Best Budget $500 Gaming PC Build Vs Console 2018

Updated on January 11, 2018

The PC vs Console Gaming Debate in 2018

Can a $500 PC rival the performance of a standard Xbox One or PS4? Certainly. And that performance gap continues to grow while these platforms age. However, at the same time, console prices have come down substantially. An Xbox One S or PS4 Slim with at 1 TB hard drive sets you back only $300.

What's more is the PS4 Pro at $400 and the Xbox One X at $500. A comparison to these competitors is certainly more worthy of our time.

The argument for the PC is that it gives you more flexibility. It's a computer that can be used for daily tasks, has a graphics card that can easily be upgraded, and has a myriad of popular online games unavailable on the console.

On the other hand exclusive games, multiplayer gameplay, joysticks, and ease-of-use still make consoles attractive to many gamers. Performance is a bit of an enigma. I'll dedicate more to that discussion below.

A Top Performing $500 Gaming PC for the Money in 2018

Before we go any further, let's take a look at a $500 PC to see how performance fairs against the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro in 2018.

Our $500 build stretches and at sometimes doesn't reach the GTX 1050Ti. At $600 the GTX 1060 3GB brings PC performance in line with the Xbox One X.
Our $500 build stretches and at sometimes doesn't reach the GTX 1050Ti. At $600 the GTX 1060 3GB brings PC performance in line with the Xbox One X.

Graphical Equivalents (Best Comparison)

PS4
Xbox One X
PS4
Xbox
RX 470 4GB
RX 580 or GTX 1060
HD 7850
HD 7790
While these comparisons aren't exact, we feel that using these graphics cards is the best way to compare them to the PC.

Looking at the chart above and understanding the GPU market in 2018 so far there's no way around saying it. Sorry PC gamers (that's me too).

The Xbox One X and PS4 Pro are offering a premium graphical solution for the money you're paying right now vs what you could get on a PC.

It makes sense too.

They want you to be on their platform, paying for their accessories, their games, and their services.

Yet, being a console gamer you may find that over time you end up paying far more for that graphical solution than if you'd gone with a PC. Exclusive parts and games come at a price.

Still, being a PC gamer this year and trying to buy a graphics card for its actual price has been a pain. You can blame the cryptocurrency trend for that.

Staying Within the $500 Budget of this Build:

If you want to stick to the $500 budget, you likely can't afford more than a GTX 1050 Ti. As the PS4 Pro has the performance of a low-end RX 470 this likely won't quite reach it. And the Xbox One X's performance is even more unattainable with the RX 580 or a GTX 1060. Still, the 1050Ti does play modern games fairly well in 1080p.

However, the 4 core R3 1200 we're using for this build, can handle a GTX 1060 or RX 580 if you'd prefer. Take a look at our post on the best graphics cards for the money for additional information.

RX 580 vs GTX 1060 - $600 Version of this Build

If you want similar performance from a PC to the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro, you'll need to be in the $600 range.

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 580 evens it out in a few titles for DirectX 12.

The RX 580 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. The current pricing in your area may also be a big factor.

If you want our pick for a single card, it would be the GTX 1060 here. The better performance across DX11 games is simply a bigger deal in 2018.

The Ryzen 3 1200 Makes a Big Difference Here

CPU PC vs Console Comparison

I've heard a lot of gamers talk about how you're getting a much better processor out of the PC here. It's true. However, it doesn't really matter and here's why.

As long as your PC or console plays the game no one really cares. Framerate, resolution, smoothness, and detail all matter. However, consoles are built for these types of solutions. So, in my opinion, the CPU performance matters more on the PC side than the console as it's likely you'll use your PC for more than just gaming.

What CPU Should You Choose for a $500 PC Build?

The CPU releases from Intel and AMD over the past year have been stellar. With the Ryzen 3 1200 priced between $100 and $110 and the i3-8100 around $120, PC gamers have much more capable low-priced options than ever before.

The i3-8100 is the better performing gaming CPU; however, without an inexpensive Z370 motherboard to combo with, it's out of our price range. This may change as less expensive 300 series motherboards are released in 2018.

Intel Coffee Lake i3-8100 vs Ryzen 3 1200

While both of these processors have four cores, the i3-8100 is significantly faster in IPC. This leads to increased gaming performance making it on par with an i5-7500 of last year. The Ryzen 3 1200 can be overclocked, however, the performance gap is still significant.

That being said, I can pair a Ryzen 3 1200 with an inexpensive $50 motherboard while the cheapest 300 series motherboard for Coffee Lake I can find is around $115.

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 the ASRock A320M-DGS motherboard. These micro ATX motherboards have a few limitations; however, they do support DDR4 up to 3200MHz.

Am 80+ 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.

Finding a Cheap Case

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.

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.

Ram:

Here we're going with a 4x2GB configuration of DDR4. We're going with a Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB configuration that goes up to 3000MHz. The price difference between the cheaper options and this is minimal right now. So, we feel the additional performance is worth it. Here's a comparison of DDR4 kits for those trying to get the best value for their money.

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

*$500 PC Build
*$600 PC Build
Ryzen 3 1200
Ryzen 3 1200
MSI B350M Pro-VD PLUS
MSI B350M Pro-VD PLUS
Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz 8GB
Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz 8GB
SanDisk SSD Plus 240GB SSD
Crucial MX300 275GB SSD
EVGA BT 450W
EVGA BT 450W
Rosewill FBM-01 or Xion mATX
Rosewill FBM-01 or Xion mATX
GTX 1050 Ti
GTX 1060 3GB
Prices depend on finding a graphical solution that isn't inflated. For the $500 PC, the budget is around $130 for a GPU and for the $600 PC around $200.

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. Yet, building a PC that would work that well for AAA titles for $300 would be very difficult.

PS4 Pro and Xbox One X Comparison

For the PS4 Pro, a good comparison would be low-end RX 470 on the low-end and the Xbox One X an RX 580 or the GTX 1060.

So, Who Wins?

Graphically, the console wins from the stance of what you pay and what you get.

However, it's more complicated than that.

PC games you purchase are kept with you forever. In addition, cheap audio, and peripheral solutions certainly allow you to save money. Purchasing AAA titles on the cheap after they've been out for a while is also much more likely on the PC.

In addition, you don't pay for an online service with the PC. Over time this is a very big deal. What's more, you can upgrade your PC's graphics card over time as you'd like. That flexibility is worth a lot.

So, who truly wins? That's truly up to you. If you like to play on the PC, then likely you'll stay there. The same goes for the console.

However, much of the arguments that had plagued the console market certainly aren't present in 2018. High resolutions and details are available at an affordable price.

Who Wins?

Which is your favorite?

See results

Here's a previous poll we did with the PS4 and Xbox One and a $500 PC when they were a similar price. It's not as relevant today, but we'll leave it open so you can see how far we've come.

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

Is it even close?

See results

Final Thoughts

I was a console gamer as a kid and grew into a PC gamer exclusively. That sentence describes many of us.

It certainly describes my kids.

My son loves to play Xbox and PS4 because his friends do. It's the platform that makes the most sense for him. As he's gotten older, he's playing more and more on the PC. Games like Overwatch, Civ 6, and using an emulator for his phone apps are what he likes to do.

Ultimately, I feel that consoles have come a long way in the past year. When a PC and a console are similar in price, I'd always give the win to the PC. However, with unstable GPU prices and better graphical solutions available for the console at a fixed and cheaper price, it's definitely up for debate. What are your thoughts?

Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Brandon Hart

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      • profile image

        S.Knight 

        3 months ago

        Can you use an HTC Vive or Oculus with this build? If so, does it lag or have issues?

      • profile image

        Jason C 

        5 months ago

        The rx470 is more powerful than the ps4 pro (4.9 tflops vs 4.2). Also, you arn't taking overclocking into account at all. Anyone who is looking to get the best price to performance should be looking to overclock. When you factor that into the equation, the consoles arent even close in terms of price/performance. Factor in the amount of customization you have to play the games you want with much higher performance while only losing a tiny bit of graphical fidelity. You can easily build a system for $550 that has a rx570 (which can bios flash to an rx580). This would give you performance in line with an XBOX one X for right around the same price. When you factor in thermals to the equation, the value proposition goes right out the window. Both consoles thermal throttle like crazy especially under load from AAA titles, but the components in this pc will stay within thermal limits due to being able to adjust fan curves. This means that while in an ideal lab-controlled scenario, the console may initially beat the budget pc in performance on a few scattered titles, once you factor in the throttling its not even a fair contest. In conclusion, I think you're taking far too many liberties, and underestimating what people are willing to do to achieve better performance.

      • toptengamer profile imageAUTHOR

        Brandon Hart 

        2 years 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 

        2 years 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 imageAUTHOR

        Brandon Hart 

        2 years 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.

      • profile image

        Hungry Hippo 

        2 years 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 

        4 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 imageAUTHOR

        Brandon Hart 

        4 years ago from The Game

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

      • profile image

        robin 

        4 years ago

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

        This is my first built

      • profile image

        Ronnie 

        4 years ago

        Would this computer run minecraft on full settings without lag?

        Or what settings could it easily do?

      • profile image

        Adam 

        4 years ago

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

      • profile image

        Steven 

        4 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 imageAUTHOR

        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.

      • profile image

        joe 

        4 years ago

        Would this run bf4 on high or ultra

      • toptengamer profile imageAUTHOR

        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.

      • profile image

        Josh 

        4 years ago

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

      • profile image

        John 

        4 years ago

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

      • toptengamer profile imageAUTHOR

        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 imageAUTHOR

        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

      • profile image

        Bean 

        4 years ago

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

      • profile image

        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 imageAUTHOR

        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

      • profile image

        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 imageAUTHOR

        Brandon Hart 

        4 years ago from The Game

        yes :)

      • profile image

        Ryan 

        4 years ago

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

      • BlocksNGuns profile image

        BlocksNGuns 

        5 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.

      • profile image

        brandon 

        5 years ago

        would this work for dayz

      • profile image

        montanasoldier 

        5 years ago

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

      • profile image

        David Gorodetskiy 

        5 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 

        5 years ago

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

      • toptengamer profile imageAUTHOR

        Brandon Hart 

        5 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.

      • profile image

        Makai 

        5 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.

      • profile image

        Malik 

        5 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 

        5 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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