We’ll get one thing straight from the start. A great gaming PC doesn’t come cheap, but that doesn’t mean that you need to take out a mortgage on your home to get a PC that can run the latest and greatest games. In fact, you can get a decent rig for under a thousand dollars. But if you want the best, you need to know how to carefully scrutinize the options available.
Fortunately for you, HotRate has already done the legwork for you. We’ve picked out the 10 best gaming PCs available in 2021 and offered some analysis of what makes each gaming PC so great. After that, we’ll dig a little deeper and provide you with a full analysis of what you should be paying attention to while you shop.
TL;DR - Best Gaming PCs Under $1000:
- CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming PC
- Dell G5 Gaming Desktop
- HP Pavilion Gaming PC Desktop Computer
- SkyTech Archangel Gaming PC
- Acer Aspire GX-281-UR13 Gaming PC
- iBUYPOWER Element 9260 Gaming PC
- Alienware Aurora R8 High End Gaming PC
- Skytech Shiva Gaming PC Desktop
- Centaurus Andromeda A5 Gaming PC
- Periphio Overclocked Edition Gaming Tower PC
1. CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming PC
A Rig Built for VR
Virtual reality gaming is still in the process of gaining traction, but if you want to be part of the revolution to come, you'll need a gaming PC that can handle it. The CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme is certainly capable enough. It utilizes a ninth-generation Intel chip along with a decently powerful GeForce graphics card, and it supports the latest dual-band wireless networking out of the box, so you can get past the lobby and into the game with little effort.
Those all-around quality specs make this one of the best gaming PC models for esports pros. Specific NVIDIA drivers further enhance the capabilities of the GPU by reducing latency, and this gaming PC system has been optimized to work seamlessly with DirectX 10 technology. It even comes with a capable keyboard and mouse so you can get the best gaming experience without having to invest more.
2. Dell G5 Gaming Desktop
Seriously High-Grade Processing Power
The Dell G5 is a desktop that understands its limitations. The core specs extend beyond what you should expect for a desktop PC under $1000, and Dell has opted to cut corners on less critical pieces of hardware while maintaining easy options to upgrade those components without having to use any tools or possess the technical knowledge. The hard drive ports and RAM slots are readily accessible and utilize a plug-and-play design.
The results here are some of the best we've seen. The ninth-generation Core i7 can offer a smooth frame rate of 60 frames per second even at Full HD resolution, and it even comes with some cool LED lighting to help your gaming rig stand apart from the competition. The hardware here is also highly configurable, so you can squeeze out every last ounce of power when engaging in some high-end gaming.
3. HP Pavilion Gaming PC Desktop Computer
Proving What AMD Can Accomplish
AMD processors are significantly underrepresented in the world of gaming PC design, but the hardware is still good enough that at least one AMD PC will show up on almost all of our guides to gaming computers. And while the HP Pavilion name might not bring to mind a top-shelf gaming experience, this gaming PC screams quality. From the brushed metal surface to the neon green accents to the front-facing ports, it does a great job of matching elegance with some classic gaming sensibilities.
And the specs here are well-matched. The inclusion of a Ryzen CPU and a Radeon GPU offers a greater level of synthesis than you'd find with a gaming PC that matches together an Intel and NVIDIA processor. And if you're looking to expand your gaming experience, it comes with both surround sound 5.1 ports and easy to upgrade RAM and storage.
4. SkyTech Archangel Gaming PC
A Cool Design and a Big Heart
SkyTech isn't the biggest name in gaming PC design, but they've designed one of the best-looking gaming PCs we've ever seen. The exposed interior tempered glass windows provide a sci-fi glimpse into the guts of this gaming PC, and the guts here are well worth showing. A Ryzen processor has been paired with a Founders Edition 1050 for some notable heft, and the AMD processor is more than capable of handling it. It's not quite an i7, but it's beyond an i5 in terms of gaming performance.
With the specs in place on this gaming PC, you can comfortably get over 60 frames per second performance at Full HD resolution and the highest graphics settings on some of the biggest new games. And while both the RAM and storage are merely decent, they're also very easy to upgrade. You could hypothetically pack a full 32 gigabytes of RAM into this gaming PC.
5. Acer Aspire GX-281-UR13 Gaming PC
Gaming with a Hybrid Storage Solution
Acer understands that under-delivering on things that can be changed is more important than under-delivering on things that can't. That's why they've opted for quality hardware where it matters and making sure that upgrades are easy and cheap to perform. With its eight-core processor, the Ryzen 7 1700X offers some pretty beefy performance, and it's nicely matched with the Radeon RX 480. Then there's the hefty 16GB of memory which can be expanded to four times that amount.
Also cool is the fact that it includes both a traditional hard drive and a solid-state drive - a decision that leaves you with a whole lot of space to work with while still giving you room to expand through upgrades. This is definitely a solid choice for people who tend to hoard games in their Steam library, and your Steam library will only get bigger thanks to the VR support here.
6. iBUYPOWER Element 9260 Gaming PC
Best Performance Across the Spectrum
The iBUYPOWER Element 9260 is pretty similar to a lot of the PCs on this list, but what's worth paying attention to is how it seems to provide almost all the best specs at every opportunity while still keeping the cost under $1000. The ninth-generation i7 here is capable of hitting ultra-smooth frame rates even on newer and more hardware intensive games.
And this is clearly a company that understands that getting the best quality build is just as important as getting the best and most powerful specs. The case here is sturdy and features some smartly placed wiring, but it can also be taken apart and modified without the need for any tools. Then there's the cooling system, which offers some great performance without making much noise and even includes a dust filter for the upper panel. In other words, this is a gaming PC built to last.
7. Alienware Aurora R8 High End Gaming PC
Budget High-Resolution Gaming
Are you looking to get your feet wet in the world of serious gaming, but you don't have a lot to spend? Dell's Alienware gaming PC is easily one of the best options, though you may need to keep an eye out for deals to get the price tag of this gaming PC fully under $1000. And while the Intel processor here is more or less middle of the road, the graphics card has a lot more bite than most comparable gaming PC models.
So what's the big difference here? While most gaming PCs on this list support high frame rates at 1080p resolution, you can get some relatively capable performance out of 1440p or 4K resolutions with the Aurora. Just keep in mind that will require a more expensive monitor. Plenty of thought has been put into the little things, too. It comes with a wide variety of ports for compatibility with practically anything imaginable.
8. Skytech Shiva Gaming PC Desktop
Incredibly Capable Performance
SkyTech is a company known for producing some of the best prebuilt gaming PC models on the market, but the Shiva proves that they can also produce some of the best results on a budget. The RTX 2060 here offers some of the best graphical performance we've found for any gaming PC under $1000, and the Siva makes use of a pretty hefty Ryzen 5 CPU that can certainly keep pace during more intensive gaming sessions.
This is a gaming PC with style, too - and it's balanced in a way that makes smaller hassles a lot more convenient. The load times here are great, and the case offers an open window into the hardware of the PC. It even comes with adjustable RGB lighting options so you can make sure that your gaming setup matches your unique personality.
9. Centaurus Andromeda A5 Gaming PC
Excellent Performance Where it Counts
Prebuilt gaming PCs have a reputation for being a cut above the rest, and the Centaurus Andromeda A5 is a gaming PC that definitely delivers on that reputation. It pairs a Ryzen processor with a GTX 1660, but the advantages of a prebuilt gaming PC really come through on Centaurus' end. The CPU on this gaming rig has been overclocked to squeeze every bit of gaming performance possible out of it.
In fact, this is a gaming PC that excels in practically every important way. Centaurus has packed in a full terabyte solid-state drive, and that ensures that this PC can be booted up for gaming in less than 10 seconds. And in terms of general design, the case itself offers a sharp slice of RGB without featuring the swaggering and sometimes overwhelming sensibilities that many other PCs for gaming aim for.
10. Periphio Overclocked Edition Gaming Tower PC
Stunning Design and Extensive Customizability
The Peripho may look like a high-end speaker for club DJs, but it's actually one of the best-priced gaming PCs available in 2021. It's among the best prebuilt gaming PC models thanks to the fully overclocked graphics card. Together, they create a gaming PC that can deliver decent frame rates on newer games but not on the most graphically intensive options. It undoubtedly offers some of the best value on the market, even if it can't hang with the very best prebuilt gaming PC models we've featured here.
And that design is simply one of the coolest we've ever seen. The LED lighting is smoothly implemented without being too loud, and there's a decent range of customization options. This may be a budget gaming PC designed to help entry-level players get into PC gaming, but it looks absolutely stunning.
Shopping for a Gaming PC Under $1000
If you want to get a gaming PC cheap, a prebuilt gaming PC is the best way to go. Above, we’ve discussed the best prebuilt gaming PC models available for under $1000, and these best prebuilt gaming PCs are tightly optimize gaming performance while cutting out any unnecessary fat. You can be pretty guaranteed you’ll be getting the most of your $1000.
We’ll discuss the considerations you should pay attention to when shopping for the cheapest PC for gaming, and we’ll also put a special amount of focus on what you can expect to find with the under $1000 gaming limitations.
The talk around gaming technology almost always seems to focus on graphics, graphics, and more graphics. But the GPU falls a distant second behind the CPU – or central processor – in terms of actual gaming performance. There are two big CPU manufacturers around, and any PC builds are going to make use of either an Intel or AMD central processor. While Intel Core processors are easily the most prolific in both the general market and the PC gaming scene, AMD is actually worth paying attention to when looking for the best prebuilt gaming rig for under $1000.
Since they’re the big dog for prebuilt gaming PCs, let’s start by talking about Intel. The Intel Core is the chip you’ll see most in gaming PCs, and while there are a lot of numbers in the Intel Core processor names, they’re pretty easy to translate. The i3, i5, i7, and i9 models are all of increasing value. Generally, we consider an i5 a great choice for entry-level gaming and an i7 suited for the highest graphical settings. The i3 isn’t quite powerful enough to meet practical gaming standards, while the i9 is too powerful.
The next number in sequence refers to the generation of the processor, while the numbers after that tell you how it compares to other processors of the same generation and family. We recommend that you prioritize generation over the model number and also prioritize the i# designation over everything else if you want the best gaming PC.
There’s a general understanding in gaming that Intel practically blows AMD out of the water in terms of mid-tier and high-level processors, while AMD excels more in the budget tier. But the truth is that things are a little more complicated than that. Prebuilt gaming PCs that are trying to stay within budget often do so by pairing a strong Intel Core processor with an integrated Intel graphics chip. While that keeps the price low, these integrated chips are kind of underwhelming when you’re looking for the best gaming experience.
For that reason, AMD central processors are becoming increasingly more common in gaming PC builds. They arguably offer more value for the dollar than Intel Core processors, and even if they can’t quite hit the peaks of performance, they’ve covered a lot of ground with their Intel rivals in the past few years.
The fight between NVIDIA and AMD over who is the best producer of GPUs has gone on and on for years, and NVIDIA is the overall winner right now, but the two major GPU manufacturers (as well as Intel) each offer some solid advantages and disadvantages.
Intel: The Graphical Standard
A GPU is one of the most important pieces of hardware in a gaming computer, but it’s also one of the most expensive. A lot of manufacturers trying to create the most price-conscious PC circumvent that through the use of an integrated GPU. If your computer runs on an Intel processor and doesn’t offer an NVIDIA or AMD GPU, it’s going to come with an Intel integrated GPU.
Integrated GPUs aren’t really powerful enough to handle the latest gaming experiences, but they’re a decent choice for more casual gaming. The Intel HD GPU models represent the oldest, while the Intel UHD represents a step forward. Despite the names, both may or may not support 4K resolution depending on the model. More promising is the Intel Iris series. While these processors are better equipped for more graphically intensive games, they still aren’t going to offer anything approaching the gaming performance of a discrete GPU.
AMD: A Balance of Price and Performance
The competition between AMD and NVIDIA is a lot like the competition between AMD and Intel in CPUs. In terms of raw processing performance, NVIDIA discrete processors beat out AMD processors at almost every price point – although there is some competition in the mid-range price tier. AMD chips come in at a less expensive price point than NVIDIA but at a more expensive price point than an Intel integrated processor, but they do something beyond price that makes them popular additions in prebuilt gaming rigs.
That’s because AMD makes use of something called an APU (accelerated processing unit). An APU splits the difference between a discrete and integrated GPU. In practice, an APU isn’t that different from a CPU with an integrated processor, but an Intel integrated processor prioritizes the CPU while a dual AMD processor set will find more balance between the CPU and GPU. This strategy is becoming increasingly common in low-price models since an AMD CPU and GPU will each cost less than their Intel and NVIDIA counterparts.
NVIDIA: Peak Graphical Performance
If you truly want the best performance you’ll find for less than a grand, you’re going to want to opt for a discrete GPU from the NVIDIA GeForce line. There are some chips from AMD, like the Ryzen 5, that can hang with their NVIDIA counterparts, but the peak card at almost any point is going to be an NVIDIA GeForce.
When looking at GeForce cards, there are two lines to choose from, RTX and GTX, but they’re essentially two generations of chips. The RTX series is the better of the two, and the name refers to its ability to support ray tracing technology. If you want your computer to be future-proofed for the latest generation of games, then an RTX is going to be the way to go. That being said, earlier GTX models like the GTX 1660 are still pretty solid choices, and they actually can offer better performance on some games.
And this is an interesting situation where better performance doesn’t necessarily have to mean a higher price. The RTX may be the newer chip, but they actually cost less on average than their GTX counterparts. You can, for instance, often get an RTX 2060 for less than the cost of the GTX 1660. In other words, there’s no need to sacrifice quality for the sake of scoring a lower price.
When buying a computer, you have one major advantage over a lot of other products: the ability to later upgrade some of the more important pieces of hardware – primarily the hard drive and RAM. While both of these factors are important for the overall effectiveness of your PC, they shouldn’t be too much of an immediate concern. Instead, pay attention to how easy it will be to upgrade your storage and RAM.
If you aren’t that comfortable working with electronics, keep an eye out especially for an easy access panel. If you can access the ports, all you have to do is slot the RAM sticks or hard drives into place. Keep in mind that there’s only so much space on a given computer. If you really want to make sure you’re future-proofed, just make sure that there’s enough space for you to get the RAM that you need for your favorite games.
RAM doesn’t come at a high price, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Random Access Memory serves as a place to hold any data that needs to be accessed regularly so it can be more readily used. The amount of RAM, as well as the DDR format it uses, can dramatically affect load times and also have a pretty significant impact on performance in-game. While 8GB of RAM would have been way more than you’d need for gaming years ago, the memory demands of gaming have steadily risen over time and will continue to do so.
For now, though, we consider 8GB of RAM to be the entry-level point for gaming. Anything less is not really going to suit the needs of gamers, but your PC may struggle a bit with more demanding games. If you want a little more room to play the latest and greatest, a total of 16GB DDR4 RAM should be more than capable. Gamers who really want to be future-proofed for the next generation can always go with 32GB of RAM, but we recommend that most start with 8GB and devote their resources to other specs. This is something that you can almost always upgrade later.
The storage capacity of a new PC is also a highly customizable thing, although the options are more limited. For the easiest solution, you can just plug in an external hard drive. You can get one that offers terabytes of storage capacity while still maintaining dimensions close to a credit card for a hundred bucks or less. There’s also often support for expansion by slotting a new external hard drive in place. Over the years, many manufacturers make this a simple process with an easy access panel.
The amount and type of storage you’re going to need will really depend on your play style. Do you hoard games on your Steam account, or do you tend to play one title at a time? Do you prefer the newest AAA games, or tight but smaller budget indie games? That’s going to have an impact on how much storage capacity you’ll need, but we also think that the average gamer should opt for at least 500GB.
Solid-state drives are going to be the best option in general because they’re faster than their HDD counterparts and less prone to damage. A 500GB SSD should be more than enough for most gamers, but you shouldn’t worry too much about using an HDD rather than an SSD. Some machines make use of a hybrid hard drive which can offer you the best of both worlds: a high storage capacity along with the ability to load data more quickly.
If the gaming PC build models listed here are any indication, the gaming community loves RGB lighting. If you really want to customize your rig, you should look for one that comes with customizable lighting. With customized RGB lighting, you can create a simple color scheme or far more elaborate layouts, and some RGB computer case lighting can even sync up with your keyboard and mouse for cooler and more sophisticated designs.
And while gaming computers tend to sport significantly more ostentatious designs than the typical office desktop, there’s actually a decent amount of variety in terms of design sensibilities. Tempered glass is a common inclusion, while a number of different models allow you an inside look at your PC’s components.
At HotRate, we don’t really like to encourage blind devotion to a brand, but it’s just a fact that some brands are known for their commitment to the most serious gamers. Alienware and Acer, for instance, are two companies with public recognition and a reputation for treating gamers right, but there are a bunch of lesser-known brands that specialize in making solid gaming gear. Manufacturers like Skytech which focus on prebuilt gaming PCs do nothing but build gaming rigs, and have earned a solid reputation.
If you need some added assurance, be sure to pay close attention to what the warranty is like. A three-year warranty can provide you with the confidence that your gaming PC will be backed in case something goes wrong, but be sure to read the fine print and learn about the customer service reputation of a brand, as many manufacturers have exceptions that can void the warranty or certain repairs that aren’t covered.
So you’re looking to get serious about PC gaming. That can be a big commitment, both in times of learning the ins and outs and the money you can end up spending. Let this guide be your map to hunting for a great gaming PC. We’ll keep updating it as new models are released. Be sure to share your opinion below if you have firsthand experience with any of these models.If you liked our article on gaming pcs under $1000, please share and comment below what your favorite product is.