Best Budget Gaming PC: Quick Menu
In the ever-evolving world of gaming, finding the best budget gaming PC in 2023 doesn’t mean sacrificing quality for cost.
For gamers on a budget, it’s still possible to get a high-performance machine without breaking the bank. This guide is dedicated to helping you navigate through the options to find a gaming PC that offers the best value for money, ensuring you can enjoy the latest games without needing the most expensive hardware.
While the best gaming PC might offer unparalleled performance, a budget gaming PC can still deliver an impressive gaming experience. You might need to adjust your expectations slightly; playing the best PC games at ultra-high settings might be a stretch, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a vast array of games. Many titles, particularly older or indie games, are less demanding on your system and can be enjoyed to their fullest on a budget PC.
A key component in any gaming PC is the graphics card, and choosing the best cheap graphics card is crucial. For budget-conscious gamers, a card like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 strikes the perfect balance between cost and performance, especially for playing at 1080p resolution. This means you can also save on your monitor, as some of the best gaming monitors don’t need to support ultra-high resolutions, which helps keep their costs down.
We’ve rigorously tested a wide range of gaming PCs, along with the best cheap processors and graphics cards found in these systems. We’re here to ensure you avoid the pitfalls of buying a budget gaming PC, helping you find a system that meets your gaming needs without compromising on performance. Let’s dive in and explore the best budget gaming PCs of 2023.
Today’s best Black Friday deals
Empowered PC Stratos Micro gaming desktop: now $849 at Amazon
This Empowered PC pre-built at Amazon might just be the cheapest gaming PC deal we’ve ever seen in the US to feature the latest RTX 4060 graphics card. There’s a trade-off with the 10th gen Intel chipset, which is pretty old now, but bang for the buck this looks like a great choice in the sub $900 range. View Deal
Skytech Gaming Nebula: now $747.32 at Amazon
For those looking for a budget gaming PC that’s also future-proof, this is the product for you. It features a 13th-Gen Intel Core i5 processor, a Nvidia RTX 3050 graphics card, 16GB DDR4 RAM, and 1TB of storage. Not to mention that for the price it’s aesthetically pleasing with a glass side and RGB lighting.View Deal
Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3: was
$1,049 now $749.99 at Walmart
This is absolutely the cheapest option for a 4000-series GPU gaming laptop, and it comes with some excellent specs that ensure you can max out settings on any AAA PC game. It comes with an AMD Ryzen 7 7735HS CPU, an Nvidia RTX 4050 GPU, 16GB RAM, and 512GB of storageView Deal
The quick list
Finding a capable gaming PC under $1,000/£1,000 is trickier but definitely not impossible. We do our best to find you some excellent options since not a lot of people can afford to splurge on a $2,000/£2,000-plus gaming rig. Below are our top choices. Be sure to click on “Read more below” to find out more about the model you’re considering before tapping buy.
1. Acer Predator Orion 3000
Best for most people
With configurations available at cheaper prices, this thoughtfully-designed Acer gaming PC delivers enough graphical oomph for gaming.
Best AMD tower
2. Lenovo Legion Tower 5 Gen 6 (AMD)
Best for AMD fans
Go for the AMD-powered version of this compact tower from Lenovo, and you can still enjoy a great gaming performance on lower settings.
Best compact on a budget
This small gaming PC so compact that could slot into a TV stand offers plenty of power under the hood for less than the price of its bigger rivals.
Best for the office
4. HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop
Best for work and play
Though made for gaming, it looks somber enough that it would fit right in any office setting, making it a great budget machine for work and play.
The best budget gaming PCs 2023
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The best budget gaming PC overall
Buy it if:
✅ You want the best value for your money: As an affordable and easily upgradable mid-tier gaming PC, this will serve you well in the long-term future.
✅ You’re just getting into PC gaming: With a perfectly reasonable price and good gaming performance, you may struggle to find a better option.
Don’t buy it if:
❌ You want cutting-edge hardware: While it certainly does the job for most, if not all, modern games, you should explore other pricier options if you want the most powerful.
❌ You want a full-size gaming PC: One of the best selling points for the Acer Predator Orion 3000 is its neat and compact micro ATX design.
The Acer Predator Orion 3000 comes in a wide range of configurations, the most powerful of which will be out of most budget gamers’ price range. However, the base configuration is much more accessible at below $1,000, coming with a GTX 1660 graphics card and Intel Core i5 processor, backed up by 16GB of RAM. This model is no longer available directly from Acer, but can still be picked up from retailers and should provide more than enough graphical oomph for gaming at 1080p, even in a post-RTX 3000 world, without needing to compromise too much in the graphical settings menu.
Despite being a powerful gaming PC with good potential for piecemeal upgrades further down the line, the Predator Orion 3000’s chassis isn’t oversized like some gaming rigs; it’s been thoughtfully designed to fit beside a monitor or beneath a desk, and the vented front and side panels mean that thermal performance is excellent. It’s got that much-desired ‘gamer aesthetic’ too, thanks to RGB lighting and a big, triangular power button that is very satisfying to press.
Read our full Acer Predator Orion 3000 review
The best budget gaming PC for AMD fans
Buy it if:
✅ You need a budget gaming PC: This is a great budget machine that will easily play most PC games well and can even handle plenty of high-end titles as long as you’re willing to adjust the settings a bit.
✅ You want a solid port selection: This PC comes with tons of ports that most gamers and buyers in general, including tons of USB Type-A ones if you’re in need, and even has both HDMI and DVI support.
Don’t buy it if:
❌ You want a gorgeous PC: This is a pretty standard-looking PC, barring the single glass side panel.
❌ You want to max out settings: Only mid and low-range games are getting maxed out, with high-end games needing to be turned way down in settings to be playable.
AMD fans have a compelling choice in the Legion Tower 5 Gen 6 (AMD), especially if they’re looking for a budget gaming PC that can be used as a work machine. This cheap option cuts back on many things, including that flashy gaming aesthetic, which in this case works in its favor – that simple design means it’ll fit right in the office and in most spaces. It’s also efficient at not taking up a lot of space, despite the fact that it’s got a nicely varied port selection – although an extra USB-C port would have been nice too.
Despite being a budget option, it proved to be rather impressive during our testing. You can’t expect it to run games like Cyberpunk 2077 on anything higher than low settings, of course, but it admirably ran any PC game we put through it quite smoothly. The trick is to run each one at the right settings thanks to those affordable yet capable AMD components inside.
Read our full Legion Tower 5 Gen 6 (AMD) review
The best budget compact gaming PC
Buy it if:
✅ You don’t have much space: The HP Victus 15L’s small form factor is ideal for those who have limited space. Most gaming PCs are going to be quite bigger (or much more expensive).
✅ You need those accessible ports: All those front-facing ports, as minor as it seems, is a quality-of-gaming-life addition that I would love to see on more gaming PCs.
Don’t buy it if:
❌ You can afford something more robust: If you don’t have to limit your budget, you should consider something more robust.
❌ You want to game at the highest settings or 4K: Even the most kitted out version of this computer has its limitations.
If looking good matters to you as much as power, then you might love the MSI Trident 3 10th, especially if you’re partial to a gaming-leaning aesthetic. The angular tower is roughly the same size as a home console, meaning that it won’t take up too much room on your desk and could even slot into a TV stand if you’d prefer to use a controller for some couch gaming instead. It comes with an included removable base if you’d rather mount it upright, too.
It’s not all looks either. This small gaming PC touts plenty of power under the hood for less than its rivals, with 10th-generation Intel Core processors and the best Nvidia RTX and GTX graphics. It’s even cheaper than many of the gaming PCs on this list, with its Intel Core i7 + RTX 2060 Super +16GB RAM configuration setting you back much less than an HP Omen 25L with equivalent specs. If you’re trying to maximize your limited space and budget, this is the best budget gaming PC for you.
Read our full HP Victus 15L review
The best for both work and play
Buy it if:
✅ You don’t want that gamer aesthetic: With its understated design, this gaming PC fits perfectly in an office environment.
✅ You want something affordable: As HP’s budget gaming PC line, this will save you a lot of money and is a great option if you don’t need the fastest performance.
Don’t buy it if:
❌ You need something more powerful: If you want a kitted-out gaming PC, this might not suffice.
❌ You have a lot more money: If you can afford a more powerful option, there are other options on this list that will deliver a better performance.
Trimming that gamer aesthetic look to the barest minimum, the HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop fits just at home in any office environment as it does in someone’s game room thanks to its compact chassis and refined LED lighting along the base. So, if you’re looking for a machine on which you can both play and work, this is just the ticket – taking out two birds with one stone and giving you even more savings.
It isn’t going to be an ultra-kitted-out machine, obviously, although if you shell out a little more for the higher configurations, you can score one with an RTX 3060 that will offer some more graphical oomph for playing the latest games. However, its lower configurations should be capable enough to see you through 1080p gaming, provided you’re willing to drop your graphical settings a bit.
A striking gaming PC with a solid 1080p performance
Buy it if:
✅ You want solid 1080p gaming: It can deliver where it counts for anyone wanting to game in 1080p gaming, even on max settings for many demanding games.
✅ You want an attractive PC: This desktop looks like a monolith in white with RGB lighting. Not only is it attractive but in a way that’s slightly different than many other PCs out there.
Don’t buy it if:
❌ You’re on a budget: While it’s not egregiously priced, the HP Omen 25L is not a budget PC. Look to HP’s Victus line for that.
❌ You can’t return it: With the amount of lemons out there, you want to make sure you can return it for one that works if anything goes wrong.
Though the HP Victus 15L is a much cheaper and much more compact option, it also features older-generation specs than the HP Omen 25L. The latter also comes with more RGB lighting and a glass panel, which makes it more appealing to those concerned about aesthetics.
Of course, the HP Omen 25L is a bit more capable as well, again due to its newer-gen specs. We found in our review that it delivers the kind of rock-solid performance that will satisfy just about anyone’s 1080p gaming needs. In fact, it maintained an average 86 fps when we played Cyberpunk 2077 on Ultra, and an equally impressive 89 fps in Total War: Warhammer III, also with Ultra settings on.
We also appreciate its easy tool-less access, and while the port selection on it is just ok, you have enough to connect all your peripherals. Just keep in mind that we’re only recommending the base configuration here. Anything above that, and you’re already walking into the mid-range category. If you have a bit more flexible budget, then by all means, look into a higher configuration. But if you want this gaming PC at a budget price, you’re gonna have to stick with its entry-level model.
Read our full HP Omen 25L review
How to choose the best budget gaming PC for you
Finding the best budget gaming PC for you can be a difficult prospect, as there’s a huge range of manufacturers with an even huger range of configurations available. We look at all different kinds and compare them to other PCs in their class, considering everything from price to performance to build quality.
Be sure to consider what you personally need when it comes to gaming on a PC. If you’re planning on mostly playing 2D indie games or esports games (such as League of Legends and Valorant), you likely won’t need a super-powerful machine since these titles are usually well-optimized to run on lower-end hardware. On the other hand, if you want to play graphically-demanding triple-A games, you’re going to need to spend a bit more to get the best performance.
Resolution is an important factor here too; is the screen you’ll be using a 1080p full HD monitor, or a 4K 120Hz display? If you’re gaming at a higher resolution, you’ll need a more powerful GPU in order to keep your framerates looking steady without compromising significantly in the graphical settings.
Frequently asked questions on budget gaming PCs
Is it hard to find a good budget gaming PC?
Due to a global chip shortage spurred on by the Covid-19 pandemic and other factors like droughts and power outages, it was hard to find a budget gaming PC for a while. GPU and CPU prices were sky-high for a good portion of 2022 due to things like supply chain issues and scalpers gouging the market. However, the market seems to have finally calmed down enough that a rig like this can actually be considered affordable.
We’ve observed AMD and Nvidia GPU prices continue to decrease – although AMD’s are falling faster – which is good news for everyone. AMD graphics cards are consistently nearing MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) which means it will hopefully be easier to get your hands on affordable gaming PC parts, and therefore cheaper pre-built gaming PCs. We may not be in the clear just yet, but the market change is hopefully indicative of it becoming easier to find the best budget gaming PC at wallet-friendly prices.
Is it cheaper to build or buy PC?
Ultimately, it’s always going to be more expensive to build a budget gaming PC than it will be to buy one, since manufacturers will get OEM pricing on components that they order in bulk, which will really make a difference on the lower end of the price scale.
But pre-built PCs are often built with the careful mix of components to maximize performance at that price point. This often means that if you want to upgrade one component, you might need to upgrade other components along with it in order to avoid a performance bottleneck in one part of your system, which can potentially make upgrading the PC a more expensive proposition down the road.
Is a $500 gaming PC worth it?
It depends on what you mean by “worth it.” What you want to play and at what kind of performance and quality settings is going to make a major difference on whether a $500 gaming PC is up to the task.
If your primary goal is to play modern AAA titles at 1080p at reasonable settings at a reasonable frames per second (averaging 30 or more fps), then a $500 gaming PC can probably give you that and possibly a bit more, depending on the game.
If you want to play something at 4K with 60 fps, then no, you’re probably better off buying a PS5 or Xbox Series X|S, assuming you can find one at MSRP. Of course, this limits you to only playing the games available on that platform, and remember that you’ll need to pay a regular subscription for online play too.
How we tested these budget gaming PCs
Here at TechRadar, we believe in rigorously testing every piece of hardware that passes through our hands. If it fails to impress during testing, we’ll always let you know; we won’t recommend you buy any product that falls short of the performance median for its price range.
Our testing process varies from product to product, but we’re always sure to run the most appropriate tests considering the target purpose of whatever we’re reviewing. This means we’re always sure to run plenty of gaming tests on a gaming laptop, or editing benchmarks for a desktop workstation PC. We also always examine the build quality of a product to see whether it aligns with the attached price tag.
If you want to know more about how we test and rate the computers in this guide, check out our explainer on how we test laptops and desktops to learn more.
Today’s best budget gaming PC deals