Best Gaming Desktops 2017

Product Use case Rating
Alienware Aurora Best Overall 9
Asus ROG G20CB Best VR-Ready 9
Digital Storm Vanquish 5 Best Under $1000 8
Dell XPS Tower SE Best for Upgrading 8
MSI Trident Best Compact Gaming Desktop 8
Lenovo IdeaCentre Y710 Cube Best Portable Gaming Desktop 8
Alienware Alpha Best Gaming Desktop Under $600 8
Maingear Rush Best High-End Gaming Desktop 9
Origin PC Millennium Best Customizable Gaming Desktop 8

Gaming is evolving rapidly, and if you want to play gorgeous-looking titles like Battlefield 1, Fallout 4 and Forza Horizon 3 at their maximum graphical potential, you'll want a gaming desktop.

We've tested dozens of the most popular gaming PCs available, running our rigorous suite of benchmarks and playing several demanding games on each system. Our current overall favorite is the Alienware Aurora, thanks to its eye-catching design, easy upgradability and a variety of pricing options for both budget shoppers and VR enthusiasts.

No matter how you game, here are our favorite gaming PCs for every type of player.

What to Look For

Gaming PCs come in a near-endless variety of sizes, shapes and configurations, so you'll need to consider what type of player you are before you splurge for one. 

If you want to reap the benefits of PC gaming while still being able to kick back with your couch and big-screen TV, machines such as the Alienware Alpha ($499 starting) and the MSI Trident ($899 starting) are sleek and compact enough to slip into your entertainment center.

Those who prefer customization, power and eye-catching designs should consider desktops such as the Origin Millennium ($1,731 starting) and Maingear Shift ($2,278 starting). If you have the space for them, these massive machines can be configured with the highest-end parts out there, and are easy to pop open if you want to add new components yourself.

MORE: Alienware Alpha vs. Aurora vs. Area 51: Which Desktop is Right For You?

Getting VR-Ready

If you plan on gaming in VR, pay close attention to specs. At the minimum, the Oculus Rift requires an Nvidia GTX 960 or AMD equivalent graphics card, an Intel Core i3-6100 or AMD FX4350 processor, 8GB of RAM, two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI 1.3 port and Windows 8 or newer. However, Oculus recommends at least a GTX 970 and Core i5 processor for the best experience.

For the Vive, HTC recommends a Core i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350 CPU, an Nvidia GTX 1060 or Radeon RX 480 GPU, 4GB of RAM, an HDMI 1.4 port or DisplayPort 1.2 or newer, 1 USB 2.0 port and Windows 7 or newer.

You can use Valve's SteamVR Performance Test to ensure your PC is Vive-ready; Oculus offers a similar tool on the Rift's pre-order page.  

To make your choice easier, Oculus has given select PCs its Rift-ready seal of approval, and you can get some of them bundled with a Rift at a discount. HTC also has a variety of recommended PCs and special offers for the Vive.



How We Test

Every gaming desktop we review endures a standardized gauntlet of real-world and benchmark tests, in order to measure how each PC stacks up as both a gaming machine and as an everyday computer.

As far as hard numbers go, we currently run the framerate benchmark utilities for games such as Rise of the Tomb Raider, Hitman and Metro: Last Light at 1920 x 1080 with graphics maxed out, as well as at 2560 x 1440 and 4K if a system allows for it. We also run a custom Grand Theft Auto V test at the same settings. On top of that, we simply play tons of graphics-intensive games such as Battlefield 1, Gears of War 4 and Doom in order to give you a sense of how these gaming desktops hold up in the real world.

In terms of synthetic tests, we run a gamut of benchmarks that include 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra (for graphics) and Geekbench 4 (for processor performance). We also run the SteamVR Performance Test on all of our machines to evaluate how ready they are for virtual reality. To test a system's hard drive, we measure how fast each PC can copy 4.97GB worth of multimedia files.

More PC Gaming Gear:
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Best Gaming Headsets
Best Game Controllers
Best VR Headsets

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14 comments
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  • seoguy
    Archived comments are found here: http://www.tomsguide.com/forum/id-2196090/gaming-desktops-2015.html
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  • bballbm
    Funny how you click the link for the Maingear Shift SuperStock and the $2199 price you quote in the article now STARTS at $2499 - I guess your recommendation gave them the opportunity to jack up the price. Guess I will be purchasing a Digital Storm after all - can't stand companies that pull this type of crap.
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  • Troy46
    The Alienware system you show for under a grand can't be configured at their site that low. It does start at 699 but with a considerably older video card and with an i3 processor, not i5.
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  • Tewlman
    I bought the Acer Predator G6 on your recommendation...playing fallout 4 and it runs 0ver 130 degrees F on normal no over-clocking. What can I do to cool this machine down. I put the fans on maximum and they are annoying even with noise cancelling headphones. I would not tell a friend to buy ths PC.
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  • MikeAndronico
    @tewlman sorry to hear that! What config of the G6 did you buy and what settings are you playing Fallout on?
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  • hardrockr1979
    Anyone have any comments on Lenovo Y700 with i7 processor?
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  • asauterChicago
    Geez pre-builts are expensive. For $2000.00 you could easily configure a PC with two 980 ti's running in SLI. The $2,000 computer here only has a single GTX 970, a non-ssd hard drive, and only 8gb of ram.

    I thought I overspent at $1,500, and I have a water-cooled i7-6700, a 512gb SSD, and a Zotak 980 ti Amp Extreme, and 16gb of ram. So for the same price as the pre-built one listed, I could add a second 980ti, run them in SLI and still come out under the price listed as the pre-built and have like 10 times the power. I guess don't regret the frustration that came with building my own. A few hours of troubleshooting was worth it by a wide margin.
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  • BrunoFunny
    Of course these are very good choices considering the cost/benefit but, still very overpriced comparing if you build your own setup. And nowadays you don't need to be a genius to build a PC. But you always have people who really don't want to spend time thinking and doesn't care spend more even if it's getting less. Even Terry Crews that is a not a tech area guy built his own PC.
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  • BlakePE
    wow doesn't really answer the question though
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  • meme_lord
    how the hell is alienware area 51 not here? it has 64 GB of ram
    -1
  • mantoshpal
    Can anyone tell me which one should I go for ?? anyone?? please
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  • Muse1991
    @meme_lord it is http://www.dell.com/ca/p/alienware-aurora-r5-desktop/pd?dgc=BA&cid=306592&lid=5799998&acd=12308227875389026
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  • Kevin_245
    What is this crap... recommending a desktop with a processor from 5 years ago as top gaming pc?!? I am baffled. No benchmarks. This article should be called fashion gaming. Please remove it from the serious articles section.
    0
  • Mirrie
    Probably this article is very old for the right choice, and the prices are over the Moon.
    0