The best gaming PC is all about picking the system that matches both your needs and your budget. It's entirely possible to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a system if you want to, there's almost no upper limit. But spending your money wisely is a tougher job if you're working to a budget, as most of us are.
I've tested hundreds of gaming PCs in my two decades as a tech journalist, and I know what's worth spending the money on and also where you can make a compromise. That's most important at the budget end of the market, but it can be important at the top end, too. Even in a $3,000 PC you want to know your money's being spent wisely.
In this article I cover the specs you should expect at any given price point, and also given my experience testing PCs built by many different companies over the years, which gaming PCs are the best for your budget. It's impossible to test every single configuration in the rich tapestry of gaming PCs, but we've had experience of all the main system builders' work, and have extensively tested the core parts in each. We know what graphics card works best at each price point, and what processor you'll need to make the most of it.
So whether you've got a tight $1,000 budget, or are willing to spend up to $5,000 on your dream machine, we've got the best gaming PC for you.
The quick list
Best under $1,000
The best under $1,000
This is a good deal for a mid-tier gaming PC, especially when many rigs around this price are only delivering you an RTX 3060. The Core i5 is still a really solid CPU today, and the RTX 3060 Ti is probably the best mainstream GPU of Nvidia's last generation of cards.
Best up to $2,000
$1,000 - $2,000
We've been impressed with ABS gaming rigs for their mix of solid components and great value. This Stratos Ruby comes with either an RTX 4070 or RTX 4070 Ti, depending on how flush you're feeling, but both come in under the $2,000 mark. There's a speedy AMD CPU, 16GB RAM, and a full 1TB NMVe SSD, too.
Best up to $3,000
$2,000 - $3,000
iBuyPower is one of the biggest names in PC building and it's one of the top tier, too. The 2-day shipping on its RDY gaming PCs is fantastic, and the company is smart about packaging up its machines so they get to you safely. At this price its RTX 4080-based systems are great value and look good, too.
Best up to $5,000
$3,000 - $5,000
Corsair makes almost every part of a modern gaming PC and knows how to put them together. With the best graphics cards at their hearts, and the finest CPUs, the Vengeance machines pull all that together with a surfeit of Corsair RAM and storage, and arguably the best chip coolers on the market.
Don't buy without a discount
Alienware is one of the most popular gaming PC manufacturers around, but the shine has slowly worn off for us as Dell's corporate grip tightens. The Aurora machines still look beautiful, but the build quality has been lacking in recent years, and the value proposition all but non-existent. The bespoke components aren't premium, and yet carry a premium cost.
The best gaming PC under $1,000
The specs to expect in a gaming PC under $1,000:
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- Graphics card: Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti | RTX 3060 | AMD RX 6600
- CPU: Intel Gen Core i5 11th Gen | 12th Gen | AMD Ryzen 5000-series
- Memory: 16GB DDR4-3200
- SSD: 500GB PCIe
- PSU: 500W
Yeyian Katana X10 | Core i5 11400F | RTX 3060 Ti | 16GB RAM | 500GB SSD | $949 at Newegg (opens in new tab)
It might seem at first glance that Yeyian is a brand from Asia just breaking into the US market with affordable gaming PCs, but the name belies the fact it's a builder from San Diego that's just been quietly selling its machines for the past six years. With systems on sale at Amazon and Newegg, this Katana X10 is one of the best value we've seen this year. Normally the RTX 3060 Ti is shipped in $1,500 machines, so it's great to see it finally under a grand. The Core i5 11400F is a decent budget CPU, too, and at this price point, and with this GPU, it's a good pairing. The 500GB SSD is the only real issue for us with this build, but the price of storage is so low right now that's an easy after market upgrade.
✅ You're just after a pure gaming PC: That RTX 3060 Ti will deliver excellent 1080p frame rates and good 1440p numbers, too.
✅ $1,000 is your limit: At just under $1,000 this will push your budget to its maximum, but the components on offer will justify that spend.
✅ You're happy upgrading: The SSD will need an upgrade sooner than anything else in this machine, but its B560 motherboard will have a spare M.2 socket and storage has never been so cheap.
❌ You need raw CPU power: The Core i5 11400F is a decent gaming CPU, but its six cores won't deliver much in the way of processing power for streaming or content creation.
❌ You never want to lift a screwdriver again: You will need a new SSD once that 500GB runs out, and that will mean taking the side off, I'm afraid.
When you're looking for a gaming PC under $1,000 then it's all about the spec and the price, regardless of who or where it's from. Well, within reason. So long as the company you're purchasing from has actually successfully sold gaming PCs before, and doesn't have a host of poor reviews, you just want to make sure you're getting the parts you would hope for at this price point.
At the moment that would ideally be an RTX 3060 Ti (opens in new tab), which was one of the best graphics cards of the last generation. It's a powerful GPU, not that far off an RTX 3070 (opens in new tab), and still has no equivalent from within the new generation of AMD and Nvidia cards. But given the RTX 4070 (opens in new tab) has now dropped, we are expecting an RTX 4060 Ti soon. But that should mean prices on the RTX 30-series should keep dropping with abundant stock. There are still a lot of RTX 3060 GPUs out there, however, so if you can bag a PC with one of those for $700 or less you're doing well.
Alongside that you'll want either a Core i5 or Ryzen 5 processor, but anything from the Intel 11th Gen or AMD 5000-series will be more than enough, and 16GB of RAM. You'll probably only find a ~500GB SSD in these builds, but that's the most affordable upgrade down the line.
The best alternatives:
Ipason gaming desktop | AMD Ryzen 5 5600G | 16GB DDR4-3200 | 500GB NVMe SSD |
$849.99 $499 at Newegg (save $350.99) (opens in new tab)
You can game on this machine to a certain extent—the integrated Vega GPU on the Ryzen chip will certainly support 720p gaming at lower settings. But we're listing it here as a good base from which to add your own graphics card (opens in new tab) for a quick, powerful new gaming PC. The AMD CPU is a good six-core, 12-thread job, and the 16GB RAM will run everything you need. The 500GB SSD could be bigger, but that's an easy, cheap upgrade.
Forge Gladiator | Core i3 10105F | AMD RX 6600 | 16GB RAM | 1TB SSD | $799 at Amazon (opens in new tab)
The CPU is certainly where the bulk of money is being saved here, but pair that Core i3 10105F with the RX 6600 and you'll still have a fairly decent gaming PC. With a terabyte of storage, you can fit thousands of smaller/older games on here, and it will have a good punt at modern games too on mid–low graphics settings.
The best gaming PC $1,000 - $2,000
The specs to expect in a gaming PC between $1,000 and $2,000:
- Graphics card: Nvidia RTX 4070 | RTX 4070 Ti
- CPU: Intel Gen Core i7 12th Gen | 13th Gen | AMD Ryzen 7 5000-series | 7000-series
- Memory: 16GB DDR5-5600
- SSD: 1TB PCIe
- PSU: 700W+
ABS Stratos Ruby | Ryzen 7 7700X | RTX 4070 Ti | 16GB RAM | 1TB SSD | $1,899.99 at Newegg (opens in new tab)
The Stratos Ruby from Advanced Battlestations is the best value RTX 4070 Ti gaming PC you will find right now. Matching that powerful RTX 40-series graphics card with one of the best AMD Zen 4 processors of the first batch of Ryzen 7000-series chip makes this a gaming PC that will take on everything you can throw at it. For under $2,000 you're getting a system that will smash 1440p and even offer pretty darned impressive 4K gaming performance, too. It is worth noting that you might expect to be getting onto 32GB RAM and maybe a 2TB SSD once you top $2,000. ABS is Newegg's gaming PC brand, and we've been impressed with the build quality, performance, and specs balance of ABS systems we've tested. We've noted that packaging seems almost overkill, but I'd absolutely take that over a rig where the GPU has come loose and trashed the insides of my rig.
✅ You want serious 1440p frame rates: The RTX 4070 Ti is able to nail great 1440p numbers, but you will also be able to power a 4K gaming monitor to an impressive extent, especially with DLSS 3.0 and Frame Generation.
✅ You want to boot and forget: There's nothing in this system that screams 'upgrade me!' which means you'll be happily running this rig for years without feeling a desperate need to update it.
✅ You want seriously secure shipping: The ABS rigs we've tested have come so well packaged that it's almost overkill. But a safe PC is a worthy investment in recycled packaging.
❌ You crave space: The 1TB of SSD storage is about enough for a system at this price, but ideally I'd want more given the current low pricing of SSDs.
❌ You need high-end productivity: The Zen 4 Ryzen 7 7700X is an excellent CPU, but its relatively low thread count, and the 16GB of middle-order DDR5, will mean that this cannot be a substitute workstation rig.
The $1,000 to $2,000 price point is arguably the most important one for PC gaming; this is where the majority of PC gamers will be aiming to spend their budget and it's a crowded market out there. The positive part of that is there are a lot of options to choose from. But this is where it's no longer okay to be going with a last-gen graphics card, because the RTX 4070 and RTX 4070 Ti (opens in new tab) have now launched and are the best GPUs around this price point.
With RTX 3080 performance from the RTX 4070, and systems on sale for around the $1,500 mark with the latest Nvidia GPU inside it, there's no longer a case to be made for RTX 3080 (opens in new tab) or RX 6800 XT (opens in new tab) machines that cost more. And they generally do. The RTX 4070 Ti itself, which you'll find at the top end of the $2,000 budget, offers RTX 3090-level gaming performance, and considering that was a $1,500 graphics card of the last generation which you'd never find close to this price.
I don't think you need to worry so much about last-gen CPUs, as 12th Gen Intel and AMD Ryzen 5000-series CPUs will still carry an RTX 4070 Ti in gaming terms, but that will limit you in terms of memory. The latest generations from both chip makers come with DDR5 memory, which is much quicker for actual memory intensive productivity tasks. You should also not consider less than 1TB of SSD storage, and ideally 2TB at today's prices.
The best alternatives:
Alienware Aurora R14 Ryzen | AMD Ryzen 5 5600X | AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT | 2TB SSD | 32GB DDR4-3466 |
$2,729.99 $1,699.99 at Dell (save $1,030) (opens in new tab)
It's not often that an Alienware gaming rig will pop up that actually has a hell of a lot of tech inside it for a surprisingly competitive price, but here we are. This Ryzen Edition R14 comes with what was once the pinnacle of AMD graphics, the RX 6900 XT. It's an RTX 3080-beating card with 16GB VRAM, though without the latent power of DLSS or the RTX 4070's Frame Generation power. The six-core Ryzen 5000-series CPU is a little weak if you're talking about productivity, but you do get 32GB of speedy DDR4 and a full 2TB SSD.
ABS Stratos Aqua | Intel Core i5 13400F | Nvidia RTX 4070 | 16GB DDR5-5600 | 1TB PCIe SSD | $1,499.99 at Newegg (opens in new tab)
Considering we're still seeing $1,500 machines packing RTX 3080 and 12th Gen Intel CPU combos, this 13th Gen machine is a steal right now. With access to DLSS 3.0 and Frame Generation, that 40-series card will have today's ray-traced games running at 4K. Paired with a 1TB wad of NVMe storage and 16GB of dual-channel DDR5 RAM, and there's not much to complain about. Plus, you can always add more later.
The best gaming PC $2,000 - $3,000
The specs to expect in a gaming PC between $2,000 and $3,000:
- Graphics card: Nvidia RTX 4080
- CPU: Intel Gen Core i7 12th Gen | 13th Gen | AMD Ryzen 7 5000-series | 7000-series
- Memory: 32GB DDR5-5600
- SSD: 2TB PCIe
- PSU: 850W+
iBuyPower RDY | Core i7 13700KF | RTX 4080 | 32GB RAM | 2TB SSD | $2,599 at iBuyPower (opens in new tab)
The iBuyPower RDY NTBG204 is a seriously grown up gaming PC. The NZXT H710 chassis is a classically simple case, but with the clean lines you want on a system that's going to show off the tech you've just spent big on. And when you've picked up a rig with an RTX 4080 inside you want to be able to see it. iBuyPower has recently shifted to shipping the GPU separately to save killing cards in transit. Certainly our review PC arrived unscathed, which not all recent systems have, it must be noted. Obviously, for a gaming PC, the graphics card is the biggest draw for this powerful, and great value system, but it's got an excellent backup spec, too. Not least of all the 16-core, 24-thread Core i7 Raptor Lake CPU, which is a great productivity chip as well as a gaming processor. Then there's 32GB of DDR5 and a full 2TB SSD. The Z690 motherboard is technically last-gen, but it's as effective as practically any Z790 board.
✅ You want a smart, clean PC: The restrained NZXT chassis will is perfect if you're not into your over-the-top RGB LED aesthetic.
✅ You want it fast: With a 2 day delivery on its RDY built gaming PCs iBuyPower will get a fully functioning system quick.
✅ You want a great allrounder: The well-balanced CPU and GPU in this machine, and its RAM and SSD combo, mean that you'll have enough power for gaming at 4K as well as content creation.
❌ The idea of installing a GPU terrifies you: Having to install the graphics card yourself on delivery might seem daunting, but it is genuinely the easiest job and just needs a single screwdriver. But that might still put you off if you just want a system delivered that will just switch on. So long as the GPU shipped inside a PC survives, that is.
❌ You want a rig with some flair: The chassis is great for the minimalist, but if you want a showpiece PC for your $3,000 then you might want something with a Lian Li O11D or some such case instead.
When you're getting to the rarified heights of the $2,000 - $3,000 price point you're really getting into the elite of gaming PC systems. This is where you can start to pull in some really high spec components. Given that you can get RTX 4070 Ti gaming PCs for less than two grand, you really ought to be targeting either the RTX 4080 (opens in new tab) or the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX (opens in new tab) at this level.
You can also start to think about high-end CPUs here, too, with Core i7 and Ryzen 7, even Ryzen 9 chips all available within this price range. And that means you're looking at PCs that won't just be fantastic gaming systems, but with effectively workstation-level computational power, too. In this market you should be looking at systems that will make excellent creator machines.
You will arguably see PCs with very similar specs lists at this price point, which means your choice of machine often comes down to secondary considerations, such as shipping time, which brand of components are being used, and such things as warranties and returns. We like iBuyPower RDY machines because of their rapid turnaround from sales which could see you ordering a new rig on Monday and be gaming by Wednesday evening. I also like Corsair's Vengeance machines, because it makes excellent, reliable chassis, SSDs, memory, and cooling itself. Which means it can put high-end supporting parts in your new PC.
This is also where you want to be able to trust the system builders more than just taking a punt on saving $100 on a similar spec, but from a brand you maybe don't know so well.
The best alternatives:
Corsair Vengeance a7300 | Ryzen 7 7700X | RTX 4080 | 32GB RAM | 2TB SSD |
$3,299.99 $2,899.99 at Corsair (save $400) (opens in new tab)
Not as good value as the cheaper iBuyPower with the Core i7 inside it, but with the Corsair machine you are paying for the reassuring knowledge that you're getting genuine Corsair memory, SSDs, cooling, and chassis with its machines. With other brands you might not know what manufacturers' parts you're getting until it arrives.
iBuyPower Creator RDY LCMRG210 | Ryzen 9 7950X | RX 7900 XTX | 32GB RAM | 2TB SSD |
$3,099 $2,899 at iBuyPower (save $200) (opens in new tab)
This all-powerful, all-AMD machine is monster build for under the $3,000 limit. That 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen chip is a serious productivity chip, and the RX 7900 XTX is the first chiplet GPU, and a genuine rival for the RTX 4080 outside of ray tracing. Though it will be worth checking with iBuyPower if/when you're buying to ensure you're not getting the AMD-built version of the RX 7900 XTX. They look good, but we've had bad experiences with hot spots.
The best gaming PC $3,000 - $5,000
The specs to expect in a gaming PC between $3,000 and $5,000:
- Graphics card: Nvidia RTX 4090
- CPU: Intel Core i9 13900K/F | AMD Ryzen 9 7950X/3D
- Memory: 32GB DDR5-5600 minimum
- SSD: 2TB SSD
- PSU: 1KW
Corsair Vengeance i7400 | Core i9 13900K | RTX 4090 | 64GB RAM | 2TB SSD | $3,849.99 at Corsair (opens in new tab)
The Vengeance gaming PCs combine rock-solid build quality with high-end component choice, and ultimately a decent price for an RTX 4090 system. That's obviously the star of this system, sporting more video memory than you can shake a pair of RTX 3080s at, and a monstrous slice of GPU silicon at its heart that can tear through games at 4K and render scenes like a pro graphics card. It's also arguably the only RTX 40-series GPU that actually feels like a proper generational upgrade over the previous generation. Where Corsair's Vengeance machines stand out is in the fact it can build around the core components with its own supporting cast of kit. From memory to SSD to cooling and chassis, Corsair make some of the best kit around, and putting it all together in one quiet, cool, and stylish package is where its systems shine.
✅ You want the best CPU/GPU combo around: The Corsair machine comes with the best Intel processor and Nvidia graphics card, but doesn't surround it with unnecessary extras simply to hike up the price.
✅ You want a cool and quiet rig: The chassis and cooler combo means you're getting an setup that's able to keep those high-end components running at top speed without getting too shouty. We love the black monolith of a chassis, and Corsair's AIO coolers are some of the best.
❌ You want a statement piece: This isn't some fully water-cooled setup, with hard tubing and multiple radiators, and RGB'd to within an inch of its life. Those can be gorgeous machines, great for a tradeshow floor, but you're paying for a tubed setup that locks you out of system upgrades down the road.
Although $5,000 is a lot of money to spend on a gaming PC, this isn't money-no-object territory and you still want to make sure you're getting the performance you're paying for. That means making sure you're not spending over the odds on useless extras thrown into a build just to hike up the price to make it seem more 'premium' than it really is.
What this budget does mean, though, is you getting your hands on the finest gaming graphics card ever made by humankind. The RTX 4090 (opens in new tab) is the top of the stack, and the only GPU from Nvidia's RTX 40-series that really does feel like a whole new generation of graphics silicon. It's expensive, but it's genuinely delivering gaming performance you can't get anywhere else.
What you then need to decide is whether you want to go AMD or Intel for the supporting cast. The Intel 13th Gen Core i9 chips are excellent gaming processors, and deliver a huge amount of multi-threaded performance for any kind of productivity workload you'd care to throw its way. But, on the flip side, the Ryzen 9 7950X3D (opens in new tab) delivers the highest potential gaming performance you can get from a CPU thanks to its 3D V-cache chiplet.
That extra cache will mean your high-end GPU has the best chance to shine, and the 16 full cores of Zen 4 processing means you still get workstation-level productivity chops, too. All that said, there are really only a few frame per second in it between the Intel and AMD options when you're talking about the sorts of high resolutions you're going to be pushing the RTX 4090 through.
When you're spending this much you could consider going all out on a full closed-loop liquid cooling array. Such systems look spectacular, and genuinely give off that dream machine vibe. Though how effective such arrays are is more debatable. If you're spending big on a system because you want someone else to build you a top-end rig and don't ever want to touch it, such a rig would be great. But if you ever want to get involved with upgrading your core components a closed loop is a real pain in the butt to maintain. Given the diminishing returns of overclocking modern components, such extreme cooling is also not entirely necessary, either.
The best alternatives:
iBuyPower Element Hybrid Max II | Core i9 13900KF | RTX 4090 | 32GB DDR5-6000 | 2TB SSD |
$4,899 $4,399 at iBuyPower (save $500) (opens in new tab)
I called the Hyte Y60 a techie terrarium, and I stand by that. But that's not to denigrate the look of the three-sided tempered glass chassis at all—when it's all built it looks rather stunning. And with an RTX 4090 inside it this powerful machine will really stand out. I'd have preferred to have the full 64GB of RAM, but you are at least getting a 6000MHz kit here.
DigitalStorm Aventum X | Core i9 13900K | RTX 4090 | 64GB DDR5-5200 | 1TB SSD |
$5,424 $5,174 at DigitalStorm (save $250) (opens in new tab)
Okay, yes, we are topping the $5K mark here, but if you want a stunning liquid cooling setup then the Aventum X will deliver. Though you are paying a hefty premium for that loop, and it's only for the CPU. And it does mean if you want more storage or faster memory the price will creep up.
Alienware Aurora R14 | Ryzen 5 5600X | RX 6900 XT | 32GB RAM | 2TB SSD | $1,699.99 at Dell (opens in new tab)
It's not often that an Alienware gaming rig will pop up that actually has a hell of a lot of tech inside it for a surprisingly competitive price, but here we are. This Ryzen Edition R14 comes with what was once the pinnacle of AMD graphics, the RX 6900 XT. It's an RTX 3080-beating card with 16GB VRAM, though without the latent power of DLSS or the RTX 4070's Frame Generation power. The six-core Ryzen 5000-series CPU is a little weak if you're talking about productivity, but you do get 32GB of speedy DDR4 and a full 2TB SSD. Our issue with recommending Alienware PCs now is the bespoke hardware inside either locking you out of future upgrades, or locking you into an unnecessarily expensive upgrade path.
✅ You just want plug and play: Alienware machines will just work out of the box and with the might of Dell behind it you can be relatively confident that you'll be looked after if something goes awry.
✅ You're into the aesthetic: Alienware rigs look good, and unlike any other machine on this list. The curvy chassis are a world away from the boxy towers otherwise used. But they certainly are big...
❌ You want peak performance: We've not had great experiences with recent Alienware machines delivering the performance their parts ought to. That's often down to the bespoke nature of the components and sometimes ineffective cooling.
❌ You want to upgrade your PC in the future: No PC is truly future proof, no matter how much you spend, so either you upgrade your rig, or you buy a new one. With Alienware, you're largely locked into the latter by its use of bespoke motherboards, chassis, and PSUs.
❌ You want value for money: The deal above is a rarity for Alienware PCs. More often than not you'll be paying well over the odds for a machine that performs notably worse than an equivalently priced system from pretty much anyone else.
Alienware is one of the biggest names in gaming PCs, with a heritage stretching back to the dawn of time. Well, 1996 anyway. With a penchant for stylish designs and high-performance hardware it cemented its place in the burgeoning sphere of gaming-focused PCs. In 2006 it was bought wholesale by corporate PC giant, Dell, and that helped bring an economy of scale to the brand that previously it didn't have access to.
But that hasn't necessarily meant those economies of scale have been passed on to the consumer, as Alienware has always kept itself as a premium tier brand within the Dell portfolio. Which was fine when it was offering a premium experience to the people who bought its PCs.
For years we have had Alienware on the top of our best gaming PC lists, because historically its systems could be relied upon to deliver a top-tier experience and premium performance. In recent times, however, we've reviewed different Alienware gaming PCs and have found they fall short of our expectations. Given some performance issues, cooling problems, and concerns around bespoke components, we would categorically say you shouldn't buy a full price Alienware PC and only look to pick one up when they are heavily discounted.
The bespoke components used inside them sometimes fall short of the sort of performance you'll get out of motherboards, coolers, and power supplies you can buy from other named brands, such as Corsair, Asus, or MSI. They are also generally designed specifically for use exclusively inside Alienware's own chassis, which means those cases don't allow for third-party upgrades down the line. At least not without some serious modifications. At best that locks you into the Alienware/Dell ecosystem of high-priced hardware, and at worst locks you out of upgrading your expensive rig at all in the future.
GPU hierarchy: How do the GPUs stack up?
The most important component for any gaming PC build will always be the graphics card. That will give you the best idea about how one machine matches up with another just in terms of raw gaming performance.
Below, we've listed the slew of GPUs we've had over the past couple of years listed in terms of their Time Spy Extreme index score as a way to put them in some consistent hierarchy. This doesn't cover the performance difference between graphics card in every instance, as differences in how they handle ray tracing other graphical effects can play a part. But this is a handy one-shot method of getting a rough idea of how the various cards from these various generations of GPU stack up against each other.
Click the button in the top right to enhance!
How we test gaming PCs
We spend a lot of time testing gaming PCs to ensure that we know what sort of experience you would get should you spend your hard earned cash on one. Experience is an important factor—you want to know that pulling your new rig from its box that it's going to work as soon as you plug it in, and let you get up and gaming as soon as you can download your favourite games.
But the general feel of using a PC is one part of it, it's also important to get the relative performance numbers to be able to see how a given machine performs in games compared with other systems. We run a selection of benchmarks to gauge CPU performance, storage performance, and of course gaming performance.
We are now using Cinebench R23 and X264 to test the processor—which will tell you both how good the CPU is, as well as how good its cooling is—and Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers and 3DMark to test the storage inside a PC. For the gaming side, we use 3DMark Time Spy, Hitman 3, Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition, F1 22, Far Cry 6 and Warhammer III to give us 1440p frame rate metrics.
We will get inside the machine to see how well built it is, and how well the builder has tidied up the mass of cabling that always lurks inside a gaming PC. It's also important to know how much of an upgrade path a system might have, whether there is space inside for a extra storage, or more memory, etc.
Value is also a key concern for us. A gaming PC represents a large outlay, and no matter whether it's a $900 or a $5,000 machine, it still needs to be able to justify its cost by the quality of the build and the components inside it.
Gaming PC reviews
The Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 delivers monster gaming performance for a massive amount of money. It's hardly a value proposition. But if you're totally price insensitive and you favour engineering depth over snazzy styling, this could be your kind of machine.
PC Gamer score: 75%
I just can't get over its ludicrous price. In fairness to MSI, pricing is variable. We're still early in the RTX 40-series and 13th Gen product cycles. That means the Trident X2 is sure to have a long shelf life. If MSI were to drop pricing to more palatable levels, my conclusion would be different, but at this price there's simply no way I can recommend the Trident X2. Shop around. You'll find something just as good and have enough money left over for a game or ten, a decent monitor or… you get the picture.
PC Gamer score: 52%
The Legion Tower 5 is a well-made system, with clean cable management, quiet operation, and space to upgrade. But the uninspiring component choice and relatively high price make it a difficult system to recommend against the competition.
PC Gamer score: 69%
When you can get an RTX 3060 Ti-powered machine with double the SSD space for just $100 more, it's really hard to recommend a machine like this. 238GB of NVMe storage just isn't enough, and the HDD won't save you—however large it is.
PC Gamer score: 65%
The name may be basic, but this is a quality build that focuses on gaming first and foremost. Shame a bit more attention didn't go into the storage though.
PC Gamer score: 85%
HP's Omen 45L is superb for 4K gaming with its i9 12900K, RTX 3090, and 64GB of memory, but all that comes at a steep price.
PC Gamer score: 79%
Focusing on the processor makes for an interesting build, but there are simply better gaming machines out there for the same cash. If you like to marry serious productivity with a little gaming though, there's plenty to like here.
PC Gamer score: 80%
Despite some minor pain points with the RAM speeds and storage space, ABS is still charging a fair price. There's more than enough potential to upgrade and it still aces both productivity and gaming performance at 1440p.
PC Gamer score: 86%
The Origin Millennium is a beast of a machine that showcases the size and power of the RTX 3080.
PC Gamer score: 85%
This RTX 3070 Ti spec of HP Omen 45L strikes a good balance of high performance, cooling ability and good looks. About the only thing really missing from the equation is the price. If you can get it for well under its current price, it goes from being good to excellent.
PC Gamer score: 81%
If you care about gaming and not the minutiae of the PC it runs on, Alienware systems are worth a look. This Ryzen Edition with its 5900X and RTX 3080 is powerful, but do not pay full price. You're sure to find it at a steep discount as the launches of next gen products draws near.
PC Gamer score: 73%
The Set's a good-looking compact entry-level PC that suffers from disappointing CPU performance and distractingly loud fans.
PC Gamer score: 68%
As a mid-range streaming PC, NZXT's system ticks all the necessary boxes, and its N7 B550 upgrade ensures you get all the connectivity and sockets you need for all those peripherals. You are paying a premium, however, so if you're just looking for a pure gaming machine those extras might seem an unnecessary luxury.
PC Gamer score: 83%
The Alienware Aurora R13 isn't for everyone, and this 64GB spec probably isn't for anyone. If you're a dedicated PC tweaker looking for a new base system to upgrade down the line, you'd want to look elsewhere anyways. But if you just want a simple, good-looking PC that will tear through gaming frame rates out of the box, the Aurora R13 comes with far better-value specs lists than this.
PC Gamer score: 73%
Corsair delivers a welcome burst of gaming performance to its compact gaming PCs with the a200, bringing the best of AMD Ryzen and Nvidia GeForce into a single, compact machine.
PC Gamer score: 87%
Gaming PC FAQ
Why buy a prebuilt gaming PC?
One of the most significant advantages of building your PC is the ability to hand-pick every single component in the system. This enables you to take your time shopping around for deals and finding the best combination of parts to fit your budget and performance needs. The downside for most inexperienced builders is that this process can take some time and cause quite a headache if something goes wrong. You only get warranties on the individual components, not your finished build, and this is where the best prebuilt gaming PCs shine.
What do you get for your money in a prebuilt PC?
When you pay the premium to configure or purchase a prebuilt PC, you pay for more than just the parts. You pay for warranty service, support, and peace of mind that professionals put your system together. These are some of the things we value highly when considering what the best gaming PC is. We also look at other selling points, like design, upgradability, and anything you wouldn't be able to do when building it yourself.
What sets a prebuilt machine apart from a DIY build?
One of the most significant factors that make PCs stand apart from the competition is the design. Prebuilt systems like the Alienware Aurora R10 or Corsair One use unique in-house chassis designs you wouldn't be able to purchase when building it yourself. You can take some comfort in knowing that these systems were designed and built specially to house your configuration, though that can make upgrading more awkward later on down the line.
When we set out to choose our top choices of prebuilt gaming PCs, we look at almost every major manufacturer and system integrator to find the best combination of value, reliability, customer feedback, design, and performance for various budgets and needs.