The best gaming PC in 2021

These are the best gaming PC’s for every budget.

The best gaming PCs are the most powerful tool at your disposal for playing the most demanding games and a lot more. Blasting through hordes of foes at rapid frame rates and high resolutions is fun, but you can just as easily use a gaming rig for graphic design, animation or simply streaming movies and TV in beautiful 4K.

While the PS5 and Xbox Series X deliver plenty of power, they’re still no match for one of the best gaming PCs. If you want fast-loading SSDs, gorgeous ray tracing, massive quantities of RAM, 4K resolution and 60+ fps frame rate, you don’t have to wait until the consoles come back in stock; you can have the the best gaming PCs right now. And, unlike a console, you can upgrade PCs as better components becomes available.


❆ Buy the coolest gaming accessories right now.


A specs-sheet balance of price and performance is our top priority in a pre-built rig. Ideally, your gaming PC will have one of the best graphics cards and the best CPUs for gaming, though that’s not always financially possible. But you can’t skimp on one and go overboard on the other; an Nvidia RTX 3090 is only worth having if it’s paired with a top-flight processor that can take advantage of its power. And, ya know, if you’re into 3D creation work too.

Then there’s the support. After-sale support is where a good system builder becomes a great system builder. Things like 24/7 tech support or generous warranties are often overlooked but could save a headache down the road.

The Aurora Ryzen Edition takes over the top spot from the Intel builds (at least while Alienware readies for Rocket Lake). The AMD Ryzen processors of the new generation are exemplary in terms of both performance and price. And with the potential for a 16-core, 32-thread chip inside your Alienware gaming PC, alongside an Nvidia RTX 3090, you’re looking at something rather special.

But the lower end has something to offer too. The different configurations on offer mean that for £1,249 you can get a six-core machine with a GTX 1650 Super inside it, that will handle 1080p gaming in that sleek Alienware chassis.

It does have to be said that there is an Alienware premium attached to whichever components you choose. However, the higher-than-average price provides you with reliable build quality, exceptional customer service, and solid warranties. The numerous pre-fab options offered by Alienware also help eliminate much of the guesswork associated with customizing your system. Some options provide better value for the parts used, but for hassle-free PC gaming out of the box, it’s tough to beat the ease of use that Alienware provides.

The unconventional design of the case exploits every inch of its limited space but does initially feel a bit awkward to tinker with. The ability to access nearly every part of the PC without tools, however, is a definite plus and expedites upgrades and maintenance. There’s an obvious priority here on providing a convenient, premium product with some potential for upgrades, and the Aurora Ryzen Edition accomplishes that goal.


2. Alienware Aurora R11

Best gaming PC overall

CPU: Intel Core i3 10100–i9 10900KF | GPU: Nvidia GTX 1650 Super–RTX 3090 | RAM: 8GB–64GB 2933MHz | Storage: Up to 2TB M.2 PCIe SSD + 2TB SATA HDD

+ Toolless access
+ Upgradeable
+ Solid after-sale support

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Alienware appears to have stopped selling Intel machines directly from its website at the moment, we assume in preparation for Rocket Lake. You can still find them on Amazon and in places like Currys PC World though, . We assume this will return to normal once the stock issue resolves itself. 

Alienware is a household name when it comes to gaming desktops that share a, shall we say, unique aesthetic. While the extraterrestrial styling may not appeal to everyone, their performance remains undeniable. The freshly minted Aurora R11 uses the same compact design as its R9 forebear, our previous top pick, and means the new Intel 10th Gen processors have found a home in Alienware’s Aurora chassis. 

Alienware has also updated its range with RTX 30-series offerings, giving you an easy route into the Ampere generation of graphics cards.

There are now five different configurations of Comet Lake CPU to choose from: the Core i3 10100, i5 10600KF, i7 10700F, i7 10700K, and i9 10900KF (the K means it’s an unlocked chip, while the F denotes no integrated GPU). They’re paired with Nvidia GPUs from the GTX 1650 Super up to the unfeasibly expensive RTX 3090. That gives you a range of Alienware gaming machines from affordable 1080p gaming right up to blistering 4K workload-smashing performance, and the Alienware AIO cooling system will help keep the cosy interior of the case at a reasonable temperature too.


3. HP Omen Obelisk

Best gaming PC in performance in understated aesthetics

CPU: Intel Core i5-8400 to Core i9-9900 | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 to RTX 2080 | RAM: 8GB to 32GB DDR4-2666 | Storage: Up to 1TB NVMe SSD + 3TB HDD

+ Trim, sleek machine that cuts frills to save money
+ Performance powerhouse

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

There’s something sort of mystical about the Obelisk that encapsulates some of the most exciting facets of our hobby. The sleek, hard angles of this HP rig mirror the object it’s named after, a dense black cube of potentiality ready to unleash the most beautiful and intense games of this generation. 

True to that design, the Obelisk is trim and compact and powerful. It cuts away the fat, eschewing overblown RGB lighting or the elaborate tentacles of a liquid cooling setup, focusing instead on delivering sheer performance at a very attractive price. It’s also highly customizable, with a range of builds that start at the very affordable and peak up near some truly dizzying heights. For around the $2,000 mark, the Obelisk comes packed with a very nice 8th gen Core i7-8700 and a high-end RTX 2080, only one step down from Nvidia’s most powerful 20-series, ray tracing focused graphics powerhouse. It also boasts a speedy 256GB SSD and a generous 2TB standard HDD, so you’ll have plenty of room to load your most demanding games onto the faster storage and tons of leftover room for everything else. 

While the Obelisk’s case is smaller than the similarly specced Vengeance, it’s not tiny by any means, and the air cooling solution the Obelisk provides has been more than sufficient during testing to handle even heavy gaming loads. It does make swapping out components slightly trickier than the Vengeance’s massive dual-chamber case, of course, but that also means it’ll fit more easily into smaller spaces. The Obelisk tucks neatly under a desk, or can even slide into a larger entertainment center if you want it to be the central unit in your living room media showcase.


4. Corsair One i164

Best compact high-end gaming PC

CPU: Intel Core i9 9900K | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti | RAM: 32GB DDR4-2666 | Storage: 960GB NVMe M.2 SSD, 2TB HDD | Warranty: 2 year

+ Slim, minimalist footprint
+ Incredible looks
+ Outstanding performance

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

One of our highest rated pre-built gaming PCs is back in an updated model, the Corsair One i164. It’s still the same small form factor PC, but with a revamped internal layout, and a few other slight changes. The case design still looks like something straight out of Tron. The CPU and GPU both use independent liquid cooling solutions, and all the hot air is pumped out by a single 140mm maglev fan. The PSU now sits below the motherboard, and some of the USB ports have been re-positioned on the front of the case, but that’s the extent of the non-component changes. 

Like a number of the pre-built systems on this list, the Corsair One i164 isn’t the only configuration the One comes in. In fact, with an Intel Core i9 9900K and an RTX 2080 Ti, the i164 is the mid-range model. Yes, you read that right, the mid-range model. The lower model comes with a Core i7 9700K and an RTX 2080, while the Corsair One Pro workstation model comes with a Core i9 9920X and an RTX 2080 Ti. 

There are also now new AMD Ryzen-powered versions, with the a100 designation, offering either the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X or the 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X. That’s some serious core-counts in something so svelte.

There’s still no word on Nvidia RTX 30-series cards yet, although we would expect that to be corrected before long. It’s likely that Corsair will also have to invest in more PSU capacity for the change, too.

The price varies based on the specs, of course, so if £3,600 for the i164 is a little too rich for your blood, the i145 is £1,200 less at £2,400, which is £100 less than the a100 with a 3900X CPU. If you are in the market for a compact workstation, the i200 will zap £4,700 from your bank account. All models come with 32GB of RAM, so you won’t need to worry about upgrading that aspect of the One for years to come.

Regardless of the configuration, the Corsair One is a sleek, potent little machine designed for anyone wrestling with space considerations, or for those who want a powerful PC but don’t want to listen to it whine every time it’s stressed with a graphically intensive game.


5. HP Omen 25L

Best gaming PC for under $1199

CPU: Intel Core i5 10400F | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 | RAM: 16GB HyperX DDR4-2666 | Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD, 1TB HDD | Warranty: 1 year

+ Powerful components
+ Sober thrill-free designed
+ Easy to upgrade

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hewlett Packard has been around since before the Second World War, and that historical expertise is evident in the design and construction of its Omen 25L and 30L desktop PCs. The Omen 25L is highly customizable, starting with an RTX 2060 and Core i5 10400F and going up to a Core i9 and RTX 2080 Super.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Omen 25L is the price tag. Despite the presence of an RTX card and that rock-solid CPU (as well as 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and 2TB HDD), it comes in at just £999. This is largely due to HP trimming off all the non-essential frills that tend to pad out the price of a number of similarly specced machines. 

You won’t find an over-elaborate liquid cooling system or a massive suite of spectacular RGB lighting; this machine is a dense black block of computing power. If you value smooth lines and compact design over the flash and spectacle of RGB, you’ll appreciate the dark, slightly brooding aesthetic of the Obelisk. 

You can find similar specs to this from plenty of retailers, but it comes in a much smaller frame. While on the one hand there’s less space to muck around in the case if you do decide to upgrade in the future, it can slip easily into much tighter spaces than a larger case and is easier to transport. It’s the epitome of function over form and available at a great price.

There’s no word on RTX 30-series or AMD RX 6000-series GPUs just yet but watch this space. Hopefully, we’ll see movement from HP before long.


6. Dell G5 Gaming Desktop 5090

Best gaming PC for beginner

VR Ready: Yes | Processor: Up to 9th Gen Intel Core i7 9700 | RAM: Up to 64GB | Graphics Card: Up to Nvidia RTX 2080 | Storage: Up to 1TB SSD + 2TB hard drive | Accessories: Dell optical mouse and multimedia keyboard

+ Good productivity and gaming performance
+ Reasonably priced
+ Great chassis

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Dell G5 5090 is one of the best gaming PCs for folks who want a solid entry level machine that’s very easy to upgrade. This fairy affordable desktop starts with a modest Core i3 processor and Nvidia GTX 1650 card, but can be outfitted with up to a Core i7 CPU and RTX 2080 GPU for more intensive gaming.

One of the G5’s biggest selling points is its sleek, foolproof chassis, which is incredibly easy to open up should you want to swap out components over time. We found Dell’s desktop to be reliable for playing AAA games at 1080p and 60 frames per second, and like that the machine comes mostly free of bloatware. Overall, if you need a good, affordable desktop that you can make more powerful over time, the Dell G5 5090 is a great choice.


Buying advice

Why buy a pre-built gaming PC?

One of the most significant advantages to building your own PC is the ability to hand-pick every single component in the system. This allows you to take your time shopping around for deals and finding the perfect combination of parts to fit your budget and performance needs. The downside for most inexperienced builders is that this whole process can take some time and has the potential to cause quite a headache if something goes wrong. You only get warranties on the individual components, not your finished build, and this is where the best pre-built gaming PCs shine.

What do you get for your money?

When you pay the premium to configure or purchase a pre-built PC, you are paying for more than just the parts. You are paying for warranty service, support, and peace of mind that your system was put together by professionals. These are some of the things we value highly when considering what the best gaming PC is. We also look at other unique selling points like design, upgradability, and anything you wouldn’t be able to do when building it yourself.

What sets a pre-built machine apart from a DIY build?

One of the most significant factors that make PCs stand apart from the competition is the design. Pre-built systems like the Alienware Aurora R11 or Corsair One use unique in-house chassis designs you wouldn’t be able to purchase when building it yourself. You can take some comfort in knowing that these systems were designed and built specially to house your configuration, though that can make upgrading more awkward later on down the line.

When we set out to choose our top choices of pre-built gaming PCs, we look at almost every major manufacturer and system integrator to find the best combination of value, reliability, customer feedback, design, and performance for various budgets and needs.

How to choose the best gaming PC for you

Price: If affordability is your concern, most decent gaming PCs start around $700 to $1,000. For that price, you’re looking at specs such as Intel Core i3 and Core i5 processors, Nvidia 1660 and 1660 Ti GPUs and 8GB to 16GB of RAM.

Performance: Think about the type of gaming experience you’re after. If its solid 1080p/60fps gaming you want, a machine with a decent Core i5 processor and GeForce 2060 or AMD Radeon RX 5600 GPU will get you there. Cards such as the Radeon RX 5700 and GeForce 2080 hit a nice sweet spot for dependable 1440p gaming. Going 4K? You’ll want to spring for hardware such as an RTX 3080 or AMD RX 6800.

Upgradability: Gaming PC components are always evolving, and the best gaming PCs can be easily upgraded with new parts over time. Machines such as the Alienware Aurora and Dell G5 are easy to open up and tinker with, even for the less tech-savvy. Compact machines, such as the Corsair One, can be a bit harder to open up. So if you plan on upgrading your investment over time, keep this in mind.

VR-readiness: Want to game in VR? Requirements for headsets such as the Oculus Rift S and HTC Vive start at an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti / AMD Radeon RX 470 GPU, an Intel Core i3 or Ryzen 3 processor, 8GB of RAM and a DisplayPort 1.2 or mini DisplayPort. Make sure your machine meets this requirements before you plunk down cash for one. 


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