Best Budget $500 to $600 Gaming Computer Build 2016
Performance of a PS4 or Xbox One vs. a $500 Gaming PC
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PC Gaming Vs. Console Gaming 2016 Debate
The separation that exists between the performance of a PC and that of the Xbox One and Console has grown since their release well over a year ago. While console prices have come down a bit, the performance you get from a PC in the same price range is impressive.
There's a lot of misconceptions out there when comparing PC gaming to Console gaming. Perhaps the biggest one is that consoles run every game in 1080p. While some games are set in 1080p, graphically intensive games are often run below this, put on low settings, or upscaled to achieve performance.
Perhaps more importantly, a gaming PC gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of what you can do with your computer. With streaming services like Twitch.tv becoming more popular, that flexibility is hard to ignore. That being said exclusive games, multiplayer gameplay, joystick and ease-of-use still make consoles attractive to many gamers.
In this post, I'll take you through each component that I'd purchase if I had a $500 or $600 budget. Your feedback and votes are appreciated throughout this post.
Building a $500 to $600 Budget Intel or AMD Gaming PC in 2015
Building a $500 PC doesn't have to be difficult and in fact, can be quite easy once you've assembled the components. While I won't go through a tutorial for each component keep in mind that for the most part as long as you match your CPU's sockets to the motherboard you purchase you'll be ok where compatibility is concerned. If you have any additional questions, then I'm always available in the feedback and question section below.
Choose a CPU first:
For our $500 build we have enough money to purchase a processor in the $130 range. This is what I'd call a good mid-level CPU. If you're building a $500 gaming computer right now, then your best bet is to go with the i3-6100 or perhaps, the FX-8320 from AMD. For around $130 the FX 8320 gives you a 8 core option that works well with games and is a solid overclocker.
If you want to avoid a future bottleneck go with something like the Skylake i5 6500 for $50 to $75 more. It'll give you snappier single-threaded performance and give your PC what feels like a bigger boost overall.
Good Graphics Cards Under $150 to $250 2016
If you're looking for pure performance in the $150 to $250 range, you should consider the RX 480 and the GTX 1060. Both of these GPUs are good for future VR performance and should have no problem playing today's latest AAA titles in 60 frames 1080p while conquering many titles in 1440p at the same rate.
RX 480 vs GTX 1060
Both of these cards are very similar in performance. The NVIDIA GTX 1060 is the better overall performer for DirectX 12 games while AMD's RX 480 evens it out in DirectX 12. The RX 480 can be used in a dual card configuration while SLI is not an option for the GTX 1060. For energy efficiency and overclocking, the GTX 1060 is the winner.
Either one of these cards is a good option moving forward and your choice is most likely to be influenced by whether you're planning on using AMD's FreeSync, NVIDIA's G-Sync, or whether you plan on upgrading a few years down the road with another card.
For the $500 Version of this Build:
If you want to stick to the $500 budget, you'll need to choose between the RX 460 and the GTX 950. If you go with the 2GB version of the AMD RX 460, you'll likely be well under budget. NVIDIA is shortly releasing a GTX 1050, so keep that in mind.
Try to find a rebate to make your card under $150 and you'll be getting one of the best graphics cards for the money at this price point.
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Budget Motherboards Under $50
High-end performance users can spend as much on their motherboard as you may spend on an entire rig. That being said you don't need a super expensive motherboard in order to get a good performing gaming computer for $500.
A solid option in the $50 price range would be something like Gigabyte's GA-H110M-A motherboard. This is a micro motherboard that does have a few restrictions, including being limited to 2133MHz memory, but overall it has everything you need for performance at this price point.
Best Gaming PC Power Supply Under $55
With a $500 to $600 PC build we're trying to go max performance while still trying to maintain quality parts. While it may seem difficult to find a decent Power supply in the under or around $50 category there are a couple I'd recommend. The EVGA 500 B1 makes a lot of sense here because of its quality and high wattage for the price you pay.
Best Mid Tower Gaming Case Under $50
For this build we've reserved about $50 for our mid tower gaming case.With current prices on the Thermaltake Versa H21, it won't even take $25.
While this case is more than you need if you're using a low profile card, it's better to err on the larger side for your case in the chance that you upgrade in the future and need to fit a larger card.
If you can't find this case on sale, try to find something that happens to be. Cases are always an area where good sales are available.
Additional Computer Hardware to Consider for a Budget $500 PC Build
Here we're going with 8GB of Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4. It's cheap, fast, and good quality.
Solid State Drive:
Unfortunately we only have around $50 for our hard drive or solid state drive. In my opinion, you're better off going with a 240GB solid state drive for around $50 then going with a 1 TB hard drive. The performance differential is simply too big.
What's more is that it's likely you have a hard drive or external drive that can work as your storage option.
More PC Builds Like This One
- Building a Budget 300 Custom Gaming Computer or HTPC 2016
PC gaming doesn't have to be as expensive as you might think it is. Here's a look at a good $300 build that won't break your wallet.
- Best $400 Gaming Computer Build 2015
If you had $100 less to spend, then what would your build look like? Weigh in on our $400 PC build.
Final Thoughts for this $500 Gaming PC Build
It's really amazing that with just $500 to $600 you can get a solid build with the i3-6100 and a great graphics card in the RX 460, GTX 950, GTX 1060, or RX 460. Even graphically intense games should be playable in full 1080p or even 1440p with some tweaks. Compare that to the way Battlefield 1 will look on console and you'll see why a $500 to $600 gaming PC is clearly the way to go.
If you liked this build be sure to check out other builds I do on a regular basis here as well as on my YouTube channel. Also, feel free to ask any questions you might have in the comment section below.
© 2013 Brandon Hart
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