Best Budget $500 Gaming PC Build Vs Console 2017

Updated on November 27, 2017

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

Is it even close?

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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 are a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to 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 at 720p, 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 game play, 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.

Our $500 build allows for the GTX 1050Ti at around a $480 budget and the RX 470 4GB at around $510. Either of these cards does a fantastic job in 1080p on modern AAA titles.
Our $500 build allows for the GTX 1050Ti at around a $480 budget and the RX 470 4GB at around $510. Either of these cards does a fantastic job in 1080p on modern AAA titles.

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 580 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 we're going with an i3 in this build, the NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti might just be the better option. Having built this machine with the 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.

Try and find the RX 470 for under $170 and the 1050Ti at around $140 and you'll be getting one of the best graphics cards for the money at this price point.

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.

7th Generation Kaby Lake Processors are here. But are they worth it vs previous generation Skylake processors?
7th Generation Kaby Lake Processors are here. But are they worth it vs previous generation Skylake processors?

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 Intel 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.

Keep in mind that if you want to overclock, you'll need to go with a good Z170 motherboard. (Z270 if you go Kaby Lake) Additional options can be found in our $400 gaming PC build.

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.

I've used the Xion mATX case on a number of builds. For $20, you get a solid base and a blue LED fan.
I've used the Xion mATX case on a number of builds. For $20, you get a solid base and a blue LED fan.

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, the Xion mATX (pictured), 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

Ram:

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.

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

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    • toptengamer profile image
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      Brandon Hart 14 months ago from The Game

      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.

    • profile image

      Conan Edogawa 15 months 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
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      Brandon Hart 18 months ago from The Game

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

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      Hungry Hippo 18 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Derp Herpson 3 years ago

      what type of ram do you recommend?

    • profile image

      1st build guy 3 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
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      Brandon Hart 3 years ago from The Game

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

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      robin 3 years ago

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

      This is my first built

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      Ronnie 3 years ago

      Would this computer run minecraft on full settings without lag?

      Or what settings could it easily do?

    • profile image

      Adam 3 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Steven 3 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
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      Brandon Hart 4 years ago from The Game

      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.

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      joe 4 years ago

      Would this run bf4 on high or ultra

    • toptengamer profile image
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      Brandon Hart 4 years ago from The Game

      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.

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      Josh 4 years ago

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

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      John 4 years ago

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

    • toptengamer profile image
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      Brandon Hart 4 years ago from The Game

      This PC would do the trick

    • profile image

      Joey 4 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
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      Brandon Hart 4 years ago from The Game

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

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      Bean 4 years ago

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

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      Caleb 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Ryan Lit 4 years ago

      Ok thanks heaps

    • toptengamer profile image
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      Brandon Hart 4 years ago from The Game

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

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      Ryan 4 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
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      Brandon Hart 4 years ago from The Game

      yes :)

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      Ryan 4 years ago

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

    • BlocksNGuns profile image

      BlocksNGuns 4 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.

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      brandon 4 years ago

      would this work for dayz

    • profile image

      montanasoldier 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      David Gorodetskiy 4 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

    • profile image

      starvin marvin 4 years ago

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

    • toptengamer profile image
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      Brandon Hart 4 years ago from The Game

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

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      Makai 4 years ago

      Hello,

      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.

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      Malik 4 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

    • profile image

      Tommy 4 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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