The best cheap gaming PCs

The 5 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, with options for the latest-generation of Intel hardware and AMD’s Ryzen CPUs.

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.

The Best

Dell Inspiron 5680 ($600+)

Dell Inspiron 5680 review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Building off of our love of the previous generation Inspiron 5675, the 5680 updates the hardware of its predecessor and offers the same, understated design with great overall value.

The new Inspiron starts at just $600 and comes outfitted with either AMD or Intel/Nvidia hardware. Options include classic AMD FX CPUs paired up with RX 560 graphics, up to a Ryzen 1700X and an RX 570. Alternatively, you can choose from an eighth-generation Core i3 CPU with a GTX 1050, all the way up to an i7 with a GTX 1060. In either case storage can go up to a terabyte and up to 32GB of memory.

Despite the uprated hardware, the Inspiron 5680 retains the same clean, professional look of its predecessor and doesn’t scream ‘gamer’ like some of the other builds on this list. It’s not the easiest of systems to upgrade because of its tightly held together components — to ward off damage during shipping — but a solid entry-level gaming desktop like this could be your best upgrade path until graphics card prices come down.

Buy it now from:

Dell

The Rest

Asus G11DF ($1,000)

Asus G11DF review hero
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

If you’re a little tired of Intel hardware and want to give the red team a try, Asus’ G11DF features a brand-new AMD Ryzen 5 1400 processor, an Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card, and 8GB of RAM. It’s close in power to the above Dell system, but with a flashier exterior and an AMD chip purring away under the hood.

Although it does skirt our $1,000 limit at some retailers, in our benchmarks, the Asus G11DF was a capable performer, easily maintaining an average of 73 FPS in For Honor at max detail settings and 1080p. That’s the real caveat here, these desktops are all powerful enough to run recent games at high or max detail settings, as long as you keep the resolution at 1080p. These systems aren’t really designed to step into 1440p or 4K.

Buy it now from:

Amazon

Dell XPS 8930 ($800+)

Dell XPS 8930 Review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

If you’ve ever played a role-playing game, you’re probably familiar with the concept of min-maxing. Bringing some stats down to their bare minimums, and maxing out others to keep your character’s build lean and optimized. That’s exactly what Dell did with the XPS 8930. It features an 8th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, offering just enough CPU horsepower to get some everyday work done, alongside an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card with 6GB of RAM, effectively maxing out its graphical power without breaking the bank.

In a small black chassis, it’s not exactly the most eye-catching gaming rig out there, but it offers an excellent balance of price and performance and there are cheaper options if you don’t need all the kit. During our benchmarks, the GTX 1060 kept up with much more expensive machines without breaking a sweat — and remember it features the big version of the GTX 1060 with 6GB of RAM, not the smaller 3GB version you’ll find in most budget gaming rigs.

Buy it now from:

Dell

HP Omen Desktop ($880+)

best cheap gaming PCs

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 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 around $880.

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.

Buy it now from:

Amazon

MSI Trident 3 ($900)

MSI Trident 9S6-B90611-02S review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

MSI’s streamlined desktop is ready and willing 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.

Buy it now from:

Amazon