Looking for the best cheap gaming PCs can be a bewildering 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. If you buy a Dell Inspiron 5680, however, you won’t be disappointed. Its great mix of affordability and gaming-friendly features make it our top pick for a cheap gaming PC, but be sure to check out our other options, too.
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. In our reviews spanning hundreds of desktop models, we think these are the best options for affordable gaming.
Dell Inspiron 5680
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 first and second-generation AMD Ryzen CPUs and a choice of RX 570 or 580 graphics cards. 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 updated 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.
Read our full Dell Inspiron 5680 review
If you’re not after serious gaming performance, you won’t need to break the bank to get a rig for casual gaming. Dell proves this strategy is definitely attainable with its G5 desktop. While the new G5 comes affordably priced — it starts at under $600 — upgraded configurations open you up to modern processors and GPUs that can handle graphics-intensive titles at resolutions higher than FHD. In essence, pair the G5 with a good ultra-wide QHD panel, and you’ve got a solid gaming rig that can grow with you.
We recommend you step up to the $685 configuration of the G5 and you’ll get a 9th-Gen Intel Core i5-9400 processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 1TB hard drive, for example, but the G5 can go all the way up to a 9900K processor with RTX 2080 graphics should you need even more performance. Support for the more modern USB-C standard helps future-proof the G5 desktop and adds versatility to the types of peripherals it can support.
For the gaming grown up in you, the G5 comes with a more mature design that promises not to be ostentatious, delivering a see-through glass window and subtle RGB lighting in a very compact desktop tower form factor. This desktop’s small footprint makes it a great companion in smaller spaces, like dorm rooms, or to take to LAN parties. And when you’re not gaming, the G5’s modern specs makes it a champ for getting work done.
Dell XPS 8930
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.
Read our full Dell Inspiron 8930 review
Lenovo Legion C730 Cube
The “cube” design of this desktop PC includes a handle so that you can also carry out around to serious gaming sessions. It’s indicative of the entire vision for this Legion model: an affordable gaming computer that’s especially easy to upgrade. It won’t be playing a lot of 4k games, but it can handle any 1080p title you throw at it, and the little details – like the RGB lighting and plastic window into the computer’s innards show that serious thought was put into what gamers like.
Inside is Nvidia graphics up to an RTX 2080, including the GTX 16-series offerings; an Intel eight or ninth-generation processor up to a Core i9-9900K, and a dual-channel thermal system. You can overclock it using the Lenovo app, which makes for simple customization. Memory options include 16 and 32GB and storage up to four terabytes in various configurations of SSD and HDD. Ports are particularly generous with eight USB-A connectors: two USB 3.0 on the front panel, four USB 3.0 on the rear, alongside two additional USB 2.0 ports. There’s also an Ethernet connector and 3.5mm jacks for headphones and microphones.
Read our full Lenovo Legion C730 review
Intel NUC 8i7BEH
This little Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) is one of the most affordable PCs on our list, a portable desktop model that still delivers on performance–and is entirely upgradable, despite its small size. In fact, if you want the flexibility of building a gaming PC but prefer a hefty starter kit, this is a perfect option for you: This particular model offers a Core i7-8559U 4.5Ghz processor, but you have to choose and install your RAM, hard drive (SATA and SSD supported), and operating system on your own.
While this required customization helps control the price, this PC isn’t without its own features. You get four USB-A 3.0 ports, HDMI, Thunderbolt 3, Ethernet, a front-mounted audio jack, and microSD. Graphics are managed by the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 6555 integrated chip, enough to handle most modern games with a little tweaking. This PC won’t be blasting through the latest 4k AAA release, but it can handle a whole lot for its price.
Read our full Intel NUC 8i7BEH review
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