The best cheap gaming PC deals for January 2024

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Alienware Aurora R16 sitting on a desk.
Alienware

There’s something for every type of gamer in our roundup of gaming PC deals — whether you’re looking for a budget machine, or you want one of the best gaming PCs so that you can play the best PC games at their most demanding settings. We’ve broken down our favorite offers according to where you stand in the Intel versus AMD rivalry, but either way, you need to hurry if one of these gaming desktops catches your eye as we’re not sure how long stocks will last for any of them.

Best gaming PC deals (Intel)

The HP Victus 15L gaming PC on a desk.
HP

Intel processors deliver amazing performance for gaming PCs, especially if you go for the brand’s latest 13th-generation Intel Core processors. You’ll just have to make sure that you pair the Intel processor with sufficient RAM for your needs, as you wouldn’t want to end up with an unbalanced machine. We’ve rounded up the best gaming PC deals featuring Intel processors below, but you have to choose what you want to buy quickly because there’s no telling when the offers will expire.

  • HP Victus 15L (12th-generation Intel Core i5, Intel Arc A380, 8GB of RAM) — Best gaming PC deals (AMD)
    Alienware Aurora R15 placed at an angle on a table.
    Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

    AMD processors are generally more affordable options compared to their Intel counterparts for gaming PCs, but that sometimes doesn’t translate to an overall lower price because there are many other components involved. Nevertheless, you can’t go wrong with AMD, and to show you how the brand has closed the gap in its rivalry with Intel, check out the best gaming PC deals featuring AMD processors below.

    • Lenovo Legion Tower 5 Gen 8 (AMD Ryzen 5 7600, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050, 16GB of RAM) — How to choose a gaming PC

      As with any big purchase, make sure you know exactly what you want when buying a gaming computer. It’s not a bad idea to write down a checklist. It’s also important when looking specifically at cheap gaming PCs (i.e. those coming in at less than $1,000) to have realistic expectations — you’re not going to get multi-monitor 4K gaming at this price point. That said, it’s easy to achieve great results with 1080p/60 frames per second gaming at high settings even for modern releases, and even for 1440p gaming when you move toward the upper end of our $1,000 price limit.

      If playing at 1080p/60 fps on one or two monitors is good enough, then you won’t have a hard time finding a good cheap gaming PC to meet your needs. If your demands are a bit higher, though, then expect to have to shop around a bit for the right deal. Also, be sure to bring yourself up to speed with the latest hardware — don’t just jump on the first attractive deal you find that meets your budget only to end up with a last-gen GPU that will feel long in the tooth. Know what you want and what to expect from a cheap gaming PC that’s within your set budget and you won’t be disappointed, and for a more detailed breakdown of the sort of hardware you should look for, read on.

      What makes a good cheap gaming PC?

      The short answer is that a good price-to-performance ratio is what makes a cheap gaming PC “good,” and the good news here is that desktop computers already provide this sort of value by their very nature — it’s simply easier to fit all that beefy hardware into a desktop tower, whereas the scaled-down components of laptops (not to mention their built-in displays and keyboards) make those mobile PCs more expensive. That said, it’s still important to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck if you’re buying a pre-assembled desktop computer, as some are built better than others.

      The three main hardware components that drive performance are the CPU, GPU (or graphics card), and RAM. Our recommendations: For your CPU, stick with an 11th or 12th-gen Intel Core or one of the newer AMD Ryzen (sometimes called “Zen”) processors. For RAM, a minimum of 8GB is recommended for all but the cheapest gaming PCs, and 16GB is even better — but remember you can almost always add more RAM and this is one of the easiest (if not the easiest) components to swap out. GPUs are arguably the heart of a gaming computer; modern models include AMD’s Radeon 6000 series as well as Nvidia’s RTX 30-series GPUs.

      Nvidia replaced their older 10-series GPUs in recent years, but there are still cheap gaming PCs floating around with these cards. Our advice: Avoid them. Even the entry-level GTX 16-series Nvidia cards are faster and are ideal for 1080p gaming. For 1440p gaming, you’ll be better served with one of the RTX series cards such as the RTX 4060. If anything bottlenecks your gaming PC’s performance, it will be an underpowered GPU, so this is the one component you don’t want to skimp on.

      One final thing to consider is upgradeability: If you plan to keep your chosen PC tower for a while, look at what sort of case and motherboard it’s using to determine if you can easily add and swap parts in the future. Some desktop PCs from brands like HP use proprietary components which will limit what parts you can add and can be costly to replace.

      Are gaming PCs good for work?

      It’s safe to say that running modern video games at good settings is generally a much more demanding job than most work tasks you’d normally need a computer for, so any gaming computer — even a cheap gaming PC — will be as well-suited for work and study as it is for play. The faster processors and high-speed RAM will make short work of simple tasks like web browsing, word processing, making spreadsheets, and so on, and the discrete GPU is also nice to have for graphical tasks such as video rendering. Another advantage of a desktop PC, particularly one with a graphics card, is the option to create a multi-monitor setup that can increase your productivity (and even a single monitor will still give you more screen real estate than a laptop display).

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