Building a PC on a $500 USD budget can be a bit challenging considering the times, but it is still possible to create one that performs well for basic computing tasks and a bit of gaming.

As for our list, we’ll make it short and sweet with the prices and our reasoning behind each picks. Keep in mind though that prices may vary depending on your region. The same goes for stocks and or availability. Now without further ado, here’s a general guideline for a $500 USD PC build:

Processor (CPU): AMD Ryzen 3 3100

The Ryzen 3 3100 is what I would consider a budget-friendly and solid performer among the Ryzen 3000 series processors from AMD. Built for the AM4 platform, it features four cores and eight threads, making it a suitable candidate for general computing tasks, gaming, and some light content creation.

While the Ryzen 3 3100 offers good value, the Ryzen 3 4100 is also a contender around the $100 USD price-point. However, I find leaning towards the Ryzen 3 3100 due to its almost negligible performance difference compared to the latter.

Graphics Card (GPU): NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 was considered as the spiritual successor for the GTX 1050 series. It is a budget-friendly graphics card around the $150 USD price-range that could still provide a decent 1080p gaming performance in this day and age.

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Now the RTX 3050 is definitely better but its current market price doesn’t warrant its recommendation. Definitely get the GTX 1650 here no matter the brand or model.

Motherboard: AMD B550 motherboard (e.g., GIGABYTE B550M K)

AMD’s AM4 platform is a bit overshadowed by its newer AM5 relative but with a good entry cost and excellent features (AMD B550 chipset), I still regard it as a better platform for everyday computing.

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The GIGABYTE B550M K in particular is a good barebones option under the $100 bracket with its decent connectivity and support for PCIe Gen 4 device under its Micro-ATX form factor. If you are willing to get more side features, the B450 motherboards of the same price range is what you should consider. Note that the B450 chipset only supports PCIe Gen 3 speeds so it might be a limiting factor in the long run.

Memory (RAM): 32 GB (2x 16 GB) DDR4-3200 (e.g., Kingston ValueRAM)

3200 MHz is the sweet spot for most AM4 CPUs and I dare say for a budget build, this is the line before you enter the realm of diminishing returns for the said platform. As for capacity, 32 GB is soon to become the norm so only consider 16 GB if your budget is really tight.

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The Kingston ValueRAM is an excellent choice here, especially the DDR4-3200 model at 16 GB per stick. The ValueRAM is dirt cheap for its capacity ($40 USD each) and will hold its own compared to flashy kits of the same frequency. The lifetime warranty from Kingston is also practical enough to consider.

This product is under Kingston’s RBV PC Solutions which is basically a trifecta of gaming (FURY Renegade), creator (FURY Beast) and value (ValueRAM) oriented products. How they coined the term is a bit cheesy but that makes it easy enough to recommend a product based on their order within Kingston’s arsenal.

Storage: 1 TB SSD (e.g., Kingston NV2)

Similar to the memory, I strongly suggest going for the larger capacity ones such as the 1 TB Kingston NV2 SSD due to its price, capacity and performance combined.

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Now I probably have made a dozen builds with the NV2 and I could vouch for its performance and reliability. Take for instance the benchmarks I made below, comparing a new versus an old drive. Not much has changed, right?

If you need more capacity, I would suggest adding a hard drive later on – perhaps a 2 TB Seagate BarraCuda for general media consumption.

Power Supply (PSU): 450+ W PSU (e.g., FSP HV Pro 550 W)

There are a lot of good power supply models with at least 450 W of power but the FSP HV Pro 550 W takes the cake. It is my top contender in this space for a couple of reasons; it is almost criminally cheap at $50 USD, is certified to run efficiently ≥85% at typical load, and has enough connectors along with the extra 100 W capacity for our needs.

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Other models to watch out for are the Corsair CV, Seasonic S12, and the Silverstone Strider Essential series.

Case: Micro-ATX case (e.g., Tecware Fusion)

The Tecware Fusion is a beloved Micro-ATX case due to its combination of design, build quality, and excellent features on top of its budget-friendly price point of $50 USD.

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I also find it ideal for the build since it is fairly unintimidating to build with – considering that most Micro-ATX cases are already easy to build with on their own.

Operating System: Windows 11 or Linux

Windows 11 is free to download so we could save the sum for other stuff like peripherals and coolers. Only buy a copy if you need to remove the restrictions imposed by Microsoft on the free version.

If you want to try open source operating systems, Ubuntu and Mint are awesome Linux distros to start with. There are plenty of resources online to get you started with them so feel free to make the choice. You could always revert back to Windows or maybe even try dual booting as a side note.

Build Summary

The total price for the components in the given list can vary based on the current market conditions and any ongoing promotions or discounts. However, based on the latest estimated price from various online stores and retailers, you can get a rough idea of the total cost:

  1. CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3100: $100 – $120
  2. GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650: $150 – $180
  3. MB: GIGABYTE B550M K: $70 – $90
  4. RAM: Kingston ValueRAM DDR4-3200 32 GB: $80 – $100
  5. SSD: Kingston NV2 SSD 1 TB: $50 – $62
  6. PSU: FSP HV Pro 550 W: $50 – $60
  7. Case: Tecware Fusion: $50 – $70

Adding the estimated minimum prices:

$100 (CPU) + $150 (GPU) + $70 (MB) + $80 (RAM) + $50 (SSD) + $50 (PSU) + $50 (Case) = $550 USD

The estimated total cost is around $550 USD at the lower end of the price range. Keep in mind that these are rough estimates so the actual prices may vary. Additionally, prices will change over time, so it is recommended to check every now and then before making any purchase. You may also consider open-box deals to save more money.

Expected Performance

The expected performance of the $500 budget PC build is suitable for basic computing tasks, productivity work, and entry-level gaming at 1080p resolution.

It is important to note that while this build is great for budget-conscious gamers, it may struggle with more demanding tasks or the latest AAA games at high settings. If you have specific performance goals or expectations, you might need to consider a higher budget or look for deals on more powerful components – i.e., a better CPU and GPU.

In conclusion, our $500 PC build offers a cost-effective solution for those seeking a reliable and versatile system. With the AMD Ryzen 3 3100, NVIDIA GTX 1650, 32 GB of RAM (Kingston ValueRAM), and 1 TB SSD (Kingston NV2), this build strikes a balance between performance and affordability. You don’t have to worry about upgradeability that much either as the initial combination of memory and storage capacity will surely be enough for years to come. Again, you will most likely upgrade the CPU and GPU over the other components soon.

Whether you’re into casual gaming or everyday productivity, this budget-friendly setup provides a solid foundation, allowing you to tailor your PC experience to suit your evolving needs.

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