Best Budget $500 Gaming PC Build Vs Console 2017
Performance of a PS4 or Xbox One vs. a $500 Gaming PC
Is it even close?
The PC vs Console Gaming Debate in 2017
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. The PS4 Pro is a creative launch that definitely takes consoles to a new level. Later this year we'll also get Xbox Scorpio, an $800 console beast that should make PS4 Pro owners jealous.
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. These same tools are used on the PS4 Pro while gaming in 4k.
The argument for the PC is that it 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 budget geared towards maximum performance. Then, we'll compare it to the performance of the original consoles and the PS4 Pro.
Top $500 Gaming PC for the Money in 2017
Here's a look at a $500 Gaming PC build I recently made for my brother that emphasizes performance while maintaining a high level of quality.
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.
Staying Within the $500 Budget of this Build:
If you want to stick to the $500 budget, you'll need to choose between the GTX 1050 Ti and the RX 470. The RX 470 is the better performer while the GTX 1050Ti runs $30 cheaper and more energy efficient as well.
As we're going with an i3 in this build, the 1050Ti might just be the better option. Having built this machine with the an RX 470 I can tell you that the graphics card was held back a little bit by the CPU. As an i5 here would cost an additional $70 (at least) that's not an option.
RX 480 vs GTX 1060 - $600 Version of this Build
Both of these cards are very similar in performance. The NVIDIA GTX 1060 is the better overall performer for DirectX 11 games while AMD's RX 480 evens it out somewhat 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.
If you want our pick for a single card, it would be the GTX 1060 6GB here. The better performance across DX11 games is simply a bigger deal in 2017.
While the RX 470 is the better performer, the GTX 1050 Ti is no slouch here. It's a good option for those who'd prefer to save between $30 and $40.
Building a $500 to Budget Intel Gaming PC in 2017
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 $110 to $120 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 the Kaby Lake i3-7100 if it's the same price. For around $130 the FX 8320 gives you a 8 core option that works well with games; however, most AMD builders should wait for Zen.
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.
i3-6100 vs i3-7100
Around .2GHz. That's the performance improvement you'll see from going with the i3-7100 instead of the i3-6100. As the i3-7100 has a small premium on it right now it seems hardly worth the price upgrade. Yes it's a bit faster and yes it does have better integrated graphics. However, that's unlikely to help you a lot for this build.
RX 470 and i3-6100 Combo $450 Build
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 or the Asus H110M-A. These micro ATX motherboards that have a few restrictions, including being limited to 2133MHz memory, but overall have everything you need at this price point.
Finding a Power Supply Around $30
With a $500 budget, 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 $30 category there are a couple I'd recommend.
First and foremost are the EVGA 430W and 500W Bronze certified power supplies. I wouldn't rank these in the top tier; however, they're perfect for a budget and offer decent energy efficiency.
Best Mid Tower Gaming Case Under $30
For this build we've reserved about $30 for our mid tower gaming case.With current prices on the Rosewill Ranger, Xion mATX, and Rosewill FBM-01, you should be able to find a decent case for that price.
Better yet, if you can find a case that's normally in the $50 range on rebate, you can typically get amazing value here.
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.
Additional Computer Hardware to Consider for a Budget $500 PC Build
Here we're going with a 4x2GB configuration of DDR4. As your motherboard will not support speeds in excess of 2133MHz, be sure to go with something inexpensive here. I've seen Crucial Ballistix, Corsair Vengeance LPX kits, and many others available for around $50.
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. PNY has a great 240GB solid state drive for around $65. I'd go with something like that. In the future, adding in a 1 TB hard drive for capacity should be as simple as stripping it from a previous machine or purchasing it for around $50.
PS4 Pro, Xbox One, and PS4 Performance vs Our $500 Machine
First of all, the performance of the Xbox One and PS4 really aren't on par with what you'll get from our $500 build. I'd compare the PS4 to an HD 7850 and the Xbox One's graphical performance to an HD 7790.
For the PS4 Pro, a good comparison would be an RX 470 4GB or maybe even RX 480 4GB. If you go with the RX 470 4GB, you should get similar performance to the PS4 Pro. Still, at around $400 the PS4 Pro is definitely an impressive offering for the money you pay.
However, with how games are optimized the upscaling to 4k and 1080p enhanced leaves a bit to be desired. On the PC, it's easier to get the most out of your settings by customizing them in game.
Overall, console manufacturers are keeping it close and I'm excited to have a look at the Xbox Scorpio when it comes out.
More PC Builds Like This One
- Build a $400 Witcher 3 Blood and Wine Gaming PC 2016
A well-built $400 gaming computer can play even today's most graphically intensive video games. This optimized build should give you a good idea of the performance you can get from a budget gaming PC.
Final Thoughts for this $500 Gaming PC Build
It's really amazing that with just $500. You can get a solid build with the i3-6100 and a great graphics card in the GTX 1050 Ti or RX 470 4GB. 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 cheap gaming PC is clearly the way to go for many PC gamers.
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