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What are the best desktops for light gaming? While the number of professional gamers or aspiring ones is on the rise, there is a large number of casual gamers who go unnoticed.
These players are those non-serious kinds who do not take part in eSports and such competitions and are only interested in gaming when they feel like it.
As a result, most casual gamers do not always care about frame rates, resolution, streaming, and other aspects related to playing a video game.
It may feel like these kinds of people would play games on any PC as long as they run on it, but that is not always the case.
Even light gamers need dedicated configuration in their desktops for gaming, and that is why this article is created.
As the title says, we are going to talk about 5 of the best desktops that one can use for light, casual gaming, or whatever it may be called.
While some of these can still provide you with 60 fps at 1080p on some games, there are those too that would barely let you run the modern titles.
There is something for everyone here, including the Buyer’s Guide at the end. It has been provided to make sure that you know about the basic things you should be looking for when buying or building a desktop on your own.
This guide should be able to let you realize what the necessary things are, and those that you may compromise.
- Desktops for Light Gaming – Price (Top Picks)
- Minimum & Recommended Configurations for Light Gaming
- 5 Best Desktops for Light Gaming:
- How to Choose a Best Desktop for Light Gaming?
Desktops for Light Gaming – Price (Top Picks)
Minimum & Recommended Configurations for Light Gaming
Since light gaming doesn’t have a strict definition per se, it is a bit confusing to regard a specific configuration as a minimum.
Even the heaviest of games mention older CPUs and integrated graphics as the lowest.
Not to mention, many of those games that tend to eat up all the free memory on your PC, mention 4 GB of RAM as a minimum requirement.
So based on how any typical “light gamer” would prefer the desktop’s component list to look, here’s something that could help you.
5 Best Desktops for Light Gaming:
1. SkyTech Chronos Mini Gaming PC – Best Overall
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 3600
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Super
- OS: Windows 10
- RAM: 16 GB
- Storage: 500 GB SSD
- Attractive features
- Decent specs
- Affordable Pricing
- Small storage by default
- No USB Type-C port
- Some more RGB in internals would have been preferred
Just because you are into light gaming doesn’t mean you must miss out on things like some RGB flair.
On the top spots of the list is the SkyTech Chronos Mini PC. This mid-sized gaming rig can be a wonderful device for those of you who might play less but need the best experience while doing so.
The specs in the PC include a Ryzen 5 3600 CPU clocked at 3.6 GHz with a maximum speed of 4.2 GHz, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Super GPU, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB SSD.
The CPU is one of the best budget gaming CPU options, and the GPU paired with it is good enough as well.
Things get further interesting when you take it out of the box and start playing games.
You’d be amazed how even the latest games can run on 60+ fps on 1080p on medium to high resolutions, depending on the game.
And not just that, it can also be used for other general productivity tasks, and those applications that benefit from a quick CPU and a GPU like this one has.
However, some things like more storage could have been better, although you have the scope of increasing it.
Also, you won’t be getting a USB Type-C port on the desktop. Check out Skytech Chronos Review.
2. CyberPower Gamer Xtreme GXi8820A – Runner up
- Processor: Intel Core i5-9600K
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- RAM: 8 GB
- Storage: 500 GB SSD
- Attractive looks
- Satisfying performance
- No Bloatware
- Not always available
- The CPU is of an older iteration
- No spare M.2 slot
Slightly cheaper comes the Xtreme Gaming desktop, which can yet solve the storage and RGB scarcity.
The processor you get in this is a Core i5-9600K, with a turbo speed of 4.6 GHz maximum.
It is a 6 core, 6 threaded processor, and while single-core tasks would run great, this isn’t the best for hyperthreading.
For storage, an SSD has been used with a capacity of 500 GB. The storage space it provides should be ample for all your needs, but in the case isn’t, you have the scope of expanding.
There are other expensive variants of the CyberPower Xtreme with better specs and better performance, but those won’t be necessary here. You could say that this is the most cost-effective variant for light gaming.
Yet, the Hexa-core CPU, GTX GPU, and a decent amount of RAM provided in it can put together 60+ fps easily on most games you play.
Also, the case and its sleek design would look good on the desk of a casual gamer. Check out CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme GXi8820A Review.
3. CyberPowerPC Gamer Master GMA888A5 – Great for Gaming in Downtime
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 3 3100
- Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 550
- OS: Windows 10
- RAM: 8 GB
- Storage: 240 GB SSD + 2 TB HDD
- Affordable pricing
- Good entry-level configuration
- RGB on the rig and peripherals
- No Type-C port
- Limited storage initially
- Not the latest connectivity
We could have placed the Gamer Master higher on the list, it is that good. It comes cheap and is still the most suitable option for you if you are strictly interested in an entry-level gaming machine.
That too, on the lowest possible budget and decent specs.
AMD CPUs are widely used by gamers, and a Ryzen 3 3100 is present on the desktop.
Although not a dedicated gaming processor, it is not going to disappoint.
This is a quad-core CPU that should be able to handle most games, and for better than average graphics, there is a Radeon RX 550 video card. Thus, the VRAM that you get in this PC is 2 GB.
The PC also has 8 GB of RAM in it, which should be enough for any game you play.
The storage space is again a small one by default, with a 240 GB SSD being used for primary storage.
And to handle additional storage needs, there’s also a 2 TB hard drive in this.
If you don’t consider this as a major flaw, you can increase it later on after buying the PC.
The most attractive part of the desktop is not its RGB lighting or small size, and rather the price tag.
There are few such options that you’ll find, and hence CyberPower, even with some predictable drawbacks, makes a statement here. Check out CyberPowerPC Gamer Master GMA888A5 Review.
4. HP Pavilion 590 Desktop – Value for Money
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 2400G
- Graphics: Radeon Vega 11 Graphics
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- RAM: 8 GB
- Storage: 1 TB HDD
- Decent performance
- Very budget-friendly pricing
- Compact Size
- Dedicated graphics is still the better option
- Higher variants get pricey
- Small wattage on the power supply
As you might know, the Radeon Vega graphics that come with Ryzen APUs is a much cheaper alternative to a dedicated entry-level GPU.
These are also much ahead of the integrated graphics solutions provided by Intel in terms of performance.
The HP Pavilion is one such desktop that you’d find with a Ryzen 5 2400G CPU and Radeon Vega 11 Graphics. Being an APU, both the CPU and the GPU are present together in it.
In real-time, its performance is just shy of that of a cheap discrete GPU, which makes this a good choice for playing light games.
This means that it would still provide more than satisfying frame rates on most older games, but as you try playing newer titles, you might need to tone down the graphics.
This variant has got 8 GB of RAM, but there are alternative variants too. The one here has got both better gaming and overall performance than the Intel options.
Also, you will be getting a USB Type-C port and a 1 TB of hard drive, so both your storage and connectivity needs are partly solved.
5. Alarco Gaming Desktop – Affordable, lightweight Gaming Machine
Bottom Line: This desktop from Alarco is a better choice than building a desktop on your own for light gaming. It saves you the extra effort and time at only a minimal cost.
- Processor: Intel Core i5-2400
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650
- OS: Windows 10
- RAM: 8 GB
- Storage: 1 TB HDD
- Affordable pricing
- Ample ports
- Supports many monitors
- Not the best brand assurance
- Outdated specs
- Limited upgradability
Alarco is one of the lesser-known brands that we found, but it still offers a decent set of specs. Sure, there are better options in the entry-level segment, but this is a much cheaper device.
The CPU present in it is an Intel Core i5, but of the older generation, with a base frequency of 3.10 GHz.
There is 8 GB of RAM, albeit DDR3 type, and a dedicated GPU in it. However, it is one of NVIDIA’s cheapest options, a GeForce GTX 650.
It has a VRAM of 1 GB, and though the video memory is not much, it can prove to be useful for many light games and applications that have lower graphics requirements.
And lastly, a 1 TB hard drive is also present for storage.
These specs may not look much and in reality, it would be best if you don’t play any demanding game on this.
For most older games and a handful of the modern ones like Fortnite, it can provide respectable 60+ frame rates on lower to medium settings on average.
But on other heavy ones, the fps would seldom go beyond 30, and that too on the low settings.
If you are confident that you won’t be interested in playing better games today, or anytime in the future, then this should be on your wishlist.
How to Choose a Best Desktop for Light Gaming?
You have thus seen desktops suitable for light gamers, but who exactly is a “light gamer”?
Well, it can be someone who plays games occasionally, to pass time or as a hobby.
A light gamer can also be someone interested in playing only such games which have lesser CPU, GPU, and other system requirements.
Last but not least, it can be one who only cares about playing the game, not about playing it at the best quality or graphics settings.
If you are one of these people, then frame rates and such stuff shouldn’t bother you.
They may be called the same, but each of these needs is different.
For example, you might get time to sit on your desktop to play games only on weekends, and yet want the best performance out of it.
To solve confusion like this, the guide will be of great use.
We have talked about certain things below, but one of the main things that you should be doing is fixing a budget.
You’ll most likely want a cheaper option, but the other requirements that you need the PC to fulfill would matter here.
But that can be tricky too especially for prebuilt options since they may not always provide the features one is looking for in a limited budget.
Building a PC is most logical in situations like this, but that isn’t possible for everyone.
What else would You Be Doing on the Desktop?
Gaming desktops are such devices that let you have options in any budget you prefer. Some cost above $2000, while the ones between $1000-$2000 are the most popular.
There are even cheaper alternatives and at around $600 you might be able to get one.
The specs in it may not be the best, but it isn’t much you can expect from an entry-level desktop anyway.
While such a PC may be able to run those games that you want it to, there is still a bunch of other stuff that one has to do on a desktop.
And we aren’t referring to other casual needs like web-browsing here. Rather, purposes like graphics, music, or video editing need some set of specs of their own.
Every other professional software works best with some specific configuration as well.
So before you make your decision, make sure to consider things like these.
Any gaming desktop dedicated to light gaming has the potential to run other tasks as well, which you must be aware of.
These aren’t at all heavy on the system and can be played on most desktops if you aren’t concerned with a few stutters and lags now and then.
While it is folly to spend extra for features that you don’t presently need, this doesn’t have to mean that you shouldn’t be paying a bit more to have future provisions for upgrades.
A year from now, you might be inclined towards playing some other game that requires better specs, or you may get into streaming.
The PC with its low-end specs may be fine for now, but for things like those, it would need upgrades.
So whatever PC you buy now needs to have enough upgradability so that you can keep using it after swapping out some parts.
Or else, you will have to buy or build a new PC entirely, which would not be very good for your pocket.
There are exceptional cases, like when you have no such plans of playing better games and would just be sticking to light games, but other than that, some general upgradability is good for everyone.
For a casual gaming desktop, the processor is going to make the most difference. It has huge importance in other cases too, but here the choice of the CPU is going to play a large role.
The low-end games may not need a powerful CPU, but a higher clock speed is still beneficial.
When considering that you won’t be streaming or have such extensive needs here, a quad-core CPU is going to be the best choice.
These CPUs come with enough power to run even some of the demanding games, given that you don’t run anything in the background.
Even a dual-core CPU can be chosen, but the performance, in that case, would be more limited.
Some dual-core variations of the AMD Ryzen 3 or Intel Core i3 can be good options for you, given that you are fine with the limiting gaming performance that they provide.
But choose such only when your budget is small, the games you intend to run are of the lowest tier or you have a plan to upgrade soon.
A better CPU, say one with 8 cores, is only worth it if you are an occasional streamer, or have to run other stuff that needs more cores.
But other than that, we don’t see a point in investing in an Intel Core or Ryzen CPU with more than 4 or 6 cores for lightweight gaming.
As you won’t be needing those extra cores, getting a cheaper option would be preferred. More importantly, because better processors get pricey very quickly.
The CPU may be able to run the desktop, though for graphics you would still use a GPU, be that a discrete video card or the integrated one present with the processor itself.
However, the quality at which you play the game matters a lot. With higher graphics settings and more visual effects, the graphics requirement increases.
For a PC that would only be used for lightweight gaming or playing better titles in lower resolutions, the choice of graphics comes down to only a few alternatives.
The logical choices are those with 2 GB of Video memory, but with other graphical needs, you might as well buy a video card with 4 GB of VRAM.
Any other choices, lower than that aren’t worth it, and in 2021, a 1 GB GPU has little use. But one of these GPUs does come very cheap.
Not everyone is going to need a GPU altogether, as older games might run with integrated graphics too. As long as you run those at mid to low settings, the experience wouldn’t be too bad.
Make sure to have more RAM though, as you might have to dedicate some more memory to the integrated GPU.
The Ryzen processors that come with the Vega series of graphics are the better option than Intel as they can provide slightly better performance.
The APUs as they are known, come with decent graphics too that make sure one doesn’t have to add graphics separately for lighter needs. Intel UHD Graphics works too, but not as good.
The next most important choice is that of the RAM. After the CPU and GPU, it is another aspect of the PC which is going to have a direct effect on your gaming experience.
Every game, no matter how small, still needs some minimum amount of free memory to run, and that is usually upwards of 1-2 GB in most cases.
It is simple, the more demanding the game is, the more memory it is required by the CPU for processing. Even the basic desktops come with 4 GB of RAM, and so we wouldn’t recommend that for lightweight gaming.
You might be able to play, but the PC would be sluggish and the application may also crash in certain cases.
The sweet spot would be having 8 GB of RAM installed, in two modules at least. Buying more RAM modules can add a bit of cost, but there are advantages to this.
You’d not only be getting slightly better performance but also keep your system running in case one of them fails.
The speed of the RAM is not highly important, but getting one with a higher frequency is preferable, only when you aren’t charged too much extra.
Several brands sell overclocked versions of DDR4 modules with added features like heat spreaders, RGB, and so on to allure customers, but not all of them are worthy of the price tag.
Next up is storage, the very place where your data including those related to the game would be stored. You can go the future-proof way and buy an SSD, or go the cheaper way towards a hard drive.
But it is also pricier, and the chances of getting a budget pre-built desktop with a large capacity SSD in it is not very likely.
It isn’t unnatural to solely use the hard drive for storage though, but an SSD is still the better option, even for light gaming.
Now the amount of storage you need depends on the size of your games, and a 256 GB drive would hardly be enough. You should go for at least 512 GB storage in an SSD, and 1 TB in case of a hard drive.
Apart from the above hardware, you are also going to need the right connectivity on your light gaming desktop.
The games you intend to run may not need heavy resources, but even then the connectivity is best kept latest.
Some games require an Internet connection too, and for that, your PC should have an Ethernet slot. WIFI is good too, but for more speed and bandwidth, using Ethernet as the primary means of connecting to a network is the wiser choice.
After you have made the hardware choices, make sure to save some money for decent accessories too, like a gaming keyboard, mouse, speakers, and so on.
Mechanical keyboards can cost more, but they last much longer than membraned ones.
Similarly useful are mice with extra buttons and RGB as both of these can induce a special sensation even for lightweight games.
Even though you’d be playing games casually, there is nothing wrong with buying a decent gaming monitor.
With at least a 60 Hz refresh rate and an FHD display, a good monitor can do wonders.
What is a good but cheap gaming PC?
Several brands offer good but cheap gaming desktops. You can use one of these for casual or light gaming.
Following are some of our best picks:
SkyTech Chronos Mini Gaming PC
CyberPower VR Xtreme Gaming Desktop
CyberPower Gamer Master
HP Pavilion desktop
Alarco Gaming Desktop
Is a $500 gaming PC worth it?
If you have only a few things to do on the desktop, and the games you play would mostly be simple ones, then it makes sense to go for a gaming PC priced at or around $500. Make sure you check the hardware quality though, and the scope for upgrades.
Are cheap gaming PCs any good?
As long as your requirements are being met, then a cheap gaming PC should be worth buying. However, make sure you choose a decent brand, and after some research about the desktop.
Cheap desktops often come with lower hardware quality, which isn’t very desirable.
As a gamer, the possibility of buying a new PC is always exciting. It doesn’t matter if you won’t be playing at 1440p, one can start with something small and upgrade to a better PC when it is convenient.
With the right specs, even a light gaming PC could prove to be the necessary entertainment that one needs.