The Five Fastest Desktop Computers Under $500

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Desktop computers might not be as exciting to today’s consumers as tablets and smartphones. However, these workhouse computers are still important for home and office workers. The good news? PC prices are falling. Consumers today can nab relatively fast PCs while spending less than $500, and the options in the reliable, fast and cheap department are hardly limited.

5 Samsung Chromebox

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If you’re looking for a non-Windows PC at a bargain price, the Samsung Chromebox might be the right choice. According to CNET, it retails for $473.70 and represents a relatively low-risk entry point to Google’s Chrome operating system. The Chromebox is advertised as a simpler way to compute, and Google isn’t lying about that. However, you will have to be careful; you might run into software and hardware incompatibilities at times that can complicate the Chromebox’s otherwise smooth operations.

4 eMachines T5274

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Are you on a strict budget? Then the eMachines T5274 might be the right PC for you. According to PC Mag, this desktop retails for $399.99 and delivers solid performance on what you’re most likely to use it for. It even performs solidly when it comes to editing images in Photoshop. The down side? PC Mag said that the computer’s speakers and sound quality are poor. If you’re worried about viruses—and you should be—the T5274 only comes with 60 days of Norton 360 protection.

3 Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190

PCWorld gives the Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190 praise for the multiple ports it offers, its Blue-ray drive option, speed and reliability. You’ll probably like its price tag. If you’re a patient enough shopper, you’ll be able to find this PC for prices near $320. This system falls in the micro-PC range, but that doesn’t mean you’re giving up performance. In fact, PCWorld says that the IdeaCentre Q190 actually works well for home-theater options such as watching streaming videos.

2 Dell Inspiron 530

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PC Mag calls the Dell Inspiron 530 a competent system for everyday home use. That might not seem like high praise, but for a suggested retail price of $499, the system is a good value. According to PC Mag, the system handles such everyday tasks as e-mailing, burning DVDs, surfing the Web and creating reports and PowerPoint displays quickly. On the downside? The system doesn’t have enough storage capability and lacks a media center.

1 Gateway SX Series SX2870-UR10P

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For just under $500—the manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $499.99—the Gateway SX Series SX2870-UR10P offers everything you need in a basic desktop PC: It’s fast, efficient and durable. The desktop also comes with two USB 3.0 ports. There are some limits to this computer, though. A review by CNET says that the system doesn’t play games well and isn’t efficient when it comes to HD movie editing or other more demanding tasks. Still, it performs all the basic functions of home or office computing at solid speeds. According to CNET, the system performs well when it comes to multimedia multitasking, encoding Apple iTunes and processing Adobe Photoshop images.

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