The 7 budget PCs that prove PC gaming is for everyone
Looking for the best cheap gaming PCs can be an annoying process. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, then you may end up sinking funds into a machine that doesn’t perform as needed. Either way, you’ll want decent hardware for the bucks you’re shelling out, especially now that virtual reality is becoming more mainstream, thanks to Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platform baked into Windows 10.
Below you will find a list of desktops focused on gaming that we believe are great for the money. Most consist of seventh-generation Core processors from Intel, but we also found one affordable model packing one of AMD’s latest Ryzen-branded chips. All models below can support the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets for VR, one of our requirements when determining the best cheap gaming PCs you can buy.
Acer Predator G3-710-UR11 ($890)
Here’s a great desktop for PC gamers based on Intel’s seventh-generation Core i5-7400 processor, and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 (3GB) graphics card. This is a great combination for virtual reality, and is complemented by a cool armored exterior to visually spice up your dull desktop surface. But it’s not exactly small either, measuring 20.08 (L) x 7.09 x 16.1 (H) inches, and weighing a hefty 24.2 pounds.
The drawback to Acer’s desktop is that it has a weird memory amount of 12GB: typically, you see either 8GB or 16GB. Adding to that, the primary drive only provides 128GB of storage (M.2 SSD), most of which will be eaten up by Windows 10 and your installed desktop programs. This desktop includes a slower, secondary hard drive where you’ll likely be forced to install all your games.
As for other notable features, this rig includes Wi-Fi connectivity, Sound Blaster X-Fi MB5 audio, an easy-swap expansion bay, and Acer’s IceTunnel thermal system to keep the components inside cool.
We haven’t reviewed this model, but we have reviewed its big brother, the Acer G6.
Asus GR8 II-T069Z ($900)
This desktop definitely screams “gamer” in appearance alone. It sports a futuristic look ripped straight out of a sci-fi movie centering on ancient technology, rocking angled edges and built-in illumination for an awesome presentation. However, despite its towering appearance, it’s actually a mini-PC measuring just 11.0 x 3.4 x 11.7 inches, and weighing a mere 8.8 pounds.
While its looks will turn your head, its best selling point is what’s inside. This mini-desktop packs Intel’s seventh-generation Core i5-7400 processor, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 (3GB) graphics card, 16GB of DDR4 system memory clocked at a decent 2,400MHz, and a 512GB M.2 SSD providing a good starting point for installing your favorite PC games. It doesn’t ship with a secondary hard drive.
As for other notable features, the desktop includes Wi-Fi connectivity, SupremeFX HD audio, and plenty of ports to support the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets for high-definition virtual reality.
Read our latest coverage of the Asus GR8 II here.
CyberpowerPC Gamer Extreme ($1,000)
This desktop is just pretty… pretty garish, that is. The chassis sports clear acrylic panels on the front, top, and left side that are complemented by cooling fans sporting red LEDs for lighting up this desktop’s innards. The front also includes a door that conceals the ugly optical drive, and an I/O panel just above the door provides four USB ports, a microphone jack, and a headphone jack.
Luckily, the desktop has it where it counts, with a seventh-generation Intel Core i7-7700 processor, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 (3GB) graphics card, 8GB of DDR4 system memory, and a 1TB hard drive spinning at 7,200RPM. We’re not exactly keen regarding the hard drive serving as your primary storage solution, but we imagine the company opted out of an SSD due to the costs of the processor and illumination. You should eventually swap out the hard drive for an SSD, and use the hard drive as secondary storage.
Moving on, this desktop is a monster in size, weighing 31.1 pounds and measuring 20.5 x 7.8 x 18 inches. It’s supposedly optimized for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and includes features like Ethernet-based networking, a 24x DVD burner, and a seven-color wired keyboard.
Dell XPS Tower ($900)
There’s nothing flashy about this tower desktop from Dell. In appearance, it doesn’t speak to PC gamers, but its heart is in the right place. Inside you’ll find Intel’s seventh-generation Core i7-7700 processor, 16GB of DDR4 system memory, and AMD’s Radeon RX 560 graphics card. You have everything you need here for a great VR experience with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, including more than the necessary ports to support these two headsets.
Like CyberpowerPC’s more expensive solution, Dell’s desktop ships with a 1TB hard drive as your primary storage device. It’s a great starting point you can manually upgrade at any time, such as swapping out the graphics card for a newer model, and exchanging the hard drive for a faster SSD. This system also supports up to 64GB of system memory.
In addition to its expandability, Dell’s desktop includes a DVD burner, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and loads of expansion bays and slots. It weighs at a beefy 22.1 pounds, and measures 15.3 x 14.0 x 7.1 inches.
HP Omen Desktop ($980)
Omen is HP’s brand dedicated to PC gaming. With this desktop installment, the company focuses on recent components produced by AMD, namely the just-released Ryzen 5 1400 processor, and the recent Polaris-based Radeon RX 580 graphics card (4GB). But if you prefer Team Green, there’s an even cheaper version of this machine packed with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 (3GB) costing $835.
Visually, the Omen is an attractive desktop that clearly showcases its gaming roots. The multi-edge design is rather neat, which integrates red lighting and a flip-open panel towards the top that provides quick access to three hard drive bays. Inside you’ll get 8GB of DDR4 system memory clocked at 2,400MHz, a 256GB SSD playing host to the operating system, and a secondary 1TB hard drive, where you’ll install most of your games.
In addition to the actual desktop, your purchase also includes a wired keyboard with volume control, and a wired optical mouse. The desktop weighs a hefty 33.8 pounds, and measures 17.41 x 7.56 x 16.43 inches.
iBuypower Chimera AM001i ($835)
Here’s another gorgeous but budget-friendly desktop for PC gamers. This one is based on a seventh-generation Intel Core i7-7400 processor, and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 (3GB) graphics card. These components are crammed into a very rectangular metallic chassis sporting a “broken” red illuminated line along the front, and a clear panel on the left side. Inside, the cooling fans include red LEDs to light up all those tasty innards.
Along with the Intel and Nvidia chips, this desktop provides 8GB of DDR4 system memory clocked at 2,400MHz, a 120GB SSD to play host to the operating system and a few programs, and a secondary 1TB hard drive for your PC games, videos, and other files. Other ingredients packed into iBuypower’s desktop include Wi-Fi connectivity via a USB adapter, plenty of ports supporting the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, and more. The PC also includes a wired mechanical keyboard built for gamers, and a wired gamer-themed optical mouse.
Finally, this PC is a beast in size, measuring 25.0 x 12.5 x 21.38 inches, and weighing 30 pounds.
MSI Trident 3 VR7RC-028US ($900)
As the model number implies, MSI’s desktop is ready to handle the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Powering this affordable beast is a seventh-generation Intel Core i5-7400 processor, and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 (3GB) graphics card. They’re crammed into an impressive design that resembles a gaming console, which is built to rest on a surface horizontally, or vertically, using the provided seat/stand.
Other ingredients inside MSI’s desktop are 8GB of DDR4 system memory clocked at a meager 2,133MHz, a SATA-based M.2 SSD with 128GB of storage, and a secondary 1TB hard drive where you will store most of your games. All of this is complemented by Audio Boost 3 and Nahimic 2 audio, MSI’s Mystic Light illumination technology, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and plenty of ports to support VR headsets.
So how big is this console-style PC? It weighs a mere 18.1 pounds, and measures 15 x 10 x 20 inches, which is a bit larger than the original Xbox One console.
Check our our MSI Trident 3 full review.