If you’re looking to get into PC gaming, no time is better than now. Technology has advanced so much that it is now possible to get a system unit that’s capable of running even the most demanding games in medium to high settings – for a price that won’t break the bank.
While console gaming is still one of the most popular platforms around, PC gaming has taken the spotlight in the past couple of years thanks to the flexibility it offers in terms of functions, as well as a better price to performance ratio. For the price of a console, you can get a PC that performs at a consistent 60 frames per second output at better graphic settings.
You are greeted by a plethora of game titles, from exclusives to indie options, as well as free-to-play games and modding communities that have been all the rage for sandbox lovers. Furthermore, the attractive proposition of future upgrades for a machine that can serve you for the years to come , without having to shell out serious dough every time a new model comes out, as with consoles, is nothing to scoff at.
Many gamers fear to tread into PC territory because of unfamiliarity with technology – as it does take time to familiarize various parts and specifications to get the most value out of your money. This is both extremely important with building your own rig from scratch or buying a prebuilt unit altogether. That being said, we’re going the prebuilt route for your convenience, so go ahead and explore our list of the best cheap gaming PCs around!
What Qualifies As a Cheap Gaming PC?
For us, anything under $1,000 could be considered ‘cheap’ for a gaming PC, especially ones that are below $800. We already have a separate post that looks at the best gaming PCs under $500 for those looking for the lowest budget options possible.
Most of the options we’ve included in this guide fall between $500 and $800. A couple may come in slightly higher than that.
The reason that these prices are relatively high, despite being labelled as ‘cheap’, is because good gaming PCs are expensive. Top gamers that play and stream at the same time will often run two PCs simultaneously, both of which will cost thousands of dollars at a minimum.
So, here are the best cheap gaming PCs that we’ve picked out for you to buy this year.
What is the Best Cheap Gaming PC 2020?
Starting off our list is this VR PC which just hits the $750 mark. Despite HP’s reputation of being a major distributor of office and productivity-aimed PCs, they have also dabbled in the gaming field with budget-friendly options to boot.
It sports a 9th-generation Intel processor. The Intel i5-9400F is one of the best mid-range value chips around. Intel tops the charts in terms of pure gaming performance in any price bracket, so this should help you push higher frame rates no matter the title you’re playing. But the main star of the show is the GTX 1660ti, which carries the Turing architecture of Nvidia. With this, you can crank 1080p games from medium to high at a consistent 60 fps without fail.
You also get 8 GBs of RAM, which is more than enough for playing most games, although you will benefit greatly if you add another stick of the same size in the future. 256 GBs of blazing-fast storage via the included SSD makes for quick boot-up times, but if you want to stack up on games anytime soon, getting an additional HDD will help you in the long run.
Connectivity includes a bunch of USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, a USB Type-C port, and Wifi out of the box. You also get a free keyboard and mouse bundle if you haven’t gotten one yourself. The beauty of it all is that the VR Ready HP Pavilion Gaming PC is already a competitive gaming solution once it arrives at your doorstep, and will progressively improve with value upgrades down the line.
Getting started with PC gaming on a tight budget need not be a challenge, as an option like the iBUYPOWER Elite Gaming PC N27W 106A exists. This particular system unit calls to the red team for its main processing power, equipped with the third-generation Ryzen 5 3600 from AMD’s Ryzen series. This processor family is notorious for grappling Intel to the ground with its serious price to performance value, especially for productivity applications.
But we’re here for gaming , and we’re happy to tell you that the R5 3600 provides decent gaming performance as well. Graphics rendering is tasked to the GTX 1660, which is slightly slower than the previous entry’s own GPU, but don’t take this graphics card lightly. It provides a competitive solution for those who want to enjoy triple-A games on a budget, allowing you to crank them up to high settings with no hiccups, while it crushes first-person shooters and esports games altogether.
You do get skimped at the single 8 GB 2666 MHz memory, however, as adding another stick will give you a significant performance boost especially in RAM-demanding games. In the storage department, you get a 240 GB SSD as a boot drive for lighting-fast initialization while sparing extra room for games and applications that need the speed. This is augmented by a slower but high-capacity 1 TB HDD so you can go ham on your game catalog.
Connectivity comes aplenty with the included USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, a LAN port, an 802.11AC Wifi module, and a surround sound 7.1 audio channel. The iBUYPOWER Elite Gaming PC N27W 106A also comes with a free keyboard and mouse combo, a preinstalled Windows 10 OS, and visual bling care of the RGB-capable case.
Another known brand in the computing field is Acer, catering to both office and gaming applications, with the latter being graced with offerings like the Acer Nitro 50 N50-600-UR15 Desktop. It sports an 8th-generation Intel Core i5-8400, which while not being the latest, can certainly keep up with its current counterparts. It also comes with 8 GBs of DDR4 RAM, which is certainly a missed opportunity in terms of improving performance, but this compromise is necessary to squeeze in the needed specs in order to game well.
That being said, it sports one of the greatest mid-range cards to ever grace the market: the AMD Radeon RX 580. This PC comes with the 4GB version, which isn’t all that different from its 8GB counterpart in terms of performance especially if you’re gaming on 1080p resolution. This card can handle graphically-intensive games in medium to high settings and can easily blow competitive first-person shooters and esports titles out of the water.
While you only get a 1 TB HDD for storage, this is augmented by a 16 GB Intel Optane module. This acts as a faster cache for the programs and files you are running, effectively getting near SSD speeds without breaking the bank. As for connectivity, you get lots of USB 3.1 (with Type-C support) and 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, Intel Wifi, and even a DVD-RW drive. Just like the previous suggestions, the Acer Nitro 50 N50-600-UR15 Desktop offers a viable upgrade platform that can crunch even the most demanding of games given the right futureproofing treatment.
From the same product line of our previous suggestion comes the Acer Nitro 50 N50-600-UR1I, which offers a slightly improved and up-to-date configuration for the same price, more or less. It now sports a 9th-generation Core i5-9400F, a trusted mid-range king in this division, which runs cooler and provides more processing power per clock over its older counterparts. As expected, you get an 8GB 2666 MHz stick, which isn’t amazing at this price point, but at least you have somewhere to start with that can be upgraded in the future.
It also features a highly-capable graphics card: the GTX 1660ti with 6GBs of GDDR6 memory, capable of providing silky-smooth gameplay for triple-A titles as well as output a high framerate for competitive games like esports and first-person shooters. You also get a sizable upgrade in the storage department, its 512 GB SSD providing ample space for the preinstalled Windows 10 OS along with other programs and games – you can expand with mechanical drives in the future if needed.
Other features include tons of USB 3.1 (Type-C support) and 2.0 connectivity, Gigabit Ethernet, Intel Wifi, and even a Creative Sound BlasterX 360° sound card. You also get a free keyboard and mouse combo for your convenience, while everything is held together by sleek black case with red accents for that authentic gaming vibe.
Next in line, we have the ROG Strix GL10CS Gaming Desktop from Asus’ dedicated gaming sub-brand. While the ROG lineup is known for rather ridiculous prices, this particular system unit isn’t half bad. It is the only suggestion in this list to sport a high-end chip variant, the powerful Core i7-8700. Known for its impressive computing power thanks to a 6-core/12-thread layout, any unit equipped with this processor won’t be a slouch in running even the most demanding of titles.
That being said, there is quite a tradeoff in the graphics rendering department, as the ROG Strix GL10CS only sports a measly GTX 1050 with a 2 GB GDDR5 memory buffer. While it does a decent job in running esports titles, things can get pretty challenging with triple-A games especially with the textures accompanying such titles. A graphics card like this doesn’t belong in a gaming PC of this price range – they could’ve opted for the slightly powerful 1050ti – but seeing as the options are limited, this will have to work until you get the chance to upgrade it to a more powerful card.
It comes with 8GBs of DDR4 memory, which you can add to in the future, while the 1TB 7200 RPM HDD takes care of your main storage needs. It isn’t as fast as an SSD, but you get a sizable storage capacity for all your games. You also get Gigabit Wifi, ethernet, USB 3.1 and 2.0 ports, and even 7.1 virtual surround sound capabilities.
Carrying the Strix branding, the ROG Strix GL10CS Gaming Desktop comes equipped with stylish RGB accents that can be controlled via the Aura Sync software, all contained in a sleek black tower. Not the best in terms of specs allocation, but is one of the most viable upgrade choices in this bunch.
While this one goes a little over the $800 budget, it provides one of the best price to performance ratios around. The SkyTech Blaze II Gaming PC sports a value-for-money king for its processor: the Ryzen 5 2600. Featuring 6 cores and 12 threads that go from 3.4 GHz to 3.9 GHz when boosted, this particular chip has garnered the acclaim of many a user due to its decent gaming performance and multitasking capabilities. While it can’t quite beat its Intel counterparts (albeit at a negligible margin) in gaming, its competitive price and additional productivity throughput just can’t be ignored.
It sports an 8 GB DDR4 stick of 3000 MHz RAM, which we would advise in upgrading in the near future, and a decent 500 GB SSD as your main drive – making the games and the overall performance of your PC snappier. In the graphics department, it boasts the GTX 1660ti, which is one of the most powerful mid-range graphics cards available. Triple-A games will run a buttery-smooth 60 frames per second at high to ultra settings, while esports titles can go double for that unparalleled level of response and slickness.
There is a GTX 1660 variant for $50 cheaper – you could go for this as an alternative – but for that price bump, it’s a no-brainer decision to go for this particular unit. As for upgradability, the SkyTech Blaze II Gaming PC has an 80+ certified 500W power supply that can power the setup if you ever choose to add more drives or replace the processor or graphics card in the future.
You get decent connectivity thanks to its generous USB 3.1 and 2.0 allocation, a PCIe Wifi card, Ethernet, and HD Audio. All of these come bundled in a transparent micro-ATX gaming PC case with 3 RGB ring fans for airflow while improving aesthetics. To go with the rainbow theme, you also get an RGB keyboard and mouse combo. Pretty neat deal if you ask us.
Entry-level gamers will be happy to know that an option like the iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming PC exists. It is one of the cheapest selections from our list, and while it doesn’t have the latest and greatest in terms of specifications, it still provides decent gaming performance for those on a budget.
The unit is powered by an AMD Ryzen 3 3200G processor, which is a reliable quad-core chip from the bang for the buck lineup of Ryzen. Unlike some of its price-level counterparts, however, this chip has an integrated Vega 8 graphics processor – which is effectively a GPU bundled into the CPU – offering one of the most competitive performance figures in the market and is able to churn out esports titles quite well and even hold its own on triple-A games, albeit at low resolutions and settings.
You get the standard 8 GB DDR4 memory setup, clocking at 2666 MHz, which is decent for lighter games and workloads. You also get a 1 TB HDD as the main storage device for the PC – while it is inherently slower than an SSD, you get the value of having more storage space for your games and files. You also get a dedicated GPU, the Nvidia GT 710, but to be honest, this PC is better off without it as the integrated GPU is more powerful. iBUYPOWER should’ve allocated it on other aspects like adding a stick of RAM or throwing in a small 120 GB SSD for improved performance.
That being said, the iBUYPOWER Enthusiast Gaming PC presents a great platform for those just starting with PC gaming. You get plenty of USB connectivity, a cool aRGB case, and a free keyboard and mouse bundle to boot.
We turn to iBUYPOWER for another cheap gaming pc to add to the list, this time with the iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming PC. It comes at a slightly higher price than the previous entry but is well-compensated with decent specs – no throwaway components here!
This particular variant still sports the Ryzen 3 3200G, which by now should be no surprise knowing how well it performs in gaming workloads. The Ryzen 3 3200G is an Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), which combines a CPU and GPU into a single package. This allows the chip to render graphics aside from the usual computing duties it handles.
However, graphics rendering is tasked to the machine’s dedicated Nvidia GT 1030 2GB graphics card, taking the load off the CPU for a better overall gaming experience. While being an entry-level card, the GT 1030 provides a smooth experience for esports titles while triple-A games are usually run at 30 fps – not as seamless as midrange graphics cards can offer, but definitely playable.
As per usual, you get a basic 8 GB stick of DDR4 ram which can be expanded upon in the future, but the main star of this configuration is the storage allocation. You get a small 120 GB SSD as a boot drive for faster loading times and a large 1 TB HDD to store your games. This tried-and-tested pairing of an SSD and HDD has been utilized in almost every value-for-money build due to the performance benefits it offers without spending too much.
All of these are packed in a stylish case with RGB lighting accents for aesthetics while still providing excellent airflow performance. You also get tons of USB 3.0 and 2.0 connectivity, Ethernet, and 7.1 audio. The iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming PC comes bundled with a free RGB keyboard and mouse for the user’s convenience.
Among our lower-priced solutions in the list, the SkyTech Blaze VR Ready PC takes the cake in terms of pure gaming performance. While it still sports an 8 GB stick of RAM and 1 TB HDD to keep the cost down, the SkyTech Blaze PC calls to the mid-range line of graphics cards to power its rendering capabilities.
The AMD Ryzen 3 1200 is the choice for this system unit’s processor. It is a quad-core chip from the first generation of the Ryzen series and is considered to be the best entry-level option available to date. The chip offers decent gaming performance and productivity functions, which when paired with the Radeon RX 580 4GB graphics card, makes for a solid gaming station for the years to come.
The RX 580 graphics card is touted to be one of the best value for money GPUs around, hanging in the mid-range performance bracket but priced somewhere along the entry-level line. This card can handle triple-A games in mixed medium to high settings with ease and can churn out consistent high framerates for esports and other competitive games.
You also get lots of USB 3.1, 3.0, and 2.0 ports, an 80+ 500W power supply, and a Coolermaster LED heatsink all packed in a Thermaltake H18 Tempered glass chassis – which is a stylish case with tons of airflow to keep the unit cool at all times.
Completing our list is the space-saving CUK AsRock DeskMini A300W PC which features a small chassis footprint for tight apartments or rooms. It also adds a hint of portability for those who want to carry it around for LAN parties.
This particular system unit comes with an AMD Ryzen 5 3400G processor, which is slightly more powerful than the previous Ryzen 3 processors due to its hyperthreading capabilities as well as higher clock speeds. Also, it features the Radeon RX Vega 11 integrated graphics processor, which is a decent performer in the APU category.
This allows the CUK DeskMini to provide a smooth gaming experience for demanding triple-A games with custom graphics settings, while esports titles are a piece of cake for this combo. This is further improved by the 16 GB kit of DDR4 memory running at 2666 MHz, ensuring that you won’t out of RAM even when gaming with programs running in the background.
Another great feature of this PC is the generous allocation of a 512 GB NVMe SSD, which is faster than its SATA counterparts. This allows the unit to boot up faster, load programs quicker, and induce a seamless Windows browsing experience, with the larger storage capacity providing enough room for your games without having to spend on upgrades anytime soon.
Connectivity comes aplenty with the CUK AsRock DeskMini A300W PC, which includes USB and Wifi out of the box, but take note that it doesn’t ship with an operating system so you’ll have to provide one yourself.
Building Your Own
A PC has modular parts that allow it to be built by anybody who has the basic knowledge to do so. This makes the PC gaming experience a totally customizable one. While prebuilt units offer the convenience of time and effort in terms of claiming warranty, they are often more expensive and can have mismatched spec allocations.
By building your own PC, you can choose from thousands upon thousands of unique parts and optimize the PC’s performance by picking the right ones. This allows the user to minimize or eliminate any type of bottleneck that might hinder the system unit’s overall performance, making it a reliable gaming machine for the years to come. Also, you can fit the build according to your budget much easier as you get to know the actual price of each component that goes into the build.
So before you jump on getting a prebuilt, explore your options if you were to build the machine yourself and get the benefit of added computer maintenance knowledge, saving extra bucks, and experiencing the fun in putting together the whole system unit.
Budget PC Gaming: Well Within Reach
All things considered, PC gaming is in a whole new era now, whether you go for prebuilt systems or build one yourself. Prices have gone down drastically due to innovations in manufacturing parts, as well as the competition present in the market. This gives consumers the upper hand in getting the best deals for their specific gaming needs.
As for planning on what to buy, take into account first what kind of games you will be playing. As a general rule of thumb, older games will be easier to run than newer ones. This is also the truth with triple-A titles versus esports games, the former demanding more processing and rendering power. Since most CPUs nowadays are decent no matter which side you’re on (Intel vs. AMD), you should focus on maximizing graphics performance by choosing the right GPU.
The right GPU should be powerful enough to run your specified games without overpowering the other components of the system – this will result in bottlenecking, a phenomenon where a certain hardware limits the overall performance of the PC, resulting in a poorly-optimized configuration. Do your research on which CPU+GPU pairings provide the best performance for the budget and start from there.
Other key factors to look out for are RAM and storage sizes. RAM, or memory, is an important aspect in enhancing gaming performance as it holds the active programs running in the operating system. Having too little of it will impair the loading times of a game, with some even refusing to run from the get-go.
Storage, on the other hand, is classified into two major technologies: HDDs and SSDs. HDDs (hard disk drives) are mechanical devices that rely on spinning platters to store your data. These are slower in terms of read/write speeds but are priced cheaper per gigabyte. SSDs (solid-state drives) utilize an integrated circuit architecture that makes it read and write data faster, although they are pricier. A good configuration to adapt is getting a low-capacity SSD for the operating system and a large HDD for your games and files, providing a snappy browsing and loading experience without losing on storage capacity.
There are other factors that can either make or break a certain setup, but that’s for another time. For console gamers who want to convert or total newbies looking to start on a viable platform, no time is better to join the PC Master Race than now!