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Best budget gaming PC 2024: great cheap builds

Get into gaming without breaking the bank, with our pick of the best cheap gaming PCs around, including options from Acer, HP, and Intel.

Three of the best budget gaming PCs on a bright blue gradient gradient

Picking the best budget gaming PC for your needs will ensure you get the performance that matters to you without spending more than you need. It’s all about compromises and knowing where to make concessions to price without necessarily tanking gaming performance.

Each cheap desktop option in this guide will bring you solidly into the gaming sphere for considerably less cash than the best gaming PC flagships. The convenience of a prebuilt PC means you avoid having to learn how to build a gaming PC and how to install a graphics card.

But while top-end rigs, which combine the very best gaming CPUs and best graphics cards, are not purchases that can be made lightly, a cheap gaming PC will allow you to play most titles for a fraction of the price.

We’ve picked out high-quality, low-cost PCs (under $1,5oo/£1,000) that can fling frames around without a care and nail 1080p gaming in the best PC games. Once you’ve got a cheap gaming PC in your arsenal, you can start wading into the exciting world of more demanding, next-gen PC games.

Why you can trust our advice ✔ At PCGamesN, our experts spend hours testing hardware and reviewing games and VPNs. We share honest, unbiased opinions to help you buy the best. Find out how we test.

Acer Predator Orion 3000

Best budget gaming PC overall

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Acer Predator Orion 3000 specifications:
Operating system Windows 11 Home 64-bit
CPU Intel Core i7-13700F processor Hexadeca-core 1.50GHz
GPU NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 (8GB)
Memory 16GB, DDR5 SDRAM
Storage 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
  • Powerful processor
  • Upgradable
  • Stylish chassis looks great
Reasons to avoid
  • 4K gaming not great

The Acer Predator Orion 3000 is slick, black, and with a transparent side panel, you can swap with the as-shipped black panel to display the inner workings in all their gaming PC glory.

This fast and furious eyeful is an excellent futureproof option. While there are expensive configurations to be had, Acer also offers cheaper options just shy of £$1,000 – and we had to include it on this list because of that. It’s upgradable too, ensuring that it keeps pace with all the latest releases.

And play it you shall, in a brilliant blizzard of 1080p and 1440p resolution fun, as the 16 Core, 24 Thread Intel Core i7-13700F (max. turbo frequency: 5.20GHz) and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 combine to deliver hardcore play perfection and stunning visuals.

Available here with 16GB of memory and a solid 1TB of storage, while Predator FrostBlade 2.0 fans featuring RGB LEDS keep the system cucumber-cool to reduce the likelihood of overheating mid-session and ruining your day/night.

The LED lighting can, of course, be personalized to bathe you in whatever hue you find most conducive to kicking ass. WiFi 6E (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.0 provide a solid, sturdy, stable connection to the world, and ports aplenty provide connections for any peripherals you favor.

HP Pavilion gaming desktop

Best alternative budget gaming PC

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HP Pavilion gaming desktop specifications:
Operating system Windows 11 Home 64-bit
CPU up to AMD Ryzen 7
GPU up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
Memory up to 16GB
Storage 1TB HDD, 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
  • xx
  • xx
  • xx
Reasons to avoid
  • xx
  • xx

HP’s Pavilion is the best pick for you if you don’t want a gamer aesthetic, and instead need a desktop to go seamlessly from work to play. Face it, unless you make your living as some YouTube gaming sensation, all too often the fun has to stop and the back-breaking, bill-paying work has to begin. If that for you involves the use of a computer and an ample amount of working from home, then why shift seats?

There’s a range of Pavilion options to suit a range of budgets, with plenty offering oomph for under a thousand. For under $600, you get an AMD Ryzen 3 5300G Processor, 8 GB RAM, and 512 GB SSD. While a long way from being a premium processor, this offers an excellent price-to-performance ratio.

HP Victus 15L

Best compact budget gaming PC

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HP Victus 15L specifications:
Operating system Windows 11 Home
CPU Intel Core i5 13400 (13th Generation
GPU NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4060 (8 GB)
Memory 16GB RAM
Storage 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
  • Latest NVIDIA card
  • Playing perfection
  • Takes up minimal desk space
Reasons to avoid
  • Cramped design can mean overheating
  • Design is slightly plasticky

Available off-the-shelf in four spec set-ups, I’ve opted for the most expensive option, featuring NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 4060 graphics card, with ultra-efficient NVIDIA Ada Lovelace architecture, to give you AI-accelerated action all the way.

This comes with an Intel Core i5 processor featuring 10 Cores and 16 Threads, a base frequency of 1.80GHz, and a turbo frequency of up to 4.60GHz. If this is destined for your desktop, you’re going to be rewarded with blistering fast gameplay and image quality that blurs the line between graphics and real life.

On the memory side, you get 16GB, 1TB sorts out your storage, and no fewer than nine USB ports give a plethora of connections. Meanwhile, on the wireless front, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3 keep you constantly connected.

With understated aesthetics, especially in comparison with the Acer Predator Orion 3000, the unassuming Mica silver metal finish certainly helps it blend in better as a component of a larger home entertainment system, which will certainly hold an appeal with those who want the greatest gaming experience but none of the fuss. A remarkable machine that gives great gaming, to the Victus goes the spoils.

Intel NUC 9 Extreme Kit

Best mini budget gaming PC

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Intel NUC 9 Extreme Kit specifications:
Operating system Windows 11 Home
CPU Intel Core i9-9980HK Processor (16M Cache, up to 5.00GHz)
GPU Dependent
Memory Dependent
Storage Dependent
Reasons to buy
  • Small form factor
  • Freedom to self-spec
Reasons to avoid
  • Some practical PC knowledge required

The NUC 9 Extreme Kit from Intel is one of the best mini gaming PCs. It’s built around an Intel Core i9 processor that comes to you without memory, storage, or a graphics card. It’s up to you to specify and build in those components yourself. Supporting up to an eight-inch discrete card, the choice is purely yours, meaning you can use the best websites for custom PC builds to make yourself one hell of a powerful PC, speccing it exactly how you want it.

A hugely popular option if you have a small space, the NUC 9 features a petite footprint, thanks to its five-liter chassis, meaning it’ll fit in just about anywhere you need it to; so, site it, spec it and set faces for ‘stunned’. However, keep in mind that having to buy all of those extra components yourself is going to ramp up the price.


Best budget PC for casual gamers

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CLX Set specifications:
Operating system Windows 11 Home
CPU AMD Ryzen 5 5600G 3.9GHz Hexa-Core
GPU AMD Radeon RX Vega 7
Memory 2x 8GB (16GB Dual Channel)
Storage 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
  • Wide configurable spec
  • Ultra cheap
Reasons to avoid
  • Lower spec not great with triple AAA games

A pre-build gaming PC from a company that offers you almost infinite possibilities when it comes to spec. Pick a processor, get a GPU, select your storage, and make your choice on memory – all is possible. But for the sake of this piece, I’ve settled on the cheapest option, comprised of an AMD Ryzen 5 5600G 3.9GHz Hexa-Core CPU, an AMD Radeon RX Vega 7 integrated graphics, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage.

What this gives you is a low-price machine that’s great for the more casual gamer. Okay, admittedly, the latest AAA games are not going to play ball particularly, but considering the price, that’s understandable. It is still capable of playing games at 1080p with little problem with this configuration.

Design-wise this is the basic black SET SPEAR Micro Tower, but even that looks slick with its RGB LEDs and logo plus tempered glass window, so it’s a reasonably premium look for not that many pennies.

But, as I’ve said, all components can be self-specified, so even the chassis comes with 18 different options at varying additional prices, making the world your option-oyster. However, keeping focus on the model here, an entry-level gaming PC with this spec and this price is nothing if not an absolute bargain.

Best budget gaming PC FAQs

How to choose the best budget gaming PC

When you have a tighter budget you have to make sacrifices, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy a cheap PC that’s great for gaming. You just have to know where to make compromises. The most important component for gaming is undoubtedly the GPU, and we recommend the AMD Radeon RX 7600 as the best graphics card on a budget option right now, as it can handle any of the latest games at 1,920 x 1,080 at decent settings. The new Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 is also a solid option if you want to enable the fancy lighting and reflections you get with ray tracing enabled.

If you can’t afford one of these graphics cards, a last-gen GPU, such as the Nvidia RTX 3060 or AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT, will also be significantly quicker than integrated graphics, and will still run the latest games, albeit not at the highest settings.

The rest of the components aren’t anywhere near as important, but you also need to make sure you get the balance right. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need to buy a top-end CPU with 16 cores for a 1080p gaming PC, for example, as most of those cores won’t be used in the majority of games – six powerful cores will do the job perfectly. An Intel Core i5-13400F or 1400F will be fine, as will an AMD Ryzen 5 7600.

You’ll need plenty of fast storage space for game installs as well, and a 1TB PCIe 3 SSD, such as the Samsung 980, will do the job fine for most people, while not costing an enormous amount of money. You’ll need 16GB of RAM as well, although the speed of it (and whether it’s DDR4 or DDR5) makes only a minimal difference to gaming performance compared to the GPU – 16GB of basic 3200MHz DDR4 memory is fine.

At the cheaper end of the scale, you’ll also find PCs based on CPUs with integrated graphics, such as the Ryzen 7 5700G. These setups will enable you to run quite a few games at low settings, and can work well as a starting point – if you just want to play Civilization VI and Return to Monkey Island, you’ll be fine.

However, if you do opt for one of these machines, we recommend ensuring that your system has room to grow with a full 16x PCIe slot, as this will enable you to add a more powerful graphics card at a later date, as well as a 500W power supply. The difference in gaming performance between integrated graphics and a separate GPU cannot be understated – if you can afford it, make sure you get a decent GPU as a priority over the other components.

What is a good budget PC for gaming?

For the best experience, you’re often going to be spending upwards of $1000. This is for a PC that can play games like Cyberpunk 2077 at high settings and 1080 resolution. But if you play games that are less demanding on the CPU and GPU, you can easily find an entry-level gaming PC for as little as $600, but it will be best suited to games like CS2 and Valorant, where you want to turn down the graphics settings anyway for a fast frame rate, or for games like The Sims where graphics are basic and frame rate not too important. For the latest AAA releases, though, expect to need to spend a little more to have the games look their best.

Is a $500 PC good for gaming?

It depends on your definition. If you want something to play the best free PC games on, and other less processing-intensive releases, then a PC in that price range will be just fine. However, if you want to play something like Starfield, you’re not going to be able to do it on a machine in that price range on anything other than low settings.

Do I need 32GB RAM?

You will notice that many of the high-end gaming PCs boast 32GB of RAM. This will not be necessary for the vast majority of games, and certainly not for day-to-day use. A PC with that capability will be better suited to handle new developments in any big, next-gen releases. You’re not going to get 32GB RAM on a budget gaming PC so there are none with that specification on this list.

Not sure whether a desktop is the right setup for you? Check out the best budget gaming laptop and the best gaming monitor for alternative recommendations.