Not everyone wants to spend a bomb on their PC, or go through the hassle of building one themselves.
We’ve listed the best PCs around for under $1000 in 2020, whether you’re a gamer, professional, or home user.
Certain specs are extremely important in PCs. Here are the main ones to look out for:
Graphics cards accelerate the manipulation and creation of images, useful for things like video-editing and in particular, gaming. It’s only professional video-editing and gaming that really requires high-quality GPUs, but the top GPUs are seriously expensive.
Most PCs under $1000 aren’t going to include a GPU that can handle 4k gameplay, but you can get decent 1080p gameplay if you shop around.
If you’re not a gamer, then integrated graphics will do just fine.
The processor or ‘‘Central Processing Unit’ is like the brain of the computer that handles all the tasks. More CPU power means it can handle more intensive tasks, or more low-end tasks all at once.
Most PCs under $1000 feature Intel processors: i3, i5 or i7 ranging from least to most powerful.
An i3 can handle basic tasks like internet browsing, checking emails and light streaming, but might struggle with a lot of open Chrome tabs and Office applications . An i7 can handle intensive multithreaded tasks like development, video-editing and multithreaded games.
For most general users, an i5 will be more than sufficient.
RAM is the memory of your computer, and the more you have the more tasks can be completed simultaneously. A low RAM means a sluggish computer.
RAM should ideally be 8GB on a Windows system for a comfortable experience, as even Chrome is RAM-hungry. This will be enough for most.
Professional content creators ideally need 16GB, and gamers might want to aim for this too, though a high-quality GPU is more important.
Storage is where everything is stored, from photos to documents to the OS.
There’s hard disk drives (HDD), traditional hard drives with spinning platters, and solid-state drives (SSD) which are more modern with no moving parts.
HDDs are cheaper and so can hold more, but SSDs are faster. Many PCs offer a hybrid of the two, which is ideal.
Specs are important, but how usable is the PC? How is the display, and is the keyboard comfortable to type on all day? You also need to test performance to see how it really fares, particularly with intense tasks like gaming.
We always bear the user purpose in mind, instead of just going for the highest specs.
PCs vary wildly in price, so don’t spend more than you need. And the most important question is, can you get more for your money elsewhere?
Image source: iBUYPOWER
This PC is such a great all-rounder for those who both want to do some intensive tasks, and gaming, packed into one.
The specs are as good as you can get for the price: 16GB DDR4 RAM. Storage is a snappy 256GB solid state drive and an extra 1TB hard drive for storage.
This is all easily upgradeable.
The processor is a powerful 9th-generation Intel Core i7-9700F, with a 3.0GHz base clock speed and boost of 4.7GHz.
All great for multi-tasking and multithreaded applications.
But amazingly, it also comes with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU, an upper-mid range card with Turing architecture. This can pretty smoothly play AAA titles at 1080p resolution on High, as well as MMORPG games like World of Warcraft.
For example, Battlefield 1 and Far Cry 5 runs at 109-135fps at 1080p on high, whilst 1440p gameplay is 81-99fps, which is still acceptable. It’s also VR ready.
The look is clean with a dark grey chassis and glass side panel, RGB lighting in the front and a lit-up fan in a color of your choice.
Cooling is decent with two fans and plenty of ventilation, particularly on the top panel.
There’s a ton of ports on the front for easy access: two USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-A) ports, headphone and microphone ports, a reset button and a power button.
At the back, there’s a lot more: two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, as well as Ethernet, HDMI, DVI and a Display port. Sadly no USB-C or VirtualLink connector.
CyberpowerPC Gamer GXIVR8060A7 – cheaper but lower spec.
Image source: SkyTech
A compact model for enthusiast gamers, all just under our $1000 budget, it comes with a AMD Ryzen 5 2600, but more importantly a Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2060 GPU.
Storage is also premium, with 16GB RAM and 500GB SSD.
This means it can comfortably play 1080p games at High settings, for example Battlefield V achieves 129 fps, The Division 2 plays at 108 fps, and Metro Exodus at 63.9 fps. Surprisingly even at Ultra settings, the frame rates don’t drop below 60 fps. This is the best you’re going to get with a $1000 budget.
Even 1440p gameplay gets moderate fps, but 4K gameplay is probably out of this machine’s league. However, you could always upgrade the GPU to a GeForce RTX 2080 Super if you’re intent on playing 4K.
It’s a nicely-sized mid-tower case with a tempered glass panel on the left, and is mostly white, a refreshing change from most all-black models.
There’s four USB 3.1 ports, two USB 2.0, one HDMI and an ethernet port. No USB-C, though. A free mouse and keyboard, which is RGB, as well as a Wi-Fi antenna, are included, a nice bonus.
This a PC definitely aimed at gamers rather than content creators, since the CPU is equivalent to an Intel i5. It’ll be perfectly fine for basic office tasks though.
The cooling is decent, but the only downside is the fans are a bit loud.
HP Omen Obelisk – made for gaming, with a wide range of spec options.
Image source: Acer
For those who just need a standard office PC that isn’t going to slow you down, you can ensure you’re getting the very best value with this Acer Aspire.
It beats all the HP and Lenovo competitors at this price point on performance, and is on the upper end of a ‘budget’ office PC.
It’s compact, making it easy to fit under your desk, with a sleek design. The angled and ribbed front panel makes it look a lot more expensive than it actually is.
The specs are well above what they should be at this price, with an Intel Core i5-9400 processor, 12GB of memory, and a 512GB SSD. You may be a bit more compared to cheaper budget options, but it definitely makes a difference in speed.
Under performance tests for basic tasks like spreadsheets, browsing and videoconferencing, it beats most of the competition.
However, under more intensive multithreaded tasks, the Acer Aspire really stands out from the crowd, scoring 950 on the Cinebench R15 benchmark, way ahead of competitors. The Acer is perfect for office work with a little photo or video editing on the side.
Only the more expensive HP Envy came out with similar results.
It comes with a USB-C port on the front, which is always welcome, as well as a DVD-RW drive, three USB 3.1 ports, four USB 2.0, two HDMI, one VGA and an ethernet jack.
There’s Wifi, Bluetooth 5.0 and it comes with a keyboard and mouse, too.
HP Envy desktop – similar spec, slightly better for gaming but slightly poorer for intensive tasks
Image source: Dell
For those whose heart is set on an all-in-one for a basic home PC, the Dell Inspiron 27 7000 (7790) is both sleek and functional. No other all-in-one can match it for specs at this price.
It’s so slim it basically looks like a monitor rather than a computer, with a tiny border around the screen, and comes in white or black, both with silver accents.
It comes with a Intel Core i5-10210U, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and 1TB hard drive, making it fine for everyday computer tasks. However, the fans are a little loud at intensive moments.
The built-in speakers are fine for filling a living room, but lack the bass for high-quality movie viewing. However, it’s easy to add additional.
Ports are located at the back, and include a USB 3.1 Type-C, as well as three USB 3.1 Type-A and one USB 2.0, as well as HDMI, ethernet, headphones and even an SD card reader.
There’s also a handy HDMI video input so you can use the large screen as a display for another device, like a game console.
The screen is full-HD, and there’s also a more expensive option for touch-screen if you like that sort of thing.
It’s got a huge tilt range, and we really like the pro-privacy retractable webcam that can be pushed back into the chassis when not in use.
It comes with an attractive keyboard and mouse, and again there’s a more expensive wireless option if you prefer.
Apple Mac mini – If you’re into Apple, the Apple Mac mini (2018) offers similar specs for the same price in a tiny, portable box. You’d have to purchase a screen though.
Image Source: Dell
The Dell XPS 13 is on the cutting-edge of notebooks. The newer model is a lot more expensive, but the base 2019 model represents amazing value.
First, take the looks. The XPS simply looks amazing. A slim, lightweight notebook that’s pearly gray on the outside and radiant white on the inside, with an InfinityEdge bezel screen. In fact, it’s so slim at 0.6-inches, it makes the MacBook Pro and Microsoft Surface contenders look positively chunky.
A base model comes with an Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and an Intel UHD 620 Graphics GPU. This is fine for general use, but you can upgrade all the way up to a Core i7-8565U CPU and 16GB of RAM if you need it for more intensive tasks.
The screen is 13.3 inches. In terms of resolution, there is a more expensive 4k option, but to be honest it’s not worth it since it massively drains the battery. The full HD version will give you an incredible 12 hours and 22 minutes of battery life, compared to 7 hours with the 4k.
It comes with both Thunderbolt 3 and UBC Type-C ports, perfect for charging or connecting to a bigger monitor. You can also expand the memory with a microSD slot.
The keyboard and touchpad both work well with no issues.
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA – another very high-quality laptop with similar specs.
Image Source: HP
The HP Omen 17 isn’t the most attractive of laptops, but it manages to pack some serious hardware under the hood for $1000, making it perfect for gamers.
Just look at this spec: a 9th Gen i5 processor, an Intel Core i7-9750H, a full-sized Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and 256GB NVMe SSD storage. That’s just the base model, and you can of course upgrade if you want a top-tier gaming experience.
The 17-inch screen is nice and wide, however, it’s rather thick and you’ll either love or hate the polarizing centre-hinge. It’s also definitely on the heavy side at 7.27 pounds (3.3kg).
The 1080p display is high-quality for the price, with slim bezels on all sides except the base, and a quality 1385:1 contrast ratio.
It also comes with a nice RGB keyboard.
Ports are conveniently all on the side, with fans at the rear. Ports include a USB-C, three USB-A, a HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, and an SD card reader.
Wifi is great, equipped with Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 that beats most competitors for speed.
Acer Predator Helios 300 – a gaming classic.
Image source: Google
For an ideal Chromebook experience, the Google Pixelbook Go can’t be reckoned with.
It’s obviously extremely thin and lightweight, at just 0.5 inches thick and 2.3 pounds (1.04kg). The design is bog-standard which is a bit disappointing, and comes in two colors, black or pink.
The 1080p display displays colors with vibrancy and looks like a high-end laptop.
What makes the Pixelbook Go special is the insane battery life you get, around 13 hours, even beating the MacBook Air (2019).
It’s also sturdy, which is unusual for Chromebooks, made of magnesium alloy and a very grippable rippled base.
The backlit keyboard is also one of the best around, with smoothly-spaced, comfortable keys based on Google’s ‘Hush’ design. The speakers are above the usual Chromebook fare, and are unusually top-firing.
It’s also got an extremely sharp 1080p webcam which records video at 60 frames per second, again not a feat even the MacBook Pro (2019) can achieve.
The basic model offers an 8th-generation Intel Core with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
However, you can go up to an Intel Core i5 with 16GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for just under $1000.
With this you can easily playback 1080p video, play Android games and have a ton of Chrome tabs open thanks to the minimum 8GB of RAM. At the basic model price, you only tend to get 4GB RAM from competitors, which is very detrimental to RAM-hungry Chrome performance.
The i5 variation can also handle some light photo editing.
It’s got not one but two USB-C 3.1 ports. These can be used for charging or as a display output. However, no Thunderbolt 3 ports.
One downside is it’s not a convertible 2-in-1, whereas many competitors are.
Asus Chromebook Flip – if you want a Chromebook on a much tighter budget, this still has some great features at a much lower price.
The iBUYPOWER Trace2 9250 is a great all-round powerhouse for both content creation and gaming.
Pure gamers may want to opt instead for the SkyTech Shiva for quality 1080p gameplay.
For basic home users, the Acer Aspire TC-885-UA92 is a great compact budget desktop, or if you want a sleek all-in-one instead, you can’t go wrong with the Dell Inspiron 27 7000 (7790).
For laptops, the Dell XPS 13 (2019) is a cutting-edge notebook, or the Google Pixelbook Go offers the ideal Chromebook experience.
Gamers who want the portability of a laptop might want to try the powerful HP Omen 17 (2019).