Gaming is a favorite pastime in which almost everyone indulges. From casual mobile games, to immersive console titles, to PC games that push the envelope on what modern technology can accomplish in the way of entertainment and content, there are games out there for every kind of gamer. Whether you’re a professional looking to relieve stress, a student looking to kill time, or a serious video game player with professional aspirations, there are titles, consoles, and systems abound to cater to your gaming needs.
While console enthusiasts enjoy excellent gaming experiences with great titles that are sometimes exclusive to their platforms, neither the PlayStation 4 nor the Xbox One even come close to the raw gaming power and extensive options available to PC gamers. PC Gaming is more accessible to consumers, as they don’t need to invest in a separate system. People who work, study, or otherwise use PCs for their entertainment or social media needs, have the option to play directly on their system, and that’s why PC gaming is a more accessible platform that anyone can get behind.
That said, desktop computers offer the best regarding performance, often outclassing laptops and mobile platforms even with similar specs. Especially with gaming desktops that are often built from the ground up to deliver unparalleled gaming experiences and cater to the needs of hardcore gamers who want to play the latest titles at the highest settings, it’s hard to match the power and performance of a true gaming desktop.
For avid gamers who want the power to play their favorite games smoothly, while still being able to perform optimally in any other task, we recommend investing in a gaming rig. While some systems easily go above $2,000 (some enthusiasts even build PCs that cost upwards of $5,000 or even $10,000), there are still plenty of options available for high-end gaming on a budget.
For this list, we collected and reviewed the best of the best gaming desktops, and identified which of the budget options under $1000 shined above the rest. We carefully examined and evaluated everything from build quality, performance, upgradability, and even look and design, and included only the best of the best in this list of the best gaming desktops under $1000 for 2018 and beyond.
We’re on a mission to prove that even on a budget of under $1000, consumers and gaming enthusiasts alike can experience first-hand what today’s gaming scene has to offer.
What to Look For
Before we delve deep into our list of the best gaming desktops under $1000, we’ve prepared this short buying guide for our readers. We’ve outlined the criteria we used in evaluating gaming desktops so that our readers can do the same and make better buying decisions that result in better value and satisfied needs. We’re here to help users like you avoid that dreaded “buyer’s regret” by providing our readers with the information they need to make sound decisions and arrive at products that cater to their exact needs and specifications.
When you’re in the market for a gaming rig, there’s only one thing that matters most, and it’s the internals. Size and aesthetics don’t factor in as much as processing power and RAM when it comes to running the latest games at the highest framerates. Instead, look at each system’s internal components and draw your comparisons there. The most important components to look at are the CPU, which handles processing, the GPU, which handles graphics, and RAM, which dictates how many things you can have going on at any given time. Other things to look out for are whether or not there is sufficient cooling provided by the cooling system installed, and the power supply unit to see if it has enough power for higher-end components and upgrades in the long-term.
If you have preferences towards snappy performance and low boot times or want massive storage capabilities to house your collection of movies, video games, and more, then storage is an important factor to consider in your choice of a gaming desktop. The two options available – although plenty of systems come with both or can accommodate both – are solid state drives (SSDs) and hard disk drives (HDDs). The latest solid-state drives operate at much faster speeds and transfer rates, which results in faster boot times, faster loading screens for video games, and overall snappier performance, albeit with typically lower storage space and higher cost. Hard disk drives, on the other hand, are cheaper alternatives that can provide terabytes upon terabytes of storage, with the most common systems sporting at least 1TB of storage space, but with older technology that is outclassed by SSDs regarding speed.
Your PC’s components are only as good as the cooling solution that comes with them. Most components throttle at higher temperatures, drastically lowering performance to make sure that they don’t overheat or catch fire. Without a strong enough cooling solution – sometimes with liquid cooling, but at the under $1000 price range, probably more like mid-range cooling fans – even the best and highest-powered PC components could throttle and cause a major bottleneck in gaming performance. Gamers especially need to invest in optimal cooling to make sure that everything runs smoothly.
Every gamer wants the best performance for their needs, and often refer to top-lists to get the best value components in their systems. However, the aesthetic and vibe of your gaming desktop is something that we leave entirely up to you. Don’t brush off aesthetics, because even if you’re after a budget computer that can satisfy your gaming needs, having a less-than-pretty tower on your desk could lead to possibly negative experiences. We’re not saying to base your decision entirely on how your PC looks, but if you’re going to be looking at that thing for hours on end, we recommend getting one that at least looks okay.
Desktop computers, or the best of them, are far more modular than their mobile siblings. Unlike most laptops, the best gaming desktops feature plenty of upgradability options, so even years down the line, owners can avoid being obsolete just by switching out older, slower components for newer, faster ones. Some desktop PCs have soldered-on parts, and we think that’s a real bummer. However, if you’re looking for a gaming desktop that can keep up with your needs for years to come, and eliminating the need to buy a completely new system every time a higher-end component gets released, then opt for a modular desktop that lets you switch out everything from RAM, CPU, GPU, and even the motherboard, if needed.
Ports and Connectivity
Gaming desktops especially need to have enough ports to support the peripherals and accessories that gamers need to have a full and satisfying experience. The best gaming desktops of 2018 are going to have Thunderbolt 3 support, DisplayPort support, and some VR-ready HDMI 2.0, but if you’re not planning on rocking an external GPU or multi-display setup and not interested in VR gaming, then the standard port selection plus USB 3.0 and HDMI ports should be enough for your needs.
Our Picks for the Best Gaming Desktops under $1000 for 2018 & Beyond
Following our criteria, and based on the results of our extensive testing and evaluation, we were able to come up with the six best gaming desktops that can be yours for under $1000.
Acer Nitro 50 Desktop N50-600-UR13
The Acer Nitro line of gaming products took the stage this year by providing some of the best value gaming systems available on the market. The Acer Nitro 50 Desktop N50-600-UR13 almost maxes out our $1000 budget, but it delivers the best bang-for-buck value in a budget gaming desktop. Acer Nitro 50 Desktop N50-600-UR13 is pound for pound, the best gaming desktop under $1000 for 2018 & beyond.
The Acer Nitro 50 Desktop, specifically the N50-600-UR13 model which runs at just under $1000, offers the best specifications for the money and has critics raving for the amazing value that this gaming desktop has to offer. It is one of the few budget gaming desktops that come with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card, which is the best mid-range GPU on the market that’s VR-ready, too. Loading times and boot times on the Acer Nitro 50 Desktop are smooth and snappy on its 256 GB PCIe NVMe solid state drive that features the fastest data speeds available commercially. With the GTX 1060 and the 8th generation hexa-core Intel processor, you can expect the Acer Nitro 50 Desktop N50-600-UR13 to deliver top-notch gaming performance, supporting even the latest titles in 1080p on high or even ultra-settings, plus enough power for some entry-level 1440p capability, if you have a display that can run it. Between the fastest storage technology, the latest generation CPU, and one of the best value GPUs on the market, the Acer Nitro 50 Desktop N50-600-UR13 is armed with performance that is nothing short of unbeatable, at least at this price range.
The Acer Nitro 50 Desktop N50-600-UR13 sports a minimalist black and red exterior that’s much more subtle and muted than its contemporaries. Overall, we found the design to be very appealing, not too loud and should look great on any computer desk.
Upgradability on the Acer Nitro 50 Desktop N50-600-UR13 is top-tier, offering consumers plenty of options to get even more performance in the long-term. It can house up to 64 GB of dual-channel memory, and multiple drive bays to house additional drives in the future.
There isn’t a lot left to want in the under $1000 configuration of the Acer Nitro 50 Desktop N50-600-UR13. It doesn’t have a hard drive, and with its fast but low-capacity 256 GB SSD, consumers are going to be left in want of more storage. Thankfully, the Acer Nitro 50 Desktop N50-600-UR13 can support additional drives that users can purchase any time, but until then, they’re going to have to consider storage space a premium. There are plenty of options out there in this price range that offer both a boot SSD and a larger HDD, so if you need more storage in a desktop under $1000, then you can do better than the Acer Nitro 50 Desktop N50-600-UR13. Alternatively, you can shell out of a little more cash to buy a slightly more expensive configuration of the Acer Nitro 50 Desktop that comes with a 1TB HDD for your storage needs.
At under $1000, you really shouldn’t expect your gaming desktop to have everything, because you’ll probably get disappointed. Fortunately, that’s not the case with the Acer Nitro 50 Desktop N50-600-UR13. It does make some compromises to make for a more budget-friendly gaming system, but these compromises are easily remedied in the future because of its modular design that invites upgradability. For less than $1000, the Acer Nitro 50 Desktop N50-600-UR13 is impossible to beat. With the latest generation Intel i5-8400, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, and the PCIe NVMe SSD, the Acer Nitro 50 Desktop N50-600-UR13 offers the best specs for the money, the Acer tradition of quality, a design concept that won’t offend anyone, and hands down the best value gaming desktop for 2018.
CPU:8th Gen Intel Core i5-8400 (Hexa-Core)
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5
RAM: 8GB DDR4 (Up to 64 GB)
Storage:256GB PCI NVMe m.2 SSD
Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop GX-281
The Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop GX-281 has the best budget value in a gaming desktop under $1000, undercutting the budget by 40% but still delivering a game-worthy rig that’ll keep up with even the most current titles. It does Acer proud by living up to its name as a quality manufacturer that delivers great value at any price range. The Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop GX-281 is a budget-friendly PC that can satisfy gamer needs, while still letting users stay well under their maximum budget.
At almost half of our designated budget, the Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop GX-281 is a gaming PC for gamers on a super-tight budget but wants or need to satisfy their gaming cravings. The Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop GX-281 is a super affordable and modular gaming desktop, so even if it’s a 2017 model, you can expect it to be plenty upgradable to accommodate later-generation components in the future.
It’s not the most powerful gaming around, but at this price range, it’s one of the contenders for best performing gaming desktops. It’s powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 1400 CPU which features acceptable amounts of processing power to run most games. It has a comfortable 8GB of DDR4 RAM, upgradable to 32GB, so memory-wise this desktop holds its own against the best of them at this price range. For storage, it comes with an expansive 1TB hard drive with plenty of space for movies and video games, but this budget configuration doesn’t come with an SSD, so don’t expect super snappy performance and boot times. What takes center stage on the Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop GX-281, however, is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card. Sure, it’s one of the entry-level Nvidia graphics cards, but because it’s part of the GTX 10 series which is based on Pascal architecture that offers significantly better performance than previous generations, the GTX 1050 should be enough for Full HD enjoyment at 1080p on at least medium settings. At this price range, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 is an amazing value.
A spiritual predecessor of the Acer Nitro 50 Desktop, the Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop GX-281 sports a lot of the design aspects we liked so much about the Nitro 50. It’s black and red accents color scheme isn’t too loud and obnoxious and is subtle enough to go well on any computer desk.
The Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop GX-281 is a model from 2017, so it doesn’t have the latest and greatest components to power your gaming experience. Getting this budget desktop means missing out on the 8th generation Intel processors built on the Coffee Lake architecture which offer much better performance than last year’s AMD Ryzen 5 1400. That said, the Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop GX-281 is a little underpowered and probably won’t be able to run the latest games. However, if you’re not a fan of open-world AAA titles, and would much rather play League of Legends or Overwatch at comfortable framerates, then the Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop should help you satisfy all of your gaming needs. However, if you can afford a better rig, then we recommend that you get a better a rig. Getting the latest components is an investment in the future, and a few hundred dollars now could save you a lot headache a year or two down the line.
At $600, I don’t think anyone can argue with the value of this gaming system. It doesn’t promise the best performance, it doesn’t try to make itself look more capable than it is – but we think that’s what makes it great. The Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop GX-281 is, through and through, a budget gaming desktop. It exists so that even gamers with the tightest budgets for a gaming rig can enjoy a decent gaming experience without burning a hole in their finances. It made a lot of compromises to keep the price this low, but if it can run your favorite games, even if it’s not the latest games, then we can vouch for the value and quality the Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop GX-281 gives you for $600.
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 1400
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 4GB
RAM: 8GB DDR4
Storage: 1TB HDD
ASUS ROG GR8 II-T069Z
The ASUS ROG GR8 II-T069Z follows the trend of console form-factor PCs that deliver excellent gaming performance for desktops and living rooms. If you’re looking for a budget compact desktop PC that looks great anywhere you put it, you can’t go wrong with the ASUS ROG GR8 II-T069Z.
The ASUS ROG GR8 II-T096Z looks amazing. It’s loud, and it’s obnoxious, but it’s also cool and makes a statement. It’s the stuff of gamer dreams with customizable RGB lightning, which at this price range is a very welcome and appreciated luxury. It features a slim, vertical design that makes it an ideal desktop PC or a console-replacement for living room gaming and media consumption. The ASUS ROG GR8 II offers plenty of configurations, most of which go over our $1000 budget, but the under $1000 configuration packs plenty of punch for high-end gaming on the cheap.
The ASUS ROG GR8 II-T096Z is outfitted with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card, which offers significantly better outputs and performance compared the GTX 1050 cards you would typically see in this price range. It has a relatively high-speed solid state drive for faster boot times and less loading screens, with plenty of storage at 512 GB maximum capacity. At this price range, you would expect to see 8GB of RAM or less, but the ASUS ROG GR8 II-T096Z aims to impress with 16GB of RAM on the under $1000 configuration. While it’s no longer the top-of-the-line, the 7th generation Intel Core i5 CPU that the ASUS ROG GR8 II-T096Z is equipped with should still be powerful enough for current-generation titles.
It’s hard to complain when you’re getting specs and performance this good at under $1000, but there’s a lot about the ASUS ROG GR8 II-T096Z we wish wasn’t there, and a lot it doesn’t have that we wish it did.
The ASUS ROG GR8 II-T096Z is last year’s model, so you’re getting it for cheaper. The only real downside to that is that you’ll be missing out on the much better performance of the latest 8th generation CPUs. That said, the ASUS ROG GR8 II-T096Z is difficult to upgrade, and the GPU is soldered on so even if you wanted to, you couldn’t upgrade the GPU without throwing away the motherboard. The good news is, the ASUS ROG GR8 II-T096Z already comes with one of the best GPUs available, and the GTX 1060 should be good enough for years to come.
The ASUS ROG GR8 II-T096Z is a great budget gaming desktop, with an under $1000 configuration that comes with plenty of RAM and excellent mid-range GPU that can handle current AAA title you can throw at it in Full HD resolution, maybe even in Quad HD or 1440p. The CPU is last year’s 7th generation Intel Core, but it should still be good enough for running the latest games for years to come. If you want a console form-factor desktop with customizable RGB and a unique design, you can’t go wrong with the ASUS ROG GR8 II-T096Z.
CPU:7th Gen Intel Core i5-7400
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5
Storage:512GB M.2 SSD
Lenovo Legion T530
The Lenovo Legion T530 is the latest refresh in Lenovo’s Legion Gaming line of products. It features a stunningly sleek new look and is outfitted with the latest generation components to deliver the best gaming performance available at any price range. The Legion T530 comes with an under $1000 configuration that provides excellent gaming power at a budget-friendly price tag.
The Legion T530 is hot off the presses, having been released in Q3 of 2018. It’s got the latest components with an 8th generation Intel Core i5-8400 hexa-core CPU and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU for the baseline configuration at under $1000. The performance on the Lenovo Legion T530 some of the best you’ll get at this price range, with the i5 and GTX 1050 Ti duo capable of running even the latest titles at 1080p resolution on medium to high settings, or even ultra on some titles. It features an above-average speed 1TB HDD at 7200rpm and comes equipped with 16GB of the latest Intel Optane Memory for SSD-like performance and boot times.
Our favorite thing about the Legion T530 is that it’s the most portable gaming desktop on our list, featuring a built-in handle to help users carry around this mid-size 28-liter gaming system. The Lenovo Legion T530 isn’t as portable as a laptop, of course, but for hardcore gamers who want to be able to take desktop-class gaming performance with them to LAN parties, hackathons, or pack their gaming rigs with them when they travel, then the Legion T530 features an innovative way to stay flexible and portable.
The Legion T530, along with all the other products in the Lenovo Legion gaming line, received a completely redone makeover with the 2018 iterations. Their laptops and desktops now sport a super sleek and stylish design concept, and the Legion T530 looks great with a jet black finish accentuated by red LEDs that provide a serious and somewhat ominous glow, perfect to set the mood for an immersive gaming session.
There’s nothing we don’t like about the Legion T530. Yes, it could be better. Yes, it could have more powerful specs. And yes, it’s not a top-performing gaming desktop by any means. There are similarly-priced options that offer better specs, but at the same time, we have to admit that there are also similarly priced options out there that offer worse specs. So while some may take it against the Legion T530 that it doesn’t have the best specs for the money, we believe that it strikes a fair enough balance between price and performance.
The Lenovo Legion T530 is an excellent budget gaming desktop that offers more convenience and style than it does performance. But for the mid-range components and at this price range, it delivers an excellent gaming experience that should satisfy anyone’s gaming cravings. Granted, a lot of what you’re paying for is the premium design, but it looks so great that we’re happy to pay it anyway.
CPU:8th Gen Intel Core i5-8400 (Hexa-Core)
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB GDDR5
Storage:1TB HDD 7200 RPM + 16GB Intel Optane Memory
MSI Trident 3 8RC-236US
The MSI Trident 3 was dubbed as the console-killer in many PC-enthusiast circles when it first came out. Featuring a super slim profile and attractive design that makes it look great anywhere you put it, the MSI Trident 3 8RC-236US provides plenty of power for high-end gaming and is even VR-ready – something that is nothing short of amazing at this price range. The MSI Trident 3 8RC-236US may cost the upper limit of our designated budget, but we think it’s worth every penny.
MSI has long been one of the most trusted and revered names in PC gaming. It’s been in the industry long enough to know how to build gaming-oriented systems that can satisfy even the most particular of gamers. Their dedication to power and high-end gaming performance is reflected in the MSI Trident 3, especially the 2018 refresh which packs it with the latest generation components. It is armed with the 8th generation Intel Core i5-8400 hexa-core processor, which outperforms last generation chips significantly. It sports the VR-ready Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB of GDDR5 memory to run the latest titles smoothly at 1080p, or at 1440p for the more ambitious. With a 1TB HDD, users can house entire collections of video games and multimedia with room to spare. Performance-wise, the MSI Trident 3 does justice to the MSI commitment to gaming with a compact gaming rig that is built for high-end gaming. The cheapest configuration of the MSI Trident 3 barely accommodates our $1000 budget, but if you want to get the most for your money, then the MSI Trident 3 is a great way to maximize your budget.
Dubbed the “console-killer,” the MSI Trident 3 also features an excellently compact and portable form-factor, no bigger than today’s latest gaming consoles. With a slim profile and vertical or horizontal orientation, the MSI Trident 3 can fit in anywhere, whether it’s on top of a computer desk or in the living room.
The MSI Trident 3 maxes out our budget with a $999 price tag. While most of the specs are great, it doesn’t come with a solid-state drive, and with it maxing out our $1000 budget, upgrading to an SSD means having to invest more. Its compact form factor may mean it’s more portable and much less intimidating to move around the house, but it also means cooling may be an issue, especially when ambient temperatures are high. What’s more, because it’s so small, upgrading the MSI Trident 3 is a lot more difficult, because there’s a lot less room to work with when you open it up.
We wouldn’t consider the MSI Trident 3 to be very upgradable, but for the components its packing and at this price range, we think the MSI Trident 3 is one of the best value compact gaming desktops you can get for under $1000. Good news is, between the hexa-core Intel Core i5 and the GTX 1060, you probably won’t even feel the need to upgrade for years to come.
CPU:8th Gen Intel Core i5-8400 (Hexa-Core)
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5
Storage:1TB HDD 7200 RPM
Alienware Aurora R7
Alienware by Dell has long been one of the most trusted and respected names in PC gaming. The Alienware Aurora R7 is wonderfully powerful and compact mid-sized tower PC, and is the latest iteration of the series, continuing to do justice to the Alienware name. Armed with the latest components and sporting the signature spaceship silver that Alienware is known for, the Alienware Aurora is an excellent gaming system that holds its own regarding performance but dominates the field regarding premium feel and stylized aesthetics.
Even with the base configuration which starts at $799, the Alienware Aurora is one of the best pre-built gaming desktops money can buy. The under $1000 configuration comes with an 8th generation Intel Core i5-8400 CPU so that you can experience first-hand the leap in performance from the 7th generation Intel processors to the current-gen. It comes with an AMD Radeon RX560 GPU with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, so running current titles in full HD on medium to high settings is well within this system’s capability. It comes with the standard 8GB of DDR4, more than enough for all but the most intense multitasking, and a spacious hard-disk drive with 1TB of storage space for all your storage needs.
While the specs on the base configuration of the Alienware Aurora are only okay, where this pre-built gaming desktop truly shines is its upgradability. The Alienware Aurora is the most upgradable system on our list. Don’t let the $800 price tag fool you – the Alienware Aurora at under $1000 may be a great entry-level gaming system, but configurations up to $2000 or even $3000 can be housed and accommodated by the Alienware Aurora desktop. It features excellent upgradability that lets you easily access your components with included tools that come with your Alienware purchase. The Alienware Aurora is designed to stay top-of-the-line for as long as possible and lets you upgrade everything from the CPU to the GPU, RAM, cooling system, and more, with quick and easy access for upgrading. The Alienware Aurora R7 is also dual-graphics ready, so budget-oriented gamers can get this great gaming desktop now and save up until they can outfit it with dual-GPUs in SLI or Crossfire.
Apart from the components and upgradability, you’re also getting the Alienware promise of quality. Alienware is one of the most respected gaming brands and provides systems used by the best gamers in the world. If you don’t care too much about the Alienware promise of quality, then you’ll still get your money’s worth from Alienware’s signature aesthetics – futuristic and battle-ready, for the most immersive gaming experience.
Granted, for $800 you could do a lot better than the AMD Radeon RX560. It’s not a bad GPU – in fact, it’s one of the better budget options available – but for $800, it’s obvious that Alienware charges a premium for their brand and signature aesthetic. We’re not complaining, though – the Alienware Aurora delivers great spec-for-spec performance, and the upgradability is a major factor that makes this system worthwhile. However, even though this is an Alienware system, don’t expect it to deliver professional-class gaming experiences right off the bat. It does come at higher-performance configurations, but at the starting price of $799, you’re getting a budget Alienware with budget components. It doesn’t have an SSD, and we feel that, overall, it’s a little underpowered for the price.
The Alienware Aurora R7 may not be the best bang-for-buck purchase in the short term, but with excellent upgradability options, we feel that it’s the best gaming desktop under $1000 for long-term thinkers and those who like to plan ahead of time.
CPU:8th Gen Intel Core i5-8400 (Hexa-Core)
GPU:AMD Radeon RX560 2GB GDDR5
Storage:1TB HDD 7200 RPM
That’s it for our list of the best gaming desktop under $1000 for 2018& and beyond. We hope you found what you were looking for and that we were able to help you decide on the best gaming desktop under $1000 for you.