You can build a $500 gaming PC with these Black Friday deals

You can build a $500 gaming PC with these Black Friday deals


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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. 

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. Right now you 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 $700 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 Black Friday 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.

Part Name Price
CPU Ryzen 5 5500[1] $95
Motherboard Gigabyte B450M DS3H mATX AM4 Wi-Fi[2] $80
RAM Teamgroup T-Force Vulcan Z DDR4-3600 (2x8GB) $45
Graphics Card MSI Mech Radeon RX 6600[3] $190*
Storage Crucial P3 500GB NVMe Gen 3 M.2 SSD $33
PSU Cooler Master MWE 550W V2 80+ White Non-Modular $35
Case Cougar MX330-X ATX Mid-Tower Case $56
OS Windows 10 Home OEM $50
Bonus games Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection[4]
The Callisto Protocol + Dead Island 2[5]
Total $584

Build notes

  1. Also available from B&H at the same cost, or for $5 more at Newegg.
  2. 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.
  3. Price is after $20 mail-in rebate. MIR must be filed within 21 days of purchase.
  4. Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD CPU from AMD, Amazon, Micro Center, or Newegg.
  5. 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, 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. (This is why you should start monitoring deals at the end of October.) Its substitute only has one included fan. You can buy more fans yourself for optimal airflow, which will give you control over performance, or you can pay about $10 more for the Bitfenix Nova Mesh, which comes outfitted with four RGB fans.

Suggested upgrades:

  • 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 ($80) 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 $47 2TB Seagate Barracuda HDD runs at 7,200RPM, making it a faster option. (For a spinning platter drive, anyway.)

Alternatives

Micro Center variant – $483
  • 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 $533 total, which is cheaper overall. That said—if you’re extremely lucky, your Micro Center may have this $80 2TB NVMe Gen 3 M.2 SSD in stock. Scraping Windows would pay for putting into your build instead of the Crucial P3 and quadrupling your space. Speeds are better on the P3, though.

Bare-bones variant – $508
  • 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 $700 1440p Black Friday gaming PC build

Part Name Price
CPU Ryzen 5 5600 $118
Motherboard ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming 4 ATX AM4[1] $85
RAM Teamgroup T-Force Vulcan Z DDR4-3600 (2x8GB) $45
Graphics Card Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 6700 $300
Storage Crucial P3 1TB NVMe Gen 3 M.2 SSD $63
PSU Thermaltake Smart BM2 650W 80+ Bronze[3] $39
Case Cougar MX330-X ATX Mid-Tower Case $56
OS Windows 10 Home OEM $50
Bonus games Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection[2]
The Callisto Protocol + Dead Island 2[3]
Total $756

Build notes

  1. 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.
  2. Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD CPU from AMD, Amazon, Micro Center, or Newegg.
  3. 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, 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. And cutting down on memory and storage capacity feels stingy.

The only caveat here 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. Also, you’ll need to flash the BIOS before the Ryzen 5 5600 will work in the motherboard.

Suggested upgrades:

The $390 Fortnite Black Friday gaming PC build

Part Name Price
CPU Ryzen 5 5600[1] $114
Motherboard Gigabyte B450M DS3H mATX AM4 Wi-Fi[2] $80
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3600 (1x8GB) $35
Graphics Card Integrated Vega graphics (7 cores) $0
Storage Crucial P3 500GB NVMe Gen M.2 SSD $33
PSU Cooler Master MWE 450W V2 80+ White Non-Modular[3] $22
Case Cougar MX330-X ATX Mid-Tower Case $56
OS Windows 10 Home OEM $50
Bonus games Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection[4]
The Callisto Protocol + Dead Island 2[5]
Total $390

Build notes

  1. Was available on 11/22/22. Now available at Amazon for $120.
  2. 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.
  3. Price is after $10 mail-in rebate. MIR must be filed by 12/30/2022.
  4. Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD CPU from AMD, Amazon, Micro Center, or Newegg.
  5. Promotion valid with purchase of a qualifying AMD graphics card 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.

Part Name Price
CPU Ryzen 5 4500 $79
Motherboard ASRock B450M PRO4 R2.0 mATX AM4 $70
RAM Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3600 (1x8GB) $35
Graphics Card Nvidia GeForce Now $0
Storage Teamgroup T-Force Vulcan Z 500GB SATA SSD  $27
PSU Cooler Master MWE 450W V2 80+ White Non-Modular[1] $22
Case DeepCool Matrexx 40 mATX case $48
OS Windows 10 Home OEM $50
Bonus games Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection[2]
Total $331

Build notes

  1. Price is after $10 mail-in rebate. MIR must be filed by 12/30/2022.
  2. 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?

And before anyone asks, yes, I could have cut deeper. You can get under $300 by going down to 256GB storage and choosing a cheaper case with no front mesh panel. But that’s asking people to suffer over the long haul, and I don’t believe in that.

Tech

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November 25, 2022 at 09:29AM

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