I'm looking to get a new desktop PC within the next month or so, but I'm no computer expert and I'm not sure what sort of hardware to look for that would suit my needs and be within my budget of 500 USD. Those needs are:

Can handle games such as Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Dragon Age Inquisition with ease, has at least 700gb of space, preferably more, and preferably an SSD, has at minimum 6gb ram, can handle multiple OS installations (so I can install and run Windows, Linux, and Mac OSes from the same machine), should have hardware that's Mac capable.

What I'd need it for is gaming and web development.

What I don't need is a monitor, keyboard, or mouse.

I would also really like something small and lightweight, like a mini PC, because I have no internet where I live and would have to move the computer around between my house and my parent's house, but I can't get a laptop because they burn out too fast from hard use.

  • 1
    The cheapest SSD over 700 GB cost $240, so it will be really hard to meet your requirements in this budget.
    – ivaan
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 7:38
  • The SSD was only put in because it was recommended, I don't really 'need' it, so it's not a requirement.
    – user1545
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 7:40
  • I suggest you break this question up into individual components. That way, we have very specific questions with a narrow range of good answers. You should also give more requirements. I suggest asking in the following order: Case (Form Factor requirement), Motherboard (I/O and reliability), GPU and CPU (FPS and Quality), RAM (Multitasking) and PSU. That way, the answers are reasonably short while still explaining rationale.
    – timuzhti
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 10:26
  • 500usd is hardly extreme. As always - I suggest starting with the logical increments guide. That said, the need for extreme small size and good performance and such is tricky. Maybe a mini itx build could be a decent compromise .... Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 14:11

2 Answers 2


Tried to get the best build I could under the budget. Its skylake/pentium based and quite certainly reflects some of my build biases. Its designed to be a simple machine with relatively few compromises and the option to upgrade as funds are available. @ivaan's machine is probably another useful starting point though I went for slightly more modern, smaller parts. I've linked the PC parts picker list so you can play around

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/Yy3XjX

Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/Yy3XjX/by_merchant/

CPU: Intel Pentium G4400 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor  ($59.99 @ SuperBiiz) 
Motherboard: ASRock H170M-ITX/DL Mini ITX LGA1151 Motherboard  ($92.98 @ Newegg) 
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-2400 Memory  ($74.88 @ OutletPC) 
Storage: Hitachi Deskstar 7K2000 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($62.00 @ Amazon) 
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 950 2GB Video Card  ($139.99 @ Micro Center) 
Case: Cooler Master Elite 110 Mini ITX Tower Case  ($38.98 @ Newegg) 
Power Supply: *Cooler Master Elite Power 400W ATX Power Supply  ($29.99 @ Directron) 
Total: $498.81
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available

This is a starting point. Its useful to understand why I picked certain parts, and what you can replace them with

So... compromises - I went for the lowest end pentium I could, for low cost and power efficiency. A proper core i3 or i5 would be nice. I went with skylake since there's a few useful features

I went for 16gb of ram, personal bias, and you could save a few dollars going for less, but this maxes out the ram. Depends on your needs but 2x4 would work. This is DDR4 ram, rather than DDR3

Asrock's reasonably solid these days, and a mini itx motherboard/case is about as small as you can go and still game. This one's wierd and dosen't support m.2 but I was trying to minmax for cost+trustybrandedness.

Went for a mini itx compatable small video card - maybe a 960 or a r9 nano would be a step up.

The cooler master Elite 110 is a nice small case that takes a full size PSU. I find small form factor PSUs limiting.

The PSU is a compromise for cost. I'd much rather a modular PSU in a mini ITX build .

I'd use stock cooling here - its good enough, small, and I have not much of a budget to design off of.

HGST is basically the most reliable consumer hard drives you can buy. Its not that much more, and I trust them. I guess you could swap this for a SSD or a smaller drive.


Firstly, I would suggest raising budget if you want to play games in high graphics settings because desktop within 500 USD budget will not run new games like Fallout 4 in full details.

500 USD - PC:

This set will cost 493 USD but if you want to play new games in full details I would recommend to save additional cash for GTX 970 (~300 USD) and Intel Core i5 (for example "4690" - 225 USD).

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