As many laptop deals, MacBook deals, and gaming laptop deals as there are up for grabs online year-round, the best desktop PCs will always beat portable clamshell computers when it’s time to settle in for a few hours of work or gaming. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good one, either. Whether you’re feeling boxed-in by your cramped laptop and are switching to a desktop PC to enhance your entertainment and productivity, or you’re simply replacing your old desktop tower that’s getting a little long in the tooth, we’ve snatched up the five best cheap desktop computer deals available right now and put them right here. Read on:
Today’s best cheap desktop computer deals
- HP Pavilion Desktop PC — $400, was $550
- HP Pavilion GTX 1660 Ti Gaming PC — $580, was $680
- Lenovo IdeaCentre 5i Mini PC — $630, was $750
- Apple Mac Mini (M1 CPU, Latest Model) — $649, was $699
- Lenovo IdeaCentre All-in-One Desktop PC — $677
HP Pavilion Desktop PC — $400, was $550
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, this HP Pavilion desktop is your best bet for around 400 bucks: An AMD Ryzen 3 CPU and 8GB of RAM are fairly basic but nonetheless offer enough juice for everyday use, while the 128GB solid-state system drive paired with a 1TB 7,200rpm HDD (faster than the 5,400rpm drives of years past) might be the perfect combo of speed and storage space.
A wired mouse and keyboard are included, as well. A $150 savings means you can score this cheap desktop computer deal for a super affordable $400 at the moment. If you’re willing to pay more for boosted specs, however, then be sure to check out our other picks.
HP Pavilion GTX 1660 Ti Gaming PC — $580, was $680
Tip-toeing closer to our budget limit brings us to this beefy HP Pavilion gaming tower, which has pretty much everything we want in a desktop at this price. It boasts an AMD Ryzen 5 processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU with 6GB of VRAM (one of our favorite mid-range graphics cards), and 8GB of DDR4 RAM, which all work together to deliver excellent gaming performance for playing the latest titles at high settings with a suitable gaming monitor.
On top of that, you’ve got a 256GB solid-state system drive, along with an included keyboard and mouse (although with a PC at this price point, you may want to consider upgrading these at some point to enjoy the best gaming experience). This solid gaming desktop comes to just $580 after a $100 price cut.
Lenovo IdeaCentre 5i Mini PC — $630, was $750
Moving down in size a bit (but not up in price) from standard desktop towers, the Lenovo IdeaCentre 5i Mini PC is a great cheap desktop computer with a small footprint. It packs an Intel Core i5-10400T CPU with 12GB of RAM — well above the minimum specs we typically recommend if you’re spending more than $400-$500 — along with a fast 256GB SSD and a big 1TB HDD for overflow. It also has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
Unlike many mini PCs that don’t come with a keyboard and mouse, this one comes with both. A welcome discount means you can grab this cheap desktop for a highly affordable $630 right now.
Apple Mac Mini (M1 CPU, Latest Model) — $649, was $699
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
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. This one packs Apple’s amazing new M1 CPU plus 8GB of DDR4 RAM — very nice specs for work, browsing, and streaming — and you also get a snappy 256GB SSD for storage. That’s 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 new late 2020 Apple Mac Mini desktop computer is not just its small size, but its value: It’s on sale for $649 right now (the best price we’ve seen for it), 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.
Lenovo IdeaCentre All-in-One Desktop PC — $677
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 Lenovo IdeaCentre 24-inch desktop is a great option for a super-sleek workstation fit for the 2020s.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre AIO comes equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5 CPU with Radeon Vega graphics plus 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD — all of which sits right inside the 24-inch 1080p monitor housing (that means there’s no PC tower to fuss with). That design, including a mouse and keyboard, can be yours for a great price of just $677 right now. A tower with similar specs would cost you about that much by itself, so this is a great value considering that it has everything you need right out of the box with hardware that will last you for years to come.
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.
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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 GTX 16-series GPUs in the sub-$1,000 price bracket. These replaced Nvidia’s 10-series cards as entry- and mid-level GPUs, 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 tha