If you had asked me in 2017 if you only had a 500$ budget, could you build a gaming PC? No, unless you were lucky with used parts. For example your friend had a Nvidia Geforce GTX 980 that he was willing to give you cheap. You would be much better off buying a console. Modern console are designed to run the latest high performance 3d games. The newer console can even run those games at 4k (PS4 Pro, Xbox One X). So can a $500 PC match that now? No, unfortunately i don’t think it’s possible to build a 4k capable PC for 500$ yet. Mainly because of the RAM and Graphics cards price crunch. You can read more about that here. But you can build a PC that can play some of the less demanding but very popular titles and serve as a PC as well, also a pretty capable home theater PC(HTPC). With this build you can play those most popular multiplayer games with low-medium settings like Overwatch, League of Legends, Fortnight, Defense of the Ancients 2, Counter-Strike Global Offensive, Team fortress, and more.
This is made possible by the new Raven Ridge Accelerated Processing Units from AMD. The Advance Processing Units from AMD or better known as APU are basically AMD’s Ryzen CPUs packaged together with a few of their Radeon Vega cores. Their Radeon Vega line of graphic cards are their top of the line cards. Currently AMD Radeon Vegas are in hot demand by bitcoin miners because of their very efficient mining capabilities. So with their APU product AMD decided to place a smaller vega chip right next to their Ryzen 3 and Ryzen 5 cpu cores. Therefore eliminating the need for a separate discrete graphic processing unit (GPU). Well the New Raven Ridge APUS the 2200G and 2400G. Are not as strong as separate discrete components, but like i said they are capable of running the most popular PC titles out currently. Many benchmarks put the 2400G’s performance near the Geforce GTX 1050’s performance. The 1050s are price around 150$, but the raven Ridge APU can be found for 140$. The 1050 is more capable than the Raven Ridge, but there is no need to buy a seperate CPU. So you can see the market they’re targeting.
Here is the 500$ build. I made some compromises if you have an extra $100 you should definitely add more RAM. The Raven Ridge APU uses system ram for the storing of graphics textures and data. But under $500 will get you capable gaming PC.
This $500 PC can easily server as a desktop workstation. It will run most productivity workloads albeit as a slow pace if you are looking for a true workstation i would recommend my $1000 or $2000 dollar builds here. These builds will render videos and 3d graphics much faster.
As of writing this article Graphics price are beginning to normalize so i will probably have to update these build soon unfortunately. But at least there serve as a important lesson in these unstable times.