If you’re in the market for a new gaming PC, it can be tough to make a decision. First-time PC buyers may be intimidated by all the different specifications.

Even experienced buyers can have trouble managing their expectations. Not that long ago, a decent gaming PC could cost you thousands of dollars, and would be obsolete in a few years. Nowadays, computers cost less than ever.

What if we told you that you don’t have to spend $1,000 or more on a new gaming PC?

As a matter of fact, you can buy a prebuilt gaming PC for $500 or less!

We’ve chosen seven popular $500 PCs to review. We’re going to take a good look at each of them, and see which one is the best for gaming.

Now, these systems aren’t the most state of the art on the market. You won’t be playing Anthem on them. But you’ll be able to run a lot of games at lower settings. Best of all, you can upgrade most of these PCs later on by adding a new graphics card or processor.

Before we get into the reviews, here’s a quick overview of our candidates for best prebuilt gaming PC under $500.

The 7 Best Prebuilt Gaming PCs Under $500 For 2019

ProductProcessor SpeedROMOperating System 
2.8 GHz1TB HDDWindows 10 Home
3.1 GHz480GB SSDWindows 10 Pro
3.3 GHz2TB HDDNone
3.2 GHz240GB SSDWindows 10 Pro
3.6 GHz1TB HDDWindows 10 Home
2.5 GHz64GB SSD & 1TB HDDWindows 10 OEM (no key)
3.5 GHz500GB SSDWindows 10 Home

HP Pavilion 590 Desktop Computer

About the PC

Our first contestant is the HP Pavilion 590. The model we’ve linked to is refurbished, because a brand new one will cost more than $500. The refurbishment is done by HP, not a third party, and comes with a 90 day warranty, so we’re comfortable saying that this PC will perform as advertised.

The processor is one of the slower ones we’ve reviewed. It’s an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8400, which can theoretically clock as fast as 4.0 GHz. However, this depends on Intel’s Turbo Boost technology, which is designed to overclock only for short periods. This works well for brief bursts of intense activity, but it’s not sustainable for more than a couple of minutes. In reality, this is a 2.8 GHz processor.

The processor includes integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630, which is one of the better integrated graphics cards you’ll find. In theory, this card allows you to run some newer games like Farm Simulator 19 and Civilization VI, provided you have the graphics set on low.

This PC has 8GB of DDR4 RAM, with a cycle time of 2,666 MHz. This is relatively fast for the price, and 8GB is enough RAM to run most new games. The HP Pavilion 590 also has an additional 16GB of Intel Optane memory. This is a special SSD that’s integrated into the Core i5-8400, and stores commonly used system assets. This frees up more of your RAM for gaming-related tasks.

The internal HDD has 1TB of storage, which is more than enough for 90 percent of gamers. It comes pre-installed with Windows 10 Home Edition, and includes a 30-day trial of McAfee LiveSafe. This isn’t really necessary since you’ll already have Windows Defender, but it’s a nice touch. It also includes a free 12-month subscription to Dropbox’s 25GB plan.

There are plenty of connectivity options on this machine. It has five USB 3.1 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, a DVD writer, and a wireless card for getting online quickly. The case is standard sized, and has room for another 3.5 inch internal drive if you want to add more storage down the line.

Our Thoughts

We really like a lot of things about this PC. To begin with, let’s look at the RAM. The cycle time of 2,666 MHz is pretty fast for a budget system. Combined with the 16GB of Intel Optane memory, you’ll get the same performance from this RAM as you’ll get from a comparable 16GB card. You won’t need to upgrade the RAM on this rig any time soon.

The 1TB HDD is also nice. We would have liked to see an SSD, even a small one just for loading the operating system, but this is a $500 PC and we’re not going to get every feature we might like. Besides, there’s that 3.5 inch internal drive bay we mentioned, so you can always add an SSD later on if you want to boot up faster.

While the UHD Graphics 630 isn’t the most powerful graphics card on the market, it’s about the best you’ll find on an integrated chip. When we went into these reviews, we suspected that most PCs in this price range would have integrated graphics, and so far we’re not surprised. Expect to upgrade your graphics card if you want to play newer games.

Of course, the biggest disappointment here is the processor. 2.8 GHz is painfully slow for a modern PC, even with the ability to overclock to 4.0 GHz for a few seconds. Before you even think about your new graphics card, you’ll want to buy a new processor.

What We Loved

  • Plenty of storage
  • Intel Optane memory boosts your RAM speed
  • Lots of connectivity

What We Didn’t Like

  • Slow processor
  • Refurbished

Dell Optiplex 790 SFF Desktop

About the PC

The second PC we’ve reviewed is the Dell Optiplex 790 SFF Desktop. This is another refurbished PC. Like the HP Pavilion 590, it was refurbished by the original manufacturer (in this case, Dell), and comes with a 90 day warranty. You can always buy a new PC instead, but it will cost you more than $500.

The Intel Core i5 2400 processor runs at 3.1 GHz. This is faster than the HP Pavilion’s 2.8 GHz, but the maximum overclock speed is slower: 3.4 GHz compared to 4.0 GHz. However, since you can’t overclock these processors for more than a few seconds, the 3.1 GHz speed is more accurate.

There’s no dedicated graphics card on this PC. Instead, you’ll be using the integrated Intel HD 2000 chip, which is relatively old technology. Even a game as old as Skyrim will top out at 14 frames per second on low settings, which is more or less unplayable. This is a laptop graphics chip, and you’ll want to upgrade it if you want to play anything remotely recent.

The 16GB of DDR3 RAM have a low cycle time, just 1,333 MHz.. Worse, because it’s DDR3 RAM, you won’t be able to upgrade it to something faster without replacing the motherboard. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but it’s definitely something to consider if you want a PC you can upgrade. That said, the 16GB capacity is nice, and can be good for games with lots of assets that don’t need a ton of speed.

The internal 480GB SSD is faster than an HDD, and still has enough space to store several games. The system ships with Windows 10 Pro preinstalled. This is a slim case, though, so there’s no room for additional internal storage. If you want more space, you’ll need an external drive.

In terms of peripherals, the Optiplex 790 SFF comes fully loaded. It includes a 23” monitor, a keyboard and a mouse. There are ten external USB 2.0 ports, but no HDMI port. You’ll be limited to a VGA cable unless you install a graphics card with an HDMI port.

Our Thoughts

This PC has some really nice features, but also some serious limitations. To begin with, let’s look at the good points.

The processor is reasonably fast for the price, good enough to run a lot of games at minimum settings. It also has plenty of RAM, and the solid state drive gives you fast load times. The monitor, mouse and keyboard are also a great addition if you don’t already own those things.

That said, the drawbacks are significant.

The integrated graphics are useless for most games that are less than ten years old. For $500, we don’t expect state of the art performance, but we would like to at least be able to play Skyrim or Dragon Age II, neither of which will run on this PC. Effectively, this is actually a $600 gaming PC, because you’ll want to order a graphics card along with it.

The motherboard only supports DDR3 RAM, which caps your RAM at 1,333 MHz. This is much slower than even relatively slow DDR4 chipsets, and can cause texture pop-in even on relatively undemanding games. Because this is a motherboard limitation, you’ll basically need to rebuild the system from scratch just to upgrade your RAM.

We wanted to like this PC. We still do, if you’re looking for an office machine. But it just doesn’t pack enough punch to be an effective gaming PC.

What We Loved

  • Comes with a keyboard, mouse and monitor
  • Internal SSD
  • Ten USB 2.0 ports

What We Didn’t Like

  • Outdated graphics card
  • Slow RAM

Dell PowerEdge T30

About the PC

The Dell PowerEdge T30 is a brand new PC that comes with a 2 year warranty. This is significantly better than the warranties on the last two PCs. No refurbished or rebuilt parts here. This is the real deal, straight from the factory.

The Intel Xeon E3-1225 v5 processor clocks at 3.3 GHz, which is fast enough to run most modern games. Like other Intel chips we’ve looked at, it can use Intel’s Turbo Boost technology to temporarily overclock. Speed maxes out at 3.7 GHz for short bursts. In general, consider this a 3.3 GHz processor that drinks a cup of coffee every now and then.

The graphics on this PC come from an integrated Intel HD Graphics P350 chip. This is a significant upgrade from the Intel HD 2000, and will run most games that came out as recently as 2015. Because it’s an integrated chip, it relies on your PC’s RAM for memory, so keep this in mind when you’re looking at system requirements.

The Dell PowerEdge T30 comes with a stick of 16GB DDR4 RAM. The cycle time is 2133 MHz, which is about average in terms of speed. There are three RAM expansion slots. Ultimately, you can have up to 64GB of RAM in this rig, which is more than you’ll ever need for the foreseeable future.

The 2TB internal HDD is as fast as HDDs come; it spins at 7,200 RPM. This isn’t as fast as an SSD, but it’s the fastest you’ll find in a traditional drive. Needless to say, 2TB is a lot of memory. You’re not going to need an external drive, ever. On the other hand, you may want an SSD to speed up load times. This tower has three 3.5 inch expansion slots, so making that upgrade will be easy.

This is a barebones machine. There are no peripherals, and there’s no operating system installed. If you don’t already own a copy of Windows, this can lead to some extra expense. Alternatively, you could run SteamOS, but that will severely limit which games you’re able to play. The case has ten USB 2.0 ports, as well as an HDMI port.

Our Thoughts

This is a great starter PC for gaming. To begin with, you can actually play some current games on it. Not the most demanding games, and not on maximum settings, but you won’t have to immediately buy a bunch of hardware upgrades just to make it useful as a gaming PC.

The processor isn’t the fastest out there, but it’s fast enough for most games. Even for modern games, a 3.0 GHz processor usually fast enough, provided you have a good video card to take some of the stress off of your processor.

For this reason, as with any system with integrated graphics, your first upgrade should probably be a graphics card. That said, we’ve already mentioned that the Intel HD Graphics P350 is a decent integrated graphics card. You’ll still need to upgrade eventually, but at least the integrated graphics are good enough to get you started.

The fact that this PC was designed as a server is another plus. The case is nice and roomy, with plenty of space for more storage, a graphics card, and an upgraded cooling system. Unlike many of the PCs we’ve looked at, this one is very easy to upgrade.

The only downside is the lack of an operating system. This is one thing you’ll need to buy on day one, so expect to spend slightly more than $500 unless you already have a spare Windows license key.

What We Loved

  • Decent integrated graphics
  • 2TB of disk space
  • Ten USB 2.0 ports
  • Lots of space in the case for upgrades

What We Didn’t Like

  • No operating system

HP Elite 8300 SFF Desktop

About the PC

The HP Elite 8300 SFF is the third and final refurbished PC on our list. It’s refurbished by HP, not a third party, and has a 90 day warranty. As with the other refurbished PCs we’ve looked at, you can still buy a new one. It will just cost more than $500.

The processor is an Intel Core i5-3470. It runs at 3.2 GHz, although it can overclock up to 3.6 GHz. Like other similar Intel processors, this is really only useful for quick bursts, and shouldn’t be counted on. This is a 3.2 GHz processor in all but name.

The integrated Intel HD Graphics 2500 graphics card falls squarely in the middle between the Intel HD 2000 and the Intel HD Graphics P350. You won’t be able to run any current games, but it will run Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm and Dead Space 3 on minimum settings. Both of those games came out in 2013, so you’ll at least be able to play games that came out this decade.

The 16GB of DDR3 RAM has a cycle time of 1600 MHz. This is faster than most DDR3 RAM, but you’re never going to be able to install DDR4 RAM on this motherboard. Still, it’s not that much of a bottleneck, since you’ll need to upgrade your graphics card before you even think about needing DDR4 RAM. There are also no additional expansion slots on the motherboard, so you won’t be able to add more RAM later.

The 240GB SSD drive is the smallest of any drive on our list, but it’s still plenty of space for most gamers. If you have a lot of other media like a large music or video library, you’ll definitely need more space. There’s space for two more 3.5 inch internal drives, so you can do this easily without needing to resort to an external drive.

This PC ships with Windows 10 Professional pre-installed. While it doesn’t have an internal WiFi card, it comes with a USB WiFi adapter that does the same thing. It also comes with a 23” monitor, a keyboard and a mouse.

Our Thoughts

If you’re looking for a starter gaming PC, you could definitely do worse. On the other hand, you can also do better. You won’t be able to play any current games, but at least you’ll be able to play some relatively recent games without any fuss.

The 3.2 GHz processor is enough to get the job done. More speed would always be nice, but let’s be realistic. This is a $500 PC, not a cutting-edge machine. 3.2 GHz is plenty of speed, provided you upgrade some of the other components.

The integrated graphics aren’t the best out there, but they’re a cut above the graphics on some similarly-priced machines. As with every PC on our list, this is the first thing you’re going to want to upgrade. That said, with even an average graphics card, you should be able to run most modern games on this rig.

We like the case on the HP Elite 8300 SFF. Even though it’s a slim case, it’s still got room for more internal storage. On the downside, you’ll almost certainly need some of this space, since the 240GB drive is relatively small.

Finally, this system ships with all the peripherals you need to run it. If you already have a monitor, mouse and keyboard, you might find another system more attractive. If you don’t, this can save you a couple hundred dollars, freeing up some money for that new graphics card.

What We Loved

  • Comes with a monitor, keyboard and mouse
  • Reasonably fast processor for the price
  • 240GB internal SSD

What We Didn’t Like

  • Older graphics card
  • Relatively slow RAM

HP Pavilion 590-p0030 Desktop

About the PC

The HP Pavilion 590-p0030 is a new PC, not a refurbished one. You can rest assured that you’re the first person to use your machine, which is more reassuring than buying a used PC, even a refurbished one. You’ll get even more reassurance from HP’s 2 year manufacturer’s warranty.

The 8th Gen Intel® Core™ i3-8100 Processor is fast. It clocks at 3.6 GHz, which exceeds the recommended settings for all but the most demanding games. Unlike the other Intel processors we’ve seen, this one doesn’t overclock. It runs at a steady 3.6 GHz, and it does so consistently. There are no fluctuations in performance here.

The integrated graphics on this PC are also pretty good. The processor includes an Intel UHD Graphics 630 chip, which is powerful enough to run some current games. Don’t get too excited. You won’t be running Anthem or Fallout 76 on this rig, but you can play FIFA 19, which is a good indicator of how much better this chip is than most other integrated graphics cards.

The HP Pavilion 590-p0030 ships with a single, 8GB DDR4 RAM chip. While this is less than some of the systems we’ve reviewed, it’s enough to run any game on the market. Not only that, the RAM has a cycle speed of 2,600 MHz, which is among the fastest on our list. The motherboard has a second slot for expansion, and both slots will support a 16GB chip. In theory, you can upgrade this PC to 32GB of RAM, which makes it extremely future-proof.

The only drawback to this PC is the 1TB HDD. While it has plenty of storage space, we’d like to have an SSD, even a small one that’s just large enough to load the operating system.

The HP Pavilion 590-p0030 ships with Windows 10 Home preinstalled. It also includes a mouse and keyboard, but not a monitor. It has five USB 3.1 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, and expansion for two 3.5 inch internal drives.

Our Thoughts

This is a fantastic starter PC. It ships with everything you need – except for a monitor – and it will run most games on the market.

Like all our $500 PCs, you’re going to want to upgrade it sooner rather than later. Also like our other PCs, the thing you’ll want to upgrade is the graphics card. That said, it’s the only thing you need to upgrade for the time being. All the other components are more than good enough, although you won’t be able to run newer games at maximum settings.

The DDR4 RAM is also nice to see, since we’ve seen so many otherwise-great PCs that only support DDR4. This motherboard is as current as they get. You’ll be able to upgrade your PC for years on end without having to rebuild the entire system.

This PC has plenty of connectivity. Between all the USB ports, the integrated WiFi and the HDMI, you can connect the HP Pavilion 590-p0030 to virtually any device.

The only downside to this machine is that it has an HDD instead of an SSD. Even though the HDD runs at 7,200 RP, it’s still slower than an SSD. If you want to improve your boot time, consider installing an internal SSD for your operating system.

What We Loved

  • Good integrated graphics
  • Fast, upgradable RAM
  • Includes a keyboard and mouse

What We Didn’t Like

  • No SSD

HYSTOU P05B Intel Core i7-6500U, Desktop Computer

About the PC

The last two PCs on our list are mini PCs. These may not look like traditional desktops, but they can pack a punch. Sometimes, good things really do come in small packages. The HYSTOU P05B ships brand new from the factory, and comes with a 3 year manufacturer’s warranty.

The processor is an Intel® Core™ i7-6500U, which clocks at 2.5 GHz. Although it can overclock to 3.1 GHz, we run into the usual issue with Intel Turbo Boost software; overclocking is only good for short periods of time. Regardless of advertising to the contrary, this is basically a 2.5 GHz processor.

The integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 chip is one of the better integrated graphics cards out there. It’s good enough to run some current games, including FIFA 17 and Team Fortress 2. It’s also good enough to run Fortnite on minimum settings.

While this machine only ships with 4GB of DDR4 RAM, it supports 8GB and 16GB chips. This doesn’t give it a ton of capacity, but realistically you’ll need to replace everything else before you need more than 16GB of RAM. Consider this a wash.

The HYSTOU P05B is the best rig on our list in terms of storage. This is because it has both a 1TB HDD and a 64GB SSD. The SSD will be half full once you’ve installed your operating system, but who cares? You’ll have fantastic boot times. This is a huge plus, and we wish more inexpensive PCs had an SSD.

On the downside, did we mention you’ll have to install an operating system? You will. While the HYSTOU P05B ships with Windows 10 installed, it’s the OEM version. This means the manufacturer had a license to use it to test the system. It won’t work for you unless you purchase a key from Microsoft, which will put the cost of the system over $500.

Our Thoughts

Let’s start with all the good things about this mini PC. It has both an HDD for bulk storage and an SSD for your operating system. This is awesome. The HYSTOU P05B also has fantastic integrated graphics. They’re still not as good as having a dedicated graphics card, but they’re better than most of the machines we’ve reviewed.

In addition to that, this PC runs on only 12 volts of power. This makes it considerably more energy efficient than most PCs.

Unfortunately, the P05B is crippled by its 2.5 GHz processor. It just isn’t beefy enough to run most modern games. Worse, it can’t even keep up with its own integrated graphics. The graphics card is good enough to run Fortnite, in theory, but the processor is too slow.

This is the first thing you’ll need to upgrade, but be careful. The P05B is a mini PC with no fan and not a lot of room for a CPU cooler. You’ll have a hard time finding upgraded parts for this machine. Add to that the fact that you’ll need to purchase an operating system, and it quickly becomes apparent that the P05B doesn’t have much to offer gamers.

What We Loved

  • Small and lightweight
  • Low power demands
  • Affordable

What We Didn’t Like

  • No operating system
  • Slow processor with limited upgrade options

CUK Axiom TS Tiny Gamer Desktop

About the PC

The CUK Axiom TS Tiny Gamer Desktop is a mini PC that’s about the same size as a large router. It ships straight from the factory, and comes with a 2 year manufacturer’s warranty.

The AMD Ryzen 3 2200G is the fastest processor of all the ones we’ve looked at. It clocks at 3.5 GHz, and can overclock up to 3.7 GHz. We wouldn’t recommend doing that, though; this machine is extremely small, and won’t stand up well to extra heat.

This PC has an integrated AMD Radeon RX Vega 8 graphics card, which is one of the best you can buy. Not only will it run newer games, it will even run some of the most taxing games out there, including Fallout 76, Battlefield V and Kingdom Come: Deliverance.

If that’s not enough, the CUK Axiom TS also comes with 8GB of DDR4 RAM. This RAM has a cycle speed of 3,000 MHz, which smokes every other PC we’ve looked at. It’s upgradable to 16GB, which isn’t fantastic, but still far exceeds the demands of any current game.

For storage, this PC sports a 500GB SSD. This has plenty of space for almost any gamer, and is fast enough for your computer to boot up in under a minute.

The CUK Axiom TS has five USB 3.1 ports, three USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port and it also has a DVD-D drive. That said, it’s a mini PC, and doesn’t have any expansion slots. If you want to add more storage, you’ll need an external drive. It comes with Windows 10 Home preinstalled.

Our Thoughts

This is the machine we were most excited to review. It’s small, it’s fun, and oh, boy is it loaded with features.

The CUK Axiom TS has better out-of-the-box performance than any machine we’ve listed. The 3.5 GHz processor will run even the newest games, and for the most part the AMD Radeon RX Vega 8 graphics card can keep up. The SSD is also a nice feature. You’ll get fast load times without drawing a lot of extra power.

So what’s the downside? Simply put, this case is tiny. There’s no room for more parts. While the graphics card is good enough for modern games, you can’t upgrade it. You also can’t add more storage without using an external drive.

Put these same parts in a larger case, and this PC would be the best on our list, bar none. As is, it’s just not future-proof.

What We Loved

  • 3.5 GHz processor
  • Radeon VX Vega 8 graphics run almost all games
  • Fast, 3,000 MHz RAM

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not very upgradable

Do You Need a $500 Prebuilt Gaming PC?

Before we name our winner, let’s take a good, honest look at what $500 buys you.

Generally speaking, you’re going to end up with a PC that’s missing some features. Whether you need to buy an operating system after the fact, add a hard drive, or upgrade the graphics card, you’re not going to play any current games without spending a little bit more time and money. This is one of those things that you just have to accept, because there’s no use in fighting it.

That said, a lot of these PCs are quite good, and would have been state of the art just a few years ago. They’re great for getting you started, and you can play a lot of killer games on them. Heck, some of these builds will even run Fortnite on low settings. That’s pretty impressive for a low-end desktop.

If you’re looking to play older games or spend some time upgrading your system, a $500 prebuilt gaming PC is a good choice for you.

Of course, if you’re looking to play newer games, there are better ways to spend $500. You can buy an Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 Pro for less than that, and you’ll be able to play new releases from the moment you open the box.

On the other hand, there’s no way to upgrade a game console. Once the next generation of consoles comes out, the only way to play newer games is to buy a whole new console. With a PC, you can make upgrades over time, as you can afford them. This is easier on your wallet, and it also means you aren’t paying to replace parts that are perfectly fine, like your case, fan and disc drive.

The most efficient method by far is to build your own gaming PC. For $500, you can put together a system that blows all these prebuilt PCs out of the water. Of course, this requires some expertise, and it’s easy to make expensive mistakes if you don’t know what you’re doing. Unless your confident in your PC building skills, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.

The Best Prebuilt $500 Gaming PC of 2019

There are some great candidates on this list, so first let’s throw out a few honorable mentions.

Gaming Pc Under 500 Amazon

Our first honorable mention goes to the Dell PowerEdge T30. This PC has a server case, which means you have plenty of room for expansion. It’s brand new, not refurbished, and has a 2-year warranty. The integrated Intel HD Graphics P350 chip will run all but the newest games, and the 16GB of RAM will be enough for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, this PC doesn’t come with an operating system. Since it’s not good to go out of the box, we can’t recommend it as our top choice.

Best Gaming Pc Under 500

Our second honorable mention is the CUK Axiom TS Tiny Gamer Desktop. This is a great little machine, and its out-of-the-box specs are actually better than our top choice. For day one performance, consider this our top choice. That said, it’s a mini PC. Upgrades will need to be the right size, and can be hard to come by. As good as this machine is for the price, it just isn’t upgradable.

4k Gaming Pc Under 500

The best prebuilt gaming PC under $500 is the HP Pavilion 590-p0030. This computer comes with everything you need to get started, and will run all but the most recent games without requiring any upgrades. Of course, you’ll need to upgrade it soon, but that’s to be expected from a $500 PC, and upgrading this rig is easy.

Congratulations, HP Pavilion 590-p0030! You’re the best $500 prebuilt gaming PC of 2019.

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