Best Budget $500 to $600 Gaming Computer Build 2016

Performance of a PS4 or Xbox One vs. a $500 Gaming PC

Is it even close?

  • Yes, you can get similar performance out of each.
  • No, the PC wins Handily
  • No, consoles are the better graphical solution at this price point.
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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 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.

Gaming in 1080p is cheaper than ever. Going with a card like the RX 460 or GTX 950 will keep your build under the $500 range and give you a lot of performance for what you spend.
Gaming in 1080p is cheaper than ever. Going with a card like the RX 460 or GTX 950 will keep your build under the $500 range and give you a lot of performance for what you spend.

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.

Keep in mind that if you want to overclock, you'll need to go with a good Z170 motherboard. Additional options can be found in our $400 gaming PC build.

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.

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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Speak Your Mind 35 comments

toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 3 weeks ago from The Game Author

Yes, even the 1060 should work as long as you have a power supply that can support it. It's hard to know exactly what to recommend without knowing the rest of your parts.

Conan Edogawa 4 weeks ago

Hello sir I have DH61WW 2.0*16 intel motherboard will it support gtx 1060 6gb or gtx 750ti 2gb or gtx 970 4gb.Please tell me now because I have the motherboard but I don't have graphics card I want to buy any one out of these 3 VRAM.

toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 4 months ago from The Game Author

The case comes with fans and the CPU won't be overclocked so should be able to use the stock cooler.

Hungry Hippo 4 months ago

Are any fans necessary? Wouldn't the computer overheat?

Derp Herpson 24 months ago

what type of ram do you recommend?

1st build guy 2 years ago

Could I use any sound card with this build and any speakers. Could I use any network interface card. Which OS should I use

toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 2 years ago from The Game Author

Robin, You'll have to purchase the ram apart from the motherboard.

robin 2 years ago

I'm sorry if I'm being a noob , but does that motherboard include ram?

This is my first built

Ronnie 2 years ago

Would this computer run minecraft on full settings without lag?

Or what settings could it easily do?

Adam 2 years ago

Can we assemble it ourselves or can we just get someone professional to assemble it for us?

Steven 2 years ago

So inv been trying to find an answer but I wanna build a gaming pc, so here's my question can you start with cheap parts and gradually work your way up to better more expensive parts. I really knew nothing about computers do I'd like a little help cause eventually I wanna get skyrim and Ik I'll need a good pc for that that's why I said eventually but yea Ik the mother board is something I won't want to start cheap with so just name the posts I can start cheap with and then I'll gradually upgrade. I don't have a budget so it'll probably be a post or two every month until I have enough to start building. Thanks in advance guys.

toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 2 years ago from The Game Author

You'd probably just want to upgrade to something in the $40 range. It would take you over budget, but that's the difference between reality and builds. Getting something that is 80 Plus would be ideal.

joe 2 years ago

Would this run bf4 on high or ultra

toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 2 years ago from The Game Author

Most reviewers leave off the OS when coming up with a build. Optional Linux builds, the Steam Linux release this next year, as well as already having a copy of Windows are scenarios for many reading this post.

Josh 2 years ago

As usual, the windows license was totally left off. That makes this a $600 pc at best.

John 2 years ago

Would a PCI modem work with this setup to add internet access?

toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 2 years ago from The Game Author

This PC would do the trick

Joey 2 years ago

I primarily play league of legends, which is not a very graphically demanding game. Would this a computer of this caliber be able to run LoL well?

toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 2 years ago from The Game Author

It comes with a front 120mm - if it gets too hot you can always add one, but it's not absolutely crucial

Bean 2 years ago

What about fans and stuff? Don't you need them for the computer to not overheat

Caleb 2 years ago

How good could this run and record minecraft at max settings?

Ryan Lit 2 years ago

Ok thanks heaps

toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 2 years ago from The Game Author

You'll be good with what it comes with unless you are planning on doing a lot of Ocing

Ryan 2 years ago

Thanks just one more what type of heatsink should i buy for the i3 Core? sorry if im asking a lot this is my first PC build =P

toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 2 years ago from The Game Author

yes :)

Ryan 2 years ago

So will i need an ethernet cord if i want internet on this PC?

BlocksNGuns profile image

BlocksNGuns 3 years ago from The Netherlands

@ Tommy, this is true. But have you seen the prices for the games on the consoles? +- 60 euro's per game. The pc games are about 10/20 euro's. Also, the pc has a lot of free games, on the console you have to buy every game (or download a demo...). In the long run, a pc will probably be cheaper.

brandon 3 years ago

would this work for dayz

montanasoldier 3 years ago

You can't play league of legends on a console:(

David Gorodetskiy 3 years ago

I don't think its about the performance of the consoles vs the worth of the computer. I just like PC better because of the experience

starvin marvin 3 years ago

Ethernet port included as well right? (Stupid question lol)

toptengamer profile image

toptengamer 3 years ago from The Game Author

Makai Just go with a solid Wi-Fi motherboard like the GA-H77N-WIFI from Gigabyte and you'll be good.

Makai 3 years ago


Will I need to buy a separate component to make this PC wifi enabled? If so, can you tell me which one to buy? Thank you.

Malik 3 years ago

Ps4 tflops 1.84 = HD 7850 , and pc you are at advantage of upgrading, while in ps4 just l0w fps after every release of new game.. Like in ps3 n0w people enjoying 20fps :D

Tommy 3 years ago

You've got to be kidding me! 66% of people are dumb enough to think a $500 PC with a *650 Ti* would beat a $400 PS4, roughly equivalent to a 7870? This is one case where PC gamers (myself included) need to be honest with ourselves. At this moment, a $400 console can out preform a $500 computer ($600 if you include the required OS, I hate when people leave this out!). Purely in gaming performance, though. But hey, I'd still take the computer.

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