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Building a cheap and fully-functioning Gaming PC under $500 is now possible

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The popular conception in the tech community is that making a capable gaming rig is too expensive. That was actually true around a year ago when the prices of the Graphics cards were very high due to crypto mining profitability.

However, since mining of the cryptocurrency especially Etherium and Bitcoin are no longer profitable due to the huge collapse in the prices, resulting in many miners deciding to get rid of their Graphics cards. And now due to a huge release of Graphics cards back into the market, they are now retailing at a reasonable price.

However, a PC does not comprise of a Graphics cards only, it has many other components too that make it a fully-functioning gaming PC. Today we are going to build a gaming PC from the components required and try to retain the cost under $500.

Now, before trying it out, you should consider two things; firstly if the sole motive of this PC is going to be gaming you should consider a PlayStation 4 Pro or the Xbox One X as they are meant for gaming primarily. The other thing is relevant to you if it’s your first PC building as handling the static electricity can become a nuisance.

I will provide the relevant instructions for every component as I go through so bear with me. Without further ado, let’s get started!

Components

Starting with the components that you would have to buy from the store, these include RAM, Motherboard, fan, case, Graphics card, processor and the most important component of this building is going to be the screwdriver. As the title suggests we are focusing on the costs, but we do want our PC to play the latest games reasonably.

MSI B350M PRO-VDH AM4 MOTHERBOARD

First of all, we have the motherboard we are going for a lower mid-tier build, so we are going for something that is “lightly gaming.” So we went with MSI B350M PRO-VDH AM4 Motherboard, one just can not go wrong with an MSI product. The motherboard has a compact design which is suitable for mini ITX or micro ATX builds.

The specifications of the Motherboard include an AM4 socket, 4 DDR4 memory slots which support up to 32 gigs of memory. The best part of the motherboard is its RAM boost which greatly optimizes RAM speed according to workloads.

MSI B350M PRO-VDH AM4 MOTHERBOARD
MSI B350M PRO-VDH AM4 MOTHERBOARD

The overall build of the motherboard is “gaming” it’s proprietarily black with red accents going around. Lastly, the main reason why I went with this motherboard is the support of the USB 3.0 type-A which is very rare at this price point. The motherboard only costs $69 on Amazon.

AMD Ryzen 3 2200g with VEGA 8

If there is one thing that the whole PC community agrees it would definitely be that the best budget processors are the Ryzen APUs. The arrival of Ryzen APUs back in 2016 revolutionized the Low-end gaming tech as these processors Integrated with the VEGA graphics. They were not particularly powerful, but the performance was enough to play the games at low settings. The processor we are using is actually the 2nd gen Ryzen processor based on the Zen+ architecture.

AMD Ryzen 3 2200g with VEGA 8
AMD Ryzen 3 2200g with VEGA 8

The performance difference brought by the Zen+ architecture was huge they also increased the graphical performance. The AMD Ryzen 3 2200g is an unlocked quad-core CPU clocked at 3.75 GHz. It supports DDR4 memory up to 2667 MHz, and the socket it requires is an AM4 socket one present on our motherboard.

The most fascinating point of this processor is that it gives you the option of skipping the Graphics card as the integrated VEGA 8 GPU is enough to provide basic gaming performance. The best aspect of the processor is its price. It only retails at $100.

You can get the AMD Ryzen 3 2200g with VEGA 8 from Amazon here. The price is slightly lowered at this time, but it is subject to change so plan your shopping accordingly.

EVGA GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB

The Ryzen APU does give us an option to skip the Graphics card, but our budget allows us to get the EVGA GeForce GTX 1050Ti. GTX 1050 SKUs are generally for the lower mid-tier gaming but the 1050Ti carries serious power inside, it can play almost all AAA titles at 1080p @60FPS for the new titles medium graphical settings would allow you to reach the 60 FPS mark.

The specifications include 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM clocked at 7Gbps with the 128-bit frame buffer. There are 768 CUDA cores clocked at 1290 MHz. The EVGA version comes with a single fan design you can also opt for the super clocked version which comes with the Factory overclocked GPU to give better results and better heat dissipation. For an in-depth review of EVGA GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB click on the link here.

EVGA GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB
EVGA GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4GB

Now, the Graphics card I have used in the PC build has the single fan design, and it costs around 169 bucks through the link here. If you want to be on a safer side with better cooling, you may want to get the super clocked version as it has better clock speeds and dual fan design for better cooling with only 10 dollars additional payment.

Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB (2x4GB) DDR4 DRAM 2400MHz 

The most important part of your PC is your memory, and whatever the reason is behind your PC building RAM plays an important role in determining the multitasking power of the machine.

Games specifically do not rely that much on the system memory, if there is no Graphics memory the textures are rendered in the system memory. But our system has a Graphics card, so we do not have to worry about the RAM much.

Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB (2x4GB) DDR4 DRAM 2400MHz 
Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB (2x4GB) DDR4 DRAM 2400MHz

So, for the build, we went to the trusted corsair vengeance memory DD4 memory clocked at 2400MHz. To increase the bandwidth we went with two 4GB sticks you can go with a single 8GB stick too. The two 4GB sticks cost around 70 dollars I know this is a lot to ask for but the RAM prices these days are crazy high. You can get this Ram by following the link here.

EVGA 500 Watt power supply

To power the system we need a safe power supply that can direct the current through various components of the computer. For the build, we went with the EVGA 500 Watt power supply, as you can see the power is slightly more than what we needed for the system.

EVGA 500 Watt power supply
EVGA 500 Watt power supply

Any 450 Watt power supply would have been enough for the system. But we went with this as it would help in overclocking the system or if we decide to update the PC, we would not necessarily have to update the power supply too. To buy the EVGA 500 watt power supply, head over to the Amazon link here.

Seagate 1 TB HDD 

As it is a budget build, we are opting for a hard drive instead of an SSD or Nvme drive. The drive we are using is Seagate’s 1TB SATA 6GB/s drive. It is a mechanical hard drive that connects through the SATA III port to give better read or write speeds.

Seagate 1 TB HDD 
Seagate 1 TB HDD

The Hard drive only costs $60 through the link here. If you have a slightly higher budget, you can opt for an SSD that would give you insane bootup and loading speeds.

Case

We are going for a micro ATX build so went with the ROSEWILL micro ATX case. The choice of the case is totally up to you; you may also end up using the case of your previous PC.

ROSEWILL ATX Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case
ROSEWILL ATX Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case

If you are into the aesthetics of your PC, you may want to spend extra dollars on the case too. However, the case we are using only costs around 35 dollars. You can get one from Amazon here.

Instructions before building

So, that’s all for the components now let’s start the actual building. You do have to consider the static electricity. So we recommend you to get the wristband and connect it to the ground (ground wire of the power supply) or just touch any unconnected metallic surface such as the shell of your power supply time to time to get rid of the static current accumulated by your body.

Building

For the building, the only tool you require is a simple screwdriver; you may get one inside the box of the case. First of all, unbox the motherboard remove the plastic covering and place it on top of the box.

Now placing it on a soft and nonconducting surface is important as even a few milliamperes current from anywhere would trash your motherboard. In the box of the motherboard you would find the I/O shield and two SATA cables too, we only need one of the SATA cables for this build.

Next up unbox your Ryzen 3 processor, AMD bundles its wraith cooler with the Ryzen 3 that’s why we did not buy the separate cooler for the CPU. The processor would be in a hard plastic plate, open it and hold your processor such that you only touch the upper portion of the processor.

You do have to hold it with care because even slight pressure on the pins would bend them and your processor would then be pretty much ruined.

Unlock the AM4 socket on the motherboard by pulling up the lever on the side, place the processor on top of it by aligning the golden arrow on the processor and the socket. No pressure is required to fit the processor once the pins are aligned it will automatically slide into the socket. You can then lock the socket by pushing the same lever as before. It will lock the processor’s place and keep it attached.

Now, its time to attach the cooler of the CPU. Around the CPU you can see the plastic coverings screwed on the motherboard. Unscrew them, place the cooler on top of the CPU you do not have to worry about the thermal paste as it is already applied on to the motherboard.

When turning the screws of the cooler make sure you do not go all the way in and then turn the next screw. Turn one screw almost halfway and then the one diagonally in front of it half way and then do the other side diagonally half way. Then you should turn them all the way in to keep the cooler in place.

Next up, unbox your RAM and remove the plastic covering. You would find four long slots on the motherboard. These are your RAM’s PCI slot. Now place the RAMs in alternating positions, you can only place the RAM one sided so you if it’s not going in do not apply much fore turn it around and try sliding it in.

Once the RAM is in the slot you would hear a satisfying “clicky” sound isIts important to place both the sticks in alternating positions; you cannot put them side by side the processer would not recognize the 2nd RAM stick.

Unbox the case now remove the covering and take out one side of it so that you have access to the insides. Your case will have a section where you can place the motherboard. In this case (no pun intended) the section is right at the center, and it requires six screws generally four screws are enough, but it has two for extra protection.

Place the motherboard gently in the case make sure the motherboard does not get in contact with any of the metal on the case. Turn the screws gently and use the same trick we used when we connect the CPU cooler to the motherboard. Now, connect the I/O shield of the motherboard on the back of the case.

Congratulations, you are halfway through with your PC building. Now we will be adding the power supply in the mix. Generally, the power supply should be added at the end, but we do not have much room inside the case, so we had to place the power supply first. The fan of the power supply should face inside of the case as it will suck heat which will go out through the vents.

Since the power supply is inside we now have an additional task of managing the cables; now it is on your own. You would have a better idea of the length of the cables you are using hence you can do it accordingly.

Now, we will be turning it into the gaming machine, its time to add the Graphics card into the mix. Unbox your Graphics card place it on the top of its box. It will come with its own I/O shield uncover it too.

On the back of the case, there are certain slots that can be used for the I/O shield of the Graphics card remove one if it carefully.

Now place the Graphics card on the motherboard’s PCI-express slot. It will be the biggest slot of the motherboard, and our motherboard only has a single PCI-e slot so its fairly easy to find it. Once the Graphics card is in place, you will hear the click sound. Lastly, connect the I/O shield.

Now, its time to add the Hard Drive. In our case, the space for the Hard drives is on the top right corner. You just need to slide the Hard Drive in the capacity and tight one or two screws depending on the Case you are using.

Connecting wires

Wires are always a hassle, and it is very hard to manage the wires in the Micro builds. We’ll start connecting the wires of different components now. The reason why we did not connect the wires side by side is that it is possible any component can catch the static electricity if they all are connected all of them will burn down.

We’ll start by connecting the wire of the CPU fan, the port will be right beside the socket, and it is easy to find. Next up we’ll connect the CPU power cable, it will be one the cables from the power supply. All cables are labeled, so it’s easy to track all of them.

Make sure you hear the click sound. To connect the motherboard, you will require to connect the 24-pin cable on the motherboard hold the motherboard with your hand and apply some pressure from your other hand on the cable until you hear the sound.

In the case of the cables of the case, you must consult the motherboard’s manual as the cables of the LED are labeled +,-so their orientation matters. Next up you will connect one of the power cables to the Hard drive, and the SATA cable will connect the HDD and the motherboard.

You will see that there is another cable that erupts out of the power supply. It’s the Graphics card power supply cable; we do not need it for the current build as our GTX 1050Ti gets all of its juice from the motherboard.

Wrapping up

Manage the cables and then test your system by connecting it to your monitor. Remember we do not have anything inside the hard drive. The test will confirm all of the components and the screen will show the components that are working. If something is not working unplug it and then plug in the component again, it will work.

Now connect the side of the case that you removed earlier and your PC is complete. Boot up your PC through the windows flash drive you can easily get one in the market, or you can also make one for yourself.

Here’s the gaming PC that you built by your own hands. You can gauge its gaming performance by heading over to our review of the GTX 1050Ti.

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