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Best gaming PC build for under $500 (GTX 960) [2015]

by l1ght3d



Date Published

May 18, 2015

CPU Clock Rate


CPU Temperature While Idle

40.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

65.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate


GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate




This particular build cost me measly $212 and will let me play decent numbers of games with its integrated Intel (R) HD Graphics.

Once I upgrade my PC with those following parts: AFTER MARKET CPU COOLER, MID-RANGE VIDEO CARD AND ONE MORE 4GB DDR3-1600 RAM:

I am up to $492 dollars.

In all, it's the best PC for sub $500 you possibly will ever see for that price and this time of the year. [March 2015]

Here's my story:

I got a Walmart coupon in the mail and I used it to get my free DDR3-1600 RAM from Walmart online. Thus, my first PC part arrived. I could not resist to get all parts immediately. Then I used my 100 dollars to buy a killer deal from Microcenter: Pentium G3258 and MSI Z97 PC MATE. 70 dollars for gorgeous Thermaltake Commander MSI and ugly 500w PSU... from Diablotek

I quickly put it together and installed Windows 8.1 to realization I accidentally installed 32 bit (LOL) I quickly installed it with proper 64 version.

As of now, it is awesome!

What do you think?

PS If you have better $500 build... let me know....

Part Reviews


Amazing CPU for its price! Quicker than core i3s when overclocked. It sure does challenge low-end and mid-range core i5s.

This + MSI Z97 = $100 = Amazing


Impressive Z97 board for $40. It is truly great at overclocking my Pentium G3258.


Disappointed in Walmart for saying it was CL9 RAM when in reality, it was CL11... (1 star off)

It's not fancy & decorated. It just does what it need to do. Great for a RAM I got for free.


Impressive. Crazy fast! Boots Windows 8.1 Pro in less than 10 seconds at its best. 32MB cache is great.

7200RPM is also a must.

I got this HDD at Microcenter as a refurbished HDD.


Amazing case for $50... $35 after rebate of course.

Has a side window, blue led fan and decent cable-managing for the price.

Would buy this case again.

Power Supply

ok-ok. It just works.

It's not best quality obviously. I'm quite surprised it lasted me long as others said it wouldn't.

I can't seem to find EL series anywhere other than microcenter. I can't find it even on Diablotek's website.

Truly strange.

Operating System

Of course. Amazing. Fast. It's everything.

Comments Sorted by:

Diox 1 Build 11 points 36 months ago


seriously. Diablotek is NOTORIOUS for their crappy quality.

Jordan_Church 3 points 36 months ago

But bro. It has a bad-*** name.

l1ght3d submitter 1 Build 1 point 36 months ago

I am aware and will replace it soon as I can.

kingawesome7 1 point 23 months ago

I currently have this cpu in my build as a backup for my 4790k being rma'ed by now and im loving it overclocked to 4.6ghz on the core and 4.5ghz on the uncore/cpu cache and its flying...!!

ryan2pro 4 Builds 8 points 36 months ago

Best gaming pc under 500 has a chance of catching fire with that psu

Telus 1 Build 4 points 36 months ago

+1 potato pics.

I'm such a hypocrite

Brodzster 3 points 36 months ago

At least they aren't portrait!

l1ght3d submitter 1 Build 2 points 36 months ago

100% aware.

It was from my android phone with 5MP camera heh.

I'll take better picture next time I update something.

Nerd4L1F3 2 points 36 months ago

Well, walmart is the amazon for rednecks :P

My system's running the G3258, and originally only costed me about $390. but after a Mobo upgrade(Got a free Z97-G45) and another stick of ram + cooler, I am only at about $479.

Nice build, only dicey part would be the PSU, but knock on wood it doesn't cause issues :)

l1ght3d submitter 1 Build 1 point 36 months ago

Mhm. I was saddened with my RAM specs but it just works fine and it arrived in one piece at the least... I agree with your opinion of PSU. Although, at the best, it will last me a year before dying.

I might get $40 Corsair CX400M soon as I can. (taking it over $500) Much better build quality and will look better in my build.

Nerd4L1F3 1 point 36 months ago

If experience means anything, I recommend getting the CX600m. it's a semi modular PSU, and so far, after getting it not only used(you would buy it new) but using it for OC both my GPU and my CPU, since it takes alot to get the awesome G3258 running at awesomeness :)

heres the price: http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-Modular-Bronze-ATX12V-EPS12V/dp/B00ALYOPSS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432003625&sr=8-1&keywords=cx600m

OJ_Gaming 1 point 36 months ago

How many fps in games like BF4 on ultra?

l1ght3d submitter 1 Build 1 point 36 months ago

I have not gotten EVGA GTX 960 4GB VRAM yet. So, I can't say.

A quick search on YouTube and found this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gzReaFZUIE

660 Ti is bit slower than GTX 960 but it'll achieve 60+ fps very easily. However, in the description of the video, he said he had settings to "Custom Ultra". I don't know about that.

AevoxHD 1 point 36 months ago

I built a gaming pc for less than $500. The build has everything it absolutely needs! If you want to check it out, just ask me and I'll send you a link.

l1ght3d submitter 1 Build 1 point 36 months ago

Sure, send me a link. Private message or here... up to you.

AevoxHD 1 point 36 months ago

My gaming build for about $500. If you plan to use it, just give me credit. Have a great day. http://pcpartpicker.com/p/xFgknQ

gambit19199 1 point 34 months ago

what color is the LED around the window of the case? Is that purple-ish or is that blue?

l1ght3d submitter 1 Build 1 point 34 months ago

It's UV light strip. I bought it from mall from $20 and I hacked it to connect with 4-pins molex. It isn't too distracting during the day but still give dim light inside the box. During the night, it is absolutely cool.

HaloLegend98 1 Build 1 point 34 months ago

Have you tried out StarCraft II on this bad boy? You can download and try the game for free. I'm in the planning process to build almost an identical build that you have, just better quality stuff. I'm going to build it for a cheap SC2 1v1 machine. 120 gb ssd, z-OC board, 4 gigs ram, g3258, cheap case, corsair 500, then eventually gtx 750 ti and add another 4 gigs of ram.

Nice work!

l1ght3d submitter 1 Build 1 point 34 months ago

My PC (GTX 770 4GB) can run everything I throw at it for max @ 40-60 fps so far. (Mirrors' Edge, Black Ops 1, Grid Autosport, Bioshock Infinite, Borderland 2, Grand Theft Auto V, Skyrim, Unturned, DayZ, etc, etc)

And no, I don't have StarCraft II. I'm not really into games like that.

G3258's intergerated can run some games at low-med settings ( I have 900p resolution monitor )

Thanks :)

l1ght3d submitter 1 Build 1 point 34 months ago


I bought GTX 770 instead of GTX 960 and I am running Windows 10.

I bought Thermaltake TR2 to replace my Diablotek... Better brand but not the best. :P

ChaosDragonLord 1 Build 1 point 32 months ago

I am so jealous of Americans, that mobo is $155 in Australia :(

Blue51 1 point 30 months ago

There are worse PSUs.... like Logsys

Swift05 1 point 22 months ago

the gpu isnt in ur case, where is it?

hdraptor 1 point 21 months ago

Bro where did you get the motherboard for $40?

maggotshero 10 Builds 0 points 36 months ago

I am going to assume you pirated windows, since You said you had to switch it to the 64 bit version, and it has no price marked on your parts list.

Arkwoman1990 1 Build 1 point 36 months ago

They probably got the OS with both versions, you never know

ryan2pro 4 Builds 6 points 36 months ago

Oh come on. Who hasnt !?

l1ght3d submitter 1 Build 2 points 36 months ago

Yes, Arkman1990 is correct. I have both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 8 disc and upgraded it to 8.1

I have this particular Windows 8 box: [removed] And it came packed with both 32 bit and 64 bit. I got it from Microcenter.

Therefore, I don't want to add the OS to the build price. This build's price is based on hardware part only. I could always use Linux, SteamOS or various other free OS'es. So, it is just irrelevant.

Arkwoman1990 1 Build 2 points 36 months ago

you forgot the WO before man

manirelli staff 8 Builds 1 point 36 months ago

Please do not use link shorteners on our site.

[comment deleted]
copperblade 0 points 36 months ago

i would suggest to change your PSU with reliable, affordable and cheapest that exist to buy immediately. PSU, for most PC, especially PC Gaming is the first crucial hardware. "better safe than sorry" they said.

all other parts is A-ok, i didn't know such pentium can withstand AAA games, thought it would bottleneck the GPU. cmiiw