The best gaming PCs in 2016

We round up some of the finest pre-built rigs you can buy today

Gaming on PC is the only way to get the very best versions of multiplatform games because - unlike a console - PCs can be upgraded, piece by piece, to keep them up to speed with the latest technology. While it’s true putting together a rig from separate components you buy and install yourself is cheaper than forking out for a pre-built system, not everyone wants to screw a motherboard into a case or stress out applying thermal compound to a CPU. If you’d rather all the hard work was done for you, our list of the best gaming PCs has you covered.

If you want to play games at framerates and resolutions far above what PS4 or Xbox One can deliver, the PCs we’ve chosen are up to the task. Now, because of the sheer flexibility and wealth of components involved in PC gaming, there really is no ‘ultimate pre-defined set-up’. What you’ll find here are a range of US and UK machines to fit a variety of budgets. So whether you want the best 4K/60fps experience money can buy, or are happy to go with a budget rig that will still outperform consoles, you’ll find a gaming PC to match your needs here.

1. StormForce Tornado

A good value PC that can handle 4K gaming for a modest price

CPU: i5-6400 | Graphics: GTX 1070 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB HDD | Optical drive: DVD/RW | Ports: 13 x USB | Connectivity: Realtek 10/100/1000 Wired LAN | Size: 495 x 190mm x 432 mm

With its GTX 1070, this rig delivers loads of power at a decent price
Its ice cool looks make it one of the prettiest PCs around
CPU is a little underpowered compared to the GPU
You can’t buy it in the USA

4K gaming doesn’t have to cost the Earth… merely several of its continents. StormForce’s oh so sultry, UK-only Tornado rig is still a significant outlay, but when you consider that investment gets you a Windows 10 PC with a GTX 1070 and 16GB of 2133MHz Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4 RAM, your money is actually going a long way. Nvidia’s stellar GPU is only outmuscled by the Green Team’s 1080 and Titan X models, and with 8GB of onboard RAM, this is graphics card can deliver the goods at 4K… with a few tweaks. 

Playing games at 60fps on ultra settings is going to be off the table for more demanding titles if you hope to stay at 2160p, but dropping down to high/medium presets should net respectable framerates. At 1440p, though, the GTX 1070 is a brilliant performer, and you’ll have no problem hitting 60fps at a resolution that still offers a tangible upgrade over 1080p. Our only real gripe with this rig is the decision to build it around a slightly underpowered Intel Core i5 CPU, rather than an i7.

Best for... Those who want decent 4K results and/or excellent 2K performance

2. Asus ROG G20CB

A gorgeous, amazingly compact PC that’s well suited for VR

CPU: Intel i7-6700 | Graphics: GTX 1070 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB HDD | Optical drive: DVD/RW | Ports: 6 x USB | Connectivity: 802.11 A/C Wi-Fi | Size: 358 x 104 x 340 mm

It’s one of the best looking rigs we’ve ever seen
It has enough grunt to power Oculus Rift and Vive VR games
The supplied power brick is hefty, and pretty unsightly

The G20CB is not your average looking rig. This stylish, superbly compact PC sports such a bold, futuristic design it could pass for the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey… well, provided you could get some tiny chimpanzees to rub up and down it. At a little over 14 inches tall, and 13 inches long, the G20 isn’t much bigger than a PS4, yet thanks to its respectable innards, it runs rings around Sony’s sales-conquering console. 

Despite its mini form factor, the G20 is no slouch when it comes to power. Packing a GTX 1070 and 16GB of RAM, this teeny rig can comfortably hand in a rock solid 1440p/60fps in many modern titles, while 4K isn’t totally off the table in well optimised games. The G20 also boasts an Oculus-ready seal of approval, meaning it’s capable of delivering the required 90fps needed to effectively combat VR motion sickness. 

Best for... VR enthusiasts who also want a beautifully formed, space-saving PC

3. Acer Predator G1-710-70001

A strikingly designed rig that packs one hell of a 4K-capable wallop

CPU: i7-6700 | Graphics: GTX 1080 | RAM: 32GB DDR4 | Storage: 2TB HDD | Optical drive: DVD Super Multi | Ports: 5 x USB | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi | Size: 348 x 109 x 419 mm

Nvidia’s GTX 1080 is an absolute beast of a GPU
With 32GB of RAM, this PC is great both for gaming and video editing
Its CPU isn’t a good overclocker
The price puts it out of reach for most PC gamers

How important is resolution to you? If your inner obsessive pixel counter yearns for Ultra HD gaming like your lungs crave oxygen, then Acer’s G1-710-70001 should be right up your 4K alley. Boasting the world’s second most powerful GPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a beefy Intel Core i7-6700 CPU, this demonic looking box can comfortably deliver respectable performance at 2160p. Indeed, Nvidia’s GTX 1080 is such a monster, it nails 4K/60fps in many modern titles. 

The only slight downer is the fact Acer chose to include the vanilla i7-6700, not the K version. It means overclocking with this rig’s processor is limited, which may hobble performance a little in games that really lean on CPU streaming, such as demanding open worlds like Fallout 4. Still, the amount of power Acer has snuck into a box that is just 16 inches high and 13 inches long is admirable. You can pick this killer rig up from Amazon US for (an admittedly super expensive) $2299.99, or the similarly specced G6-710 from Acer’s UK shop. Hey, no one said the 4K dream was cheap.

Best for... Gamers who don’t mind paying top dollar for superb 4K performance

4. Ankermann-PC with Intel Core i5-6600K and GTX 1050 Ti

A good 1080p performer that offers one of the best budget GPUs around.

CPU: i5-6600K | Graphics: GTX 1050 TI | RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Storage: 120GB SSD/ 1TB HDD | Optical drive: DVD/RW | Ports: 6 x USB | Connectivity: Wired LAN | Size: 460 x 180 x 430 mm

The GTX 1050 TI is a great card for 1080p gaming
CPU is a decent overclocker
Not the most stylish box

You’ll notice a trend on this list: every PC here packs a Nvidia GPU. The Green Team has long been producing graphics card for a variety of budgets that consistently outperform their AMD equivalents in most games. It’s no surprise then that this respectively specced Ankermann boasts a GeForce GTX 1050 TI at its core: one of the best budget cards around. The newest addition to Nvidia’s Pascal family is a fine 1080p performer, and will run many titles at a steady 60fps on high/medium settings.

This particular Ankermann also includes an Intel Core i5-6600K, which offers more than enough grunt to deliver stable performance at 1080ps. Oh, and it’s a good overclocker to boot. Throw in a 120GB SSD (perfect for cutting down loading times), and 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and you’re looking at a decidedly decent rig. Though Ankermann PCs are only available in Europe, gamers in the States can pick up the SkyTech Shadow from Amazon US for $599.99. With its own 1050 TI and mid-range AMD processor, it offers similar bang for your buck.  

Best for... Gamers who want 1080p/60fps and don’t mind cutting back a few settings

5. Alienware Aurora R5

A well designed, mid-range rig that provides effective cooling

CPU: i3-6100 | Graphics: GTX 950 | RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB HDD | Ports: 13 x USB | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi | Size: 472 x 212 x 360 mm

The attractive chassis offers excellent airflow and liquid cooling
Its CPU/GPU combo delivers tangibly better performance than consoles
Gaming above 1080p is off the cards
The GTX 950 only has 2GB of RAM, which is low for games like GTA 5

Unless you have Tony Stark levels of disposable income, you probably can’t afford to buy the sort of GPU that’s going to have enough grunt to power 4K gaming. Seeing as the vast majority of PC gamers still play at 1080p or below, though, chasing the Ultra HD dream perhaps shouldn’t be your main priority. If you’re happy to give up on extreme resolutions, Alienware’s stylish, smartly designed mid-tower is well worth considering. 

Now, with a Core i3 CPU and a GTX 950 graphics card, the Aurora’s performance isn’t going to blow you away. That said, for a pretty reasonable outlay of $799.99 on Dell US or £749.99 at Dell UK you get a Windows 10 powered rig that has far more chance of delivering games at 1080p/60fps than a PS4 or Xbox One. Provided you drop a few settings - you’ll have to enable FXAA rather than MSAA when it comes to anti-aliasing, for example - the Aurora hands in console-beating performance with room to spare. The tower’s excellent fans and insane amount of USB slots are nice bonuses, too.

Best for... Gamers on a budget who still want PS4-beating performance

6. Origin Millennium

A custom-made dream machine that delivers extreme 4K performance

CPU: i7-6700K | Graphics: 2 x GTX 1080 | RAM: 32GB DDR4 | Storage: 480GB SSD | Optical drive: BDRW | Ports: 15 x USB | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi | Size: 629 x 247 544 mm

An insane level of power provides world class 4K performance
Origin offers a ridiculous amount of customisable features
You need to be all kinds of filthy rich to afford one
Weighing in at 30lbs, it’s a pain to move around

Have you recently inherited an exceedingly wealthy, long lost relative’s estate? Congratulations! Now get out there and start building a recklessly powerful PC. Origin offers a ludicrous amount of customisation options when you buy a rig from its site; everything from the interior chassis colour to the type of thermal compound used on the CPU can be tweaked. The company’s mid-tower Millennium model probably offers the best combo of looks and size, and boy can you cram all sorts of wallet-assaulting goodies into it.

If you really want to push the boat out - and the rest of the fleet - you can stuff two GTX 1080s, an i7-6700K CPU, 32GB of DDR4 RAM and a Blu-Ray burner in there. The cost of such an absurdly powerful SLI setup will set you back $3544 from Origin’s US site (sadly, there’s not a UK branch), so now might be the time to start looking into that second mortgage. Still, you’ll be able to play pretty much game you want at 4K/60fps on ultra settings. Now, can you lend us some cash, Mr/Mrs Moneybags? 

Best for... Those with the bank balance of an oligarch who want the ultimate 4K gaming experience

7. Alienware Alpha Intel Core i3

A console-shaped rig that’s been purpose-built for streamlined gaming

CPU: i3-4170T | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU with 2GB GDDR5 | RAM: 4GB DDR3 | Storage: 500GB HDD | Optical drive: NA | Ports: 4 x USB | Connectivity: AC 3160 Wi-Fi | Size: 203 x 86 x 203 mm

Its small size makes it ideal for playing in the living room
Unlike earlier Steam Machines, it comes with Windows installed
Not as easy to upgrade as a normal PC
Switching between Steam and rival games platforms is a bit of a pain

The first batch of Steam Machines were a great idea in practice. They were console-sized, idiot-proof next to standard PCs, and with their focus on Steam Big Picture, the discreet boxes were well suited for living room play. Trouble is, many of these systems shipped without Windows, and were limited to running Steam OS. That little omission meant you couldn’t play swathes of triple-A big hitters, like The Witcher 3, Fallout 4 or GTA 5. Thankfully, this Alienware Alpha offers a much better compromise. 

For one thing, it comes with Windows 10 pre-installed, instantly opening up the whole of Steam’s vast library. You can also play Uplay and Origin games, though in somewhat fiddly fashion, the Alpha forces you to quit out of Alienware’s custom UI into desktop mode to run Ubisoft and EA’s platforms. Yet once you learn this box’s quirks, the teeny rig offers impressive, console-beating performance thanks to its Intel Core i3-4170T CPU and custom Nvidia GTX GPU that boasts 2GB of GDDR5 RAM. It’s not as flexible as a normal PC, granted. Then again, it only costs $499 from Dell US or £499 from Dell UK

Best for... Budget-minded gamers who want a hassle-free, console-like experience

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