A few years ago it seemed like it was going to be the beginning of the end of the traditional desktop computer. With cheap laptops and two-in-one tablets taking over the market, the old school PC took a backseat.
That’s mainly because of their bad reputation. In the old days you would have to resign yourself to buying a new one in a year or at most three. Thankfully, today’s inexpensive systems will last at least twice that, even if you’re on a budget. The PCs on this list are all able to search the internet, stream videos, or work on Office documents and other everyday productivity tasks. You can even play games on most of them.
We also have a guide to the best Windows 10 laptops and hybrids for those on a budget.
The extra power and storage on a desktop, plus the ever-decreasing prices have seen them captivate the market once again. Buying a PC means averting dead batteries and personalising what components work for you and your needs.
With that in mind, there is also a wide range of features to choose from when shopping around for a new PC. You need to think about what sort of things you want and what you’re going to be using it for.
Below are some of the features you should consider before making a purchase.
A PC’s processor essentially lets you know how well it will handle the most basic of tasks. The faster your processor, the snappier the operating system will feel and the faster you’ll be able to perform complex tasks. The more cores a processor has, the better it will be at performing multiple tasks at the same time without feeling the strain.
SSD is the way to go if you’re looking for the best possible storage options on a PC, though it can be pricy. If you’re operating on a budget, you might be better off going for a lower storage model and opting for things cloud-storage via OneDrive to pick up the slack?
If the main reason you’re buying a PC is for gaming, then your processor speed is not the most important factor that will define its in-game performance. It’s your graphics card that will handle the visuals for your games. You’ll ideally want to have discrete graphics cards, foregoing the onboard graphics capabilities of their CPUs.
The Best Budget PCs To Buy
Dell Inspiron Micro
Price when reviewed: £199
It’s certainly not the most powerful, but the Dell Inspiron Micro is a fantastic mini PC thanks to its bargain price and eye-catching design. This machine has a grand total of four USB ports, DisplayPort and HDMI connectors, a gigabit Ethernet port, an SD card reader and a headset jack, making it a perfect PC for low-end work such as web browsing. Dell occasionally puts machines like this on special offer, so check the price regularly if you’re not sure whether you want to splash the cash.
Acer CXI2-4GKM Chromebox
Price when reviewed: £282
If you’re after an uber cheap, but equally potent PC Acer’s ChromeOS-powered ChromeBox is definitely something you should be aware of. It runs ChromeOS, obviously, and if you’re unsure about using this as an OS, don’t be – it’s great.
It’s basically Google’s Chrome browser. It has tons of applications available for it though and is ideal for lightweight use. Having said that, I’ve used ChromeBooks exclusively for the past two years for when I’m working outside the office.
You have everything you need, within reason, and the added bonus of Android application support makes them even more compelling. I’ve been thinking of getting one of these Chromeboxes for my office, hooking it up to my TV, and the one I keep coming back to is this one!
Lenovo Ideacentre 300
Price when reviewed: £284
Lenovo’s Ideacentre 300 is a true budget option, which can do everything you ask without any additional flair. It includes a 6th generation Intel Core i3 3.7GHz processor, 8GB of RAM and 1TB of hard drive.
Daily computing is responsive for surfing the internet, watching movies, listening to music and more without any concern over speed. Lenovo even includes a specialised “AccuType” keyboard to provide extra comfort while using the Ideacentre 300. Admittedly, the integrated HD graphics are basic, but the included support for high-definition audio with 5.1 channel support allows the Ideacentre 300 to serve as a really nice entertainment hub.
Acer Aspire TC-220
Price when reviewed: £299
Acer’s Aspire TC is just under £300 mark and – if you put any weight to these sort of things – is an Amazon bestseller. Powered by a 6th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 2TB of hard drive space there’s more than enough power to get you through both work and play with this one. Throwing demanding tasks at the Acer won’t slow it down as multitasking on it feels as good as on computers that often cost far more.
This setup has power by the bucket-load. It also packs in USB 3.0 alongside all the usual ports and jack inputs which are seamlessly integrated inside its lovely-looking chassis.
And if that was enough to pique your interest, Acer has also included high-definition audio with 5.1 channel support – basically, that means truly EPIC sound for games and movies.
NEO Z83-4 Fanless Mini PC
Price when reviewed £199.99
As some of the other PCs on this list have shown, a PC need not be a big box anymore–as the NEO Z83-4 proves. At just 5cmx5cm and 499 grams, the Neo is one small powerhouse. Sure, you aren’t going to be running 4K games of this thing, but it perfect for those looking for a cheap box to go with an existing monitor and keyboard. The Neo features an Intel Atom quad 1.80 GHz processor with 4GB of RAM and a 32GB hard drive. It’s also gotbuilt-inn Bluetooth and 802.11ac Dual-Band Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet. As for ports, you get 4 USB 3.0 and a Mini DP and HDMI port. But the best thing is it’s pre-installed with Windows 10 (64-bit), making this tiny PC ready to go as soon as you unbox it.
PowerLead Ptox P1030
Price when reviewed £109.99
If you want a mini PC that doesn’t look like a bland box, might we recommend the PowerLead Ptox P1030? Yeah, the name is quite generic, bit the design is unique in the world of Windows PCs. Matter of fact, the Ptox looks like it got its inspiration from the latest MacPro. Its body is a beautiful metal cylinder with a front facing camera (provided you keep this tiny thing on your desktop). On the back you’ll find four USB 2.0 ports, ethernet, and an HDMI and TF slot. As for connectivity, the Ptox has 2.4G & 5.8G dual band Wi-Fi. Inside you’ll find an Intel Atom 1.8GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM as well as 32GB of flash storage. The only rub is that while it comes installed with Windows 10, it’s only the trial version, which means you’ll need to have an existing license or upgrade to the full version. But at a cost hovering around only £100, this PC still makes a good deal for the light computer user.