As great as today’s laptops are, even the best MacBook or Windows laptop can’t stand up to a traditional desktop computer when it comes to comfort, versatility, and multi-tasking — and that’s without even mentioning PC gaming, where desktop towers still reign supreme (and likely will for the foreseeable future). Many choose to build a PC, and while that’s a viable option for enthusiasts, it’s not the easiest of tasks and might not actually save you much cash. Time is money, after all, and yours might be better spent hunting down a discount on a good pre-built tower. To give you a leg up, we’ve got an up-to-date list of the best cheap desktop computer deals available right now from super-affordable work machines to beefy gaming systems.
Today’s best cheap desktop computer deals
— $360 with code SAVE10, was $430
You don’t have to pay out the nose for a desktop PC that can handle your daily workloads. If you’re looking for a cheap one, the classic Dell Inspiron is your best bet for less than 400 bucks: An Intel Core i3-9100 CPU and 4GB of RAM are basic but nonetheless offer enough juice for everyday use, while the 1TB 7,200rpm HDD offers a nice amount of storage at a reasonable speed (faster than the 5,400rpm drives of years past).
A wired mouse and keyboard are included, as well. A $70 with checkout code SAVE10 savings means you can score this cheap desktop computer deal for a super affordable $360 at the moment. If you’re willing to pay more for boosted specs, however, then be sure to check out our other picks.
— $440, was $740
Moving down in size a bit (but not too far up in price) from standard desktop towers, the HP EliteDesk 705 G4 Mini PC is a great cheap desktop computer with a small footprint. It packs an AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 2400GE CPU with Radeon Vega 11 graphics and 8GB of RAM — the minimum specs we typically recommend if you’re spending more than $300 — along with a nice fast 256GB SSD and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity.
Unlike our other cheap desktop computer picks, this HP Mini PC doesn’t come with a wired keyboard and mouse — you’ll still have to get those separately. However, a nice $300 discount means you can grab this cheap desktop for a very affordable $440 right now.
— $550, was $630
Along with a PC tower, you typically need a minimum of three peripherals to complete your desktop computer setup: a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse. These are additional costs, but if you want everything in a single package – and one that won’t take up much space on your desk – then an all-in-one system like this HP 24-inch desktop is a great option for a super-sleek workstation fit for the 2020s.
The HP All-In-One 24 comes equipped with a 10th-gen Intel Core i3 CPU plus 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256GB SSD — all of which sits right inside the 24-inch 1080p IPS housing (that means there’s no PC tower to fuss with). That design, plus the included mouse and keyboard, gives you everything you need right out of the box, and for a great price of just $550 right now after an $80 discount.
— $699, was $799
While gaming laptops have narrowed the gap in recent years, affordable desktop PCs like the iBuyPower Trace2 are still the best way to enjoy some impressive gaming capabilities on a budget. This desktop tower packs an Intel Core i3-9100 CPU, 8GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card, and a 240GB SSD, which is impressive power for a cheap 1080p/60fps PC gaming machine at this price point.
The hardware alone is pretty solid, but to sweeten this cheap desktop deal even further, the computer also comes with a wired keyboard and optical mouse (all you need is a monitor and audio output and you’re ready to rock). This great gaming PC is on sale right now for $699, giving you a nice $100 discount.
— $720, was $799
Desktop computers aren’t exactly known for their small footprints (relative to laptops, anyway), but the pint-sized Mac Mini from Apple can free up some desk space a bit. A quad-core Intel Core i3 CPU and 8GB of DDR4 RAM are very nice specs for work, browsing, and streaming, and you also get a snappy 128GB SSD for storage — not quite as large as a traditional hard drive, but much faster than those HDDs of yesteryear (and you can upgrade this at extra cost, of course).
What sells the Apple Mac Mini desktop computer is not just its small size, but its value: It’s on sale for $720 right now, making it far and away one of the cheapest brand new MacOS computers you can find at the moment. Just plug in your peripherals and you’re ready to roll.
— $960 + free copy of Rainbow Six Siege, was $1,100
Tip-toeing up to our $1,000 limit brings us to the beefy SkyTech Legacy Mini gaming tower, which has pretty much everything we want in a desktop at this price. It boasts a Ryzen 7 eight-core processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU with 6GB of VRAM (one of our favorite high-end graphics cards), and 16GB of DDR4 RAM, which all work together to deliver excellent gaming performance for playing the latest titles at 1440p or even 4K with a suitable monitor.
On top of that, you’ve got a 500GB solid-state system drive that’s both big and fast and offers plenty of storage. This solid gaming desktop is a great value at $960 after a $140 price cut.
How to choose a cheap desktop computer
After setting your budget, it’s time to decide what exactly you’re looking for in a good cheap desktop computer. First, is this PC going to be primarily for work and general daily use, primarily for gaming, or a fairly even split between these? This will naturally determine what sort of specs you’re looking at — such as, for instance, whether you need a discrete graphics card or not — but the good news is that in the sub-$1,000 category, you can find many good desktop PCs packing solid up-to-date hardware that won’t be outdated within two years.
Another important consideration is peripherals. What monitor (or monitors) is your desktop computer going to be connected to? Do you already have a mouse and keyboard; if not, do you want a desktop PC that comes with these included, or do you plan to buy nicer ones separately? Bear in mind that while many desktop towers come with accessories, you’ll still need to decide how much you’re budgeting for things like a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, mouse pad, speakers, and other peripherals you might need.
The bottom line is this: Don’t merely look at the price and basic hardware specs when shopping for a cheap desktop computer. Set your budget, know exactly what features you want (write this down if you need to) and then work from there.
What makes a good cheap desktop computer?
When shopping for any sort of cheap computer, be it a laptop or desktop PC, the biggest risk you’ll face is ending up with something that is running on outdated hardware (or hardware that will be outdated very soon). This is what happens when you consider only the price and don’t familiarize yourself with the current state of computer hardware. Thankfully, there’s not too much to remember.
More Laptop Deals
First, when looking at CPUs, it’s best to stick with ninth- and 10th-generation Intel Core processors and AMD Ryzen (also known as “Zen”) processors, as these are more recent and will keep your system – even a relatively basic one – reasonably “future-proof.” We also suggest a minimum of 8GB of RAM unless you’re sailing into sub-$300 waters and 16GB is even more strongly recommended for something like a gaming desktop. Finally, solid-state drives (now common even on cheap computers) are generally preferable to traditional hard drives. These SSDs are generally more reliable and considerably faster than old-school HDDs, although they offer less storage space per dollar.
Are cheap desktop computers good for gaming?
Any PC packing an up-to-date CPU, GPU, and SSD (or at least a 7,200rpm HDD) should be good to go for gaming, and there are plenty of good cheap desktop computers that fit this bill nicely. Along with the processors we mentioned, modern graphics card generations include Nvidia’s 16- and 20-series cards, although you’ll be sticking with the 16-series GPUs in the sub-$1,000 price bracket. These replaced Nvidia’s 10-series cards as entry- and mid-level GPUs last year, and while there are still PCs with those older cards floating around, we don’t recommend them in 2020.
AMD’s Radeon family of budget- and mid-tier graphics card includes the RX 500 series, with GPUs like the RX 570, 580, and 590 offering good performance capabilities for 1080p gaming. You’re not likely to achieve 4K or even 1440p gaming with most cheap desktop computers, but that is a sacrifice you make for keeping costs down. Also, remember that an SSD will load games (and everything else) noticeably faster than an HDD.
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