Best Budget PCs for Less than $500 Windows Central 2019

Not everyone has the time, budget or know-how to build their own PC, which is where the budget pre-built Acer Aspire TC-885 PC comes into play. It's available with 9th Gen Intel processor (CPU), plenty of RAM and storage, and a keyboard and mouse are included. If you're on a tight budget, it's a great device to get you going on Windows 10, and it will have enough power to tackle daily productivity tasks.

Best Overall: Acer Aspire TC-885

Acer's TC-885 comes stocked with a 9th Gen Intel Core i5-9400 CPU, 12GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 512GB solid-state drive (SSD), which combined is more than enough power to cut through a day's productivity tasks. It's all contained in a relatively compact chassis that you can easily hide under a desk or display next to your monitor, and a keyboard and mouse are included to sweeten the deal.

On the front is a DVD-RW optical drive you can use to read and burn, as well as USB-C 3.1, USB-A 3.1 (Gen 2), 3.5mm audio jacks, and an SD card reader for easy transfer of files. On the back are plenty more ports, including USB-A 3.1, four USB-A 2.0, two HDMI, Ethernet, and VGA. There is no dedicated graphics card (GPU) for gaming, though you can upgrade RAM and storage after purchase.

Pros:

  • Plenty of ports
  • 9th Gen Intel CPU
  • Optical drive
  • Upgradeable hardware
  • Keyboard and mouse included

Cons:

  • No dedicated GPU

Best Overall

Acer Aspire TC-885

Great all-around PC for most people

If you're looking for a great home PC with respectable hardware inside and plenty of ports, the Acer TC-885 will do the trick.

Runner-up: Lenovo ThinkCentre M720q Tiny

If you don't have a lot of space on or near your desk, Lenovo's ThinkCentre M720q Tiny will no doubt be an attractive option. It's not much larger than an old optical drive, yet it packs in some impressive features, including dual SODIMM RAM slots and space for a 2.5-inch storage drive and an M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), all of which can be upgraded after purchase.

Ports include five USB-A 3.1, DisplayPort, HDMI, and RJ45 Ethernet, with the option to add more at checkout. For the advertised price, you get relatively low-impact hardware, including an 8th Gen Intel Core i3-8100T CPU and 8GB of RAM, and prices do rise quickly. However, thanks to the upgradeable hardware, you can pay a bit more for a faster CPU and upgrade the rest later down the line.

Pros:

  • Compact chassis
  • Upgradeable RAM and SSD
  • Keyboard and mouse included
  • Plenty of configuration options
  • Generous port selection

Cons:

  • Higher-end models quickly pass the budget mark

Runner-up

Lenovo ThinkCentre M720q Tiny

Compact PC with plenty of features

Starting at a low price, you can configure a model with some impressive hardware if you have a bit of wiggle in your budget.

Best Gaming: iBUYPOWER ARCB 108A

Buying a pre-built gaming PC on a tight budget is tough, but iBUYPOWER's ARCB 108A fits the bill. It's not going to compete with more expensive gaming PCs, and you still won't be playing modern games on Ultra settings, but it's a good start that can be upgraded after purchase. All hardware is contained in an attractive and aggressive tower with a transparent side panel that shows off the goods, and there's even some lighting to give it extra style.

You get plenty of ports for connecting your external devices, a keyboard and mouse are included, and performance hardware is centered around an AMD Ryzen 3 3200G CPU and 8GB of DDR4 RAM. The dedicated NVIDIA GT 710 GPU with 1GB of VRAM is there for extra gaming power, and a 1TB HDD has plenty of space to hold your games.

Pros:

  • Dedicated GPU for better performance
  • Aggressive chassis with lighting
  • Can upgrade after purchase
  • Lots of ports
  • Keyboard and mouse included

Cons:

  • Still underpowered compared to more expensive PCs

Best Gaming

iBUYPOWER ARCB 108A

A great starting point for gamers

It's not the most powerful gaming PC out there, but it comes at an excellent price and can be upgraded after purchase.

Best Budget: HP Slimline 290

HP's Slimline 290 lives up to its name, with an attractive compact chassis that can easily be hidden away or displayed on top of your desk. For easy access, the front includes an SD card reader, two USB-A 3.1 ports, and a 3.5mm audio jack, plus there's an optical drive you can use to burn DVDs. On the back are two USB-A 3.1, two USB-A 2.0, Ethernet, VGA, and HDMI ports.

Despite the seriously budget price, you get hardware that can handle a standard day of productivity tasks. The 9th Gen Intel Core i5-9400 CPU is backed up by 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1TB SATA HDD. You won't be able to get into any specialized work, though you will be able to upgrade the memory in the future to keep the PC relevant for longer. If you're on a tight budget and just need a PC for general work, this is a great option.

Pros:

  • Excellent CPU option
  • 1TB HDD storage
  • Decent port selection
  • Includes keyboard and mouse
  • RAM can be upgraded

Cons:

  • No dedicated GPU
  • Slow storage

Best Budget

HP Slimline 290

A budget PC for general productivity

It's not the most powerful option out there, but HP's Slimline 290 comes at an unbeatable price and can be upgraded after purchase.

Bottom line

Sticking to a tight budget and finding a pre-built desktop PC that's right for you can be tough, but thankfully the Acer TC-885 checks the most boxes for most people, making it our top pick. It has a 9th Gen Intel Core i5-9400 CPU, 12GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 512GB SSD, which is quite impressive for the price you'll pay and enough power to easily handle daily productivity tasks.

The addition of a DVD-RW optical drive on the front and plenty of ports on the front and back only sweeten the deal, and you can even upgrade internal hardware after purchase to keep the PC relevant long into the future.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Cale Hunt Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, and accessory coverage, as well as the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.

Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.

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