Best Budget Computers 2020: We Review Three Desktop PCs Under $500 - Rolling Stone
Home RS Recommends Electronics

A Decent Desktop PC Under $500? It’s Possible, and We’ve Picked Three

While a desktop doesn’t have the advantage of portability, there are some things that work in its favor over laptops



If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.

Desktop computers don’t have to be absolute beasts built for speed if you’ll only be using it for things like word processing and internet browsing. In fact, you can save a significant amount of money by buying a PC without all the extra bells and whistles you know you’ll probably never use anyway.

What Are the Best Budget PCs?

The best budget PCs deliver the reliability and performance of a good desktop computer, while streamlining features and functions to things you’ll actually need. These computers are great for writing, checking emails, streaming videos and basic designing and editing. Most of these models can handle some mid-level games, but it’s not generally what they’re designed to do. Desktop PCs are usually upgradable though, and you can purchase parts such as additional RAM, a more powerful graphics card (just make sure it’s compatible with the other parts), as well as an extra fan or two, and easily install it for faster first-person shooters and multi-player online games.

But even if you’ve got no interest in gaming, having that same processing speed and ability can assist with whatever tasks you’re looking to do on your new PC. An affordable desktop is ideal for things like managing thousands of photos and videos. And unlike a laptop, since this will most likely be staying in one place on your desk or workstation, weight isn’t an issue.

Most, if not all, desktops nowadays feature at least a few USB ports for easy and swift connectivity with your external devices like phones and cameras, as well as auxiliary and Ethernet jacks, HDMI, and SD card readers. Plus a few offer built-in bonuses like a DVD writer.

One final note when shopping for a budget PC: Don’t be swayed by cheap extras like pretty flashing lights. Some manufacturers load up their PC cases with busy RGB lighting, which takes up room inside, generates heat, and is often a distraction from shortcomings in the unit’s performance. There’s nothing inherently wrong with some cool colored LEDs in your machine, but make sure it’s got the parts and processor to back it up.

1. Acer Aspire TC-885-UA91 Desktop

Acer’s Aspire is powerful enough to easily handle everyday things like web surfing, photos, office applications, and even some light gaming.

The design is a sleek black block, with more USB ports than you’ll probably need. It doesn’t take up much physical space, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts: a 9th Gen Intel Core i3-9100, 8GB DDR4, and a 512GB SSD. It smoothly plays 4K video, and runs surprisingly silent too.

There are no built-in speakers, but it does feature 5.1 sound to plug in an AUX cable or headphones.

Acer Aspire TC-885-UA91 Desktop


Buy: Acer Aspire TC-885-UA91 Desktop at $649.00

2. HP Slim Desktop

This slim desktop may not take up much space on your desk, but inside it’s got plenty of it for normal usage – a 256GB SSD drive and 8GB of memory to be exact. The system runs on Windows 10, and is powered by the speedy AMD Athlon Gold 3150U processor. There’s an included optical drive with a DVD writer, and the ability to connect a second monitor, with four ports for USB-A, 1 HDMI, headphone jack, card reader, and an Ethernet connection.

This set includes a wireless keyboard and mouse, is compatible with WiFi and Bluetooth, and the memory is upgradable for when you’ve reached your limit. But for average usage of daily tasks, work, and photo management, this sleek HP gets the job done.


HP Slim Desktop


Buy: HP Slim Desktop at $419.99

3. Alarco Intel i5 PC Desktop

Three RGB fans keep things cool here – both in terms of aesthetics and temperature, with a glass side panel to let the lights shine through, and can be controlled with the included remote.

The unit features an Intel Core i5-2400 3.10 Ghz and 8GB of RAM (with room for upgrading to 16), and can run games like Fortnite up to 100fps.

There’s a GTX 650 1GB Video Card With DVI, HDMI and VGA outputs. It’s overall a decent machine for minimal gaming, but it can be significantly beefed up by upgrading the RAM and graphics card.

Alarco Intel i5 PC Desktop


Buy: Alarco Intel i5 PC Desktop at $499.99

In This Article: computers, RS Recommends


Powered by
Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.