reason – value. It is no secret that you can squeeze in better hardware for your cash when building your own system, with the markup on prebuilt computers usually costing the same amount as an entire component ($100-$300).
While the performance of these $500 gaming PCs is solid, when building your own you could in theory include a better CPU or GPU into your computer without spending more. This means you could get even better performance for your hard-earned cash, get better in-game results, and future-proof your investment for longer.
The main selling point behind a prebuilt gaming PC is it saves you the hassle. We understand that not everyone knows how to build a computer and may not even have the time to learn this new skill, so the convenience of a prebuilt makes a lot of sense. Of course, there are many more benefits to buying a prebuilt gaming PC from manufacturers, obviously, it takes the stresses away from finding all the compatible components, while also preventing damage to said components when the time comes to build it.
With one of these gaming PCs, you are going to be able to send it back to the manufacturer if anything goes wrong. Furthermore, if you feel you need an upgrade, suppliers will often do this for you or at least insist you send it to them for an upgrade. Manufacturers will also dish out a warranty, usually covering parts and labor for around a year but some companies offer impressive warranties and you can always spend extra on insurance, giving you a lengthy/ lifetime warranty.
These computers are from the biggest manufacturers around the world and aren’t just packaged nicely for you either, they normally stress test the system to ensure the components are working before shipping and that it performs as it should. You will also receive your system with software, usually with Windows and drivers pre-installed, so you can simply plug it in and start downloading games.
Cheap gaming PC alternatives
Times have changed over the last few years, with the markets shifting in such a way that makes it near impossible to buy or build a half-decent cheap gaming PC. If you are truly looking to get into the PC gaming world, you should reconsider saving more money. We would advise you to aim for a prebuilt gaming PC no lower than $800 for a reasonable expereice. Everything below will need upgrading sooner rather than later and nobody enjoys lowering settings or resolution when playing.
For those on the fence, with limited funds for the foreseeable future, there are a few alternatives to buying a cheap gaming PC. Firstly, Valves Steam Deck is a seriously good option for the under $500 price point. This tiny machine can run all your favorite games and if you love the odd FPS title, you can hook the Steam Deck up to a PC and use a mouse and keyboard with it.
Not convinced? Well, you could always look into next-generation consoles, PS5 and Xbox Series X. These gaming systems are priced at under $500 and can play games in 4K. Now that is a bargain in the grand scheme of things. While you can use a mouse and keyboard with a console, they do not offer the same versatility but that isn’t a terrible trade-off.
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