Best Computer Speakers under $100: Quality with Very Few Compromises
Assembling a PC that runs the latest games at 60 fps at 4K without hiccups can be quite an expensive task.
That means that we often need to prioritize the essentials like motherboards and graphics cards and deal with compromises when it comes to peripherals like speakers.
Well, I’m here to break some good news – the quality doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg.
On the contrary, take a closer look at the available offers, and you'll find quite a few excellent speakers flying under the $100 mark.So, let's take a look at some of the best speakers under $100 together!
In a hurry? The test winner after 27 hours of research:
Last Updated: August 1, 2019
By Barry Allen: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding best computer speakers available for those who are interested in enhancing the sound on their computer. The best 5 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best computer speakers currently available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.
Best Computer Speakers Under $100 Roundup
Let's explore the market and compare the most popular units. All the units below are currently hot - let's find out why and choose the winner!
1. Bose Companion 2 Series III Multimedia Speakers
Our Rating: 90/100
Bose Companion 2 Series is hardly a newcomer to the speakers market. Hey, even its third iteration has spent a couple of years sitting on the shelves.
But, that fact should be taken as a fault. The speaker industry hasn't made any leaps and bounds over the last couple of years for this neat pair of speakers to miss anything important.
Its staying power, however, stands more as a testament to its lingering quality.
So, let's start with the package. On first glance, the speakers look very uninspiring, which may turn off some of the customers who want to accompany their gaming setups with something meaner.
But, there is a lot of beauty to be found in this simplicity. I would go as far as to say that the manufacturer made a smart move by downplaying the curves and keeping the speakers' look more traditional. This approach simply has a much broader appeal.
Speaking in more technical terms, the speakers require a connection from the left speaker to the right speaker, which serves as the power supply and the primary unit of the system.
Honestly, this approach is slowly starting to feel dated. If you want to make your room as clutter-free as possible, this is something to take into consideration.
Also, take note that the cable connecting two speakers is not amongst the longest in the world, so you will need to do a bit of juggling while putting everything in order.
As for the connection options, it's good to know that all the basics you can expect from the unit of this range are covered. You get your standard computer port as well as AUX.
The thing I always like on the speakers of this kind is the front-facing 3.5mm audio jack, and surprise, surprise - you get one here too.
This small addition may sound menial enough. Still, it serves as a blessing for people who don't want to crawl under the table when they want to connect a headset or Mac-owners who are faced with a limited set of connectivity options.
The sound quality
And now, we move to something far more critical than the design. Yes, it's the sound quality – the very reason why so many people find under $100 market segment so underwhelming. Here, things are much better for Bose Companion 2 Series III Multimedia Speakers.
Bose, as a brand is marked by the loudness of their speakers (often setting the standards in each particular market segment). This pair of bad boys is no different.
The speakers definitely pack a lot of punch in their compact boxes, and the sound space they can tackle is pretty extensive.
Unfortunately, the setup doesn't include a subwoofer, which means that you will experience an inevitable loss of quality in tracks that feature hard bass lines.
The speakers tend to get confused when forced to handle the situations where these sections are overlapped with human voices.
But, that’s something we have to deal with: woofer-less setups.
Overall, the speakers perform far above the average in the departments where they are supposed to.
2. Creative Labs GigaWorks T20 Series II
2.0 Multimedia Speaker System
Our Rating: 87/100
Although not quite as established as Bose, Creative Labs is the company that has quite a reputation, especially amongst the money-conscious audience.
If I could sum them up with some common denominator, I would say they often lack refinement but have excessive amounts of ambition.
This philosophy has, over the years, sparked some compromised products that packed a lot of exciting features.
And, yes, T20 Series II 2.0 Multimedia Speaker System is one of these products.
That ambition I talked about in the introduction is visible from the get-go. It doesn't take more than a passing look at this pair of speakers to see the manufacturer is determined to give the royal treatment even to the customers that aren't willing to spend tons of money.
The shape of the boxes is simplistic enough, but they feature some very contemporary design elements that make the whole setup looking energetic and youthful.
The plastic that is used for the build is sturdy and give the speakers a pleasant heft, which makes them feel rock-solid.
Also, the speakers look quite lovely when exposed (the golden color does make a strong visual impression). Keeping the cloth cover is highly advised. Of course, if you are ready to put a lot of care into the maintenance.
Oh yeah, I forgot the mention, these two prominent golden speakers. These are the woofers – great news for the people enjoying deep bass lines.
The speakers' tweeters are conveniently placed just below. Go even lower, and you will find separate controls bass, treble, and volume. Long story short, the whole concept works great.
Moving on the connectivity options. Here, once again, we have a setup that heavily relies on cables. The good about it, all of them are removable and replaceable, so you can experiment with different lengths.
The front of the right speaker (the heart and soul of the setup) is graced with 3.5 mm port and Aux-in port. Everything here is readily available and within your hand’s reach.
Last but not least, the package comes with dual RCA-to-stereo adapter that allows you to connect your speakers to a gaming system, LCD TV or Blu-ray player.
The sound quality
Finally, we come to the actual performance, where things start to become muddled – a polar opposite of the speakers that came from Bose.
The very fact that the speakers with such a modest price tag include subwoofers is excellent. Making the tweeters and woofers to produce satisfying simultaneous performance is, on the other hand, needlessly convoluted.
The best way to describe this would be to say that the music you are going to put through will either lack the loudness or the details. A perfect strike between the two is tough to find.
I need to be honest, though, and point out that this problem is mostly present with bass-heavy tunes. When it comes to movies and games, it works just fine.
3. Edifier R980T 4" Active Bookshelf Speakers - 2.0 Computer Speaker - Powered Studio Monitor
Our Rating: 85/100
In the grand hierarchy of commercially available speakers, studio monitors occupy a much more prestigious place than regular dual speaker setups. The main reason why?
Well, in the beginning, these speakers were aimed at the studio use – they featured more natural sound, deeper bass, more extensive dynamic range, less distortion, and, as you can probably guess, a much higher price than their consumer-grade counterparts.
It is exciting to see a pair of genuine monitors so deep in the entry-level speaker segment.
Have the monitors lost some of their quality when they went market-wide? Let's see.
But, before I proceed to the actual performance, let’s take a moment to talk about the look of these speakers. It’s a time well spent because the whole setup looks very stylish and sophisticated. Sure, everything is streamlined and simplistic, but nowhere near flat.
Bottom line, if you want a piece of tech that looks a couple of hundreds of dollars above its actual value, these two polished black wooden boxes are your thing.
Also, the dimensions of the whole setup are very compact, which brings a set of both perks and drawbacks on the table.
Design-wise, this decision makes the speakers very space-friendly and visually appealing. I’ll deal with the setbacks in the sound quality section.
Staying on a more positive note, it should be mentioned that speakers feature a pair of reasonably powerful woofers, well-placed and unobtrusive tweeters, and a bunch of connectivity options. All of the mentioned will put a smile on the face of every avid media consumer.
The thing I find somewhat off-putting is that all the connectors and audio controls are placed at the back of the speaker. This is reasonable in the case of connectors – after all, these monitors have high aspirations in terms of look.
But reaching out that far for audio controls tends to be troubling.
Be that as it may, the speakers do allow you to hook up to two devices at the same time and switch between them with the press of a button without having to pull the cables out. Incredibly convenient, and the thing I would like to see on more affordable setups.
The sound quality
And now, it's finally the time to talk about the performance. I already mentioned that studio monitors score a high performance all around the sound spectrum. This performance is, however, profoundly affected by the size of the speakers.
And being rather small-ish speakers, Edifier’s R980T take a slight performance hit. This time, the quality drops are the most noticeable at the mid-range frequencies.
That wouldn’t be too much of a problem if mid-range frequencies didn’t cover things like guitar, human vocals, and most of the string instruments.
Don't get me wrong; the speakers still perform darn well, especially taking into consideration the meager price. But, they are replacing one problem with another.
That fact renders the whole studio monitor moniker somewhat useless.
4. Logitech MX Sound 2.0 Multi Device Stereo Speakers
Our Rating: 83/100
And here comes Logitech, the king of consumer-friendly peripherals. What to say about the company? They are constantly pushing the endless string of products that have very few ambitions but also seldom fail to deliver the promise they are making.
With the things as they are, MX Sound 2.0 Multi Device Stereo Speakers feel like a breath of fresh air.
Of course, you shouldn't set your hopes way too high – Logitech is still operating firmly within its comfort zone. But, it's hard not to notice that this product brings more than a couple of different things in the market.
These novel observations mostly refer to the speakers’ design and connectivity options. Let’s start with the looks.
What to say? It's refreshing, brave, and incredibly appealing.
Not in the aggressive, but more in the subdued tech-savvy manner which should considerably broaden the pool of interested customers. There's simply something incredibly attractive and contemporary about these round shapes.
The only downside about this whole idea is the made the speakers are built. Although the craftsmanship seems solid, the plastic everything is wrapped in is far from stellar.
On the contrary – it feels rather cheap and fragile. But, we think the proper maintenance and careful handling can do a lot to remedy this problem.
As for the connectivity options, this is the first pair of speakers in this short roundup that allows you to use all the benefits of wireless Bluetooth connections.
First, there is the cable-less setup. Second, even if you decide to hook up one of your devices with the cables, you can always switch to another device and wireless connection with a simple press of a button.
Speaking of buttons, though, I am not entirely in favor of the way Logitech has decided to address this issue. Namely, the controls that can be found on the front of the speaker are touch-based.
This plays rather well into the overall design philosophy of the setup, but I always found traditional controls more precise, durable, and gratifying.
On the other hand, it is hard to deny that backlit controls look darn good in the dark and make handling the speakers a whole lot easier.
The sound quality
In terms of sound quality, Logitech MX Sound 2.0 Multi Device Stereo Speakers put on one surprisingly consistent and crisp performance.
I am especially pleased with the way the units handle rich bass lines – at least for a pair of speakers that do not feature built-in subwoofers.
Of course, there are some drawbacks. The lower end of the spectrum feels way, way overemphasized.
If you are listening to a track that features simultaneous bass kicks and vocal lines, the vocals will simply end up lost in the shuffle. When there’s no bass to wreak havoc, the vocals sound excellent, though.
So, the level of enjoyment you’ll get largely depends on the music you are going to put through these speakers.
5. Logitech Z323 Speaker System
Our Rating: 78/100
And now, for the very end, we have Logitech's second foray into the affordable 2.1 speaker systems market.
This time, things should be much better, right? Logitech had enough time to learn from mistakes they made with Z313, polish their production and release a much more refined product.
Unfortunately, Z323 makes some improvements, but not nearly enough to address all the issues I had with their previous system. As a matter of fact, it looks like, for every step in the right direction, the manufacturer somehow managed to take a step back.
But, everything in due time. Let us first take a look at the things we can find in the package.
Much like its predecessor, Z323 is a 2.1 speaker system which means you get your two satellite speakers and one central subwoofer.
And once again, we get the recognizable Logitech flavor that combines the blocky and clean-cut look of the woofer with the gentle curves and semi-futuristic designs of the satellites.
I had no issues with this approach the previous time, and I feel just the same now. The slight touches we got (the satellites are slimmer and taller), do push the things forward enough to call this package a sensible upgrade.
As far as the materials and build quality go, the situation is fine. The speakers are built from the combination of matte plastic graced with a couple of glossy upgrades (especially the satellites).
As you can probably guess, the overall quality is not that great, and the glossy plastic picks up fingerprints like a CSI professional.
But, nothing looks or performs bad here, and for the price range we are currently situated in, that's quite enough.
The connectivity options are on par with the rest of the products I have covered above. The pleasant upgrade comes in the form of an extra pair of RCA inputs situated at the back of the woofer.
For better or for worse, the control pad that was such an integral part of Z313 experience is gone, and we are back to traditional controls split between the satellites and the woofer. And yes, that implies that the good old bass controls are up and running.
Finally, I'd like to give a shout-out to one very neat and useful feature. Each of the satellite speakers has an ancillary tweeter located at the back of the unit.
This way, no matter where the speakers are located in your room, you'll get clear and unmuffled sound.
The sound quality
With Z323, it is the sound quality where I feel Logitech really dropped the ball. And not for the lack of effort – the building blocks of good system are here. But the execution is beyond sloppy.
So, what's the problem?
Well, it all boils down to bass. When it's muted it sounds flat and hushed. If you try to boost it you'll get a very loud and booming effect that doesn't quite sound naturally. Finding the balance between these two extremes is much harder than it seems.
To make things even worse, these problems are largely song-specific. For each tune you play, you'll need to readjust the bass. If I had to choose, I would much rather go with Z313's option-less bass that botched the tunes impartially and without prejudice.
As for the satellites, they perform pretty spot-on. The sound is crisp and clear, all across the frequency spectrum. Unfortunately, the sounds often end up lost in the mix.
Best computer speakers under $100 - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What makes a good budget speaker?
A: Essentially, good budget speakers can deliver good sound quality across the entire sound spectrum. Also, some of the more capable systems are known for delivering solid bass performance without muttering other sounds that are playing in the background.
Q: What are the best speakers for music?
A: Traditionally, the best way to play the music is either through some of the systems with a subwoofer unit which keeps the bass on the separate channel, or studio monitors that are known for their hi-definition crispness and clarity. Traditional speaker systems are at the bottom of this hierarchy, but depending on the model, they can deliver rich and powerful performance.
Q: Where do I plug speakers into my computer?
A: The audio jacks required for connecting the speakers are located on the PC's sound card at the backside of the PC case. In the case of laptops, connecting ports are usually located at one of the sides of the unit.
Q: Can I use TV speakers for my computer?
A: Yes. The sound can be transferred to TV speakers either through 3.5 jacks in conjunction with a VGA or by merely using an HDMI connection which is supported by all newer TV models.
Q: Do computer speakers need power?
A: Yes. Unless they are using a unit with a built-in, rechargeable battery (e.g., Bluetooth speakers), you will need to allocate one or more of your power outlets to the speaker system.
After it's all said and done, we recommend:
Bose Companion 2 Series III Multimedia Speakers
Why they are better?
Although all the speakers I have covered have their share of pros and cons, it is hard to escape the feeling that Bose Companion 2 Series III Multimedia Speakers simply score the best-rounded performance.