The Best Budget PCs in 2023

Find a new desktop computer without spending a lot

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Lower-cost PCs are powerful enough that unless you're an avid gamer or edit video in your spare time, they'll easily be powerful enough for anything you can throw at them.

With that in mind, you won't go wrong if you buy the Acer Aspire TC-895-UA91. You'll need to add a monitor and any apps you might want to run, but other than that, it's a solid deal that won't break the bank.

Best Overall

Acer Aspire TC-895-UA91

Acer Aspire TC-895-UA91


What We Like
  • RAM and SSD are fast

  • The latest Wi-Fi 6 standard

  • Optical drive

  • Plenty of room for upgrades

What We Don't Like
  • Odd design

  • Relatively low powered processor

The Acer Aspire would not be counted as a powerhouse computer compared to many PCs. But if you are looking for a basic machine with enough power for day-to-day tasks and doesn't come close to breaking the bank, this will fit the bill nicely.

This tower computer comes complete with everything except a monitor. A few features caught our attention and pushed it to the top: It's got an SSD (Solid State Drive), a DVD player/burner, and plenty of ports for anything you might want to plug in. It's simple, straightforward, cheap, and gets the job done.

CPU: Intel Core-i310100 | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 512GB SSD

Best Apple

Apple Mac Mini

Apple Mac Mini


What We Like
  • Amazingly fast

  • ARM-compatible apps

  • Rosetta 2

What We Don't Like
  • Can't upgrade later

  • Limited I/O

  • Pricey

The tech world got excited when Apple abandoned Intel for its in-house chips. Then the tech world got pretty excited when the M1 chips outperformed many of the Intel chips available.

If you are not set on using Windows, this Mac will not disappoint. Our reviewer Jeremy reported the unit handled every office task he threw at it without ever getting hot or having the fan spin up. We’re so enthusiastic about this machine that we will tell you only about the downsides.

You can’t upgrade it after you buy it; it doesn’t have a lot of ports and does not come with a keyboard, mouse, or monitor. If you have those components from your old setup, this is an excellent machine at a reasonable price. If you still have to buy those other pieces, it does get on the pricier side (it’s a budget machine from Apple’s point of view, likely not yours). Again, this Mac mini has handled everything we’ve thrown while in a pretty unassuming box.

CPU: Apple M1 | GPU: Integrated 8-core GPU | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB SSD

Mac mini M1

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

What to Look for in a Budget Desktop PC Under $500


Most budget PCs that clock in under the $500 mark don’t come with a monitor; adding even a small one can break your budget. All-in-one PCs are the exception because they’re monitors with all of the necessary computer hardware.

Ports and Connections

Manufacturers invariably end up cutting corners on budget-priced PCs to save you money. You may have trouble finding a PC under $500 that comes with USB-C ports, but many options include multiple USB 3.1 connections, built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and more.


The great thing about buying a budget desktop is that you can upgrade most components. If you want the option to install a video card, an SSD, additional USB ports, or anything else, look for a PC that’s built-in an ATX tower case. If you go with an all-in-one or a mini PC, you’ll have more difficulty upgrading.

  • How do you choose a desktop PC?

    Budget will always be an important consideration, but to get the most out of your money when choosing the best desktop PC you need to take into account how you'll primarily be using it. For a home office, a competent CPU and plenty of storage should be a priority, while a gaming rig needs a powerful dedicated GPU and SSD storage to help shrink the time you spend staring at loading screens.

  • How often should you upgrade your PC?

    Unless you're frequently swapping in new components, most users will find that a new desktop PC should last somewhere in the ballpark of five years before the hardware is obsolete. Push too far beyond that mark and you'll find your machine begins to struggle with increasingly demanding software, particularly for applications that generally stress PCs the most, like games.

  • How do desktop PCs compare to laptops?

    The key difference between desktop computers and laptops is the compromise between performance and portability. You will almost universally get better performance per dollar from a desktop machine, while a laptop trades horsepower for a compact chassis that's easy to take on the go. While there certainly are laptops built around mighty hardware capable of rivaling all but the most high-end desktops, they tend to be absurdly expensive (and often approach the 'musclebook' category that sheds some portability for more powerful components).

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