So you've decided to finally get into PC gaming to play games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Assassin's Creed Odyssey the way they were meant to be played. There's just one problem — you don't have a fortune to spare on a fancy rig, and you sure as heck aren't ready to build one yourself.
Fortunately, thanks to the onset of affordable hardware such as AMD's latest Ryzen processors and Nvidia's new RTX 2060 graphics cards, there are plenty of great gaming desktops available for less than $800. We've tested seven of the top sub-$800 gaming desktops and ranked them based on performance, value and features in order to help you make the right choice.
Whether you're looking for your first gaming rig or want to upgrade from your dusty old setup for cheap, here are our favorite affordable gaming PCs.
Credit: Tom's Guide
We put each desktop through our usual slew of PC benchmarks, including Geekbench 4 for overall performance and 3DMark Fire Strike for graphics prowess. We also ran benchmarks for Hitman, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Grand Theft Auto V at 1080p and the highest settings, and used the SteamVR Performance Test to gauge which machines were VR-ready.
Of those we tested, the CyberPower Gamer Xtreme VR ($719), Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktop ($749) and Asus VivoPC X ($799) exhibited the strongest overall performance. Other desktops, such as the iBuyPower BTS Mini Special ($699), stood out for their small size and ease of upgradability. We also factored in what accessories you get out of the box; many of these PCs come with stock keyboards and mice, while others throw in dedicated gaming peripherals.
Credit: Tom's Guide
Rating: 4.5 stars
The CyberPower Gamer Xtreme VR offers an excellent sweet spot between performance and value. With its Core i5 processor and Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card, this beefy tower can run most modern games at high settings, and it's got enough muscle to handle VR.
While you'll need a good amount of space for it, the Gamer Xtreme VR's chassis offers some slick red backlighting and can be opened up without a screwdriver should you need to upgrade. And while most desktops on this list come with generic keyboards and mice, CyberPower's model includes gaming-grade peripherals that make it easier to jump right into the action.
Rating: 4 stars
Thanks to its AMD Ryzen 3 processor, the Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktop manages to deliver strong overall performance for an inviting price. It's one of the most premium-looking budget gaming PCs we've reviewed, with a backlit blue-and-silver design that's more stylish than the Dell XPS Tower but more subtle than the Alienware Aurora.
The Inspiron Gaming Desktop is upgrade-friendly (provided you don't mind removing a few screws), and it can handle VR without breaking much of a sweat. This desktop also turned in the highest frame rate in our Rise of the Tomb Raider test and SteamVR Performance Test out of all the budget machines.
Rating: 4 stars
iBuyPower's BTS Mini Special is the clear winner of the style award, capturing the attention of nearly everyone in our labs, thanks to its small, sexy and see-through In Win case. It's also one of the only budget desktops we tested that you can easily open up without the need for a screwdriver.
While it's not exactly ideal for VR, the BTS did outperform several other machines we tested at the sub-$700 price range in the Geekbench 4 benchmark and Rise of the Tomb Raider tests. However, we wouldn't recommend playing games on max settings at 1080p.
Rating: 3.5 stars
The SkyTech Archangel is worth considering if you're looking to spend as little as possible while still getting decent performance. The Archangel's futuristic design is attractive, fairly lightweight and easy to open up, and its Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics card can handle mainstream games at medium to high settings. However, the Archangel doesn't quite meet the requirements of the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, so don't expect to do any VR on this thing.
Rating: 3.5 stars
The starting version of the Digital Storm Vanquish 6 is one of the cheapest gaming desktops we've tested, though it's not necessarily the best value. The Vanquish's biggest strength is its simplicity and upgradability; there's only a single handscrew keeping you from opening the machine up and swapping in new components.
The PC's AMD FX-6300 processor and GTX 1050 don't quite perform as well as what you'll find in some similarly priced competitors. In fact, its Rise of the Tomb Raider score was less than half those of the CyberPower Gamer Xtreme VR and Dell Inspiron Gaming Desktop. But if you want to start small and add better parts later, the Vanquish 6 is a solid entry point.
Credit: Digital Storm
Rating: 3 stars
The Acer Aspire GX-281 gets points for its forward-looking design, which places a USB-C port in the front and features some nice sharp angles and red highlights. However, while the machine can play games like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Hitman with decent competence at modest settings, it doesn't quite measure up to similarly priced PCs that offer more power.
The GX isn't too hard to upgrade once you remove a few screws, but folks looking for great performance right out of the box might want to look elsewhere.