Updated on 2 August 2013 by

The current desktop computer market is a buyer's market. Component prices are down and, in order to remain competitive, desktop manufacturers are passing those savings onto the consumer. In addition, a wealth of last-gen equipment is available that provides tremendous value for the buck. So with that in mind, let us consider the six items to look for while searching for the best cheap desktop computer.

1. How Much Power?
Intel currently has an exciting selection of powerful quad-core CPUs on the market, but the technology is outpacing our needs; the average consumer can get by with much less. The Phenom II X4 by AMD still provides excellent value and is a terrific gaming CPU, and Intel offers tremendous value in its i3 series as well as the older Core 2 Duo processors.

2. How Much Memory?
At this point, do not settle for less than 2 GB. Four gigabytes will give you plenty of breathing room, and 8 GB is simply overkill for the casual user in the market for the best cheap desktop computer. Many desktop manufacturers are offering free upgrades from 2 to 4 GBs.

3. How Much Storage?
Storage is an area where you should splurge because you can never have too much of it. Aim for at least 500 GB, and favor machines that have a boot drive along with a sizable secondary drive used for storage.

4. Are Integrated Graphics Suitable?
Unless you're intending to play 3D games, then an integrated graphics (IG) solution is suitable. IG can reduce the cost of the desktop significantly because it is built in to the CPU and removes the requirement for a dedicated video card.

5. Avoid Tiny Towers
Future expansion is a great way to get even more value out of your desktop, but many mini-towers come with very little free space. Target a mid-size desktop that has at least one PCIe slot free.

6. Avoid Bloatware
Bloatware is software preinstalled by the desktop manufacturer as a form of advertising, and it can help reduce the price of a desktop. Often, however, it proves to be far more trouble than its worth. If possible, pay the premium so that you get a full copy of Windows with the computer and can reinstall.

Conclusion
On a tight budget, it is tempting to buy the cheapest desktop you can find, but the better step is to find the features you need at the best possible price.


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HP Pavilion P6
Gateway SX2110
Gateway SX2865
Dell Inspiron i660s
HP Pavilion P6-2330 Desktop (Black)
Gateway SX2110-UR328 Desktop (Black)
Gateway SX2865-UR348 Desktop
Dell Inspiron 660s i660s-3848BK Desktop
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Release Date
Nov 2012
Oct 2012
Oct 2012
Oct 2012
Chipset
AMD A75
Intel H61 Express
Form Factor
Mini Tower
Tower
Tower
Tower
HDD Size
1024.0 GB
500.0 GB
500.0 GB
500.0 GB
Installed Memory
4 GB DDR3 SDRAM
4 GB DDR3
4 GB (DDR3-SDRAM)
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8
Windows 8
Windows 8 64-bit Edition
Windows 8
Processor
AMD A series A6-5400K
AMD E-Series E2-1800
Intel Pentium G630
Pentium G645 2.90 GHz
Recommended Use
Business, Home Use
Business, Home Use
Business, Home Use
Average Rating
 3.7 stars
 4.3 stars
 4.3 stars
 3.8 stars