Yes, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are advanced, but these next-generation machines can't compete with dedicated gaming desktops for pure graphics muscle. If you want to play the latest games with the graphics turned to 11, you’ll want a gaming desktop. With hundreds of different hardware combinations to choose from, selecting the perfect gaming desktop can be a daunting (and expensive) proposition. To help you maximize your performance, here are the best gaming desktops available.
Best Overall Gaming Desktop: CyberPowerPC Gamer Supreme Desktop ($2,229)
This beast of a machine combines top-of-the-line hardware with a (mostly) wallet-friendly price tag. The Gamer Supreme Desktop offers incredibly good hardware for the price: The desktop boasts a fourth-generation 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-4930K processor, 16GB of RAM, a 2TB SATA 7,200-rpm hard drive, a 3GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 graphics card and liquid cooling. Similarly configured desktops from vendors such as Origin cost as much as $800 more. This rig is a steal.
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Best Gaming Desktop Under $1,000: Acer Predator AG3 ($959)
On sale at Newegg.com for $959, this desktop from Acer boasts excellent components for a wickedly low price. Sporting a 3.4-GHz Intel Core i7-4770 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB SATA 7,200-rpm hard drive and a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 graphics card, this machine can easily handle all the latest titles. With such high-end components under the hood, you won’t need to upgrade this rig for at least a couple of years – and it's a good thing too, as the 500W power supply makes adding an additional graphics card impossible.
Best High-End Gaming Desktop: Origin Genesis ($1,875)
This award-winning desktop starts at $1,875, with a 3-GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5-4430 processor, 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 graphics card, 8GB of RAM and a 500GB SATA 7,200-rpm hard drive – but if you’ve got the money, you can transform the Genesis into a gaming rig par excellence. Origin offers a huge number of upgrades, including variable mounting, case fans, liquid cooling, an overclocked 4.8GHz Intel Extreme Core i7-4960X Hex-Core CPU, up to 64G of RAM, and up to four graphics cards ranging from the 2GB GTX 760 to the 6GB GTX Titan. The Genesis also has room for up to 34 hard drives. (That's not a typo.) Other features include a server-grade steel chassis, custom paint options and customizable interior lighting. Maxed out, the Genesis can cost you more than $14,000.
Best Budget Gaming Desktop: Lenovo IdeaCentre Desktop ($599)
One wouldn't normally associate Lenovo with gaming, but the IdeaCentre Desktop ($599) happens to pack all of the essentials for a quality gaming rig – a speedy processor, plenty of memory and a powerful graphics card – into a desktop designed with the family in mind. Despite its modest price (and unexciting name), the IdeaCentre Desktop features fairly powerful components, including a 3-GHz Core i5-4430 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB SATA 7,200-rpm hard drive and a 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 630 graphics card. With this hardware, you'll easily be able to handle many of the latest titles – just don't expect to play them with the settings maxed out.
Best AMD GPU-Powered Gaming Desktop: Avatar Gaming i7-37GT ($1,009)
Nvidia may dominate the gaming landscape, but that doesn't mean you can't branch out. AMD offers graphics cards that pack plenty of punch for a fraction of the cost of one of Nvidia's chips. Take this Avatar rig: Available for $1,009, the Avatar features a 3.5-GHz Intel Core i7-4770K processor, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SATA 7,200-rpm hard drive and a 3GB AMD HD 7950 graphics card – on a par with Nvidia's GeForce GTX 660 Ti. This AMD-powered desktop has more than enough power under the hood to handle "Batman: Arkham Origins," "Battlefield 4" or any other graphics-intensive game.
Best Compact Gaming Desktop: Alienware X51 ($699)
If you've got limited space for a PC, but you don't want to settle for a gaming console, the Alienware X51 will be right up your alley. This desktop is the size of an Xbox and starts at $699, with a 3.4GHz Core i3-4130 CPU, 6GB of RAM, a 1TB SATA 7,200-rpm hard drive, and a 1GB Nvidia GTX 645 GPU. Upgrades include up to a 3.9-GHz Core i7-4770 CPU, up to 16GB of RAM and a 2GB Nvidia GTX 760 graphics card.
Best Customizable Gaming Desktop: Maingear Shift ($2,772)
This popular desktop starts at $2,772 and features a 3.4GHz Intel Core i5-4670K CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 250GB Samsung SSD, a 1TB SATA 7,200-rpm hard drive, and a 2GB AMD Radeon R9 270X graphics card. If you're an inveterate tinkerer or serial upgrader, however, you'll be more excited that the Shift's MSI Z87-GD65 motherboard and 750W EVGA SuperNOVA power supply are both SLI/Crossfire ready and can support an additional graphics card. Maingear also offers motherboard and power supply upgrades that can support up to four graphics cards in SLI/Crossfire configuration.
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