If you’re in the market for a new prebuilt gaming PC, you’ve probably already realized how tough it is to make a decision. First-time PC buyers especially may be intimidated by all the different specifications, and even experienced buyers can have trouble handling their expectations.
Not that long ago, a decent gaming PC could have cost you thousands of dollars and would have become obsolete in a few years. These days, however, computers cost less than ever.
You don’t have to spend $1,000 or more on a new gaming PC!
That’s right! You can buy a prebuilt gaming PC for $500 or less.
We have chosen five popular $500 PCs to review, and we are going to take a good look at each of them to determine what exactly it is that makes them the best in this price range.
Now, these systems are certainly not state of the art on the saturated 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 and create your own custom rig.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, here’s a quick overview of our candidates for the best prebuilt gaming PC under $500.
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- Comes with an OC
- Plenty of storage
- Optane Memory
- Not enough RAM
Our first contestant is the HP Pavilion 590-p0033w.
While the PCs on this list in no particular order, this one is probably the weakest of the bunch. It comes equipped with the Intel Core i3 8100 processor that has four cores, four threads, and a base clock speed of 3.6GHz.
Unfortunately, like most of the entries on this list, it doesn’t have a dedicated GPU, but the processor comes equipped with Intel’s UHD 630 integrated GPU.
The specs are nothing to write home about, and you’d have to settle for a 720p gaming experience, but the integrated GPU is good enough that you could play many of the newer AAA titles at around 30 FPS on low settings …if you had at least 8GB of RAM …which you don’t.
Unfortunately, this PC comes with only 4GB of RAM, which is not enough for decent gaming these days as most games require 4 to 8GB of VRAM.
In this case, the four available gigabytes not only have to serve all your programs from the browser to Steam and Discord but also the GPU since the graphics card is integrated and doesn’t have its own VRAM. This means that you will effectively have only about half of that for your games.
Aside from this, the HP Pavilion comes with a 1TB HDD, plenty of USB ports, one optical drive, Wireless LAN, Bluetooth, Windows 10 Home, and its own keyboard and mouse, all protected with a 1-year warranty.
One last thing we have to mention here is the 16GB of Optane Memory this PC has that is not to be confused with RAM memory.
Optane memory is not RAM although it can essentially function like RAM with longer-term storage.
What we mean by this is, it stores your most frequently used files or programs just like RAM, but unlike RAM it can retain information for longer periods of time (even when your PC is off), and it can then launch those same programs incredibly quickly once you decide to use them again.
Since this is a PC with an integrated GPU and 4GB of RAM, Optane memory will in certain cases slightly increase your gaming performance, but not by much.
First of all, even though the CPU is not the most powerful on the market, or on this list for that matter, it is still pretty good for this price. The specs are actually quite decent, and it even comes with its own UHD 630 integrated graphics that can run most modern games on low to medium settings, albeit at 720p.
Nothing mind-blowing, but nothing too shabby either for a PC priced this low.
We’ve mentioned in the beginning that this PC is the weakest of the bunch, and that has a lot to do with the processor, but it mostly has to do with the amount of RAM.
As we’ve already pointed out, 4GB is simply not enough for decent gaming these days, especially for a PC with an integrated GPU. That said, RAM is also the simplest and cheapest component to upgrade, which we recommend you do as soon as possible if you opt for this machine.
In case you don’t want to upgrade, you should know that this PC can run a lot of the older games which require less RAM on low/medium settings even with 4GB, but you’d have to be careful to turn off as many, if not all of you RAM-consuming background processes as possible.
As for the storage, 1TB is more than enough for any regular PC, and you can be sure that you will most likely never come even close to running out. It’s no SSD, but that’s to be expected considering the budget.
What it does have is Optane memory that, as we explained above, speeds up some of your most-used programs essentially making your PC feel like it’s running an SSD. This is an amazing feature that none of the other PCs on this list have, which is one of the reasons this HP Pavilion PC made it to this list even despite its RAM deficiency.
Overall, this is a decent PC for a novice gamer, casual user, or someone not too keen on having their games look too realistic and the fact that it comes with a pre-installed Windows 10 Home, and mouse and keyboard is simply outstanding.
- 8GB of RAM
- Several bundle options
- Weak power supply
The second PC we’ve picked is the Acer Aspire TC-885-UA91.
The entries on this list are quite similar to one another, but each has something that sets it apart from the rest, and in this case, that something is the price.
This one comes equipped with the i3 9100 processor and its UHD 630 integrated graphics. The processor has four cores, four threads, a base clock speed of 3.6GHz, and a max boost of 4.2GHz.
In terms of specs, the difference between it and the i3 8100 from the previous entry is minimal, but the 9th gen Intel processor comes with a slight performance boost, and in certain conditions can be overclocked, whereas that is impossible with the i3 8100.
The Acer Aspire not only comes with 8GB of DDR4 RAM, which is immediately much better but also with 512GB of SSD storage.
Once again, the PC offers plenty of connectivity options, and it even has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, an optical drive, and Windows 10 Home.
Another great thing about this PC is that it’s possible to buy just the tower which will cost you an amazing $430, but you can also choose to get it in combination with a keyboard and mouse, a Predator Spirits White mouse pad, a Predator Galea 300 White headset, or with an SB220Q bi monitor (this combo slightly surpasses the $500 mark).
The only possible downside of this PC is that it only has a 300W PSU. This is enough for it to run smoothly with its current components, but if you ever decide to add a dedicated graphics card, keep in mind that you will have to get a stronger power supply as well.
In terms of processing power, there isn’t much difference between the i3 8100 and the i3 9100 on paper. However, in both single and multi-core performance the i3 9100 wins every time, if only slightly.
The 8GB of RAM this PC has is still not ideal considering that the system will be sharing that RAM with the GPU, but it is not bad by any means either, and it is infinitely better than what the previous PC had to offer.
As we’ve already mentioned above, the Acer Aspire TC-855-UA91 comes with a 512GB SSD. We were surprised to find an SSD in a budget PC, but it was a rather pleasant surprise.
With this much storage you won’t have to worry about running out any time soon, but in case you do run out at some point, or you simply want more, you will always be able to add a simple HDD for all your other programs and data while keeping the super-fast SSD storage reserved solely for your favorite games.
Or just get another SSD because what’s the harm?
Overall, the Acer Aspire is a very good choice, and for a pre-built PC that’s only $20 more expensive with the monitor than our first entry without, it is excellent.
- 12GB of RAM
- Excellent processor
- Weak power supply
The Acer Aspire TC-885-UA92 is a step up compared to the first two entries on this list. Not only does it come with 12GB of DDR4 RAM, but also the i5 9400 Intel processor. However, all of this comes at a greater price.
The CPU has six cores, six threads, a base clock speed of 2.9GHz, and maximum boost speed of 3.9GHz.
It may not seem like much of an improvement, mainly because the integrated GPU is still the same as in older models, but the i5 9400 will definitely be able to squeeze a few extra FPS out of that GPU, and the extra RAM is sure to improve the overall experience exponentially.
That said, it still won’t be enough to see any major enhancements in gaming. You will be able to play some older games like the original Civilization VI in 1080p at around 40-45 FPS, but for the most part, you’ll have to stick to 720p gaming until you decide to add a dedicated graphics card.
Once again, this model comes with a 512GB SSD which is amazing, a pre-installed Windows 10 Home, USB keyboard and mouse, a DVD writer, a 300W PSU that will, unfortunately, have to be replaced with a more powerful one if you decide to add a dedicated graphics card, and a 1-year warranty.
First of all, let’s look at the processor.
As we’ve already mentioned, it’s definitely an upgrade compared to the first two on the list, but is the upgrade worth the extra $120 compared to our previous entry?
We think it is.
First of all, while the difference between 130 and 135 FPS may not make any difference whatsoever in your gameplay, the difference between 30 and 35 FPS is much more noticeable, and it can significantly improve your gaming experience.
Second, it’s always wise to think ahead. If you plan on one day getting a dedicated graphics card, you’ll want a CPU that will be able to support it and won’t cause bottlenecking, which is why it’s never a bad idea to go for the better processor if you can afford it.
After all, the processor is the heart of a PC, and not only your games depend on it, but everything else as well.
There is not much to say about the RAM. The more, the better! And as this PC comes with 12GB of DDR4, there is really nothing we can complain about. That’s plenty of memory to allow you to both play games and run several background processes at a time without much trouble as long as you don’t overdo it.
Once again, the 512GB SSD is a welcome element. HDDs may offer more storage for the same price, but the superb speeds of SSDs are worth a little sacrifice. Plus, if you ever need more storage, investing another $40 in a regular HDD shouldn’t be a problem, and can be done at any point in the future.
As with our previous entries, this PC comes with its own keyboard and mouse, which is great if you need it, but we would have liked an option to order just the PC as it would lower the price for those who already have extra peripherals lying around from an older PC.
Other than that, the only thing we can complain about is the price. This PC costs a whopping $550. Nevertheless, with this PC you are one upgrade away from a gaming beast.
- 8GB of RAM
- Solid processor
- Looks amazing
- Unnecessary GPU which serves only to raise the price
- No SSD
Next up is the iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming PC.
The Enthusiast comes with the Ryzen 3 3100 CPU based on the amazing AMD Zen2 architecture. While it still has four cores, four threads, a 3.6GHz base clock speed, and 3.9 boost clock speed, the Zen2 makes this CPU good enough to compete even with some of the 9th gen intel processors.
Now, here we come to a little setback. The Ryzen 3 3100 is not an APU, meaning that it doesn’t have an integrated GPU. Instead, this PC comes with a dedicated graphics card.
Why is this a setback?
Because the integrated GPU from the previous entries is much better than this dedicated video card and you will get absolutely no use out of it. Nevertheless, the CPU in this PC is excellent for an entry-level build, replacing the GPU will make it amazing.
Other than that, the PC is equipped with 8GB of DDR4 memory, a pre-installed Windows 10 Home, Wi-Fi, the usual keyboard and mouse, and a 1TB of HDD. It’s no SSD, but it has plenty of storage to compensate for it.
And last but not least, the PC actually looks gorgeous. It comes in a sleek, minimalistic black case with a transparent side panel, and RGB case lighting.
First of all, let’s address the elephant in the room.
While this PC is decent for its price, there are some things we would have preferred had been done differently.
The abovementioned dedicated graphics card is completely unnecessary and its place in this PC is utterly unjustified as it serves no purpose other than to display an image on your monitor.
The better choice would have been to exclude the GT 710, and instead replace the 3100 with a 3400G for example. It would amount to about the same price, and the performance would be significantly improved. But unfortunately, it’s not up to us.
Other than this, there isn’t much to complain about with this PC. It’s a decent choice for AMD fans; however, if you’re leaning toward team-blue, our suggestion is to go for the Aspire TC-885-UA91 or US92.
- Extremely fast NVMe storage
- 16GB of RAM
- No room for upgrades
- No OC
And for the end, something a little different, to say the least.
The CUK ASRock DeskMini A300W is truly a mini PC. Because of this, it doesn’t leave much room for upgrades. But if what you want is a budget PC for gaming that will do its job for a while, and then be replaced with another machine, this is a pretty good deal.
This Mini PC comes with the Ryzen 3 3200G, you get 16GB of DDR4 RAM running at 2666MHz, and an NVMe SSD with no less than 512GB of storage, and a 3-year warranty!
This is hands down the best PC on this list, but it comes with some major drawbacks. Unlike the other PCs, this one has none of the additional features the other PCs on this list have (no optical drive, no Windows, no keyboard, or mouse) except for Wi-Fi, and due to its size a dedicated GPU or an HDD just won’t fit.
Considering its size, this little one is a real beast.
The DeskMini A300W has a great processor that can run most of the newer games at a minimum of 30FPS in low settings, but what surprised us the most was the RAM and storage.
This is the first and unfortunately, the only PC on this list with 16GB of RAM. While 8GB and 12GB of RAM is really good, these days 16 is the ideal number when it comes to memory, and especially when it comes to memory meant for a PC with an integrated GPU.
What’s more, AMD’s processors rely heavily on RAM memory, so the more you have, the better the CPU’s performance (although any more than 16 GB would be overkill).
When it comes to storage, this little guy takes the cake. A 512GB NVMe SSD is something you’d see in a premium build, not in budget mini PC, but nevertheless, here it is.
However, as if to balance it out, this PC has a bunch of other things we don’t really like.
For example, like we mentioned above, it can’t really be upgraded as there is simply no room for a dedicated graphics card or an additional HDD, but there are other options for the latter, like a 2.5 SSD, M.2 drive, or even external storage if you really need more space.
It also comes without an operating system, any kind of peripherals, and has only one USB 3.0 port in the front of the case, so you’ll probably have to spend a bit more to complete this PC unless you have some spare peripherals lying around.
The DeskMini A300W is a really good budget PC, but it’s not for everyone.
The only ones we’d recommend it for are the ones who only need a quick and portable solution for casual gaming and everyday use. Because if your goal is to gradually improve your rig over the years and keep up with the current trends, this PC will not allow you to do that.
Do You Need A $500 Prebuilt Gaming PC?
Let’s take a good, honest look at what $500 can buy you.
Generally speaking, you’re going to end up with a PC that’s missing some features.
Whether you’ll need to buy an operating system, add a hard drive, or upgrade the graphics card, you’re not going to play any current games with amazing graphics without spending a little bit more time and money.
That said, these PCs are quite good for prebuilt machines compared to a lot of what’s being offered at the moment. In fact, they 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.
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 console. Once the next generation of consoles comes out, the only way to play newer games is to buy a whole new device.
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 working perfectly fine, like your case, fans, and optical drive, for example.
However, if none of the options we’ve suggested so far work for you, the final option is to build your own PC, and in our honest opinion, that’s also the best option.
Because for $500, you can put together a system that blows all these prebuilt rigs out of the water. Of course, this requires some expertise, so keep in mind that this is only if you know how to put a PC together or are willing to tinker with it or follow the numerous tutorials that exist on Youtube.
Leaving it to the professionals is probably the best decision if you’re not confident in your skills. However, if you are, we urge you to take a look at our ultimate PC build for the Best Budget $500 Gaming PC. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
The Best Prebuilt $500 Gaming PC Of 2020
There are some great candidates on the list above, but we still couldn’t help throwing in one honorable mention:
Here we have the HP Pavilion Desktop 590-p0030.
The PC comes with the Intel i3 8100 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB HDD, Windows 10 Home, and a keyboard and mouse.
You might have noticed that this PC is quite similar to our first entry on the list above, and you are right. The only major difference component-wise is that this one has 8GB of RAM instead of 4GB, but it doesn’t have Optane Memory the benefits of which we explained above.
Now, you might think “I’d prefer to have more RAM than Optane”, and that’s perfectly fine, but the reason this PC is an honorable mention, and that one is on the list is that this one costs $50 more than that one, and the price jump simply can’t be justified.
That said, this PC is here because there are numerous prebuilt machines out there that are so grossly outdated trying to pass for $500 that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to set this one apart from those.
Finally, we have to mention one more option. All of the PCs we’ve listed above can be found on Amazon completely new, but there is always the option of buying a used machine. Used PCs often have much better specs than new ones, but you must be careful to get them from reliable sellers otherwise you’d just be wasting your money.
That said, we would still recommend building your own rig, even if it’s just for casual everyday use as the value is infinitely better.
But whatever you choose, we hope you have fun gaming on your new PC!