Best Gaming PCs Under $1500 in 2021

Best Gaming PCs Under $1500 in 2021

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Up Your Game with a New Gaming PC

Have you been toying with the idea of getting a new PC for gaming? If you’re looking at a pre-built desktop, now is a perfect time. Due to various supply shortages, building a PC right now is quite expensive and often simply impossible. However, pre-built PCs are on the rise, and there are many good options to choose from.

If you’re looking to take your gaming to the next level and stop muttering curse words under your breath when your current device misbehaves, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve done my fair share of testing, and I’m here to share that knowledge with you.

In this guide, I will tell you all there is to know about picking the best desktops in the $1500 price bracket, and then I will show you some of my favorite models.

Let’s goooooo!

An Overview of the Best Gaming PCs Under $1500

What You Need to Know Before Buying a Gaming PC

When buying a new pre-built gaming PC, it’s essential not to be swayed by cool colors and fancy ads. You’re investing in the next few years of your gaming, and the more you know, the better your choices will be. You know what they say — knowledge is power.

What are the most important things to look out for when you’re shopping for a new PC under $1500?

Specifications

When you buy a pre-built PC in this price bracket, you’re out of the budget league and creeping up on mid, or even high-end desktops, depending on how and when you source the parts. There’s no doubt about the fact that you can always spend more, but you don’t have to. What specs should you be looking for in your future PC?

  • Processor (CPU): Get at least a Ryzen 5 or Intel Core i5/Intel Core i7.
  • Graphics card (GPU): Cheaper models will include the reasonably solid Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 or 1660 Super. However, you can easily get a better graphics card, such as a GeForce RTX 2060 or the latest-generation RTX 3060. RTX 2060 can fit within your $1500 budget, but an RTX 3060 may go slightly over.
  • Storage (SSD/HDD): You want a high-speed SSD to make your games and computer run faster. 512GB is the standard, but you may get up to 1TB if you get a good deal. It’s a nice bonus if the PC also includes an extra hard drive, but that’s not too common in this price bracket.
  • Memory (RAM): 8GB is a minimum, but many PCs in this bracket include 16GB — make this your starting point for picking a PC that will last longer into the future.

When keeping within your budget, you may find that in order to approach higher-end components like CPUs or GPUs, you may end up having to sacrifice specs on other components like storage.

If you plan to upgrade components in the near future, lean towards the models that come with higher-end GPUs already, since upgrading these individually is very difficult currently and may remain that way for some time.

Build quality

Pre-built PCs are convenient and often cheaper. During the current shortage of computer parts, getting a pre-built desktop is often the only way to go.

However, some brands like to keep the budget intact by going cheap on the less-exciting components, such as the power supply or the cooling system. These actions are why it’s crucial to buy from a manufacturer that you know you can trust — one who doesn’t stick the latest graphics card alongside a second-rate or underpowered PSU and hope you won’t notice.

Some trustworthy desktop brands include CyberPowerPC, SkyTech, Dell, HP, iBUYPOWER, and more. I made sure to include some of them on my list below because nothing is more frustrating than a brand new PC underperforming right out of the box — we want to avoid that.

So What’s the Best Gaming PC Under $1500?

Shopping for a new PC can be intimidating if you’re not sure what to look for. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an expert to pick a good PC. I’ve done some of the legwork for you and tested a few — check them out if you want to get a gaming PC under $1500.

Skytech Shadow 3.0 Gaming PC/Desktop

This PC barely makes it in the “under $1500” bracket, but trust me — it’s worth every penny.

 

Skytech Shadow 3.0 Gaming PC Desktop

Specs:

  • Processor: Intel Core-i7 9700KF 3.6GHz
  • Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 3000
  • Disk drive: 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • Connectivity: Ethernet, Wi-Fi; HDMI, DisplayPort; USB 2.0, 3.0, 3.2
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home

This PC is a clear step up from cheaper desktops. Not only are you getting a 9th generation Intel Core i7 CPU that overclocks up to 4.9 GHz, but it’s also paired with a great graphics card. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB, combined with the processor mentioned earlier, should be enough to carry you through most AAA titles without a hitch. Benchmarks back up that statement — RTX 2060 is around 20% better than the GTX 1660 Super, which is a card often found in cheaper pre-builts.

I like the addition of a 1TB SSD and 16GB RAM. Both of these things you’d likely have to buy sometime down the road if they weren’t already included. These additions use up a fair bit of the budget that could have gone towards an even better GPU, however. It all depends on your priorities for what you plan to do with your PC. You win some; you lose some.

Like many other desktops, SkyTech’s Shadow 3.0 could use a better cooling system. Keep this in mind for later down the road when you’re thinking of upgrades. I have to say that SkyTech’s customer service has been really helpful, though, so if you’re not sure how to install a new fan someday, they’ll help you out.

All in all, this is a powerful PC. It’s not filled to the brim with the latest and the greatest (you’d need to spend a bit more for that), but it’s good enough to deliver 60 fps (frames per second) in most games. It offers one of the best cost-to-performance ratios in this price range.

Pros

  • A strong processor that can be overclocked
  • Well-rated graphics card
  • Large 1TB SSD
  • 16GB RAM

Cons

  • The cooling system could use some work
  • Stock CPU cooler

iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming PC/Desktop

If you want a break from Nvidia, iBUYPOWER Pro is a solid alternative for the fans of AMD graphics cards. Plus, it has loads of storage!

iBUYPOWER Pro Gaming PC Computer Desktop

Specs:

  • Processor: Intel i7-10700F 2.9GHz
  • Graphics card: AMD RX 580 8GB
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • Disk drive: 480GB SSD, 1TB HDD
  • Connectivity: Ethernet, Wi-Fi; USB 3.0, 2.0, 
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home

This PC is a bit of a relief for your wallet, as it’s usually cheaper than the SkyTech Shadow. The price drop does come at a downgrade in specs, but it’s not as big as you might expect. What sets it apart from my previous pick?

The processor is an 8-core, 16-thread 10th generation Intel Core i7 that overclocks up to 4.8GHz. This CPU is excellent for multitasking and streaming if you’re into that or looking to start. Instead of using an Nvidia card in this model, iBUYPOWER opted for an AMD GPU. Unfortunately, this is partially why the price is lower — this card is not as performant as the RTX 2060. However, it’s still more than good enough for 1080p gaming, but SkyTech’s Shadow will shine in 1440p in comparison. 

If you’ve ever tinkered inside a desktop, you know that cable management is crucial (and a bit of a headache). Having all of the cables in your case jumbled up is a pain to deal with and can lead to airflow problems that contribute to overheating. One of the things I like about this PC is that the cable management is excellent, so that future upgrades will be a breeze. Like other pre-builts, I recommend getting a dedicated CPU cooler as your first upgrade.

The case certainly looks fancy, and I love the RGB fans at the front, but it has very little in terms of airflow. Most of the case is closed with relatively few air vents. That’s one of my few gripes with this PC.

If you’re less of a demanding gamer and don’t mind the less powerful GPU, this is an excellent way to save up to $300 compared to the SkyTech Shadow.

Pros

  • Good processor for streaming and multitasking
  • SSD & HDD combo
  • Affordable pricing

Cons

  • The graphics card is not the greatest for this price tier
  • The case could use more airflow

CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming PC/Desktop

Are you not too excited to part with $1500? I’ve got you. Here’s a budget PC that can still deliver in performance without forcing you to break into your piggy bank.

CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming PC

Specs:

  • Processor: Intel i5-10400F 2.9GHz
  • Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4
  • Disk drive: 500GB SSD
  • Connectivity: Ethernet, Wi-Fi; USB 3.1, 2.0
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home

CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme is a budget PC built by a brand that I (along with thousands of others) can trust completely. You’ll see a step down in terms of specs if you compare it to my previous picks, but hey, you’re saving up to $400 by choosing this one over the others. I also recommended it in my summary of the best gaming PCs under $1000 — that’s how much I like it.

The processor is the 10th gen Intel Core i5 with 6 cores and 12 threads. You can overclock it up to 4.3GHz if you want to. I feel like I’m repeating myself here, but it only comes with a stock cooler — you’ll want to get yourself a Noctua or something similar in a year or two.

If you read my previous reviews, you’ll know that the GTX 1660 Super gets outperformed by SkyTech Shadow 3.0’s RTX 2060. However, it’s still a solid graphics card. You should be able to play most games relatively smoothly, especially if you’re willing to compromise a little on the graphics settings. In addition to the decent GPU, you’re getting a sizeable 500GB SSD and an acceptable 8GB RAM.

For those on a tighter budget, I can wholeheartedly recommend this PC. You’re getting a good performance-to-cost ratio, and there’s a lot of room for upgrades in the future.

Pros

  • Affordable PC with good value for the money
  • Large SSD included
  • The roomy case allows for future upgrades

Cons

  • The CPU only comes with a stock cooler
  • It could use more RAM

CyberpowerPC Gamer Supreme Liquid Cool Gaming PC/Desktop

Okay, I know I said under $1500, but what if I told you that if you spend just a little bit more, you’ll get your hands on one of the latest Nvidia 30-Series graphics cards? And also liquid cooling?

CyberpowerPC Gamer Supreme Liquid Cool Gaming PC

Specs:

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 3800X 3.9GHz
  • Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 12GB
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • Disk drive: 1TB NVMe SSD
  • Connectivity: Ethernet, Wi-Fi; USB 3.1, 2.0
  • Operating system: Windows 10 Home

If you’re willing to save up a bit more, look at this PC and drool alongside me. This PC is where we enter the big leagues — the land of solid processors, impressive graphics cards, and proper cooling systems. Meet CyberPower PC Gamer Supreme.

First things first — the CPU. This PC comes with an AMD Ryzen 7 3800X, an 8-core, 16-thread processor that is a bit of a hit on the current market. It’s comparable to the Intel Core-i7 9700KF, a solid multitasker, and an excellent base for all of your newest games.

The graphics card in this pre-built is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 12GB. Anywhere between 10 and 20% more powerful than the RTX 2060, this card can deliver excellent performance in 1440p and does a decent job in 4K. Let’s not forget that it’s sold out pretty much everywhere you go — this is a great deal for this card alone.

The liquid cooling is a surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one. This PC is one pre-built that should not run into any cooling issues, although, mind you, the temps do run high. I’ve seen temperatures as high as 95C — luckily, this build can handle it. My one major complaint is that the power supply could be more substantial, so if you choose to overclock the processor or the card, you may find yourself in need of a new PSU.

You’d honestly be hard-pressed to find a cheaper PC with these specs. If you can spare the extra money, absolutely do so.

Pros

  • Strong Ryzen CPU
  • Latest generation Nvidia graphics card
  • 1 TB SSD included
  • Water cooling

Cons

  • Could use a more substantial power supply
  • High temperatures, even with liquid cooling

Ready to Get Your Game On?

We’ve seen a handful of excellent PCs today for the under and around $1500 price bracket. What’s exciting about this price point is that we start to see pre-built models that get us a foot-in to the big leagues of gaming PCs, whether with a high-end CPU or the latest-gen GPU.

These PCs give us clear upgrade paths to improve the build and prolong the life and effectiveness of the PC. Let me leave you with a few parting words of recommendation if your mind is not entirely made up yet.

None of these are doing it for you? Here are a few more desktops for you to look at.

Ultimately, this is your choice. I know that I can rest easy having shown you only the best gaming PCs in this price range — so take your pick! Let me know if you need any help picking out a new PC, and see you in-game!

About Squishface

Squishface is the co-founder and owner of Corrosion Hour; a RUST community and website dedicated to helping server owners with the administration and navigation of the ever-changing landscape of RUST. As a tech professional with over a decade in the field and a deep love of gaming, she spends much of her time in code researching and developing ways to bring meaningful content to players and readers.

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