The best gaming PC you can buy right now (January 2019)

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It's a brand new year, and the perfect time to find the best gaming PC  to refresh your desktop or transform your gaming setup. There's a really strong crop of machines being produced by manufacturers, taking advantage of Nvidia's new 20-series of ray tracing video cards and Intel's 9th generation processors. While it might be possible to build similar machines yourself for slightly cheaper, the advantages of buying a prebuilt are manifold. For one, you don't need to worry about parts compatibility or screwing something up while you're putting your rig together (or a bad static event costing you hundreds of dollars). And a lot of prebuilts are incredibly customizable now, meaning you can get pretty much exactly the machine you want, and prioritize the components that are most meaningful for you, while shaving off add-ons and frills that you'll never use and don't want to sink additional cash into. Prebuilts also come under the comforting umbrella of a warranty, so you know that if something does go wrong, you won't suddenly find yourself without the gaming PC you rely so much on. 

What should you be looking for when you're shopping for the best gaming PC of 2019? The upcoming release of Nvidia's new 2060 is an interesting stopgap, a card that's clearly intended to replace the 1070 as an affordable mid-tier selection for people that want DLSS and DXR, Nvidia's vaunted new graphics technologies, but don't want to pay close to $1,000 for the privilege. At around $350, the 2060 will likely start appearing in prebuilts from manufacturers looking to approach the magical $1,500 or $1,000 marks. The 2060 represents the new entry point for a solid gaming build, while on the processor side, Intel's Core i7s and AMD's Ryzen 5s and 7s have gotten cheap enough (and are powerful enough) to be widely available in prebuilts, and are the range most gamers should target. Storage has also gotten significantly cheaper in the last year or so, so make sure you're getting a capacious M.2 SSD in whatever gaming PC you choose, to burn through loading times and help boot your machine at lightning speed.

Of course, even the best gaming PC needs sexy peripherals, so grab the best gaming keyboard and best gaming mouse to accompany your new machine. 

1. Corsair Vengeance 5180

RGB flash with the performance to back it up

CPU: i7 8700 | Graphics: AMD Radeon RX560/ GTX 1050 Ti 4GB/ GTX 1060 6GB/ GTX 1080 8GB | RAM: 8GB DDR4/16GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB - 2TB HDD

Great performance
Thoughtful dual-chambered design
Intense suite of RGB lighting
CPU can't be overclocked

While at first glance the Corsair Vengeance 5180 might seem like a lot of RGB lighting, signifying nothing, the reality is it's packed with powerful hardware and some thoughtful design decisions that elevate above even the other gaming PCs on our list. 

Inside the spacious case you'll find one of Nvidia's mighty new ray tracing cards, the RTX 2080, and a very capable Core i7-8700. It also comes with a very welcome, generous 480GB SSD as well as 2TB of traditional storage. The glass tempered panes of glass on the front, side, and top and massive RGB light-show might be the headline (or at the very least, most eye-catching) feature, but the 5180 is no slouch in performance, either.

One of my favorite features is actually the case design. While it's a pretty massive piece of kit, the space is used extremely well in a dual-chambered design that separates the motherboard, GPU, and RAM into one side and the storage drives and PSU into the other. This makes tinkering a breeze, with no massive cable snakes to navigate around when you're swapping out the graphics card or adding RAM. On the other side, handy removable hard drive bays allow you to easily add additional storage if you're so inclined, and all the PSU cables are wrapped and neatly tucked so they won't interfere. 

Of course, if you do fancy an RGB light show from your desktop, the Corsair can be lit like a Christmas tree and becomes a flashing, 16.8 million color equipped show piece for the easily impressed amongst your friends and families. Even as someone who's not a particular fan of the RGB frenzy currently gripping gaming PC and accessory manufacturers, I don't hate the candy colored display the Corsair presents every time you power it on. 

Best for… Gamers who want a powerful, fully-featured machine that's as capable as it is flashy

2. HP Omen Obelisk

Killer specs at a very competitive price

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

Trim, sleek machine that cuts frills to save money
Performance powerhouse
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 its named after, a dense black cube of potentiality ready to unleash the most beautiful and intense games of this generation and the one that follows. 

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.    For around the $1,600 mark, the Obelisk comes packed with a very nice 8th gen Core i7-8700 and an RTX 2080, only one step down from Nvidia's most powerful 20-series 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.

Best for… power gamers looking for a no-frills machine to anchor their gaming setup

3. Alienware Aurora

There's a gaming PC in this range for every budget

CPU: Core i7-8700 | Graphics: Graphics: RTX 2080 8GB | RAM: RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Storage: 2TB HDD and 480GB SSD

Great selection of specs
Compact sleek design
Accessible for upgrades
You’ll switch out the included keyboard and mouse

While Alienware used to be known solely for flashy lights and little else, things have definitely changed for the PC manufacturer. Now happily owned by Dell, Alienware’s latest range of offerings is an impressive array of PCs that focus more on performance than flash. The Alienware Aurora is a perfect example, an incredibly customizable PC that's priced competitively and designed to be easy to upgrade even beyond the initial, compelling specs. Available in four default configs, the Aurora ranges from a budget friendly build packing a Core i5 and a GTX 1060 all the way up to a gaming monster with a Core i9 and RTX 2080 Ti. 

Everything is accessible inside the sleek case if you want to tinker with the Aurora's guts, and there’s impressive customization options for the RGB lighting system (Alienware hasn't completely abandoned their chrome and neon roots). You’ll also never be in need of a USB port either, with a staggering array of them on both the front and rear of the machine, including a welcome 3 USB-C ports. With its slick, modular case, easy-to-upgrade design, and bevy of customization options, the Aurora is our top choice for a gaming PC to suit nearly every need (and every budget).

Best for… Designing your own PC without having to build it yourself, and anyone interested in eventually upgrading

4. iBUYPOWER Trace 9220

An amazingly compact PC that’s well suited for VR

CPU: Core i7-8700K | Graphics: Graphics: RTX 2070 8GB | RAM: RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB HDD and 240GB SSD

Powerful mid-range PC for an extremely competitive price
Configured for easy overclocking
Slightly lackluster power supply

iBuyPower's Trace 9220 is a great entry point for someone making their way for the first time into the world of gaming PCs and PC upgrading. While the stock configuration is more than capable enough to handle modern gaming, even 4K gaming at mid to high settings, it's also built to overclock should the need arise. The CPU, RAM, and video card are all overclock ready, meaning you can step the power of this machine up significantly without having to invest in any additional hardware. 

What you will likely need if you start adding components, however, is a new PSU. The power supply the Trace 9220 comes with only outputs 500W, which you'll easily outpace if you start adding hardware. Luckily, PSUs are relatively cheap, and the core of machine likely won't need upgrading for some time anyway (though I'd recommend some additional RAM to complement the stock 16GB of DDR4; the board will accommodate up to 64GB). Otherwise, the Trace 9220 is an excellent option for anyone who wants a powerful gaming PC without spending a huge amount of cash, and it's currently on sale at Amazon for $300 off the list price, and comes with a pair of new triple-A shooters, Call of Duty: Blacks Ops 4 and Battlefield V, effectively saving you another $120.

Best for… Amateur overclockers, and anyone in the market for a balance of power and price

5. SkyTech Legacy Extreme

A truly might powerhouse PC for extreme gamers and multitaskers

CPU: Core i9-9900K | Graphics: Graphics: RTX 2080 Ti 11GB | RAM: RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD

Extremely powerful CPU and GPU for gaming and workload
Priced very competitively against similarly specced machines
Only 16GB of DDR4 stock, fairly low for this range

If you're looking for the best of both worlds, a powerful processor to handle workload and a top-end graphics card to make your games shine in 4K, Skytech's Legacy Extreme is one of the most reasonably priced and impressively kitted out power PCs on the market. Coming in well under the $3,000 mark, it nonetheless packs Nvidia's shiny new RTX 2080 Ti, the top end GPU in its much ballyhooed new raytracing family of cards, as well as Intel's potent Core-i9 9900K, their top mainstream 9th gen Coffee Lake processor. This beast will easily handle any games or apps you feed it, and laugh off even intense video rendering or editing tasks. 

The only shortcoming in the Legacy Extreme's default configuration is its 16GB of RAM. While that's not an insignificant amount of memory, it is a bit on the slight side for a PC packing this much horsepower. But given that you can find this monster at around the $2,600 price mark, it's perhaps not surprising that some cost cutting measures were taken elsewhere in the build. Luckily, RAM's fairly cheap at the moment, so if you do want to upgrade, you can do so fairly inexpensively. Otherwise, the Legacy Extreme is a future-proofed behemoth, a gaming titan that shouldn't require meaningful upgrades for many years to come. It even comes with a terabyte NVMe SSD, the new PCIe powered ultrafast storage solution, to ensure loading screens are practically undetectable. 

Best for... Hardcore gamers and professionals who need a powerful machine for work and play

6. Acer Aspire

A value gaming PC that can still put a console to shame

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 1400 | Graphics: GTX 1050 (2GB) | RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB HDD

An excellent balance between value and price
Plays games at 1080p and 1440p like a champ
Not the beefiest machine
No fun bells or whistles

If you're really not sure if PC gaming is the way to go and just want to dip your toe, or if you only want the minimum specs (maybe so you can add onto it in the future, maybe to use as a streaming machine), you probably don't want to blow tons of money on your pre-built. That's where the Acer Aspire comes in - which is to say it's well below the $1000 /  £1000 line.

It comes equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5 1400 CPU, 8GB of RAM, an Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics card with 2GB of dedicated video memory, and a 1TB hard drive. None of these are top of the line components, of course, but they'll outperform everything save for maybe an Xbox One X. And for less than $800, it's a remarkable value. Keep in mind too that you can always give your Aspire a boost down the line with more RAM, an SSD, or a more powerful GPU. In the meantime, this will run most modern games at 1080p, 60fps on high or ultra settings, and that's nothing to sneeze at.

The Aspire is a great console replacement option. If you've been stuck on PS4 or Xbox and have heard your friends chattering about the huge number of PC exclusives that get dumped onto Steam every month, the Aspire is an excellent starting point. If you're on an even tighter budget, or maybe are buying a cheap PC to haul to college or a second machine to run background executables, there are even cheaper options in the Aspire family with integrated graphics. They won't do you many favors if you're looking for a gaming machine, admittedly, but they can certainly handle streaming video if you want to offload your second screen onto a different machine, and they will certainly handle older/indie games or MMOs/MOBAs - in other words, a lot of the games that you come to PC to play in the first place.

Best for... Those who don't need 4K yet and/or are on a budget

7. Corsair One

A beast of a PC at a beast of a price

CPU: i7-9700K | Graphics: RTX 2080 8GB | RAM: 32GB DDR4 | Storage: 2TB HDD + 480GB SSD

Best of the 10-series cards, the 1080 Ti is still a mighty card
Liquid cooled, overclocking-ready Core i7
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 the same GPU as the Vengeance, an RTX 2080, and contains the same storage drives, a 480 SSD and a 2 TB HDD. Where it exceeds the Vengeance's specs are in the CPU, an overclockable Core i7-9700K, and also in a nod to megatasking workload scenarios, it packs double the 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. 

If that's not enough horsepower for you, however, for another $600 you can raise the bar all the way up to the most powerful mainstream card Nvidia produces, the RTX 2080 Ti, as well as moving up to a Core i9-9900K, a ridiculously powerful processor. 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 $1,200, wildly overpowered 9th gen Core i9-9920X CPU, which Intel insists on describing (and probably rightly so) as the "best processor for gaming." It also throws in a massive 960GB SSD so you can stash practically all of your games and applications all on a speedy static drive.

Best for… Content creators for whom gaming is an important but secondary concern, or professionals who love to game in their spare time but prioritize processing power

8. MSI Aegis 3

A portable party machine with an unconventional design

CPU: i5-7400 | Graphics: GTX 1060 | RAM: 8GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB HDD

Light and portable
VR link input makes VR connection simple
Great mid-range power
Garish aesthetic

MSI is known more for their components than their complete pre-built gaming PCs, but that shouldn't stop you from considering the MSI Aegis 3. It's not the most ludicrously powerful machine out there, but it's well beyond a budget PC, too. And thanks to its lightweight, portable design (it has a built-in handle!) you can always say "yes" when your friend asks if you can bring your PC over for a LAN party.

Packed in the Aegis you'll find an Intel i5-7400 processor, a GTX 1060 with 3GB of onboard video memory, 8GB DDR4 RAM, and a 1TB HDD. Really, the biggest drawback is the Aegis' garish design...though, okay, yes, it does have kind of a Dead Space helmet vibe going on. If you're okay with that aesthetic, this is an excellent mid-range gaming PC, and still outperforms even the most powerful console.

Best for... Those who want to take a powerful (but not worldshaking) PC over to a friend's place

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