Whether you’re exhausted from wearing headphones, or you don’t want to go in the living room to play a game or watch a movie, now is a good a time as any to upgrade your computer’s audio system.
The best budget computer speakers under $50 & $100 might surprise you with the amount of volume and clarity they can produce.
Knowing what features matter and what it is that you’re looking for in sound quality, will help you navigate prices better and find suitable alternatives to sometimes overpriced brand name products.
Best Budget Computer Speakers Under $50 & $100
Table of Contents
- Best Budget Computer Speakers Under $50 & $100
- Main Differences Between 2.0 and 2.1 Speaker Systems
- Consider How Many Decibels You Need
- Features to Look for
- With or Without a Remote?
- What to Expect From Frequency Response
- Computer Speakers vs Soundbars vs Bookshelf Speakers
- Bluetooth vs Wired Speakers
- Positioning and Angles
Logitech’s solution to affordable computer sound systems is the Z323 2.1 speaker system. This one can create a realistic soundstage and is capable of impressive output. As a whole, the speaker system is rated at 30W.
One of the best features of this system is on the subwoofer. The down-firing sub has four tall legs, which offer plenty of clearance underneath the speaker. That results in much deeper bass and fewer muffled sounds.
The satellites don’t look like much, but they’re eye-catching enough at this price point. Each satellite is 3.4” x 4.5” and 8.3” tall. Don’t worry, though. They’re slightly curved so you can do with less clearance.
Because the Z323 features RCA and 3.5mm inputs, it means that it will also be compatible with gaming consoles, Blueray players, and your standard iPod.
It’s important to note that neither the speakers nor the subwoofer has the EQ feature. You’ll only be able to use the standard volume control. Any audio configurations you want to make, you’ll have to make them through your audio software. But, the overall clarity is impressive enough for music and gaming, as long as you don’t turn the volume knob up to max.
These Bose multimedia speakers were designed with computer users in mind. The 2.0 Companion 2 speaker system is among the most popular of its kind, even though it’s cutting it close to my proposed budget limit.
The overall audio performance is very impressive as the speakers show little to no distortion even when cranked to high volume levels. The bass definition is not too impressive. However, the speakers are optimized to enhance dialogue in movies exceptionally well, compared to others in the same class and price range.
In the front, you have a basic volume control knob and a headphone jack, both located on the right speaker. The design is simplistic yet professional, which I think makes these speakers ideal for office use, too, not just gaming at home.
The build quality is good, too, with the enclosure of each speaker having a rigid and solid feel. Because you can also connect the speakers to two devices at the same time, you may find them even more useful than your basic computer speakers.
If you can’t afford a high-end computer speaker system, sometimes bookshelf speakers are the next best alternative. The Edifier R980T offers two 4” active bookshelf speakers, almost studio-quality, and 24W of power.
One of the main draws of this speaker combo is the flared bass reflex port, which provides extra depth and surprising bass quality for a 2.0 speaker system. Both RCA and 3.5mm cables are included for a very quick and simple setup out of the box.
I also like that you can connect the speakers to two devices simultaneously. That’s a big pro in my book, especially when talking about budget speakers.
Next to the volume control knob on the back panel, you’ll also notice the bass knob. It can help you boost the overall quality of the sound without having to tinker too much with your movie player or your sound card’s software interface.
Last but not least, these speakers also have wooden enclosures. These fancy enclosures create a comforting acoustic resonance. Not bad at all, given the already superior magnetic shielding.
Equipped with Bluetooth 5 technology, this soundbar is one of the best that TaoTronics has to offer to budget-minded PC users. The soundbar has a wide design, as expected, which helps improve the soundstage and push for a more immersive gaming and movie experience.
On the inside, you’ll find two 5W speakers, both boasting the full-range speaker design. I like the slim design, even though it comes at the cost of some power and clarity. That said, it’s a real space-saver which is the most important thing for some people.
The controls are all on the right side of the soundbar. You have your standard power, play, mode, and volume controls. All buttons are highly responsive and can handle thousands of pushes easy.
I will say that compared to most speakers, the TaoTronics soundbar is lacking in the durability department. The build quality is average at best. However, given the low price tag and the superior stability of the build, it doesn’t seem like it could easily break.
The Polk Audio T15 bookshelf speakers are among the best audio peripherals you can get for your laptop or computer. They boast a combined power of 100W and are as loud as you’ll ever need them to be in a small gaming room or office.
Equipped with Dolby DTS surround sound, the speakers offer an impressive soundstage, very clear, detailed, and natural. The bass response is also there in spades, so there’s pretty much nothing you can’t use these speakers for, except playing your electric guitar or bass.
Although you can easily set them on your table without worrying about distortion and vibrations, the T15s also have a wall mounting option.
Keep in mind that the T15 speakers are part of the Polk Audio 5.1 home theater system. As such, they’ll serve as a great foundation to build on when you’re ready to invest more into your audio system. The speakers also have a rather wide frequency response range, which stretches from 60Hz to 24kHz. That’s beyond the industry standard for cheap PC speakers.
That said, the T15s aren’t as compact. If wall mounting is not an option for you and you’re low on desk space, then you might want to consider something slimmer and lighter. However, if you’re only interested in power and clarity, then these are among the best you can get without spending a fortune.
The Creative Pebble Plus is a 2.1 speaker system with USB connectivity that dishes out up to pretty respectable 8W of power. It features a down-firing 4” subwoofer. Due to its ported design and orientation, the sub gives the system impressive depth, bass definition, and overall sound richness for its price range.
I like the high gain mode as it provides a decent volume boost, an ideal feature for when you’re trying to squeeze more bass out of the Pebble Plus. The overall design is not bad, either. The rounded speakers and the elevated drivers will look cool next to any PC or laptop.
The Creative Pebble Plus comes in black or white, and it also has an option with a USB Type-C plug. What I like most is the conservative wiring. You can power the speaker system via USB, and it only requires one free 3.5mm jack on your sound card or motherboard.
In terms of sound projection, you’ll be pleased to know that the speakers are angled towards you. The 45 degrees angle offers ideal projection up close and from a distance. That helps improve the overall audio clarity, whether you’re gaming, watching movies, or listening to your favorite Spotify playlist.
One of the biggest pet peeves of many PC users is having to reach forward to adjust the speakers. While this KEiiD stereo system doesn’t have a remote per se, but it does have an extended control interface. The touch controls are a nice touch, no pun intended, and have sufficient lighting to allow for comfortable use in a pitch dark room.
You might also like to know that you can switch between sound modes such as Gaming, Movie, and Music with your remote. You can also use the built-in EQ, mute, or any playback buttons from the same touch control interface.
Things that strike me as most impressive are the Bluetooth 5.0 technology and handsfree call option. It’s not something you often see in this price range. On top of that, by going outside the known brands' sphere, you would also get good durability without paying a premium price for this system.
In terms of bass, you shouldn’t expect anything too deep. But there is a satisfying amount of low-end definition if you’re more into gaming and action-packed movies than bass-heavy music.
Love it or hate it, Redragon is a brand that’s getting a lot of tracking when it comes to computer peripherals. The Redragon GS550 Orpheus speakers are very budget-friendly gaming speakers that feature the good old 2.0 channel stereo system.
The speakers are compact and lightweight and have a very cool design. I like that they are backlit and bring a bit of extra flair for night gaming sessions. The ambient lighting is not too bright, so it shouldn’t interfere with your movie nights.
Another good thing, in my opinion, is the plug & play compatibility. On top of that, the speakers come with headphones and microphone jacks, so they’re quite versatile as far as budget computer speakers go.
The volume knob seems high-end when it comes to precision, and the LED lighting makes it easy to spot at night. In regards to sound quality, the speakers aren’t over the top by any means. They lack a subwoofer unit, so the audio won’t be as rich and deep as some people may want it.
However, there’s a decent midrange definition to allow some dialogue enhancement during movies and for story-driven games.
Main Differences Between 2.0 and 2.1 Speaker Systems
Here’s how you can look at it. A 2.0 speaker system is a great choice if you want something with a smaller footprint. Ideal for offices, non-gaming rooms, and small apartments, 2.0 speaker systems can offer more than enough for your average entertainment needs.
That said, 2.1 speaker systems offer a superior configuration of components. They will always have a better bass definition, thanks to the central unit. And, more often than not, you will also be able to adjust the bass level.
You’re probably used to the standard computer speakers that you plug into a wall socket then into your computer to get your beefed up sound. It’s not to say that they’re a thing of the past. Most commonly used speakers still operate off the same principle.
However, I recommend looking into USB powered speakers too. If your computer is not already loaded with additional parts and peripherals, it should have no problem powering a USB speaker system.
What are the advantages? Of course, it’s all about positioning and eliminating clutter. You can put your speakers next to your computer, connect them with a small USB cable, and then use the aux cable to deliver the audio.
Consider How Many Decibels You Need
Computer speakers can have anywhere between 5W to 100W and even more if you’re willing to pay the premium price. It’s hard to say definitively how much power is enough since everyone’s room is going to be different.
Everything from room size to furniture arrangements can determine whether or not you need some extra watts to enjoy your speakers to the fullest. But, I find it that even 5 to 10W of power can be enough for most games, movies, and music genres.
Besides, keep in mind that not everyone has the luxury of blasting their speakers loud without disturbing their neighbors.
Features to Look for
At these price ranges, you’ll have a very hard time finding speakers with a built-in EQ. Maybe you’ll have a bass knob or a treble knob, but seldom both of them. Don’t even think about a control knob for higher frequencies.
Now, this doesn’t mean that having at least one additional control knob won’t make a noticeable difference. Especially when you’re getting a 2.1 system, having the ability to adjust the bass can be very important in certain situations.
Another thing that will make things considerably easier on you is the headphone jack located at the front of the speakers. It’s easier to plug your headphones into the speakers than having to reach behind your computer to access the sound card’s A/IO.
A microphone jack is a nice thing to have but not that helpful, not in this price range. That’s because cheap speakers aren’t optimized to receive clear mic signals and translate them into pristine audio.
With or Without a Remote?
As far as convenience goes, nothing is more helpful than a remote. That said, again, this is one of those perks that are reserved for high-end speaker systems. If your speakers don’t have an EQ, a playback function, or any of those advanced technologies and features, then a remote won’t be necessary.
A small extension controller would make much more sense. And in my opinion, it should be worth a few extra bucks if it’s a wireless controller or if it has a slim cable that you can run on your desk without creating unwanted clutter.
What to Expect From Frequency Response
You may have noticed that most budget computer speakers, specifically those under or well under $100, will start at around 70Hz. It’s understandable since most of them aren’t designed to emphasize the lower register and boost the bass definition.
However, if you can find a set of speakers that go to 60Hz or even 50Hz on the lower end, you can expect to have a fuller sound.
Computer Speakers vs Soundbars vs Bookshelf Speakers
Here is where things get a bit more interesting. If you’re going for raw power, I would recommend bookshelf speakers, mainly active bookshelf speakers.
Most of these are almost studio-quality, even at lower price ranges. And, unlike standard computer speakers, most bookshelf speakers act as a base that you can later build on. You can do this by adding a subwoofer, center channel speakers, and so on until you get a complete 5.1 or 7.1 system.
A soundbar is going to be the most compact solution to beef up your computer audio. Most soundbars are wireless, feature midrange tweeters and a subwoofer component, and can create an immersive soundstage.
They also benefit from extra stability and are less vulnerable to earthquakes, pets playing on your desk, and stuff like that.
Computer speakers will always be the most popular choice because that’s what most people know - that computer speakers go with computers. On the other hand, the majority of people associate bookshelf speakers and soundbars with TVs and home entertainment systems.
That doesn’t mean that computer speakers aren’t very good at their job. You should be fine if you’re getting the right combination of specs and if you don’t have a god awful sound card.
Bluetooth vs Wired Speakers
Most Bluetooth computer speakers will have at least one wire. So don’t confuse Bluetooth with wireless in this case. Bluetooth speakers are usually USB powered, so you’ll need to plug at least that one cable into your computer.
That said, they won’t require cables to establish the audio connection, so you can use them to minimize the desk clutter considerably.
In the case of computer speakers, Bluetooth connectivity is not a big issue. Given the proximity of the devices, there’s not enough room for signal loss. And, unless you have a very cheap internet router too, the chances of any interference are slim to none.
I would also add that Bluetooth speakers have come a long way. If the raw output power is your biggest concern, know that Bluetooth speakers can easily exceed 30W these days and still provide good audio clarity and a balanced soundstage.
Positioning and Angles
It’s best to keep your speakers in even numbers on each side of your computer. Obviously, in the case of 2.1 and 2.0 speaker systems, there’s not much room for debate.
However, it’s also important how you angle the drivers. Some speakers project the sound perpendicularly to the floor. That’s not always ideal as it’s too directed towards you.
In my experience, a 45-degree angle orientation always delivers better results. The sound goes towards your head instead of your chest, and enough of it goes around you to provide a room-filling soundstage.
The subwoofer, as everyone knows, should be placed on the floor when possible, or in the corner of your desk.
Give Your Headphones a Break and Upgrade Your Audio with Affordable Speakers
If you don’t mind putting in the research and you’re tight on money, you’ll find that locating a pair of quality computer speakers is a breeze. That said, you will need to manage your expectations in terms of power and audio clarity.
Each speaker system and soundbar in this article can elevate your standard desktop speakers or laptop speakers to a whole new level, with a minimal investment.