Buying a gaming PC is a big commitment, a life choice. Even if you’re not the type of person to build your own PC from scratch, there’s still a ton of variables to consider – from GPUs to CPUs and SSD types and capacities. Black Friday is, as ever, a great time to take the plunge, as it gives you some hope of finding a pretty solid budget gaming PC under the $500 mark. The best of these PCs listed here should be able to handle many of the latest games very smoothly on medium-high settings at 1080p.
These prices may not last past Black Friday, of course, but we’ll be looking to keep this list updated to reflect the fast-changing, fluctuating prices of gaming PCs.
Cyperpower PC Master 2063
If you’re willing to sacrifice some graphical horsepower for more general CPU horsepower (which also plays its part in a smooth gaming experience), then you should consider this red-and-black beast ($499.99), which also comes with a keyboard and mouse to boot.
The 2GB GeForce GT 1030 GPU doesn’t set the world alight, but it should handle most reasonably modern games like Battlefield 1 and Doom at medium settings at around 40fps. In terms of pure graphics, there are certainly better options available, but this makes up for it with the AMD Ryzen 5 2600 3.4GHz CPU, which is comfortably the fastest on this list, with excellent clock speeds packed into its six cores and twelve threads. This is, therefore, the best PC for day-to-day usage and tasks.
Rounding off the features are a 1TB HDD and an ample 8GB DDR4 RAM, which seems to be the universal standard for a budget gaming PC.
If you’re not married to the more famous brands and are willing to stretch your budget just beyond the $500 mark, then you should really take a look at the ABS Versa ($549.99), which somehow manages to pack last year’s 2GB GTX 1050 GPU into its airy chassis. The GTX 1050 will run fairly modern titles like Battlefield 1, GTA V and Doom at high settings with reasonable ease, while demanding games like Hitman can be played comfortably at Medium settings.
The Intel Core i3-8100 (3.6GHz) inside this PC is very good, offering 10% better performance than the i5-7400 contained in a couple of other PCs on this list.
The case is solid, too, keeping the components cool and making it easy to swap parts in and out. If you’re unsure about the ABS brand, you can check out their warranty information here.
Lenovo IdeaCentre 720
If you’re dead-set on staying within the $500 budget and sticking with a brand that’s reasonably reputable, then you’ll find the next best GPU inside the Lenovo IdeaCentre 720 ($479.99), which packs the Radeon RX 560. You should expect similar performance to the GTX 1050 – worse in some games but better in others. Expect pretty open-world games like The Witcher 3 to run just over a playable 30 fps on Ultra settings with both this and the GTX 1050.
As standard, you get 8GB DDR4 RAM here and a 1TB HDD. The i5-7400 CPU doesn’t top our list, but it’s still plenty sufficient in terms of speed for gaming and fairly intensive PC tasks. You also get a few bells and whistles with the IdeaCentre 720, like WiFi and a keyboard and mouse.
HP Pavilion Desktop 570
This sleek desktop PC ($499.99) provides a solid foundation for gaming. The 2GB Radeon RX 460 won’t run anything modern very well above medium settings, but eSports games like CS: GO, Overwatch and League of Legends run liquid-smoothly at 100+fps. More taxing games like Hitman and The Witcher 3 run at 30-50fps at medium settings, which isn’t spectacular, but reasonable still.
The Desktop 570 has one of the better processors at this price point in the 7th-gen i5-7400 3GHz CPU, ensuring smooth use during regular use and gaming. The 8GB DDR4 RAM is more than enough for most peoples’ needs, and the 1TB HDD gives plenty of storage space. And, as a weird retro-tinged bonus, there’s a DVD-writer onboard. Hooray?
Deals on budget gaming PCs under $500 move along fast, but at the time of writing we’re pretty confident in the above selections. Don’t expect these deals to necessarily last past Black Friday, though. If you don’t snap them up soon, you may find yourself waiting a while until the next sale.
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