Where do you start when you're shopping for the best gaming PC? With a growing number of manufacturers out there assembling components and selling their own line of prebuilts, the range of options available can be a bit dizzying. Plus, a number of companies have added the ability to modify the build you want before they put it together for you, adding another layer to your decision making process. While building your own PC will always be our number one option, there's a lot to recommend buying a premade, extras like warranty coverage or unique parts that you can't buy independently, and considering how close the retail price of some of these machines are coming to the price of putting them together yourself, the prebuilt option has become increasingly attractive.
Do it yourself
So what should you look for when picking out the best gaming PC? If you've got the room in your budget, you'll want to invest in one of Nvidia's 20-series cards, the new generation of ray tracing, DLSS capable GPUs from the industry leader. With the 2060 having just been released and starting at $350, afforadable options for getting onboard with our ray tracing future will be increasingly available amongst the best prebuilt PCs. While the processor will always be a secondary concern in a gaming build, you should at least invest in something in the range of Intel's 8th gen i7-8700 or AMD's Ryzen 5 2600. Ideally, you'll also want a speedy SSD to cut down the pain of staring listlessly at loading screens, and 16GB of DDR4 (though if you're on a tighter budget, a standard HDD and 8GB of RAM will suffice in a pinch).
Of course, you'll want to trick out your shiny new gaming PC with some hot peripherals, so head over to our best gaming keyboard, best gaming mouse, and best gaming chair features to pick out the very best accessories.
1. Corsair Vengeance 5180
RGB and ready for ray tracing
CPU: Intel Core i7-8700 | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 | RAM: 16GB DDR4-2666 | Storage: 480GB M.2 SSD, 2TB HDD
We haven't had the chance to test too many RTX-powered systems yet, but of the few we have, Corsair's Vengeance 5180 is our favorite. Unlike many chassis that opt for plexiglass or another type of clear paneling, the Vengeance 5180 has tempered glass along the side, front, and top, creating a modern-looking aesthetic and elegantly showing off the system's innards.
To help with both aesthetics and heat management, the case rocks a dual-chambered design that separates the power supply from the GPU, RAM, and motherboard. All the shiny, RGB components are displayed front and center, while the more modest parts are tucked away out of sight.
The main downside here is the Vengeance 5180 features a B360 chipset and non-K Intel CPU, which means the Core i7-8700 can't be overclocked. If cranking up the dials to squeeze out a bit of extra performance is your thing, this comes as disappointing news, I'm sure.
MSRP for this stylish and powerful system is $2,399.99, which is a reasonable price considering the cost of components separately. You’ll pay around the same amount to build it yourself compared to buying this pre-built PC, so it all depends on your budget, time, and if you care about overclocking. You may not be able to overclock the CPU, but for 1080p gaming on Ultra you won’t need it. It also comes standard with a two-year warranty that covers repairs on anything that doesn't involve swapping out components parts with your own. If you’re not an overclocking enthusiast, the Vengeance 5180 is worth picking up in 2019.
Read our review: Corsair Vengeance 5180
2. CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme
Excellent value for the budget concious
CPU: Intel Core i5-8400 | GPU: AMD RX 580 4GB | RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB HDD 7200RPM
If you want a fantastic value for a prebuilt gaming PC look no further than Cyberpower's Gamer Xtreme. Featuring an Intel Core i5-8400, AMD's RX 580 4GB and 8GB of DDR4 ram you would actually pay close to $700 when building the system yourself part for part. It's already great out of the box, but the Gamer Xtreme can be easily upgraded. This is something we'd recommend immediately to ditch booting from that clunky HDD inside.
If you're looking for a machine to get you into the exciting (and ever expanding world of VR) quickly and cheaply, the Gamer Xtreme is an excellent introductory option. It's specced to be VR ready right away, and the ease with which it can be upgraded means it can be modified to suit the headsets and hardware demands of the future (assuming all the manufacturers don't follow in the footsteps of Oculus' Go and Quest standalone offerings).
The Xtreme is also great for anyone looking for a PC to match the capabilities of current gen consoles, something that will bridge the gap between the PS4 and Xbox One era of games and the next console generation. Since, for better or worse, consoles largely dictate how much stress triple-A developers are willing to put on hardware when designing their games, having a PC that's specced in line with consoles means you'll be able to keep pace with the current crop of games at least until another console refresh appears on the horizon. And the Gamer Xtreme is also modular and upgradeable enough to allow you to quickly adapt when specs for the next generation are finally, properly announced.
3. Corsair One
Compact and quiet
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K - i7-8700K | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 - GTX 1080 Ti | RAM: 16GB - 32GB DDR4-2666 | Storage: up to 480GB SSD, 2TB HDD
Corsair has long been a trusted brand in the PC building world, but with the One it cements its place as a purveyor of quality prebuilt systems as well. The One is a slim triumph of clean design, measuring 7.9 x 6.9 x 14.9 inches while packing in an impressive cooling system featuring a 240mm radiator for each of the GPU and CPU, both cooled by a single 140mm maglev fan up top that pulls cold air in through the radiators and exhausts it out the top. The result is a well-cooled system with a minimal footprint that runs whisper quiet.
Like a number of the prebuilts on this list, the One can be customized across a range of different specs, all the way up to an extreme model featuring cutting edge CPU and GPU tech - a Core i9-9920X and one of Nvidia's brand new ray tracing enabled RTX 2080 Ti's, one of the most powerful graphic cards in existence. This gaming monstrosity, clocking in at nearly $5,000, also features 32GB of DD4 RAM and a 980 M.2 SSD, meaning it's not only ready to completely manhandle the current generation of 4K HDR gaming, but will be more than capable of running whatever the next several years yields.
Of course, if you're not interested in spending a bundle on a crazy future-proofed behemoth, more reasonably priced models are available, and they all come with the One's unique, powerful cooling solution and slender, low profile case, perfectly packed with components in a way that uses every available inch in an intelligent way without stuffing it with needless extras. The $3,000 option offers the same 32GB of RAM as the more expensive model, and still packs an impressive amount of horsepower into it's little chassis, with an RTX 2080 an overclockable Core i7-9700K under the hood, as well as a speedy 480GB M.2 SSD. It's a sleek, potent little package for anyone wrestling with space considerations or who want a powerful PC but don't want to listen to it groaning every time you stress it with a shiny new game.
Read the full review: Corsair One
4. Alienware Aurora
Great performance in a stunning chassis
CPU: Intel Core i7-8700 | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB | RAM: 16GB DDR4-2666 | Storage: 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD + 2TB 7200 RPM HDD
Alienware used to be a brand known for futuristic designs and outrageously high price tags. But recently, we've actually seen some of the best value coming out of their prebuilts. The best example of this is the Alienware Aurora R7. It's a highly configurable, thoughtfully constructed PC that's made to tailor not just to the demands of elite gamers but to a broader spectrum of consumers. And true to Alienware's roots, the Aurora R7 does have some very nice RGB lighting built in that's controlled through the company's AlienFX software.
The Aurora's flexibility is one of its strongest attributes. The stock specs range from a Core i5 all the way up to a mighty Core i7-9700K and from a lowly GTX 1060 up to one of Nvidia's 20-series flagships, the RTX 2070. But the stocks function more as recommendations than anything else; each and every Aurora can be deeply customized to fit whatever specifications you desire. Alienware will happily provide up to a cutting edge Core i9-9900K or an RTX 2080 Ti, some of the most impressive PC hardware you can lay hands on. If you're truly power hungry, they'll even SLI a couple of RTX 2080s together for you. But that broad customization runs in the opposite direction as well, so if you're looking for something affordable you can dump some of the higher end components.
One of the best things about this level of control over your build for gamers is that can prioritize the things that are vital for gaming while deprioritizing workload essential components. Save some cash by picking up a slightly less cutting edge CPU so you can splurge on an RTX, for instance. Picking out parts for your new Aurora is almost like building your own PC, except without all the labor and potential for catastrophic parts failure or ending up with noisome incompatibilities.
5. Zotac MEK1
Ultra compact without compromises
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700 | GPU: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1070 Ti 8GB | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Storage: 240GB NVMe SSD + 1TB HDD
Zotac has become a dominant force in the GPU space in recent years thanks to its unique cooler designs and compact high end offerings. The company was one of the first to create a miniature GTX 1070 Ti and it looks like they've used this to their advantage with the MEK1 compact prebuilt PC. When it comes to compact, console-sized gaming PCs you usually have to sacrifice a bit on performance or pay a hefty premium to reach the high end. Zotac proved this wrong with the MEK1 which performs identically to some of the other console-range desktops we've listed here and is also in the same price range. You could even play games in the living room in 4K with it. The only downside here is that the system will run hotter than larger desktops and upgrading it isn't as easy.
If you're looking for a PC gaming solution but want to stick to a console form factor, the MEK 1 is a great option. It'll let you dip into all the strategy and indie games that originate on Steam and rarely if ever make their way to consoles, but it'll tuck under your TV or squeeze into your entertainment center easily, and won't look out of place next to a Switch or a PS4. While the specs are behind the top-end modern PCs you'll find elsewhere on this list, the MEK is also priced appropriately, and you can easily find one for less than $2,000. Packing an i7-7700 and a 1070 Ti, it's may not be the mightiest beast in the PC space but it's certainly well equipped to handle 1080p gaming and VR with no issues whatsoever, and should tide you over until the next generation of consoles rolls out. Just be aware that because of its compact case and the inclusion of Zotacs smaller version of the 1070 Ti, it's not a machine that's built to be easily upgraded.
6. HP Omen Obelisk
Amazing power for less than $2,000
CPU: Intel Core i7-8700 | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 | RAM: 16GB DDR4-2666 | Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD, 2TB HDD
Hewlett Packard has existed since before the advent of the second World War, and that long history and expertise is evident in the design and construction of the Omen Obelisk, their new gaming desktop model. The Obelisk packs powerful components, including an RTX 2080 and an 8th Gen Core i7-8700, so you'll be well ahead of the curve in terms of the next generation of PC gaming, and ready for the moment when ray tracing stops being a buzzword and starts being an essential part of graphics rendering.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the Obelisk offering is the price tag. Despite a new, high-end RTX card and that rock solid CPU (as well as 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and 2TB HDD), the Obelisks comes in just under $2,000. 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 from other manufacturers. You won't find an over-elaborate liquid cooling system or a massive suite of spectacular RGB lighting; the Obelisk is an appropriately named dense black block of computing power, which isn't to imply it's unattractive. As someone who values smooth lines and compact design over the flash and spectacle of RGB, I appreciate the dark, slightly brooding aesthetic of the Obelisk, and it does have a clear side panel to let you see the red-lit interior of the machine.
It's similarly configured to the slightly more expensive Corsair Vengeance, but it comes in a much smaller frame, which is a double edged sword. While on the one hand, there's less space to muck around in the case if you do decide in the future to upgrade, the Obelisk can slip easily into much smaller spaces than larger cases and is easier to transport. It's the epitome of function over form and available at a nearly unbeatable price point.
7. Dell XPS Tower Special Edition
Minimalist prebuilt with impressive performance
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700 | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti | RAM: 8GB DDR4-2666 | Storage: 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD + 2TB 7200 RPM HDD
Like most of Dell's (and their subsidiary Alienware's) prebuilt PCs, the XPS Tower Special Edition can be configured in multiple ways depending on your needs and budget. But even the lowest config, which starts at a mere $949.99, is a VR ready PC with enough horsepower to see you through to the next generation of gaming, after which point it's upgrade-ready and can be modified to keep pace. This lowest spec features a Core i5-8400 and a GTX 1050 Ti, not a staggering amount of power but enough to handle most modern games at medium to high settings in 1080p. The XPS Special Edition is not only great for gaming but for productivity as well. It features an SD card reader on the front panel as well as a Type-C USB 3.1 port. If you want a gaming PC with a simple minimalistic look, the XPS Special Edition is definitely our top choice.
It's a great choice if you want a cheap PC to play Fortnite or PUBG on or want something to play PC exclusives but don't want to get too deep into the PC gaming rabbit hole. It's also got a cool, understated look that won't embarrass you with a rainbow spectrum of RGB lighting, and if you decide you do have a little more in the budget to allocate to a new machine, you can select some higher end components before purchase to bulk the XPS up a bit.
8. Acer Aspire Gaming Desktop GX-281-UR18
Perfect for PC gaming on a budget
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1700 | GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB HDD
If you're on a budget or just looking to get your foot in the door for PC gaming, Acer's Aspire GX-281 is a solid place to start. The desktop features AMD's affordable Ryzen1700 and Nvidia's GTX 1060. The combination makes it more than enough for 1080p gaming on medium settings. It won't get you much further than that but the GX-281-UR18 is a great value at under $1,200 and can be easily upgraded down the line. For less than a hundred dollars, you could upgrade the system with an SSD that'll really improve the gaming experience. Acer also offers great support which can be handy for users that are new to PC gaming.
The Aspire is a nice step up from the XPS Special Edition, and has a striking black and red design with subtle but intense lighting effects that make it stand out. It's not the flashiest PC either in terms of lighting or specs, but it's a great mid-range option if you're dipping your toes in and want to start with something affordable and eventually upgrade as you educate yourself about this new hobby. It also features a really handy Qi Wireless charging pad, so you can charge your phone or other mobile device while you work or game, without requiring any messy and annoying additional cables.
Choosing the best prebuilt PCs
One of the biggest advantages to building your own PC is the ability to essentially 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. This is where prebuilt gaming PCs really shine.
When you pay the premium to configure or purchase a prebuilt PC you are paying for more than just the parts. You are paying for warranty service, support and the peace of mind that your system was put together by professionals. These are some of the things we value highly when considering the best prebuilt gaming PCs. We also look at other unique selling points like design, upgradability and anything you wouldn't be able to do when building it yourself.
One of the biggest factors that make our choices stand apart from the competition is the design. Prebuilts like the Alienware Aurora R7 or Corsair One use completely unique in-house chassis 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.
When we set out to choose our top ten choices of prebuilt gaming PCs, we took a 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.
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