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The best gaming PC 2021: top desktops for PC gamers

best gaming PCs
(Image credit: Future)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

It takes more than sheer power to be the best gaming PC. Being fitted with the best processors and best graphics cards is certainly one of the metrics, as that guarantees the level of performance needed to get the most out of the best PC games and the best free games. However, that’s not the only thing that matters.

The best gaming PCs ensure buttery smooth performance and amazing graphical detail whether you want 1440p gaming or have graduated to 4K. Equally important, however, is their cooling solution and storage capacity. Since PC games are often more demanding, those components inside run hotter, and a more effective cooling solution is vital. As for storage capacity, something 512GB and over is ideal since those games take up a lot of space.

While you could probably get by gaming on lesser machines, you’ll want one of the best gaming PCs for a truly immersive gaming experience. From maxed out PCs with an Intel Comet Lake or AMD Ryzen 5000 chip and an Nvidia Turing or Big Navi inside to one of the best budget gaming PCs, these belong at the top of the pile in 2021. When coupled with the best gaming monitor, they are the stuff of legends. 

Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10

(Image credit: Alienware)

1. Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10

Powerful gaming for all budgets

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3500 – 9 3950X
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 5600 – NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
RAM: 8GB – 64GB DDR4
Storage: 1TB 7200RPM SATA – 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD + 2TB 7200RPM SATA
Reasons to buy
+Powerful specs+Affordable+Stunning design
Reasons to avoid
-Still very expensive at highest configurations

With AMD’s solid campaign to win the CPU and GPU markets, it’s no surprise that many of the best PCs are switching over Team Red’s cause. Our favorite Alienware Aurora gaming desktop PC line is among them, fitting its R10 models with AMD’s powerful yet affordable Ryzen CPUs. Not only do these deliver brute strength when it comes to gaming, but they also tout affordability, giving budget gamers to partake in what those with souped up rigs experience everyday without burning a hole in their pockets. This is the best gaming PC, bar none – especially with the next generation rocking with configurations touting the RTX 3090 for 8K resolution gaming.

MSI Trident 3 10th

(Image credit: MSI)

2. MSI Trident 3 10th

Best small form-factor gaming PC

Specifications
CPU: up to 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10700
Graphics: up to MSI GeForce RTX 2060 Super
RAM: up to 64GB DDR4 2666MHz
Storage: 1 x M.2 SSD + 1 x 2.5" HDD / SSD
Reasons to buy
+Esports-ready performance+Small form-factor+Plenty of front-facing ports
Reasons to avoid
-Entry level model runs off a hard drive-Not easily user-serviceable

If space is an issue, or you simply want a gaming PC set up right in your living room, then the MSI Trident 3 10th is worth considering. This isn’t just one of the smallest gaming PCs we've ever seen, not much larger than the best gaming laptops; it’s also more affordable than the competition with equivalent hardware. Without draining your wallet while touting a smaller footprint, the specs inside will be more than enough to ensure an excellent experience. And, as long as flashy RGB lighting and liquid cooling aren’t vital – and you don’t care much about upgradeability, this is the best gaming PC for you.

Read the full review: MSI Trident 3 10th

HP Omen Obelisk

This rectangular monster is definitely worthy of its moniker as it boasts lots of power. (Image credit: HP)

3. HP Omen Obelisk

Tricked out stunner for the hardcore gamer

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5-8400 – i5-9600K
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti – RTX 2080Ti
RAM: up to 64GB
Storage: 1TB HDD – 1TB SSD, 3TB+3TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+Lots of power+Appealing, tool-less design+Highly upgradeable
Reasons to avoid
-Base model hardly future-proof

This rectangular monster is definitely worthy of its moniker as it boasts lots of power… more than enough, in fact, for most gamers’ needs. When you’ve the funds for an upper-tier configuration, you’ll get a behemoth. Unfortunately, budget-minded buyers will have to be satisfied with gameplay at medium settings, since the lower end models don’t pack the same firepower. Still, because of its high upgradability and tool-less design, such buyers are only an upgrade or two from the best gaming experience on Ultra or Max settings. Plus, we’ve honestly seen more expensive machines for those specs. If you’re looking for the best gaming PC for cheaper, this HP PC is worth looking into.

Read the full review: HP Omen Obelisk review

Corsair One a100

(Image credit: Corsair)

4. Corsair One a100

Tiny PC, big power

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X – 3950X
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX RTX 2080 Super – 2080 Ti
RAM: 32GB DDR4-3200
Storage: 500GB NVMe SSD + 2TB HDD – 1TB NVMe SSD + 2TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+Extremely powerful+Looks cool+All liquid cooling
Reasons to avoid
-Hard to service-Expensive

Never underestimate this compact PC because of its size. The Corsair One a100 is one incredibly powerful machine, packing internals like the legendary AMD Ryzen 9 3950X and Nvidia’s unbeatable RTX 2080 Ti into a tiny chassis that would disappear into the background had it not been for its stylish RGB. Coupled with 32GB of memory and lots of storage space, this one’s a boon for the professional creative types as well. Rightly so, as they’re among the very few who can truly afford that hefty price tag. If you want something that looks cool and runs all the best games, the Corsair One a100 is the best gaming PC for you… if you have a ton of cash to throw, that is.

Read the full review: Corsair One a100

Corsair Vengeance i4200

(Image credit: Corsair)

5. Corsair Vengeance i4200

Back with a vengeance

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X – Intel Core i7-10700KF
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super – 2080 Super
RAM: 16GB – 32GB DDR4-3200
Storage: 960GB NVMe SSD – 480GB NVMe SSD + 2TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+Sleek tower and lighting design through iCue+Solid gaming performance
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Storage capacity is lacking

Blending its sleek mid-tower design with clever LED lighting controls and top-tier specs, the Corsair Vengeance i4200 is no slouch, even at its lower configuration (there are only two). It’s the more powerful one that you’d want to go for here – starting at $2,000, you might as well go big – with breathtaking specs like the Intel Core i7-10700KF and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super as well as up to 32GB of memory. If you’re a hardcore gamer, then this is one of the best gaming PCs for you without going completely broke. Though get ready to shell out a bit more for an external SSD, if you find the storage offerings a bit lacking.

Read the full review: Corsair Vengeance i4200

MSI Trident A Plus

(Image credit: MSI)

6. MSI Trident A Plus

Plenty of power inside its sleek shape

Specifications
CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB PCIE NVME M.2 SSD (512GB x 1) + 1TB 7200RPM – 1TB PCIE NVME SSD
Reasons to buy
+ Slim form factor + Powerful performance + High upgradability 
Reasons to avoid
- Not cheap 

It’s downright impressive how much power the MSI Trident A Plus boasts under the hood, especially considering its slim and small-ish form factor. The self-proclaimed most compact gaming desktop right now isn’t all talk, it walks the walk too with its 5.1 x 15.06 x 15.6-inch size. For superb performance, it offers 9th-generation Intel Core processors, up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card and 16GB of memory. While it’s not necessarily kitted out, this best gaming PC still spells sheer power. This small yet mighty gaming PC also delivers 4K gaming experience, customizable Mystic Light RGB LED design and the Silent Storm Cooling 3. 

Dell G5 Gaming Desktop

The Dell G5 boasts 9th-generation Intel chips as well as Nvidia’s most powerful gaming GTX and RTX graphics cards. (Image credit: Dell)

7. Dell G5 Gaming Desktop

Budget PC gaming at its best

Specifications
CPU: 9th Gen Intel Core i3-9100 – i9 9900K
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 – RTX 2070
RAM: 8GB – 64GB
Storage: 1TBSSD – 1TB SSD + 2TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+VR-ready configurations
Reasons to avoid
-Base models won’t get you through the most demanding games

A unique chassis coupled with a price to beat, Dell’s latest in its G series is a solid contender in budget gaming. The Dell G5 boasts 9th-generation Intel chips as well as Nvidia’s most powerful gaming GTX and RTX graphics cards, starting with an i3 processor and the GTX 1650 to handle many powerful games without burning a hole in your pocket. Of course, if you’ve got more cash to spare, it’s VR ready configurations are also on hand, though even those are absolutely affordable.

Intel Ghost Canyon NUC

(Image credit: Intel)

8. Intel Ghost Canyon NUC

Small, but dangerous

Specifications
CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i5 – i9
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM: 8GB – 64B DDR4
Storage: 128GB SSD – 2TB + 2TB
Reasons to buy
+Affordable at its low configurations+Highly upgradeable+Great performance
Reasons to avoid
-Can get pretty pricey at the highest configurations

Intel’s NUC has come a long way from its humble beginnings. For example, while the previous Hades Canyon didn’t come with a RAM or storage, the newer Ghost Canyon has both. In fact, not only does it have more offerings now in terms of specs, but it’s also highly configurable so you can personalize it to your liking before hitting that buy button. With 9th-generation Intel Core chips, up to 64GB of memory and up to 4TB dual storage, we’re all for it. The only catch is that it's pricier now as well. The lower configurations are still quite affordable, and the best gaming PC for the budget- and portability-conscious. However, you may want to stay away from the highest configurations.

MSI GE76 Raider

(Image credit: MSI)

9. MSI GE76 Raider

A thick powerhouse

Specifications
CPU: 10th-gen Intel Core i7
Graphics: up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
RAM: 32GB (16G*2) DDR4 3200MHz
Screen: 17.3-inch FHD (1920x1080), 300Hz 3ms, IPS-Level refresh rate
Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Extremely powerful+Tons of RGB+Fast display
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Heavy

If you want a powerful laptop that demolishes any game in high-resolution while looking good doing it, you should take a look at MSI’s latest update to its Raider line. The MSI GE76 Raider is packed with all the good stuff, from the high-end offerings in the RTX 3000 series to a whopping 32GB RAM. That does mean that it’s a bit on the thick and heavy side, so it might not be the best candidate for gaming on the go, but its RGB lighting is something to behold, making up for that non-svelte design in a massive and immersive way.

Read the full review: MSI GE76 Raider