Investing in a great pre-built gaming PC gives you the best of both worlds: you can get blistering framerates at higher resolutions than the PS4 and Xbox One can muster, without having to worry about assembling a computer yourself. And with top titles like Gears 5, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Control available on PC (with the much-hyped Death Stranding coming next year), there's never been a better time to experience AAA and indie games at their maximum potential.
We've tested dozens of the best 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. If you're looking for a great gaming PC under $800, the CyberPower Gamer Xtreme VR is our top budget pick.
If you're looking to game on the go, be sure to also check out our roundup of the best gaming laptops. But if you're looking for the ultimate battlestation, here are the best gaming PCs to buy right now.
What to expect from Black Friday 2019
We're expecting significant Black Friday deals on top gaming PCs this year, with some retailers getting ahead of the curve with big discounts ahead of the start of the holiday shopping weekend on Nov. 29.
Amazon Black Friday deals tend to include great savings on top systems, as we've seen hundreds of dollars shaved off popular PCs from the likes of Dell, HP, Acer, Asus and CyberPower in previous years. You should also expect some of the best gaming PCs to go on sale at Walmart and Best Buy.
Some of the best Black Friday gaming deals tend to include major discounts on peripherals and storage, so it's also a great time to shop if you're looking to update your existing rig. And make sure to follow our Cyber Monday deals coverage for the best Cyber Monday sales.
VR Ready: Select models | Processor: Intel Core i5-8400 | RAM: 8GB | Graphics Card: Radeon RX 560X | Storage: 1TB hard drive | Accessories: N/A
The Alienware Aurora is the most easily upgradable gaming PC out there, sporting a unique internal design that lets you pull out the power supply and swap out the GPU, storage and RAM without lifting a screwdriver. The new R8 model adds support for Intel's 9th-gen processors and powerful Nvidia RTX graphics, and the system's slick, subtle backlighting can be customized in all kinds of wild ways via Alienware's Command Center app. If you want a powerful, attractive gaming PC that's ready for today's most demanding games and future proof for tomorrow, the Aurora is as good as it gets.
Note that the new Alienware Aurora R9 has arrived, which features a brand-new look based on Alienware's Legend design language while retaining the same tool-less upgrade options. We look forward to reviewing the new model in the coming weeks.
2. CyberPowerPC Gamer Extreme VR
VR Ready: Yes | Processor: Intel Core i5-8400 | RAM: 8GB | Graphics Card: Nvidia GTX 1660 | Storage: 1TB hard drive | Accessories: Cyberpower
The CyberPower Gamer Xtreme VR is an excellent value 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.
Best for Upgrading
VR Ready: Yes | Processor: Intel Core i5-8400 | RAM: 8GB | Graphics Card: Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti GPU | Storage: 256GB SSD, 1TB hard drive | Accessories: Dell Keyboard and Mouse
How do you improve on one of the slickest and easiest-to-upgrade desktops around? Simply add Intel's new 8th-gen processors, a handy front-facing USB-C port and tons of customization options at the point of purchase. These new perks are complemented by the same great Dell XPS Tower design, which you can easily open up to swap parts out without the need for tools.
Best Compact Gaming PC
VR Ready: Yes | Processor: Intel Core i9-9900K | RAM: 32GB | Graphics Card: Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti | Storage: 480GB SSD, 2TB | Accessories: N/A
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.
VR Ready: Yes | Processor: Intel Core i7-7800X | RAM: 16GB | Graphics Card: Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti | Storage: 500GB SSD | Accessories: Interactive LCD Panel
There's no gaming PC that quite catches the eye like the iBuyPower Snowblind. This desktop's side panel is a translucent, fully-functioning LCD display, which you can use 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.
VR Ready: Yes | Processor: Up to Intel Core i9 7980XE | RAM: Up to 64GB | Graphics Card: Up to Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti (2) | Storage: Up to 4TB SSD | Accessories: N/A
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 the ultimate desktop for gamers looking to go all-out.
How We Test 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, Hitman, Grand Theft Auto V 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 such as Battlefield V, Anthem and Forza Horizon 4 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.
What Gaming PCs Cost
The price of gaming PCs varies wildly, depending on what specs you're after. You can find a decent rig for as low as $600, though you'll be settling for entry-level processors and graphics cards at that range. The best gaming PCs for VR tend to cost between $800 and $1,000, and you'll need to cough up at least $1,500 for something that can reasonably handle 4K gaming.
If money isn't an issue, there are plenty of boutique manufacturers such as OriginPC and Maingear that allow you to build the exorbitant, custom-painted PC of your dreams for anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000.
If you plan on gaming in VR, pay close attention to specs. At the minimum, the Oculus Rift and Oculus Rift S require 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. The best gaming PC for VR will ideally meet or exceed these specs.