Best Budget Desktop Pc For Gaming

By | 25/10/2022

Hearing the words “upkeep desktop PC” may conjure some negative vibes, but it doesn’t take to be that mode. In the desktop computer world, inexpensive is not synonymous with low-quality or ho-hum, especially present.

Whether y’all’re replacing an older, flagging PC, setting up a digital signage solution, or equipping a new or temporary part that needs only simple computing, a upkeep or mini PC may do the task. Today’s upkeep desktops offering a modest baseline for performance and decent flexibility, while lasting longer than they used to. Nosotros’re talking virtually desktops that cost $800 at the very about, with many coming in under $500 and a few fifty-fifty below $200.

Below, we’ve listed all of the best budget desktops that we’ve been able to apply our full gauntlet of testing to, followed by a detailed ownership guide for the most common questions before making a purchase.

Acer Aspire TC-895-UA91

All-time General-Use Budget Desktop

Bottom Line:

Acer’s Aspire TC-895-UA91 is one of the best values around for under-$500 budget desktops, with snappy Core i3 functioning and solid all-around feature support for the money.


  • Top value we’ve tested in under-$500 desktops
  • 10th Generation Intel Core i3 CPU delivers solid performance for the price
  • Compact design with full complement of ports (USB-C, SD menu slot)
  • Optical drive, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth included


  • Integrated graphics make gaming and 3D apps nonstarters

  • Graphics upgrade options are limited

  • Nonstandard PSU

  • Adequately tight interior

Read Our Acer Aspire TC-895-UA91 Review

Dell Inspiron Desktop (3891)

Best Abode-Office Upkeep Desktop

Bottom Line:

Dell’s compact Inspiron Desktop 3891 offers a peppy Core i3 processor, Wi-Fi vi, and a DVD burner for a stone-bottom cost.


  • Bargain toll
  • Perky Intel Core i3 CPU
  • Runs quietly
  • Built-in DVD burner and Wi-Fi 6
  • Includes 12-calendar month McAfee subscription


  • But ane HDMI port

  • Integrated graphics limit gaming potential

  • Base model supports simply one internal storage drive

  • Nonstandard ability supply

Read Our Dell Inspiron Desktop (3891) Review

Apple tree Mac mini (M1, 256 GB SSD, Late 2020)

Best Budget Mac Desktop

Bottom Line:

With a new lower starting cost and Apple’s straining-at-the-ternion M1 CPU, the Mac mini is far and away the virtually polished, potent tiny desktop in its course.


  • New, lower starting price
  • Much improved overall performance from 2018 model
  • Peculiarly promising bench results with native “Universal” apps
  • Surprisingly tranquillity and cool operation under load


  • Boosting RAM and SSD capacity at purchase time is pricey

  • Fewer Thunderbolt ports than previous Mac mini

  • Memory no longer upgradable mail service-purchase

Read Our Apple Mac mini (M1, 256 GB SSD, Late 2020) Review

ECS Liva Q3 Plus

Best Upkeep Mini Desktop

Bottom Line:

The ECS Liva Q3 Plus is a tiny, quiet, capable, and affordable mini PC that’s a great fit every bit a living-room media streamer or light-duty, hibernate-anywhere office reckoner.


  • Uber-compact pattern
  • Quiet operation
  • Surprisingly stiff port pick
  • Smooth 4K streaming
  • Capable of some multitasking in Windows
  • Available with or without Windows preinstalled


  • Limited local storage

  • No USB-C port

  • Lacks the latest wireless standards

Read Our ECS Liva Q3 Plus Review

Intel NUC 11 Pro Kit NUC11TNKi5

Best Budget Mini Desktop With Good Upgradability

Bottom Line:

Intel’due south NUC 11 Pro Kit combines the company’s latest silicon with surprising expandability, multi-display chops, and productivity oomph in a state-of-the-art, right-priced mini desktop.


  • Super-trim contour
  • Very expert CPU musculus for the price and size
  • Clean, minimalist classic-NUC design
  • Above-average connectivity for the chassis size
  • Supports up to 4 direct-continued displays


  • Not an selection for gamers

  • Must factor SSD, RAM, and Os costs and installation into kit version

Read Our Intel NUC xi Pro Kit NUC11TNKi5 Review

HP Slim Desktop (S01-aF0020)

Best Basic Desktop for Kids

Lesser Line:

Deep in budget-PC pricing territory, HP’s Slim Desktop is small and stylish enough to fit nearly anywhere in your home, with simply plenty power for a capable kids’ PC or streaming media server.


  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight, compact chassis with small AC adapter
  • Plenty of storage (two Chiliad.2 slots, 3.five-inch bay, optical drive)


  • No USB-C ports

  • Poky laptop-class AMD Athlon processor

  • No fashion to install even a modest discrete GPU

  • Flimsy keyboard and mouse

Read Our HP Slim Desktop (S01-aF0020) Review

Lenovo Legion Belfry 5i (2021)

All-time Upkeep Gaming Desktop

Lesser Line:

Lenovo’south entry-level Legion Tower 5i gaming desktop delivers improved performance and style at a low toll.


  • Vi-core CPU and 6GB GPU for under $1,000
  • Stylish instance with customizable lighting
  • Serenity nether load


  • Inadequate 8GB of RAM as tested

  • Could use a front end USB-C port

Read Our Lenovo Legion Tower 5i (2021) Review

Dell XPS Desktop (8950)

All-time Highly Configurable Budget Desktop

Lesser Line:

Dell’south redesigned XPS Desktop has a spiffy new look and all-encompassing configuration options that suit information technology for merely about any performance-forward task.


  • Flexible configurations, from entry-level to height-end
  • Chic pattern
  • Piece of cake to upgrade
  • Expert port selection


  • Proprietary power supply

  • Lacks removable dust filters

Read Our Dell XPS Desktop (8950) Review

Acer Aspire TC-390-UA92

Best Budget Desktop for Prosumers, Creators

Bottom Line:

This AMD-based version of the venerable Aspire TC budget desktop makes for a snappy, meaty home-office PC for the money, even if the build has its upgrade limitations.


  • Excellent speed for an under-$500 desktop, thanks to AMD Ryzen CPU
  • Compact, straightforward design
  • Optical drive, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth included


  • No USB Blazon-C ports

  • Graphics upgrade options are limited

  • Nonstandard power supply

  • Fairly tight interior

Read Our Acer Aspire TC-390-UA92 Review

Lenovo IdeaCentre 510A

Best Desktop for Light Gaming on Integrated Graphics

Bottom Line:

Lenovo’s IdeaCentre 510A is an unassuming budget desktop in every sense. It’ll perform basic tasks without hurting your wallet, but some alternatives do it better at this price betoken.


  • Low price.
  • Compact build.
  • Optical drive, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth included.
  • AMD Ryzen G-series APU delivers slight uptick in graphics capability.


  • Poky productivity functioning even versus other budget systems.

  • Interior access is a bit more complicated than necessary.

  • No USB-C ports.

Read Our Lenovo IdeaCentre 510A Review

Raspberry Pi iv

Best Pi for Tinkerers, Makers

Bottom Line:

With configurable retentivity amounts, gigabit Ethernet, and dual-display output, the Raspberry Pi iv is an excellent tiny desktop reckoner for tinkerers and programming enthusiasts.


  • Most powerful Raspberry Pi to date.
  • Offered in three RAM amounts.
  • Supports two 4K external displays.
  • Gigabit Ethernet jack onboard.
  • USB iii.0 support.


  • When taxed without an agile cooling source, struggles with overheating.

Read Our Raspberry Pi iv Review

At present, a handful of these may not be what you usually moving-picture show when imagining a desktop, merely you’d exist surprised at the capability of some of these small-scale boxes. These PCs are certainly able to surf the web, stream videos to a monitor or big TV, operate a public display, or allow y’all to work on uncomplicated documents and other everyday productivity tasks. They tin even run spider web-based games, should you have the demand. They come in a few different shapes and sizes, almost disposed to the small-scale. The closer-to-full-size towers, meanwhile, tin can do but about everything you expect from a modern dwelling house PC.

The Dell Inspiron Desktop (3891) budget desktop at an angle

(Credit: Molly Flores)

Shopping for a budget desktop isn’t too different from standard desktop-ownership considerations, but there are some key things to know. If you’re looking at a very pocket-size organization, mini PCs tend to come in a limited set of models to choose among, tightly designed to practice what they practise well. Intel’s Adjacent Unit of measurement of Computing (NUC) mini-PC line is among the about configurable, with plenty of variation amongst its models. These machines can be bought equally fully configured systems, or, for the more DIY-minded, equally barebones kits that enable y’all to install components of your option.

The ECS Liva Q3 Plus mini PC seen at an angle

(Credit: Molly Flores)

Intel is a large role player, but not the only one, when it comes to small, inexpensive desktops. Compact-organization specialists such as Azulle, ECS, Shuttle, and Zotac focus on this area, and some broader PC players such every bit Asus have offerings in this category, too. Apple has one, also: the Apple Mac mini sits toward the top of upkeep pricing at $699, but the 2020 model bearing Apple’s M1 CPU is very highly-seasoned.

Read on to run into what to look for in these systems, and what kind of components you tin can find inside. If yous’re interested specifically in tiny PCs but upkeep is less of a factor, also cheque out our picks for our favorite micro-desktops overall. There’s plenty of crossover between the ii, simply not every tiny PC is inexpensive.

First, Consider the Class Factor

What’s immediately obvious about nearly of these upkeep PCs? How they look. Mod components accept made the PC-functioning baseline very solid, even on a $500 tower, versus what it used to be. This allows traditional small- and midsize-belfry PCs to thrive in this price range. These remain some of our favorites for the money, equally time-tested solutions to home computing.

The simply named HP Budget Desktop seen from an angle

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

Y’all’ll also see an assortment of (impressively) pocket-sized boxes, bare boards, microtowers, and fifty-fifty some stick-shaped PCs to cull amidst. The smallest of these systems measure simply a couple of inches tall and but a few more than across, while several of our top picks are mini boxes only a few inches tall and wide—and information technology’due south hard not to curiosity at these systems running full Windows 10. With their small size and dialed-down power, they salvage you not simply coin, simply space, which can exist crucial in certain usage situations. If you lot want to only plug one in out of sight behind a monitor or HDTV, yous’ll hardly know it’s there.

Despite their compact sizes, our favorite small models withal offer a respectable number of ports. The best of these boxes offer enough of physical connectivity and expansion options, which brand them versatile depending on the deployment. If y’all need to connect displays and peripherals, or add together storage, there’s an option here for you. The larger towers, of form, provide a more than comprehensive complement of ports, including some up-to-the-minute options like USB Type-C.

Component Check: What’s Within?

It should come as no shock that you lot’ll detect lower-power processors in these less-expensive desktops, merely you may be surprised at how capable some of them are for the size and toll. Simply you lot’ll need to select carefully.

CPU advancements hateful that the floor is college than it used to exist. All mod budget systems volition accept at least a dual-core CPU (some accept quad-core fries), and virtually take just a few seconds to boot up. A handful of these models (usually, mini-towers) include a bonafide Intel Core i5 desktop-strength processor, in some cases even a legitimately quick six-core/six-thread flake. An important note, however: Mini PCs, and fifty-fifty some pocket-size mini-tower-mode models, may utilize mobile-grade processors instead of desktop ones. Look at the proper name of the CPU when shopping; whatsoever Intel or AMD CPU ending in “U” in a small desktop is a laptop-equivalent processor.

The Lenovo Legion Tower 5i (2021) budget gaming desktop from an angle

(Credit: Molly Flores)

For either type, though, web browsing, streaming video, displaying data, and working in simple documents is a snap. All of these models are far from pro workstations (yous’ll still want a more powerful and more expensive scrap if you’re planning on editing media or holding spider web conferences for business with multiple participants), and then it’s of import to tailor your expectations to the specs. With the models that indeed employ low-ability laptop CPUs, you may save a bit of money and reduce noise and power consumption. These are demonstrably slower than entry-level desktop CPUs, but an okay fit for a child’due south computer or a basic streaming media server. Only be wary of these processors if y’all’re shopping for your master productivity PC, as their speed is defective for everyday multitasking.

At the very least, have an idea of the most strenuous tasks you’ll throw at this machine to make up one’s mind if a budget desktop can fit the bill. Demand a true desktop bit if much multitasking is on the agenda. These will exist Intel Core i3 or i5 processors, or AMD Ryzen 3 or five fries, with a model number not ending in “U” only more likely a nothing, an “F,” a “G,” an “10,” or a “T.” Equally for Apple, the newest-model Mac mini is no longer using Intel processors, simply Apple’s ain (impressively fast) M1 processor mentioned above.

The Dell Inspiron Desktop (3891) budget desktop seen exposed

(Credit: Molly Flores)

Moving on to retentivity, which will assistance move those tasks forth smoothly, really cheap stick-type or ultracompact desktops in the $100 to $200 range will come with 2GB, only enough for simple digital-signage installations or extremely depression-need, unmarried applications such as word processors. An increasing number come with a basic 4GB, though, especially in the $200-plus range. Upwardly at $400 and to a higher place, 8GB is common, and some units fifty-fifty manage to include 12GB in under-$700 configurations. For a PC y’all’ll rely on every mean solar day for productivity work, 8GB is actually the minimum y’all should insist on under Windows 10.

Storage is an expanse you lot may accept to fix some business firm expectations around, as capacities are seldom very loftier; these types of desktops are not meant to store huge amounts of files locally. In the cheapest, smallest desktops, you’ll get as fiddling as 32GB or 64GB of what’s called eMMC flash storage, similar to what’s offered in most Chromebooks. (It’s roughly the equivalent of an internal flash drive or SD card.) Pay a bit more, though, and yous tin net 64GB or 128GB; requite preference to models that phone call out their storage as solid-state drives (SSDs) versus eMMC; SSDs will feel snappier. Some of the full-size towers on our list include 256GB or even 512GB SSDs, at which point you’re inappreciably compromising whatsoever more than. We strongly favor SSDs over hard drives, even in this toll range.

Look for higher-capacity storage if you’re a serial downloader, simply equally evidenced by Chromebooks, internet-connected devices can get away with a lot less local storage thanks to the cloud. Flash storage and SSD volition be norm in the really small budget desktops, equally these models are too tight inside for conventional 3.v-inch (desktop-size) difficult drives, but some can take two.5-inch (laptop-size) drive upgrades. If y’all ever demand more storage space, USB 3.0 and USB-C ports will too let you attach a speedy external difficult drive or SSD.

The Intel NUC 11 Pro Kit (NUC11TNKi5, 'Tiger Canyon') mini PC seen from behind

(Credit: Molly Flores)

Mini-towers and the usual towers, though, can ofttimes take a hard drive or two in an empty internal iii.5-inch bulldoze bay if you demand bulk storage on the cheap. We’ve even seen isolated mini-tower models preconfigured with a minor SSD as the kick bulldoze, plus a mass-storage difficult drive. This is the best of both worlds in a upkeep config, but yous’ll accept to store around to find one. (Ordinarily you get just one or the other.)

A budget Desktop CPU and RAM

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

Budget machines, whether big or pocket-sized, almost exclusively come up with the integrated graphics built into the CPU, non a discrete Nvidia GeForce or AMD Radeon graphics card. You need a video carte du jour for leading-edge gaming experiences or 3D applications, which are several tiers above what these PCs offering. At best, integrated graphics can run some less-demanding games at depression detail settings and resolutions, or very visually simple and second games, smoothly.

It goes without maxim that an enthusiast gamer should look elsewhere (check out our favorite cheap gaming laptops and gaming desktops), but you could still get away with some light gaming on these. Gaming models with dedicated graphics cards outset at several hundred dollars higher than the $500 range, but a few are starting to creep in effectually budget pricing; one of our current favorites is the CyberPower Gamer Xtreme GXi11400CPG.

Internal Upgrades: Upkeep Towers (May) Have You Covered

If you’re remotely interested in upgrading your desktop downward the line, traditional tower desktops volition do the job, even at this price indicate. The niche small-form-cistron desktops are less friendly to maintenance, but your go-to standard tower will welcome additions easily. In a traditional case, you should expect to exist able to remove the side console and add more storage (like, as mentioned, an additional bulldoze or two) and more memory.

Towers tin besides give you lot the option to add a detached graphics carte, but be mindful of several factors affecting that future prospect. For one thing, limitations might be posed by the chassis size or the wattage of the internal power supply. Some budget tower models without video cards have power supplies with less than 200-watt output ratings, and others use proprietary power supply solutions that tin can’t be easily swapped for a higher-wattage unit.

You may be able to open up a example, and it may have the PCI Express x16 slot for a video carte du jour, only the power supply might not have the wattage oomph to push it, or the chassis might be cramped and permit for the installation simply of one-half-acme cards or short-length cards, which would severely limit your upgrade options. It’s easy to assume y’all’ll be able to throw a improve graphics bill of fare in a system after you purchase, only you lot’ll often find these limitations, especially in the least expensive models. Exist sure to look at those factors closely kickoff. Your most likely upgrade options for these systems will come up in the grade of additional storage or memory.

An exposed Acer Aspire TC-390-UA92 budget PC

(Credit: Matthew Buzzi)

Downward the size scale, small and inexpensive models don’t always rule out upgrades, especially for the more customizable offerings like the Intel NUC series. If you’re someone who will tinker, or who works in a professional setting deploying PCs for business concern use, with the NUCs and systems like them, you can add together RAM or swap in a roomier drive (usually in K.2 SSD format) to suit your needs. Audit your options at the time of purchase. As a general rule, though, the smaller the chassis, the fewer your upgrade options.

That said, proceed your expectations in bank check. An eMMC kicking drive won’t itself exist upgradable (it’s made up of soldered-down chips), but in some unusual cases you might be able to add a secondary SSD or difficult drive alongside the eMMC bulldoze as extra storage. The stick-style supercompact PCs (similar the Azulle Access4) are resolutely not upgradable. Besides, in many compact, cheap desktops, the CPU and RAM are not socketed and removable, only part of the mainboard.

…And So There Was Pi

Beyond budget Windows desktops, of form, is the ultimate cheap DIY auto: the incredibly inexpensive Raspberry Pi.

The Pi, in its various iterations, is no more than than a canvass of a bare circuit lath. (Come across our review of the latest, the capable Raspberry Pi 4.) But this series of flexible “hobby board” systems allows you to create whatsoever lightweight computer you demand and are capable of assembling from uncomplicated ancestry.

A Raspberry Pi mini PC seen from above

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

The Pi computers themselves are quite inexpensive, nigh under $50. Configuring and using the Pi will take some experimenter’s spirit, a few added dongles, and a willingness to piece of work with a course of Linux. You’ll need to gene in the cost of some storage (a microSD carte du jour), a example for the PCB (usually a niggling expense), and cables, for starters.

Don’t retrieve of the Raspberry Pi as a replacement for a total-on working or productivity desktop, though. It doesn’t accept a level of power or user-friendliness for general-usage situations like that. However, for sure use cases, it’s just what yous need: for powering a robot, running a weather station, serving as a media server, acting as a light web server. Its usefulness is limited merely by your patience to learn the Linux-based lingo surrounding the various OSs, and your willingness to tweak and tinker. (Run across our guide to getting started with Raspberry Pi.)

One large caveat to your inexpensive-desktop dreams, whether Windows-based, a Pi, or something else: You’ll even so need a monitor. To be fair, this is no different than buying a standard screenless tower PC, unless you were to buy an spread-out all-in-i desktop. In this instance, though, the added cost hurts extra given you’re trying to exist thrifty. Still, if you demand to invest in a panel, don’t fret. You can find adept, serviceable 1080p (1,920-by-one,080-pixel) displays starting just under $100. That’due south for a nice, roomy 23-incher. Ideally, y’all may fifty-fifty have a monitor from a past organization, and key peripherals such as a keyboard and mouse to go with it. (We have you covered if y’all desire to shop for a keyboard or mouse, besides, by the way.) Fifty-fifty ameliorate, many tower-way budget PCs include a bones keyboard and mouse in the box.

Dell Inspiron small desktop accessories, a wired mouse and keyboard

(Credit: Zlata Ivleva)

Using a TV as a monitor is likewise an choice for a organization with an HDMI-out port, if yous’re in a state of affairs where you can brandish your PC onto a Television that’due south already set up. This is especially useful for ultracompact and stick PCs, as they can plug right in to an HDMI port on the Television receiver and need no major cable runs for setup in a living room, a dorm room, a entrance hall, or anywhere else a PC may await unsightly. Indeed, small PCs like these make excellent solutions for powering a home theater for streaming, file playback from a network bulldoze, and the similar.

So, Which Budget PC Should I Buy?

If you’re replacing an older system that has go a chip too dull or worn out, or are setting up a new workspace and need something simple, a budget desktop may be in your hereafter. Check out our recommendations list below for some of our favorites. If you’d like a more traditional tower and can swing the actress money, check out our overall pinnacle desktop picks or, alternately, our favorite cheap laptops.