5 Best Desktops Under $1500 2021 – Buyer’s Guide

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What are the best desktops under $1500? Desktops may not be the optimal choice for someone who travels around a lot, but it has its advantages.

The most important being pocket-friendliness due to which there is something for everyone, no matter how small their budget may be.

The good news is that a budget preference of around $1500 can procure you some great desktops, loaded with features and good specs.

Every one of you has your demands, so we decided to make this list that contains the best desktops in this price segment.

So coming up are 5 desktops of different form factors, OS, utility, and features that you may opt for. It is a great time to get a new desktop added to your desk, without spending up all the savings.

Every desktop here is useful for specific things such as moderate to heavy computing, gaming, and office work, while few of them can be useful for all of these combined.

To make sure you aren’t limited on options, there is a buyer’s guide at the end in which we have discussed some basic things that would help you choose other alternatives as well.

Best Desktops Under $1500 – Price (Top Picks)

Minimum & Recommended System Requirements for Desktops Under $1500

The price segment within $1000 is an excellent one, even now. One gets multiple options and has to choose the specs accordingly based on the kind of usage and software that they intend to run.

Now what you must aim to get with this budget is a Core i5 or Ryzen 5 processor, with a decent amount of RAM, and possibly a good GPU.

The storage and RAM specifications change from one brand to the other, so we can’t say anything absolute about these. But you must look for an SSD, even though it’s a small one in terms of storage capacity.

However, as a more concrete suggestion, you may reckon with the following configurations.

Minimum System Requirements: Ryzen 5 4500U or better processor │ 8 GB or more RAM │ Integrated AMD Graphics or better │ 256 GB or bigger SSD

Recommended System Requirements: Ryzen 5 3600 or better processor │ 16 GB RAM │ NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 GPU │ 500 GB SSD and possibly additional storage

5 Best Desktops Under $1500:

1. Acer Aspire TC-895-UR12 – Best Overall

Acer Aspire TC-895-UR1

Bottom Line: The Acer Aspire has got almost everything that any mainstream user requires. It provides all the features that a tower desktop can offer you, along with ample storage and good connectivity, at a price below $1500.

Key Features:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-10700
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel 630 Graphics
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Storage: 512 GB SSD + 1 TB hard drive

Pros

  • Good performance
  • Decent specs
  • Connectivity is quite good

Cons

  • GPU upgradability is limited
  • Small space inside the chassis
  • Bloatware can cause inconvenience

The final option in this list is a desktop from Acer, and it is a tough contender to any other desktop in this segment.

There are many variants in which the Acer Aspire TC-895-UR12 is available, but this here is one of the best ones.

With a 10th gen Intel Core i7 CPU, the desktop is a promising one in terms of performance. The clock rate ranges from 2.9-4.8 GHz, so you get the performance boost whenever you need it.

There is 16 GB of RAM on this, and a 512 GB SSD, as well as a 1 TB, hard drive.

The desktop doesn’t come with a dedicated GPU readily, and all you get is integrated graphics.

But you may add a video card later on, as there are PCIe slots for the same. This would require you to upgrade the PSU too, and it’s better if you go for a video card that isn’t too big.

There are other good things about this desktop from Acer, like USB Type-C and WIFI 6 connectivity.

Even with such good specs and compact size, the brand has managed to maintain its pricing below $1000, making it a suitable option for you.

2. Apple Mac Mini – Runner up

Apple Mac Mini

Bottom Line: Apple has entirely changed the game at the market after the launch of the M1 Mac Mini. While the iMac is still a bit more expensive, one of these Mac Minis is an excellent choice for you.

Key Features:

  • Processor: Apple Silicon M1 SoC
  • Graphics: Apple 8-core GPU
  • OS: Mac OS Big Sur
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Storage: 512 GB SSD

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Thunderbolt support
  • Decent overall connectivity

Cons

  • Almost no internal expansion
  • Software compatibility issues
  • Older models had more ports

With the launch of the newer iterations of the Mac Mini, Apple has introduced new prospects of computing.

Thus, it would hardly be right if we didn’t include one of these in our list today.

These are small but can stand toe-to-toe against even some upper mid-range tower desktops in terms of performance.

The Mac Mini with its new octa-core M1 SoC comes in a sleek, 7.7-inch square form factor.

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The important part about it is not its design, but its performance that puts all other mini PCs to shame, even its predecessors.

The GPU performance of this device is better than the older Mac Minis as well, with the new 8 core GPU being introduced.

While we cannot find exact figures about either the GPU or the CPU specs, Apple’s claims of better performance have somewhat been proven by its newer range of products.

Then there is 8 GB of RAM on the same chip, and up to 2 TB of SSD support. The variant we have here has 512 GB of storage space in it, and a 256 GB variant is present as well, which costs much lower than $1000.

There are dual USB 4.0/Thunderbolt ports and the M1 Mac Mini supports WIFI 6, something no other Mini predecessor had.

With better features for machine learning and a bunch of other stuff, it seems that smooth gaming is the only general task that the Macs don’t yet support. Check out Apple Mac Mini Desktop Review.

3. HP 24 DP0160 AIO  – Value for Money

HP 24 DP0160 AIO

Bottom Line: For a desktop with a price tag under $1500, this 24-inch AIO packs quite some features. Be it the sleek design, or good performance, or a touchscreen, it can be most useful to you.

Key Features:

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon Vega Graphics
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • RAM: 12 GB
  • Storage: 512 GB SSD

Pros

  • Good specs
  • Can be useful for a variety of users
  • The touch screen display makes it quite convenient to use

Cons

  • Limited Upgradability
  • No USB Type-C port is present
  • CPU doesn’t support hyperthreading

The first desktop that can serve multiple purposes is a touch screen AIO from HP. It has a 24” inch display, resting on a stand and the overall unit is a sleek one.

It also comes with accessories, so it is a complete setup that you may get at a price much lesser than $1000.

The AIO comes with a Ryzen 5 4500U desktop, which is based on the 7nm Zen 2 architecture.

Hence it consumes very little power but doesn’t compromise on performance. There are 6 cores for you to work with, but the CPU doesn’t support hyperthreading.

Being a Ryzen APU, it comes with AMD’s Radeon Vega graphics which proves to be much better than Intel’s Integrated options, like the Integrated 620 or Iris Plus.

Also, there is 12 GB of RAM in the AIO, which combined with the other specs makes it good enough for light gaming as well.

The 512 GB of SSD has enough space for you to store games, movies, and files without having to add external storage.

The specs are thus decent, but there are drawbacks too. Although several USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports are present, a USB Type-C port could not be found.

There isn’t an HDMI input either, although, with the HDMI output port present at the back, you may run another monitor with it.

But these aren’t very serious issues and may be overlooked considering the price tag and other advantages the device offers. Check out HP 24 DP0160 AIO Review.

4. SkyTech Archangel ST ARCH 3600 Gaming Desktop – Attractive as a Gaming Rig

Sale
SkyTech Archangel ST ARCH 3600

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a budget gaming desktop at a price under $1500, then the SkyTech Archangel is built just for people like you. Unlike other popular brands, it doesn’t have any bloatware pre-installed either.

Key Features:

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 3600
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660
  • OS: Windows 10
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Storage: 500 GB SSD

Pros

  • Good performance
  • Value-for-money
  • No bloatware in it

Cons

  • GPU upgrade requires a better PSU
  • No USB Type-C port in some models
  • Not the best after-sales support

Next on the list is a full-on gaming PC, which comes with great features in this budget range.

The Skytech Archangel is one such desktop that you can choose and it would be a great companion for mid-range gaming and creative work.

This is the only desktop here with a dedicated GPU, so it had to be a good one. What could be better than a GTX 1660, one of NVIDIA’s budget options, even though slightly older?

The CPU used is the Ryzen 5 3600 which lets you utilize the GPU power entirely with its 6 cores and maximum clock rate of 4.2 GHz.

Other specs of the desktop include a 500 GB SSD and 8 GB of RAM, enough for any software that the CPU or GPU supports.

And yes, the added RGB flair makes it all the more attractive as a gaming rig.

Now while there are some good options, this is the most-worthy among these desktops which are all available at a price of around $1000.

Moreover, you can upgrade the hardware, which makes it prepared for future usage too if you want it to.

You can easily play games on 1080p, and some even at 1440p without having to drop below the playable frame rates.

Video editing and things like that can also be performed seamlessly, but do not expect the same on 4K.

The Archangel, therefore, gives you plenty of power for most tasks you do and can handle mildly intensive ones without any issues.

Just make sure you are aware of a good discount or sale to bag it at the best price.

5. Dell Optiplex 5080 Desktop – Best SFF Business Desktop

Dell Optiplex 5080 Desktop

Bottom Line: If you’re a user with business-related usage, and are looking for the best desktop under $1500, then look no further than the Dell OptiPlex 5080. Performance and reliability are at the very core of this compact desktop.

Key Features:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-10700
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel UHD 630 Graphics
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Storage: 256 GB SSD

Pros

  • Compact frame
  • Ample RAM and scope of adding more modules
  • Good performance

Cons

  • Integrated Graphics out-of-the-box
  • Somewhat restricted upgradability
  • WIFI and Bluetooth standards are not the latest

Now, this is something that suits you better in any professional environment, in your office desk, or a place of business.

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We said we would keep all sorts of sizes here, and hence here is the Dell Optiplex 5080 desktop in a compact form, that costs below $1500.

Being an SFF PC, the device is one to be easily stored. Keep it on or under your desk, but the performance it provides would be consistent.

That is possible due to the 10th gen Core i7 CPU present in its motherboard, providing one with 8 cores and a turbo frequency of 4.8 GHz.

Alongside is 16 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD to handle the memory and storage requirements respectively.

With specs like these, the desktop is sure to provide the user with a solid performance. You would find several other variants to choose from too.

The graphics present in the Optiplex 5080 are integrated solutions from Intel, so graphics is not one of its selling points from the very beginning.

You may add a GPU later on though, but not a very powerful one.

There is good connectivity on this, with a USB Type-C port at the front and other various ports distributed between the front and rear sides.

The only complaint being those with audio ports and the absence of latest wireless connectivity. Check out Dell OptiPlex 5080 Review.

Buyer’s Guide for Best Desktops Under $1500

A thousand dollars can be both a great and a small amount, depending on what you choose to buy with it.

For desktops, fortunately, it is a good price point for both prebuilt options and those you build on your own.

The latter does provide a better value, though with the right decisions made even a prebuilt desktop can be fully worth the expense.

There are certain decisions that you’d have to make since a budget of $1500 or lower would provide you with lots of options, that might just make things more confusing.

But with your needs sorted and a bit of help from us, you can easily steer your way out of them.

Some primary things to make sure of is that you choose at least a 6 core CPU, 2-4 GB dedicated graphics, and above 8 GB of RAM and such, but there are exceptions to this.

We have talked more about this in this guide, which can make things a lot more convenient for you when it’s time to make the purchase.

OS

With your budget already known, the first thing that needs to be done is choosing the Operating System based on which your desktop would run.

In other articles focusing on even more budget-centric desktops, we included the Chrome OS as an option. But here we leave it up to you, whether or not you need its utility.

So basically, the average buyer has two options, either Windows or Mac. Mind you that a Mac here means a Mini since AIOs or towers from Apple are costlier than $1500.

With the newer variants launched, it is up to you now to choose between the M1 microprocessors or older Intel Core options.

Each of these variants has strengths and weaknesses over the other, but the overall smooth and efficient environment of the Mac OS is available in both.

The price tags are also not very different, making it a personal choice.

Windows options on the other hand are large in number as usual. You get Mini PCs, AIOs, towers, SFFs, and whatnot.

There are a variety of specs that you can choose too, making them very convenient to buy for most. All you require is the knowledge about what you need.

The choice of the OS pretty much reduces your choices to a few when considering any Apple product in this price range.

For Windows PCs, well, you’ll need some more assistance I’m afraid.

Form Factor

Next comes the choice of the form factor, which largely depends on one’s usage patterns.

For example, when you need the least upgradability while saving the most space, the best options are Mini PCs.

While SFFs offer slightly more upgradability, most mid towers are better in this aspect, but take up more space.

One other thing that you should keep in mind is the overall performance requirement.

Not that a small PC won’t be able to provide you with a good CPU, but it is most likely to limit you regarding graphics. This in turn reduces the areas in which the desktop performs best.

So, if you are a power user who needs both CPU and GPU performance or one of those who intend to upgrade your PC very often, then a full or mid-sized tower priced under $1000 is what you should be going for.

But if you want to use the PC for business or IT-related needs, then even an SFF desktop at this price point is more than enough.

Processor

The most difference in performance for a majority of tasks would be made by the CPU or processor present on the desktop, so its choice is crucial.

The decisions you make regarding it would define the limitations of your desktop, so no mistakes can be made.

The major things that you have to worry about here include the number of cores in the CPU and their frequency. A CPU has several other aspects, but they aren’t very important here.

A good frequency makes sure that your desktop finishes every task it takes on fast, and more cores mean better distribution of workload.

You must have as many cores on the processor as possible without sacrificing frequency when doing things like video editing or rendering.

The good thing is that with $1500 to spend, you can easily go for a fast, Hexa, or octa-core CPU from any of the two brands.

Both Intel’s Core i5, Core i7, and AMD’s Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 series have impressive options for all kinds of users.

Intel 9th and 10th gen CPUs are excellent options here, and these are readily available on many popular desktops.

With the good frequency and available cores, any sort of computing you do on these is going to be a smooth experience.

If you consider building a desktop, then the latest Ryzen 5000 series CPUs are what you should be aiming at.

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These offer much better performance than the comparable Ryzen predecessors at a little price difference, which shouldn’t affect your budget.

Graphics

Next is graphics, and the amount of video memory or the presence of a dedicated GPU at all would be determined by your needs.

Say you work with graphics, be it games, editing, or even 2D or 3D modeling, etc. In these cases, a dedicated GPU is needed, and a good one at that.

But not everyone requires good graphics, and you may have noticed that there is only a single PC on our under $1500 list here that has a dedicated GPU.

All of the others run on Integrated Graphics, which has proven to be a definite solution to low-end graphics needs. It is never as good as the performance of a dedicated GPU, but it does the job.

The choice of the discrete GPU is going to make tons of difference in both the price and performance of your desktop.

The choices are slightly restricted when buying a PC directly, but customizations are possible when you either select the parts or build the PC yourself.

If you need a dedicated GPU, the price tag allows you to add very powerful options that can handle intensive graphics.

At this range, you can easily get a 4-6 GB GPU, like the NVIDIA GTX 1650 Super, or a GTX 1660.

RAM

Next comes RAM, which too is a very important component that ensures smooth performance on your desktop.

We’ll be considering average needs here, and even then, your desktop must at least have 8 GB of RAM in it.

The ideal range of memory starts from here and goes all the way up to 32 GB. At least when the specs available within $1000 are concerned, there is little benefit in going beyond 16 GB of memory.

Having 8-16 GB of RAM should be ideal for most sorts of users, and intensive applications.

The RAM frequency matters a bit as well if you pay close attention to the performance numbers.

But those RAM modules with high frequency tend to be quite expensive, so it’s better to stay within the average range here.

Any standard DDR4 module as long as it is from a decent brand should be good.

The form factor of the desktop and the motherboard would determine the count of available RAM slots, though you should have at least two of them.

Using up the available slots, in a dual or quad-channel configuration, for example, has a promising performance improvement.

Storage

Next comes storage, and even though a $1500 budget allows you some room to choose better components, the choice of storage can be one of the places where one might have to make compromises.

That being choosing a small-sized SSD, instead of a large one. SSD storage is quite fast, but it can also be expensive which can jumble up the budget distribution that you may have set for individual parts.

Even though small, an SSD can provide noticeable advantages to your day-to-day computing.

The best choice here would be to use both a hard drive and an SSD, the latter storing more important data that could use some better speed.

However, there is no way you should be using a hard drive solely. You might as well slash prices from other parts of the desktop to add an SSD, albeit just a small one.

You shouldn’t have to though, considering that you choose the other components rightly.

Connectivity

With the main specs chosen, all you need is the right connectivity to finish up your quest for a new desktop.

This desktop is only useful to you when it can connect with the other devices that you need to use and the internet.

A $1500 desktop can be used for a variety of purposes, and it needs to have the right USB ports in it.

Some spare parts of such ports can be always useful, from adding peripherals, storage drives and so on. You must look for USB 3.0 ports at least, and USB 3.1 ports would be even better.

The Mac Mini that we mentioned has got Thunderbolt support on two of its ports, which can provide even better bandwidth and real-time speeds.

Next, you’ll need wireless connectivity, which includes Bluetooth and WIFI primarily.

The desktop you choose preferably should have adapters for these already installed, but even if it doesn’t, make sure there are free slots in it for addition later on.

Other than this, an Ethernet port for wired internet is all you need to worry about.

Upgradability

This has got nothing to do with the performance of the hardware you have chosen, but upgradability may have an impact on your choices.

A desktop that you buy with $1500 should have provisions for upgrades.

These can be the basic forms of upgradability, like adding storage or RAM modules, or more serious ones like CPU or GPU.

Both NvME storage and a GPU can be added with the use of PCIe slots, so make sure your PC has them present in it.

In general, as the size of the desktop decreases, so will the scope of upgrading it, but not always.

Some people need more chances of upgrading their desktop, so they would have to choose a mid-tower case and a micro ATX motherboard at least.

Others who already have the specs they need to last them for the foreseeable future or those who would never need any major upgrades can be flexible with their choices.

Some basic upgradability would still be better though, notwithstanding the needs one may have.

Accessories

The accessories, if you don’t already have those, would also be needed obviously.

For a $1500 PC, it is best to buy long-lasting accessories too so that you need not spend money on them again for a few years at least.

For a gaming or editing rig, you might prefer RGB equipment, and hence peripherals with RGB lighting would also be needed.

So a mouse, keyboard that shows multiple colors while you game or work is a decent addition to the rig.

Next is a monitor, and again gamers or content creators have to worry about buying those with better resolutions, refresh rates, and so on.

For live streaming or any productive work, you might want to buy two monitors, given that your PC has an extra video port, which it should.

Other than that, speakers, webcam, and other devices might also be needed. But these can be bought later on too, as per your convenience, or you might still use those which you already have.

Buying an AIO would not require you to purchase some of these devices separately though.

Finishing up

Now that you know what’s important and what’s not, you can buy the new desktop without doubting yourself. $1500 is an excellent price preference, and you may expect some good performers too.

Just make sure you know the purpose(s) for which you want to use the said PC, and things won’t be problematic at all.