Laptops are ubiquitous in today’s fast-paced internet-connected world, but the decades-old desktop PC is still the undisputed champ for gaming and serious productivity. Beefier hardware, more customizability, bigger displays (not to mention the option to easily set up multiple displays if that’s your thing), and the ability to use better peripherals like mechanical keyboards are all great reasons to opt for a good desktop computer over a Windows laptop or MacBook for your work, entertainment, and general daily use.
Desktop PCs span an enormous range when it comes to specs, price points, and even designs today, with mini desktops and all-in-one PCs offering alternatives to those bulky desktop towers of old (although those still have a place, of course). Put more simply, whatever your budget and needs are — be it work, hardcore gaming, streaming, or all of the above — there’s a cheap desktop computer deal out there for you, and we’ve rounded up a handful of the best ones you can score right now. Read on:
Today’s best cheap desktop computer deals
— $420, was $500
You no longer have to pay out the nose for a desktop PC that can also handle a little light gaming thanks to AMD’s accelerated processor units which combine a CPU and a GPU in a single chip. If you’re looking for a cheap one, the Lenovo IdeaCentre 510A is your best bet for less than 500 bucks: An AMD Ryzen 5 3400G APU features built-in Radeon Vega 11 graphics processing power which, while not as beefy as a dedicated GPU, will still offering some surprisingly impressive gaming capabilities for such a cheap desktop computer.
Its 8GB of DDR4 RAM is also nice to see instead of the 4GB you often find at this price point (and you can upgrade it to up to 16GB if you like), and the 1TB 7,200rpm HDD offers a nice amount of storage at a reasonable speed. A wired mouse and keyboard are included, as well. An $80 savings means you can score the Lenovo IdeaCentre 510A desktop for a super affordable $420 at the moment. If you’re willing to pay more for boosted gaming specs, however, then be sure to check out our last two picks.
— $480, was $520
Moving up in size a bit (but down in price) from micro desktop computers like the Mac Mini, the HP Slimline PC is a great cheap desktop computer with a small footprint. It packs an eighth-generation Intel Core i5 CPU and 8GB of RAM — the minimum specs we typically recommend if you’re spending more than $300 — along with a nice big 1TB HDD and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity.
Like most of our cheap desktop computer picks, this HP Slimline PC also includes a wired keyboard and mouse to get you started, which only adds to its excellent value. You can grab this cheap desktop for a very affordable $480.
— $600, was $680
Along with a PC tower, you typically need a minimum of three peripherals to complete your desktop computer setup: a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse. These are additional costs, but if you want everything in a single package – and one that won’t take up much space on your desk – then an all-in-one system like this Dell Inspiron 24 3000 Touch is a great option for a super-sleek workstation fit for the 2020s.
The Dell Inspiron 24 3000 Touch all-in-one comes equipped with a 7th-gen AMD A9 APU with built-in Radeon R5 graphics, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a big 2TB HDD, all of which sit right inside the 24-inch 1080p touchscreen monitor housing (that means there’s no PC tower to fuss with). That design, plus the included mouse and keyboard, gives you everything you need right out of the box, and for a great price of just $600 right now after an $80 discount.
— $650, was $800
While gaming laptops have narrowed the gap in recent years, desktop PCs like the HP Pavilion lineup are still the best way to enjoy some impressive gaming capabilities on a budget. This desktop tower packs an AMD Ryzen 5 3500 CPU, 8GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card, and a 1TB SSD, which is impressive power for 1080p/60fps gaming at this price point.
The hardware alone is pretty great, but to sweeten this cheap desktop deal even further, the HP Omen Obelisk also comes with a wired keyboard and optical mouse (all you need is a monitor and audio output and you’re ready to rock). This great gaming PC is on sale right now for $650, giving you a very nice $150 discount.
— $689, was $799
Desktop computers aren’t exactly known for their small footprints (relative to laptops, anyway), but the pint-sized Mac Mini from Apple can free up some desk space a bit. An Intel Core i3 CPU and 8GB of DDR4 RAM are very nice specs for work, browsing, and streaming, and you also get a snappy 128GB SSD for storage — not quite as large as a traditional hard drive, but much faster than those HDDs of yesteryear (and you can upgrade this at extra cost, of course).
What sells the Apple Mac Mini desktop computer is not just its small size, but its value: It’s on sale for $689 right now after a $110 price cut, making it far and away one of the cheapest brand new MacOS computers you can find at the moment. Just plug in your peripherals and you’re ready to roll.
— $830, was $930
Tip-toeing up to our $1,000 limit brings us to the beefy Dell G5 gaming tower, which has pretty much everything we want in a desktop at this price. It boasts an Intel Core i5-9400 six-core processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU with 6GB of VRAM, and 8GB of DDR4 RAM, which work together to deliver excellent gaming performance at 1080p and even 1440p with a suitable monitor (although you’ll probably want to add more RAM for that).
On top of that, you’ve got a high-speed 256GB SSD for your OS and other software plus a nicely sized 1TB hard drive for plenty of extra storage. This solid gaming desktop is a great value at $830 after a $100 price cut.
How to choose a cheap desktop computer
After setting your budget, it’s time to decide what exactly you’re looking for in a good cheap desktop computer. First, is this PC going to be primarily for work and general daily use, primarily for gaming, or a fairly even split between these? This will naturally determine what sort of specs you’re looking at — such as, for instance, whether you need a discrete graphics card or not — but the good news is that in the sub-$1,000 category, you can find many good desktop PCs packing solid up-to-date hardware that won’t be outdated within two years.
Another important consideration is peripherals. What monitor (or monitors) is your desktop computer going to be connected to? Do you already have a mouse and keyboard; if not, do you want a desktop PC that comes with these included, or do you plan to buy nicer ones separately? Bear in mind that while many desktop towers come with accessories, you’ll still need to decide how much you’re budgeting for things like a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, mouse pad, speakers, and other peripherals you might need.
The bottom line is this: Don’t merely look at the price and basic hardware specs when shopping for a cheap desktop computer. Set your budget, know exactly what features you want (write this down if you need to) and then work from there.
What makes a good cheap desktop computer?
When shopping for any sort of cheap computer, be it a laptop or desktop PC, the biggest risk you’ll face is ending up with something that is running on outdated hardware (or hardware that will be outdated very soon). This is what happens when you consider only the price and don’t familiarize yourself with the current state of computer hardware. Thankfully, there’s not too much to remember.
More Laptop Deals
First, when looking at CPUs, it’s best to stick with ninth- and 10th-generation Intel Core processors and AMD Ryzen (also known as “Zen”) processors, as these are more recent and will keep your system – even a relatively basic one – reasonably “future-proof.” We also suggest a minimum of 8GB of RAM unless you’re sailing into sub-$300 waters and 16GB is even more strongly recommended for something like a gaming desktop. Finally, solid-state drives (now common even on cheap computers) are generally preferable to traditional hard drives. These SSDs are generally more reliable and considerably faster than old-school HDDs, although they offer less storage space per dollar.
Are cheap desktop computers good for gaming?
Any PC packing an up-to-date CPU, GPU, and SSD (or at least a 7,200rpm HDD) should be good to go for gaming, and there are plenty of good cheap desktop computers that fit this bill nicely. Along with the processors we mentioned, modern graphics card generations include Nvidia’s 16- and 20-series cards, although you’ll be sticking with the 16-series GPUs in the sub-$1,000 price bracket. These replaced Nvidia’s 10-series cards as entry- and mid-level GPUs last year, and while there are still PCs with those older cards floating around, we don’t recommend them in 2020.
AMD’s Radeon family of budget- and mid-tier graphics card includes the RX 500 series, with GPUs like the RX 570, 580, and 590 offering good performance capabilities for 1080p gaming. You’re not likely to achieve 4K or even 1440p gaming with most cheap desktop computers, but that is a sacrifice you make for keeping costs down. Also, remember that an SSD will load games (and everything else) noticeably faster than an HDD.
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