Gaming, music, YouTube. Get top-notch sound quality for less than a C-note!
Updated February, 2017: Added the Creative GigaWorks T20 Series II
If you're not a headphones person, you're either dealing with terrible laptop speakers or maybe the terrible ones built into your monitor or all-in-one PC. If that's you, then you are in need of some great external speakers. You also don't want to spend a fortune on a Harmon Kardon 5.1 surround system. Fair enough.
We've rounded up some of the best computer speakers for under $100 to keep your room rockin' and your pockets full.
- Cyber Acoustics CA-3602FFP
- Creative GigaWorks T20 Series II
- Edifier U.S.A. 2.1 Speaker System (M3200)
- Genius SW-G2.1 1250 2.1 Speaker System
- GOgroove BassPULSE
- Bose Companion 2 Series III
- Logitech Speaker System Z313
These USB-powered speakers are not for audiophiles. They're for folks who want a pair of very inexpensive speakers (about $14) that have surprisingly great sound quality for the price.
As their name suggests, these speakers are as basic as it gets, with 3W total power (you won't get much more via USB) and a basic on/standby switch and volume control.
Don't expect to blow the doors off with these, but if you're looking for a cheap way to liven things up a bit and get away from your monitor speakers, this is the way to do it.
Cyber Acoustics CA-3602FFP
This three-piece set from Cyber Acoustics comes with two satellites and a wood cabinet subwoofer for 30W (62W peak) of powerful sound, for the price (around $35). There's also a handy desktop control pod, which controls power, volume, and bass, and has a headphone jack and auxiliary port.
These speakers not only sound great, but look great as well, with their modern design and aluminum-finished pedestals; a gorgeous addition to your desktop. For under $40, you really can't go wrong.
Creative GigaWorks T20 Series II
These two-way speakers look awesome and Creative makes relatively inexpensive products that sound great. You get volume, bass, and treble control right on the front of the right speaker, and each speaker produces clean, crisp audio that'll impress, considering their $89 price tag.
Amazon user Orlando bought three sets of speakers, including the Bose Companion 2 Series II and was pleasantly surprised by these Creative speakers:
" I was actually extremely surprised how clear, crisp and loud they were compared to both the Creative T12's and the Bose Companion 2 Series II Speakers." [sic] (Amazon reviewer Orlando)
If you're looking for versatile speakers that'll sound great for gaming, any genre of music, and other audio, these will more than do the trick. Make sure that you're getting Series II before you check out, since the original T20s sucked.
Edifier U.S.A. 2.1 Speaker System (M3200)
Wanna add some boom to your room? Then you should probably go with a speaker system that comes with a subwoofer. Edifier's 2.1 channel system comes with a wood-enclosed subwoofer with a 5.5 inch driver. That's bass you can feel.
The high-end and mid range are taken care of by a couple of gorgeous, hourglass-shaped satellite speakers, which you control from a separate rotary master volume controller, which also turns the system on and off – no need to awkwardly reach down anywhere to flip the switch.
If you want immersive, rich sound and a sexy-looking system, for around $85, then check out Edifier.
Genius SW-G2.1 1250 2.1 Speaker System
Genius jumps in with another excellent 2.1 channel system that offers total clarity at any volume. You've got a 5.25-inch bass driver in a fairly compact subwoofer, two 3-inch drivers in each satellite speaker, and a total output power of 38 watts. What does that mean? It means you've got great low-end and enough juice in the system to likely fill your whole home with sound.
Each satellite speaker only has one driver, meaning the high and mid ranges are coming out of the same driver, which on other speakers often causes distortion at high volumes. Genius' speakers are surprisingly clear all the way around, though you may find some tin in the high-end when you're really blasting it.
For roughly $50, you really can't go wrong.
These are the coolest-looking speakers in our round-up, but they're not all flash and guile – these babies can hum.
With a name like "BassPULSE," you shouldn't expect anything less than deep, warm, rich bass tones, and GOgroove doesn't disappoint. Despite how thin the satellite speakers are, they still produce decent high end and mid range tones and are better than you'd expect from most thin plastic speakers.
These speakers sound good, for their price. Let's just get that out of the way because you're really buying these because of how friggin' cool they are.
Blue, green, or red, you get to choose and then set these Transformers-looking suckers up and watch 'em dance (when the bass is turned up past 80%, that is). If you're in the market for a sleek and futuristic-looking set of speakers that look even better in the dark, then go GOgroove.
Bose Companion 2 Series III
If you're want great sound quality and value, then you want Bose. Some audio snobs might look down on Bose, but there's no denying that they produce pleasing sound that puts them at the top of the consumer speaker game.
I know what you're thinking: "Bose speakers are insanely expensive." Normally, you'd be right, but these ones are only $99. You can have (to borrow from every Bose ad ever) room-filling, immersive sound for under $100.
These speakers don't come with a subwoofer but still offer powerful bass, mixed perfectly with the mid-range and high end. They're not much to look at (at all), but they are Bose by name and Bose by reputation.
Logitech Speaker System Z313
What's an accessory roundup without a Logitech product? Lacking, that's what. The Z313 system comes with a powered subwoofer and two satellite speakers to deliver 25 watts of total power. That's enough to fill your room and then some.
While the full range sounds excellent at normal volumes, the highest of the high-end does fall a bit flat and can get pretty tinny at very high volumes. (Pro-tip: just turn up the treble in the equalizer on your computer. It'll do in a pinch.)
The Z313 comes with a handy control pod that lets you control volume and your headphones, so there's no need to reach under your desk to mess with anything, as is the case with some other 2.1 systems.
This is another rather unobtrusive set that'll fit nicely on even smaller computer desks, but isn't much to look at.
Something to consider when buying speakers
In the case of most consumer goods, you're paying way too much for whatever you're getting and you often get much more for much less, depending on the product.
With speakers, you really do pay for what you get. If you're spending under $100, don't expect anything absolutely ground-breakingly spectacular, but don't expect total crap either. Spending an extra $50 to $100 unlocks another tier of great-sounding speakers that will likely surpass this list. That being said, if your budget is tight, these are the tops!
What are your favorites?
Are you using an unreal speaker system that cost you less than $100? Sound off in the comments below and tell us why you think it's the best!