The 9 Best Gaming PCs of 2021

From high-powered custom rigs to entry-level PCs

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
"Desktop gamers should take a long, hard look at the Dell Alienware Aurora R11 when it comes to time to make their next purchase."
Best Custom Built Gaming PC:
iBuypower Custom Gaming PC at
"The expert builders at iBuypower can get you a powerful gaming PC without too much of a premium."
"Featuring the perfect blend of power and performance, it ranks up there among the best gaming PCs."
"Custom-built rigs offer practically endless options for everything from hardware components to case designs."
"Corsair is a compact desktop whose size belies the power inside."
Best Aesthetics:
HP Omen 30L at Amazon
"Aesthetics aside, HP has continued the Omen legacy with a solid and relatively affordable gaming desktop.hetic"
Best Form Factor:
MSI MPG Trident at Amazon
"The MSI MPG Trident puts a remarkable amount of power into an incredibly small package."
Best Budget:
Dell G5 2020 at Amazon
"A solid gaming solution that won't break the bank"
"If you need a custom-built PC, the experts at NZXT have got your back"

We'll be the first to admit that there's a certain amount of pride that comes with building your own PC. But what's an inflated ego next to being able to play the hottest games right out of the box? Our collection of the best gaming PCs allow you to plug and play with minimal effort on your part, while still letting you pick and choose components that embody that gamer aesthetic you crave.

A single point of contact for your warranty is likely the biggest draw for many pre-fab PCs. Having to troubleshoot and RMA individual components is one of the biggest hassles to making your own PC, and going with an Alienware or Omen gaming desktop allows you to circumvent most of that.

When looking for the right gaming PC there are some things to consider besides just general componentry. Of course, knowing your CPU from your GPU will help you make a more educated decision but different manufacturers offer different warranties and customization options depending on who you go with.

If you're looking for a deep-dive on what makes a top-notch gaming rig, make sure to check out our beginners guide to PC gaming.

Best Overall: Alienware Aurora R11

Alienware Aurora R11
What We Like
  • Powerful hardware

  • VR-ready

  • Easy to upgrade

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey compared with building your own

Desktop gamers should take a long, hard look at the Dell Alienware Aurora R11 when it comes to time to make their next purchase. With high scores for upgradeability, Dell impresses with good looks for desktop placement, a bevy of upgrade options including support for the latest 10th-generation Intel Core i7 5.1GHz processors, up to 64GB of RAM, a whopping five solid-state drives, and ExtremeRange Wi-Fi technology that allows for dual external 5GHz signal amplifiers for an increased signal range.

Perhaps best yet, Dell has access to Nvidia's 30-series GPUs which are more than enough to support 4K gameplay. The outside is just as fantastic as the inside with more USB connections than you could ever need including six total USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.1 ports, and an added USB-C port for future-proofing. Our testing also revealed a bevy of audio ports, Ethernet, HDMI, and a trifecta of DisplayPorts also ensure that you can hook the Dell up to multiple monitors for enhanced gameplay or multitasking.  

"There’s also an array of customizable RGB lights on the side that can be changed to whatever colors suit your style." Gannon Burgett, Tech Writer

Best Custom Built Gaming PC: iBuypower Custom Gaming PC

iBUYPOWER Custom Gaming Computer
What we like
  • Excellent value

  • Solid build quality and attention to detail

  • Powerful hardware for demanding games

  • Very little bloatware out of the box

  • Prompt and courteous customer service

What we don't like
  • Purchase and delivery took over three months

  • Parts selection could be better

The custom PC builders at iBuypower are one of your best sources for high-end components, especially the scarce RTX 30-series graphic cards. If you're in the market for a demanding gaming rig that can handle games like Troy Total War, the iBuypower Custom Gaming PC can be configured to your needs and specifications. Despite costing more than doing your own build, the added premium isn't much higher than picking the components yourself. On top of that, you get solid build quality, attention to detail, and practically no bloatware out of the box.

While there might be some issues with shipping due to the scarcity of parts, solid customer service sweetens the deal and can be a great option for those who aren't comfortable with doing a build themselves. While our chosen configuration cost upwards of $4,000, more affordable options are also available depending on your gaming needs.

Most Powerful: Acer Predator Orion 9000

Acer Predator Orion 9000
What We Like
  • Top-of-the-line performace

  • Easy to upgrade

  • Sleek style

What We Don't Like
  • Comes packed with tons of bloatware

  • Expensive

Acer may be primarily known for its value-for-money computing products, but the Taiwanese company’s gaming portfolio is also equally (if not more) impressive. Want proof? Just take a look at the Predator Orion 9000. Featuring the perfect blend of power and performance, it ranks up there among the best gaming PCs you can buy today.

Delivering horsepower to the Acer Predator Orion 9000 is an eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8700K processor, packing six cores and extensive overclocking capabilities. Our recommended configuration includes 16GB of DDR4 RAM for hassle-free multitasking, as well as a 256GB SSD to ensure that all your programs and games start-up in no time. Speaking of games, they all run flawlessly even at the highest settings, thanks to an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GPU and its 11GB of discrete GDDR5X memory. Running Windows 10, the PC also comes with a 2TB HDD for all your storage needs. For I/O and connectivity, the Predator Orion 9000 features HDMI, Ethernet, DisplayPort, integrated Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, and more.

Its tower-style case is also a work of art with RGB lighting (customizable via PredatorSense software), thermal zone separation for enhanced cooling, a see-through side panel, and even a dedicated ‘Turbo’ button.

Best Splurge: Origin Genesis (Custom Build)

Origin Genesis
What We Like
  • Tons of configuration options

  • Professional assembly

  • Awesome performance

What We Don't Like
  • Exorbitantly expensive

  • Case design is a bit odd

While getting a pre-configured gaming PC is definitely the easier (and relatively hassle-free) option, custom-built rigs offer practically endless options for everything from hardware components to case designs. This also means that it’s completely up to you to decide how powerful — and expensive — you want the machine to be. So, if you want the ultimate gaming PC and don’t mind paying a pretty penny for it, get an Origin Genesis. 

Renowned for its high-performance computers, Origin PC lets you easily configure a custom gaming rig through its website. The company then assembles the computer to your specifications and delivers it to your doorstep. Built around Origin’s Genesis tower-style case, our recommended configuration includes Intel’s top-of-the-line Core i9-9900X processor, 64GB of DDR4 RAM, a 500GB SSD, and a 2TB HDD. In terms of graphics cards, we recommend going for dual NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti GPUs, each with 11GB of discrete GDDR6 memory. You can also opt for integrated Wi-Fi, a multi-format DVD burner, and a 40-in-1 card reader module.

As far as standard I/O and connectivity features are concerned, everything from HDMI and USB Type-A to VGA and 3.5mm audio is already taken care of. With the final price coming out to be a little over $7,000 (not including the vast array of cooling and RGB lighting options), this is a gaming PC that will deliver astounding performance with any game or application you throw at it.

Best Compact: Corsair One A100

What We Like
  • Powerful

  • Quiet

  • Slick design

What We Don't Like
  • Not easy to upgrade

  • Very expensive

Fast, small, and quiet are not generally words we associate with desktop gaming computers, but in the case of the Corsair ONE A100, that’s exactly the right description. Corsair’s adoption of a custom-manufactured liquid-cooling system and its custom GPU and CPUs help the desktop produce just 20 dBa while idle which makes it quieter than a whisper and almost inaudible. Fortunately, running quiet doesn’t mean running slow as the Ryzen 9 3950X processor — paired with 32GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card — can more than handle 4K and VR gaming.

With all that power inside, it’s a little disappointing to see the Corsair isn't super upgradeable, but, there is even more performance power to be derived from the internal components which should continue to make the Corsair a smart buy for years to come. At just 15 inches tall and less than eight inches deep, the Corsair is a compact desktop whose size belies the power inside, and, with its cylindrical style, it should fit neatly on or under your desk. 

Best Aesthetics: HP Omen 30L

What We Like
  • Attractive minimalist design

  • Very receptive to upgrades

  • Robust construction and build quality

What We Don't Like
  • Packaged with bloatware

  • Will need a better power supply to handle larger upgrades

The HP Omen 30L is among the first in HP's gaming desktop lineup to benefit from their recent rebranding, abandoning the threatening red tribal logo in favor of an ominous solid white diamond. Aesthetics aside, HP has continued the Omen legacy with a solid and relatively affordable gaming desktop.

The model we've outlined here features a top-of-the-line 10th gen intel gaming processor, 8GB of HyperX DDR4 RAM, and a GTX 1660Ti. The 256GB M.2 SSD doesn't leave you with a ton of space, but just like their previous models, the 30L also allows for some customization options based on your budget, offering a decent amount of flexibility in your build.

Because of the spacious case, there's plenty of room for upgrades down the line, but regardless of what parts you go with, the standard warranty still provides you with a year of coverage from the date of purchase. 

Best Form Factor: MSI MPG Trident

What We Like
  • Extremely small

  • Quiet fans

  • Excellent performance

What We Don't Like
  • Packaged bloatware

  • Little room for upgrade potential

The MSI MPG Trident puts a remarkable amount of power into an incredibly small package, even giving modest builds like the Corsair One and NZXT H1 a run for their money. The sharp and angular form factor of this desktop is highlighted with RGB strips and even features a tempered glass side panel for showing off components.

This gaming PC has a considerable amount of power behind it as well, featuring hardware you'd expect on a desktop twice its size. The Trident comes packed with an Intel 10700F, an Nvidia RTX 2060 Super, and a 1TB M.2 SSD. The chassis also packs in 16GB of RAM, with support for up to 64GB if you choose to upgrade.

The Trident can easily serve as a gaming desktop if your desk space is at a premium, but it truly shines in the living room, filling in as a game console and media PC. The desktop can be oriented vertically, or laid flat depending on where you need to stash it, but occupies a footprint no larger than an Xbox One or PS4.

Best Budget: Dell G5 2020

Dell G5 5090
What We Like
  • Excellent upgrade potential

  • Great value

  • Solid 1080p performance

What We Don't Like
  • Aesthetic may not be for everyone

  • Base unit has limited storage

Dell may not be the first name that comes to mind when shopping for a new gaming desktop, but they have managed to put together a solid gaming solution that won't break the bank, but still has plenty of headroom for expansion. The build we've picked out here is an excellent budget option for 1080P gaming and comes equipped with a 10th gen intel processor, as well as a GTX 1660Ti. The G5 also features a tempered glass side panel and built-in RGB lighting to really drive home the gamer aesthetic.

Dell also provides remarkably flexible payment plans if you can't pay in full, as well as a fairly comprehensive warranty in place for a year from the purchase date. The relatively simple layout of the chassis also lends itself well to upgrades, allowing you to slot in additional RAM or a higher-end graphics card if you choose to upgrade down the line.

Best Custom: NZXT BLD PC

What We Like
  • Extremely accessible service

  • Broad range of customization options

  • Plenty of budget options available

What We Don't Like
  • No closed loop cooling designs

  • No Custom case options

If you need a custom-built PC, the experts at NZXT have got your back with their BLD service that makes buying a desktop that is specifically tailored to your needs easier than ever. NZXT starts each custom build by having you choose from a selection of major titles and what kind of performance you're looking for and assembles a custom PC that can best handle that game based on your budget.

The BLD service has options ranging from as low as $699 but can also provide you with a desktop with all the trimmings for over $3000 if your budget stretches that far. Regardless of how much you can spend, if you're in the market for a pre-built PC, NZXT can help you figure out a build that works for you.

While you can get into the nuts and bolts or customizing your specific build, swapping out one component for another if you're so inclined, we particularly appreciate how accessible this custom build service is, providing you with clear guidance as well as allowing you to outline specific price or performance points you'd like to hit without charging you a premium for parts.

Final Verdict

For easy upgradability, top-notch performance, and amazing support it's tough to beat the latest in Alienware's extraterrestrial line of R11 desktops. Although if you're looking for something a bit more conventional, a customized NZXT BLD PC is a great alternative.

About Our Trusted Experts

Alice Newcome-Beill is constantly looking for new ways to edge out some additional performance from her gaming PCs and obsesses over component benchmarks.

David Beren is a writer with more than 10 years of experience in the tech industry and has been writing for Lifewire since 2016.

What to Look for in a Gaming PC

Graphics - If you want to do any serious gaming, you absolutely need a system that has a discrete graphics card. Integrated graphics, where the GPU is built into the motherboard, just won’t cut it. It’s impossible to go too big in this department, but you can save a ton of money by avoiding the latest cards in favor of an older card that’s still capable of running your favorite games at high settings.

SSD vs. HDD - After the CPU and the graphics card, the hard drive is one of the most important components in a gaming PC. If you want fast load times, then you need to get a gaming PC with an SSD, or be prepared to add one in later. If you’re working on a budget, get a small SSD that has enough space for your operating system and a couple games, and a larger HDD to store everything else.

Upgradability - One of the best things about PC gaming is that when your rig starts getting a little long in the tooth, you can replace components one at a time, or add new components. Look for a gaming PC that has enough extra PCI, PCIe, and M.2 slots, and enough room in the case, to accommodate upgrades. It’s a nice bonus if the case is easy to crack open without special tools.

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