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Updated: January 17, 2017 by Dave LeClair
Most laptops, and some desktops, ship with internal speakers. These are often adequate, but only just, and they’re certainly not a good choice for anyone who wants to enjoy media or music. Most computers still need external speakers to sound their best. But it can be hard finding the best desktop computer speakers under $100.
Fortunately, speaker prices have dropped like a rock over the last decade. Just $100 will buy you a sound-system easily capable of handling a living room or home office. Here are five awesome picks among affordable speakers.
Creative’s GigaWorks line is designed to package good sound quality into an attractive design at an affordable price. And it works. Compared to most inexpensive systems, the GigaWorks speakers look worth their weight in gold. They feature quality drivers, which can be covered or exposed, and one speaker is adorned with several adjustment knobs that look and feel solid for a system priced under $100.
Sound quality is excellent, as well. Both professional reviews and customers rave about the GigaWorks T20; as a result, it’s one of the top 20 best-rated PC sound systems on Amazon. The only downfall is an absent subwoofer, and the system isn’t wired to have one added later. That means buyers who want deep, thumping bass should look elsewhere.
Oh, did someone say deep, thumping bass? Well, here you go—the Cyber Acoustics CA-3602A. Currently an Amazon.com PC speaker best-seller and top-rated product, this budget system seems to strike a perfect balance between quality and price. It offers two speakers and a 5-inch subwoofer for less than $40.
If you want bass on the cheap, you might as well stop reading and buy the CA-3602A. There are, however, a few problems. The look the system isn’t remarkable, mid-range sound reproduction is muddled at times, and build quality what you’d expect from a $40 system.
Negatives aside, this is the obvious pick for those who want volume on a budget.
Edifier’s thin and affordable e10 Exclaim provides an alternative to thin-speaker systems from brands like Bose and Harmon Kardon. Both professional and customer reviews seem to agree that, despite the e10’s thin profile, its sound quality is incredibly robust. Even bass is present thanks to the 3-inch woofers cleverly hidden in the bottom of each speaker.
Though capable of excellent sound quality, users who want volume may be unhappy with what these speakers offer. They are also, like most thin speakers, very directional—which means volume and clarity drops substantially as the listener moves away from its center.
You’ll have to spend most of your budget to grab the Edifier e10s, which retail for $99 and rarely go on sale. They’re a bargain compared to similar competitors, many of which are priced at $150 and above—but larger systems offer a dedicated subwoofer for less.
When it comes to high-end sound, Bose is a brand that always gets mentioned. These tip that $100 price point at $99, but you get what you pay for. There’s no bulky subwoofer with these, but reviewers on Amazon say that they output solid, deep bass anyway.
Speaking of those Amazon reviews, these have a 4.4-star rating with an “A” rating on FakeSpot, meaning that over 90% of the user reviews are legitimate. To put it simply, buyers are happy with their purchase, and they actually purchased them rather than getting them for free in exchange for an “honest” review.
There are multiple inputs with these speakers, so you can plug your computer into one, and a phone or tablet into another. This offers a nice convenience for getting high-quality sound on all of your devices. If you’re willing to push your budget all the way to the $100 price point, these are worth picking up.
Logitech is the king of low-end speakers in sales if not in quality. They offer numerous products below $100, but I decided to pick just one; the excellent Z523.
This sound system has everything you’ll need in PC sound system Logitech paired two attractive glossy black speakers with a 6.5-inch subwoofer capable of delivering up to 40 watts of power—more than even the Genius SW-G2.1. Yet the Logitech is undeniably built to a higher standard of quality and provides built-in adjustment knobs rather than a separate control unit.
Logitech’s reputation and quality will cost you. Though no expense, the $75 MSRP is nearly twice that of the Cyber Acoustics CA-3602A. And don’t think that you’ll receive superior sound because you paid more; customer reviews of the Z523 are positive but mixed, with a vocal minority saying the system is less pleasant than the price suggests.
What Are the Best Desktop Computer Speakers?
All of these systems are a good choice. The Cyber Acoustics model fits the role of big, cheap and loud while the Creative, Edifer, and Bose sets take a more subtle approach. The Logitech? It fits somewhere in the middle. For those needing a wireless speaker, check out our list of the best Bluetooth speakers.