The best gaming PC is much more than the sum of its parts. What we look out for in our testing is a complete system that's been built with care, by professionals, and is tailored to gaming performance. We also want to see that the manufacturer has been careful with their selection of components and hasn't cut corners on components. It's these key factors that separate the best gaming PCs from the mediocre machines.
We've all experienced the difficulties and spiked pricing of product shortages over the past few years, most evident by the high pricing and scarcity of the best graphics cards (opens in new tab). That's gradually eased into 2023, but it remains true that the buying power of system builders means they generally have a better chance of getting hold of a new piece of hardware than you do on your own. That means it's easier and often cheaper to chase down that desirable new GPU through buying the best gaming PC around.
But with so many different configurations and budgets out there, how can you tell what the best gaming PC actually is? We've switched up how we test prebuilt PCs, and are focusing less on exact configurations and more on what different system builders will prioritise in terms of specs and what they offer in terms of quality of build and warranty.
To that end we have set a limit of ~$1,500 on every mainstream system we test, to see what sort of spec you can get for the money, and what different companies will offer and what compromises they make. From our in-depth testing of each system builder you can be confident that whichever machine you buy from them you know the fundamentals are covered.
Where are the best gaming PC deals?
- Amazon - Save hundreds of dollars on selected prebuilt PCs (opens in new tab)
- iBuyPower - Fast shipping machines with up to $400 off (opens in new tab)
- Best Buy - RTX 3080 gaming desktops for under $3K (opens in new tab)
- Lenovo - Lenovo Legion gaming machines with up to $300 savings (opens in new tab)
- Newegg - Stellar savings on RTX 30-series gaming PCs (opens in new tab)
- Dell - Up to $750 saved on Alienware Aurora gaming PCs (opens in new tab)
- HP - Save over $300 on all-in-one PCs (opens in new tab)
- Corsair - Some ridiculous savings on compact gaming PCs (opens in new tab)
- NZXT - streaming-focused gaming PCs with $100 off (opens in new tab)
Best gaming PCs
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Our favorite config:
AMD Ryzen 7 5700X | Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 | 16GB DDR4-3200 (opens in new tab)
The NZXT Streaming Plus BLD Kit is the model we've tested for review. It comes with a great CPU and GPU combo and lots of storage space on a speedy NVMe drive. That's rounded off with 16GB of RAM running at a respectable 3,200MHz. With the basics covered, you might think that's all this kit can offer, but actually the 650W power supply in this kit is a hidden gem which makes future expansion easy. The NZXT H510 case is also great to build into, making the overall process a breeze, even for beginners.
The NZXT Streaming Plus BLD Kit (opens in new tab) isn't your typical off-the-shelf gaming PC. You end up with an absolute monster of a machine, but you have to put most of it together yourself. NZXT offers more traditional builds for would-be buyers, but this doesn't feel too much for most PC gamers to handle.
This is a full PC kit instead of a pure pre-built. Everything you need for a fully functioning machine is here, and NZXT has taken the hard work out of the component selection. This means you won't come unstuck mid-build because a cable is too short, you don't have enough cooling, or because your graphics card simply won't fit. It's all been planned out for you.
This is just such a great way to get into PC building, and there's something eminently pleasing about receiving a box filled with everything you need (i.e. the components), along with some clear instructions, and piecing it all together.
It's like Lego, but Lego that can run Metro Exodus Enhanced at 60fps. It also just so happens that the money NZXT is charging makes for a far better deal than you generally see with actual pre-built systems.
In the box comes a mix of NZXT-branded boxes peppered with plain brown boxes containing some of the third-party elements, such as the motherboard and graphics card. You also get a chunky build guide that takes you through the whole process like a choose-your-own-adventure book. Literally. I followed the guide as if I was a novice, and there were no nasty surprises. Some more time given over to cable management in the guide would have been good, although that's much more of an art form, anyway.
NZXT has updated this kit since we first got it in for testing and review—it has replaced the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X with the 5700X for the same money. That means you jump up from a six-core, 12-thread chip to an eight-core, 16-thread CPU. The 5700X does have a lower base speed of 3.4GHz, but it has the same max boost of 4.6GHz, and that's where it'll sit most of the time when gaming anyway. Essentially, it won't make much of a difference in your games, but if you do more serious work those extra cores are definitely welcome, especially if you do focus on the streaming side of gaming.
The rest of the spec is solid, with a 1TB NVMe SSD and 16GB of DDR4-3200. You're only looking at a PCIe 3.0 SSD, specifically the WD_Blue SN570, but at least you've got plenty of capacity to play with. This SSD comes with Windows 11 Home installed by default and seeing your new build boot into Windows for the first time is always a pleasing experience. The only thing NZXT has left for you to do is to download and update the graphics drivers. There are plenty of Windows updates to work through too, but it's not an arduous process.
The AMD Ryzen 5 5600X in this machine is fine for gaming, although it can lag behind the similarly-priced competition in some tests. The likes of the ABS Master (opens in new tab) and Build Redux 'Good' come with an Intel Core i5 12400, and that chip turns in more impressive numbers in the Cinebench R23 test—both in terms of single-core and multithreaded performance.
It isn't an all-out loss though, with the X264 video encoding test showing that AMD's Zen 3 architecture can still kick out the numbers. You're looking at 39fps in that benchmark, which is a shade quicker than both of those machines. If you're looking for serious CPU performance though, then the iBuyPower SLMBG218 (opens in new tab) is the way to go, as that system comes with the Core i7 12700F—that chip offers almost double the multithreaded performance in Cinebench and X264.
The RTX 3070 is the star of the show with the Streaming Plus kit. With most similarly priced machines shipping with an RTX 3060 Ti at best, this NZXT system is just simply the better option for gamers. The lead may be subtle at times, but it's absolutely the smoothest experience in every game we tested with.
This is the only machine that we've seen at this price point that can hit 60fps in Metro Exodus Enhanced using the ultra settings at 1440p. This game may be getting on a bit, but it still looks great, and really shows off what your machine can do. Elsewhere, you're looking at roughly 10% improvement in most games at 1440p over 3060 Ti-based machines, with the one exception being Far Cry 6, which manages just 3fps over the Build Redux 'Good' machine.
Essentially, you're going to be able to play pretty much any game at the top settings at 1440p without issue. And with DLSS on hand to help out in ray tracing heavy titles, you can easily show off what the best games are capable of with this machine and not feel like you're missing out. 4K isn't too much of an ask either, making this a versatile option for plenty of gaming setups.
Overall, the NZXT Streaming Plus BLD Kit is easy to recommend, and a great option for anyone looking to buy a gaming PC right now.
Read our full NZXT Streaming Plus BLD Kit review (opens in new tab).
Our favorite config:
AMD Ryzen 7 7700X | GeForce RTX 4070 Ti | 16GB DDR4 | 1TB SSD (opens in new tab)
This combination of RTX 4070 Ti and AMD's eight-core Zen 4 CPU makes for a mighty powerful gaming PC that will outperform pretty much any $3K RTX 3090-based gaming PC you could have bought last year. Coming with a 1TB PCIe SSD is absolutely vital at this level, too.
The ABS Master gaming PC has a lot going for it: 1440p gaming, rendering prowess, and a big tick for productivity. And while it does deliver when it comes to the core components, it wouldn't have hurt for ABS to give the supporting parts a little more love.
We had some issue with having to get the RAM clocked correctly, for instance, but otherwise we can let the numbers speak for themselves.
First off, let's go over how the ABS Master arrived. If you're concerned about whether it will get to you in one piece, don't fret; if anything the packaging is a little overkill. We've run our reviews from the UK office and the PC came all the way across the Atlantic double boxed with huge bubble-wrap filling the outer box, polystyrene couchings, as well as a foam pillow.
There was also a GPU bracing mount inside the case to stop the pre-installed Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti (opens in new tab) (Gigabyte model) from jiggling around. I think the mount had shifted a little in transit but all that packaging did well to keep everything from getting damaged.
Out of the box, the Intel Core i5 12400F together with the Gigabyte RTX 3060 Ti delivers fair performance for the price, though the RAM speeds were a definite hurdle. With mediocre memory throughput and memory copy scores, I found myself questioning the spec sheet. It said 16GB DDR4-3200, but the system was only clocked at 2,400MHz. We assumed the OLOy Blade RAM was where ABS had skimped, but after a chat with the PR we were informed that "the user would need to turn XMP on in the BIOS."
Generally, we've found system builders will take care of that step for you, since the average user isn't always aware of XMP. I myself didn't think to check before the benchmarking process. If you need any guidance on switching on XMP in your machine, here's our how to turn on XMP guide (opens in new tab).
Read our full ABS Master gaming PC review (opens in new tab).
Our favorite config:
Intel Core i5 12400F | Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti | 16GB DDR4-3200 (opens in new tab)
The 'Good' build can be customised with the excellent Core i5 12400F and specced out with the RTX 3060 Ti as in our review machine. This is absolutely the build we'd recommend over the Ryzen 7 5800X/RTX 3060 8GB combo it initially lists with.
Build Redux sets out to make buying a new gaming PC a much easier affair than normal. The traditional frustrations of wading through nonsense names trying to work out whether they'll handle your game of choice will be familiar to any PC gamer. This system builder offers three main gaming PCs to choose from and each one can be configured slightly further by throwing a bit more cash at the system if you do want to dig into the details.
You can also select which games you want to play, and it'll recommend a system for you. There isn't an exhaustive list of games to pick from here, but enough to give you an idea of what the overall performance might be.
The most affordable build is simply labelled 'Good', with a 'Better' and 'Best' tier offering higher spec choices. You can further customise from these starting points, too. This allows you to dial into a choice of GPUs and CPUs but takes away the need to subsequently mess around with compatibility of PSU and motherboard as it makes those changes on the fly for you.
The machine Build Redux sent for review is based on the 'Good' build, but with one important change—instead of featuring the default RTX 3060, the company has instead upgraded this to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti (opens in new tab). This is a smart move, as this offers far better performance for your hard-earned cash and should see the machine stay relevant for that much longer. Even ray tracing is possible here, especially if the game in question has support for DLSS 2.
That means the Build Redux Good is a decent machine when it comes to gaming. The key component here is that RTX 3060 Ti, which can handle anything you can throw at it at 1080p, and as can be seen from the benchmarks is capable enough at 1440p too. There's not a lot between this machine and the ABS Master, which packs the same GPU.
The only slight fly in the ointment here is that the NZXT Streaming Plus BLD Kit rolls in at the same price point but comes with the RTX 3070. That's simply a more capable card, which can be seen in the frame rates, although in some cases the difference is slight—you're looking at just 3 fps difference in Far Cry 6. Most games show a bigger delta though.
Overall, the Build Redux 'Good' is a capable gaming machine representing strong value for money. The component selection is mostly spot on and SSD aside, this should last you a good few years of gaming without worries. If you don't want to build your own PC with the better value NZXT BLD Kit above, the ready-made Build Redux is a good, and still good value, alternative.
Read our full Build Redux 'Good' review (opens in new tab).
Our favorite config:
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X | Radeon RX 6600 XT | 16GB DDR4-3000 | 500GB SSD (opens in new tab)
There are surprisingly few system integrators who offer a range of AMD graphics cards, which is a shame as they offer the best performance bang for buck right now. This all-AMD machine is a great mid-range spec that will deliver great frame rates for the money. Just note that you might want to wait for a great deal, around $1,000 or less, to get the best value for money here.
System builder iBuyPower is an old hand at putting together gaming PCs. So it's well aware that not all gamers are the same and some want a gaming machine that can also handle more serious tasks. Thus, the Gaming RDY SLMBG218 (opens in new tab) we tested (really trips off the tongue that one) bucks the trend of focusing on the graphics card, and instead goes big on processing power, electing to give Intel's Core i7 12700F room to show off.
Alongside it in our review unit is the RTX 3060 12GB, a middling Nvidia graphics card for the ~$1,500 price tag of the review machine on offer. The far more performant RTX 3060 Ti is generally available at this sort of price, and if you're prepared to put in a bit of time and effort, then you can grab the NZXT BLD Kit with an RTX 3070 for as much as this.
Our unit turned up for testing with the graphics card removed, so you will have to install that yourself on arrival. A reasonable task for iBuyPower to ask of a buyer given that graphics cards are getting heavier and shipping them can be a worrying experience. You don't want a graphics card to come loose in transit and bounce around the inside of your case.
Yet iBuyPower has put together a solid machine here, and it clearly knows what it is doing. Component selection is good, and the build quality is reliable. It also comes with a keyboard and mouse, although to be honest, neither is particularly good.
With all that in mind, we recommend looking into the cheaper iBuyPower machine with an RX 6600 XT, rather than the review unit we received. It's a more parsimonious PC with some price-savvy parts, but it'll still nail 1080p performance. It can run a little expensive at times—you don't really want to pay $1,200 (opens in new tab) for an RTX 3060 in 2023—but with the right price due to a good offer, it's possible to grab the quality we saw in our review without paying over the odds for it.
Read our full iBuyPower Gaming RDY SLMBG218 review (opens in new tab).
Best gaming keyboard (opens in new tab) | Best gaming mouse (opens in new tab) | Best gaming chair (opens in new tab)
Best VR headset (opens in new tab) | Best wireless gaming mouse (opens in new tab) | Best CPU for gaming (opens in new tab)
Our favorite config:
Intel Core i5 11400 | Nvidia RTX 3060 12GB | 16GB DDR4 | 512GB SSD + 1TB HDD (opens in new tab)
Somewhat surprisingly it's a last-gen version of the Legion Tower 5 that I'm recommending. The 12th Gen Intel chips are far superior, but if you're just looking for gaming performance the sub-$1,000 price point for this RTX 3060 spec is more palatable than the much more expensive Core i5 12400F version. The last-gen version also has slightly more SSD storage. If you want that extra CPU power it's going to cost you around $100 (opens in new tab) more, which could be worth it in the right hands. It's a real toss-up to choose between the two.
Lenovo's Legion gaming PCs are solid, if rather uninspiring systems with which to start your PC gaming experience. That probably sounds like I'm damning them with faint praise, but if you're looking for your first gaming PC then buying a full system from a reputable company is likely what you want to be doing, and Lenovo rigs represent a reliable platform to build upon in the future. Though they do not, however, start out with the most exciting component list.
As a leading supplier of systems across the globe, Lenovo uses a lot of parts that aren't necessarily widely available if you're building a PC from scratch yourself. It's got deals with a host of suppliers, so you end up with pretty barebones memory modules from Chinese firm, Ramaxel, and Samsung's non-consumer focused SSDs.
That should mean you ought to be getting a good deal on the parts, but actually in the end the price you'll pay for a Lenovo vs. something like an NZXT or iBuyPower machine will be very similar.
That said, its buying and manufacturing power means you'll find Lenovo machines regularly on sale. There are other similarly specced Legion rigs I've found discounted online and that includes even the more up-to-date Legion Towers.
The Lenovo Legion Tower 5 ends up being one of those pre-built PCs that would work comfortably as 'my first gaming PC' as it comes from a reputable manufacturer. Though the one year mail-in warranty (you pay to ship it to Lenovo and they pay to ship back) feels a bit weak on what should be a $1,400 piece of hardware.
Despite some Lenovo branded, the otherwise no-name motherboard, RAM, and GPU componentry inside are all standard parts. Unlike an Alienware system, that means as you get more confident in your PC gamer identity you can then upgrade parts piecemeal without struggling to fit them into a proprietary system.
That would be fine if it was cheaper than the competition, but the Legion machines retain the same sort of pricing as more boutique PC builders. And because of that I'm going to stick with our recommendation that the best way of getting into the hobby, particularly those with a hankering for tinkering, are those darling NZXT DIY BLD kits (opens in new tab). And hell, they're a great purchase even if you're well versed in PC building, too: they end up with a higher gaming spec and you may just learn something new as you go.
Read our full Lenovo Legion Tower 5 review (opens in new tab).
Our favorite config:
Intel Core i5 12400F | Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 12GB | 16GB DDR4-3200 | 512GB SSD (opens in new tab)
If we're going to recommend a Nitro 50 spec it would be the 12th Gen RTX 3060 version, but it's worth noting that you can get higher specced gaming PCs for the same money without the Acer branding.
Packaged snugly in a bite size box, this small form-factor Acer Nitro PC feel like it's got a bit of a Napoleon complex going on. The angry, red LED brow on the front of the machine sits beside possibly the largest power button I've ever seen, as if to say, "Press it and I will end you." Though that attitude isn't entirely baseless—the mid-range CPU/GPU combo can handle itself in a host of games at 1440p.
The main problem with even relatively high powered components, however, comes in the form of heat dissipation. The Nitro's small form factor case with minimal vents doesn't help in that respect; we're talking max CPU and GPU temps in the low 80°C. It's not the worst we've seen and won't have your components melting, but it could certainly be better.
The bottom line here is that, while the Nitro is a nifty machine for gaming it's really been let down on the storage side. The config we were expecting to have in the lab is this Nitro 50 (opens in new tab) at $1,300 with a larger SSD, though Acer has still felt the need to jam a hard drive in there. Honestly, that machine would perform at about the same level as the one in front of us here, and with that larger boot drive would have garnered a far higher score, too.
Sure, I would have been much happier with even a single, speedy 1TB SSD, rather than some additional spinning platter nonsense, but a 512GB drive is the bare minimum for a modern gaming PC. You can easily upgrade the storage later or add some more into one of the two spare M.2 slots, but these storage shenanigans really make the Nitro hard to recommend.
Read our full Acer Nitro 50 review (opens in new tab).
Best gaming PC FAQ
Why buy a prebuilt 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 enables you to take your time shopping around for deals and finding the best 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 prebuilt gaming PCs shine.
What do you get for your money in a prebuilt PC?
When you pay the premium to configure or purchase a prebuilt 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 selling points, like design, upgradability, and anything you wouldn't be able to do when building it yourself.
What sets a prebuilt machine apart from a DIY build?
One of the most significant factors that make PCs stand apart from the competition is the design. Prebuilt systems like the Alienware Aurora R10 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 prebuilt 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.