There’s no denying that the GTX 1050 is more powerful than the Vega 11 graphics in AMD’s Raven Ridge Ryzen 5 2400G, with the dedicated card often delivering more than twice the frame rates as the AMD chip and its integrated graphics. And while you can overclock the Vega graphics on the Ryzen chip, you aren’t going to achieve GTX 1050-level performance--even if you opt for a cooler that’s better than the one AMD ships in the box. But the extra cores and threads of the AMD chip easily surpass what the Pentium Gold G5400 is able to deliver in terms of CPU/productivity performance.
All that said, opting for the Intel machine with a $70 CPU and $140 graphics card, while it will deliver higher frame rates, left us with less money to spend on storage while sticking to our $500 build budget. The 256GB SSD we had to opt for with the Intel/Nvidia build simply isn’t roomy enough to recommend for gamers in these days of AAA titles that are ballooning up to and above 100GB. We think that makes the AMD system a more well-rounded build, and once you dial back some in-game settings it's still plenty capable of 1080p gaming at reasonably smooth frame rates--especially if paired with an affordable FreeSync monitor.
In short, we’d say if you have to spend $500 or less on a complete gaming PC and also frequently do tasks like video editing that take advantage of all available CPU cores, the AMD build with a Ryzen 5 2400G is easy to recommend. But if you have more money to spend on storage--even as little as $30 more than our $500 limit--opting for a dedicated card like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 or AMD Radeon RX 570 will give you better frame rates for a smoother gaming experience without having to fiddle with any overclocking settings.
Lastly, when we parted out these systems, Intel’s low-cost Pentium G5400 was an easy choice for capable computing in the sub-$100 range when paired with a dedicated card. But AMD fans (or those who just want to spend a little less money on their processor) will soon have an interesting new option in the dual-core, four-thread Athlon 200GE.
That brand-new AMD budget chip wasn’t yet available when we wrote this, so we haven’t had a chance to test it. But its $55 MSRP, combined with a low-cost motherboard and some recent price dips on SSDs and mainstream graphics cards, should soon make it possible to build a $500 system with a GTX 1050 Ti. As we wrote this, that card starts at about $150, and will deliver better performance than the Gigabyte GTX 1050 in our Intel test build here.
That’s the good thing about PC components. As time passes, prices tend to fall while newer parts enable better performance at a lower price. That’s the way it’s supposed to work, anyway, so long as pesky things like cryptomining, fab shortages, or trade tariffs don’t get in the way.
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