Best Gaming PCs for under £500

Exactly how much bang can you get for your buck? 
Written By Lee Anderson, May 2017
Getting a gaming PC for under £500 is more than doable, but with the average gaming PC costing over £1000, is it actually worth it? We're going to try to answer that question by designing a few different builds, all under that sweet spot budget.

We'll need a great performing processor, fast storage and we'll even try to get a graphics card in there too. Everyone has different priorities, so we'll go through a few different options and list their advantages and disadvantages.

The main goal here is price, but we'll also aim for the best gaming performance. Bang for buck is the name of the game here.

Build 1

Price: £487
Processor: AMD Athlon X4 Quad Core 3.70GHz
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 460 2GB
Memory: 8GB DDR3 1600Mhz
Operating System: Windows 10 Home

Build 2

Price: £498
Processor: AMD A10 7860K Quad Core 3.60GHz
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 460 2GB
Memory: 16GB DDR3 1600Mhz
Operating System: Windows 10 Home

Build 3

Price: £499
Processor: Intel Pentium G4400 Dual Core 3.7GHz
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Memory: 8GB DDR4 2133Mhz
Operating System: None

Surprisingly good gaming performance at well below the £500 price point

Build 1 - AMD Quad Core £487

The first PC we'll look at is an AMD Athlon based Quad Core machine, with a dedicated graphics card - Radeon RX 460. It comes in well under budget, and whilst the components aren't bleeding edge, this little monster will power through most games on medium or high settings.

Overwatch, Battlefield 1 and GTA 5 should easily hit that magical 60 FPS and games like CS:GO and League of Legends should be way over 100. If these are the games you play, then this machine could be for you. 

Some CPU intensive games may suffer however, so anything with a lot going on, like Ashes of Singularity or Cities:Skylines, might see sub 40FPS. RTS players and city builders may want to look into something a beefier.

If you're after change from your £500 you can't really go wrong with this. Play top titles at Full HD, great looking case, fast solid state storage AND Windows 10... seems like a no brainer.

We'll move on never the less...

Build 2 - AMD A10 Quad Core £498

Sticking with AMD, their A series of processors feature integrated graphics. This means cash can be saved by not including a graphics card. We chose to plough the extra money into adding more memory - double that of the previous PC at 16GB, more storage and a better quality power supply.

So with a 120GB solid state drive and a 1TB hard drive, you can have fast access to your games, but also store loads of photos and videos. The 16GB memory also boosts general performance, and gaming with the onboard graphics also benefits.

Again, this processor is maybe a little on the old side now, but is still a viable option at this price point. Gaming performance may be a little below the previous rig, with most games hovering around the 40-50 FPS mark, but the extra bonuses we can add in due to the lack of graphics card make it a better all round family PC.

So if you're after a general use computer but with some gaming capability, this is well suited. With Windows also included, it'd make a great upgrade to an ageing home or office PC.

Perfect all round family PC with gaming capability

Intel and NVIDIA - a match made in PCMR heaven

Build 3 - Intel Dual Core £499

And now onto the big finale... however this might not be for everyone.

Top gaming performance currently resides with Intel and NVIDIA - a pairing matched in PCMR heaven. These two companies are the holy grail of PC gaming, but to wield this amount of power needs a little more effort.

Firstly, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is the perfect balance between price and performance. It'll handle anything you can throw at it - easily topping 60 FPS in most current games, and a very playable 40-50 in more taxing games like The Witcher 3.

This build also features a 120GB SSD and a 1TB HDD for fast access to your games alongside space for your photos and videos, and whilst only having 2 cores (2 fewer than the previous builds), it can be argued that most games don't fully utilise 4 cores - so it's not missing much.

So what's the catch? Surely this is the best gaming machine AND family PC, right? Well, it might not be for everyone. This spec can only be achieved for under £500 by not including Windows - a £94 cost, but there is some method in this madness.

If you're a student you can get Windows at a discounted rate, or maybe even free in certain circumstances. You may have a copy of Windows 7 that you'd like to use, or there may be an option to transfer your existing copy of Windows 10 from another machine. Not everybody is in the market for a new Windows licence.

But the last reason is probably the best - it's because you're a Linux gamer. Linux is a free operating system that has access to a massive library of games from Steam - the very same platform most Windows gamers use. Installing versions of Linux, like Ubuntu, has become much easier in recent years and isn't the daunting experience most people fear it is, freeing up close to £100 to put into better hardware.

To Conclude

So should you buy a gaming PC for under £500? Yes, definitely. The improvements in technology over the years have stood the test of time and even older hardware still has it's place in today's market. Different people need different types of machines and even at this price point there's enough room to create the perfect gaming PC for you and even your family.

And if you're willing to put in a little effort - such as giving Linux a go - you can get the latest kit from the biggest manufacturers, whilst staying within budget.

All of the builds featured here are available to buy or customise further using our System Builder. We also offer a great range of budget PCs below.