Friday, February 23, 2024

The 6 best starter gaming PCs in 2024

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If you don’t really game and want to get into it, then grabbing yourself a starter gaming PC is a way to save yourself some money while dipping your toes into the world of gaming. Of course, you can certainly buy yourself something really expensive and fancy, but it might be overwhelming, and it will certainly be very expensive, especially since that also means you’ll need to buy a high-end gaming monitor to take advantage of it. So, all in all, it’s best to go for a nice budget-friendly starter gaming PC before investing heavily into your gaming setup.

Contents

  • The Best Starter Gaming PCs in 2024
  • Skytech Gaming Chronos Mini
  • Legion Tower 5 Gen 8 with RTX 3050
  • Legion Tower 5 Gen 8 with RTX 3060 Ti
  • Alienware Aurora R15
  • CyberPowerPC Gamer Master
  • Legion Tower 5i Gen 8
  • How We Chose These Starter Gaming PCsShow 3 more items

To that end, we’ve collected some of our favorite starter gaming PCs below based on various budgets and resolution needs. They’re also great if you want to upgrade them down the line, especially if you want to grab a lower-end one and upgrade it with a mid-range GPU in a few months. Either way, be sure to check all the options out thoroughly before taking the plunge!

The Best Starter Gaming PCs in 2024

  • Buy the

    if you want the best budget starter gaming PC.

  • Buy the

    if you want the best entry-level starter gaming PC.

  • Buy the

    if you want the Best starter PC for 1080p gaming.

  • Buy the

    if you want the best starter gaming PC that looks great.

  • Buy the

    if you want the best all-AMD starter PC for gaming.

  • Buy the

    if you want the best starter gaming PC for 1440p gaming.

Skytech Gaming Chronos Mini

Best budget starter gaming PC

Skytech

Pros
Cons

Excellent price
Doesn’t bundle a keyboard and mouse

Comes with 16Gb of RAM
GPU could be better

Good storage

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While the Skytech Gaming Chronos Mini is a very budget-friendly desktop and won’t play the latest games on the market, it is a good starter gaming PC if you want to spend as little money as possible. That will mean that you’ll mostly be able to play older games from 2017 or so and before, although you might get away with some more modern casual games. Also, some free-to-play games should work as well, especially since most of them tend to be well-optimized for lower-end specs, so it will be worth giving that a shot.

As for the actual GPU, you get a GTX 1650, which is an older GPU that’s part of the GTX-16 series. That does mean that you miss out on things like DLSS, which helps with frame generation, but it’s still not a terrible GPU, especially if you don’t care that much about the most modern games. As for the CPU, you get the entry-level i3-12100F CPU, which pairs nicely with the GTX 1650, and should handle some simulation and strategy games without too much issue. It will also manage to do most productivity tasks perfectly fine; just don’t expect to get much editing work out of it, such as graphical or music editing.

In terms of other specs, we’re very happy to see that you get yourself 16Gb of RAM, and while it is the older DDR4, it’s actually excellent to find on a gaming PC at this price point. With this much RAM, you get a better overall experience, especially since Windows likes to take a solid 4Gb chunk out of most RAM capacity. As for storage, the 500GB is pretty good, and you likely won’t run out of space any time soon, especially since most games that the GTX 1650 can handle won’t have 4K textures that require several dozen GBs of storage.

Specifications

CPU

i3-12100F

Graphics Card

GTX 1650

RAM
16GB DDR4

Storage
500 GB

Dimensions

16 x 8.4 x 18,1 inches

Weight

23 pounds

Legion Tower 5 Gen 8 with RTX 3050

Best entry-level starter gaming PC

Lenovo

Pros
Cons

Includes mouse and keyboard
GPU isn’t that great

Solid CPU performance
RAM could be better

Good amount of storage

If you’re willing to spend a little bit more, you can get something more in line with modern standards for entry-level gaming PCs. What that essentially means is that you get an RTX 3050, which, these days, is the minimum we’d like to see for playing modern games. You still aren’t going to be able to play AAA games on the highest graphical settings and high refresh rate, but at least you will be able to pay them at 1080p with reasonable graphical settings.

At this price point, you also get a much better processor in the form of an AMD Ryzen 5 7600, which is a mid-range CPU that’s actually pretty perfect for the sort of tasks you’d expect. It’s good with gaming, including simulation and strategy games, and it’s excellent for productivity work, and you might even get some editing out of it as well. As for RAM, you get 16GB of DDR5, the latest and greatest in the market, so it will be a speedy and smooth overall experience, and about what we’d like to see in an ideal scenario.

That said, storage is on the smaller side at 512GB, mostly because with the RTX 3050, you’re more likely to run into games with modern graphics with higher storage capacity needs. On the bright side, you do get a mouse and keyboard thrown in, and the included Wi-Fi 6 means you’ll get a very stable connection when playing online. It’s also a pretty solid jumping-off point if you ever want to upgrade your GPU in the future, which you absolutely could in a few months or a year.

Specifications

CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 7600

Graphics Card

RTX 3050

RAM
16GB DDR5

Storage
512 GB

Dimensions

16.18 x 8.07 x 15.59 inches

Weight

29.6 pounds

Legion Tower 5 Gen 8 with RTX 3060 Ti

Best starter PC for 1080p gaming

Lenovo

Pros
Cons

Comes with an RTX 3060Ti
GPU only has 8GB of VRAM

Excellent CPU performance

If you do want a gaming PC that can handle 1080p gaming relatively well, then this configuration of the Legion Tower 5 is the way to go. It generally has similar specs to the previous configuration, with the main difference being that you get an RTX 3060 Ti, which is a considerably better GPU than the RTX 3050. Actually, it is a bit of a compromise going for the RTX 3060 Ti rather than the RTX 3060 because while the RTX 3060 Ti has better overall performance, it only has 8GB of Video RAM compared to the 12GB of the RTX 3060. That can be a problem with certain games and future-proofing, so you may want to upgrade this GPU sometime in a year or two.

As for gaming performance, you should be able to handle 1080p at 100fps+ with the RTX 3060Ti at reasonably good graphical settings, so it’s the ideal card for 1080p gaming. Also, you do get access to the slightly older DLSS, and that can also help widen the gaming options for you. You also get the much more powerful AMD Ryzen 7 7700, which is a mid-to-high-end CPU that will easily handle most strategy and simulation games, as well as an upgrade to a significantly more powerful GPU if you want to go that route.

Besides that, you get the expected 16GB of DDR5 RAM and a slightly larger 1TB of storage, which is actually a pretty good size, especially at this price point. You also get a keyboard and mouse thrown in, although we’d probably grab non-generic versions of those since they’ll give you a much better feel and performance for a lower price, especially with these mouse deals and keyboard deals. Overall, it’s this configuration of the Legion Tower 5 is the way to go if you can swing the price tag and get the cheapest thing you can get.

Specifications

CPU

AMD Ryzen 7 7700

Graphics Card

RTX 3060 Ti

RAM
16GB DDR5

Storage
1TB

Dimensions

16.18 x 8.07 x 15.59 inches

Weight

29.6 pounds

Alienware Aurora R15

Best starter gaming PC that looks great

Alienware

Pros
Cons

Looks really great
Storage isn’t impressive

Has solid gaming performance
Upgrading will be difficult.

Comes with an RTX 3060

While having some great specs is very important, if the look of your gaming PC is equally important, then it’s hard to argue for a cooler-looking case than the Alienware R15. It has the signature Alienware look that makes it as much an art piece as it does a gaming PC, and it even has some pretty excellent liquid cooling under the hood. The specs aren’t too bad either, even though you’re only paying a little bit more than the Lenovo Legion Tower 5, so this is a must-grab if you want something that looks cool.

As for the GPU, this Alienware R15 configuration comes with an RTX 3060, which, as previously mentioned, doesn’t have as strong a performance as the Ti version, but it does have a bit more VRAM. In real terms, you’re still getting a solid 1080p GPU, and you should be able to handle most games at 1080p with relatively good settings at or around 100, so you aren’t losing a ton in the process. That said, you do get the same AMD Ryzen 7 7700 processor, which is excellent, especially if you want something a bit more versatile.

We’re happy to see that you still get 16Gb of DDR5 RAM, although storage has been kicked down to 512GB, which we’re not as happy about, especially since upgrading the internal storage of the Alienware R15 isn’t going to be easy for a beginner. Even so, it’s well worth it if you want a cool-looking case, and you could always use an external hard drive to store non-gaming files if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of upgrading the internal storage. It’s also worth noting that it comes with both a mouse and keyboard, although again, we’d get something a bit more focused on gaming for a better experience.

Specifications

CPU

AMD Ryzen 7 7700

Graphics Card

RTX 3060

RAM
16GB DDR5

Storage
512 GB

Dimensions

20.1 x 8.9 x 20.8 inches

Weight

29.4 pounds

CyberPowerPC Gamer Master

Best all-AMD starter PC for gaming

CyberPowerPC

Pros
Cons

Excellent CPU and GPU performance
No Access to DLSS

Huge amount of RAM and storage

If you’re a fan of AMD and want to go for an all-AMD setup, this configuration from CyberPowerPC is perfect. In fact, it’s actually an excellent option if you want something a bit more versatile when it comes to graphics performance since the onboard RX 7700 XT does pretty well in both 1080p and 1440p performance. That means you can prioritize resolution or framerate depending on what you’re playing, and when you compare the RX 7700 XT performance to the RTX 4060 Ti, which is its closest Nvidia equivalent, you’ll see the stats say the same.

Of course, you don’t get as advanced ray-tracing tech as DLSS, but that’s not a dealbreaker, especially as AMD improves its ray-tracing tech and gets closer to what Nvidia has to offer. As for the processor, you get the AMD Ryzen 7 7700, which is pretty typical for this price point and is an excellent CPU to pair with the RX 7700 XT and for general usage. Actually, what’s more impressive is that you get a whopping 32GB of RAM, the most we’ve seen at this price, and it’s even DDR5, which we weren’t expecting when we first looked at it.

Equally impressive is that you get a massive 2TB of storage to work with, so you are definitely not going to run out of space any time soon. Finally, you do get a keyboard and mouse thrown in, although it’s definitely worth grabbing some nicer ones if you can. Overall, the CyberPowerPC Gamer Master is probably the most versatile of the options here, so grab this if you tend to play a lot of various types of games and genres.

Specifications

CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 5500

Graphics Card

RTX 3060

RAM
16GB

Storage
1 TB

Dimensions

17.7 x 7.8 x 17.9 inches

Weight

33 pounds

Legion Tower 5i Gen 8

Best starter gaming PC for 1440p gaming

Pros
Cons

Excellent for 1440p gaming
Is a little bit pricey

Good amount of RAM and storage

While 1080p gaming is perfectly fine, if you’re looking to bump that up a little bit to 1440p, then you’re going to want to go with this configuration of the Legion Tower 5i. It comes with an RTX 4070, which is an excellent GPU for 1440p at 100fps+ while also having reasonably good graphical settings; plus, it does give you the opportunity to decrease the resolution if you really want to pump the refresh rate. It also has 12GB of VRAM, which somewhat future-proofs the GPU a little bit since a lot of modern games tend to like eating up VRAM.

As for processing, you get the Intel Core i7-13700F, which is a mid-to-high-end processor similar to the Ryzen 7 ones from above, so it’s pretty great overall and gives you a lot of versatility. That said, we would have liked to see it with one of the higher models, like the R9 or the i9, at this price point. It’s not a dealbreaker for sure, but it would have been nice to see at the price, especially since it’s a CPU on par with other gaming PCs that are even cheaper than this one.

As for RAM, you get 16GB of DDR5, which is about what we’d expect, and a 1TB SSD, which, again, is ever so slightly on the lower end but not even remotely a dealbreaker. More importantly, the Legion Tower 5i has some high-quality air cooling and a power supply that should handle a modest GPU upgrade in the future, so it’s a good jumping-off point. Much like the other options here, you get a mouse and keyboard, but you’re better off buying something made for gaming, even if it’s budget-oriented.

Specifications

CPU

AMD Ryzen 7 5700

Graphics Card

AMD Radeon RX 6700

RAM
16GB

Storage
1 TB

Dimensions

17.9 x 8.6x 18 inches

Weight

38 pounds

How We Chose These Starter Gaming PCs

Gaming Performance

Easily, one of the most important things that a gaming PC has is its gaming performance, and a lot of that relies on how good the GPU is. That said, it’s sometimes not really worth it to spend thousands of dollars to get the best of the best, especially if you’re just starting out. So, while you can certainly get better and more expensive starter PCs than we’ve picked here, we believe that these are excellent options that won’t break the bank or go over $1,500 when on sale.

That’s especially important because you might still want to grab various peripherals like a gaming monitor and headset, which can add significantly to the overall cost. In a similar vein, while a lot of these PCs come with a mouse and keyboard thrown in, they’re generic and not great for gaming, so you might want to grab some more gaming-specific ones, too. Add all that together, and you could be looking at an extra $200-$600 in peripherals alone, so we’re very cognizant of keeping the gaming PC price down.

Upgradeability

A starter PC is just that: a great jumping-off point for your gaming journey and something you can build off of in the future. Now, tech is changing incredibly fast, and we’re currently in a switch from DDR4 RAM to DDR5 RAM which requires different motherboards, so it’s hard for things to be very future-proof. That said, almost all these options we’ve listed above are great if you want to upgrade the GPU down the line for some better performance, and while you won’t be able to put in an RTX 4090, you might be able to go for an RTX 3080, or maybe an RTX 4070, depending on what each computers’ motherboard and power supply can handle.

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.

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