Home Features (Image credit: Future) The best gaming PC isn’t necessarily one you built yourself. The sad truth is that, though we love DIY PC builds, they’re one of the many casualties of the chip supply crisis. System builders simply have a better chance of getting hold of CPUs and GPUs than we do of bagging one at the local Best Buy, however early you get in line. What that means is these prebuilt PCs we’ve tested below may prove to be your best option for buying a powerful, modern gaming PC in 2021 and into 2022. System builders like Corsair, Alienware, and Lenovo will have an easier time securing these much sought-after parts. Though, it would be best if you prepared yourself for some pretty long lead times, around 3-4 weeks on average. There are exceptions, with the likes of iBuyPower offering its RDY prebuilt systems for same day shipping meaning you can get a whole new PC, with a GeForce RTX 3080 inside it, in your hands within a couple of days. The systems below have all of the specs that strike the perfect balance of price and performance. Ideally, your gaming PC will have one of the best graphics cards and the best CPUs for gaming. Whether it’s 4K gaming or a decent 1080p system that’ll spit out a high frame rate for competitive gaming, there’s something for everyone. Gaming PC deals ahead of the holidays Best gaming PCs (Image credit: Alienware) 1. Alienware Aurora R10 Ryzen Edition The best AMD gaming PC Specifications CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X–Ryzen 9 5950X GPU: Nvidia GTX 1660 Super–Nvidia RTX 3090 RAM: 8GB–32GB DDR4 Storage: 1TB–1TB HDD + 1TB SSD Warranty: 1 year (onsite) Reasons to buy +AMD CPU + Nvidia GPU combo+Ton of USB ports+After sales care Reasons to avoid –Sounds like it’ll take off–Divisive case design Our favorite Aurora R10 config: It took a while to come, but Alienware finally listened and created an AMD-focused line of its popular Aurora machines. The latest edition, the Aurora Ryzen Edition R10, delivers the Zen 3-powered AMD Ryzen 5000-series CPUs and either Nvidia’s high-performance RTX 30-series or AMD’s RX 6000-series graphics cards. This is one of the few places you might be able to find yourself an AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT, too—the red team GPU is actually capable of going toe-to-toe with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080. The latest AMD Ryzen processors themselves are exemplary in terms of both performance and price, with the Ryzen 9 5900X, in particular, is a spectacular chip not just for productivity but also for gaming. That 12-core, 24-thread CPU shows just how far AMD has managed to push its smart chiplet-based Zen 3 architecture to deliver an actually affordable, seriously high core-count processor for a gaming PC. Those used to purely be server-side specs. Read more And where old AMD chips couldn’t keep pace with Intel when it comes to gaming, the current Ryzen range absolutely can, especially when paired with one of the latest AMD or Nvidia graphics cards. There are currently six different configurations on offer, though you can dig in and customize before you buy if you would prefer a different CPU or GPU, or more SSD capacity. Starting with the GTX 1660 Super and a six-core RX 5600X, going all the way up to the mighty GeForce RTX 3090 and the monstrous 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen 9 5950X. It’s worth noting that you should definitely take a look in the configuration options, because the lowest spec option only comes with a single stick of DDR4 memory, which will halve the available bandwidth compared with running a pair of them, even at the same capacity. That costs, however, and there aren’t options, for example, to either have one 8GB stick or two 4GB sticks. Take a look at the SSD on offer, too. Something with a 256GB SSD in 2021 is not going to get you much change out of having Windows 11 and Forza Horizon 5 installed at the same time. Alienware is offering both the dark and light chassis options for the current lineup and, however you feel about the design, it does certainly make for a striking machine. It’s worth stating that the Aurora cases are not necessarily the easiest to upgrade due to their bespoke design. They’re awkward to dig into if you want to start upgrading yourself, and you will soon see why they don’t offer tempered glass side panels yet once you look inside. But as a first machine, the Alienware Aurora R10 will not do you wrong. And given the general component drought right now, the fact that you can bag an all-AMD Alienware machine with just a few months lead time is pretty great. Image 1 of 3 (Image credit: Alienware) Image 2 of 3 (Image credit: Alienware) Image 3 of 3 (Image credit: Alienware) The best Intel gaming PC Specifications CPU: Intel Core i5 11400F–Core i9 11900KF GPU: Nvidia GTX 1650 Super–RTX 3090 RAM: 8GB DDR4-3200–128GB DDR4-3400 Storage: Up to 2TB M.2 PCIe SSD + 2TB SATA HDD Warranty: 1 Year (onsite) Reasons to buy +Toolless access+Upgradeable+Solid after-sale support Reasons to avoid –Pricey higher end configs–Case starting to show its age Our favorite Aurora R12 config: While the extra-terrestrial styling may not appeal to everyone, the performance of Alienware’s Aurora R12 gaming PCs remains undeniable. The latest Aurora R12 uses the same compact design as its R9 and R10 forebears and gives the current Intel 11th Gen processors and Nvidia RTX 30-series GPUs a home in Alienware’s classic chassis. Like the Aurora R10 Ryzen Edition, Alienware offers the choice of both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards, but you have to dig into the customization options if you want to pick from either the Radeon RX 6800 XT or RX 6900 XT cards. Outside of that, Alienware offers eight discrete configurations on its site, from low-end gaming rigs, sporting the GTX 1650 Super and Core i5 11400F, all the way up to RTX 3090 gaming monsters. That gives you a range of Alienware gaming machines from reasonably affordable 1080p gaming right up to blistering 4K workload-smashing performance, and the Alienware AIO cooling system will help keep the cozy interior of the case at a reasonable temperature too. Read more While the actual configs Alienware offers are great starting points, like with the Ryzen Edition, it’s absolutely worth digging around in the customization options when it comes to picking the right rig for you. Our favorite setup, boasting the Core i5 11600KF and RTX 3060 Ti GPU, only comes with a 256GB SSD, and is sold with a single 16GB stick of DDR4 by default. The memory thing is something you have to watch Alienware for specifically. In the customization options you can choose to change that to a pair of 8GB DDR modules, running at the same speed and total capacity, for free. That will automatically double your memory bandwidth, and it’s a bit off that it’s otherwise sold with the weaker solitary stick. Now, we’re not entirely sold on the high-end Rocket Lake 11th Gen CPUs, but the fact that Alienware is now offering the Core i5 11400F and 11600KF in its Intel range is a great shout. Thanks to their Cypress Cove core architecture, the new Intel Core i5 chips make great gaming CPUs and would definitely be our picks if you’re looking for a new Aurora R12 build. We have played with the RTX 3090 version of the last-gen Aurora R10, sans liquid chilled GPU, and in gaming terms, you’re not going to get a lot higher frame rates than you would with the RTX 3080 build. That’s not a massive surprise given our testing of the RTX 3090 at launch; it only makes sense if you need that 24GB frame buffer for creative work. The unconventional design of the case exploits every inch of its limited space but initially feels a bit awkward to tinker with. However, access to nearly every part of the PC without tools is a definite plus and expedites upgrades and maintenance. So long as you’re familiar with the design. There’s an obvious priority on providing a convenient, premium product with some potential for upgrades, and the Aurora design just about accomplishes that goal. The issue with all gaming PCs and parts right now is availability. And that’s currently hitting Alienware as hard as the rest. Picking up a new Aurora R12 rig today means you’re not going actually to receive it for a month at best. (Image credit: Corsair) The best PC for streaming Specifications CPU: Up to AMD 5900X | Intel 10850K GPU: Up to AMD RX 6800 XT | Nvidia RTX 3090 RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4-3200 Storage: 2x 2TB SSD Warranty: 2 year Reasons to buy +Solid Performance+4K Capture Card+Cool Case Reasons to avoid –No such thing as an entry-level offering–Desperately needs a larger SSD Our favorite Corsair Vengeance config: There’s a reason Razer is desperate to follow Corsair’s lead; it’s one of the biggest names in PC gaming hardware right now. Through continual product expansion, and some super smart acquisitions, Corsair now has its fingers in pretty much every facet of our hobby. In fact, CPUs, motherboards, and GPUs are the only places you won’t find a Corsair logo, but with its impressive line of premium gaming PCs that logo will still contain all three; the very finest of all that technical jazz. And, if you’re looking to kick start your career as the next big Twitch streamer, Corsair’s integration of Elgato streaming tech in its PCs means they’re a great option for the budding stream-star. Likewise the powerful AMD CPU/Nvidia GPU combo means that you’ll be able to play and stream most games without much trouble. What makes this system stand out is the optional inclusion of an Elgato 4K60 Pro capture card in the specific ‘Streaming’ machines. This allows for delay-free 4K gameplay footage capture from your gaming PC, consoles, or 4K camera via HDMI. Sure, you can just use OBS Studio, or Nvidia’s Shadowplay (or whatever it’s calling itself these days) but there will always be some overhead to deal with. Using a professional capture card can really take the load off. And that’s especially good for broadcasting a live stream. Read more Since Corsair acquired Elgato, it now has access to some of the world’s best streaming hardware for its Vengeance rigs. Pair that with Corsair’s classic component quality, and you have a recipe for not only great gaming PCs but fantastic streaming rigs too. You’ve got to hand it to Corsair; it sure knows how to build a fine PC. We’ve played with its more bespoke Corsair One PCs, the ones that look like the Mac Pro or softer Series X, and they’re great little machines. But the Vengeance gaming PCs are more straightforward, and that means they’re also far easier to upgrade down the line. Corsair’s chassis are among the best around, and the most accessible when it comes to getting all DIY yourself, which makes the Vengeance machines a great first PC with a view to getting into the upgrade game later on down the line. The only issue with that is Corsair doesn’t really lend itself to the more affordable end of the PC spectrum. You’re not going to get a $1,000 Vengeance rig as an entry-level PC and build from there, so don’t expect to hit the budget builds here—Corsair’s machines are most definitely premium PCs for the enthusiast. Read our full Corsair Vengeance A4100 review. Image 1 of 3 (Image credit: HP) Image 2 of 3 (Image credit: HP) Image 3 of 3 (Image credit: HP) The best gaming PC around $1,500 Specifications CPU: Intel Core i9 10900K or Ryzen 9 5900X GPU: Up to Nvidia RTX 3080 RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4-3200 Storage: Up to 2TB M.2 SSD and extra HDD storage Warranty: 1 year Reasons to buy +Powerful components +Designed to remove needless frills and keep costs low Reasons to avoid –Limited Software –Not the most optimal airflow Our favorite HP Omen config: Hewlett Packard has been around since before the Second World War, and that historical expertise is evident in the design and construction of the Omen line of gaming PCs. HP Omen offers a wide range of customisation options with its Omen 25L and Omen 30L systems, allowing you to take your pick of AMD, Intel, and Nvidia component CPU and GPU options. You can also take that configuration to the memory and storage requirements, too, allowing you to really tailor your system. HP Omen rigs are on the more restrained side of PC gaming, so you won’t find an over-elaborate liquid cooling system or a massive suite of spectacular RGB lighting; the Omen systems are appropriately named dense black blocks 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 HP lineup. We haven’t specifically reviewed the latest range of gaming systems from HP, but we’ve been testing its gaming PCs since the Obelisk range, and have always been impressed by its no-unnecessary-frills approach to system building and the value proposition of its rigs. (Image credit: Origin) The best AMD-powered small form factor PC Specifications CPU: Up to AMD Ryzen 9 5950X GPU: Up to RTX 3080 Ti RAM: Up to 32GB 3,000MHz Storage: Gen4 PCIe SSD up to 2TB Warranty: 1 year Reasons to buy +Powerful Micro gaming rig+Vertical or horizontal positioning+Huge choice of components Reasons to avoid –Wifi not great–Limited storage options Our favorite Origin Chronos config: Origin PC’s Chronos machine is a slight form factor build that can house the most powerful gaming components around. And, to be honest, the fact you can squeeze a 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 in there means you could have yourself one hell of a powerful workstation too. That next-gen hardware is now available in the Chronos V2 design. But that way lies supreme expense. Origin PCs aren’t cheap, but they are well-built, super customizable, and you could still create a far more affordable gaming machine from a Ryzen 5 5600X and an RTX 3060 pairing. If you’re not sold on the actual Origin Chronos chassis and maybe fancy a little more Perspex in your build, you can go for the lovely Fractal Define Nano S instead. There’s also the Fractal ERA if you’re the serious type. That will negate any potential thermal issues you might encounter, dropping super high-end components into the smaller confines of the Chronos case. Best gaming keyboard | Best gaming mouse | Best gaming chair Best VR headset | Best wireless gaming mouse | Best CPU for gaming (Image credit: Corsair) Our special pick Specifications CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 / Intel Core i7–i9 GPU: Up to RTX 3080 Ti RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4 3200 Storage: Gen4 PCIe SSD up to 2TB Warranty: 2 year Reasons to buy +Unfettered performance for 4K gaming+Simple and easy to use+Surprisingly quiet Reasons to avoid –CPU runs a little hot–Not easily upgradeable Our favorite Corsair One config: Best gaming laptops (Image credit: Future) If you prefer gaming on-the-go, you’ll want to take a look at our best gaming laptop guide. Corsair has overhauled its compact One gaming PCs with the latest parts from both AMD and Nvidia—and we’re here for it. The Corsair One A200 delivers top-of-the-line gaming performance, which is perhaps unsurprisingly considering its credentials: up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti and AMD Ryzen 9 5950X. It’s wild what you can stuff into such a small chassis nowadays and have it run reasonably cool and quiet too. The Corsair One achieves this by using two compact liquid coolers, one for the CPU and one for the GPU. You’ll have to adjust your expectations for CPU temperatures perhaps a little above your comfort zone during intense operations, but nothing these chips aren’t built to handle day in, day out. It’s an impressive PC given its small stature—you could happily sit this PC on your desktop and still leave plenty of room for your gamer drinks and tinted glasses. Read our full Corsair One A200 review. Best gaming PC FAQ Why buy a pre-built gaming PC? One of the most significant advantages of building your 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 process can take some time and 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 in a pre-built PC? When you pay the premium to configure or purchase a pre-built PC, you pay for more than just the parts. You pay for warranty service, support, and peace of mind that professionals put your system together. 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. Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he’s back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.