TL;DR – These are the Best Gaming PCs
1. Skytech Archangel
Best budget gaming PC
Skytech might be a lesser known or completely unknown Gaming PC maker to you but they’ve built up a reputation of delivering on affordable and powerful gaming PCs. The Archangel is the company’s most value-packed system yet featuring an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 processor paired with fast RAM and a Nvidia GTX 1660 Super. This GPU, of course, has already proven that it runs 1080p gaming on ultra settings spectacularly and can even do 1440p gaming with some settings tweaking.
Despite costing under a grand, this budget gaming PC still comes with a bit of panache thanks to its RGB-lit ThermalTake case and Riing PC fans. Of course, there are some cut corners like a single stick of RAM and an 80 Plus power supply – the least efficient class of PSU available. You also might end up getting an Asus graphics card instead of the Zotac one advertised in the picture, but at the end of the day you’re getting a lot of PC gaming power on the cheap.
2. HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop
Best Ultra Cheap Gaming PC
HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop
These days, HP is better known for its value PCs that offer decent power at affordable prices. So, when it comes to budget PC gaming, it’s hardly a surprise that HP has something that’s much cheaper than its rivals. For $840, you can get a Pavilion gaming desktop with an octa-core AMD Ryzen 3rd generation processor under the hood. Meanwhile the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 is a solid 1080p performer for competitive online games – like Apex Legends and Valorant – and AAA experiences.
The downside to paying that low price? You’re getting a boxy desktop PC with an unimaginative design and hardly any RGB lighting. But, if that’s not a deal-breaker for you, then you’ve got a winner here.
3. Intel Hades Canyon NUC
Best Budget Mini Gaming PC
Intel Hades Canyon NUC
There aren’t a lot of mini PCs out there that can handle the top PC games well. There’s even fewer that can do so without burning a hole in your pocket. That’s why we have a soft spot for the Intel Hades Canyon NUC 8. It may have slightly aging specs — 8th generation Intel Quad-Core i7 and the discrete-class AMD Radeon RX Vega M GH integrated graphics — but it’s still plenty capable when it comes to gaming.
All things considered, it is still pretty pricey for a stripped down PC. You’re certainly paying for portability here. However, if a mini PC is the solution for your gaming needs, then the Intel Hades Canyon NUC 8 is a pretty decent value, especially considering that its successor, the xxx has a higher price of entry. And, it’s not like you’re not getting much for $999. With it, you’re getting a terrific gaming PC that’s run a decent 1440p game as well as an excellent home theater solution.
4. HP Omen 25L Desktop
Best budget PC for 1080p gaming
HP Omen 25L Desktop
Much like HP’s other offering on this list, the HP OMEN 25L Desktop doesn’t really offer much in design and aesthetic. That said, this tall, industrial-looking tower is perfect for those who crave a minimalistic style. The only stylistic flourishes on this machine are the lit up diamond on its front panel, the tempered glass side panel, and complete RGB control.
The good news here is that it’s just as capable as the Pavilion when it comes to gaming performance and only ever so slightly more expensive.
This is the budget king of 1080p gaming, and if you upgrade to the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X with the AMD Radeon RX 5500 graphics card, you’re getting an even bigger boost in performance and better power efficiency. Unfortunately, you do have to pay more for more SSD storage space, but for not much more. And, for what this gaming PC offers, you could be paying much more.
5. Asus ROG Strix GA15DH
Best budget PC for 1440p gaming
Asus ROG Strix GA15DH
Fast RAM, plenty of storage space and a gaming aesthetic aren’t the only things the Asus ROG Strix Gaming Desktop PC has going for it. Belonging to Asus’ acclaimed Republic of Gamers line, this budget gaming desktop is made for gaming inside and out.
To start, that awesome looking chassis is extremely breathable for better cooling, and sports Asus’ Aura Sync RGB lighting and EMI-reducing transparent side panel. More importantly for gamers, it hides the most ideal internals for 1440p gaming – from the Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti, current king of 1440p gaming, to its AMD Ryzen 7 3700X whose price to performance ratio is the stuff of modern gaming legends.
It’s a little pricier than all the other offerings on this list, but think of it this way: $1,200 for excellent 1440p gaming? That’s not a bad deal at all. It’s even got a few thoughtful little extras like the carry handle on top and the side hook to hold your headset.
What to Look For in a Budget Gaming PC
While many of the best gaming PCs will cost you a bit of money, especially if you’re looking to play the most graphically-intensive games at the highest or ultra settings, it’s not impossible to find a more than decent gaming rig for a fraction of the cost. Budget gaming PCs that hardly do anything are practically a thing of the past now that the competition in internal components has heated up, thanks in large part to AMD.
Of course, if you do want a quality gaming experience, you can’t just pick up any cheap gaming PC. Some criteria need to be met, especially in terms of graphics and memory, as they matter most when it comes to handling graphically-demanding tasks like gaming.
The good news is there’s quite a helping of incredible discrete graphics cards out there that are ideal for gaming, and they’re more affordable than ever with AMD and Nvidia trying to outdo each other in price and performance. The downside to this is that there are a lot of options out there, and it can get pretty overwhelming to choose when you’re not familiar with them.
The unbeatable GPU champion for gaming right now is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti – though AMD is rumored to be getting ready to unleash an AMD Navi card that will dethrone it. However, that card will cost you.
For budget gamers, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and GTX 1660 Super are budget heroes. As are the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT and AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT, which even beat out the mid-range RTX 2060 Super in terms of value. If you’re looking for something dirt-cheap, the AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT is a solid bargain-basement performer.
The speed and amount of RAM you have in your gaming PC matters more than your PC’s processor when it comes to gaming. Right after the graphics card, memory takes precedence (here’s why), so it’s important to take into consideration when you’re choosing the best budget gaming PC for you.
Although 8GB of DDR4 memory is standard these days and the minimum for gaming, you might want to consider opting for 16GB of RAM. This should help speed up your computer, and not just for gaming. Many budget gaming PCs already offer that in their base configuration. But, if you’re leaning towards something that offers less than 16GB, it shouldn’t cost you that much to upgrade.
While the type of processor comes third in the pecking order when picking out gaming PCs, it still matters. You’d want a processor that delivers great gaming performance. The newer, the better, since next generation Intel and AMD processors are typically much faster than their counterparts from the previous year (though sometimes, not by much). However, if you want to save money, newer isn’t necessarily the best value for you.
For example, only last year, 8th generation Intel Core processors were considered fairly new. In the shadow of the 10th generation Comet Lake chips, they’re practically ancient. However, that doesn’t mean that those 8th generation chips won’t be able to handle AAA games anymore. If budget is your main concern, the gaming PCs they and the 9th generation chips power should be more affordable than ever. An Intel Core i5 should be good enough, but if you can spare the cash, go for an Intel Core i7.
It’s a slightly different story with AMD chips. Typically, AMD rolls out budget and mid-range processors that are extremely accessible no matter your budget. Those savings extend to the gaming PCs they power, which only benefits the budget-minded consumers. If you want specifics, you can’t go wrong with the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X or the even cheaper AMD Ryzen 5 3600X.
It’s the clock speed that you should be paying close attention to anyway. Anywhere from 3.5 GHz to 4.0 GHz should be great for gaming.
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Michelle Rae Uy is a freelance tech and travel writer, part-time production editor, and a full-time traveler from Los Angeles, California. She currently splits her time between Los Angeles, London and the rest of the world. Follow her on Instagram @straywithRae.