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The best gaming PC in 2021

PC Gamer's best gaming PC buying guide header with two Dell Alienware PCs featured alongside recommended badge
(Image credit: Future)

Choosing the best gaming PC is a little easier than building one. While we love building our own systems as much as the next person, a fully-built one will alleviate some of the hassle and some of the risk. It's certainly an easier way to access those otherwise elusive parts, and a decent all-over warranty never goes amiss.

With it being a faff to get hold of a discrete graphics card right now, a pre-built system remains one of your best bets—no need to go all fisticuffs outside your local Best Buy. System builders like Alienware or Corsair have an easier time acquiring new GPUs than we do. Granted, these gaming desktop lead times can be pretty long, though we've seen some exceptions, you can rest assured you'll definitely get a working gaming PC eventually.

To keep you up-to-date with the latest updates and products, we're constantly testing the latest gaming PCs from most major brands and builders to see whose is the fastest, offers the best build quality, and delivers the best service.

The main thing to look out for when buying a pre-built rig is that the spec sheet touts a perfect balance of price and performance. Ideally, your gaming PC will have one of the best graphics cards and the best CPUs for gaming, but there's something for everyone out there.

Best gaming PCs

Alienware Aurora R10 gaming PC pictured front-on

(Image credit: Alienware)

1. Alienware Aurora R10

The best AMD gaming PC

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X–Ryzen 9 5950X
GPU: AMD RX 5300–Nvidia RTX 3070
RAM: 8GB–64GB DDR4
Storage: 1TB–2TB HDD + 2TB 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:

Ryzen 7 5800 | Radeon RX 6800 XT | 16GB DDR4-3200
If you thought Nvidia GPUs were tough to find, AMD's GPUs are even rarer. But this config delivers both the latest 8-core Zen 3 CPU and the Radeon RX 6800 XT. That's one of the best gaming processors around and probably the best graphics card AMD has ever created. Quite a combo.View Deal

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 latest 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 actually capable of going toe-to-toe with Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3080.

The latest AMD Ryzen processors are exemplary in terms of both performance and price, with the Ryzen 9 5900X, in particular, being a spectacular chip not just for productivity but for gaming too.

The different configurations start at $1,080, for which you get a six-core Ryzen 5 5600X alongside a Radeon RX 5300. We'd recommend upgrading the graphics to a GeForce GTX 1660 Super for less than $30 extra so that you can nail 1080p gaming in that sleek Alienware chassis.

Like the other Aurora cases, it's not necessarily the easiest to upgrade due to its bespoke design, but as a first machine, the 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 month lead time is actually pretty great.

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Alienware Aurora R12 gaming PC pictured front-on

(Image credit: Alienware)
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Alienware Aurora R12 gaming PC

(Image credit: Alienware)
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Alienware Aurora R12 gaming PC

(Image credit: Alienware)

2. Alienware Aurora R12

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:

Core i5 11400F | RTX 3060 Ti | 16GB DDR4-3200
This specific configuration of the new Alienware gaming PC will get you the impressive RTX 3060 Ti for a sub $2,000 price tag. You'll also get a new Rocket Lake Core i5 11400F; that's an impressively speedy gaming chip that doesn't demand either crazy cooling or a heap of power. This pairing will deliver seriously high-end gaming performance without breaking the bank.View Deal

While the extra-terrestrial styling may not appeal to everyone, their performance remains undeniable. The freshly minted Aurora R12 uses the same compact design as its R9 and R10 forebears and gives the new Intel 11th Gen processors. Nvidia RTX 30-series GPUs have a home in Alienware's Aurora chassis. 

There are six different configurations of Comet Lake CPU to choose from: the Core i5 11400F, Core i5 11600KF, Core i7 11700F, Core i7 11700KF, Core i9 10900F, and Core i9 11900KF. 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 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.

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 11600KF in its Intel range is a great shout. Both the new Intel Core i5 chips make great gaming CPUs, thanks to their Cypress Cove core architecture, and would probably be our pick 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 really going to get a lot higher frame rates than you would with the RTX 3080 build. That's not a huge surprise given our own 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, the ability to access nearly every part of the PC without tools 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 design accomplishes that goal.

The issue with all gaming PCs and parts right now is availability. And that's now 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 least.

Corsair Vengeance gaming PC pictured from the side on a grey background

(Image credit: Corsair)

3. Corsair Vengeance

The best PC for streaming

Specifications
CPU: Up to AMD 5900X | Intel 10850K
GPU: Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti | RTX 3070
RAM: 16GB DDR4-3200
Storage: 1TB SSD
Warranty: 2 year
Reasons to buy
+Solid Performance+4K Capture Card+Cool Case
Reasons to avoid
-No USB Type-C on front panel-Desperately needs a larger SSD

Our favorite Corsair Vengeance config:

Ryzen 5 5600X | RTX 3070
The Vengeance a7200 machine comes with the latest hardware from AMD and Nvidia and will make for one supremely powerful gaming PC straight out of the box. This configuration comes with the outstanding hex-core Ryzen CPU, and Nvidia's outstanding RTX 3070. You'll also find 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM and a 1TB SSD.View Deal

If you're looking to kick start your career as the next big Twitch streamer, the last thing you need to worry about is letting down your audience because your broadcast crapped out in the middle of your epic Call of Duty: Warzone match. Enter the latest range of Corsair Vengeance gaming PCs.

This powerful AMD/RTX 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.

Since Corsair acquired Elgato it now has access to some of the best streaming hardware on the planet 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.

Read our full Corsair Vengeance A4100 review.

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HP Omen gaming PC on a grey background

(Image credit: HP)
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HP Omen gaming PC on a grey background

(Image credit: HP)
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HP Omen gaming PC exploded view on a grey background

(Image credit: HP)
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HP Omen gaming PC on a grey background from the rear

(Image credit: HP)

4. HP Omen

The best gaming PC around $1,500

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7 8700
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080
RAM: 16GB DDR4-2666
Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD, 2TB HDD
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:

Core i5 11400 | Nvidia RTX 3060
For under $1,200 you can grab this six-core, 12-thread Rocket Lake gaming PC, one that comes with a robust little Nvidia RTX 3060 with 12GB GDDR6 memory. The standard config comes with 8GB dual-channel memory, and a 256GB SSD, but there are configuration options galore to tweak, and we'd recommend taking a look at a 16GB memory spec with a larger SSD if you can afford it.View Deal

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 Obelisk. The Obelisk is highly customizable, starting with a GTX 1660 Super and Ryzen 5 3600 and reaching up to some top-class parts, including the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080. We received the original review unit packed an RTX 2080 and an 8th Gen Core i7 8700, but we've come a long way since then.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Obelisk is the price tag. Despite the 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 several similarly specced machines. 

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. 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.

It's similarly configured to the slightly more expensive Corsair Vengeance, 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, the Obelisk 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.

Read our full HP Omen Obelisk review.

Origin Chronos gaming PC from the front

(Image credit: Origin)

5. Origin Chronos

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:

Ryzen 9 5900X | RTX 3080
Configure the Chronos with our favorite Zen 3 CPU from AMD and the mighty RTX 3080 GPU from Nvidia, and this small form factor Chronos v2 machine can be both a stunning gaming rig and a hell of a workstation machine too. Especially if you're after something that isn't the size of a house too.View Deal

Origin PC's Chronos machine is a small 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 really well-built, super customizable, and you could still create a far more affordable gaming machine from a Ryzen 5 5600X and a 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

Corsair a200 compact gaming PC for three angles on a grey background

(Image credit: Corsair)

6. Corsair One A200

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:

Corsair One A200 | RTX 3080 + Ryzen 9 5900X
While we do love an overpowered machine, the savvy combination of Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 and Ryzen 9 5900X means this machines runs quietly and still offers extreme gaming and creative performance. View Deal

Best gaming laptops

best gaming laptop guide header

(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 through the use of 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 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 can 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 are paying 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.