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.

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.


Dell Dimension 8250
Dell Dimension 8250 PC Desktop
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Release Date
Sep 2007
17 in.
Form Factor
HDD Size
120.0 GB
Operating System
Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Intel Pentium 4 2.66 GHz
Average Rating
 n stars
100% Positive
75% Positive
25% Negative
100% Positive
100% Positive

Buying tips to find the Best Cheap Desktop Computer of 2016

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