Best budget gaming PC 2018: top gaming desktops for less

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Buying a new gaming rig doesn't have to cost you a fortune, as our list of the best budget gaming PCs demonstrates.

While many people think that buying a gaming PC can cost the earth, there are some brilliant budget gaming PCs that through smart choices when it comes to components, can still deliver amazing gaming performance for low prices.

Also, with the current cryptocurrency mining craze hiking up prices for certain components, especially graphics cards, buying a pre-built budget gaming PC is now even more sensible if you're trying to keep costs low.

So, read on for our list of the best budget gaming PCs of 2018, which will leave the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X in the dust, without costing a fortune.

1. Dell Inspiron 5675 Gaming Desktop

A great-looking budget gaming PC

CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 1200 | Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 560 | RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB HDD

Nice design
Solid performance
Tricky to upgrade

With Dell now owning the popular Alienware gaming PC brand, which is known for its high-end gaming rigs, it can focus on releasing more affordable gaming PCs using its Inspiron brand, such as the Dell Inspiron 5675 Gaming Desktop. This comes with some decent components that will get you gaming on a 1080p monitor without much compromise when it comes to graphical effects, and sturdy build quality we've come to expect from Dell. The components aren't the most powerful, so while they'll do a fine job for many games, if you really want to push the boat out graphics and resolution-wise, then you'll probably need something a bit more powerful. As with most Dell machines, you can easily customise the Dell Inspiron 5675, and you can also upgrade it yourself later on.

2. Lenovo Legion Y520

VR ready for budget gamers

CPU: Intel Core i3-7100 - i5-7400 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti – 1060 | RAM: Up to 16GB | Storage: 2TB HDD; 256GB SSD

Very good performance for price
Good price
Included mouse and keyboard aren't the best

When buying a budget gaming PC you sometimes have to make sacrifices in order to keep the price down, but the best budget gaming PCs, like the Lenovo Legion Y520, do an excellent job of minimising any such sacrifices. This is a desktop gaming PC that has enough oomph to give it a 'VR-ready' sticker, so you can use an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive with it, and there's plenty of storage space with a 2TB hard drive and a 256GB solid state drive. There are a range of specifications you can choose from, so if your budget allows you can pack more powerful components for even better results.

3. HP Pavilion Power 580-052na

A great performer at the higher end of the budget spectrum

CPU: Intel Core™ i5-7400 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 2GB | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 1TB HDD, 128GB SSD

Decent performance
Room for upgrades
At the higher price range for a budget gaming PC

If you don't mind spending a bit more on your budget gaming PC, then the HP Pavilion Power 580-052na is an excellent investment. Again, it combines strong build quality with some pretty decent components which ensure that your gaming experience at 1080p is a solid one. The chassis isn't the most exciting, but it's a good looking, and relatively compact, case which gives you enough space to upgrade components in the future. It is a bit pricey for a budget gaming PC though, but if you can afford it, this is definitely worth considering.

4. Acer Aspire GX-781

A good performer from a trusted brand

CPU: Intel Core i3-7100 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 1TB HDD

Good value for money
Decent performance
Comes with a lot of unwanted pre-installed programs
Not the most powerful budget gaming PC

Acer is a dab hand at creating great gaming PCs, and as well as its excellent Predator range of high-end gaming rigs, it's also produced some excellent budget gaming PCs, like the Acer Aspire GX-781. With a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card, alongside 8GB of RAM and a Core i3 processor, you're going to get enough power to play modern games at 1080p, and thanks to the decent sized chassis, you also have enough room to add newer components in the future.

5. CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme GXIVR8020A4

Another VR-ready budget PC

CPU: Intel Core i5-7400 | Graphics: AMD RX 580 4GB | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 1TB HDD

Very good price
Some good (and recent) components
No SSD
Limited availability

The CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme GXIVR8020A4 is another great budget PC that provides very good gaming performance without costing too much. It comes with some pretty recent components to help it power the latest games, and it can even support virtual reality headsets like the HTC Vive. It's let down by the lack of a solid state drive, but you can always add one in later if you want a speed boost.

6. Dell XPS Tower Special Edition

It doesn’t look the part, but plays it well

CPU: Intel Core i5-8400 – Core i7-8700K | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB DDR4 (2,666MHz) | Storage: 256GB SSD; 1TB HDD – 256GB SSD; 2TB HDD

Compact, minimalistic design 
Affordably priced 
Non-K, locked processor 

The Dell XPS Tower Special Edition is a lesson in subtlety. This on-the-DL gaming rig looks like something you’d find in your dad’s office, rather than something powering the latest PC games. But, rocking an Intel 8th generation Coffee Lake CPU and a Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti even at the lowest configuration option, you’re getting one of the best gaming PCs you can buy in 2018, but without any of the off-putting ‘gamer aesthetic’. 

Read the full review: Dell XPS Tower Special Edition