ZeNityMaybe this can be a good starting point. It's slightly over your budget though.
Yeah I saw that and the AMD version on PC parts picker, the main thing I'm on the fence about is CPU, because I know TF2 just eats it for breakfast. The AMD version has a Ryzen with a lower clock, but it's quad core, but it's also AMD which I've heard "mixed" things about.
SetsulNo. You won't get more than a budget CPU and a budget GPU. If you want an SSD you will not get a GPU at all.
Don't give a hoot about SSDs, going the start off with a HDD and then later down the road when I have some money laying around I'll maybe cash in on a small SSD to put some games on.
GPU I realized I can run pretty much everything at low-medium settings at 60FPS with a 1050/1050ti equivalent, and I barely play anything other than TF2 or the other two games I listed, so I've got that going for me.
The biggest issue I've run into is CPU, as mentioned above it's unclear to me whether TF2 prefers CPU clock speed over core count, and whether to take the theoretical risk getting an AMD processor that is beefier on paper than something like a higher clocked pentium with HT and only 2 cores.
StevieKinguin sells windows keys for dirt cheap https://www.kinguin.net/software-deals/
I have conjured up a couple different methods of getting windows without paying for it, one of them being I have my old Windows 8.1 product key, if that doesn't work and I have no money left for Windows, might try Linux or something.
MarxistYou can build a very respectable PC for 700-800 (depends on how part prices change) so if you've already got 500$ you may as well just wait and add another 200$ on top and have something that'll last you for 5+ years. If not, Zenity's build there doesn't look too bad, you could even shave a few dollars here and there, but again when you build your own PC there are some financials to consider:
Shipping costs - unless you have some kind of membership deal like amazon prime etc, shipping is probably going to run you an extra 30-40$ or more depending on where you live
Sales Tax: You may end up having to pay sales tax which could add an additional 25-30$ depending on your state (you can check if you'll have to pay in advance by seeing if your on-line vendor has a presence in your state).
Windows: 100$ for new windows - there are ways around this, including just reusing an older windows key if you've still got uses on it, or piracy, but that comes with its own problems.
So all told that's 160ish$ of your 500 that's going to not hardware, and at that point if you have a hard limit of 500$ it's basically not worth it because you're actually trying to build a 300$ PC.
Obviously I have a little buffer for stuff like tax and whatever, and I'm stopping at 500 because that's enough for me being I'm currently typing this on my "Main computer" which is literally a laptop with a pretty meh CPU and integrated GPU.
Just looking for something to get my foot in the door, if I want to upgrade later that's fine as it's a lot cheaper to just buy a new GPU than it is to buy an entirely new system.
I just have the misfortune of picking a old unoptimized for GPU game as my favorite, so I'm having to think about CPU more than I would normally be, where you'd just pick any 100 dollar CPU with favorable specs and move on.