You can build a $500 gaming PC with Cyber Monday deals
Monday November 28, 2022. 04:08 PM , from PC World
Putting together a $500 gaming PC usually requires sacrifices. A creaky older graphics card is the big one, and often less memory and less storage, too. But not during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Building at this time of year is great. You can stack the deals to get nice parts at big discounts. The results put prebuilt desktops in the same price range to shame. And happily, the gravy train has kept rolling through Cyber Monday. Right now you still can roll a system capable of 1080p Ultra at 60fps, with an easy path for future upgrades, for $500 or less. All the parts are new and are sold by first-party sellers only.
Have different needs? You can also move up to $800 for a 1440p build or scale down to under $400 for 720p, too. Just check out the example builds below.
This article is part of a series we’ve done on the cheapest Black Friday gaming PC you can build. For fun, you can compare this year’s results to 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016. If you’re a returning reader, this year’s take is a little different, as you’ll see. After a couple of years of pandemic-induced austerity, it’s party time.
The $500 1080p Ultra Cyber Monday gaming PC build
This build doesn’t cut corners unless you’re trying to stick tight to $500 or below (the latter is a possibility if you live near a Micro Center). In fact, drop the graphics settings and you can go up to 1440p. You also get a sweet bonus of three free games, thanks to two AMD promotions.
As typical for suggested gaming PC builds, the cost of a mouse and keyboard aren’t included in the list. But for the sticklers out there, you can mentally add another $33 for a budget mouse and mechanical keyboard to the total.
PartNamePriceCPURyzen 5 5500$95$99MotherboardGigabyte B450M DS3H mATX AM4 Wi-Fi$80RAMTeamgroup T-Force Vulcan Z DDR4-3600 (2x8GB)$45Graphics CardMSI Mech Radeon RX 6600$190*StorageCrucial P3 500GB NVMe Gen 3 M.2 SSD$33PSUCooler Master MWE 550W V2 80+ White Non-Modular$35CaseCooler Master MasterBox MB511$40*OSWindows 10 Home OEM$50Bonus gamesUncharted: Legacy of Thieves CollectionThe Callisto Protocol + Dead Island 2—Total$572Build notes
Also available from B&H at the same cost, but without the free copy of Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves.This motherboard requires flashing to a newer BIOS to work with Ryzen 5000 processors. You can request a free loaner boot kit from AMD for this purpose. A local computer shop may also be able to perform this service for a fee.Price is after $20 mail-in rebate. MIR must be filed within 21 days of purchase.Price is after $20 mail-in rebate. MIR must be filed by 12/30/2022.Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD CPU from AMD, Amazon, Micro Center, or Newegg.Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD graphics card from AMD, Amazon, Micro Center, or Newegg.This system nets you a build with a solid 6-core, 12-thread processor, a micro-ATX Wi-Fi motherboard that supports RGB and ARGB fans, 16GB of DDR4-3600 memory (Ryzen 3000 and 5000’s sweet spot for RAM speed), our top recommendation for NVMe Gen 3 SSDs, a power supply rated as Tier B on this respected list, on-board Wi-Fi, and a solid airflow case. And yes, the Windows 10 license is included—no cheating here. (Full disclosure: I was tempted to.) The key comes from PCWorld’s affiliated software store, so it’s above board.
Oh, and again, this build also includes three bonus games (technically four). This is a lot for a build between $500 and $600. Remember the prebuilt mentioned above? That has a weaker lower core count processor, much weaker graphics card, half the memory (and slower memory at that), and no free software. This build smokes it, even without any RGB fans.
The main caveats? You need to flash the motherboard’s BIOS to a newer version before the Ryzen 5 5500 will work in it. You can request a free loaner boot kit from AMD for this purpose. A local computer shop may also be able to perform this service for a fee. (Or a good friend for free, if they like you.) This build also only supports PCIe 3.0, but SSDs and graphics card running at that standard’s speeds will still be plenty fast for a long while.
Areas for improvement
Storage: A 500GB SSD will fill up pretty quick, especially if you play big blockbuster AAA games. If you can afford it, buy the 1TB version of the Crucial P3 ($63) instead.Additional fans / alternative case: My original pick, this $53 DIYPC case, included several RGB fans but sold out by Black Friday proper. (Alas.) The Cooler Master model listed above has only one included fan, so you can either buy more fans yourself for optimal airflow, or pay about $10 more for the Bitfenix Nova Mesh, which comes outfitted with four RGB fans.Suggested upgrades:
CPU Cooler: This build relies on the included stock cooler that comes with the 5500. But using a more powerful aftermarket air cooler will improve your temps and possibly performance if you live in a warm (or downright hot) location. There aren’t really any on sale, so our recommendation would be a well-known, solid performer like the be quiet Pure Rock 2 ($40).Memory: 16GB will hold work for many people who primarily game and don’t have a lot of things open at the same time. But if you’re a browser tab hoarder (hi), stepping up to 32GB of RAM ($85) isn’t much more expensive right now. Motherboard: An ATX motherboard will support more expansion cards, like an internal game capture card and/or a sound card. Newegg has these $100 Gigabyte B450 Aorus Elite, $105 ASRock B450 Steel Legend, and $120 Gigabyte B450 Aorus Pro Wi-Fi models that are worth a look.Storage: Whether you stick with the suggested 500GB SSD or move up to a 1TB model as your boot drive, it doesn’t hurt to still have more storage available. This $50 2TB Seagate Barracuda HDD runs at 7,200RPM, making it a faster option. (For a spinning platter drive, anyway.)Alternatives
Micro Center variant – $473
Swap in this $130 Ryzen 5 3600 CPU + Gigabyte B450M Wi-FI motherboard combo (available in-store only), opt instead for this $50 Montech X1 case, and ditch the Windows 10 license for Linux, and you’ve got yourself a very nice sub-$500 gaming PC. Even if you keep Windows, you’ll still sit at $539 total, which is cheaper overall.Bare-bones variant – $502
If you must slash costs, you could switch to this $70 motherboard without Wi-Fi, drop to 8GB of memory, and install Linux instead for $70 in savings. Don’t nerf the RAM that hard, though. Saving that $10 isn’t worth it.The $800 1440p Cyber Monday gaming PC build
During Black Friday, this build was a cool $756, but even with discounts not being quite as good on Cyber Monday, $800 is still a fantastic price for a PC with these specs.
PartNamePriceCPURyzen 5 5600$138MotherboardASRock B550 Phantom Gaming 4 ATX AM4$85RAMTeamgroup T-Force Vulcan Z DDR4-3600 (2x8GB)$45Graphics CardXFX Speedster SWFT309 Radeon RX 6700$320StorageCrucial P3 1TB NVMe Gen 3 M.2 SSD$63PSUThermaltake Smart BM2 650W 80+ Bronze$39CaseCougar MX330-X ATX Mid-Tower Case$56OSWindows 10 Home OEM$50Bonus gamesUncharted: Legacy of Thieves CollectionThe Callisto Protocol + Dead Island 2—Total$796Build notes
This motherboard requires flashing to a newer BIOS before it will work with Ryzen 5000 processors. You can request a free loaner boot kit from AMD for this purpose. A local computer shop may also be able to perform this service for a fee.Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD CPU from AMD, Amazon, Micro Center, or Newegg.Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD graphics card from AMD, Amazon, Micro Center, or Newegg.This 1440p build sports a 6-core, 12-thread processor that supports PCIe 4.0, an ATX board capable of powering RGB and ARGB fans, 16GB of DDR4-3600 memory (Ryzen 3000 and 5000’s sweet spot for RAM speed), our top recommendation for NVMe Gen 3 SSDs, on-board Wi-Fi, and a solid airflow case. A Windows 10 license is included, too, and comes from PCWorld’s affiliated software store. Plus, it qualifies for three bonus games. Thank you, AMD.
At this price point, trimming corners with a cheaper CPU just doesn’t make sense. Better to invest a little bit more money to future-proof with PCIe 4.0 support. Cutting down on memory and storage capacity feels stingy, too. And while the Cooler Master case from the $500 build is a respectable budget option, the acrylic side panel could scratch easily—this Cougar model will remain looking good for longer.
Only two caveats exist for this build. First is the power supply—if you have the money, upgrade to something with more longevity and a higher wattage, like this $80 Thermaltake GF1 80+ Gold model. It’ll survive this build (likely another one after, too) and support a beefier graphics card later on, if you so choose. Second, you’ll need to flash the BIOS before the Ryzen 5 5600 will work in the motherboard.
CPU Cooler: A more powerful air cooler will improve your temps and possibly performance if you live somewhere warm. There aren’t really any good sales, so our recommendation defaults to a well-known solid performer, like the be quiet Pure Rock 2 ($40).Memory: Never met a browser tab you didn’t leave open (hi friend)? Stepping up to 32GB of RAM ($85) doesn’t cost much more.Storage: 2TB SSDs don’t cost too much more right now, and if you want go to for blistering speed, PCIe Gen 4 models have hit all-time lows.The $390 Fortnite Cyber Monday gaming PC build
PartNamePriceCPURyzen 5 5600G$120MotherboardGigabyte B450M DS3H mATX AM4 Wi-Fi$80RAMCorsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3600 (1x8GB)$35Graphics CardIntegrated Vega graphics (7 cores)$0StorageCrucial P3 500GB NVMe Gen M.2 SSD$33PSUCooler Master MWE 450W V2 80+ White Non-Modular$22*CaseCougar MX330-X ATX Mid-Tower Case$56OSWindows 10 Home OEM$50Bonus gameUncharted: Legacy of Thieves CollectionTotal$396Build notes
Was available for $114 during Black Friday week on 11/22/22. Alas.This motherboard requires flashing to a newer BIOS before it will work with Ryzen 5000 processors. You can request a free loaner boot kit from AMD for this purpose. A local computer shop may also be able to perform this service for a fee.Price is after $10 mail-in rebate. MIR must be filed by 12/30/2022.Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD CPU from AMD, Amazon, Micro Center, or Newegg.If you only need a computer for Fortnite and other lightweight games, the Ryzen 5 5600G and its beefy integrated graphics can shoulder that burden easily. It’s a much nicer APU-based system when compared to previous cheap Black Friday gaming PC builds, and has built-in Wi-Fi, too.
But as configured, it’s somewhat limited. The power supply will restrict you to budget graphics cards, should you want to upgrade to a discrete GPU in the future. And the amount of RAM and the storage drive are relatively low. Highly recommended upgrades would be the Cooler Master MWE 550W 80+ White Non-Modular ($35) and 16GB of DDR4-3600 RAM ($45). New total cost: $413, which is still very affordable for a system you can further upgrade down the road with little fuss.
The cheapest Black Friday gaming PC build possible
This one’s for my homies, who like to see how deep I can cut to the bone. (UPDATE: My homies just pointed out that I goofed on this one! Oops. Fixed now.) I put it together for Black Friday, and surprisingly, it’s still available for Cyber Monday, too.
PartNamePriceCPURyzen 5 4500Ryzen 5 4600G$79$100MotherboardASRock B450M PRO4 R2.0 mATX AM4$70RAMCorsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3600 (1x8GB)$35Graphics CardIntegrated Vega graphics (7 cores)$0StorageTeamgroup T-Force Vulcan Z 500GB SATA SSD $27PSUCooler Master MWE 450W V2 80+ White Non-Modular$22*CaseCooler Master MasterBox MB511$40*OSWindows 10 Home OEM$50Bonus gamesUncharted: Legacy of Thieves CollectionTotal$344Build notes
Price is after $10 mail-in rebate. MIR must be filed by 12/30/2022.Price is after $20 mail-in rebate. MIR must be filed by 12/30/2022.Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD CPU from AMD, Amazon, Micro Center, or Newegg.This modest 4-core, 8-thread CPU build notably lacks a graphics card. Is this a gaming PC in the strictest of terms? Nope, but this is actually what the pandemic reduced us to back in 2021 and 2020. Think of this build as a reflection of how times have improved. Even if you can’t play it, you still get a free game with the Ryzen 5 4500.
Plus, GeForce Now is a great service (and one we’ve talked up many times elsewhere on the site). If you can game on a productivity PC for free because of it, who’s to argue with such cost savings?
Whoops! My original pick had one glaring error: No integrated graphics. At all. You would have had no signal out. I was a little too lost to APU land during my dive down the rabbit hole.
But hey, guess who just showed up in place of the 4500? That’s right, the 4600G, which—wait for it—is an APU with integrated Vega graphic cores. You know, the very same ones that showed up again in the 5600G, because AMD decided to break all our hearts. (In truth, the decision was likely a constraint of pandemic supply issues, etc.) So that means yes, you CAN game pretty decently on this machine, too. It just won’t have the same legs as the 5600G over the long haul, so frankly, I’d choose that one over this build’s 4600G.
And before anyone asks, yes, I could cut deeper. You can get under $300 by going down to 256GB storage and choosing a cheaper case with no front mesh panel. And giving up the Windows license for Linux gaming. But that’s asking people to suffer over the long haul, and I don’t believe in that.
Black Friday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Gaming
Jan, Fri 27 - 22:41 CET