If you’ve been planning to build a PC, you’ve probably noticed that the still-unresolved chip shortage has left the well of GPU deals rather dry at the moment. But don’t give up: You don’t need to buy the parts separately to get a cost-effective machine that can run the latest AAA games efficiently and slice through heavy workloads. Available PC components are mostly going to brand-name computer manufacturers, so while building your own desktop tower might be off the table right now (and likely for the next few months at least), you can still score some pretty solid gaming PC deals if you know where to look. We’ve combed the entire web to bring you a hand-picked selection of the best cheap gaming PCs out there this week.
If you just need a solid gaming PC and aren’t married to a desktop tower, though, then consider checking out some of these gaming laptop deals as well.
- — $550, was $650
- — $799, was $900
- — $1,000, was $1,400
- — $1,500, was $2,400
HP Pavilion Gaming PC — $550, was $650
- Excellent value for a sub-$1,000 gaming PC
- Great for 1080p gaming
- Attractive tower with LED accents
- Includes Windows 11
If your needs are modest and you still want a dedicated graphics card perhaps for tasks like video editing along with gaming, this gaming desktop is a cost-effective and very attractive option. This tower features a Radeon RX 5500 graphics card, which, while one of AMD’s entry-level 5000-series graphics cards, is nonetheless one of the best discrete GPUs on the market right now for the money.
That dedicated graphics card works with an AMD Ryzen 3 CPU and 8GB of DDR4 RAM to deliver sufficient performance for work and less resource-heavy games like Fornite and Minecraft, although newer releases like Halo Infinite aren’t out of the question. For storage, you’ve got a snappy 256GB solid-state drive, which is a decent amount of space for some games and other digital goodies. Its great-looking case design features green LED accents and allows you to upgrade some components in the future, as well, such as RAM or the GPU.
While it’s far from the beefiest tower on our list, this gaming desktop still has very respectable specs and plenty of graphical juice to handle gaming. Its GPU isn’t quite as muscular as the GeForce RTX 30 series, but this one will get the job done while also making this a good budget workstation for things like video editing and graphic design. You even get a wired mouse and keyboard right out of the box. If you want some more graphical horsepower, you can substitute the GeForce GTX 1660 Super GPU during pre-checkout customization for only $90. That’s an upgrade worth considering.
Skytech Blaze 2 Gaming PC — $799, was $900
- Great LED-accented look
- Good hardware for playing the latest titles
- Plenty of storage for your game library
- Boosted 16GB of RAM
Skytech builds some surprisingly fantastic gaming computers for a lesser-known brand, and this enhanced Blaze 2 gaming desktop doesn’t disappoint if you want a solid GPU upgrade over our first selection — or if you’re just more of an Nvidia fan (hey, so are we). It packs an Intel Core i3 CPU along with a GeForce GTX 1650 GPU.
This GPU has 4GB of VRAM, giving it more than enough muscle to play modern games with good settings. Paired with that CPU, this is a high-value graphics card/processor combo for 1080p gaming in 2022. That’s all backed up with 16GB of 3,200MHz RAM for smoother multi-tasking. It comes with 500GB of high-speed solid-state storage as well, which is a good amount of space for installing your favorite games and a few extras.
The tower’s case has a nice aesthetic complemented with stylish RGB LED case fans to keep things running cool and looking nice on your desk. This is a great gaming PC with some nice future-proofing — meaning you won’t have to upgrade it any time soon — and comes with a keyboard and mouse as well. At this price, though, you may want to consider upgrading to a mechanical keyboard and gaming mouse to get the most out of such powerful hardware.
ABS Master Gaming PC — $1,000, was $1,400
- Powerful hardware for blasting through the latest games
- Great gaming aesthetic with LED accents
- Upgrade-friendly case for future-proofing
- The best GPU you’re going to find for around $1,000
ABS may not be as well-known as brands like Alienware or MSI, but the fact is that it makes some surprisingly solid gaming machines and you’ll see its name frequently when shopping around for gaming PC deals. This new ABS Master gaming desktop tower runs on an 11th-gen Intel Core i5-11400F hexa-core CPU paired with a GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card, one of Nvidia’s newer 30-series GPUs and the best one you’re going to find for around this price at the moment.
That GPU boasts 12GB of VRAM, making it one of the top choices for 1080p, 1440p, and even 4K gaming if you have a monitor for it. For memory, you’ve got 16GB of 3,200MHz RAM. These are highly capable specs for a gaming PC deal in the sub-$1,500 bracket, and RGB cooling fans keep everything running smoothly while also making the desktop tower’s LED-accented design look great on your desk.
This high-value desktop tower is one of the best pre-built gaming PC deals with a dedicated GPU that you’ll find for around this price at the moment. And, like most of our other picks, it also comes bundled with a mouse and keyboard.
Alienware Aurora R12 Gaming PC — $1,500, was $2,400
- Premium Alienware design
- Unique and stylish aesthetic
- Advanced cooling for enhanced thermal performance
- Great CPU/GPU combo for 4K gaming
Moving past the $1,000 mark brings us to brands such as Alienware, which are the names that you should have your eye on if you’re paying this much — for that kind of scratch, you naturally want something high-end. It doesn’t get much more premium than Alienware where desktop gaming PCs are concerned, and this Aurora R12 system checks all the boxes.
The Aurora case design looks gorgeous as well with its unique curved lines and LED-accented front panel, but that elongated jet engine-like chassis isn’t just for show. Under the hood, this gaming PC takes advantage of the latest in Alienware’s cutting-edge thermal technology which includes four 10mm copper heat pipes with integrated vapor chambers along with a dual-axial fan design with positive pressure relief to remove heat from the case and allow for superior airflow.
A Core i9-11900F octa-core CPU, 32GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU with 12GB of GDDR6 VRAM are more than capable of handling modern games at up to 4K Ultra HD. This PC is a worthy update over older cheap gaming PCs that struggle to run Minecraft (yes, you can rock Elden Ring on this thing) and should last for years and years. The Alienware Aurora desktop tower pretty much has it all, and with this gaming PC deal, you’re getting it at an exceptional price.
As with any big purchase, make sure you know exactly what you want when buying a gaming computer. It’s not a bad idea to write down a checklist. It’s also important when looking specifically at cheap gaming PCs (i.e. those coming in at less than $1,000) to have realistic expectations — you’re not going to get multi-monitor 4K gaming at this price point. That said, it’s easy to achieve great results with 1080p/60 frames per second gaming at high settings even for modern releases, and even for 1440p gaming when you move toward the upper end of our $1,000 price limit.
If playing at 1080p/60 fps on one or two monitors is good enough, then you won’t have a hard time finding a good cheap gaming PC to meet your needs. If your demands are a bit higher, though, then expect to have to shop around a bit for the right deal. Also, be sure to bring yourself up to speed with the latest hardware — don’t just jump on the first attractive deal you find that meets your budget only to end up with a last-gen GPU that will feel long in the tooth here in 2021. Know what you want and what to expect from a cheap gaming PC that’s within your set budget and you won’t be disappointed, and for a more detailed breakdown of the sort of hardware you should look for, read on.
What makes a good cheap gaming PC?
The short answer is that a good price-to-performance ratio is what makes a cheap gaming PC “good,” and the good news here is that desktop computers already provide this sort of value by their very nature — it’s simply easier to fit all that beefy hardware into a desktop tower, whereas the scaled-down components of laptops (not to mention their built-in displays and keyboards) make those mobile PCs more expensive. That said, it’s still important to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck if you’re buying a pre-assembled desktop computer, as some are built better than others.
The three main hardware components that drive performance are the CPU, GPU (or graphics card), and RAM. Our recommendations: For your CPU, stick with an 11th or 12th-gen Intel Core or one of the newer second or third-gen AMD Ryzen (sometimes called “Zen”) processors. For RAM, a minimum of 8GB is recommended for all but the cheapest gaming PCs, and 16GB is even better — but remember you can almost always add more RAM and this is one of the easiest (if not the easiest) components to swap out. GPUs are arguably the heart of a gaming computer; modern models include AMD’s Radeon 500, 5000, and 6000 series as well as Nvidia’s GTX 16-series and RTX 20- and 30-series GPUs.
Nvidia replaced their older 10-series GPUs in recent years, but there are still cheap gaming PCs floating around with these cards. Our advice: Avoid them unless your needs are modest and you can snag one for a seriously good deal. Even the entry-level GTX 16-series Nvidia cards are faster and are ideal for 1080p gaming. For 1440p gaming, you’ll be better served with one of the RTX series cards such as the RTX 3060. If anything bottlenecks your gaming PC’s performance, it will be an underpowered GPU, so this is the one component you don’t want to skimp on. One final thing to consider is upgradeability: If you plan to keep your chosen PC tower for a while, look at what sort of case and motherboard it’s using to determine if you can easily add and swap parts in the future. Some desktop PCs from brands like HP use proprietary components which will limit what parts you can add and can be costly to replace.
Are gaming PCs good for work?
It’s safe to say that running modern video games at good settings is generally a much more demanding job than most work tasks you’d normally need a computer for, so any gaming computer — even a cheap gaming PC — will be as well-suited for work and study as it is for play. The faster processors and high-speed RAM will make short work of simple tasks like web browsing, word processing, making spreadsheets, and so on, and the discrete GPU is also nice to have for graphical tasks such as video rendering. Another advantage of a desktop PC, particularly one with a graphics card, is the option to create a multi-monitor setup that can increase your productivity (and even a single monitor will still give you more screen real estate than a laptop display).
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