If you’ve spent time researching gaming PCs on the internet, you'll probably be bombarded with component model numbers and specifications. It can be overwhelming, especially when compared to a one-size-fits-all console. Not everyone has the knowledge, patience or even the time to build and trouble shoot a new PC. Don’t worry! There are plenty of gaming PCs out there that don’t require any of that. Buy it, turn it on, go through some simple setup steps, download your games and get into it! Whether you build your own PC or buy a prebuilt one, we all love our gaming just the same.
There are generally three way to go about buying a gaming PC. You can buy one from the likes of Dell or HP. PCs from these big name brands are easily accessible, reliable, and usually offer the best warranty and tech support. They might cost more, but they’re a good option for a gamer who likes to play games, and not think so much about what's inside the PC that runs them.
The second way is from a boutique PC builder. Aftershock and to an extent, Thermaltake fit into this category. Buying one of these can be a real pleasure. You’re able to kit out your PC with the components and and an aesthetic to suit you. Buying one of these PCs will require a bit more technical knowledge, but the end result is that you’ll feel like its a machine that's unique to you, and one that the gamer next door doesn't have.
The third way is to go to a PC store or e-tailer. A site like Mwave has an excellent PC configurator where you can basically choose any kind of component you like, leaving the technicians to build it. This way it's essentially the same as building your own PC, but you’re getting someone else to do the dirty work, so to speak.
We’ve got systems recommendations all the way from the budget end of the market to properly premium gear. A budget system is all you’ll need for a spot of Fortnite or PUBG, whereas a high end system will do a glorious job rendering at 4K with beautiful ray tracing. Of course, just because we’re calling them gaming PCs, it doesn’t mean you can’t use them for everything else too.
No matter your budget, or what kind of games you play, there’s a PC here for everyone. Check out our top picks!
Best gaming PCs
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Our favourite Aftershock Ultracore config:
Perhaps the most customisable PCs on the market. Not just in terms of components, but looks too. If you want anything from a quality mid range gaming PC to a fully custom watercooled showpiece, this is your PC. Our choice of components is a little more grounded. A 5800X and 3070 Ti provides an excellent level of gaming performance.
Aftershock is aSingaporean PC builder with an operation in Australia that includes a splendid showroom in Melbourne. Aftershock make some gorgeous PCs and it was the recipient of the coveted 'Best Desktop PC Builder' Australian PC awards for two years in a row. Aftershock may not have the brand recognition of an Alienware or HP, but it’s definitely a brand you should check out. It even offers laptops and workstations.
If you buy a PC from a big retailer like JB Hi-Fi or Bing Lee, you’re stuck with the components that come with it. Maybe you’ll want more RAM or a faster graphics card to play current games. You might be able to negotiate some changes with the salesperson, but beware of paying through the nose. With an Aftershock Ultracore, you're not stuck with what the retailer has in stock out the back. It’s really easy and a lot of fun to tailor a build to suit your budget.
It’s true that you’ll need a degree of knowledge about PC components, but for the most part, the Aftershock site is very well set up and easy to navigate. Each component choice is listed along with the price difference, and there’s a very helpful chart that shows what effect any changes have on the performance of the PC.
Do you want a bigger SSD or two, or a huge hard drive? 32GB of RAM for a gaming system is usually enough, but you can add more if you like. Our review system came with an RTX 3070 Ti. If you want to splash out, you can put a 3090 Ti and a 2,000W power supply in if you really want. At least you know you’ll be all set for next generation hardware!
Aftershock systems are customisable well beyond the core choice of hardware. There are a range of styling options too. Do you want lots of RGB or none at all? More fans? How about cable sleeving or even a side mounted LCD display? It goes beyond even that. If you want a PC that’s truly unique, you can get the side panel laser engraved with your own design, and you can get your own unique GPU backplate.
The base Ultracore starts at AU$3,150. That’s not exactly cheap; you'll get a Ryzen 7 5800X, RTX 3070 Ti, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and AIO cooling. And that’s a good spec by any measure. If you kit the system out with everything, you’re looking at AU$15,000 or more! But if you did that, you’d have a PC that wouldn’t look out of place at a global trade show.
That’s the beauty of an Aftershock system. They’re upgradeable, the build quality is second to none and you can get it built according to your needs and budget. Add a bit of your personality to its look and you’ve got a stunning PC.
Read our full Aftershock Ultracore gaming PC review
It’s not easy to buy a genuine gaming desktop for around AU$1,500. Well, at least one that’s not as weak as a wet paper bag. Mwave’s Respawn Ninja Thriller gaming PC delivers a surprising amount of gaming performance for your dollar. It includes our favourite budget gaming CPU, the Intel Core i5 12400F and a good value Radeon RX 6600 graphics card.
The inclusion of an RX 6600 makes it a competent machine for a good quality 1080p monitor. It will be able to handle more than a few 1440p as well, especially if you enable AMD's FSR image upscaling technology.
It comes with a large 1TB SSD. Though the Crucial P2 isn't the fastest drive around, I’ll take that over a smaller and faster drive. 2x8GB of DDR4-3600 and features including Wi-Fi 6 and 2.5G LAN add up to a capable system for work or play. If you like RGB lighting, the Ninja Thriller is a good choice, with four 12cm RGB fans all controlled via Asus’ Aura Sync app.
The system is well built, and arrives solidly packed with foam, protecting it from careless couriers. Should something go wrong, it's got a two-year RTB warranty.
For AU$1,599, it'll be pretty tough to find a better spec. Sure it's not going to be a 4K gaming powerhouse, but you shouldn’t expect that. If you’re sick of consoles (or can't find one to buy) this is the kind of PC that's a good first step into the world of PC gaming. Take it home, plug in your monitor and peripherals, run through the simple Windows setup steps and you've got yourself a well built and specced 2022 gaming PC.
Our favourite HP Omen 45L config:
The Omen 45L's design is more like a DIY PC than most off the shelf prebuilt desktops. It's big and imposing, it offers very good all round performance and its one year on-site warranty will appeal to users who want to enjoy the benefits of a PC without the hassles. Keep an eye out for periodic discounts.
If you’ve ever bought a laptop or desktop, you’ll be familiar with HP. It’s the kind of PC you’re likely to come across at a main street tech retailer or at the slick HP website. A name like HP carries weight and buying a HP system carries a degree of peace of mind that appeals to buyers who may not be too tech savvy, preferring instead to enjoy gaming more than the system that plays them
Having said that, it's hard not to be impressed by the HP Omen 45L. It’s huge! It weighs in at over 22kg and it's over half a metre in height, so it's not the kind of machine you can ignore. And look at those lovely RGB fans. I understand if you’ll spend a bit of time admiring it! But there’s still an understated look overall. Its skyscraper look is a lot subtler than some other desktops that look like rejects from a Transformers movie. It’s a really good-looking machine.
The Omen 45L is available in mid- to high-end configurations, up to a 12900K and RTX 3090. The high-end versions go up to AU$8,000 or more which we really can’t recommend as we get closer to the launch of next gen CPUs and GPUs. The mid-range options are better value, and they have good upgrade potential.
Perhaps the most unique characteristic of the Omen 45L is its so-called ‘Cryo Chamber’ which is a separate cooling chamber at the top of the unit. It is mostly responsible for the height of the unit. It houses the AIO radiator. It pulls cool air in from the outside of the chassis, ejecting it out the top. This gives it very efficient cooling. Its not the first time we’ve seen something like this, but it's refreshing to see HP thinking outside the box. Literally.
The rear I/O is a bit on the thin side but at least you get four USB ports at the front to make up for it. It comes with Wi-Fi 6 and 1G LAN. 2.5G would be nice, but that’s arguably not as important as Wi-Fi on a system like this.
The high-end Omen 45L options are ridiculously fast. We tested the 12700K and 3070 Ti model. It’s the kind of system that will happily drive a 4K screen but it's probably better suited to a high refresh rate 2560 x 1440 screen. You’ll get buttery smooth gameplay in all modern games.
The HP Omen 45L is well built and very good-looking PC. It's definitely expensive, but with its one year onsite warranty, it’s an expense that many will be happy to pay for. Do keep an eye out for discounts though, and if you plan to buy directly from HP, it’s definitely worth giving them a call and haggling a bit. As the cost of graphics cards falls, so should the price of whole PCs.
Read our full HP Omen 45L review.
Our favourite Thermaltake Sub Zero config:
Did you know Thermaltake make gaming PCs too? The Sub Zero combines smart component choices, a gorgeous white design and upgrade potential with a good price and stunning cooling headroom. Have a look around for a special price too.
You might be familiar with Thermaltake's large range of PC components and cooling products, but did you know it makes desktop gaming PCs too? In fact, some of them are very impressive indeed, so much so, the company won the award for the best desktop PC maker at the 2022 Australian PC awards.
There are many systems to choose from. We like the Sub Zero in particular, as it features a blend of capable hardware, a crisp and clean white aesthetic and good value for money. There are a few different configuration options with a choice of AMD or Intel CPUs, and graphics cards ranging up to an RTX 3080.
We chose a Sub Zero with an Intel Core i5 12400F CPU, RTX 3060 graphics card and 16GB of DDR4 memory. That's a good solid mid-range gaming PC, and because it uses off the shelf components, it has upgrade potential too. And there's one aspect that is particularly interesting: the cooling.
Despite the fact that the 12400F is a generally cool and power thrifty processor, Thermaltake chose a 360mm AIO liquid cooler pair with it. Is it overkill? Of course, but it does mean that there's ample cooling headroom to add a faster CPU in the future, even a next generation one. If you're not afraid to pop the side panel off, it's a great way to add some additional performance on a year or two.
If you're after a gaming PC from a big name, but you don't want the bloatware or bespoke designs of the big PC makers, the Thermaltake Sub Zero is definitely worth a look. Do check it out at TT's partner resellers Mwave or Scorptec as its often cheaper than buying it directly from Thermaltake.
Our favourite config:
Alienware systems have their own unique appeal and this spec, with its fast i7-12700 CPU and RTX 3080 graphics card is perfect for pumping out high frame rates in all modern games. Right now it's available at a good discount.
Though they perhaps aren’t as eye-catching as the truly alien inspired Alienware PCs of the past, the Aurora R13 still has its own unique allure. It’s no wonder they remain a popular choice of PC for gamers that appreciate the whole, rather than what’s under the hood.
The Aurora R13 is available with a wide range of options beginning with a 12400 and RTX 3060 all the way up to the best of the best, including the flagship RTX 3090 Ti and 128GB of RAM. But you’ll need to be aware of limitations with the top spec systems, as it’s possible to overwhelm the cooling with a 12900K CPU. The lesser CPUs don’t run into that problem, which is why we recommend a slightly worldlier spec.
Actually, the chances are, you won’t pay much attention to what’s under the hood beyond the choice of graphics card. The Aurora R13 is the kind of PC you buy to fit a certain budget. You are able to build your own PC for cheaper, but that can be a hassle for non-tech savvy gamers. Some people will just want to take it home, plug it in and get gaming, console style, and why not!
And that’s the key selling point of Alienware systems. Their ease of use and easy accessibility. They feature very good after sale support, a one year on-site warranty and the peace of mind that comes with owning a PC from a big brand like Dell. It’s comforting to know that Dell will look after you if you run into an issue post-sale.
Alienware PCs are expensive, but it’s important to look past the full list price. Alienware systems can often be found with steep discounts, and feel free to give them a call and haggle a bit. Tell them you read on PC Gamer that graphics card prices are falling, and therefore the whole system should too!
As the launch of next generation hardware comes closer, you might be able to snag a real bargain on an Aurora R13. Keep an eye on PC Gamer. If we come across a killer deal, we’ll post it!
Read our full Alienware Aurora R13 review.
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 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 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.