Best gaming PC: 7 of the top rigs you can buy in 2016

Going pre-built? Check out our definitive guide

Despite a handful of technical difficulties, PC gaming is in tip-top shape compared to just a few years ago. More and more powerful builds, such as the outrageously future-proof Origin Millennium, are now accompanied by innovative form-factors like the Lenovo IdeaCentre Y710 Cube.

The simplicity of digital storefronts like Steam and the Windows 10 Store makes buying the best PC games easy as pie, even if the market disagrees. As all the components are interchangeable on a PC, the right GPU, such as the leaked Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti, can produce visuals far superior to consoles. 

A great gaming computer doesn't come cheap though. You'll need to reach deep in your pocket for a PC sporting the most powerful graphics card, a top-end Skylake or Kaby Lake processor and an ultra fast SSD. But, if you love playing games with the settings cranked up at a steady frame rate, you may not mind a lofty upfront cost.

The choice is yours: you can build your own PC that tailors to your specific needs or you could just buy one of the 7 stellar gaming PCs that we recommend below. Your call.

  • Don't need a powerhouse? We've ranked the mainstream's best PCs

Overclockers Asteroid

Overclockers Asteroid

A beefy LAN-friendly PC with a tasty design

CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980Ti | RAM: 8GB 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

Insanely powerful
Compact design
Lacks M.2 storage

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 pairs its great design with class-leading performance in games and applications, and it's never hot or loud. It's expensive and niche, however, with limited upgrade potential. 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.

Read the full review: Overclockers Asteroid

best gaming pc

Lenovo Ideacentre Y900

A forward-looking gaming desktop for PC enthusiasts

CPU: 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K (quad-core, up to 4.2GHz, 8MB cache) | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 (4GB GDDR5 RAM) | RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,133 MHz) | Storage: 2TB + 8GB SSHD with 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac; Bluetooth 4.0 | Ports: 6 x USB 3.0, 4 x USB 2.0, Ethernet, HDMI, VGA, DVI, 7.1 analog audio out, optical audio out, headphone jack, microphone jack, PS/2 combo, 7-in-1 card reader

Tool-less design
Inaccessible cabling
A tad pricey

This gaming desktop might come in a designer case wrapping, but it's much more accessible and easy to upgrade than your average pre-built system short of a boutique. The arrival of the Y900, among a few other machines on this very list, herald a eureka moment in the major vendors' approach to PC gaming: give the people exactly what they want. A tool-less internal design will help soften the blow of some less-than-optimal cable management, meanwhile the device has plenty of room for expansions and upgrades. If you want the lowest friction possible getting into PC gaming, this is fine place to start.

Read the full review: Lenovo Ideacentre Y900

best gaming pc

Alienware Aurora R5

Alienware's iconic gaming PC returns as a mini powerhouse

CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K | 
 Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD, 2TB HDD | Features: 850W PSU, uniquely futuristic chassis

Easy to upgrade
Distinct case design
PSU gets in the way of cooler

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

best gaming pc

Origin Millennium

Two times 1080 equals 4K at 60fps

CPU: Intel Core i7-6950X | Graphics: 2 x Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Storage: 256GB Samsung 950 Pro (NVMe M.2), 1TB HDD | Features: Six-bay hard drive cage, variable mounting support, 850W PSU, 802.11ac wireless

Immense power
Customizable RGB lighting
Immense price
Rattly plastic shell

Sure, for the price of an Origin Millennium PC, you could buy a halfway decent car. But why would you want to leave the house when you can game at a 4K resolution complemented by a buttery smooth 60fps? 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

Cyberpower Trinity 300

StormForce Tornado

Ultra HD that won't make your wallet cry

CPU: 2.7GHz Intel Core-i5 6400 | Graphics: KFA2 GeForce GTX 1070 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,400MHz) | Storage: 1TB SATA | Power supply: 500w | 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

1440p and 4K gaming power
Plenty of drive bays
Hard disk increases wait times
Can't turn blue lighting off

Interested in Ultra HD gaming without spending a fortune? Enter the StormForce Tornado, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070-equipped rig with the appearance of a spaceship and five drive bays for near-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 some 4K) affordable, and who doesn't want that?

Read the full review: StormForce Tornado

Scan 3XS Vengeance

Scan 3XS Vengeance

A very speedy PC which can cope with demanding gaming

CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 | RAM: 8GB DDR3 | Storage: 256GB Samsung SM951 M.2 PCI-E SSD + 2TB HDD | Features: 4.6GHz overclock, Be quiet! Dark Rock 3 CPU cooler, Corsair Obsidian 450D chassis, 750W PSU

Fast overclocked Skylake CPU
High-end graphics card
Not a cheap machine
Skylake not a huge boost

Scan's 3XS Vengeance gaming computer very closely matches that of Chillblast's Fusion Master, with an overclocked Skylake processor for the fastest possible gaming performance and a powerful GeForce GTX 980 graphics card. This sort of setup will cope with any game up to 1440p resolution in maximum detail. The gap in price between the two systems can be attributed to small differences – a slightly smaller Samsung M.2 PCI Express SSD and less memory in Scan's default configuration. Whatever, the combination of Skylake and a GeForce GTX 980 will result in a very fast gaming PC.

Overclockers UK Titan Riptide

Overclockers Titan Virtual Force

Virtual reality made easy

CPU: 3.5GHz Intel Core i5-6600K | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980Ti | RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Storage: 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD | Connectivity: Ethernet | Ports: (Rear) 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0; (Top) 2 x USB 3.0, DisplayPort, DVI, VGA, HDMI, microphone and headphone jack

Good value
Handily-located ports
Uninspired case

Like many pre-built gaming desktops, the Titan Virtual Force is not tastefully designed nor is it particularly subtle. But very rarely when we buy gaming hardware are we as concerned about style over power – and holy hell is the Titan Virtual Force powerful. But it certainly needs to be seeing as the Titan Virtual Force is a gaming PC designed for use with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets.

For $1,820, of course you could build your own PC with equivalent specs for cheaper, but buying pre-built is all about convenience which is clearly on the table here. Taking a ride on the VR bandwagon with the Titan Virtual Force doesn't require knowing how to mount a motherboard or install a CPU cooler, but it does demand a hefty chunk of change.

So long as you're happy with a GTX 980Ti paired with an Intel 6600K but only 8GB of RAM at the entry level, the Titan Virtual Force serves as an excellent shortcut too buttery smooth VR gaming on the high end.

Read the full review: Overclockers Titan Virtual Force

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article