best $500 home office pc build

Looking to build the best possible home office PC for $500? No problem! This guide lists all the parts you'll need to put together a balanced computer that has the power to handle any office task, and can even be upgraded with a low-cost, high-powered video card to turn this system into a true gaming PC for around $650!

For September 2020, the $500 Home Office PC Build uses Intel's Core i3-10100 quad-core processor. It more than matches AMD's best, and more importantly, it's actually available, unlike the CPUs that AMD paper launched to compete! Also on board are 8GB of RAM and a 256GB PCIe-based solid-state drive, which is lightyears ahead of the hard drives you'll find in most off-the-shelf office PCs. The $500 Home Office PC Build is housed in an ultra-compact case and powered by a cost-effective power supply. No matter what you use this system for, it will provide years of top-notch performance, along with plenty of opportunity for upgrades down the line.

Need to accessorize your new Home Office PC Build? Just scroll down to the end of this guide for our top picks! This includes a high-powered video card to build a true gaming powerhouse for under $650, as well as a wireless networking card, a low-cost wireless mouse, a business-grade keyboard, a 24" monitor, and great bargain-priced speakers.

If you're interested in seeing how this system has changed over time, flip to the $500 Home Office PC Build Archive. Note that this guide provides direct links to Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, and Amazon Germany, and our US links auto-convert for our readers in Spain, Italy, and France. If you decide to purchase any of the products we list, please use the links provided, which helps support continued development of these guides. 

The $500 Home Office PC - September 2020

  • The Budget Home Office PC:

    Acer Aspire TC-895-UA91

    We know a lot of people want to get their home office up and running as fast as possible, which means buying a pre-built PC is the way to go. And there's no better option than Acer's Aspire, which simply cannot be beat in terms of price. The most important component on the spec sheet is the 512GB solid-state drive... yes, we do mean SSD, not hard drive, like every other PC in this price range. That makes this desktop's lightyears ahead of anything else you'll find on the market. Also onboard is an Intel Core i3-10100 four-core CPU with Hyperthreading (which adds an additional four virtual cores), 8GB of RAM, and the latest WiFi 6 and Bluetooth built-in . It even has a memory card reader and USB Type-C port built into the front. The best part: it's actually cheaper to buy this than to build your own, despite better overall specs!

    The Guru's Tip:

    One upgrade you should consider making to this PC if you routinely have lots of browser tabs open (which a lot of us do these day!): add another 8GB stick of RAM.

The Build-Your-Own Option

  • CPU:

    Intel Core i3-10100

    While AMD has ruled the budget sector for a while, Intel has come roaring back, and its Core i3-10100 is simply unbeatable at the price, thanks to its 4 cores, 8 threads, and high clock speed. It doesn't hurt that Intel's CPUs and motherboards are also finally back in stock, while AMD has fallen prey to constant stocking problems. What a turn of events!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that you must use a Socket 1200 motherboard for this processor, such as the one below.

  • Motherboard:

    Gigabyte B460M DS3H

    This board is the perfect choice for a low-cost build. With three PCIe slots, six USB ports, four RAM slots, and six SATA ports, it gives the system room to grow, and it has a PCIe M.2 slot, which you'll be taking advantage of with this build's SSD! And note that thanks to Intel's built-in graphics, you can use any of this board's video outputs (HDMI, VGA, or DVI).

    The Guru's Tip:

    Don't make a mistake here and buy a B360 (old Intel socket 1151), B450 (AMD), or B550 (AMD) motherboard. Yes, they all sound similar, but they are not!

  • Memory:

    Patriot 2x4GB Viper Elite DDR4-2666 Grey

    This fast RAM kit will allow you to get the most out of your Intel processor - in fact, this is the fastest RAM it will support! Note that using a pair of 4GB sticks rather than one 8GB stick allows for "dual channel" operation, which we consider critical when using built-in video chips. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    We want to be clear about something - if you typically multi-task or have more than 10 browser windows open simultaneously, 8GB is not enough RAM, and you'll want to go with Patriot's 2x8GB kit.

  • Solid-State Drive:

    Silicon Power 256GB NVMe

    We now recommend that all PC builders choose an SSD over a hard drive for their main storage drive. The responsiveness of a system with an SSD is so superior to systems with a hard drive that you shouldn't even consider building a PC today without one. And among all budget drives, this 256GB PCIe-based drive blows away the competition in terms of performance per dollar!

    The Guru's Tip:

    You'll need a jeweler's screwdriver to install this drive in the motherboard's M.2 slot. Luckily, no cables are required!

  • Case:

    Silverstone PS08B MicroATX

    The PS08 offers plenty of features at a bargain price. It has a big 120mm fan for cooling, while two USB are easily accessible on the front. It's also very compact, thanks to the micro-ATX form factor.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Nearly all low-priced cases have sold out over the past few months, making this case's bargain price all the more amazing. Grab it while you can!

  • Power Supply:

    Thermaltake Smart 430W 80+ White

    This model offers unmatched quality at its pricepoint. And the reality is that this build will use only half of this unit's rated power output, giving it power to spare in case you want to add the optional video card we recommend!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Due to current worldwide supply chain issues, power supplies have been sold out across the US for months, and some are marked up over 100%! As of our most recent update, this model is selling for a great price, but stock is very low. We recommend you order it now, because every competing option is unavailable.

  • Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Windows 10 offers excellent usability and security, along with lots of fine tuning under the hood to make the best use of modern components like the ones used in this system.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The USB version of Windows 10 recently sold out, but it's in stock as of our latest update. You can always go with the downloadable version and then install it from an 8GB or bigger flash drive.

Optional Components

  • Video Card:

    Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1650 D6 Windforce OC

    Turn your system into a screaming-fast gaming rig by adding the potent GTX 1650 to your system! It's a perfect match for a budget PC. It offers performance about 10x higher than the CPU's built-in graphics.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this card requires a 6-pin power connector from the power supply, so make sure you identify it and connect it before booting up!

  • Wireless Card:

    TP-Link Archer T5E AC1200/Bluetooth 4.2

    Want to add wireless networking to your new home office PC? Look no further than the fast Archer T5E, which offers dual-stream 802.11ac networking and dual external antennas. It even provides built-in Bluetooth, which you won't find on most other WiFi adapters!

    The Guru's Tip:

    We know a lot of our readers are tempted to buy tiny USB-based wireless adapters, which look really cool in promotional photos. Unfortunately, they don't work at all, so please take our advice and go for a serious wireless card!

  • Hard Drive:

    Seagate Barracuda 2TB

    If you need extra space for bulk storage of media like photos, videos, and music, add this bargain-priced 2TB hard drive to your build. Coming in at just $10 more than most 1TB drives, it's a tremendous bargain.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Using an SSD for the operating system and main applications, along with a hard drive for data, provides an incredibly-responsive user experience along with plenty of storage capacity. Read our SSD Setup Guide to learn how to make sure they're running optimally.

  • The Basic Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Combo:

    Logitech Wireless Combo MK270

    While you may have an old keyboard and mouse sitting in your desk, treat yourself to a new wireless setup from Logitech, the MK270!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This combo uses a single tiny USB receiver to connect both peripherals!

  • The 24-inch General-Purpose Monitor:

    Sceptre E248W-19203R

    Offering mind-blowing value in the mid-range segment, this monitor packs in all the features you've come to expect from $150+ monitors, but for a lot less money. That includes a high-quality 24" panel, a 1920 x 1080 resolution, built-in speakers, and a 75Hz refresh rate for smoother motion. 

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model can accept HDMI or VGA inputs, but not the common DVI input.

  • Bargain Speakers:

    Creative Pebble 2.0

    Because desktop PCs, unlike laptops, don't have internal speakers, we recommend you pick up Creative's Pebble. Whether it's music, You Tube videos, TV, or movies, Pebble will sound great.

    The Guru's Tip:

    We use these on one of our office systems, and it's truly amazing for the price! Note that it's not as small as the name implies - definitely larger than a pebble!