If you love PC gaming, you’re going to want a sweet gaming PC, but there are many things to consider before getting one, the biggest being budget.
Trying to build the absolute best gaming PC imagineable can be obscenely expensive and buying one prebuilt isn't much better, but there are ways to get cheaper ones; particularly when you build your own, but even if you get them pre-built.
More than anything, the best computer for gaming is ultimately the best one you can actually afford, but you don't want to just settle for any old PC. Here are some tips for how to get the very best gaming machine possible for any budget.
Budget gaming PCs
You don't have to spend a fortune to get the pretty good prebuilt gaming PC, believe it or not.
Let’s start with the brand name. People tend to opt for PCs made by well-known brands like Alienware, Corsair or MSI. It makes sense that they would, particularly when shopping for a relatively expensive PC, considering how difficult comparing PCs can be – if a company is successful, it feels more likely that its products will be well made. And you may well have heard enough about them to have an idea of whether you can trust them with your money.
One study, Why the Devil Wears Prada: Cross-National Meanings of Branded Products by Robin Couter et. al for the University of Connecticut School of Business, found that consumers associate big brand products with quality. They also said that people associated branding with status and identity, after all, many people like to look good and have the best of the best.
But enough of the formal stuff. The point is, you don’t have to go with well-known manufacturers.
Usually, even the best budget gaming PC is going to use cheaper parts, but cheaper parts do not always mean bad or lower performance. Some also use parts that are not by big-name manufacturers; they might strip back on the aesthetics; a smaller case without extra trimmings like RGB lighting saves a sweet penny.
Still, how do you find out if a lesser-known product or company is worth it?
For individual computers, a great way is customer reviews. Amazon has a great platform for this. You can learn a lot from reading reviews, and you can ask questions, too.
Sometimes you just want to know if this or that company you’ve never heard of is worth considering, and quickly. For that, Trustpilot, which hosts user reviews of companies and gives them a score, is great for that.
It’s not just no-name manufacturers that make budget PCs. Even large ones do it, usually built with cheaper parts, like MSI’s Trident 3 10th ($1,153.27, around £949, AU$1,674) or the HP Victus 15 L, starting from as cheap as $750 (around £617, AU$1,086), or the CyberPowerPC Wyvern Gaming PC, which you can cop for a nice $936.33 (around £770, AU$1,356) on Amazon.
And this isn't even accounting for retailer sales events when these gaming PCs typically become even cheaper.
Then, there are gaming laptops. Now, hear us out, you might prefer a desktop, but with one of the best gaming laptops, you can still have a cool gaming setup, and without a tower, monitor screen, and keyboard taking up space further pressuring the purse strings.
When it comes to laptops we know the obvious perks of owning one. The fact that it’s mobile means you can take it with you wherever you need to go; you can take your gaming with you on holiday, or if you have to travel for work.
If you need a laptop anyway, buying a gaming one will save you from buying a desktop – you’ll save money, even though you pay more for power in a laptop. And many laptops can play the best PC games admirably, possessing some of the best processors and mobile GPUs, and feature some fantastic displays.
The most budget PC of all
Let’s just take a moment to think about the PCs that have loved and served us for many years, only to have us discard and replace them with a newer, better model. You will never be forgotten.
In fact, we want to advocate on behalf of the discarded old PC, because there’s no reason for you to get rid of them. Ever heard of a makeover? Well, that’s where we’re going with this. You already have a case, we’re sure, salvageable parts, and the extra peripherals that would cost you extra, like a mouse, monitor, and keyboard – so why not upgrade it?
While it can feel intimidating if you’ve never touched the inside of a PC before, this is a great chance for you to learn. You should make a clear plan of what an upgraded version of your PC would look like. What do you want it to do?
You can check out online retailers like Newegg and Ebuyer. There’s User Benchmark to check how your PC measures up, and it’ll make it clear what’s old and bad about your PC, and there are also sites that help you to pick parts for your PC like PC Part Picker. Also, be sure to read our tech reviews to get a breakdown of PC components that may be right for you, and don’t forget your local PC shop is an option too.
All in all, it’s possible to get a great gaming PC for a budget price. So, explore your options and don’t limit yourself because you think it’s impossible.
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Rosario Blue is a writer, playwright, and freelance journalist.
She is a Global Goodwill Ambassador for Postcards for Peace.