The best budget gaming PC in 2024: our top picks for great gaming at a better price

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If you’re searching for the best budget gaming PC for fast gameplay without breaking the bank, you’re in luck. We’ve tested the latest budget gaming options from major players like Acer, HP, and Dell to bring you our hand-picked favorites based on our extensive testing. 

It’s easy to think that a wallet-friendly computer is going to seriously struggle to run today’s demanding PC games well, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

In an ideal world, we could all be playing on the best gaming PC possible complete with the very best graphics card and best processor on the market. However, that’s simply not a reality for the majority of us. Fortunately, that’s where budget and mid-range models shine. Thanks to many of the best cheap graphics card and processor options, budget gaming rigs are more than capable of delivering great performance at 1080p and even 1440p resolutions.

High framerates are no longer locked behind the bleeding edge, and it’s entirely possible to have an excellent gaming experience under the $1,000 / £1,000 / $AU1,500 mark as our top picks show. 

What’s more, we’ve opted only to include machines made by trusted manufacturers that we’ve personally tested ourselves. Every rig below has been reviewed and gone thorough testing, so we can personally vouch for their build quality, performance, and value for money. You’ll find representation from brands such as HP, Lenovo, and Acer below which should suit most budgets and preferences, even though 4K is (sadly) off the tablet in this price bracket. 

The quick list

The best budget gaming PC in 2024

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Below you'll find full write-ups for each of the best budget gaming PC options on our list. We've tested each one extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted. 

The best budget gaming PC overall

HP Victus 15L

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)
The very best budget gaming PC

Specifications

CPU: up to 10th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super
RAM: up to 16GB
Storage: up to 1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of power
+
Compact

Reasons to avoid

-
Come with bloated software
Buy it if:

✅ You don’t have much space: The compact, simple chassis of the Victus 15L make it ideal for desktop setups with limited real estate.

✅ You need those accessible ports: A wide selection of ports on the front face (rather than the top or rear) is a great inclusion that comes in surprisingly useful.

Don't buy it if:

You can afford something more robust: The chassis of the HP Victus 15L is where its cost-cutting is most noticeable, with some rather budget construction materials.

❌ You want to game at 4K: Even the higher-end configuration of the Victus 15L aren't really powerhouse gaming PCs.

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 budget gaming PC for AMD fans

black gaming PC with glass side

(Image credit: Future)
The best budget gaming PC for AMD fans

Specifications

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT
RAM: 8GB DDR4
Storage: 512GB SSD PCIe Gen4

Reasons to buy

+
Small and lightweight form factor
+
Flexible use
+
Solid port selection

Reasons to avoid

-
Performance is roughly in the middle
-
Bland-looking
-
Not enough Type-C USB ports
Buy it if:

✅ You want a smaller PC: Despite offering a fully-fledged feature set, the Lenovo Tower 5 Gen 6 has a fairly small footprint and height compared to many gaming PCs.

✅ You want a solid port selection: With an absolute tonne of ports including multiple USBs, HDMI, and even DVI output, this PC has got you covered.

Don't buy it if:

You want a gorgeous PC: There's not much in the way of flashy RGB lighting and stylized aesthetics here - it's not ugly, but it is a bit basic.

❌ You want to max out settings: At this level of specs, you're not going to be playing the latest games at the highest settings.

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

Acer Predator Orion 3000 desktop gaming PC on a desk with RGB lighting turned on.

(Image credit: Future)
The best compact budget gaming PC

Specifications

CPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660
Graphics: 11th-gen Intel Core i5
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Storage: 512GB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Cool gamer aesthetic
+
Great cooling solution
+
Solid selection of different models

Reasons to avoid

-
Higher configurations are pricey
Buy it if:

✅ You want the best value for money: Both sensibly priced and easy to upgrade, the Predator Orion 3000 is a good choice of future-proof budget gaming PC.

✅ You’re just getting into PC gaming: At this price level and offering decent gaming performance, this is the perfect entry-level gaming desktop.

Don't buy it if:

You want cutting-edge hardware: While you should be able to play most games just fine on this PC, it's hardly the highest-end desktop available.

❌ You want a full-size gaming PC: The compact design will be appealing for many, but for those who prefer a beefy full-tower PC, you'll want look elsewhere.

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 for both work and play

Lenovo Legion Tower 5i on a side table

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)
The best for both work and play

Specifications

CPU: up to Intel Core i7-13700
Graphics: up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 Ti
RAM: up to 16GB
Storage: up to 1TB HDD + 512GB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Great 1080p performance
+
Attractive gamer design with lots of RGB
+
Lots of vents
+
Competitive price

Reasons to avoid

-
Can’t handle ray tracing
-
Port selection just okay
-
Has a lot of bloatware
Buy it if:

✅ You want a fantastic 1080p machine: While 4K is out of reach, the Legion Tower 5i gets every last drop of 1080p gaming performance from its components.

✅ You want a good-looking PC: Compared to some of the simpler designs you can see on this list, the Tower 5i is a pretty nice-looking machine without being over-stylized.

Don't buy it if:

You want ray tracing: Ray-traced gameplay still isn't really an option here, unless you're willing to shell out for one of the more expensive RTX 4000 configurations.

❌ You're on a tight budget: While it's still excellent value for money, this is one of the more costly PCs on this list.

The Lenovo Legion Tower 5i is a gaming PC that fits well as both a dedicated gaming PC and a work machine in the office. It features excellent 1080p performance, which means that even the like of Cyberpunk 2077 managed 77 fps on Ultra settings during our benchmark testing. This also means that the PC is perfect for advanced editing and creative products for the office, which is a boon considering the extremely affordable pricing of just over $1,000.

Even better is that with all this performance, there are plenty of vents around the chassis so you can last longer in more intense gaming sessions without the danger of your PC overheating. We tested this out and found that the ventilation system did indeed hold up quite well. And if you're someone who considers visuals, the Legion Tower 5i is simple yet stunning, with a glass side that exposes beautiful RGB lighting and an impressive component setup.

There are several setbacks, however, including the fact that it simply cannot handle ray tracing, as the framerate and general performance plummets when it's enabled. The port selection is only average and there's a bit too much bloatware installed. But other than these setbacks, the Legion Tower 5i is a great gaming PC at an even better price point.

Read our full Lenovo Legion Tower 5i review

The best minimalist budget gaming PC

HP Omen 25L on the floor

(Image credit: Future / James Holland)
A striking gaming PC with a solid 1080p performance

Specifications

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600G
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT
RAM: 8GB DDR4
Storage: 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Solid gaming 1080p performance
+
Fun RGB-filled design
+
Easy tool-less access

Reasons to avoid

-
Quality control issues
-
Port selection is just okay
Buy it if:

✅ You want solid 1080p gaming: Even at the highest graphical settings, the Omen 25L can run most games at 1080p with a smooth framerate.

✅ You want an attractive PC: The white colorway and minimalist design make this a particularly good-looking monolith of a gaming PC.

Don't buy it if:

You want something cheap: While the pricing is still pretty fair, this isn't the most super-budget gaming PC out there.

❌ You won't be able to return it: There have been reports of Omen 25L PCs experiencing debilitating crash issues, so don't buy one of these without a warranty.

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 of 86fps when we played Cyberpunk 2077 on Ultra, and an equally impressive 89fps 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

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 decent 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 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.

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

John Loeffler
Components Editor

John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 

Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.

You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.

Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).

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