/>
X
Home & Office
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

The best gaming PCs: From HP to MSI, the top rigs compared

A prebuilt gaming PC is a great option if you aren't comfortable building your own rig. Our expert pick for the best gaming PC is the Alienware Aurora R14 Ryzen Edition for its powerful processor and graphics card, storage space, and unique design.
taylor-clemons
Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer on

Buying a gaming PC doesn't have to be a painful experience. Opting for a prebuilt configuration from brands like HP, MSI, or Alienware is a great way to get the most value out of your gaming PC. You can nail down a budget and select the configuration that gives you the best components for the price. 

Building a PC is simple enough, but it can be intimidating to new PC gamers and frustrating for gaming veterans who don't want to deal with shipping delays on individual components. And contrary to popular belief, having a high-end GPU like an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 doesn't mean your new gaming PC is automatically the best; what counts is the CPU and how much RAM and storage your configuration has. Because even an older GTX 1660 Super or RTX 2070 is still capable of running demanding triple-A titles.

Gaming and office PCs alike use either Intel or AMD processors and compatible components, and it used to be that Intel was the clearly superior choice. But with the new Ryzen 6000 CPUs and GPUs, AMD has proven that it is capable of serious power. If you want to know more about the different CPUs available for gaming PCs, you can check out our list of the best gaming CPUs.

I've combed the web to find the best gaming PCs available at just about every price point, and I've broken down their features and best-use cases to help you choose the best one that fits both your budget and your needs.

Also: The best gaming laptops: Top rigs for on-the-go gaming

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900 | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 | RAM: 32GB | Power supply: 850W | Storage: 1TB SSD and 2TB HDD | Cooling system: Liquid 

The Alienware Aurora R14 Ryzen Edition is the best gaming PC you can buy right now. It's built with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900 CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card for all the power you need to play the hottest triple-A titles and most graphically demanding games. And with dual storage drives, you'll have plenty of space for your entire game library plus room to grow. A liquid cooling system works with the pre-installed fans to draw waste heat away from components, keeping everything running at optimal temperatures for better performance and power efficiency. The chassis also sports a unique, rounded design to stand out from the rest of the box-style, midsize towers on the market. And with tool-less access, it's easy to open up the tower to clean out fans, reroute cables, or upgrade components.

Pros:

  • Liquid cooling
  • GeForce RTX 3080 GPU
  • Dual storage drives

Cons:

  • On the expensive side
  • Design might not be appealing to everyone

CPU: Intel Core i5-11400 | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super | RAM: 8GB | Power supply: 400W | Storage: 256GB SSD and 1TB HDD | Cooling system: Air 

At just under $1,000, the Lenovo Legion Tower 5i is one of the more affordable prebuilt gaming PCs on the market. And just because it's more budget-friendly, that doesn't mean you sacrifice quality and performance. It's built with an 11th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super graphics card, a 256GB SSD, and 1TB HDD. This configuration is great for PC gaming newcomers, since it gives you plenty of power and storage for both new and classic game titles, and the lower price means you can save money to upgrade components later on when you need better performance. The minimalist design is great for gaming spaces that double as home offices, using more understated RGB components to reduce distractions for co-workers. It also comes packaged with a keyboard and a mouse so you can get started playing your favorite games right out of the box.

Pros:

  • Under $1,000
  • Keyboard and mouse included
  • Great CPU
  • Dual storage drives

Cons:

  • Older GPU

CPU: Intel Core i9-12900K | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 | RAM: 32GB | Power supply: 750W | Storage: 2TB SSD | Cooling system: Air 

If you need a powerful gaming PC but don't have a ton of space, the Corsair ONE i300 is a great option for a compact tower. With a footprint of just 54 square inches, it takes up less than a quarter of the space of a full-size tower, making it perfect for tucking away on the corner of your desk or even under it if you need more space for peripherals like mice and keyboards. And even though its a compact build, it's packed with premium-grade components like a 12th generation Intel Core i9 CPU, GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, 2TB SSD, and 32GB of RAM. The front panel features dual RGB LED light strips, so you can sync with other RGB peripherals or show off your personal style. And all of the ports are designed with modern gaming in mind, giving you access to multiple USB 3.2, Thunderbolt 4, and USB-C slots for faster data transfer and more reliable connections to peripherals and external storage devices. 

Pros:

  • Very compact footprint
  • Top-tier components
  • Plenty of connection ports

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Compact size makes upgrading difficult

CPU: Intel Core i7-12700F | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 | RAM: 16GB | Power supply: 800W | Storage: 1TB SSD and 2TB SSD | Cooling system: Air 

As game download files get larger and larger, PC gamers need tons of storage space for their libraries. The Acer Predator Orion 5000 is built with a 1TB SSD and 2TB HDD, which is more than enough to handle games like Red Dead Redemption II and Call of Duty, but if you need even more space, you can add a second 1TB SSD and up to two 3TB HDDs. It also has more than enough power to handle even the most graphically demanding games with a 12th generation Intel Core i7 CPU and GeForce RTX 3080 GPU. You also get the best sound possible for gaming with support for DTS: X Ultra audio processing and blazing fast wireless internet speeds with WiFi 6E support.

Pros:

  • Dual storage drives
  • Supports up to 2 SSDs and 2 HDDs
  • RTX 30 series GPU
  • DTS: X Ultra audio

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Limited USB-C ports

CPU: Intel Core i7-12700K | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti | RAM: 32GB | Power supply: 650W | Storage: Up to 4TB SSD and 2TB HDD | Cooling system: Air 

Twitch streamers and YouTube let's players need PCs [What does this mean, "players need PCs"?] that can not only handle the hottest triple-A games, but also professional-grade photo and video editing software and live-streaming apps. The MSI MEG Trident X is an almost perfect choice for content creators, featuring a 12th generation Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti graphics card, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. There are configurations that give you up to two SSDs as well as a traditional hard disk drive, but be prepared to fork over a hefty wad of cash to get it. However, full-time content creators will appreciate the investment, since the premium configurations will give them all the power and storage they'll need for years to come. The Trident X also has an incredibly compact footprint, making it easy to tuck away on a shelf or a desk corner or to mount on a wall to stay out of the way while you record or edit videos. The hinged side door makes accessing fans and components fast and easy, while the front of the tower features USB 3.2, USB-C and audio inputs for quicker set up of external memory storage, peripherals, and audio equipment.

Pros:

  • Premium-grade components
  • Tons of configuration options
  • Compact footprint
  • Quick-access hinged door

Cons:

  • Very expensive, especially at higher configurations
  • Compact size makes upgrading components difficult

What is the best gaming PC?

The best gaming PC is the Alienware Aurora Ryzen R14 due to its superior CPU, RAM, GPU, and storage.

Gaming PC

Price

CPU

GPU

Alienware Aurora R14 Ryzen

$2,800

AMD Ryzen 9 5900

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

Lenovo Legion 5i

$999

Intel Core i5-11400

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super

Corsair ONE i300

$3,750

Intel Core i9-12900K

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

Acer Predator Orion 5000

$2,550

Intel Core i7-12700F

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

MSI MEG Trident X

$4,099

Intel Core i7-12700K

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti

Which gaming PC is right for you?

The snarky answer is the one you can afford. But jokes aside, other than price, you want to pay close attention to how much RAM and storage a configuration has. You want to choose a prebuilt PC that has at least 8GB of RAM and a storage drive (either a solid state drive or a traditional hard disk drive) with no less than 256GB of space. 

The graphics card model in your build isn't as important as RAM, since the system memory is what actually renders game assets. And the GPU acts as a turbo booster for regular RAM, so you can feel comfortable buying a configuration that has an older GPU, like a GTX 1660 Super or a RTX 2080, knowing that it will still let you play all but the most technically demanding titles.

Choose this gaming PC...

If you need...

Alienware Aurora R14 Ryzen Edition

A well-rounded gaming PC with a powerful processor and GPU

Lenovo Legion 5i

A more affordable gaming PC

Corsair ONE i300

A compact gaming PC for smaller desks and rooms

Acer Predator Orion 5000

A gaming PC with lots of storage space for your game library

MSI MEG Trident X

A gaming PC for content creators

How did we choose these gaming PCs?

I chose these gaming PCs because they offer a great balance between price and components. Higher-end models, like the Alienware Aurora Ryzen R14, come with top-of-the-line components to give you a gaming PC that will last for years before you need to think about upgrading. Others, like the HP Victus desktop, are more budget-friendly options for folks who either are new to PC gaming or who aren't worried about trying to keep up with the latest triple-A games.

Is a cheap gaming PC a good choice?

You can absolutely find a budget-friendly (around $1,000 is considered "budget" when it comes to prebuilt gaming desktops and laptops) gaming computer that is going to have the storage space and processing power for just about any game. You can save money on a prebuilt or a custom build by opting for an older GPU (when you can get them). While they aren't the newest, shiniest tech, they still have plenty of juice to run a lot of triple-A titles at decent settings. 

You also can save by choosing a configuration with less RAM and storage, since you can often swap them out yourself later; this lets you take advantage of component sales that work with your overall budget. Make sure you check your gaming laptop though, since they can sometimes have soldered RAM sticks that cannot be removed or changed out.

How much RAM do I need for gaming?

For most games, either 8GB or 16GB of RAM is going to be plenty to get a smooth experience. You can find configurations with upwards of 128GB of RAM, and while this would certainly give you more system memory for very technically and graphically demanding games, you are never going to be able to take full advantage of so much RAM (unless you're an animator or professional content creator).

Is it cheaper to build a gaming PC myself?

It can be. Gaming PCs are one of those things that you can spend as little or as much on as you want. Prebuilt gaming desktops and laptops are great for anyone who either doesn't have time to build or isn't comfortable with building a gaming computer. They're also more expeditious, since you don't have to wait for individual components to ship (and hopefully not get damaged in transit). 

Building a gaming PC yourself does give you the opportunity to save a bit of cash, since you can plan your build around component sales. Just make sure you aren't mixing AMD and Intel components; they won't communicate with each other. Building one yourself also allows you to create a PC that exactly fits your needs, since you aren't likely to buy components you won't utilize fully, such as HDDs or SSDs with more than 2TB of space, more than 16GB of RAM, or a super-advanced motherboard that has features you won't ever use, etc. 

It's all about balancing your budget with how convenient you want buying a gaming PC to be or how comfortable you are with building computers.

Are there alternative gaming PCs worth considering?

There are tons of options out there for prebuilt gaming PCs. Below is a list of runner-ups that, while they're great computers, might not appeal to everyone. Some are quite expensive or more suited to creative professionals or from brands that are less well-known. 

Editorial standards

Related

The top GPUs from Nvidia and AMD for your next upgrade or new build
A young man sitting at a desk, streaming an anime game on his computer. His PC tower is open, revealing an MSI graphics card.

The top GPUs from Nvidia and AMD for your next upgrade or new build

Gamers: To get the most out of your gameplay, you need one of these TVs
A young man uses a Samsung QN90B to play a racing game with a console.

Gamers: To get the most out of your gameplay, you need one of these TVs

HP Flash Sale: Save up to $550 on Omen and Pavilion gaming desktops
c52

HP Flash Sale: Save up to $550 on Omen and Pavilion gaming desktops