The best gaming PCs are the most powerful tool at your disposal for both video games and productivity software. Blasting through hordes of foes at rapid frame rates and high resolutions is fun, but you can just as easily use a gaming rig for graphic design, animation or simply streaming movies and TV in beautiful 4K.
While the PS5 and Xbox Series X will deliver more power than console gamers currently enjoy, they're still no match for one of the best gaming PCs. If you want fast-loading SSDs, gorgeous ray tracing, massive quantities of RAM, 4K resolution and 60+ fps frame rate, you don't have to wait until holiday 2020; you can have them right now. And, unlike a console, you can upgrade PCs as better tech becomes available.
We test new PCs regularly to see if they pass muster for this list, and update the page as systems become available. Read on, and we'll help you find your next great gaming machine.
What are the best gaming PCs right now?
The best gaming PC right now is the the Alienware Aurora R10, thanks to its sleek, stylish design, blistering gaming performance and painless upgradability. If you want to be able to swap in newer graphics cards over time and don't want to deal with a bunch of screws and tools, the Aurora is for you.
If you're looking for the best cheap gaming PC, the CyberPower Gamer Xtreme VR is our top budget pick. One of our favorite mid-range options is the Dell G5 5090, which starts at a reasonable entry level, price, has an attractive design, and, like its bigger Alienware brother, is fairly easy to upgrade.
The Corsair One i160 is a good choice for folks seeking the most compact gaming PC around without sacrificing power, while boutique machines such as the Origin Neuron and Maingear Rush are worth checking out if you want to customize every aspect of your PC at the point of purchase.
There are plenty of other great gaming PCs out there, from ultra-compact desktops that are perfect for living room gaming to massive, customizable mammoths that are ideal for 4K gaming as well as virtual reality.
Ready to find the ultimate tower for your command center? Here are the best gaming PCs to buy right now.
The best gaming PCs you can buy
The Alienware Aurora R10 delivers big on every front: it's stylish; it's powerful; it's customizable and it's easy to upgrade regardless of whether or not you're a PC enthusiast. The R10 model sports Alienware's latest Legend design language, delivering a sleek, curvy chassis that looks great in both white and black and sports three fully customizable RGB zones.
But the real magic lies inside, where you can outfit the Aurora R10 with up to an Intel Core i9 or Ryzen 9 processor and multiple Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics cards for handling the best VR games without a sweat. And even if you start small, the Aurora's smartly designed chassis lets you open the machine up and swap out the GPU and RAM without the need for any tools. No matter how you configure it, the Aurora is the best gaming PC you can buy.
Read our full Alienware Aurora R10 review.
The CyberPower Gamer Xtreme VR is one of the best gaming PCs for folks who want to spend $800 without sacrificing much in the way of power. Packing a Core i5 processor and an Nvidia GTX 1660 graphics card, this desktop can run mainstream games at high settings and even handle virtual reality without much of a sweat. Better yet, the Gamer Xtreme VR is very easy to open up, making it a great starting point for gamers who eventually want to upgrade to more powerful parts.
The Gamer Xtreme VR has long been a favorite at top online retailers, and for good reason. On top of its strong performance and low starting price, this machine has a fairly sleek and flashy design, complete with custom RGB lighting both on the fans and within the case. You also get a CyberPower keyboard and mouse right out of the box, so you can spend less time fetching extra accessories and more time fragging your friends online.
The first thing you'll notice about the MSI MEG Trident X is that it's absolutely gorgeous. This small, angular machine fits easily into just about any gaming nook, and is ideal for either desktop or living room setups. The second thing you'll notice is that it runs games absolutely beautifully, whether you want to experience them at full HD, QHD or UHD settings. With a variety of processor, GPU and RAM options from which to choose, you'll be able to customize a machine that works for your games, and for your monitor.
Just be aware that no matter how you design the MEG Trident X, it's going to be expensive. Furthermore, the accessories it comes with — the MSI Clutch GM11 Mouse and MSI Vigor GK30 Keyboard — are mediocre at best, and disappointing at worst. Still, in terms of both physical design and raw performance, the MEG Trident X is one of the most gorgeous and functional gaming PCs on the market today.
Read our full MSI MEG Trident X review.
The Dell G5 5090 is one of the best gaming PCs for folks who want a solid entry level machine that's very easy to upgrade. This fairy affordable desktop starts with a modest Core i3 processor and Nvidia GTX 1650 card, but can be outfitted with up to a Core i7 CPU and RTX 2080 GPU for more intensive gaming.
One of the G5's biggest selling points is its sleek, foolproof chassis, which is incredibly easy to open up should you want to swap out components over time. We found Dell's desktop to be reliable for playing AAA games at 1080p and 60 frames per second, and like that the machine comes mostly free of bloatware. Overall, if you need a good, affordable desktop that you can make more powerful over time, the Dell G5 5090 is a great choice.
Read our full Dell G5 5090 review.
Who says you need a gigantic tower for high-end gaming PC power? The Corsair One i160 hones the compact gaming PC concept to near perfection, cramming an Intel Core i9 processor and Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti GPU into a stunningly sleek chassis that can blend into offices and command centers equally well.
The Corsair One's slick RGB lighting offers a ton of customization options, and its liquid-cooled internal design keeps this small machine quiet even during heated 4K showdowns. It's worth noting that the Corsair One isn't the most upgrade-friendly machine, so you'll need to pick a configuration you'll want to stick with or have some decent technical know-how to swap out parts. But if you're limited on space but don't want to sacrifice performance, the Corsair One is one of the best gaming PCs for fans of compact machines.
Read our full Corsair One i160 review.
There's no gaming PC that quite catches the eye like the iBuyPower Snowblind. The best gaming PC design we've seen, this desktop's side panel is a translucent, fully-functioning LCD display. You can use this panel to show off cool animated wallpapers, monitor your PC performance, or even play games (though we don't recommend that last part).
It's also simply a great gaming machine, with lots of reasonably priced configuration options that support such high-end components as an Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti GPU. If you're the type of gaming PC enthusiast who values aesthetics as much as strong performance, the iBuyPower Snowblind is one of the most unique and impressive desktops out there.
Read our full iBuyPower Snowblind review.
Maingear has a knack for crafting extravagant, customizable showpieces for folks willing to shed a few thousand bucks, and the F131 is no exception. This stunning tower packs Maingear's new APEX liquid cooling system, which is expertly crafted to keep your system from overheating while also being a marvel to look at.
Factor in a ton of droolworthy paint and lighting options and support for up to two Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti cards, and you've got one of the best gaming PCs for players looking to go all-out. Naturally, the Maingear F131's high price tag means it's more ideal for hardcore enthusiasts than gamers looking for something basic to get started with. But if you have the cash to spend and want to be able to customize every single aspect of your battle station, few manufacturers do it better than Maingear.
Read our full Maingear F131 review.
How to choose the best gaming PC for you
Price: If affordability is your concern, most decent gaming PCs start around $700 to $1,000. For that price, you're looking at specs such as Intel Core i3 and Core i5 processors, Nvidia 1660 and 1660 Ti GPUs and 8GB to 16GB of RAM.
Performance: Think about the type of gaming experience you're after. If its solid 1080p/60fps gaming you want, a machine with a decent Core i5 processor and GeForce 2060 or AMD Radeon RX 5600 GPU will get you there. Cards such as the Radeon RX 5700 and GeForce 2080 hit a nice sweet spot for dependable 1440p gaming. Going 4K? You'll want to spring for hardware such as an RTX 2080 Ti or AMD Radeon VII.
Upgradability: Gaming PC components are always evolving, and the best gaming PCs can be easily upgraded with new parts over time. Machines such as the Alienware Aurora and Dell G5 are easy to open up and tinker with, even for the less tech-savvy. Compact machines, such as the Corsair One, can be a bit harder to open up. So if you plan on upgrading your investment over time, keep this in mind.
VR-readiness: Want to game in VR? Requirements for headsets such as the Oculus Rift S and HTC Vive start at an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti / AMD Radeon RX 470 GPU, an Intel Core i3 or Ryzen 3 processor, 8GB of RAM and a DisplayPort 1.2 or mini DisplayPort. Make sure your machine meets this requirements before you plunk down cash for one.
How we test the best gaming PCs
In our search to find the best gaming PC, we run every model we review through a standardized gauntlet of real-world and benchmark tests, in order to measure how each desktop 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 Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Far Cry: New Dawn, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Middle-earth: Shadow of War at 1920 x 1080 with graphics maxed out, as well as at 2560 x 1440 and 4K if a system allows for it. On top of that, we play tons of graphics-intensive games in order to give you a sense of how these gaming desktops hold up anecdotally.
In terms of synthetic tests, we run a gamut of benchmarks that include 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra (for graphics) and Geekbench 4 and 5 (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.
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