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Hearing the words “budget desktop PC” may conjure some negative vibes, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In the desktop computer world, inexpensive is not synonymous with low-quality or slow, especially nowadays.

Whether you’re replacing an older, flagging PC, setting up a digital signage solution, or equipping a new or temporary office that needs only simple computing, a budget or mini PC may do the job. Today’s budget desktops offer a modest baseline for performance and decent flexibility, while lasting longer than they used to. We’re talking about desktops that cost $800 at the very most, with many coming in under $500 and a few even below $200.

Below, we’ve listed all of the best budget desktops that we’ve been able to apply our full gauntlet of testing to, followed by a detailed buying guide for the most common questions before making a purchase.

The Best Prime Early Access Budget Desktop Computer Deals This Week*

*Deals are selected by our commerce team

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More About Our Picks

Best General-Use Budget Desktop

Bottom Line:

Acer’s Aspire TC-895-UA91 is one of the best values around for under-$500 budget desktops, with snappy Core i3 performance and solid all-around feature support for the money.


  • Top value we’ve tested in under-$500 desktops
  • 10th Generation Intel Core i3 CPU delivers solid performance for the price
  • Compact design with full complement of ports (USB-C, SD card slot)
  • Optical drive, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth included


  • Integrated graphics make gaming and 3D apps nonstarters
  • Graphics upgrade options are limited
  • Nonstandard PSU
  • Fairly tight interior

Dell Inspiron Desktop (3891)

Best Home-Office Budget Desktop

Bottom Line:

Dell’s compact Inspiron Desktop 3891 offers a peppy Core i3 processor, Wi-Fi 6, and a DVD burner for a rock-bottom price.


  • Bargain price
  • Perky Intel Core i3 CPU
  • Runs quietly
  • Built-in DVD burner and Wi-Fi 6
  • Includes 12-month McAfee subscription


  • Only one HDMI port
  • Integrated graphics limit gaming potential
  • Base model supports only one internal storage drive
  • Nonstandard power supply

Apple Mac mini (M1, 256 GB SSD, Late 2020)

Best Budget Mac Desktop

Bottom Line:

With a new lower starting price and Apple’s straining-at-the-leash M1 CPU, the Mac mini is far and away the most polished, potent tiny desktop in its class.


  • New, lower starting price
  • Much improved overall performance from 2018 model
  • Especially promising bench results with native “Universal” apps
  • Surprisingly quiet and cool operation under load


  • Boosting RAM and SSD capacity at purchase time is pricey
  • Fewer Thunderbolt ports than previous Mac mini
  • Memory no longer upgradable post-purchase

Best Budget Mini Desktop

Bottom Line:

The ECS Liva Q3 Plus is a tiny, quiet, capable, and affordable mini PC that’s a great fit as a living-room media streamer or light-duty, hide-anywhere office computer.


  • Uber-compact design
  • Quiet operation
  • Surprisingly strong port selection
  • Smooth 4K streaming
  • Capable of some multitasking in Windows
  • Available with or without Windows preinstalled


  • Limited local storage
  • No USB-C port
  • Lacks the latest wireless standards

Intel NUC 11 Pro Kit NUC11TNKi5

Best Budget Mini Desktop With Good Upgradability

Bottom Line:

Intel’s NUC 11 Pro Kit combines the company’s latest silicon with surprising expandability, multi-display chops, and productivity oomph in a state-of-the-art, right-priced mini desktop.


  • Super-trim profile
  • Very good CPU muscle for the price and size
  • Clean, minimalist classic-NUC design
  • Above-average connectivity for…
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