Gaming is a pastime to some, while to others it is a serious hobby that they dedicate thousands of hours to. Just as gamers vary from casuals to hardcore/ professionals, gaming computers are also available in a wide variety of sizes, configurations, and prices. You have the extremely powerful liquid-cooled 6 and 8-core processor variants with dual GTX 1080s, these beasts will absolutely demolish anything that you throw at them.
With a rig that is this powerful, you can play the latest AAA game titles on 4k and set up multiple displays for streaming/ content creation. However, they will also cost you a fortune- anywhere between 2000-3000 dollars for a desktop that has dual 1080s or Titans and a 6/8-core i7 processor.
But what about the gamers who don’t have a fortune to spend? What if you are just someone who has been saving up money to buy an affordable little gaming desktop for yourself, or intend to gift it to someone? Maybe you are looking to make an entry into the world of gaming, and you don’t need the absolute best desktop for that. Well- worry not, since there are gaming desktops that get the job done for a fairly low price.
You can buy one of these, enjoy games for the next 2-3 years and then upgrade to a better system when you get the money. Or, you can simply upgrade the processor/ GPU in these affordable prebuilt rigs. Then, you can extend their lifetime to maybe 4-5 years.
Don’t expect to play games on high or ultra-settings. Some very demanding titles such as Prey, Witcher 3, Crysis 3, Fallout 4, etc. will not even run on medium at 1080p resolution. You should purchase these super affordable computers if you intend to play on low-medium at 1080p, or medium settings on 768p resolution. Or, if your primary goal is to play esports titles such as DOTA 2, CS GO, Overwatch, LOL, etc.
Whatever the case may be, you have come to the right place- we are about to review 6 of the best gaming desktops under 500 dollars that you can purchase right now. We selected these models based on their performance, brand reputation, online customer reviews, and overall design.
Armed with an AMD A8 desktop APU, this prebuilt computer system from Lenovo isn’t exactly the most powerful model on this list in terms of processing power. However, its Radeon R9 360 graphics is probably the best GPU solution you will find inside a prebuilt desktop for less than 500 bucks. And this is actually the cheapest desktop on the list, making it an even more lucrative option for budget minded gamers out there.
The AMD A8 7600 quad-core, 3.1 GHz Advanced Processing Unit (APU) is at the heart of this budget desktop from Lenovo. It is fully capable of running most modern games on a mix of low-medium settings just with the R7 integrated graphics core, although the dedicated 2 GB Radeon R9 360 graphics card is what you will be using most of the time to run games.
It is not the latest generation of graphics processors from AMD, and it is certainly not very powerful either. But for esports and indie games, you will find this low-end GPU from AMD to be just fine. You can play most games at medium settings on 768p, or low settings on 1080p.
The Lenovo X315 gaming desktop is targeted at gamers who intend to play esports titles such as CS GO, Overwatch, DOTA 2, LOL, etc. It is not meant to run Battlefield 1 in 1080p and high settings, nor will it play games such as the Witcher 3, Prey, Assassins Creed Unity, etc. very well.
You can use it as a Home Theater PC/ multimedia system, thanks to the built-in 7.1 channel audio support via AMD True Audio technology. Multitasking is not a tough task for the quad core Kaveri APU, although we wouldn’t recommend you try and do any content creation on this rig. There is 8 GB of DDR3 RAM onboard, and you can upgrade it all the way up to 24 GB if you like.
The 1 TB 7200RPM SSHD has 8GB of flash memory built-in. You can use the flash memory to store your OS for faster boot-up times, and the mechanical hard drive to store large files such as games, movies, photo collections, etc. The SSHD comes with a copy of Windows 10 preloaded, and the computer is enclosed inside a metallic black case with perforated vents on the sides for good airflow.
The cooling is done by a stock AMD CPU cooler and a rear case fan. The desktop runs fairly quite even under load, and the CPU as well as GPU stay under 70 degrees for the most part.
AMD Radeon R9 360 graphics, best you can get for this price.
Built-in 7.1 channel audio support.
Optical disk drive.
1TB 7200 rpm SSHD with 8GB of solid state storage.
Somewhat heavy at nearly 17 pounds.
The DVD R/W drive is folded up inside the case, so you will have to eject and close from Windows Explorer.
CybertronPC strikes once again with a budget gaming desktop that you will absolutely love and enjoy for the price that you pay. Unlike other cheap gaming desktops, this one has both the functionality as well as looks. It is built inside a mid-tower ATX case, with a transparent side panel and blue LED lighting on the interior.
There are plenty of expansion slots free for future upgrades, including a PCI x16 port (for graphics cards) and 2 internal 3.5” SATA slots for extra HDDs or SSDs. Two 240-pin DIMM slots are free so you can add more DDR3 RAM on top of the 8 GB that is already installed.
Some would argue that the AMD FX 4300 3.8 GHz quad-core processor is the most bang-for-your-buck CPU in the <500-dollar price range. Well, as long as we are talking about prebuilt systems, that statement might just be true.
This CPU from AMD is based on an older architecture, and isn’t very efficient in terms of power consumption. It also tends to double up as a room heater if you don’t cool it properly, or overclock it too far. But hey- at least you CAN overclock it, right? Unlike the Intel Core i3 processors which are locked to a certain frequency, these AMD CPUs are actually overclockable despite their low price.
Overclocking this processor from its base boost speed of 3.8 GHz to somewhere around 4.0/ 4.2 GHz is possible with any decent air cooler. You will gain a few extra fps in most games, since games rely on clock speed much more than they rely on core count.
There is 8 GB of DDR3 RAM to support the processor, and multitasking as well as gaming should be a very pleasant experience with 8 GB of RAM, although you can add an extra couple of 240-pin DIMM sticks into the free slots.
The graphics card in this gaming machine is a NVIDIA GeForce GT 730 with 1 GB of GDDR3 memory. This GPU may be old, but it still holds its own in games such as Overwatch, Hearthstone, LOL, DOTA 2, CS GO, etc. If you wish to play older AA titles such as Modern Warfare 1/ 2, Battlefield 3, Assassins Creed 4, GTA 4, etc. then this GPU will serve you just fine. You can run games at 768p and medium settings for a smooth framerate, or at 1080p and low settings. There is a 1TB 7200 rpm HDD onboard, and it comes with a copy of Windows 10 Home preloaded.
NVIDIA GT 730 GPU, will run most older games at medium or high settings. Perfect for esports titles such as CS GO or DOTA 2.
Lots of free slots on the motherboard allow you to add additional parts in the future (graphics cards, RAM, etc.).
Windows 10 Home comes preloaded, and no unnecessary bloatware is installed.
AMD 3.8 GHz quad core FX 4300 CPU, can be overclocked.
Blue LED lighting inside a really nice-looking case, transparent side panel.
Heavy, at nearly 20 pounds.
No optical disk drives.
Powered by an AMD quad-core FX 4300 3.8 GHz CPU, this extremely cheap gaming desktop PC from CyberPowerPC is an excellent choice for budget-strapped gamers and esports enthusiasts. You can use it to play older games or as a HTPC/ media center, thanks to the decent onboard audio and 24X DVD +/- Dual Layer optical drive. Comes with 8 GB of DDR3 RAM and a NVIDIA GeForce GT 720 graphics card.
The GUA880 gaming desktop uses the exact same processor as the CybertronPC Electrum QS-GT7, an AMD FX 4300 quad-core CPU. It comes with 8 GB of DDR3 RAM and is perfectly suited for light gaming and older AAA titles such as GTA 4, Sniper Elite 1, NFS Underground, etc.
The NVIDIA GeForce GT 720 1GB GDDR3 GPU is a rather low-end graphics card from a previous generation, but that won’t stop you from being able to play esports titles such as DOTA 2, CS GO, Overwatch, etc. on low-medium settings. We all know that most esports enthusiasts choose low settings anyways to get the most out of their systems, and fps matters way more than visuals if you are a true gamer.
There is a 24X DVD +/- RW optical drive, as well as 7.1 channel onboard audio so you can use this system as a HTPC if you so desire. The entire unit is covered by a lifetime warranty and a copy of Windows 10 Home 64-bit is preinstalled on the 1TB 7200 rpm HDD. You will be able to upgrade the RAM and also add additional hard drives or SATA based SSDs since there are free DIMM slots and SATA ports on the motherboard.
The case is a mid-tower ATX type and has a transparent side panel with blue LED lighting on the inside. There are 6 USB 2.0 ports and a single RJ 45 ethernet connector. With a one-year warranty on parts and labor, you don’t have to worry about servicing if any part breaks down. The system comes with virtually no bloatware installed, and it runs rather quietly for the most part.
Looks great with the transparent side panel and blue LED lighting.
Decent quad-core processor in the AMD FX 4300 3.8 GHz, sufficient for most multitasking workloads and games.
NVIDIA GT 720 GPU for entry level gaming.
Lifetime tech support with 1-year warranty on parts and labor.
The DVD drive isn’t from a major brand and is prone to failure if you don’t use it carefully.
The power supply that comes with the system isn’t as reliable as the ones found in competitors.
At first glance, you will notice that the CybertronPC Borg-Q gaming desktop looks a lot like the GUA880 from CyberpowerPC. This is because both use similar cases, however the Borg-Q is powered by a different GPU, one that is a step lower from the GT 720 found in the GUA880. This particular desktop is focused on the most basic gamers and is not intended to play the latest games.
While the Borg-Q shares the exact same CPU as the GUA880, the AMD FX-4300, it is powered by a different graphics card. This PC features one of the cheapest graphics cards on the market, the NVIDIA GeForce GT710. This GPU is a step below the GT 720 and is barely capable of playing modern AAA titles, although you can manage to get by if you play on low settings and 768p resolution.
The 1 GB of graphics memory means that you shouldn’t expect this computer to last more than a couple of years, since we expect games by then to have a minimum graphics memory requirement of 1.5 GB or even 2 GB. However, it does come with a free PCIe X16 slot on the motherboard, so you can add a GPU later if you decide to upgrade the system.
There is very little to talk about when you consider the rest of the computer- it is based on an AMD 760G chipset and powered by the FX 4300 quad-core 3.8 GHz CPU. There is 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, and built-in 7.1 channel audio. Gigabit LAN and 24X DVD+/- RW allow you to connect to the internet and run disks.
Keyboard and mouse provided for free, although they are not of the best quality. Free lifetime tech support along with a 1-year warranty on parts and labor. Four USB 3.0 ports, along with dual USB 2.0 ports. The chassis is a APEVIA X-Sniper 2 gaming mid tower ATX case with a 450w PSU and transparent side panels along with perforated front grills for airflow.
Decent processor (AMD FX 4300 quad core)
Good chassis and PSU for the price
Can be upgraded with extra RAM and a different GPU
Weak graphics card (GT 710)
Included keyboard and mouse are not very good
Normally, you don’t find systems at this price range with extreme connectivity options. Most budget desktops lack connectivity, some are missing an optical drive while the others have insufficient USB ports. Some just look plain ugly and you wouldn’t want one of those sitting on the desk in your living room or bedroom for others to see. However, the GUA510 from CyberpowerPC is a cheap gaming desktop that looks like a premium model, and it comes with the external connectivity of a high-end workstation rig.
While this gaming desktop is powered by the exact same CPU as the two behind it on this list, you will be pleased to know that the GUA510 is loaded with some really awesome connectivity options that its competitors lack. For example- it has 8 USB 2.0 ports, and comes with 802.11 b/g/n WIFI. Despite weighing a massive 30 pounds, this desktop feels and looks great.
It is built inside a black and red themed mind tower ATX case with transparent side panel and internal LED lighting. The best part is the included gaming mouse and keyboard that are both really amazing considering that they are basically freebies which come along with the desktop.
The gaming mouse packs a nice 4000 dpi optical sensor, and with an adjustable weight system that allows you to choose between 5 different weight settings by using 5x 5-gram weights. The 102-key backlit gaming keyboard is based on rubber dome switches that feel more tactile and responsive than standard non-mechanical keyboards.
The core of this gaming desktop is formed by the AMD FX 4300 quad-core 3.8 GHz processor and an AMD Radeon R5 230 1 GB graphics card. It features 8 GB of DDR3 RAM and a 1 TB 7200 rpm HDD that has a copy of Windows 10 Home 64-bit preinstalled. You also get a 1-year warranty and free lifetime tech support.
Nice chassis, backlit gaming keyboard and mouse are provided for free.
Great connectivity with 8 USB ports and b/g/n WIFI.
24x DVD R/W optical drive
Very heavy (30 pounds).
Graphics card is weak, and from a previous generation.
The CyberpowerPC GUA882 is a slightly modified GUA880 with a newer and more attractive chassis, as well as an AMD graphics card instead of the NVIDIA GT 720. It still uses the exact same processor, memory, and storage. If you like the looks of this one better, then go for it. They both have graphics cards that are similar in terms of power despite being from distinct brands.
While the GUA880 was an amazing desktop for the price, it didn’t really make the list because of its looks. The performance is pretty good considering the fact that it is powered by an AMD quad core CPU, and the graphics performance is mediocre.
However, with the GUA882 you are getting a package that looks much better than any of the other gaming desktops on this list. The main reason for that is the snow white mid tower chassis with internal 7-color LED strips and a tempered glass side panel that provides a crystal-clear view of the components inside. You will find an AMD 760G chipset based motherboard inside, with a 3.8 GHz FX 4300 CPU mounted on the socket.
There is an entry-level compact air cooler on the CPU. But you should still be able to get it to 4.0 GHz without increasing the temperatures too much. The graphics card is a Radeon R7 240 2GB GDD3 unit, and it packs just enough power to run old AAA titles on medium and 1080p, or high and 768p. You will be able to run E-sports games such as CS GO or Overwatch and DOTA 2 on it fairly easily at low -medium settings and you should get 60+ fps on the aforementioned titles.
We recommend this computer as a multimedia/ gaming system because of its 7.1 channel onboard audio solution and the optical disk drive.You also get a gaming keyboard + mouse combo, the mouse has a 4000-dpi optical sensor while the keyboard is red backlit and designed for gaming. There are 8 USB 2.0 ports, and a RJ-45 LAN port for wired connectivity.
No wireless adapter is included, although you can purchase one and add it to any free PCI slot on the board. There is 8 GB of RAM with two free DIMM slots for future memory upgrades. There is a 1 TB 7200 rpm HDD inside that has Windows 10 Home preinstalled. The system comes with a one-year warranty and free lifetime tech support.
Very nice chassis with tempered glass side panel and 7-colo LED strip.
AMD FX 4300 3.8 GHz quad core CPU.
Gaming keyboard and mouse combo provided for free
AMD Radeon R7 240 2GB GDDR3 graphics
No WIFI adapter
Quite heavy at nearly 29 pounds
After reading these reviews, you must have a pretty nice idea of what you can expect from a sub 500-dollar gaming desktop. They are not exactly powerful, but will get the job done. Unlike cheap laptops, you can actually upgrade these machines with superior processors and graphics cards to extend their lifespan.
We made this list with esports gamers (DOTA 2, LOL, CS GO, etc.) and casual players in mind, if you are an advanced user with knowledge of computer parts and the need to run games at high settings, you will consider building a custom gaming desktop yourself, or you will go for a much more expensive prebuilt system. These desktops in the list are all very similarly priced, and they perform within 20-25% of each other. Which is why you must select a specific model based on storage and build quality, as well as looks and design.