How to Build a Budget Gaming Rig Under $500

When it comes to your gaming PC build you want performance of course, but many gamers simply don’t have a thousand bucks lying around.  So what should you do?  We recommend that you start with your CPU.  If you get a solid performing CPU for a decent price, then that should set the tone for everything else.

Budget Gaming CPU in 2011

If you’re on a budget, then there are 3 CPU that I would recommend you look into in order to stay within your $500; the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T, Phenom II X4 965, and the AMD Phenom II X2 555.  If you can keep your CPU below $200, then you’ll have a good start.  If you go with the X2 555, then of course your rig will be limited to 2 cores, but as long as you can get a graphics card that can run your games, then you’ll be golden.


While it would be nice to get a motherboard from the 8 series of AM3 motherboards that would be upgradeable to AM3+ you should be more concerned about getting a motherboard that fits your needs.  At around this price range I recommend the GIGABYTE GA-880GM-UD2H which for under $80 will give you a motherboard capable of holding up to 16GB ram, has the right slots for your graphics card, and supports DDR3. While it may not have USB 3.0 compatibility that’s something you can definitely consider skipping out of in favor of spending your money in other areas.

PC Cases

For about $40 go with the Cooler Master RC-310-BWN1-GP or try to find another similar case in this price range.  Make sure that whatever case you have is compatible with the various components that you’ll purchase.

Other Peripherals and Components:

For the rest of your components try to be as reasonable as possible.  Between the case, motherboard, and CPU even on the low end you’ll be at about $200-220.  If you can manage to spend no more than $100 between your hard drive (don’t go with one larger than 500GB), DVD/Blu-Ray Drive, cords, and other options.

Graphics Card

The reason we waited until last to figure out what graphics card you’ll be able to handle is that if you’ve spent too much money at this point you may want to go back and change some of your components.  I recommend you spend between $150-280 to ensure you get a really great graphics card that will work well with all of your games.  Because of the motherboard you purchased you probably won’t be able to SLI or Crossfire, but you can purchase a really good Single card that should be able to play all of the most recent games.  We recommend you look into the Radeon HD 5770, GTX 460, HD 6850, or the GTX 560 in this price range.