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Best budget gaming PC 2021: top gaming desktops for less

Best budget gaming PC
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best budget gaming PCs are more capable than you might think. It’s not just top-of-the-line hardware that gets you through the latest and best PC games. And, considering how pricey graphics cards and processors can get, getting the most expensive ones isn’t always the best option for everyone. 

Don’t let expensive gaming PCs put a damper on your gaming plans. The best budget gaming PCs should get you through even the most demanding games, as long as you don’t absolutely need to game on ultra or the highest settings and can live without ray tracing. Some corners will likely be cut, but a modest machine should be more than enough. 

To help you, we’ve put together a list of the best budget gaming PCs that can help you get into that 1080p or 1440p gaming glory. You’ll save enough money to splash out on a seriously impressive gaming monitor for more immersive gaming. You don’t have to stick it out with aging components either as capable yet affordably-priced components from the AMD Navi, Ryzen 3nd Generation, and Intel Comet Lake lines are still on-hand to power them.

Prime Day 2021 is just around the corner, and we expect some of these budget gaming PCs to drop in price even more, giving you deep discounts. We’re keeping an eye out for Prime Day deals and sharing them with our readers. These budget PCs may be your best bet at getting hold of an elusive GPU on Prime Day, as well.

Save even more money with the best free PC games. To round out your gaming rig, invest in the best gaming mouse and the best gaming keyboard you can afford.

HP Omen 25L

(Image credit: HP)

1. Omen 25L

For AMD fans

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3500, 7 3700X or 9 3900
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 5500 – NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super
RAM: 16GB – 32B DDR4
Storage: 256GB SSD – 1TB + 2TB + 2TB
Reasons to buy
+Pretty cheap+Toolless access+Great cooling
Reasons to avoid
-Unimaginative design

The Omen 25L’s rectangular black metal design isn’t going to turn heads anytime soon. That’s at least offset by its glass panel, but only barely. However, if you’re not too concerned about looks, this is among the best budget gaming PCs to hit the shelves in 2021 that won’t make a sizable dent in your bank account. With AMD configurations on hand, it’s perfect for AMD-leaning gamers. But, those that are loyal to Nvidia’s RTX line can partake as well, as you can configure it to have up to an RTX 2070 Super GPU. Still, it’s the price we can’t get over here – kitted out, the Omen 25L costs as much as many of the premium gaming PCs in their mid-range configuration. Only, this one’s got more memory and a lot more storage capacity.

MSI Trident 3 9th

(Image credit: MSI)

2. MSI Trident 3 9th

A great performer

Specifications
CPU: up to 9th-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

If looking good matters to you as much as power, then you might love the MSI Trident 3 9th, especially if you’re partial to a gaming-leaning aesthetic. It’s not all looks either. This small gaming PC touts plenty of power under the hood for less than its rivals, with 9th-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 a 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.

Dell G5 Gaming Desktop

(Image credit: Dell)

3. Dell G5

Budget PC gaming at its best

Specifications
CPU: 9th Gen Intel Core i3-9100 – i9 9900K
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 – RTX 2070
RAM: 8GB – 64GB
Storage: 1TBSSD – 1TB SSD + 2TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+Very affordable+VR-ready configurations
Reasons to avoid
-Base models won’t get you through the most demanding games

A unique chassis coupled with a price to beat, Dell’s latest in its G series gaming PCs is a solid contender as among the best budget gaming PCs out there. The Dell G5 boasts 9th-generation Intel chips as well as Nvidia’s most powerful gaming GTX and RTX graphics cards, starting with an i3 processor and the GTX 1650 to handle many powerful games without burning a whole in your pocket. Of course, if you’ve got more case to spare, its VR ready configurations are also on hand, though even those are absolutely affordable.

HP Omen Obelisk

(Image credit: Future)

4. HP Omen Obelisk

Tricked out stunner for the hardcore gamer

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5-8400 – i9-9900
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti – RTX 2080
RAM: Up to 32GB
Storage: 1TB HDD – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Lots of power+Appealing, tool-less design+Highly upgradable
Reasons to avoid
-Software offer minimal personalization

The HP Omen line’s more affordable PC, the HP Omen Obelisk, is definitely well-deserving of the best budget gaming PC title, thanks to its low price of admission well under $1,000 and its decent specs at that configuration. And, if you customize before you buy, upgrading the base specs for more power, it won’t set you back a whole lot either. The best part? If you’re not into that over-the-top gaming aesthetic, this one has a classier-looking chassis so you can haul it to your office desk, and no one will be the wiser.

Read the full review: HP Omen Obelisk

Intel Ghost Canyon NUC

(Image credit: Intel)

5. Intel Ghost Canyon NUC

Small, but dangerous

Specifications
CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i5 – i9
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM: 8GB – 64B DDR4
Storage: 128GB SSD – 2TB + 2TB
Reasons to buy
+Affordable at its low configurations+Highly upgradeable+Great performance
Reasons to avoid
-Can get pretty pricey at the highest configurations

Intel’s NUC has come a long way from its humble beginnings. For example, while the previous Hades Canyon didn’t come with a RAM or storage, the newer Ghost Canyon has both. In fact, not only does it have more offerings now in terms of specs, but it’s also highly configurable so you can personalize it to your liking before hitting that buy button. With 9th-generation Intel Core chips, up to 64GB of memory and up to 4TB dual storage, we’re all for it. The only catch is that it's pricier now as well. The lower configurations are still quite affordable, however, and among the best budget gaming PCs for the budget-conscious.