Although gaming laptops are better (and more affordable) than ever, any true PC gamer will tell you that a traditional desktop computer is still the way to go. Even a good cheap gaming PC can outperform gaming consoles when configured properly, running the latest titles at 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second without too much trouble.
There’s a lot to consider before buying a gaming computer (or any PC, for that matter), from processing power to RAM and that all-important graphics card. To help you find the right machine for your needs and to save you some money — and to ensure you don’t end up with something that’s outdated in 2020 — we’ve smoked out the best cheap gaming PC deals available online right now. We’ve also put together a brief buying guide to make your decision a little easier, and don’t forget to pair your gaming tower with a good monitor deal to complete your battle station.
Today’s Best Cheap Gaming PC Deals
- — $480
- — $500 ($200 off)
- — $680
- — $770 ($115 off)
- — $800 ($150 off)
- — $1,000 ($240 off)
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 tower features an AMD Ryzen 3 3200G, an APU that features Radeon Vega 8 graphics, which will allow for some light 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 Ryzen 3, this iBuyPower gaming PC comes with a respectable 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 240GB solid-state drive. And since its tower and motherboard aren’t proprietary, you can upgrade this thing freely (it might not even be a bad idea for those with basic gaming requirements to grab this PC now, and then upgrade components as needed in the future). making it an even better value is the fact that it comes bundled with a wired PC and mouse right out of the box — all yours for just $480 from Newegg right now.
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 a Radeon RX550 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 $500 right now after a nice $200 discount, and it might be about the best gaming PC you’ll find for 500 bucks. And, like the iBuyPower PC, it also comes bundled with a mouse and keyboard.
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 16-series graphics cards are the best entry point for getting into 1080p gaming at 60 frames per second (for modern games at high settings, that is), and the ABS Rogue SE gaming PC is a cost-affordable way to do it. This tower features a GTX 1650 Super, which is a great 1080p GPU — arguably displacing the iconic Radeon RX 580 from this crown — which works with a Ryzen 5 2600 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 (bigger than the SSDs you usually see 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 GTX 1650 Super gaming PC bundle for $680 from Newegg.
Like HP, Dell is another brand known for its no-nonsense workhorse computers, but it puts out some solid gaming PCs that are definitely worth your attention. The Dell G series features some particularly nice gaming laptops and desktops for budget-conscious shoppers, and this Dell G5 PC tower offers a lot of bang for the buck: It’s got a 9th-gen Intel Core i5-9400F six-core CPU, 8GB DDR4 RAM, and most impressively, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU, which is easily the best mid-range graphics card on the market right now (replacing the last-gen 1060 Ti).
It doesn’t come with an SSD, but you’ve got a nice, high-speed 7,200rpm 1TB hard drive which is faster and smoother than the HDDs of yesterday. Not shown above are the included mouse and keyboard, 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. A $115 discount knocks the Dell G5 down to $770 for a limited time.
CyberPowerPC is one of the better makers of pre-built gaming computers, and this one lives up to the name. It packs an AMD Ryzen 7 2700X CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 GPU, and unlike most cheap gaming PCs, you get a boosted 16GB of RAM with this one (which is what we typically recommend for gaming in 2020). It comes with a 500GB SSD for high-speed storage and includes a backlit keyboard and optical gaming mouse.
The CyberPowerPC is also easy to upgrade in the future if you get a wild hair and want to pop open the case and add more memory, another hard drive, or whatever — and the stylish white front panel and RGB LED case fans (you get three of these) don’t hurt the overall aesthetic, either. At $800 after a nice $150 discount, this is a very solid mid-range “enthusiast” gaming PC with some nice future-proofing.
Tip-toeing up to the $1,000 budget limit brings us to the Nvidia RTX 20-series graphics cards, which is definitely what you should be looking for if you’re paying more than $900. This gaming desktop from CLX checks all the boxes: An AMD Ryzen 7 2700 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a beefy Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU are capable of handling 1080p gaming at 120fps or 1440p at 60fps, so if 1080p/60fps isn’t enough for you in 2020, this PC is a worthy upgrade over our other picks.
Its internal storage is divided across two drives: A 120GB SSD and a high-speed 7,200RPM 1TB hard drive. For thermals, you’ve got two RGB front intake fans and a rear exhaust fan which, along with the CPU fan, should keep things running cool. A $240 savings brings the CLX desktop gaming PC right in at $1,000.
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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