With the holiday period bringing a bunch of discounts and offers, it is the best time to build a PC, be it one for serious gaming, content creation, or a basic computer for light productivity – especially for the home. In this series, we are helping you do just that. After looking through the deals and putting together our recommendations for a budget gaming PC for around $1,000, here’s our recommendation for a budget productivity machine for around $500.
We’ve put together a guide to help you choose components for such a PC that you can not only build for around $500, but also easily upgrade a few years down the line if you wish to save up and gradually build a more powerful rig. It must be noted, however, that discounts change constantly, and components could run out of stock at any time. Additionally, the guide lists the components just for a budget PC and does not include peripherals such as a keyboard and mouse, and a monitor.
For this build, we’re going with Intel components owing to the current availability – especially with AMD’s offerings being sold out in many e-commerce stores – and some deals around that help further reduce overall costs. Here are our recommendations:
Motherboard: MSI Z490-A PRO ProSeries
While Z series motherboards are expected to be considered higher-end, the $159.99 offering from Gigabyte brings with it a few advantages along with being one of the most affordable in the class. For the extra price over other H-series or B-series offerings, the Z490 board boasts of better overall build quality – including a shielded PCIe slot, heatsink for the power delivery components, the availability of two M.2 slots, support for PCIe 4.0 components - according to the manufacturer's site, 2.5G LAN, and much more.
Additionally, the board is also up to the task if you ever want to beef it up with an unlocked CPU or Intel's 11th-gen offerings and a potent GPU some years down the line.
You can find the MSI Z490-A PRO here on Amazon for $159.99.
Processor: Intel Core i5-10400
The 10th-gen Core i5-10400 comes with six cores and 12 threads, thanks to the hyperthreading support added to all 10th-gen chips. It offers a boost clock speed of up to 4.3Ghz and features integrated Intel UHD 630 graphics – negating the need for a dedicated GPU for graphics. The 65W TDP sporting offering is currently being sold for $159.99, making it similar in cost to the ninth-gen Core i5-9400 or the Core i5-9400F – which does not offer integrated graphics.
The chip can provide ample performance for not just casual use or productivity, but also for gaming or video editing - especially when paired with a dedicated GPU, making it a great choice for the price.
You can find the Intel Core i5-10400 here on Amazon for $159.99.
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB (2x4GB)
Modern OSes like Windows 10 work best with a minimum of 8GB memory, especially when working on browsers that tend to quickly gobble up resources. Going for two 4GB RAM sticks offers the advantages of dual-channel memory and slightly better overall performance.
You can find the Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB (2x4GB) RAM here on Amazon for $53.99.
Alternatively, if you wish to shell more for memory, you can opt for the dual 8GB module for 16GB of RAM that is currently available on Amazon for $70.99.
Storage: Samsung 970 EVO 500GB M.2 NVMe SSD
The Samsung 970 EVO 500GB M.2 SSD offers excellent read and write speeds of up to 3,500MBps and 2,500MBps, respectively, making it a better offering over a traditional HDD or a SATA SSD option for quicker boot times and overall gains. The current discounts on Amazon for these drives make them a solid choice.
You can find the 500GB Samsung 970 EVO M.2 NVMe SSD here on Amazon for $59.99.
Power supply: Corsair CV550 (550W)
Corsair's 550W power supply can provide ample power for all the components while also being future proof for any potential upgrades, including that of a modest GPU. The 80+ Bronze certification also makes it a quality offering and it also comes with black sleeves around the wiring for better aesthetics.
You can find the Corsair CV450 here on Amazon for $57.99.
PC cabinet: Cooler Master MasterBox MCB-B600L-KANN-S00 ATX Mid-Tower
A casual PC can go without a lot of RGB bling, which is why the Cooler Master cabinet provides a good quality option with a clean design. The case supports a multitude of fan sizes and mounting points for the SATA SSD. Additionally, the acrylic side panel and the PSU cover at the bottom help improve the aesthetics.
You can find the Cooler Master MasterBox MCB-B600L ATX Mid-Tower here on Amazon for $46.99.
And that should do it for the components needed to build a performant budget PC for around $500.
Total cost: $538.94
Lastly, though this is not included in the recommendation list for the sub $550 PC, those looking for a budget monitor for casual use can consider BenQ’s 24-inch 1080p IPS monitor that is being discounted to $119.99 on Amazon. For that price, the monitor offers a design with slim bezels on three sides, dual in-built speakers, HDMI and DisplayPort connectivity options, automatic brightness adjustment, nifty cable management, and more.
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