The 8 Best $400 to $1,000 Desktop PCs to Buy in 2018

Find the top desktop computers in the $400 to 1,000 range

Mainstream desktop PCs are now more of the high-performance category than they once were, thanks to improving technology. In general, these systems will provide the best overall value for your dollar. Below are our selections for the various systems depending upon what your usage for the computer will be. The systems in this list cost between $400 and $1,000 and do not come with a monitor.

Best Overall: Lenovo Ideacentre 300s

Lenovo’s Ideacentre 300s is a powerful, compact and affordable desktop all while offering features the whole family can enjoy. With a quad-core Intel i5 2.9GHz processor, 16GB RAM, 8GB SSD and 2TB hard drive, there’s more than enough power under the hood to get through school tasks, demanding multitasking for work or anything in between. Supported with 2TB's of storage space, storing all your documents, music, presentations and spreadsheets won’t even have the 300s blinking. It can handle all of that with room to spare. Throw in next-generation 802.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 and you’ve got a computer that’s well worth your attention.

The usual component suspects are here, too, with USB 3.0, USB 2.0, a built-in SD card reader and a DVD/CD burner. At 11.69 x 3.62 x 13.230 inches and nine pounds, the 300s footprint is perfect for tucking away underneath a desk or even on a desk leaving plenty of room for the included wired mouse and keyboard.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Dell Inspiron 3000

Dell’s Inspiron's 3000 combination of a plug-and-play setup, 6th generation Intel Core i5 2.7GHz processor paired with 12GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive all make for a great unit. Its black casing doesn’t stand out nor is it extra thin or extra compact. However, this Dell offers a happy medium between the high-end and low-end of desktop pricing, with a fantastic combination of price and performance. Fortunately, you’ll still find the standard fare of components with 2 USB 3.0 ports and 4 USB 2.0 ports.

One area where the Dell falls down is the lack of 802.11ac, which offers next-generation internet speeds over the 802.11n, but it’s a tradeoff worth making as long as you aren't downloading exceptionally large files daily. The overall combination of the turbo boost i5 processor to 3.30GHz paired with the 12GB of RAM provide more than enough power for day-to-day performance that stands out from the pack. At 16.45 pounds, it’s not the lightest desktop, but you probably won’t be moving it around all that often, so the weight is hardly a limitation.

Best Budget: Lenovo Ideacentre 300

Finding the right combination of price and performance in a budget desktop is no easy task. You’re likely to find items that are too cheap and underpowered or overpowered and too expensive. Fortunately, the Lenovo Ideacentre 300 is a fantastic combination that meets right in the middle of performance, price and brand name reliability. Powered by a 6th generation Intel i3 3.7GHz processor, 8GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive, it has more than enough computing power for everyday tasks, all at a wallet-friendly price.

The desktop feels perfect for either the home or office, with plenty of storage and memory all at a value price. Unfortunately, at budget pricing levels you don’t always get as much room for expansion in the future in terms of additional RAM or extra hard drives. What it lacks in expansion, it more than makes up for with daily use that is perfect for the budget category.

See more reviews of our favorite budget PCs available for purchase.

Best Gaming: iBuyPower AM460FX

The iBuyPower AM460FX is the best gaming desktop under $1,000. With an AMD FX-4300 quad-core 3.8GHz processor, 8GB RAM and a 1TB HDD, it has plenty of power for all but the most demanding of today’s games. Utilizing the AMD FX processor offers some of the highest clock speeds you can get on a consumer desktop PC with more than 2x the cores and cache memory. The addition of an AMD Radeon RX 460 graphics card with a dedicated 2GB of RAM offers power-efficient graphics that can stand up to even the most demanding E-Sports criteria.

Beyond the dedicated graphics card, one additional area where the FX-4300 separates itself from more expensive gaming rigs is the lack of an SSD hard drive. The 1TB 7200 drive offers plenty of power and space, but the inclusion of an SSD drive would allow faster overall performance for application loading albeit with a higher price tag. In lieu of a faster hard drive, iBuyPower included a 24X DVD-RW optical disk drive for additional functionality, including burning all formats of DVD and CDs. Gamers shouldn’t let the low(er) price tag scare them off, the FX-4300 is here to play, pun intended, and it does so with enough power that more expensive machines should be shaking in their casing.

See more reviews of our favorite gaming PCs​ available for purchase.

Best Design: Acer Aspire S24

With a striking black and matte gold design, Acer’s latest model is a testament to why mid-range prices can equal high-end appearances. With an Intel Core i5-825OU, it might not be the most powerful desktop on the market, but the 12GB of RAM is still significant, and it differentiates itself with a super-slim, futuristic design.

While its insides are pretty mainstream for the price bracket — although the Qi built-in charging pad is a nice surprise — the outside matters quite a bit, too. The 23.8-inch full HD display measures a slim 0.23 inches, creating a statement piece for your home or office, though 4K and touchscreen options are not available. The bezel is equally thin at 0.12 inches, resulting in a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio, and the display can tilt between -5 and 25 degrees. Though its UHD 620 graphics are best just for casual use, Acer has included features like Acer ExaColor to increase color saturation and Bluelight Shield to diminish blue light at night. 

Best for Photo/Video Editing: Acer Aspire ATC-280-UR11

When it comes to creativity, there’s no question that apps such as Photoshop or video editing can be demanding on even the most expensive desktop PCs. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a fortune with the Acer Aspire ATC-280-UR11, which offers outstanding multi-tasking performance and easy expandability. Creative types will love the AMD A-Series quad-core A10-7800 3.5GHz processor with TurboCore 2.0 technology that can boost the processor up to 3.9GHz for extra speed. Throw in 12GB of RAM, a 2TB hard drive and an integrated AMD Radeon R7 graphics card and you’ve got a computer fit for a video-editing king. The graphics card itself helps transform the Acer from just another desktop to a digital media powerhouse on a budget.

While its included specs will delight, the sleek look of the 6.89 x 17.43 x 15.67-inch Acer offers a stylish design that’s both progressive and functional. There’s easy access to your most commonly utilized connections like the 4 USB 3.0 ports, SD card reader and headphone and microphone jacks. The inclusion of both Bluetooth technology and 802.11ac offers both improved range for Internet performance, as well as connecting other Bluetooth-enabled devices such as printers without the need for additional wires. As if you aren’t already hooked on this Acer for creative work, the inclusion of both a keyboard and optical mouse are icing on the cake.

Best for the Office: HP Pavilion 2016

HP’s 2016 Pavilion desktop might not look like much, but when it comes to office work, it’s a must own. It offers a 6th generation quad-core Intel i7 2.8GHz processor, 8GB of RAM and a 2TB hard drive. You’ll typically find plenty of space available in computers that fit in the office desktop world, but the 2TB hard drive offers ample space for the inevitable buildup of files, documents and PowerPoints that will accrue over the years. Beyond the hard drive, there’s a DVD burner, multi-display support for both HDMI and VA output as well as two USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0 ports.

Sizing up at 7 x 14 x 14 inches, the 13-pound Pavilion is no lightweight, but it’s small enough to fit underneath a desktop and be completely out of sight. The inclusion of 802.11ac offers a higher-speed connection, which is ideal for computers in an office environment where faster speeds are essential for downloading and uploading large files.

Best for Families: Acer Chromebase AIO Touch Desktop

The space-saving Acer Chromebase AIO Touch Desktop won’t take up too much space in your family room, but soon you’ll wonder what your family did without it. This stylish all-in-one has a generously sized screen at 23.8” even though its footprint is small, and it comes with the Google Chrome OS that works perfectly with all your favorite Google apps such as Gmail, YouTube, Hangouts and Docs. The touchscreen conveniently features 10-point touch, making it easy for even little hands to use for watching educational videos or playing simple games. Parents will love it, too, for its stunning full HD visuals and user-friendly accessibility. With a 5th Generation Intel Core i5-5200U Processor (Up to 2.7GHz) and 8GB DDR3L Memory & 32GB SSD, this machine has plenty of power. A 30-degree HD webcam and four built-in microphones make it ideal for video-chatting with friends and relatives as well.


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