For avid gamers looking for a cheap gaming desktop that fits their sub $1,000 budget, it’s a good idea to look at pre-built systems that offer a suitable balance of price and performance.
The desktop market is filled with mediocre PCs that don’t offer the necessary performance to play the latest demanding games. Whether your favorite title is World of Warcraft, Battlefield 1, or Overwatch, what you need is a good cheap gaming PC with power behind it.
Even with a price below a thousand dollars, it’s still possible to buy a respectable brand. The likes of Dell, Asus, and even high-end gaming PC specialist MSI deliver interesting models under review here. The lesser known iBuyPower and SkyTech also have a couple of interesting entrants too.
Let’s now look at the comparison chart for our chosen gaming desktops
DELL XPS8910-9020BLK DESKTOP
Intel Core i7-6700
GeForce GTX 750Ti with 2GB GDDR5
16GB DDR4 2133 Mhz
2TB HDD Storage
MSI Trident 3 VR7RC-018US Gaming Desktop
Intel Core i7-7700
GeForce GTX 1060 3GB GDDR5
8GB DDR4 2133 Mhz
1TB (SATA) 7200rpm & 128GB M.2 SATA SSD
iBUYPOWER AM001i Desktop Gaming PC
Intel Core i5-7400
GeForce GTX 1060 3GB GDDR5
8GB DDR4 2400 Mhz
1TB HDD & 120GB SSD
iBUYPOWER Keyboard and Mouse
SkyTech Archangel ST-FX6300 Gaming Computer
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB GDDR5
8GB DDR3 1866 MHz
1 TB 7200RPM Hard Drive
Free Keyboard and Mouse
ASUS Gaming G11CD-DB52 Tower Desktop
Intel Core i5-6400
GeForce GTX 950 2GB
1TB 7200 RPM Hard Drive
Includes Keyboard and Mouse
Here are the Best Cheap Gaming Desktop PCs Under $1,000 for 2017:
The appearance of the Dell XPS 8910 is an all-black, sleek affair with a classic slim tower look. The white Dell logo is shown just above center at the front, with a memory card slot, dual headphone sockets for microphone and audio, a line of four USB ports, and a USB 3.1 port below. The back has more USB connections (a total of 11 on this model alone), a network adapter, and other useful connectivity options too.
The XPS 8910 model comes with a solid Intel Core i7-6700 processor which has 8 threads and 4 cores. The processor is fast enough to power the latest games, 4K video rendering or some Photoshop work.
The 16GB of DDR4 RAM memory is the latest, faster choice. The ram is expandable up to 64GB to handle the most memory guzzling applications.
On the graphics side, there’s a NVidia GeForce GTX 750Ti dedicated card sporting 5GB of GDDR5 memory. The graphics card was originally released back in 2014 and is considered mid-range. Running modern games at a Full HD 1080p resolution, medium settings are achievable with this game. For less demanding games like Counter-Strike, higher texture settings may achieve acceptable frame rates in the 50 FPS range.
The DVD-RW drive and 1TB HDD with the faster 7,200RPM give a good performance, but upgrading to an SSD drive later might be advisable. The system handles an M.2 SSD nicely. The tower has 3 racks for hard drives, so there’s plenty of expansion options too.
Connectivity is handled via 802.11ac Wi-Fi capabilities to access a home router from a distance. Bluetooth 4.2 is also supported to connect to mobile devices or a Bluetooth speaker. There is integrated Dolby 7.1 sound via the Wave Maxx system. A Dell branded wired keyboard and mouse rounds out the offering.
For buyers who wish to upgrade the Dell XPS 8910 model, other configurations include Microsoft Windows 10 Professional (for business users) or a 2TB hard drive to kick this desktop PC up another gear.
The MSI Trident VR7RC model is a bit more striking than the Dell tower. MSI is all about the gamers and it shows in the black design with subtle bright red accents. The tower is designed either to be free standing or to lie on its side and not be out-of-place. The look of the PC isn’t garish, so while it’s a desktop PC for gamers, it will pass as a machine used for business too.
The front has plenty of port access with audio and headphone sockets, a VR slot, two USB 2.0 ports, and a USB 3.1 port too. At the rear, numerous additional ports are provided including several USB 3.0 ones, Ethernet, HDMI, DisplayPort, and a VR link port. While the PC is set up to handle virtual reality gaming, it also can drive at least two separate displays via the HDMI and DisplayPort.
Driving the slim tower is an Intel Core i7-7700 Quad Core Processor at a 3.6GHz to 4.2GHz frequency. The quad-core chip is one of the very latest models and perfect for hardcore gaming enthusiasts. Mixed use is also supported by people who work on their PC and play games in the evening.
The 1TB SATA hard drive runs at 7,200 RPM and is supported by a 128GB M.2 SSD. Windows 10 Home is pre-installed and performance is improved with the inclusion of a solid-state drive.
The NVidia GeForce 1060 with 3GB GDDR5 Ram memory is an advanced graphics performer from the latest line of cards. As a step-up from the entry-level NVidia 1050 and 1050Ti cards, it’s capable of running the latest games. These games will run at Full HD 1080p resolution on high settings with respectable frame rates. 4K resolution gaming is also supported too.
The 8GB of DDR4 memory running at 2,400Mhz is fast, but a bit lacking for modern gaming performance. Certainly, with 3GB of ram memory with the GeForce 1060 graphics card, games are capable of sharing some of the 8GB of installed memory, but applications running in the background may suffer. Never the less, ram upgrades are simple and inexpensive to do post-purchase, so this is a minor complaint.
As a compact gaming tower PC, this MSI model does well with a useful mix of components packed in tightly. The VR ready port access at the front is a nice addition.
Some little extras include the MSI Dragon Eye feature that supports playing a game while watching a YouTube video and listening to a Twist stream simultaneously. The XSplit Gamecaster feature makes live streaming your gameplay easy to do on UStream, Twist, and YouTube.
The Nahimic Sound System 2 is impressive for a tower PC with a directional indicator for where sounds are originating. The Mystic Light with selectable LED light effects also brings the desktop to life.
MSI have a couple of other versions of this model. One has the lesser Intel quad-core i5-7400 processor without the SSD and the other model upgrades to 16GB of Ram and a 256GB SSD. All models come with a keyboard and mouse.
The iBuyPower AM001i is a cheap gaming laptop that lives up to its name. It has a sleek black molded appearance with distinctive bright red accents. The side of the tower is transparent providing a peek inside at the components.
The Intel Core i5-7400 KabyLake processor drives this gaming rig. The model comes with the Microsoft Windows 10 Home operating system. A 1TB hard drive is paired with a modest 120GB SSD for faster boot and resume times. The 8GB of DDR4 ram is to be expected at the lower price (two memory slots offer a maximum of 32GB installed ram).
The NVidia GeForce GTX 1060 dedicated graphic card with 3GB of GDDR5 ram is the standout part. There are VR ready connectors, a VGA, HDMI, and DVI-D ports ready to hook up VR gear and monitors.
A good collection of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports support peripherals. The wireless adapter is 802.11ac compatible. The RJ-45 Ethernet port and Dolby 7.1 sound capabilities are included. There is no optical drive. However, an iBuyPower branded gaming keyboard and mouse do come in the box.
The iBuyPower gaming desktop PC is clearly aimed at gamers who want great performance within their available budget. The selection of the Intel Core i5 quad-core processor paired with a 120GB SSD ensure Windows 10 will perform quite well. No expense was spared with the NVidia GeForce 1060 dedicated card which ensures virtual reality and regular games will power through at 1080p or 4K HD video resolutions.
Both labor and parts are covered by the warranty for a year. Lifetime support is also provided.
The SkyTech Archangel ST-FX6300 model is the true budget model in this line-up of five desktop gaming PCs. Its price point is several hundred dollars below the main contenders and a few trade-offs have been made to save money.
The first main trade-off is the choice of the AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz processor. It is a 6-core one that falls somewhat short of Intel Core i5 processor performance. The chip is mounted on an AMD-branded motherboard rather than trusting a cheap motherboard manufacturer which is a good thing here.
The NVidia GeForce GTX 750Ti graphics processor with 2GB of GDDR ram is adequate to play games at 720p and 1080p resolutions on low to medium settings (game dependent). It lacks the pure performance of the newer NVidia GeForce 1050 chips, but will still play current games, and older ones more successfully too.
The inclusion of Windows 10 Professional (64-bit) is an odd choice; Home edition would have been expected. The 8GB DDR3 ram running at 1,866 MHz is enough to power this machine, but memory hungry games with large texture files will struggle. The 1TB hard drive is a faster 7,200RPM one which is good; no SSD is available though.
There is one HDMI, DVI, and a D-port. A HDMI cable is provided. Three USB 3.0 and six USB 2.0 ports are available (no USB type-C port). An optical drive is supplied, along with a keyboard and mouse.
The styling of this tower desktop is tall and slender, with a white body and a blue partially see-through front and side. Both the design and color choices stand apart from the usual black and bright red color choices of most gaming desktops.
There are two subtly different alternative desktop models from SkyTech. The first upgrades to a NVidia GeForce GTX 1050 card and the second model goes one better with the GTX 1050Ti card (which adds roughly 4-8 FPS to gaming). Other main components like the processor and memory are unchanged. The price difference is negligible, so it’s well worth opting for one of the latest graphics processors from NVidia.
Just like with the iBuyPower model reviewed above, there is a one-year warranty on parts and labor. Lifetime support is also provided.
The Asus G11CD is a stylish model. Designed in black, it has subtle red styling that’s unobtrusive. The Asus Aura RGB lighting mode delivers pulse light effects that are fully customizable too.
The latest Intel Core i7-7700 quad-core processor running at 3.6GHz is a star performer. The Microsoft Windows 10 Home operating system comes pre-installed with this model.
Graphics are powered by the NVidia GeForce GTX 1050 dedicated card with 2GB of GDDR5 ram. It’s an entry-level performer from the latest NVidia range. Playing games at 1080p and 4K is possible at medium to low settings with playable frame rates.
The 1TB hard drive running at 7,200RPM is fast, but an SSD would have been better. The 8GB DDR4 ram is enough to run many games that need extra system ram to load graphic textures into memory. Expanding later to 16GB of ram would be a good idea. A SuperMulti DVD drive comes installed in the tower too.
The Asus Aegis III system checks heat and voltage to control fan settings and adjusts RGB lighting accordingly.
The mid-size tower comes with two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, and two USB 3.1 revisable ports. A VGA and HDMI ports provide external monitor support. Bluetooth 4.1, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and an Ethernet port offer access to networking and the internet. The fans keep this PC running below 26 decibels during heavy load. An Asus-branded keyboard and mouse are also provided.
The best cheap gaming desktop depends on where you stand at the juxtaposition between price and performance.
At the low-end, the SkyTech Archangel ST-FX6300 is the clear winner for getting the most bang for your buck. It won’t deliver top performance, but with an upgrade to either the NVidia 1050 or 1050Ti gaming card, it’s a real contender.
When willing to go up in price nearer the four-figure mark, the world opens up. Dependable, albeit unsexy performance from Dell is ideal for business people who like to play occasionally. The Asus G11CD is another contender here because it doesn’t overplay the gaming stylings.
For gamers who don’t mind being loud and proud, either the MSI or iBuyPower desktop gamer PCs have eye-catching looks and good performance too.