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Best gaming PC 2022: the top desktops for serious PC gaming

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
A CLX Scarab, a top scorer on our best gaming PC list, against an orange background
(Image credit: Future)
EDITOR'S NOTE: September 2022

As we roll through August, we're getting some great gaming PCs dropping with all new Intel Alder Lake processors and fantastic graphics cards, both from Nvidia and AMD. And while some of them are high-end builds like the Maingear Turbo, there are still some fantastic budget options out there for those who are looking for a great PC for gaming that doesn't break the bank. 

- John Loeffler, Computing Editor

Finding the best gaming PC can be a challenge given how many options there are out there from literally dozens of brands from HP to Maingear. And the best gaming PCs aren't necessarily the most expensive either, with some great budget options offering a fantastic value for both 1080p and 1440p gaming.

There are also a lot of advantages of buying a prebuilt gaming PC over building one yourself, including the ability to get the best graphics card for your budget and one of the best processors around, both of which might be especially hard to find on their own right now (even as inventories start to recover somewhat from the stock shortages of the past couple of years).

There's also the advantage of having more stability in a system that has undergone fairly rigorous testing from an OEM manufacturer like Dell, Alienware, or Lenovo, so you know that out of the box even the best budget gaming PC will be ready to play the best PC games from the get-go. 

But which one do you pick? Fortunately, we've tested the best gaming PCs from every major manufacturer and brought our top picks together in one place to help you find the best gaming PC for your needs and budget.

Best gaming PC 2022 - Chosen by our experts

A Maingear Turbo against a white background

(Image credit: )
The best gaming PC overall

Specifications

CPU: Up to AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
Graphics: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
RAM: Up to up to 64GB
Storage: Up to 2 x 4TB PCIe SSDs

Reasons to buy

+
Outstanding customization options
+
Gorgeous design
+
Custom liquid cooling is a work of art
+
Fantastic customer service

Reasons to avoid

-
Higher-end configurations can get eye-wateringly expensive
-
Radiator can get very hot

The Maingear Turbo is an outstanding gaming PC with fantastic style and customization that can actually be affordable, but it is still a custom-built PC, so the best configuration options are going to be very expensive. 

Oh, and if you have a cat, you'll be in a battle of constant vigilance to keep her off it since the radiator at the top gets pretty toasty.

Check out our full Maingear Turbo review


Acer Predator Orion 3000 desktop gaming PC on a white background

(Image credit: Acer)
The best budget gaming PC right now

Specifications

CPU: Up to 12th-gen Intel Core i7
Graphics: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
RAM: Up to 16GB
Storage: Up to 1TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Smart build with lovely RGB
+
Great gaming performance matched with superb cooling
+
Amazing value for money

Reasons to avoid

-
Fans can get noisy

The Acer Predator Orion 3000 is superbly built, with an attention to detail that’s practically unrivaled and a tidy, compact design that makes it much more portable and easy to move around than many of its competitors. Its RGB lighting is also something to behold, made even better by the FrostBlade fans and light bars on the side. 

While the higher-end configurations don't sit in the budget department, the more affordable versions offer absolutely incredible value for money, with performance-per-dollar beating out most other gaming PCs. That's why it takes the top spot on our best budget gaming PC list, and is a worthy inclusion here.

An easy-to-upgrade chassis means that this is a gaming PC that could last you for years, with performance in the base model making it easily capable of playing the latest games at 1080p or even 1440p right now. It’s certainly a compelling purchase for gamers who care just as much about aesthetics as they do about performance. 

Check out our full Acer Predator Orion 3000 review


Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 from the side and from the front on a white background

(Image credit: Alienware)
Big, beautiful, powerful

Specifications

CPU: Up to AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 / AMD Radeon RX 6900XT
RAM: Up to 128GB 3200MHz DDR4
Storage: Up to 2TB SSD + 2TB HDD

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful specs
+
Affordable
+
Stunning design

Reasons to avoid

-
Still very expensive at highest configurations
-
Loud

With AMD’s solid campaign to win the CPU and GPU markets with a gaming-focused approach, it’s no surprise that many of the best PCs are switching over to Team Red. 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 a chance to partake in what those with souped-up rigs experience every day without burning a hole in their pockets. This is one of the best gaming PCs around, bar none – especially if you do have the cash to spring for the next-generation model, which rocks configurations touting the RTX 3090 GPU for 8K resolution gaming.

Learn more in our Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 review 


Lenovo Legion Tower 5i at an angle with its RGB lighting on against a white background

(Image credit: Lenovo)
Great for entry level PC gaming

Specifications

CPU: Up to 11-Gen Intel Core i9
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Super – RTX 3070
RAM: Up to 32GB DDR4 : Up to 32GB DDR4
Storage: Up to 1TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Solid 1080p performance that’s great for esports
+
Easily upgradable when you need a power boost in the future

Reasons to avoid

-
Entry level model GPU lacks ray tracing & DLSS

Those new to PC gaming or those on a budget will appreciate the entry-level configurations that the Lenovo Legion Tower 5i brings to the table. It’s an affordable point of entry and is highly capable at handling the most popular esports and AAA titles available at 1080p, and is customizable enough to get some beefier hardware if you have the cash. 

Though the most basic model uses an Nvidia GTX 1660 that lacks more modern GPU standards like ray tracing and DLSS, when you are ready to upgrade to the more robust specs, its black tower chassis is effortless to open and easily maneuverable for upgrades. If you’re just starting your journey through the world of PC gaming, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better option than this.

Learn more with our Lenovo Legion Tower 5i review


Corsair One i300 against a white background

(Image credit: Corsair)
The best compact PC for gaming

Specifications

CPU: up to 12th Gen Intel Core i9-12900K
Graphics: up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
RAM: up to 64GB DDR5
Storage: 1 x M.2 SSD + 1 x 2.5" HDD / SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Great performance in a compact design
+
Not too loud

Reasons to avoid

-
Gets expensive fast
-
Components might not fit 

Some might say that the Corsair One i300 is a bit of an overkill, and for most non-competitive gamers, that’s probably accurate. However, this gorgeously-designed mini PC for gaming is just the ticket for players who need (or want) the absolute best in a compact design. 

Whether you’re gaming competitively or you just happen to have a lot of cash to burn and want to future-proof your gaming setup. It comes with some of the very best components money can buy with its high-end configuration capable of handling any game at 4K – and any content creation workflows, for that matter, if you’re hoping to catch two fish with one worm.

Learn more in our Corsair One i300 review


HP OMEN 30L on a white background with its fans light on

(Image credit: HP)
Simplicity meets power

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-10700K - Intel Core i9-10900K
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 - 3090
RAM: 16GB - 64GB
Storage: 512GB - 2TB SSD + 0 - 2TB HDD

Reasons to buy

+
Fair value
+
Capable performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Constricted internals

The HP Omen 30L can come kitted out with some serious hardware, and it delivers on performance despite some tight internals that had us worried about airflow. There are other things to love as well – its few RGB zones, fair pricing, and elegant design are much appreciated as well. 

While the system does allow for customization, its tight confines may make it hard to do a lot of expansions, and there’s very little that can be done to add to the cooling.

Read the full HP Omen 30L review


CLX Scarab against a white background

(Image credit: CLX Gaming)
Customizable for every budget

Specifications

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 – Intel Core i9-11900K
Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1660 Super 6GB – Nvidia RTX 3090 with 24GB vRAM
RAM: 16GB – 32GB DDR4
Storage: 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD – 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD, 1 x SATA SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Very customizable
+
Amazing performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Can get very expensive
-
Parts’ availability can affect build

What makes the CLX Scarab so special is how customizable it is. Depending on your budget, you can get the most basic of builds just to get you gaming or you can get a maxed out machine with such stellar parts as an Nvidia RTX 3090 and a 12th Gen Intel Core i9. 

Just be prepared to spend if you plan on getting a more powerful configuration. Additionally, since it is custom, you’re also at the whims of the worldwide supply chain so if you want a part that’s in short supply, you may have to wait a little longer for your PC. However, if you’re willing to wait, you’ll get something that can be personalized in a lot of different ways.

Read the full CLX Scarab review


How to choose the best gaming PC for you

When it comes to finding the best gaming PC, your main concern is finding the right balance between your budget and gaming performance. Work out how much you're willing to spend first, then start investigating what the best specs you can get for that price is.

If money is no object (or at least if you're willing to take the time to save up the money) then you can't go wrong with our top powerhouse picks, the MSI MEG Aegis Ti5 and the Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10. Both pack powerful CPUs (you can also upgrade these to the latest-gen Intel Core and AMD Ryzen processors, though remember that you'll need to stick with the same brand or replace the entire motherboard) and come with Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics cards, which is just shy of the best GPU you can get, the Nvidia RTX 3090. Both have some excellent customization options as well so you can tinker around with the specs to your liking.

If you do have to mind your budget somewhat, then the Acer Predator Orion is a great choice, since it has a wide range of customization options, that can give you excellent performance for the price. There's also the Lenovo Legion Tower 5i with an RTX 3060, which is one of the best gaming PCs you can find for 1080p and 1440p gaming at a great price.

How we test gaming PCs

A gaming PC is a big purchase that shouldn’t be taken lightly, which is why we don’t take our testing lightly either. Testing gaming PCs is always a comprehensive undertaking for us, using it to play not only the latest or hottest games but also older yet still demanding titles as well, noting things like performance – especially in gaming – as well as noise and thermal efficiency. We also run synthetic benchmarks like PCMark 10 (opens in new tab), 3DMark (opens in new tab), and Geekbench 5 (opens in new tab).

Furthermore, we take a look at its design, things like availability of ports, expandability and upgradability, RGB lighting, and accessibility that its chassis offers. Build quality is an important factor in comparison to the asking price, so if any piece of hardware feels cheap or flimsy in an expensive product, it's going to get marked down. For good measure, we’ll also check how it does with daily tasks, because most of us don’t only use our gaming PCs for gaming; it serves as our everyday computer as well.

We then take everything we’ve learned about the gaming PC and compare it to its price – whether or not its performance and features are worth that price tag, and whether or not it offers the best value to customers.

For more information about our process, see how we test.

Is it better to build or buy a gaming PC?

Whether to build or buy a gaming PC, that is the question. For some PC gamers, building a system is the only way to go, as this lets you customize your rig to very precise specifications. Unfortunately, finding the individual components you need to build a PC is getting tougher than ever. As much as you might want to build a custom gaming PC, you might not actually be able to do so.

If that's the case, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with buying a gaming PC. No, you might not be able to precisely customize it to your liking, but if what you want to do is play your favorite PC games, then buying one of the best gaming PCs you can afford will simply make the whole process easier.

What should you look for when buying a new gaming PC?

Since building your own PC can be pricey and/or a bit of a hassle, buying the best gaming PC you can afford definitely makes the whole process easier. And with some recent offerings from companies like HP and Dell, you don't even necessarily have to spend a fortune either. Still, it's always good to go in knowing what you're looking for within your budget.

Whether you’re playing the best PC games or the best free games to save a bit of coin, your priority should be choosing something that manages to be affordable to you without compromising on performance or scrimping on vital features like a healthy port selection and appealing RGB lighting. 

That could very well mean a pricey desktop PC that will see you through 4K gaming, or one of the best budget gaming PCs that will give you a smooth 1080p gaming experience. Don’t worry so much about the frills and the design unless your budget is flexible or you’ve got deep pockets.

Make sure that there’s also enough speedy RAM and fast storage. These days, an 8GB DDR4 memory is the minimum, but upgrade to 16GB if you can. Plenty of SSD storage is ideal as well, since many top titles take up a lot of space, although you can always get an additional drive later down the line.

Finally, make sure you have enough money for quality peripherals as well. After all, a gaming PC is only as good as its peripherals. Only when coupled with the best gaming monitor and the best gaming keyboards will yours be the stuff of legends. 

Should you get a gaming PC or a next-gen console?

There may not be a clear answer to settle the gaming PC vs next-gen console debate, but there are a few key things you should consider before buying either one. Both pieces of technology will flawlessly play the biggest game releases, but consoles like the PS5 still have exclusive games like Horizon Forbidden West that can’t be played anywhere else.

Next-gen consoles are also an all-in-one package with the console and at least one controller in the same purchase. Gaming PCs require a tower, monitor, keyboard, and mouse - most of which all have to be purchased separately. The cost for PC gaming accessories only goes up when you want to get things like the best gaming keyboard, best gaming mouse, and best PC gaming headsets.

Both next-gen consoles and gaming PCs have been affected by component shortages, making it difficult to find consoles as well as newer PC gaming parts. If you can get these items for retail price it won’t be as much of an investment, but it has become increasingly difficult to find reasonable prices amongst scalpers. Stock often sells out fast as well, making it hard to get your hands on either technology.

So, is a gaming PC better than a next-gen console? Not necessarily, especially if you don’t have the room to devote to all the aspects of a PC gaming rig. However, the best gaming PC will run on-par with the newest next-gen consoles so it’s ultimately about the gaming experience you’re looking for - choosing between a next-gen console or gaming PC is a win either way.

Today's Best Gaming PC Deals

John Loeffler
Computing Editor

John (He/Him) is the US Computing Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 


Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.


You can find him online on Twitter at @thisdotjohn


Currently playing: The Last Stand: Aftermath, Cartel Tycoon

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