Apr 24 2012 - With margins for manufacturers getting so slim and laptops being priced so close to a desktop, there are very few low cost desktops left in the market. Still, if you want a basic desktop PC to use around the house or office that costs under $400 you have a few options to choose from. Check out my various selections for the best budget desktops for a variety of different tasks or prices.
With a list price of $350 and often prices less thanks to specials, the HP Pavilion p6-2420t is one of the most affordable desktop PCs on the market. Even with its low prices, it doesn't skimp on basic features as it does have USB 3.0 which many low cost systems drop for savings. The basic configuration is pretty typical including a Pentium G2020 dual core processor, 4GB of memory, 500GB hard drive and dual layer DVD burner. The system is also fully customizable with a number of upgrades options at the time of order. The best options are an upgraded hard drive and wireless networking which will bring the price up to around $400 but you can always keep them off if you want to spend as little as possible.
Dell's Inspiron 660 is a solid overall choice for those looking at a low cost system that blends features and performance. The base price for the system is just $350 but unlike HP does not typically have many discount offers. The system is pretty typical of most desktop at this price point including a Pentium G2020 dual core processor, 4GB DDR3 memory, 500GB hard drive, dual layer DVD burner and 802.11b/g/n wireless networking. The best part is that the system features USB 3.0 which is lacking on most at this price point. There are a few options for upgrading this model that include a 1TB hard drive that pushes the price to $400 but if you have even more they do offer other models that include the Core i3 processors.
Most people who are buying a budget system are probably not looking to do much with the internals of the computer expect maybe upgrading the memory. Both of the previously mentioned systems are full mini-desktop tower systems which can take up a fair amount of space but what if you want something a bit smaller but still affordable? The Lenovo Essential H520s is a slim system that offers nearly the same level of features as the larger towers. It uses the Intel Pentium G2020 dual core processor with 4GB of memory but it features a larger 1TB hard drive for twice as much storage space. This is pretty critical because it only uses USB 2.0 which makes external upgrades less useful. There is wireless networking a dual layer DVD burner as well all for around $400.