If you’re thinking of building a PC, you’ve probably noticed that the ongoing chip shortage has left the well of GPU deals dry. Don’t sweat it: You don’t need to buy the components piecemeal to get a cost-effective, gaming-worthy machine that can run the latest titles and cut through heavy workloads. Available parts are pretty much all going to brand-name computer manufacturers at the moment, so while building your own desktop tower might be off the table right now (and likely for the next few months at least), you can still score some pretty solid gaming PC deals if you know where to look — and you’ve just found the right place. We’ve combed the entire web to bring you a hand-picked selection of the best cheap gaming PCs out there this week.
Kepler Systems Genesis GTX 750 Gaming PC — $560 HP Pavilion GeForce GTX 1660 Super Gaming Desktop — $695, was $795 Asus ROG Strix GL10 GTX 1660 Ti Gaming PC — $899 ABS Master RTX 3060 Gaming PC — $1,300, was $1,400
If your needs are modest and you still want a dedicated graphics card (perhaps for tasks like video editing along with light gaming), this Kepler Systems gaming desktop is a cost-effective and very attractive option. This tower features an Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 graphics card, which, while a very basic GPU with 2GB VRAM, is one of the cheapest discrete GPUs on the market right now. That card works with a Core i5 CPU and 8GB of RAM to deliver sufficient performance for work and for less resource-heavy games like Fornite and Minecraft.
For storage, you’ve got a 500GB SSD, which is a nice amount of space for your games and other digital goodies. Its mod-friendly case design allows you to upgrade components in the future, as well.
HP may not be as well-known for gaming as brands like Alienware or MSI, but it makes some surprisingly solid PCs and you’ll see its name frequently when shopping around for gaming systems. This Pavilion desktop tower runs on a Ryzen 5 CPU paired with a GTX 1660 Super graphics card, which are very capable specs for a cheap gaming PC in this price bracket. For memory, you’ve got 8GB of RAM (which can be upgraded even further if need be) along with a 256GB solid-state drive for storage.
This desktop tower is one of the best pre-built gaming PC deals 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.
Asus always has some nice computers for folks on a budget, and this ROG Strix GL10 gaming PC offers a lot of bang for the buck. While not the beefiest tower on our list (see our last pick for that one), it’s still got a very respectable Ryzen 5 3600X CPU, 8GB DDR4 RAM, and a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU with 6GB VRAM for some added graphical juice.
That isn’t quite as muscular as the RTX series video cards, but it’s more than enough to get the job done for 1080p gaming while also making this the perfect workstation for things like video editing and graphic design. You’ve also got a nice fast 256GB SSD for storage.
And now for our “who cares about a budget?” pick: ABS builds some fantastic gaming computers for a lesser-known brand, and the striking Master gaming desktop doesn’t disappoint if you want a serious GPU upgrade over our previous selections. It packs an 11th-gen Core i5-11400F CPU and a GeForce RTX 3060 GPU with 12GB of VRAM, which is a great processor/graphics card combo for 1440p or even 4K gaming in 2021, along with 16GB of RAM. It comes with 512GB of high-speed solid-state storage as well.
The PC tower’s LED-accented case looks striking on your desk and comes with RGB fans, giving you everything you need to keep things running cool. This is a great gaming PC with some nice future-proofing — meaning you won’t have to upgrade it any time soon, except maybe to add some more storage for your game library. At this price, though, you may want to consider upgrading to a mechanical keyboard and gaming mouse to get the most out of that hardware.
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 toward 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 here in 2021. 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 10th or 11th-gen Intel Core or one of the newer second or third-gen AMD Ryzen (sometimes called “Zen”) processors. For RAM, a minimum of 8GB is recommended for all but the cheapest gaming PCs, and 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 swap out. GPUs are arguably the heart of a gaming computer; modern models include AMD’s Radeon 500, 5000, and 6000 series as well as Nvidia’s GTX 16-series and RTX 20- and 30-series GPUs.
Nvidia replaced their older 10-series GPUs in recent years, 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 GTX 16-series Nvidia cards are faster and are ideal for 1080p gaming. For 1440p gaming, you’ll be better served with one of the RTX series cards such as the RTX 3060. 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 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).
We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.
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