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The best gaming PC 2021 - take the pre-built route to greatness

The best gaming PC 2021
(Image credit: HP)

The best gaming PCs are the premiere way to get a seriously powerful gaming rig into your life with, arguably, a greater level of ease and convenience. While you could always look at building yourself a great gaming PC from scratch, meticulously researching components and soldering techniques, the truth is there are plenty of great pre-made and optimized builds on the best gaming PC market right now. 

To make your life a little easier, GamesRadar has put together a list of what we believe are the top gaming PCs to help you get a sense of what's available and what you should be on the lookout for when you go bargain-hunting.

Of course, it would be wise to have a rough idea of what you're looking for first. Quality and power tend to scale with price, and a high-end gaming PC can certainly break the bank if you aren't careful. That's why you should consider what you need your new PC to do, what you hope it will do in the future. There are the lower-end machines that will give you a great way of catching up with some of the best PC games of the last generation, and then there are the more expensive, power-hungry rigs that will require the best gaming monitors to get the most out of. Whatever you decide, keep reading on to see our recommendations for the best gaming PC, no matter your budget.

Regardless of what you choose, the advantages of getting one of the best gaming PCs pre-built are clear. For one thing, it saves you the headaches (potentially) and labor (definitely) of the build. Secondly, you'll pick up a retailer or manufacturer warranty by default. And you might even get some benefits of their design solutions that the DIY route might not provide, like unique cooling arrangements, cable management, or parts that aren't available anywhere else. 

If you do go down the pre-built route - you're on this page after all - don't forget to check out the best antivirus software going to make sure your brand new gaming powerhouse is well protected.

Looking for something a bit more portable, on the other hand? We've compared the finest models over on our guide to the best gaming laptops.

Retailer gaming PC pages:
Dell | Amazon | Best Buy | Newegg | Walmart | HP | Lenovo | Microsoft

Best gaming PCs

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(Image credit: Dell)
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(Image credit: Dell)

1. Alienware Aurora R12

The best gaming PC money can buy

Specifications
CPU: Up to Intel Core i9 (11th gens)
GPU: Up to RTX 3090
RAM: Up to 128GB
Storage: Up to 2TB SSD + 2TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+Eye-catching design+Liquid-cooled GPUs available+10th-gen Intel CPUs
Reasons to avoid
-Can get expensive

Alienware's Aurora R12 is leading Alienware into the next generation of gaming; as well as 10th-gen Intel processors and the possibility of liquid-cooled graphics cards, it offers a variety of builds to suit most budgets. If you want to get into PC gaming for the first time or would like to upgrade your existing setup - perhaps in preparation for ray tracing games - this is the most cost-effective way to do it.

Ranging from affordable starter rigs to pimped-out super PCs, the Aurora R12 strikes a good balance of choice. Better still, these desktops can be easily opened and upgraded with different parts as and when you see fit. Want more RAM or a larger SSD? No problem. Because the power supply unit swings out on a metal arm, you get more room to fiddle with the PC's insides.

The R12's design is of a similar form for the last few years and is attractive enough - and unique if nothing else. Although it sticks with the distinctive case and scooped-out front of its predecessor, this update enriches that formula with new lighting around the central strip in some cases. It's an addition that turns heads and makes the design feel even more futuristic than it did before.

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best gaming pc: Alienware Aurora Ryzen R10

(Image credit: Dell)
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best gaming pc: Alienware Aurora Ryzen R10

(Image credit: Dell)
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best gaming pc: Alienware Aurora Ryzen R10

(Image credit: Dell)
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best gaming pc: Alienware Aurora Ryzen R10

(Image credit: Dell)

2. Alienware Aurora Ryzen R10

A quality and premium Ryzen-build

Specifications
CPU: up to AMD Ryzen 9 3950X
Graphics: up to Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti
RAM: up to 64GB DDR4
Storage: up to 2TB M.2 SSD & 2TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+Will run any game at 60fps++Easy to take off the side panels+Alienware Command Centre is useful+Lots of component customisation before you buy
Reasons to avoid
-Curved, radiator-esque front is questionable-Need to remove PSU cage to access motherboard-Can get loud during intensive games

The Aurora Ryzen R10 series is a Ryzen-build entry into the Aurora series, all sporting third-gen AMD Ryzen processors rather than the usual Intel processors. The former have massively closed the gap on the latter in recent years and months, so it's no real surprise to see an Alienware PC range specifically offering that kind of CPU.

Focused around that Ryzen CPU, though, you can fully customize your Aurora R10 however you want, which means that whether you're a console gamer looking to break into PC gaming or a die-hard veteran who wants the ultimate build, you'll find it here. The Alienware brand name comes with the usual price premium that most Alienware products have, but if you can overcome that, and want the respective premium quality that also comes with the name, then the spaceship-inspired R10 design is for you, especially since the Alienware Command Center is a useful bit of kit packed in. The main downsides are that it can get somewhat loud, almost as if it is a spaceship engine trying to take off, and accessing the components within isn't an easy task thanks to the placement of the PSU cage. You can definitely do much worse when buying a pre-built PC though, and that Ryzen-Nvidia blend is a brilliant one that offers exquisite performance.

best gaming pc: Dell G5 PC

(Image credit: Dell)

3. Dell G5 Gaming Desktop

Budget PC gaming at its best

Specifications
CPU: 9th Gen Intel Core i3 10-series – i7 10-series
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 – RTX 2070 Super
RAM: 8GB – 64GB
Storage: 128GB SSD - 1TB SSD and/or 1TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly affordable+Compact form+Great entry-to-mid level builds+Reliable manufacturer
Reasons to avoid
-Base models are a bit light touch

Away from Dell's Alienware gaming nutters, the PC-maker's own brand G-series desktop PCs are underrated machines. They often provide a great budget or entry-level route into gaming PCs and are not an afterthought: they get updates as much as any of the other desktops or laptops available at Dell. The really entry-level ones won't do gang-busting numbers or levels of graphical fidelity but they'll be great PCs to have at home for work and play.

Now that the baseline is the 10th-generation of Intel chips this is another factor to work in their favor. Particularly as the baseline is the 16-series of Nvidia cards which will handle anything just fine, and you can choose one well into the ray-tracing range including the 2070 Super. Their compact form is also a plus side, while Dell's aftercare - should you need it - is pretty good too. A value-busting quality entry in this list.

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best gaming pc: ASUS ROG G15

(Image credit: ASUS)
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best gaming pc: ASUS ROG G15

(Image credit: ASUS)
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best gaming pc: ASUS ROG G15

(Image credit: ASUS)
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best gaming pc: ASUS ROG G15

(Image credit: ASUS)

4. ASUS ROG GA15

A stylish, great-value powerhouse from a top-notch manufacturer

Specifications
CPU: Ryzen 5 3600X / 7 3700X / 3800X
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 to RTX 2080
RAM: 8GB to 32GB DDR4-2666
Storage: Up to 512GB SSD + 2TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+Excellent value for money and bang-to-buck performance+Great design+Superb use of Ryzen and Nvidia components
Reasons to avoid
-Few, if any, Intel CPU options

This is a tremendous machine and one that really harnesses a great power to performance to price balance. It's a great new design from ASUS and is a welcome addition to the pre-built gaming PC market. I use this PC every day so I am a bit biased perhaps, I'd argue, it's well-placed bias! It's a joy to use as a work PC that seamlessly changes to a monster. The components of my build, particularly, demonstrate the GA15's successful inhabiting of a place of balance between performance and value. Inside is a 3700X processor, a 2060 Super graphics card (itself probably the best bang for buck GPU in the ray-tracing category), 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD + 2TB HDD combo. It's got a sweet design, plenty of ports, runs quiet, and has some RGB fun too on the front - with ASUS making so many great gaming laptops right now, it's no wonder they've come out with an excellent new desktop range. 

Just for clarity and to reassure you if you're following links, you might see this machine listed as a G15DH or G15 - do not worry, it's the same one as the GA15. Your options of specs might also slightly differ depending on you're location: the above list is taken straight from ASUS itself in terms of what the machine can house, but I have seen some slightly different builds - including the odd Intel CPU build - crop up at some retailers. Regardless, this is still a PC build that is extremely easy to recommend and each variant will have that ASUS stamp of quality and pedigree within that you can have confidence in.

best gaming pc: CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme

5. CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme

The best budget gaming PC right now

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5 9400F
GPU: Nvidia GTX 1660 6GB
RAM: 8GB DDR4-2400
Storage: 1TB HDD 7200RPM + 128GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic performance per dollar+Runs very cool out of the box
Reasons to avoid
-Limited SSD storage

This offers great bang for buck value. The Cyberpower Gamer Xtreme - housing an Intel Core i5 9400F and Nvidia's GTX 1660 - is a great PC to rock the current generation of games and do it all for well under the four-figure mark.

Even beyond that and branching into the increasingly large world of VR, this machine will get you there on a shoestring: it's VR-ready right out of the box (just) and will be easy to upgrade when newer, more fancy headsets become more available.

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. 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. On that note, we'd probably aim to get another 8GB of RAM into this upgrade-friendly rig as soon as you can, though.

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Acer Predator Orion 3000

(Image credit: Acer)
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Acer Predator Orion 3000

(Image credit: Acer)
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Acer Predator Orion 3000

(Image credit: Acer)
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Acer Predator Orion 3000

(Image credit: Acer)

6. Acer Predator Orion 3000

A solid all-rounder with a solid price tag

Specifications
CPU:: Intel Core i7-10700
GPU: : Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
Memory:: 16GB DDR4 HyperX Fury @ 2,666MHz
Storage: : 512GB SSD (Boot) + 1TB HDD
Weight:: 9kg / 19.8lbs
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic 1440p performance, 4K capable+Price is very reasonable+Easy to upgrade
Reasons to avoid
-Some elements are on the cheap side

At around the $1,500 / £1,500 mark, the Predator Orion 3000 might be one of the best-value gaming PCs on the market right now. The advent of the RTX 3000 series of GPUs means that kind of money gets you performance-for-value that wouldn’t have been possible even just a few years ago.

With a compact 18-litre case and customisable RGB lighting, the Orion 3000 certainly looks pretty slick. Although the CPU is only equipped with a stock air cooler, this PC can handle graphically intensive games without overheating. 1440p gaming is the sweet spot here, but you’ll find that it can run many games at 4K without much compromise in quality or framerate.

Plenty of storage and great connectivity back up the solid performance of the core components, and the tidy internals mean that upgrading most parts of this build shouldn’t be hard. While some parts of the case feel less than durable, it’s hard to deny that this is a quality gaming desktop for the asking price.

Note: Stock of this PC seems to be very unreliable as of now (July) - but keep checking back as our deal-finding tech will always scout out the best prices wherever you are for this machine.

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best gaming pc: Corsair i164

(Image credit: Corsair)
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best gaming pc: Corsair i164

(Image credit: Corsair)
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best gaming pc: Corsair i164

(Image credit: Corsair)
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best gaming pc: Corsair i164

(Image credit: Corsair)

7. Corsair One i164

The best gaming PC for peak performance in a tiny form factor

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i9 9900K
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
RAM: 32GB DDR4-2666
Storage: 960GB NVMe M.2 SSD, 2TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+Incredible performance+Tiny form and footprint
Reasons to avoid
-You’re going to need a bigger bank balance-No way for users to upgrade without going through Corsair

The Corsair One series is incredibly small and lightweight (at least considering how much power it's packing), and has an attractive form factor. As a step-up option from Corsair's flashier but more modestly outfitted Vengeance model, the Corsair has a few advantages that will primarily appeal to those looking for more workload capability and who are focused on gaming as a more secondary concern. The Corsair One is decidedly a workstation focused rig, though it certainly doesn't slouch in the gaming department either. 

The One comes in a few flavors, but the best dollars-to-performance value is in the package around the $3,000 mark. It's built around an RTX 2080Ti, and contains a 960GB SSD and a 2TB HDD. It also has the impressive i9-9900K intel processor which is still offers some mega gaming chops despite the new 10th gen CPUs now going. And also, in a nod to megatasking workload scenarios, it packs a lot of RAM, at 32GB of DDR4-2666. It will manhandle modern games at 4K with ease, and it's also suitable for heavy rendering, CAD, or other workstation style applications. 

It's sort of the ultimate gaming/workstation hybrid, though if you find your bank balance is absolutely bursting with discretionary income, first, call me, but second you might also want to consider the top option in the Corsair family. The ridiculous $5,000 option includes the wildly overpowered i9-9920X CPU, which Intel insists on describing (and probably rightly so) as the "best processor for gaming."

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best gaming pc: HP Omen Obelisk

(Image credit: HP)
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best gaming pc: HP Omen Obelisk

(Image credit: HP)
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best gaming pc: HP Omen Obelisk

(Image credit: HP)
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best gaming pc: HP Omen Obelisk

(Image credit: HP)

8. HP Omen Obelisk

The best gaming PC for performance in understated aesthetics

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i5-8400 to Core i9-9900
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 to RTX 2080
RAM: 8GB to 32GB DDR4-2666
Storage: Up to 1TB NVMe SSD + 3TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+Trim, sleek machine that cuts frills to save money+Performance powerhouse
Reasons to avoid
-None of HP's hot swappable storage bays

There's something sort of mystical about the Obelisk that encapsulates some of the most exciting facets of our hobby. The sleek, hard angles of this HP rig mirror the object it's named after, a dense black cube of potentiality ready to unleash the most beautiful and intense games of this generation. 

True to that design, the Obelisk is trim and compact and powerful. It cuts away the fat, eschewing overblown RGB lighting or the elaborate tentacles of a liquid cooling setup, focusing instead on delivering sheer performance at a very attractive price. It's also highly customizable, with a range of builds that start at the very affordable and peak up near some truly dizzying heights. For around the $2,000 mark, the Obelisk comes packed with a very nice 8th gen Core i7-8700 and a high-end RTX 2080, only one step down from Nvidia's most powerful 20-series, ray tracing focused graphics powerhouse. It also boasts a speedy 256GB SSD and a generous 2TB standard HDD, so you'll have plenty of room to load your most demanding games onto the faster storage and tons of leftover room for everything else. 

While the Obelisk's case is smaller than the similarly specced Vengeance, it's not tiny by any means, and the air cooling solution the Obelisk provides has been more than sufficient during testing to handle even heavy gaming loads. It does make swapping out components slightly trickier than the Vengeance's massive dual-chamber case, of course, but that also means it'll fit more easily into smaller spaces. The Obelisk tucks neatly under a desk, or can even slide into a larger entertainment center if you want it to be the central unit in your living room media showcase.

The best of the rest

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iBUYPOWER Element CL Pro

(Image credit: iBUYPOWER)
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iBUYPOWER Element CL Pro

(Image credit: iBUYPOWER)
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iBUYPOWER Element CL Pro

(Image credit: iBUYPOWER)
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iBUYPOWER Element CL Pro

(Image credit: iBUYPOWER)

9. iBUYPOWER Element CL Pro

A quality custom-cooled customer

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-11700K/KF
GPU: RTX 3070 MSI Ventus 2x
Memory: 16GB ADATA DDR4-320 RGB
Storage: 1TBWD SN550 M.2 NVMe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Eye-catching, RGB and liquid-cooled design+Incredible pre-built, pre-cooled system for price+Simple access for making adjustments+Excellent performance
Reasons to avoid
-No 3080 GPU support - yet

The iBUYPOWER Element CL Pro deftly handles one of the more difficult challenges in the creation of the best gaming PCs: custom liquid-cooling. Normally reserved for only the priciest machines due to expensive shipping costs, the Element CL Pro offers a gorgeous, custom loop liquid-cooled rig at a reasonable price - you can get this beauty for less than $2K. 

The Element CL Pro is a step above last year's Element CL Plus because it can support the RTX 3070 cards, and the numbers it churns out proves it handles 4K gaming well. It can't quite hit 4K 60fps for Metro Exodus, but it can easily reach that with Red Dead Redemption 2 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the highest graphical settings. The rig reaches 60fps across multiple games at lower resolutions (1440p and 1080p). Simply put - it produces excellent and consistently amazing gameplay. 

If you're someone who loves to tinker with your PCs, the Element CL Pro offers incredibly easy access for upgrades and maintenance. An all-glass side panel lets you get to the GPU and CPU with ease and refilling the liquid cooling system is a breeze as it's located outside of the system so there's no need to worry about accidental spillage.

The iBUYPOWER Element CL Pro is a gorgeous machine that offers excellent performance at a price that won't hurt your wallet.

Browse the selection right now at iBUYPOWER

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best gaming pc: CLX Set Gaming

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best gaming pc: CLX Set Gaming

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best gaming pc: CLX Set Gaming

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best gaming pc: CLX Set Gaming

10. CLX Set Gaming

The best gaming PC packing a potent RTX 2070

Specifications
CPU: Ryzen 7 2700
Graphics: RTX 2070
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Storage: 1TB HDD + 120GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Excellent mid- to high-tier performance+Ray tracing for under $1,300+Sleek tempered glass design
Reasons to avoid
-Only two DIMMs

If you want excellent QHD performance and dedicated hardware for ray tracing, all in a sleek package with a beautiful glass panel and brilliant RGB lighting, the CLX Set Gaming is an excellent deal. Packing a Ryzen 7 2700, plenty of CPU for gaming and multitasking, and a Geforce RTX 2070, Nvidia's mid 20-series card loaded with hardware to support ray tracing as well as DLSS, the Set Gaming from CLX is a fantastic machine that's priced very competitively (as of this writing it's discounted even further down to $1,255 at Walmart from it's normally excellent starting price).

Being right in the middle of the RTX pack means the 2070 is easily capable of handling the current pool of games that feature ray tracing at solid frame rates at 1440p (or even 4K, depending on the game and your settings). And the Set Gaming also packs a speedy SSD you can use as a boot drive, while saving the 1TB HDD for games and storage. For the specs, you won't find a machine close to this price point, so the Set Gaming is an easy recommend, especially if you can grab it during the current sale.