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$500 Intel Core i3-8100 Gaming PC Challenge

I'm just a small-time guy working a normal job as a physician assistant. My passion is building PCs and testing/reviewing PC hardware.

$500 Entry Level Intel Core i3-8100 Gaming PC

$500 Entry Level Intel Core i3-8100 Gaming PC

$500 Entry Level Intel Core i3-8100 Gaming PC

Hello everyone, Will here, and today, I have the results of a challenge I was issued a few days ago. My friend from work, my supervising physician, challenged me to build a specific computer. He gave me a $500 budget to build an Intel Core i3 system. The system could’ve been any generation I could find to fit the budget. What follows was a fun journey that resulted in a decent budget build of a gaming PC.

So, what was I able to get into this system? Well, by shopping around a bit through Amazon, B and H Photo and Video, Newegg, and other stores, I was able to get a pretty good system for just under $500, not counting tax and shipping on the components.

This system should be able to handle all current triple-A games on medium to high settings at 60 fps; benchmarks will come at a later date once I am able to get the time to do those. So, what is in this Intel Core i3 system? Well, let us all take a look.


Coffee Lake Processor: Intel Core i3-8100

Starting out, I was looking at a Skylake processor or Kaby Lake processor and considered all options including the popular budget CPU, the Pentium G4560.

However, after sifting through the choices, I was able to get a Coffee Lake processor, the Intel Core i3-8100 processor. I was quite surprised by this option given how new it is, but it fit the budget and was just $128.89 on Amazon. This is a fantastic deal given the $500 budget for this entry-level gaming PC.

  • This is a four-core, four-thread processor with a base clock of 3.6GHz.
  • The Core i3-8100 offers a 6MB cache and operates at just 65 watts TDP.
  • The i3-8100 supports up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM up to 2400MHz in a dual channel setup.
  • The processor also offers Intel’s UHD Graphics 630 and supports DirectX 12 and OpenGL 4.5.
  • And even though this processor does not offer hyperthreading, it is a fantastic processor for those wishing to enter into PC gaming on a budget.
Gigabyte Z370-HD3 Motherboard

Gigabyte Z370-HD3 Motherboard

Gigabyte Z370-HD3 Motherboard

Now, obviously, the motherboard options are limited with this processor to the Z370 chipset. Given this issue and the fact I was on a budget, I went with what is essentially the Z370 variant of a classic budget build board in the Gigabyte Z370-HD3 motherboard.

This was a classic of budget-building late last year and earlier this year with the H110 variant. This board has a few more options, however.

  • The Gigabyte motherboard offers 4 memory slots that support up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM that can be clocked from 2133MHz to 4000MHz.
  • The board also supports crossfire, which is good given the video card I was essentially forced to go with given the budget.

This board came in at around $105 after mail-in-rebate from Newegg.

G. Skill NT Series RAM and Seagate Barracuda 500GB Hard Disk Drive

The RAM of choice on this build is G. Skill NT Series RAM at 8GB total in 2 modules of 4GB. The RAM is clocked at 2133MHz and is nothing special. For just $79.99, it cannot be matched by anything else that is currently on the market, and RAM prices are still outrageous.

Now, as with this RAM, the hard drive is also nothing special as I went with a standard 7200RPM mechanical hard disk drive from Amazon for just $28.99. This hard drive is the Seagate Barracuda 500GB, 3.5” internal hard drive.

XFX Radeon RX 550 2GB Graphics Card

XFX Radeon RX 550 2GB Graphics Card

XFX Radeon RX 550 2GB Graphics Card

For the graphics card, I went with the best card I could get for the budget. The $500 budget really held this option back as there were only a couple that could fit under the budget. I went with the XFX Radeon RX 550 4GB video card.

This isn’t a terrible card, and I went with the brand because of the price—and I have had pretty good success with XFX branded cards in the past; particularly the AMD cards.

This card in particular has 512 stream processors and operates with a 1203MHz core clock while the 4GB of GDDR5 video memory operates at an effective 7000MHz. This is a single fan card so it should run fairly quiet while only requiring 75 watts TDP.

The card has 1 DVI-D port, 1 DisplayPort, and 1 HDMI port; crossfire is supported. This card should give pretty good results at 1080p gaming.

Tower and Power Supply

Rounding out this build is the tower and the power supply.

The DIYPC Solo T1-R ATX Mid-Tower case was chosen given its $24.98 price tag from Newegg. This case is nothing special as there is no side window, which you probably wouldn’t want to show off what’s inside of this case with the really awful looking cables and wiring from the power supply. The case does have 2 external 5.35” bays, 3 internal 2.5” bays, and 3 internal 3.5” bays and supports ATX and Micro ATX motherboards.

Powering this system is the EVGA 400 watt power supply. There’s nothing special about this power supply but it will offer adequate power to this system. At just $24.99 from SuperBiiz, it is perfect for this system.


How It Turned Out

So, there it is. The PC went together fairly smoothly and powered on the first try. The case wasn’t too bad to build in and cable management was fair at best. However, with a budget build like this and a case that you really cannot see the cables in because there is no side window, it isn’t a big deal.

Windows 10 installed just fine and the computer runs smoothly. Overall, the system cost just $477.92 which brought me in at just under the $500 budget.

I had a really good time putting this system together from shopping to building. Now, I'm really looking forward to what this system can do. Thanks for stopping by and drop a comment to let me know what you think or where you would have done something different. I hope to see you next time.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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