Best Gaming PC Build Under $500 2012

This is our first in a series of posts on the best gaming PCs under $1500, $1000, and $500 for 2011. Building a gaming PC for under or around $500 can be somewhat difficult as your budget quickly becomes stretched by basic peripherals and other costs. If you do it correctly, then you should be able to come up with an inexpensive yet efficient rig that is suitable to playing many popular online games today such as World of Warcraft or Minecraft.

Please note that this build has been updated with new hardware for 2012. Here’s a look at our new build under $500.

Where to focus your money:

Begin by setting apart at least 25% of your overall build to your graphics card.  This will allow you to start out the rest of your builds knowing what limitations you have.


For a $500 build 25% of this amount would be $125.  In that price range, we recommend you look into the GeForce GTS 450 or the Radeon HD 5770 for around $120.


The next item on your list should definitely be your CPU.  To save money on your motherboard you should go with either a Phenom II or look into an inexpensive quad core or i3 550.  Expect the amount that you spend on your CPU to be similar to your GPU, for either of these CPU we’ll count it as an additional $120.


One of the reasons that we recommend you go with a Phenom II or 1156 i3 processor is because you can use an inexpensive AM3 or 1156 motherboard.  Try to keep your motherboard at around $100 and still have DDR 3 capability.  Here’s a customer award winning socket AM3 motherboard with DDR3, USB 3.0, and Sata III for around $100.   Here’s a similar 1156 motherboard.

What’s left

With that you have around $160 left for your case, Ram, DVD burner, HDD, and power supply so you’ll need to make the most of it.

Mid-tower Case and DVD RW

Because they are slightly less expensive go with a mid-tower case like the Cooler Master Elite for around $40.  It comes with 4 color options and a 120mm rear fan for cooling. We recommend you bundle it with this Light Scribe DVD RW for around $25 more.

Power Supply and HDD

If you don’t plan on using SLI or Crossfire later, then we recommend you go with a PSU that has around 550w, this should be plenty even for a dedicated graphics card. Find one that’s around $50.  Bundle that with this Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM 500 GB HDD for around $50.


We’re going to assume that if you are planning on building a gaming PC under $500 you’ll only need around 4GB ram; however, you can always double up later if need be.  Here’s 4GB of DDR3 ram for $40.  If you want to go with another brand just make sure it’s 240 pin (DDR3) and it will be compatible with the boards we listed above.  They are compatible with up to 4GB sticks with the 1156 motherboard upgradeable to 8GB and the AM3 motherboard upgradeable to 16GB.

Overall Price:

Around $545.  Ok, So we didn’t stick with a build that was under $500, if you’d really like to you could swap out the above listed graphics card for a GT 430 or get a dual core AMD Phenom II CPU which would save you just the money you need to be right around $500.

Let us know what you think

We know you have an opinion and we want you to voice it.  Leave us a comment whether you think our gaming build is right on the money or pure rubbish.

About: Best Gaming PC Build Under $500 2011

The perfect PC for under $500 is always changing with the hardware environment, we’ll keep this article updated with it and with your help change our opinion from time to time.


  1. Admittedly not everything, but for a gamer on a budget you’ll be able to play most games on low resolution settings. @Suryadev – we’ll be posting a how to from start to finish shortly. Check back soon.

  2. Just wondering have you posted the how to yet?

  3. Hartlock – That is something I will do shortly.

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