Although PC hardware is only getting smaller and laptops are the new standard in the modern mobile world, old-school desktop computers aren’t going anywhere. There are plenty of reasons for their enduring presence: For gaming, multi-tasking, and day-long productivity, no laptop can hold a candle to a full-sized desktop computer interface. PC gamers are especially adamant that a good desktop tower is still the only way to go, and while you can always build your own, there are plenty of great pre-built gaming computers available today that let you avoid that hassle.
Desktop PCs cover just as wide of a spectrum as laptops when it comes to hardware specs, designs, and prices, but the first place to start looking once you’ve got a budget in mind is always by hunting around for a good deal. That’s where we come in: Below, we’ve scooped up the six best cheap gaming PC deals you can grab online right now, and we’ve even written up a quick buying guide to help you pick the perfect one — and don’t forget to complete your new battle station with one of these awesome monitor deals.
Today’s Best Cheap Gaming PC Deals
- — $500
- — $600, was $730
- — $700, was $800
- — $900, was $1,100
- — $950
- — $1,000
Years ago, you’d be hard-pressed to find any sort of gaming-capable rig for less than $500 owing to the cost of discrete graphics cards. AMD crafted a unique solution to that problem in its APUs, or accelerated processing units, which are basically CPUs that pack built-in graphics processing capabilities. This desktop PC from iBuyPower features an AMD Ryzen 3 3200G APU that features Radeon Vega 8 graphics, which allows for some gaming. Don’t expect to run the latest AAA games at high settings, but it’ll get the job done for those with modest needs.
Along with the AMD APU, this desktop PC comes with a boosted 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 240GB solid-state drive — and like most of our other picks, it comes with a wired mouse and keyboard. This cheap gaming PC can be yours for just $500.
The Nvidia GTX 16-series graphics cards are still one of the best entry points for getting into 1080p gaming at 60 frames per second for modern games, and the ABS Rogue SE desktop PC is a cost-affordable (not to mention very attractive) way to do it. This tower features a GTX 1650 Super, which is one of our favorite 1080p-capable GPUs. That graphics card works with an Intel Core i3-9100F CPU and 8GB of DDR4 RAM to deliver great overall performance for work or play.
For storage, you’ve got a nice-sized 512GB SSD (larger than the ones you usually find on cheap gaming PCs), and like most of our other picks, the ABS Rogue SE includes a mouse and keyboard. All you need is a display and an audio source and you’re ready to game. You can grab this high-value gaming PC bundle for a mere $600 and save $130.
HP is best known for its business laptops and desktops, but it makes some surprisingly solid (and budget-friendly) gaming PCs as well. This HP pavilion runs on an AMD Ryzen 5 3500 CPU paired with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card which, while not mind-blowing specs, are very impressive for a cheap gaming PC at this price point. For memory, you’ve got 8GB of RAM (which can be upgraded if need be) along with a 1TB HDD for storage.
The HP Pavilion desktop tower rings in at just $700 right now after a nice $100 discount, and it’s one of the best pre-built gaming PC with a dedicated GPU that you’ll find for around this price at the moment. And, like most of our other picks, it also comes bundled with a mouse and keyboard.
ABS builds many well-priced gaming computers for a lesser-known brand, and the ABS Focus G doesn’t disappoint. It packs an Intel Core i5-9400F CPU and an Nvidia GTX Ti GPU with 6GB VRAM, which is easily one of the best processor/graphics card combos for 1080p gaming at 60fps in 2020 (and is arguably the best mid-range GPU on the market right now). It comes with a 512GB SSD for plenty of storage as well.
The ABS Focus G tower’s see-through side panel looks nice on any desk without appearing too garish, and it’s customizable and upgradeable like most desktop towers. At $900 after a $200 discount, this is a very solid enthusiast gaming PC with some nice future-proofing — which is to say that, thanks to the boosted 16GB RAM, you won’t have to upgrade this thing for quite a few years.
Tip-toeing up to the $1,000 budget limit brings us to the AMD Radeon RX 5000-series graphics cards, which is definitely in the range of higher-end GPUs you should be looking for if you’re paying more than $900. The Gamer Master gaming desktop from CyberPowerPC checks all the boxes: An AMD Ryzen 5 3600 six-core CPU, a boosted 16GB of RAM, and a beefy Radeon RX 5600XT GPU (with an impressive 6GB of VRAM) are capable of handling 1080p gaming or even 1440p, so if Full HD isn’t enough for you in 2020, this PC is a worthy upgrade over our other picks.
A 500GB SSD and 1TB HDD gives you plenty of combined storage as well. For thermals, you’ve got RGB-lit front and rear intake/exhaust fans which should keep things running cool. The CyberPowerPC Gamer Master gaming PC rings in at $950 (including a wired mouse and keyboard), fitting right into our budget.
The lesser-known brand CLX offers some particularly nice gaming desktops for budget-conscious shoppers, and the SET tower offers a lot of bang for the buck: It’s got a AMD Ryzen 3 2200G CPU, 8GB DDR4 RAM, and most impressively, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU which is easily the best entry-level “high-end” graphics card on the market right now that will allow you to game at 1080p or even 1440p if you have a monitor for it (although you’ll definitely want to consider tossing in another 8GB of RAM in the future).
You’ve also got a 120GB solid-state system drive plus a 1TB hard drive. A wired mouse and keyboard are included as well, although you might consider upgrading to a mechanical keyboard and gaming mouse to get the best experience out of a gaming PC at this price point. The CLX SET gaming desktop rings in at exactly $1,000, hitting our budget limit right on the mark.
How To Choose A Cheap Gaming PC
As with any big purchase, make sure you know exactly what you want when buying a gaming computer. It’s not a bad idea to write down a checklist. It’s also important when looking specifically at cheap gaming PCs (i.e. those coming in at less than $1,000) to have realistic expectations — you’re not going to get multi-monitor 4K gaming at this price point. That said, it’s easy to achieve great results with 1080p/60fps gaming at high settings even for modern releases, and even for 1440p gaming when you move towards the upper end of our $1,000 price limit.
If playing at 1080p/60fps on one or two monitors is good enough, then you won’t have a hard time finding a good cheap gaming PC to meet your needs. If your demands are a bit higher, though, then expect to have to shop around a bit for the right deal. Also, be sure to bring yourself up to speed with the latest hardware — don’t just jump on the first attractive deal you find that meets your budget only to end up with a last-gen GPU that will feel long in the tooth in 2020. Know what you want and what to expect from a cheap gaming PC that’s within your set budget and you won’t be disappointed, and for a more detailed breakdown of the sort of hardware you should look for, read on.
What Makes A Good Cheap Gaming PC?
The short answer is that a good price-to-performance ratio is what makes a cheap gaming PC “good,” and the good news here is that desktop computers already provide this sort of value by their very nature — it’s simply easier to fit all that beefy hardware into a desktop tower, whereas the scaled-down components of laptops (not to mention their built-in displays and keyboards) make those mobile PCs more expensive. That said, it’s still important to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck if you’re buying a pre-assembled desktop computer, as some are built better than others.
The three main hardware components that drive performance are the CPU, GPU (or graphics card), and RAM. Our recommendations: For your CPU, stick with a 9th- or 10th-gen Intel Core or one of the newer AMD Ryzen (sometimes called “Zen”) processors. For RAM, a minimum of 8GB is recommended for all but the cheapest gaming PCs, an 16GB is even better — but remember you can almost always add more RAM and this is one of the easiest (if not the easiest) components to. GPUs are arguably the heart of a gaming computer; modern models include AMD’s Radeon 500 and 5000 series as well as Nvidia’s GTX 16- and RTX 20- series GPUs.
Nvidia replaced their older 10-series GPUs last year, but there are still cheap gaming PCs floating around with these cards. Our advice: Avoid them unless your needs are modest and you can snag one for a seriously good deal. Even the entry-level 16-series Nvidia cards are faster and are ideal for 1080p gaming. For 1440p gaming, you’ll be better served with one of the 20-series cards such as the GTX 2060 or 2070. If anything bottlenecks your gaming PC’s performance, it will be an underpowered GPU, so this is the one component you don’t want to skimp on. One final thing to consider is upgradeability: If you plan to keep your chosen PC tower for a while, look at what sort of case and motherboard it’s using to determine if you can easily add and swap parts in the future. Some desktop PCs from brands like HP use proprietary components which will limit what parts you can add and can be costly to replace.
Are Cheap Gaming PCs Good For Work?
It’s safe to say that running modern video games at good settings is generally a much more demanding job than most work tasks you’d normally need a computer for, so any gaming computer — even a cheap gaming PC — will be as well-suited for work and study as it is for play. The faster processors and high-speed RAM will make short work of simple tasks like web browsing, word processing, making spreadsheets, and so on, and the discrete GPU is also nice to have for graphical tasks such as video rendering. Another advantage of a desktop PC, particularly one with a graphics card, is the option to create a multi-monitor setup that can increase your productivity (and even a single monitor will still give you more screen real estate than a laptop display).
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