Update: In a new order based on star-ratings and awards, we've revamped our list to include the first-ever pre-built computer from a leading parts manufacturer. The fit and lightweight Corsair One can be found at number 8 on our list. Read on to find out more!
PC gaming has never been in better shape. VR-ready specs are infiltrating not only PCs designed specifically for gaming, but we’re even seeing a rise in workstation computers that can handle the 360-degree format. And with motherboards supporting Intel Optane making their rounds, a properly equipped gaming PC’s hard drive can be as fast as an SSD.
Unlike a PS4 or Xbox One, a gaming PC provides you with a plethora of options, so whether you want to prioritize frame rates or visuals, play with keyboard and mouse or gamepad, it’s entirely your choice. Even gaming-specific keyboards like the http://www.techradar.com/reviews/razer-blackwidow-chroma-v2o are now at your disposal, so long as you don’t mind the clickety clacks of mechanical switches.
Ultimately, however, a gaming PC is usually intended to run the latest triple-A blockbuster games fluidly and at high graphics settings. It can either be a one-time purchase or a long-term investment, depending on the amount of time, effort and funds you’re willing to shell out. Even if you don’t want to bother with part upgrades down the line, the best gaming PC is built to last.
If sheer might is what you’re looking for, though, it won’t come cheap. You'll need to reach deep into your wallet for the utmost powerful GPU and high-speed processor accompanied by capacious storage options. Although, if you prefer that your games run with the graphics and frame rates cranked all the way up to the top, the lofty upfront cost may very well be justified.
In the end, the choice is yours. You can either build a PC that tailors to your specific needs or effortlessly purchase one that’s pre-built by one of many manufacturers. For the most painless and least strenuous option, consider one of the 7 stellar gaming PCs listed below.
1. Alienware Aurora R5
Alienware's iconic gaming PC returns as a mini powerhouse
CPU: Intel Core i5-7400 – i7-6700K | Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 460 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Storage: 1TB HDD – 256GB PCIe SSD, 2TB HDD | Connectivity: Ethernet; Intel 3165 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2 | Power supply: 850W PSU | Ports: 7 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB-3.1 Type-C, 6 x USB 2.0, Ethernet, 4 x DisplayPort, HDMI, optical out, headphone jack, microphone jack, 7.1 surround sound out
One of the few PCs on this list to earn a perfect score, the Alienware Aurora R5 combines design elements traditional to Dell's famed luxury gaming brand with a handful of contemporary twists. The nigh-mini ITX computer bears resemblance to, say, the Area 51, but with a case that feels strikingly more native to our home planet. Of course, it simultaneously boasts top-of-the-line specs; an overclockable K-series Intel Core i7 CPU, a GeForce GTX 1080 and a massively capable 850W power supply are just a few of the Aurora R5's redeeming qualities. Plus, even with the small chassis, there's plenty of room for an unparalleled SLI configuration.
Read the full review: Alienware Aurora R5
2. Overclockers 8Pack Asteroid
A beefy LAN-friendly PC with a tasty design
CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 – Titan X | RAM: 8GB – 16GB DDR4 (3,866MHz) | Storage: 500GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD; 1TB Samsung 850 EVO SSD | Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet; Dual-band 802.11ac WiFi | Power supply: SuperFlower 1000W | Ports: 4 x USB 3, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, Optical S/PDIF, Gigabit Ethernet, 3 x audio
The latest Overclockers machine is one of the best-designed gaming PCs we've ever seen, with bespoke water-cooling, a great color scheme and keen attention to detail. It marries its great design with top-notch performance in games and applications. Luckily it never gets too hot or too loud either. It is, however expensive and niche, with limited potential for upgrading. If you're looking for an attractive and unique LAN-friendly gaming PC that can handle anything from 4K gaming to VR, the Asteroid is an out-of-this-world machine with a price tag that will bring you back down to earth.
[Editor's Note: This product is only available in the UK and other European territories.]
Read the full review: Overclockers 8Pack Asteroid
3. Lenovo Ideacentre Y900
PC gaming on the high-end, no tools required
CPU: Intel Core i5-6600K – i7-6700K | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 – 1080 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB DDR4 (2,133MHz) | Storage: 1TB HDD – 2TB HDD, 256GB SSD | Connectivity: Ethernet; 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 | Power supply: 625W PSU | Ports: 4 x USB 2.0, 6 x USB 3.0,1 Gigabit LAN, 1 x HDMI / 1 x VGA / 1 x DVI, 6 x Audio Jack with SPDIF (7.1 Surround Sound), 1 PS/2 Combo, 7-in-1 Card Reader, 2 x Audio / Microphone Jack
If you’re buying a pre-built PC, upgrades should be simple, right? That’s the philosophy behind the Lenovo IdeaCentre Y900, which bears a boisterous appearance that practically typecasts it as a gaming PC. It’s embellished with red lights all over, one of which even manages to make the letter “Y” look cool. The front of the chassis is bespeckled with textured patterns that’ll no doubt make your friends jealous. On top of offering support for a VR-ready GTX 1080, the Lenovo IdeaCentre boasts SLI support and room for up to 64GB of RAM, which are thankfully complemented by a convenient tool-less design.
Read the full review: Lenovo IdeaCentre Y900
4. Dell XPS Tower Special Edition
A VR-ready value proposition that’s hard to resist
CPU: Intel Core i5-6200 – Core i7-6700K | Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 480 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB DDR4 (2,133MHz) | Storage: 1TB HDD – 512GB SSD; 2TB HDD | Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet; 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2 | Power supply: 460W PSU | Ports: 7 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 2.0, SD card slot, HDMI, DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet, mic-in, headphone-out, 5.1 channel audio jacks
The Dell XPS Tower Special Edition is a reminder of just how convenient and affordable it can be to skip the laborious assembly process and simply buy your gaming PC from a prominent and well-liked manufacturer. By making a few concessions in the CPU, PSU and storage departments, Dell was able to leverage a reasonable price tag and sweeten the deal with a handful of enticing additives. These include discrete graphics, a whopping 9 total USB ports and, of course, access to Dell’s online support system. That way, if something goes wrong, you’re not leafing through manuals to find out why your computer suddenly stopped working.
Read the full review: Dell XPS Tower Special Edition
5. StormForce Tornado
Ultra HD that won't make your wallet cry
CPU: 2.7GHz Intel Core-i5 6400 | Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 480 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB DDR4 (2,400MHz) | Storage: 1TB HDD – 1TB HDD; 128GB SSD | Connectivity: | Power supply: 500W PSU | Ports: 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, 2 x USB 3.0 ports (front), 1 x USB 2.0 port (front), 2 x USB 2.0 ports (rear), 4 x USB 3.1 ports (rear), 4 x USB 3.1 ports (rear), 1 x HDMI, 1 x VGA, 1 x DVI-D, 1 x LAN (RJ45), 3 x audio jacks
Interested in Ultra HD gaming without spending a fortune? Enter the StormForce Tornado, a GTX 1070-equipped rig with the outward appearance of a spaceship and five drive bays for nearly limitless internal storage potential. If you don't mind the extensive wait times of a hard drive (as opposed to a PCIe or M.2 SSD), the StormForce Tornado is a no-brainer. Starting at a mere £899 (about $1,180/AUS$1,540), the StormForce Tornado makes 1440p gaming (and even 4K, to an extent) affordable, and who doesn't want that?
[Editor's Note: This product is only available in the UK and other European territories.]
Read the full review: StormForce Tornado
6. Origin Millennium
Two times 1080 equals 4K at 60fps
CPU: Intel Core i3-7350K – i7-6950X | Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 480 – 2 x Nvidia Titan X | RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,400MHz) – 64GB DDR4 (2,800MHz) | Storage: 1TB HDD – 8TB HDD; 4TB SSD | Connectivity: Ethernet; 802.11ac Asus Wi-Fi GO! module; Bluetooth 4.0 | Power supply: 650W EVGA SuperNOVA G3 – 1.6kW EVGA SuperNOVA G2 | Ports: 8 x USB 3.0, 3 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 USB-C, 4 x USB 2.0, 1 optical audio out, 5 x audio jacks, 1 headphone jack, 6 x DisplayPort, 2 x HDMI
Sure, for the price of an Origin Millennium PC, you could buy a halfway decent car. But why would you need to leave the house when you can play games in 4K at a buttery smooth 60 fps? That's the question Origin hopes you'll ask when you talk to your spouse about dropping six grand on a new gaming rig. Between its pair of EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition twins and the new Intel Broadwell-E Core i7-6950X processor, there is nothing the Origin Millennium can't handle – and on the best of the best displays at that. Of course, it's expensive; it's like ten years worth of future-proof.
Read the full review: Origin Millennium
7. Zotac Magnus EN1060
This VR-ready PC can crawl into tight spaces
CPU: Intel Core i5-6400T | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 | RAM: Not included; up to 32GB | Storage: Not included | Connectivity: 802.11ac; Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports; Bluetooth 4.0 | Power supply: AC Adapter (DC 19.5V/180W) | Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 microphone jack, 1 headphone jack, 2 x DisplayPort 1,3, 2 x HDMI, SD card reader
With the novel idea of the Steam Machine all but deceased at this point, the Zotac Magnus EN1060 serves as a sort of successor to the Zotac NEN Steam Machine of yesteryear. Unlike its Valve-powered predecessor, however, the EN1060 is more barebones. There’s no onboard storage or RAM, meaning there is some assembly required. If you can get past, there’s a convincing mini PC configuration to be had, even if it is incomplete out of the box. For starters, the inclusion of a GTX 1060 – although disappointing that it can’t be upgraded to something better down the line – is VR-ready and equipped to last. That goes without mentioning the virtually silent performance and vast array of ports, which are merely an added bonus.
Read the full review: Zotac Magnus EN1060
8. Corsair One
This part maker's best (and only) gaming PC
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700 – i7-7700K | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 – 1080 Ti | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 240GB – 960GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac; Gigabit Ethernet | Ports: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 4 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 2 x USB 2.0 Type-A, 2 x HDMI 2.0, 2 x DP 1.4, 5.1 channel audio jacks
If you want a powerful gaming PC that can run everything at the highest settings, but without building or tweaking it yourself, the Corsair One is an obvious choice. Equipped with a liquid-cooled, Pascal-series Nvidia GPU, an Intel Core i7 processor and nothing but an SSD for storage, this is a machine that’s all about power and speed. But, given its compact enclosure, it also prides itself in not occupying too much space. The Corsair One is also whisper-quiet without breaking a sweat. It may be expensive and impossible to repair without voiding the warranty, but its small form factor and powerful components help make up for the lackluster options for ardent DIY-ers.
Read the full review: Corsair One
9. Zotac Magnus EN1080
No one mini PC should have all this power
CPU: Intel Core i7-6700 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 | RAM: Not included; up to 32GB DDR4 | Storage: Not included | Connectivity: 802.11ac; Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports; Bluetooth 4.0 | Power supply: 2 x AC Adapter (DC 19.5V/180W) | Ports: 4 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 USB 3.1 Type-C, 1x microphone jack, 1x headphone jack, 2 x DisplayPort 1.3, 3 x HDMI 2.0, SD card reader
Like the Zotac Magnus EN1060 before it, the Magnus EN1080 is a barebones mini PC with some assembly required, namely in the storage and memory departments. Its main differentiators are its inclusion of an Intel Core i7-6700 and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card. With these components on-hand, the EN1080 can handle everything from 4K gaming at middling frame rates to 1080p gaming at refresh rates upwards of 120Hz. Though it’s as costly a unit as might be expected from a PC armed with these specs, there are very few mid- to large-form factor PCs, not to mention mini computers, that can match the sheer heft of the EN1080’s performance output.
Read the full review: Zotac Magnus EN1080
10. HP Omen X Desktop
Gaudy, but more than meets the eye
CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K – i7-6800K | Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 480 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 | RAM: 8GB – 32GB DDR4 (2,133MHz) | Storage: 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD; 2TB HDD (7,200 rpm) – 3TB HDD; 512GB SSD | Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2x2); Bluetooth 4.0 | Power supply: 600W Silver efficiency | Ports: 8 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB-C 3.1, Ethernet, SD card reader, 2 x HDMI, 2 x DisplayPort, microphone jack, headphone jack, optical audio out
Though you might mistake it for a Rubik’s Cube at first glance, the HP Omen X’s quirky design is all part of its charm. Don’t confuse eccentric casing with limited upgradeability, however, as the HP Omen X is more than just a pretty face. Complete with three chambers for components, including one with four hard drive bays, this desktop leaves plenty of room for expansion later down the line. Upgrades can be performed nearly without tools altogether, requiring not much more than a basic Allen wrench to lift up the panel. Perhaps the most practical aspect of the Omen X, though, is its ability to change the color of its lighting based on which components are sweating the most.
Read the full review: HP Omen X Desktop
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article