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The best gaming PC in 2021

Best Gaming PC
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The best gaming PC is the one you're with and, to continue paraphrasing that old Stills' song, if you can't build the one you love, then love the one you buy. Buying the best gaming PC is the easiest way into PC gaming, and means you can forgo the potential hassle of part-matching, tech-sourcing, and putting the whole damned thing together.

Some of us love that hassle, and some of us simply want to have a beautifully made machine that will just work out of the box and, if it doesn't, we have someone else to blame aside from ourselves. That and the cable management will be a hell of a lot better too.

A pre-built PC will sidestep the choice paralysis that can accompany building your own rig—though our gaming PC build guide can also help there, too—and it might also be the quickest way for you to bag a new Nvidia RTX 3080 or RTX 3070 graphics card right now.

Your next upgrade

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System builders and manufacturers, such as Scan and Alienware, are offering RTX 30-series builds with around a 3-4 week delivery lead time. Good luck trying to find a card in that time frame to upgrade your current rig.

Sure, building a gaming PC for yourself can be immensely satisfying—we've created entire careers talking about the best ways to do it—but simply buying one as a complete system will take any and all the hassle out of the process.

A specs-sheet balance of price and performance is our top priority in a pre-built rig. Ideally, your gaming PC will have one of the best graphics cards and the best CPUs for gaming, though that's not always financially possible. But you can't skimp on one and go overboard on the other; an Nvidia RTX 3090 is only worth having if it's paired with a top-flight processor that can take advantage of its power. And, ya know, if you're into 3D creation work too.

Then there's the support. After-sale support is where a good system builder becomes a great system builder. Things like 24/7 tech support or generous warranties are often overlooked but could save a headache down the road. 

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1. Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition

The best AMD gaming PC

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600–5950X
GPU: Nvidia GTX 1650 Super–RTX 3090
RAM: 8GB–64GB DDR4 3200MHz
Storage: 1TB HDD–2TB HDD + 2TB SSD
Warranty: 1 year (onsite)
Reasons to buy
+AMD CPU + Nvidia GPU combo+Quality Alienware/Dell design+After sales care

Our favourite Aurora Ryzen config:

Ryzen 9 5900X | RTX 3070
£2,199 at Dell
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 is a great card for 1440p gaming and when paired with the absolute powerhouse that is the 12-core, 24-thread 5900X, it can turn its hand it pretty much anything you throw at it. View Deal

The Aurora Ryzen Edition takes over the top spot from the Intel builds (at least while Alienware readies for Rocket Lake). The AMD Ryzen processors of the new generation are exemplary in terms of both performance and price. And with the potential for a 16-core, 32-thread chip inside your Alienware gaming PC, alongside an Nvidia RTX 3090, you're looking at something rather special.

But the lower end has something to offer too. The different configurations on offer mean that for £1,249 you can get a six-core machine with a GTX 1650 Super inside it, that will handle 1080p gaming in that sleek Alienware chassis.

It does have to be said that there is an Alienware premium attached to whichever components you choose. However, the higher-than-average price provides you with reliable build quality, exceptional customer service, and solid warranties. The numerous pre-fab options offered by Alienware also help eliminate much of the guesswork associated with customizing your system. Some options provide better value for the parts used, but for hassle-free PC gaming out of the box, it's tough to beat the ease of use that Alienware provides.

The unconventional design of the case exploits every inch of its limited space but does initially feel a bit awkward to tinker with. The ability to access nearly every part of the PC without tools, however, 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 Ryzen Edition accomplishes that goal.

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2. Alienware Aurora R11

The best gaming PC at almost every price point

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i3 10100–i9 10900KF
GPU: Nvidia GTX 1650 Super–RTX 3090
RAM: 8GB–64GB 2933MHz
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

Our favourite Aurora R11 config:

Core i5 10400F | GTX 1660 Ti
£1,199.99 at Currys
This specific configuration shows Alienware PCs can be picked up for reasonable prices. This machine has a GTX 1660 Ti alongside a Core i5 10400F to offer up fine 1080p gaming. You'll also get all the Dell support and build quality you could wish for.View Deal

Alienware appears to have stopped selling Intel machines directly from its website at the moment, we assume in preparation for Rocket Lake. You can still find them on Amazon and in places like Currys PC World though, . We assume this will return to normal once the stock issue resolves itself. 

Alienware is a household name when it comes to gaming desktops that share a, shall we say, unique aesthetic. While the extraterrestrial styling may not appeal to everyone, their performance remains undeniable. The freshly minted Aurora R11 uses the same compact design as its R9 forebear, our previous top pick, and means the new Intel 10th Gen processors have found a home in Alienware's Aurora chassis. 

Alienware has also updated its range with RTX 30-series offerings, giving you an easy route into the Ampere generation of graphics cards.

There are now five different configurations of Comet Lake CPU to choose from: the Core i3 10100, i5 10600KF, i7 10700F, i7 10700K, and i9 10900KF (the K means it's an unlocked chip, while the F denotes no integrated GPU). 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 affordable 1080p gaming right up to blistering 4K workload-smashing performance, and the Alienware AIO cooling system will help keep the cosy interior of the case at a reasonable temperature too.

CyberPower PC X109

(Image credit: CyberPower PC)

3. CyberPowerPC Infinity X109 Gaming PC

The best machine for 1440p gaming

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i9 10850K
GPU: MSI GeForce RTX 3070 8GB
RAM: 16GB DDR4 3200MHz
Storage: 500GB WD SN550 + 2TB Seagate HDD
Warranty: 3 year
Reasons to buy
+Powerful and quiet running+Standout lighting and looks+Excellent for 1440p gaming

Our favourite CyberPowerPC Infinity X109 config:

Core i9 10850K | RTX 3070
£2,038 at CyberPowerPC
This powerful build boasts one of Intel's top CPUs right now alongside the 1440p powerhouse that is the RTX 3070. This an impressively quiet gaming PC that also looks incredible thanks to a wealth of RGB-lit fans.View Deal

Check out the £2,038 CyberPowerPC Infinity X109 Gaming PC here.

When you buy a new PC, you're essentially looking for a powerful system that offers decent value for money from a reliable company. You want it to look good as well. Quiet running wouldn't hurt. Throw in a graphics card that you can't buy for love or money, and you have the Cyberpower Infinity X109 Gaming PC. A machine that has more lights than your average Christmas tree, more fans than the dome at the end of the Crystal Maze (ok there are five case fans), packs the latest hardware, and yet is incredibly quiet in use. And all for a thoroughly reasonable pile of cash. Consider us impressed.

For just over two grand you get a powerful 10-core, 20-thread Intel Core i9 10850K, which thanks to the Cooler Master MasterLiquid Lite 240 cooler happily sits at 4.9GHz most of the time. You also get a GeForce RTX 3070, which is a solid mid-to-high-end card. It'll handle 1080p and 1440p gaming brilliantly—we saw 128fps in Division 2, 139fps in Shadow fo the Tomb Raider and 110fps at 1080p. All silky smooth basically. 4K can be a bit of a stretch, but not outside the realms of possibility as well.

The rest of the spec is pretty much what you'd hope for at this price point, although the SSD is a little on the small side for my tastes. 500GB is fine, but I'd recommend upgrading to a 1TB model at order time for a little extra, just to give you more space for your most played games. You do get a 2TB hard drive as standard too, so it's not like you're going to run out of space any time soon.

All of this is wrapped up in the Corsair 4000D mid-tower case, which manages to offer up excellent airflow while looking brilliant at the same time. The dust filters are easy to clean, and if you don't mind a bit of RGB lighting, you're going to be delighted. Overall, this is a quality system that will handle 1440p gaming for years to come. You can tweak pretty much every aspect of the system to your own liking before you hit the buy button as well.  

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4. Corsair One i164

The best compact high-end gaming PC

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i9 9900K
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
RAM: 32GB DDR4-2666
Storage: 960GB NVMe M.2 SSD, 2TB HDD
Warranty: 2 year
Reasons to buy
+Slim, minimalist footprint+Incredible looks+Outstanding performance

Our favorite Corsair One config:

Ryzen 9 3900X | RTX 2080 Super
£2,999 at Corsair.com
Finding powerful, small form factor gaming PCs is tough going, but the Corsair One a100 design has big Mac Pro energy, and this last-gen config offers the 12-core 3900X and a quality Nvidia Turing GPU. Yes, they're old now, but they are available.View Deal

One of our highest rated pre-built gaming PCs is back in an updated model, the Corsair One i164. It’s still the same small form factor PC, but with a revamped internal layout, and a few other slight changes. The case design still looks like something straight out of Tron. The CPU and GPU both use independent liquid cooling solutions, and all the hot air is pumped out by a single 140mm maglev fan. The PSU now sits below the motherboard, and some of the USB ports have been re-positioned on the front of the case, but that’s the extent of the non-component changes. 

Like a number of the pre-built systems on this list, the Corsair One i164 isn't the only configuration the One comes in. In fact, with an Intel Core i9 9900K and an RTX 2080 Ti, the i164 is the mid-range model. Yes, you read that right, the mid-range model. The lower model comes with a Core i7 9700K and an RTX 2080, while the Corsair One Pro workstation model comes with a Core i9 9920X and an RTX 2080 Ti. 

There are also now new AMD Ryzen-powered versions, with the a100 designation, offering either the 12-core Ryzen 9 3900X or the 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X. That's some serious core-counts in something so svelte.

There's still no word on Nvidia RTX 30-series cards yet, although we would expect that to be corrected before long. It's likely that Corsair will also have to invest in more PSU capacity for the change, too.

The price varies based on the specs, of course, so if £3,600 for the i164 is a little too rich for your blood, the i145 is £1,200 less at £2,400, which is £100 less than the a100 with a 3900X CPU. If you are in the market for a compact workstation, the i200 will zap £4,700 from your bank account. All models come with 32GB of RAM, so you won't need to worry about upgrading that aspect of the One for years to come.

Regardless of the configuration, the Corsair One is a sleek, potent little machine designed for anyone wrestling with space considerations, or for those who want a powerful PC but don't want to listen to it whine every time it's stressed with a graphically intensive game.

Best gaming keyboard | Best gaming mouse | Best gaming chair
Best VR headset | Best wireless gaming mouse | Best CPU for gaming

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HP Omen 25L

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HP Omen 25L

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HP Omen 25L

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HP Omen 25L

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5. HP Omen

The best gaming PC for under £1,000

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5 10400F
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
RAM: 16GB HyperX DDR4-2666
Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD, 1TB HDD
Warranty: 1 year
Reasons to buy
+Powerful components +Sober thrill-free designed +Easy to upgrade

Our favorite HP Omen config:

Ryzen 7 3700X | RTX 3060 Ti
£1,399.99 at HP.com
The updated HP Omen desktop machine comes with a shinier chassis and can be configured to house an RTX 3060 Ti for under £1,400. It's worth upgrading the 256GB SSD at the time of purchase through, as that's a bit pokey by modern standards.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 its Omen 25L and 30L desktop PCs. The Omen 25L is highly customizable, starting with an RTX 2060 and Core i5 10400F and going up to a Core i9 and RTX 2080 Super.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Omen 25L is the price tag. Despite the presence of an RTX card and that rock-solid CPU (as well as 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and 2TB HDD), it comes in at just £999. 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. 

You won't find an over-elaborate liquid cooling system or a massive suite of spectacular RGB lighting; this machine is a 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. 

You can find similar specs to this from plenty of retailers, 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, it 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.

There's no word on RTX 30-series or AMD RX 6000-series GPUs just yet but watch this space. Hopefully, we'll see movement from HP before long.

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Scan 3XS 3080 Gaming PC

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6. Scan 3XS 3080 Gaming PC

The best PC for streaming

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7 10700F
GPU: EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 10GB
RAM: 16GB DDR4-2666
Storage: 1TB Intel 665p
Warranty: 3 year
Reasons to buy
+Excellent build quality+Strong components selection+Great warranty

Our favorite Scan 3XS Gamer config:

Core i7 10700F | RTX 3080
£2,123 at Scan
It's not easy getting your hands on Nvidia's Ampere GPUs, but Scan is one of the biggest retailers in the UK and seems to have better access than most. This combo of Intel Core i7 10700F and RTX 3080 should see you right for years, even at 4K. View Deal

Scan has been a mainstay of system building in the UK for years, and we've used enough of their systems to know that we're in safe hands whenever we get a gaming PC in for review. The systems are well built, using well-known components and all backed up by a brilliant three year warranty (the first year of which is on-site). That warranty really does bring peace of mind.

This 3XS Gamer 3080 is like a wishlist given physical form, boasting an RTX 3080 alongside Intel's awesome gaming CPU, the Core i7 10700F. This may not be the overclockable variant (it lacks that all-important trailing K for that), but given overclocking has little impact on gaming performance, we're cool with that. Speaking of being chill, the Corsair Hydro H100x does a good job of keeping the CPU in check.

You get a 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX kit for your money, which should see you good for years of gaming to come, and there's a healthy 1TB SSD from Intel to keep things humming along. This is all housed in the Corsair iCue 220T case, which is a good looking case offering plenty of airflow to keep your components running optimally.

You can, of course, configure the machine to your heart's content, with faster processors, more memory, better storage options, you name. Scan also has a few other builds to get you started, including RTX 3070 systems from £1,500, and the option of going with either Intel's Core i5 10700 or AMD's brand new Ryzen 7 5800X.

Best gaming keyboard | Best gaming mouse | Best gaming chair
Best VR headset | Best wireless gaming mouse | Best CPU for gaming

Buying advice: best gaming PC

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 has the potential to 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?

When you pay the premium to configure or purchase a pre-built PC, you are paying for more than just the parts. You are paying for warranty service, support, and peace of mind that your system was put together by professionals. 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.

Alan has spent far too much of his life in World of Warcraft and playing Magic the Gathering to be a normal human being, which is why he has retreated to the warm embrace of gaming hardware.