Want an affordable gaming PC that can run all the latest games without breaking the bank? Then this article contains just the thing you are looking for.
Finding a gaming PC can get very overwhelming if you’re new to PC gaming since a lot of information needs to be processed to find the best PC.
But you don’t have to endure that daunting experience because in this article I am going to provide information on the best and cheap gaming PCs under $500 that can be bought right off the shelf.
This article is going to cover the following:
- 11 Best prebuilt gaming PCs you can buy for under $500
- The buying guide on how to pick the best gaming PC under $500 for your need
- Games that you can expect to play on a $500 gaming PC
In my time reviewing gaming PCs, I have witnessed the transition of the prebuilt gaming PCs industry from the phase where prebuilt PCs were once viewed as being a waste of money to now this genre of PC is the one many gamers are buying into.
This article will not only bring you the gaming PCs that are the best offerings in the market but will also embody the essence of variety. Therefore the eleven prebuilt gaming PCs that are brought to you in this article are diverse and offer something unique in their own right.
You will have the choice of all sorts of gaming PCs such as PCs with a lot of RGB lighting, white gaming PCs, compact PCs, minimalist PCs you name it. There is something for everyone. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s begin with the article right away.
In a Hurry? These are the Best Prebuilt Gaming PCs Under $500
The following is a quick glance at the gaming PCs that are a part of this article and are going to be reviewed later on. Following strict criteria, only the best prebuilt gaming PCs under $500 available in the market are selected for the article.
*For more info on the gaming PCs below, click the “Jump to review” button to go to our review of that PC.
It is quite surprising how amazing value sometimes can be had from products that are relatively unknown in the market. The shinobee gaming PC caught my attention out of the blue because it provides fantastic specifications for the price. It is the only PC on the list that comes equipped with the latest processor and a dedicated graphics card.
Case Design and Aesthetics
The case of the PC is nothing to write home about. It has fairly standard looks with no flashy and attention-grabbing elements to state.
Most importantly the case of this PC has no RGB lighting which might put off some gamers, but these cost-cutting measures are expected since you can’t have everything for $500.
I believe it was a wise decision to save cost in this aspect because you can always upgrade the looks and aesthetics of your PC later on with relative ease but upgrading internal components is not that easy.
That said though, this case at least has a side-mounted glass window which allows you to peek at the internal components of this PC.
There is also a single red led fan that adds some flair to the PC but nothing substantial. On the whole, this PC is quite tamed in the looks department and looks like a regular desktop rather than a gaming PC.
Connectivity and Salient Features
Connectivity is a strong suit of the shinobee AMD gaming PC. Due to having the latest hardware, it features a good collection of ports that are placed in ideal spots.
At the front of the case, the ports that round up the front I/O of the PC include 2x USB-A, a separate 3.5mm jack for audio and mic, a power button, and a reset button.
Alongside these, you are also getting a DVD drive with this PC. If you still use DVD then you are going to find that option, quite beneficial.
Swinging your attention to the backside of the PC and here you will be an ethernet jack, DVI port, HDMI, 4x USB-A ports, and PS/2 connectors for legacy mice and keyboards. Basically, all that you need is covered here.
You would be pleased to know that this PC also has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity hence you won’t need to buy an adapter to get the Wi-Fi working. The signal strength and stability are also very good, and I have nothing out of ordinary to report in this regard.
The specification is the aspect where this PC truly shines and comes into its own. In terms of raw specification, this is the best PC you will find in this article.
Powering the PC is an AMD Ryzen 3 1200 processor. This 4 core 8 thread processor although an entry-level offering from AMD is plenty capable due to being on the latest technology. It is not only powerful but also very efficient in its application.
Another upside of this PC is that you are getting 16GB ram with this machine which puts it among the few that offer such capacity at the $500 price point.
Having 16GB RAM capacity is very beneficial for the smooth working of the PC over a longer period of time hence adding to the future-proofing aspect of the computer.
The surprises don’t end here, this PC somehow manages to squeeze in a 512GB SSD as well without going over budget.
Now onto the main highlight-worthy aspect of the PC and that is the addition of an AMD Radeon RX 550 graphics card.
This entry-level graphics card from AMD is a powerhouse at the budget price point and provides much better performance figures than APUs or other Nvidia GPUs as you will see in the section down below.
The gaming experience of this PC is straight-up phenomenal. It packs some serious power under the hood and hence is able to power through anything you throw at it.
The combination of the Ryzen 3 1200 processor and the Rx 550 graphics card leads to some impressive gaming figures.
During my testing, this PC was able to play AAA games with a decent enough framerate. The average framerate was 40 in Red Dead Redemption 2, 35 in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, 37 in Hitman 3, and 30 in FPS in Horizon Zero dawn. All of these games were played at 720p resolution and the lowest graphic present.
When it came to battle royal games, the PC gave an average framerate of 55 in CoD Warzone, 70 in Apex Legends, and 65 in PUBG. In order to maximize frame rate, these games were tested at 720p resolution and the lowest graphic setting that each game had to offer.
The best, however, is yet to come and that can be experienced when playing esports games. This PC was able to run these games extremely well giving an average FPS of 100 in CSGO and 170 in Valorant.
Overall, the Shinobee gaming PC was able to play every game I threw at it with a decent frame rate making it many the few PCs to achieve this feat at the sub $500 budget
The HP Pavilion TP01-2032 is not your ordinary OEM gaming desktop. This PC is special in the way that it provides the latest specifications and features that even more dedicated PCs that are on the list don’t provide. HP has done a terrific job with this desktop PC making it a very tempting buy if you are after the maximum performance on a budget.
Case Design and Aesthetics
Since this is an HP gaming PC my expectations with the design and looks of this PC were pretty low because when have we seen PC deliver a stunning looking PC. Let me give you a hint never.
Upon further inspection, this PC stood right in line with my expectations. The design of the HP Pavilion TP01-2032 is understated and simple.
The case of the PC is your traditional tower-shaped box with a metal and plastic sandwiched construction. It resembled the PCs you would have seen lying around in workplaces or your school.
The front of the case has a brushed silver metallic finish while the side and the back half of the case encompass a smooth texture.
There is no RGB lighting or other fancy stuff that you find on other gaming PCs on the list. This PC doesn’t even feature a side glass window. All in all, for the design the HP Pavilion TP01-2032 fully embraces a minimalist aesthetic to the brim.
Connectivity and Salient
Right upon first glance you know you are in for a treat when you see a USB-C port at the front of the case. Rightfully so this PC doesn’t disappoint with this port selection and connectivity.
Besides the USB-C port, all other ports that you need on daily basis are present on the front of the case making me thoroughly enjoy the positioning of these ports within an arm’s reach.
The ports here include an SD card slot, 3x USB-A 3.0 Type-A ports, a USB-A 2.0 Type-A port, a 3.5mm combo audio/mic jack, and a power button.
The PC also includes support for DVD disks with the inclusion of the DVD disk reader, which although I personally don’t find of any user may come in handy for you if you use DVDs.
Besides that, you also get additional ports at the back of the PC, and these include an ethernet jack, additional 4x USB-A slots, HDMI, and a Display port.
Another convenience connectivity feature that this PC has is the inclusion of built-in Wi-Fi hence right off the bat on this PC you will be able to connect to the internet. No buying of separate Wi-Fi dongles is required here which is a very thoughtful gesture from HP, to say the least.
In terms of the other salient features, in typical HP fashion with the Pavilion TP01-2032 PC, you get 1-year parts and labor warranty from the manufacturer covering any defects or issues that may occur with the PC.
HP also provides technical support for amateur buyers hence if you have any issue with the PC or PC gaming in general you can reach out to HP and get consultation on the matter which is again very nice to have.
The HP Pavilion TP01-2032 is powered by the latest Ryzen 5300G APU. An APU is simple terms can be defined as a chip that acts as both the processor and the graphics card of the PC.
The Ryzen 5300G is a very strong chip. It is among the best APU AMD has on offer as of now and can deliver performance metrics that beat PCs with a dedicated processor and graphics card.
In terms of storage, this PC has a 512GB SSD. I am a huge advocate of using SSD because they make PC operation that much faster than a traditional HDD therefore, upon finding out that this PC has a 512GB SSD I was thoroughly impressed.
The capacity is also quite liberating, and you will be able to store a lot of stuff before completely filling up the 512GB storage space.
The only negative in the specification department is that this PC only includes 4GB RAM. 4GB RAM in this day and age is not enough. Gaming on it is definitely doable but then you will have to resort to low resolution. Also, 4GB RAM doesn’t allow for multitasking which is a big factor for most gamers.
I would recommend spending the extra $30 and increasing the RAM capacity to 8GB by buying an aftermarket 4GB RAM stick.
8GB RAM on this PC will make for a much smoother PC operation and turn this PC into a proper gaming monster capable of delivering a performance that is better than other PCs on the list.
When it comes to the gaming experience you will find the HP Pavilion Gaming PC a treat to use. On this Pc, you will be able to play any game that your heart desires and more.
During my time with the PC, I was able to comfortably play the latest AAA titles at 1080p resolution. Red Dead Redemption 2 gave an average of 30FPS, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla 25FPS, and Forza Horizon 4 65FPS. All these FPS figures were recorded on the lowest graphic preset.
Switching to the Battle royal genre, in my testing, the PC gave an average of 50 FPS in Cod WarZone and 100FPS in Fortnite.
As for the less demanding competitive games, this is where the PC gets to truly flex its muscles giving 90 FPS in Rainbow Six Siege, 150FPS in Valorant, and 140FPS in CSGO. All games were measured on the lowest graphic preset like other genres of games.
On the whole, this PC was pretty much able to play any game I threw at it with a respectable frame rate and graphic setting owing to a very satisfactory gaming experience.
The Kepler gaming PC is no ordinary PC at this $500 price range. Powering this PC is a dedicated graphics card, something we do not often see on gaming PCs at this price point. The PC is also laden with RGB lighting making this PC a very compelling offering.
Case Design and Aesthetics
The Kepler gaming PC has striking aesthetics partly thanks to the case design that this PC comes with.
It won’t be wrong to say that the case included with this PC looks less of a case and more of a glass sandwiched box because this case has so much glass in its construction.
The front, as well as the side panel, are entirely covered in glass. This glass paves the way from the RGB lighting to shine through and boy does the RGB lighting not shine on this PC.
This PC has an excessive amount of RGB lighting which makes for a very flashy aesthetic. You can’t help but notice all the RGB lighting that this PC has.
The lighting here is also customizable in 16 different colors hence you can easily pick and choose the one that matches your setup.
Connectivity and Saliant Features
The Kepler gaming PC has got you covered in the connectivity department. This PC has most of the ports that you will ever need with the only port missing that being a USB-C slot.
To get USB-C peripherals to work you will need to use an adapter. Still though not a bad port selection at all.
These front I/O ports of this PC include a USB 3.1 port, 2x USB 2.0 ports, separate 3.5mm jacks for Audio and Mic, Power button, and lastly a small button to change the RGB lighting color of the PC.
On the backside of the PC, you do get an ethernet jack for hard-wired connections but unfortunately, the jack only supports speed up to 100 Mbps. Your ports for Display include HDMI, DVI-D, and VGA.
Although the speed for the ethernet jack is disappointing the PC provides you with an alternative in the form of a built-in Wi-Fi connection. The Wi-Fi of this PC can handle a good amount of internet speed and works well without any signal drops.
In the specification department of the Kepler gaming PC, we see a clever mix of new and old technology being implemented with great success.
The Intel i5 2500 processor of this PC comes from a previous generation. Although not being the latest the processor still has a great deal of life left in it. This 4 core 8 thread processor is capable of smashing through the latest AAA games without much difficulty.
The cost saving on the processor is splurged on the graphics card. The Nvidia GTX 750 installed on this PC is a fantastic entry-level card. Don’t underestimate this small little card because it is capable of delivering very satisfactory performance.
Like most other PCs on the list, this PC also has 8GB DDR3 RAM so nothing unusual on that front. Things do get interesting however in the storage department as this PC has a 500GB SSD.
Besides only one other PC no other on the list offers SSD storage capacity this big and the PC that does lacks a dedicated graphics card.
The gaming experience with the Kepler gaming PC granted you are fine with using old generation technology. If that is not a bother, then this PC will surprise you at every turn.
During my time with the PC, I was able to play most games pretty smoothly. As for the framerate, the PC averaged 30 FPS in Red Dead Redemption 2, 40 FPS in Witcher 3 Wild Hunt, and 20 FPS in Hitman 3. All of these demanding games were played at 720p resolution and the lowest in-game graphic preset.
Battle royal games ran quite well on this PC. Fornite averaged 70 FPS at 1080p, while Apex Legends and CoD Warzone gave 65 and 50 FPS respectively at 720p resolution. All the games were tested at the lowest graphic preset that each game had to offer.
Nonetheless, the PC truly shines when it comes to competitive esports gaming. CSGO gave 90 FPS while Valorant averaged 145 FPS at 1080p resolution and low graphic setting which is quite good given this is a $500 gaming PC.
Not every gaming PC has to be flashy and loaded with RGB lighting. The Acer Aspire TC-391-UR11 is a simple desktop computer that embodies the minimalist aspect to the brim. Although not apparent on the outside this PC packs serious hardware on the inside which makes it suitable for playing all sorts of games without any lag or stutter.
Case Design and Aesthetics
If simple is the word you are looking for then this PC case will hit the sweet spot for you. There is nothing over the top flashy about this PC and it strives for minimalism and a clean aesthetic.
Some might say that this is a drawback, but truth be told people have different design choices when it comes to PCs.
Due to the traditionally designed case of this PC, you are also not getting a side glass panel but rather only side ventilation holes for air to pass through.
Connectivity and Salient Features
The functionality over form aspect of this PC can be seen from its approach to connectivity. The advantage of having a basic case is that you get a straightforward front I/O that is easy to reach.
The front I/O covers all your daily connectivity needs by including ports such as an SD card slot, 2x USB-A ports, and a separate 3.5mm jack for Audio and Mic.
Other connectivity ports are found on the backside of the PC, and these include 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports, 1x USB 2.0 port, a single HDMI slot, a VGA port, and an ethernet jack. The ethernet jack on this Pc supports speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second.
Returning on this PC is a DVD drive, kid you haven’t seen that in a while and, to be honest for most gamers this legacy DVD ROM is quite redundant. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to have the ability to use DVDs on your PC.
Switching from legacy technology to new technology this PC features built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The quality of these wireless connections is also quite good with the PC having flawless signal reception.
Besides, there is not much to talk about in the feature department since this PC sticks to a barebones and simple approach prioritizing things that you necessary and skipping those that are unnecessary.
This department is the main highlight-worthy aspect of this PC. Despite not looking like one this PC packs very capable hardware and can give most gaming PCs at the $500 price point a tough run for their money.
The PC is powered by a Ryzen 4300G 4 core 8 thread APU meaning that this PC has no dedicated graphics card. The Ryzen 4300G acts both as the processor and a graphics unit and that isn’t a bad thing at all.
This is because the Ryzen 4300G is a very capable chip in both the processing and the graphics department making it a great choice for entry-level gaming computers.
The money saved on the graphics card is invested in other components that make up this PC. For starters, it carries a better quality 8GB Ram with higher clock speeds than its competitors.
The Acer Aspire TC-391-UR11 also comes with a 512GB SSD which boosts great read and write speeds. The inclusion of a high storage SSD drive is great, and it gives the Acer Aspire TC-391-UR11 a leg up over its competitor’s PCs that only use hard drives for storage.
Despite not having a dedicated graphics card you can get a fantastic gaming experience out of this PC. Before evaluating its gaming capability, I want to point that due to the fast SSD storage which PC also couples as a great everyday work or entertainment machine.
This versatility aspect of the PC is greatly beneficial in the long run. Coming onto the gaming now, with this PC you will be able to play most games on at least 30Fps.
During my use, the PC gave an average framerate of 27 in Red Dead Redemption 2, 25 in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, 70 FPS in GTA 5. All these games were tested at 720p resolution and at the lowest graphic setting.
Where this PC excels is when it comes to light casual gaming. Games that do not require a lot of graphic power run very well on this PC.
The Acer Aspire TC-391-UR11 also works well for competitive esports games. The PC gave 80 FPS in CSGO and 125 in Valorant making these competitive games extremely fun to play.
On the whole, the gaming experience of this PC is quite pleasing, and it won’t disappoint you at any stage of your gaming journey.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre 5 is a very balanced and well-rounded PC from a reputable manufacturer. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy then the inclusion of the latest AMD Ryzen APU, and the fastest storage you can find in a PC at this budget might. All things considered, the Lenovo IdeaCentre 5 is a traditional gaming PC done right.
Case Design and Aesthetics
This PC is bland and by that, I really mean devoid of any distinct characteristic that you will normally find in gaming PCs.
The case of the PC looks generic and can be compared with the work-oriented desktops because it looks quite familiar to them.
That being said, I like the mineral gray finish Lenovo has gone for on this PC. The offset of grey with the black color trim looks quite appealing and classy.
If a manufacturer has to do a simple PC that lacks RGB lighting and other gaming fluff, then this is the way to do it. There is something about the aesthetic of this PC that gives a premium vibe.
Connectivity and Salient Features
The Lenovo IdeaCentre 5 is a very practical PC and the first rule of practicality in the PC space is connectivity. A pc cannot be practical without having good connectivity.
In the case of the Lenovo IdeaCentre 5, this PC supports all the connectivity ports that you would need in a gaming PC. Both the front I/O as well as the backport selection are very diverse and full of useful ports.
The ports that you get on the front of the PC include 2x USB-A 3.0 ports, USB-C, 3.5mm combo audio/mic jack, and a power button.
I quite like the fact that this PC has a dedicated USB-C port at the front making life so much easier since many peripherals these days rely on the USB-C port.
The back of the PC holds another 4x USB-A port with the inclusion of an HDMI, ethernet jack, and a VGA port as well.
Like other PCs, the Lenovo IdeaCentre 5 also features built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and both of these solutions work great and, in my experience, never failed once so you could in theory game on this computer by having it connected to the Wi-Fi hence eliminating the need for an ethernet cable.
Coming onto the salient features next and frankly, I have nothing to report in that regard. This PC is pretty barebones and basic hence doesn’t come with any value-added feature or such.
One thing I would however like to point out is that with this PC you get solid Lenovo technical support and a warranty that can be depended upon.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre 5 features the latest AMD Ryzen 4300G APU. This APU is a class above the Ryzen 3200G used in other PCs hence giving this PC a performance edge over its competitors with APUs.
Also, the graphical performance of the Ryzen 4300G is quite good and it is a very integrated graphics solution.
Now coming onto the more routine specs, this PC features 8GB Ram so nothing out of the ordinary here. For the storage, you get a 1TB HDD which is also something to be expected in this price range.
One thing you won’t expect however is the inclusion of a 128GB PCIe NVME storage drive. This is the latest technology in the storage realm and I didn’t expect a PC at this price point to have something like that. The benefit of PCIe NVME drives is that they are very fast even a lot faster than SSDs let alone traditional hard drives.
I am thoroughly impressed by the quality of the gaming experience this PC can provide. The experience here begins right from the get-go with the boot of the PC.
Due to the PCIe NVME storage drive booting up to windows takes seconds and everything that you open or close in Windows feels that much more snappy owing to a very smooth experience.
Now when you fire up the game you want to play that smoothness continues hence giving you a sense of assurance and quality.
In terms of what to expect out of this PC then you would be pleased to know that during my testing, the PC gave the following average framerate in some popular games.
Red Dead Redemption 2 at 27 FPS, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla 25 FPS, Witcher 3 38 FPS, GTA 5 70 FPS. All these games were tested at 720p resolution and the lowest graphic preset within each game.
As for the games that were played at 1080p resolution these include esports titles. CSGO gave 80 FPS while Valorant averaged 125 FPS.
HP has taken a giant leap with their gaming PCs and that shows in their recent products. The gaming PC featured here from the brand is quite superior to other mainstream PCs. The quality of components and the overall specification list on this PC is better which makes for a better gaming experience.
Case Design and Aesthetics
Gaming PCs from HP rarely have any fluff to their design and this one is no different. This PC is as simple as things get in the gaming PC realm.
The case used for the PC has a clean and minimal aesthetic. It features no RGB lighting or any glass windows but rather a clean metal silhouette throughout.
Only the front panel of the case has a pattern that adds some flair to the otherwise smooth sides. The cube pattern used however is not the best when it comes to looks nevertheless though something that adds flair to the design is still better than nothing.
Overall, the design of the HP gaming PC is nothing special. It looks like a regular blocky desktop that you would find in an office or school and nothing like a gaming PC.
Connectivity and Saliant Features
HP being a computer manufacturer directly engaged with the industry definitely knows how to make their PC highly functional.
On this PC, you will find every connectivity aspect that you need in your daily use. The front I/O of the PC is very well specced out. The ports here include 2x USB-A 3.0, 2x USB-A 2.0, combo 3.5mm audio/mic jack, SD card slot, and a power button.
Seeing an SD card slot being offered definitely puts a smile on my face because you never know when the need for this slot can arise so having it in a dumb reach spot is beneficial in those crucial moments.
If 4 USB-A slots are not enough for your needs, then 4 more additional USB-A slots at the back of the PC should do the job of connecting additional USB peripherals or flash drives. Also, at the back, you will find the HDMI, VGA, and ethernet jack of the PC.
You don’t necessarily have to use the ethernet port because this PC has built-in Wi-Fi that can be utilized from the get-go and doesn’t require any extra setup or anything. The working of the Wi-Fi is stable without any signal drops.
The HP gaming PC also has a DVD port. I reckon many of us don’t use this port anymore hence for most it may be a waste but still in those rare occasions the DVD writer can come in quite handy.
When talking about specifications, you cannot fault this PC. It has the latest top-quality hardware that you can get for the price.
At the helm of the PC is a Ryzen 4300G Apu. This 4 core APU acts both as the processor as well as the graphics card of the PC and I have to say it does exceptionally well in both regards. It is one of the better APU that you can get on a PC that costs less than $500.
For the RAM you are getting a capacity of 8GB. 8GB is fine for gaming but might pose some issues when doing intensive multitasking. Thankfully you can easily upgrade the RAM later on by using the vacant secondary RAM slot.
Besides the Ryzen 4300G APU, what I am impressed more is by the 512GB SSD installed on this PC. 512GB is a lot of capacity for an SSD hence you won’t run out of storage anytime soon. We normally don’t see such high-capacity storage drives on sub $500 PCs.
The gaming experience that the HP PC provides is better than most gaming PCs in the same price range. This PC has the latest specifications that you can currently get for the price which leads to great gaming.
During my testing, the average framerate that I got was as follows: 27 FPS in Red Dead Redemption 2, 25 in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, 38 FPS in Witcher 3, and 70 FPS in GTA 5. These games were tested at 720 resolution and the lowest in-game graphic preset.
As for the 1080p result, CSGO gave 80 FPS while Valorant ran steadily at a framerate of 125. For testing, these games were set to the lowest graphic preset.
Overall, the HP gaming PC is a solid entry-level gaming machine that you can rely on. It will not only play most of the games you throw at it but will also fulfill your other needs. Since the PC has a simple design, it can fit in most situations, and hence if you are a student you can carry it to your dorm room without any prejudice.
Alcaro although a relatively new company has been doing fantastic stuff with their gaming PC. Their gaming PCs are the best in the lot when it comes to aesthetics and these aesthetics are backed by some solid specifications under the hood making the Alcaro gaming PC a very compelling option for gamers that want both aesthetics and performance in a single package.
Case Design and Aesthetics
Right off the bat, I would like to say that the aesthetics you are getting with this PC are the best in the business when it comes to the $500 price range.
It would be hard for any PC in the $500 budget to beat the sleek and gorgeous design of the Alcaro gaming Pc. The case that you get with this PC looks simply outstanding.
It is an all-white case with glass windows scattered all over the place. White color seems to be in the trend these days hence it’s quite nice to have that from this gaming PC.
There is an interesting 3D effect going on at the front of the case with the lighting. The glass is cut out in a way that makes the RGB lighting shine in a 3D manner.
Yes, this PC does indeed have RGB lighting that not only is residual at the front of the case but also through the side glass panel. There is an included remote with the PC that can be used to customize and control different aspects of the RGB lighting.
On the whole, this PC looks very pleasing in the looks department. The aesthetic here is definitely gamery but with a slight elegance, that enhances the upmarket feel of the PC.
Connectivity and Salient Features
The Alcaro gaming PC is not all about the show but also is very practical when it comes to connectivity. It has a well-defined selection of ports that you will not be disappointed with.
For the front I/O, you are getting 2x USB-A 3.0, 2x USB-A 2.0, a separate 3.5mm jack for audio and mic, a reset button, a power button, and a button to control the RGB lighting if the remote method is something you don’t fancy.
That sums it up for the front I/O, but don’t you worry there are more ports at the back of the PC to keep your connectivity needs entertained. Those include HDMI, DVI-D, VGA, ethernet basically all the utility ports that you will be needing.
Wi-Fi connectivity is pretty much a must at this point and happy to report that this PC doesn’t skimp on that feature. The built-in Wi-Fi of this PC works well with stable signal reception.
Talking about salient features the Alcaro gaming PC comes with a 1-year warranty that covers hardware defects or workmanship issues.
For the given price you can’t expect too much from a PC that falls under the $500 umbrella especially if that PC is already giving you a lot of value in the aesthetics department, but this PC is different.
It goes above and beyond to provide users with the best specifications that you can get within the confined budget that we are working with.
The Alcaro gaming PC has an Intel i5 processor which has 4 cores and 8 threads. This is not the latest i5 that you can get but it gets the job done.
Paired with this processor is an Nvidia GTX 650 graphics card. This dedicated graphics card is a lot better than any APU graphics solution that you predominantly in the $500 price range.
Then comes your usual affair with the PC having 8GB RAM. This put it in line with its competitors although 16GB would have been nice, we can’t have everything now can we
Rounding the specs is the inclusion of a 1TB HDD. Unfortunately, no SSD is to be found here which is a little disappointing but then again expected for the price.
An aftermarket SSD drive however can be added later on in this PC with relative ease, and I recommend doing that upgrade as soon as possible because Hard drives are just too slow hence will result in the slowing of your PC if you don’t add an SSD.
As far as gaming experience is concerned with the Allied gaming PC you will be able to play most games but at the lowest setting present.
This PC doesn’t have the horsepower to run to cope with graphically intensive games like Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed, and other similar titles hence you won’t be able to run those games, unfortunately.
However, this PC will do fine in esports games. In my testing with the PC, I was able to achieve an average of 75 FPS in CSGO, 100 FPS in Valorant, and 50 FPS in Rainbow Six Siege.
Battle Royal games can also be played on this PC quite smoothly. During my playthrough, the Pc consistently averaged 50 FPS in Fortnite and 30 FPS in Apex legends. All these FPS figures are obtained at 1080p resolution at the lowest graphic setting.
Playing Forza Horizon on this PC also results in an average FPS of 30 but unlike other games, Forza has to be played on 720p resolution and at the lowest graphic preset to achieve these results.
Overall, I see many gamers complaining about PCs at the $500 price point being the victim of sacrifices on some aspects to achieve mastery in others. Well not in this case this PC equally blends everything together in a well-presented package.
HP makes some really well-rounded gaming PCs at a reasonable price point and this one is no different. The HP M01 is a solid budget gaming PC equipped with the AMD Ryzen 3200G APU and also solid overall specifications. Coming under the HP umbrella the PC also carries great after-sales support and service.
Case Design and Aesthetics
Looks are not really a forte of the HP M01 gaming PC and it really shows in its simple and bland design. This PC features no RGB lighting of any sort but rather comes in a clean matte black aesthetic all around.
The only flashy bit is found at the front of the PC and that consists of a cube pattern engulfing the front panel of the PC.
You also don’t get to see any side mirror in this PC hence adding to the uniform and clean look of the PC.
I know many of you may find this simple design boring, but I must say the clean design makes it that this PC can fit in any setup or situation be it your bedroom setup, gaming studio, or office room.
Connectivity and Salient Features
Gaming PCs from the big brands like HP, Dell, Acer, and Lenovo usually have good connectivity and this HP M01 is no different.
The front I/O ports of the PC are positioned perfectly in an easy to locate. These ports cover all your daily connectivity needs hence you won’t really have to use the backports all that often.
The front I/O ports include 4x USB-A ports, a 3.5mm combo headphone/mic slot, an SD card slot, and a power button.
At the front, you will also find a DVD drive which for me is quite amusing since these days there is no need for this legacy solution. Still, nonetheless, some folks may find it useful for their needs.
Intel connectivity options are great on this PC. You can either utilize the 1 Gbps ethernet slot located at the back of the PC or Wi-Fi to access the Internet. The built-in Wi-Fi of this PC is very stable and reliable.
It seldom drops signals and therefore gets the job done flawlessly not requiring you to use ethernet even for gaming.
I don’t reckon this counts as a salient feature of the PC, but I will mention it anyway. This PC comes with a keyboard and mouse combo therefore you will not need to buy any external ones to get started in your gaming journey.
Since we are already working with a limited budget any money saved can be later spent on PC upgrades or on other gaming peripherals like headphones.
The HP M01 is computer-based on the Ryzen 3200G APU and now you know the drill, don’t you? An APU inside a PC is responsible for both the computing as well as graphics performance making it a 2 in 1 kind of solution.
This APU from AMD is a relatively powerful little chip and has the ability to generate great performance. For the RAM, you are getting a single 8GB DDR4 stick with this PC which is clocked at decent speeds.
Also, this PC doesn’t feature an SSD which is disappointing yet expected given that it costs less than $400. In place of an SSD, the storage responsibilities of the PC are performed by a single 1TB HDD.
If I am being honest the gaming experience of this PC is rather a mixed bag. Now before you diss this PC let me explain. The reason I am giving this statement is that the experience of this PC is heavily dictated by your perception.
If you are in the perspective that you are getting a budget end gaming PC that is capable enough of handling some latest games at decent frames and graphics settings while handling esports games smoothly then you are going to enjoy this PC.
On the contrary, if you go in expecting this PC to blow everything out of the water then you will be disappointed.
In terms of what you can expect while playing games on this PC well if all you want to do is play single-player story games that are not overly demanding then you are in for a good experience. An example of this is GTA 5 which I was able to play at 50 fps on 900p resolution and low graphic settings on this PC.
Things however take a turn when you pitch the latest AAA games with demanding graphics into the fray. This PC cannot cope up with those games and you will be lucky to hit the 30 fps mark even at low settings.
This is reinforced with my testing on Red Dead Redemption 2 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. The PC gave an average frame rate of 25 FPS and 20 FPS respectively which is not a good figure if you are looking for smooth gaming.
Where this PC excels however is when it comes to esports or competitive gaming. I was able to run CSGO at 70 FPS and Valorant at 110 FPS respectively at 1080p resolution and low graphic setting.
The AsRock Deskmini like the name suggests is a compact gaming PC with a twist. This visibly compact gaming PC has immense raw performance potential. You would be surprised by the amount of performance on offer here mainly because of the top-notch specifications that this PC packs.
Case Design and Aesthetics
AsRock with this PC is going for a clean and simple design. It’s expected because the company doesn’t have many PCs on offer, so they want to play safe with this one.
That isn’t to say that this PC is just plain bland. You do get a brushed metallic finish on the front of the case which adds some flair to the aesthetics of the PC.
The sides of the case are dotted with small holes for air ventilation hence no glass panel is to be found on this case.
Overall, the aesthetics of the AsRock DeskMini fall on the minimalist side of things with the PC having a very clean and simple design.
Connectivity and Salient Features
AsRock is a manufacturer of PC components, so they know a thing or two about connectivity and that shows with the approach they have gone for this PC.
The front I/O ports of the PC are positioned in an easy-to-reach spot. I also find the rubbery texture along the front ports to provide great grip and handling when inserting USB drives or other peripherals into these ports.
The front I/O ports include a power button, USB-A, USB-C, and a separate 3.5mm jack for mic and audio. The addition of a USB-C port is quite welcomed since it is very beneficial for connecting peripherals with USB-C connectivity without dongles.
The is also a handsome collection of ports at the back of the PC. These ports include an Ethernet jack, HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort, and additional 2x USB-A slots.
Like most PCs in this list, the AsRock DeskMini also comes with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. The Wi-Fi here is rock solid that provides an interrupted and stable connection throughout making your gaming lag and stutter-free.
Coming to the salient features and this PC has others beat for warranty. AsRock is providing you with a 3-year warranty which is the highest we have seen from any brand. Besides the warranty, you also get free technical assistance over the period of your ownership of the PC.
Remember when I said in the intro that this compact PC will surprise you with its performance? Well, let’s why that is the case.
This PC is powered by an AMD Ryzen 3200G APU which means that the processor is the computing core as well as the graphics core of the PC. This is a common sight in this price range.
But what is not though is the inclusion of 16GB RAM. Most PCs in the $500 price range only stick to 8GB RAM which if I am being honest in not enough in this day and age when a single game can take upwards of 5GB RAM.
Mind you the RAM capacity is not the only surprise. The 16GB RAM here is running at a clock speed of 3200Mhz is far greater than other PCs on this list. This increase in speed leads to better performance.
For the storage, AsRock has opted for a 256GB SSD continuing the theme of having fast hardware components in the PC. Although the storage speed is great the capacity is a little underwhelming and this 256GB storage space will run out pretty quickly so keep that in mind.
If you are chasing the most gaming experience money can buy for the $500 budget, then this PC is worth a shot.
That is the gaming experience you can get out of this PC for the price is quite insane. With the AsRock DeskMini, you will be able to play the latest games smoothly without any lag or stutter.
During my testing, the PC gave an average framerate of 25 FPS in Red Dead Redemption 2, and 20 FPS in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. This is quite impressive for a $500 gaming PC.
The PC is able to flex its muscles when it comes to light games giving an average framerate of 50-55 in GTA 5, 100 FPS in CSGO, and 130 FPS in Valorant at 900p resolution and low graphic setting.
Where this PC shines is when it comes to multitasking. I know many of us gamers are fond of watching videos during our game sessions. By having 16GB RAM this PC allows you to do that flawlessly without any hiccup which is something that would have not been possible with having only 8GB RAM.
Overall, the Lenovo IdeaCentre 3 is a decent gaming PC that lags in the performance department due to an old-generation Ryzen APU. Given its price, however, this is expected. If you want a PC that can serve your work purposes as well as fulfill your gaming needs, then this PC is worth looking into.
Case Design and Aesthetics
The Lenovo IdeaCentre 3 gaming desktop has a very simple and clean design which is somewhat expected because Lenovo doesn’t really like fiddling with the design of their PCs.
As a consequence, this gaming desktop embodies that retro desktop vibe with a boxy squarish shape. This PC resembles traditional tower desktops that you would’ve come across in your schools or work institutions.
That being said, the overall simple and clean design of the PC adds a layer of elegance that you normally don’t find in flashy PCs that cater to the younger gaming crowd.
Connectivity and Salient Features
Lenovo knows how to make a functional PC and that shows with the connectivity aspect of this PC. This PC checks the box for every connectivity port that you can ever have hence during my time with the PC I never experienced any connectivity, and everything was flawless.
The ports that are available on the PC include 4x USB 3.0 Type-A ports, an SD card slot, a separate 3.5mm jack for mic and audio, and a power button for the front I/O.
If the front I/O ports are not enough then are additional ports at the back of the PC and these include additional 6x USB-A ports, ethernet jack, HDMI, and VGA port.
Most gamers don’t use an ethernet jack in this day and age therefore for that purpose this PC also includes built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. The Wi-Fi speed and connection here are very stable.
A handy feature that this PC includes is a DVD drive. Although most gamers may not find the use of this to a great extent when the need arises this DVD drive can come in quite clutch.
I would have loved to tell you that this PC has great specifications but unfortunately that isn’t the case.
The specifications here are a mixed bag with some aspects of the PC being good while the other being not adequate enough.
Powering the PC is a Ryzen 3 3250U APU processor with integrated Radeon graphics. Although this processor comes from the Ryzen series of AMD processors which are known to provide fantastic performance unfortunately the processor installed on this variant is a cut-down version of the Ryzen 3200G featured in other gaming PCs on the list.
Therefore, the performance of this APU is quite worse when compared to the Ryzen 3200G which is already worse than the topmost gaming PCs reviewed in this article.
This was the negative aspect of the Lenovo IdeaCentre 3 in terms of specifications now let’s move to the positives.
Coming onto the RAM, this PC includes 8GB DDR4 RAM which falls in line with other gaming PCs at this price budget.
Apart from the RAM, the storage capacity of the PC is also very good with the inclusion of a single 1TB HDD and a 256GB SSD. The combination of HDD and SSD provides both speeds for your PC and massive space for storing a large number of games and files.
I would be lying by telling you that this PC provides a good gaming experience because the matter of the fact is that this PC is not powerful enough to play any game you like which can be quite off-putting.
In terms of what framerate, you can expect, during my testing, I wasn’t able to run demanding AAA smoothly. Red Dead Redemption 2 averaged 15 FPS, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey gave 10 FPS, and The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt ran on 25 FPS.
All the games were tested on 720p resolution at the lowest graphic preset. Although these games are playable but due to the low FPS you will get a feeling of choppiness and lag.
The PC was able to redeem itself during the playthrough of less demanding games. During my testing, GTA 5 gave 40-50 FPS on 720p low and Valorant ran smoothly at 60FPS on 1080p low.
The COOFUN Mini PC is a very unique PC with distinct characteristics that makes it stand out from the sea of other gaming PCs in the same price range. This gaming PC is so small that it dons the compact form factor of a console. Nevertheless, if you want a portable gaming PC then you might be looking at your next purchase.
Case Design and Aesthetics
Before we jump into the looks of this can we just take a moment and take in the rather ridiculously small form factor of this PC. I am actually quite surprised that the manufacturer was able to make a gaming PC in such a small form factor.
Keeping the form-factor in mind the biggest advantage of this PC is that it is extremely portable, and that aspect dictates the looks of this PC. From a distance, you can confuse this PC for an Xbox by looking at the sheer size.
Due to the compact size, the main focus in the looks department is on providing the most function out of the small case.
This is the reason we see ventilation ports dotted throughout the body of the PC to utilize the most out of the small surface area.
Overall, there is nothing special in the aesthetic department of this PC and it looks like a metal cube when placed on the desk. The only interesting element in the design of this PC is its tiny size which for sure is a conversation starter at the least.
Connectivity and Salient Features
Being compact doesn’t mean this PC lacks any form of connectivity. Despite the small size most of the ports that you find on other gaming PCs are also available on this machine.
In fact, this PC has a leg up on other PCs in terms of providing ports that are capable of providing much faster data transfer speeds.
The ports on this PC include 3x USB 3.1 Gen 2, USB 3.0 Gen 1, USB-C, 3.5mm combo audio/mic jack, 2x ethernet, HDMI, Display Port, and a power button.
Like most other PCs, this Mini also has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity that is very reliable. The signal reception and retention are rock solid and very stable.
A very neat feature of this PC is that it comes with a built-in mic hence allowing you to make video calls without having to connect any external microphones which are very thoughtful thinking on the part of the manufacturer.
Before even talking about the specs that are a part of this PC let me preface this by saying that I am quite surprised that the manufacturer was even able to pull off such a small gaming PC given that it features proper hardware capable of high performance.
For the processor, this PC has a Ryzen 3450U APU which doubles as the graphical processing unit for the PC as well.
This is a very capable chip that with its 4 cores delivers adequate performance given the price range we are dealing with.
In terms of the RAM, this PC features 16GB DDR4 RAM. Having 16GB ram definitely provides an advantage over 8GB RAM by allowing users better multitasking capability.
The storage here on this PC is also in the form of an SSD. The capacity for the provide SSD is 256GB which like I have previously said in other PCs is a little on the smaller side.
Therefore, it will get filled pretty quickly if you are fond of downloading a lot of games hence you will need an add a bigger capacity SSD later on.
The gaming experience of this Mini PC is dictated by the way you use this machine. For reference, this gaming PC is made by keeping the portability of gamers in mind and if you use it that way then the gaming experience here is nothing short of extraordinary.
Like seriously, how can a gamer not appreciate the performance on offer by this small and tiny gaming PC.
Talking about performance, during my time with this PC I was able to play Red Read Redemption at 20 FPS, Witcher 3 at 33FPS, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla at 17 FPS. All these games were tested at 720p resolution at the lowest graphic preset.
The primary talking point of this PC is esports games. CSGO runs at 55-60 FPS and Valorant at 90 FPS. These games were tested at 1080p resolution and at the lowest graphic settings that each game had to offer.
The portability aspect of the PC also adds value to its competitive gaming potential. By being extremely compact you can carry this PC with you quite easily on LAN tournaments making it a very valuable machine if you are somewhat serious about competitive games.
Overall, this tiny little PC has a lot going for it. It delivers a very good gaming experience regardless of how you use the PC and that too without any major sacrifice considering its unusual small factor.
$500 Gaming PC Buying Guide: Things You Need to Know
Me providing you with just the reviews on some prebuilt PCs that I deem to be the best is not enough because it doesn’t help you as a consumer determine what you want.
No, I am talking about which PC is better because obviously, the PCs that are a part of this article are great but different.
They offer something unique and distinct to their consumers and given that we have our own preference and tasty to satisfy the “get the best PC” approach doesn’t work always.
Therefore, this buyer’s guide section is there to enlighten you on how you can get the best prebuilt gaming PC that caters to your needs and demands.
What Games Can I Expect to Play on a $500 Gaming PC?
Before I dig any deeper into the buyer’s guide there is a very pressing matter that needs to be addressed because many gamers fall victim to that pretense.
Many gamers carry the false presumption that gaming PCs under $500 cannot play demanding games let alone the latest ones.
This cannot be further from the actual reality and hence it is time I clear that misconception for our audience.
The gaming PC industry has come a long way and with the passage of time, the performance capability of the PC has become immensely better.
This can be seen from the fact that a mid-range latest generation graphics card from Nvidia like the GTX 3060 is better than the top-of-the-line graphics card that the company had on offer 2-3 years back.
This isn’t the case with only the graphics card, but other PC hardware has also followed suit. This increase in performance capability has a trickle-down effect where low-end PC hardware is getting better day by day to the point where even $500 prebuilt gaming PCs these games provide decent gaming performance.
Long story short, a $500 gaming PC can absolutely run most games that you throw at it and that includes the latest AAA games as well as other graphic-heavy titles.
Therefore, if someone now again says to you that a $500 gaming PC cannot game properly then I hope you have understood that they don’t know what they are talking about or are not as updated with the current PC gaming scene.
First Thing to Consider
Before you go add any prebuilt PC to your shopping cart, I want you to consider this aspect first and it should be a part of your thought processes before making any purchase.
- Determine what you want from your gaming Pc and the way you are going to use it. This evaluation takes into account the games that you are going to play or the applications or the software programs that you are going to use on your PC. Once you do this you will better know which PC to get that can fulfill the needs that you have evaluated based on your use case.
Why The Best Is Not Always the Right Choice
It would have been so easy for me to simply recommend you the top PC on this list. After all, it is the benchmark for prebuilt gaming PCs under $500 and also the most powerful one of the lot.
But that is not how it works. I have already explained to you how we all differ in our needs and wants therefore maybe the best product on offer is something that is not suited for us.
There can be countless reasons as to why that is the case. Maybe your use revolves around light games, and you don’t necessarily need to spend your whole budget of $500 on a PC or simply the look of that PC doesn’t suit the theme of your setup.
I may be over-generalizing a bit, but you get the gist of it don’t you? Therefore, I would advise you to also look at other PCs that are on the list and not only on the first or the second offering because they all offer something different that may click for your use case.
Now that is said and done let’s look at some of the important characteristics of a gaming PC that dictates its effectiveness.
The graphics card is the most crucial component of a gaming PC responsible for gaming because the gaming performance of a PC is directly influenced by the graphics card.
If your PC has a strong graphics card, then games will run smoothly and with a better frame rate likewise if the graphics card of a PC is not adequate enough then you will face choppy frame rate and stutter.
Hence based on the graphics card installed in your PC, you get to have great sway over your overall gaming experience as well.
Therefore, you should never compromise on the graphics card and always aim for the PC that has the best graphics card that in our case is the Shinobee gaming PC and the RX 550 it features.
The Shinobee gaming PC is a bit of an exception generally speaking in the $500 budget you will have gaming PCs with either old graphic cards or APU chips that have built-in graphics. More on APU in the next segment.
The processor is the core heart of the PC and is therefore responsible for any little action that occurs on a Pc. Ideally, it is believed that your processor should be powerful enough that it can deal with all the tasks of your PC without getting overwhelming.
A safe bet is to stick with at least a 4-core processor in the $500 price range. As for the manufacturer, AMD processors have the edge over Intel in today’s market.
The Ryzen 5300G present in the HP Pavilion TP01-2032 is especially a great processor that also acts as an APU.
To put it simply an APU is a processor that also functions as a graphics card of the PC. It has an embedded chip for graphics that it utilizes to handle the graphics section as well. A double-edged sword if you will.
Most APUs are not as graphically powerful as dedicated graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD. Hence an APU should be your last resort and if you do want a PC that has an APU processor then stick to the Ryzen 5300G.
RAM and Storage
The RAM and Storage are the key aspects that you should consider before buying your gaming PC. Roughly these terms equate to the temporary and permanent storage capacity of the PC respectively.
8GB RAM, for now, is fine for gaming but it will require an upgrade soon rather than later when more complex games start coming out. As for the storage get yourself at least 500GB. If you are gamer chances are, you will be installing a lot of games and other relevant applications.
The thing is even a single game today can take 100GB or more storage space. Therefore, it is recommended that you go with at least 500GB of storage so that you are not limiting yourself in terms of what you are installing.
Also, SSD storage should be your main priority. Hard disks are too slow and should be avoided. If an option exists opt for a low-capacity SSD storage drive than a high-capacity hard drive. Trust me the increase in speed is worth the tradeoff in storage space.
If you are looking for the fastest SSD storage you can get on a PC then the HP gaming PC and the Lenovo IdeaCentre 5 should do the trick for you.
Offering proper connectivity channels is a very aspect of games. Gamers tend to connect a lot of peripherals to their PC and therefore the need for connectivity is more in a gaming PC than a normal one.
If a gamer is unable to connect his gadget due to lacking connectivity, then he won’t be able to enjoy his gaming PC to the fullest.
For connectivity, your best bet is the Lenovo IdeaCentre 5 because that gaming PC covers all the ports that you will ever need from your gaming PC.
The aesthetic appeal and drive are very important when choosing a gaming PC. These days a Gaming PC is all about customization and presentation.
Gamers go to great lengths to ensure that their gaming PC looks unique and more aesthetically pleasing than other gaming PCs.
I know gamers have divided opinions on going full overboard with fancy lighting and whatnot but we all can agree that a well put together design can most definitely increase the appeal of that given PC.
If it is your first time buying a prebuilt gaming PC, look around explore all your options, and see what the design and customization are all about. When you have seen enough form an opinion on which Aesthetic approach you prefer and just go with it.
These were some of the characteristics that I wanted to evaluate early on. Now with this set and done let’s jump right into the reviews.
Related PC Guides
Check out our price-focused prebuilt PC guides below.
- Best $800 Prebuilt Gaming PC
- Best $1000 Prebuilt Gaming PC
- Best $1500 Prebuilt Gaming PC
- Best $2000 Prebuilt Gaming PC
Check out our GPU-focused prebuilt PC guides below.
Check out our aesthetics-focused gaming PC guides below.
Check out some of the other related guides.
With the last product done, it is time to wrap up the article. Before I do that however let’s quickly summarize the contents of the article.
Through this article, I wanted to clear the misunderstanding that gaming PCs under $500 are not good enough for gaming. For that purpose, this article stated not only corrected the misinformation that was lying around regarding $500 prebuilt PCs, but I also reviewed eleven prebuilt PCs in this article that can comfortably play modern games without any hitch.
I reckon it is now clear that budget gaming PCs also have some pedigree granted you find the right machine in your budget. The gaming PCs mentioned in this article are quite varied in what they offer to consumers hence you have to pick and choose according to your needs.
For reference, if you just want the best performing PC then the Shinobee gaming PC is the one you need to consider but that doesn’t mean it is ideal in every situation.
All I am trying you say is don’t fall in the “best” rat race and pick the PC that suits your needs and preferences. For this purpose, there was a detailed buyer’s guide in the article stating how you can get the ideal PC for your needs which I hope you have found helpful.
Before signing off, I would love to hear your pet peeve regarding gaming PCs in the comment section down below because I know some things can be really annoying at the beginning of your PC journey. Also, while you are there let me know which PC you ended up going with and the first game you are going to experience on your shiny new PC.