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The best gaming PCs you can buy: Expert tested and starting at $499

We tested the best gaming PCs from Alienware, Lenovo, HP, and more to help you find the best gaming PC for your budget and library.
Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer
Alienware Aurora R16 | Best gaming PC overall
Close-up of the Alienware Aurora R16 tower next to a speaker and monitor.
Alienware Aurora R16
Best gaming PC overall
View now View at Amazon
Lenovo Legion Tower 5i | Best Intel gaming PC
Close-up of the Lenovo Legion Tower 5i, next to a Philips 27-inch monitor. The glass panel has been removed from the tower.
Lenovo Legion Tower 5i
Best Intel gaming PC
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HP Victus 15L | Best budget gaming PC
An HP Victus 15L tower, keyboard, and mouse on a grey background
HP Victus 15L
Best budget gaming PC
View now View at Walmart
HP Omen 25L | Best AMD gaming PC
An HP Omen 25L gaming desktop on a grey background
HP Omen 25L
Best AMD gaming PC
View now View at Best Buy
Corsair Vengeance i7400 | Best gaming PC for content creators
A Corsair Vengeance i7400 gaming PC on a grey background
Corsair Vengeance i7400
Best gaming PC for content creators
View now View at Amazon

While many gamers prefer to build their own PCs, buying a prebuilt gaming PC is a great option for beginners and hobbyists. The best gaming PCs offer a balance between price and performance with features gamers expect, like Bluetooth connectivity, Thunderbolt support, and updated graphics cards.  

Also: The best gaming laptops

Whether you prefer Intel or AMD, both chip manufacturers offer gamers plenty of options for CPUs and graphics cards to get the most out of their game libraries and keep up with the latest triple-A titles. 

What is the best gaming PC right now?

I am an avid gamer and went hands-on with many of the best gaming PCs available, from budget-conscious selections to premium options with price tags to match. My tested pick for the best gaming PC overall is the Alienware Aurora R16 for its 14th-gen Intel Core CPU, extensive configuration options, and options for either liquid or air cooling. Read to see how gaming PCs from other big brands like MSI, HP, and more compare. 

The best gaming PCs of 2024

Pros & Cons
  • Highly customizable
  • Choice of Nvidia or AMD graphics card
  • Very quiet case fans
  • New design fits into shared/multi-use spaces better than before
  • Expensive at higher configurations
  • No AMD CPU configuration choices
More Details

The Alienware Aurora R16 is the latest gaming PC offering from Dell, equipped with up to a 14th generation Intel Core i9 processor, up to 64GB of RAM, up to 8TB of storage, and your choice of either an Nvidia or AMD graphics card. It also features both DisplayPort and HDMI connectivity for up to four displays, letting you set up the ultimate battle station or streaming rig. 

Read also: The best gaming GPUs (and how much you should spend)

I got to go hands-on with the Aurora R16, built with an RTX 4090 GPU and Intel Core i9, and during my testing, I was impressed with how smoothly everything ran, as well as just how quiet the fan towers were. Even when playing graphically intensive games like Spider-Man: Miles Morales or Like a Dragon: Ishin, the cooling fans were never a distraction. 

Customers who have bought the Aurora R16 also say they love how quiet the fans are, as well as the multitude of configuration options. This machine also has plenty of USB/USB-C ports as well as Bluetooth support for setting up every peripheral you'll need, from headsets and keyboards to mice and drawing tablets. 

Alienware Aurora R16 specs: CPU: Up to 14th gen Intel Core i9 | RAM: Up to 64GB | Storage: Up to 8TB SSD | Graphics: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX | Power supply: Up to 1000W Platinum | Tower type: Mid-Tower   

Pros & Cons
  • High-end components
  • Customizable case lighting per fan
  • Supports up to 4 displays
  • Mid-size tower is great for most spaces
  • Only one USB-C port
  • Glass case panel requires frequent cleaning
More Details

After testing the Lenovo Legion Tower 5i Gen 8, it convinced me to make the switch from my AMD-based, custom-built gaming PC. It's built with an Intel Core i7-13700F CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card, making it one of the more powerful gaming PCs on the market. The combination of the 13th-gen Intel Core processor and RTX 40 series GPU meant that I was able to not only multitask writing, editing photos, and doing research for work, but I was also able to play some of the most graphically and processor-bandwidth-hungry games. 

Read more: What graphics card do I have? How do check your GPU and drivers

The Legion Tower 5i Gen 8 could handle ARMA III with a ridiculously immense mod pack almost flawlessly since my framerate issues were more likely due to my internet connection rather than the PC itself. The glass side panel of the tower gives you a nice view of the RGB lighting, which you can customize within the Lenovo Vantage desktop app. The tower also has plenty of USB ports as well as HDMI and DisplayPort inputs for connecting up to four displays, though there is only one USB-C port. 

Customers who have bought the Lenovo Legion Tower 5i say they agree that the PC offers great components for reasonable prices. 

Lenovo Legion Tower 5i Gen 8 tech specs: CPU: Up to Intel Core i7-13700F| GPU: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 | RAM: 16GB | Power supply: 500W | Storage: 1TB SSD | Cooling system: Air 

Pros & Cons
  • Under $1000
  • AMD and Intel builds
  • RTX 30 and Radeon RX 6000 series GPUs
  • Dual storage drives
  • Bronze rated power supply
  • No liquid cooling options
More Details

Whether you're an adult looking to get into PC gaming for the first time or are shopping for a kid or teen, the HP Victus 15L is an excellent, budget-friendly gaming PC. You can choose either an Intel or AMD configuration, and you can tweak base builds to suit your needs as well as your spending limits. Base configurations start well under $1,000, so even more modest gaming PC budgets can find room for it. 

Read more: AMD vs Intel: Which desktop processor is right for you?

You can create builds with up to 16GB of RAM, which is plenty of memory for most triple-A and indie titles in your library or on your wishlist, as well as with up to either an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 or AMD Radeon RX 6600XT graphics card. You can also include up to a 512GB SSD for your boot drive for faster loading times and file access and a 1TB HDD storage drive for all the space you'll need for large game downloads.

Customers who bought the Victus 15L say that it's an excellent choice for budget-conscious gamers as well as for anyone looking for a cheaper desktop that can be used for both work and gaming.

HP Victus 15L specsCPU: Up to 13th gen Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7000 series | GPU: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 or AMD Radeon RX 6600XT | RAM: Up to 16GB | Power supply: 500W 80 Plus Bronze | Storage: Up to 512GB SSDD/Up to 1TB HDD | Cooling system: Air

Pros & Cons
  • Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 support
  • Configurable design
  • Compact chassis
  • Up to 1TB SSD
  • MicroATX form may make replacing parts tricky
  • Limited USB inputs
More Details

Whether you're an AMD loyalist or looking for an alternative to pricier Intel-based gaming rigs, the HP Omen 25L is the best AMD-based gaming rig you can buy. It's built with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600G CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and you can configure it with up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card. 

Read more: How to identify your motherboard quickly and easily

The 1TB SSD will give your current game library and any new games you purchase plenty of room. The HP Omen 25L supports Wi-Fi 6 connectivity for faster wireless internet speeds as well as Bluetooth 5.2 for more reliable connections to wireless peripherals like headsets and mice. It also features a more compact design than its other Omen counterparts, making it great for smaller gaming spaces and desks. 

Verified customers who bought the Omen 25L say that it offers a good balance between price and performance and are able to get consistent 60fps frame rates in games like Cyberpunk 2077.

HP Omen 25L tech specs: CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600G | GPU: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 | RAM: 8GB | Power supply: 600W | Storage: Up to 1TB SSD | Cooling system: Air 

Pros & Cons
  • RTX 4080 graphics card
  • 13th generation Intel Core i7 processor
  • Liquid cooling
  • Very expensive
  • Heavy (31 pounds)
More Details

If you're an established Twitch streamer or gaming content creator, the Corsair Vengeance i7400 is a great option for a gaming rig upgrade. It's built with a 13th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, and a GeForce RTX 4080 graphics card. This configuration gives you plenty of power for rendering video files, editing thumbnails, and multitasking with streaming and gaming programs. It also gives you plenty of storage for raw and edited files as well as your game library. 

Read more: The best external hard drives you can buy: Expert tested

The Vengeance i7400 also features a liquid cooling system to help better dissipate waste heat and keep your components running at optimal temperatures, especially if you like to overclock your CPU. And the mid-size tower design means it's more compact, making it perfect for smaller desks and gaming spaces. 

Customers who have purchased the Corsair Vengeance i7400 say they love the performance they're able to get from the higher-end components as well as the sleek, RGB-enhanced design of the tower case.

Corsair Vengeance i7400 tech specs: CPU: Intel Core i7-13700K | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 | RAM: 32GB | Power supply: 850W | Storage: 2TB SSD | Cooling system: Liquid 

What is the best gaming PC?

My choice for the best gaming PC is the Alienware Aurora R16. It has tons of configuration options, letting you customize your build for your exact needs (as well as your budget). You can choose up to a 14th gen Intel Core i9 processor, up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 or AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX graphics card, 64GB of RAM, and up to 8TB of storage. You can also choose upgrade to a liquid cooling system for better CPU performance. 

Best gaming PC

Starting Price



Alienware Aurora R16


Up to 14th gen Intel Core i9/Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 or AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX

Up to 64GB, Up to 8TB SSD

HP Victus 15L


Up to 13th gen Intel Core i7/AMD Ryzen 7000 series, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 or up to Radeon RX 6600XT

Up to 16GB, 512GB SSD/1TB HDD

HP Omen 25L 


AMD Ryzen 5 5600G, Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050

8GB, Up to 1TB SSD

Lenovo Legion Tower 5i Gen 8


Intel Core i7-13700F, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070


Corsair Vengeance i7400


Intel Core i7-13700K, Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080


*Lowest price at the time of writing. Please note that actual prices may vary depending on the retailer and available promotions.

Which gaming PC is right for you?

The snarky answer is the one you can afford. But jokes aside, besides price, I'd say RAM, storage, and configuration are your most important considerations. You want to choose a prebuilt PC with at least 8GB of RAM and a storage drive (a solid-state 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. 

If you're looking for a decent gaming PC at a reasonable price, a rig with at least 16GB of RAM, a 512GB storage drive, and a CPU and GPU that are within the last two tech generations will have more than enough power and storage to play most games.  

Choose this gaming PC...

If you need...

Alienware Aurora R16

A well-rounded gaming PC with a powerful processor and GPU. This PC features a 14th gen Intel Core CPU and Nvidia GPU, making it a solid choice for gaming and creative work.

HP Victus 15L

A budget-friendly gaming PC. Available with both Intel and AMD configurations, it retails under $1,000, making it perfect for beginner PC gamers and anyone looking to save big on their next gaming rig.

HP Omen 25L

An AMD-based gaming rig. It's built with the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G CPU, giving you power and performance for indie and triple-A games.

Lenovo Legion Tower 5i

An Intel-based gaming rig. It uses a 13th-generation Intel Core i7 processor for better efficiency and multitasking.

Corsair Vengeance i7400

A gaming rig for content creators. It features an RTX 4080 graphics card, 32GB of RAM, and a 2TB SSD for power and performance for gaming, streaming, and video editing.

Factors to consider when buying a gaming PC:

When shopping for a new, pre-built gaming PC, there are several factors to consider:

  • CPU: Whether you're an Intel or AMD loyalist, you'll want to look for a gaming PC with a processor that was released within the last 5 years. This ensures that your computer will have enough power to actually play games, and by opting for a slightly older CPU, you can save a bit of money on a build.

  • Graphics card: You don't have to have the latest RTX 40 series cards to get the most out of your gaming PC. When it comes to GPUs, the amount of VRAM it provides and which versions of DirectX it supports is more important than the particular chipset generation. You could buy an RTX 4070 8GB card, but if your games push that VRAM to its limits, you're getting less performance than an older card with 12GB of VRAM.

  • Power supply: This is more for DIY enthusiasts, but if you ever need to replace or upgrade your power supply, you'll need to make sure it has enough power (plus a little extra) to safely run all of your components. I like to add about 20 percent more than I think I'll need to have a built-in margin in case my GPU or CPU needs to draw extra power for whatever reason. 

  • Tower type: Gaming PCs come in three different flavors: full-sized, mid-size, and miniATX towers. While full and mid-sized towers can hold the same kinds of components, miniATX cases require specially designed graphics cards and motherboards to fit their exceptionally compact sizes. So keep this in mind if you plan to drop new components to your tower case later on.

  • Cooling system: Not all gaming PCs are created equal, and premium-grade components draw more power than their more affordable counterparts. This means that they'll need more efficient cooling than stock and aftermarket fans can provide. If you're looking to buy a high-end gaming PC, you'll want to opt for a build that either already comes equipped with or has room for a liquid cooling system. A liquid-cooled CPU is safer to overclock and run at higher capacities for longer, making it a great option for content creators who need to run simultaneous CPU-hungry programs.

How we test gaming PCs

Whether I'm doing hands-on testing or researching the latest offerings from MSI and others, I keep in mind things that I personally look for when upgrading my desktop build: 

  • Brand integrity: Being able to trust the brand you're buying from is a key factor in researching and shopping for any gaming desktop. I've chosen gaming desktop builds from established brands like MSI and Alienware as well as highly-rated, lesser-known brands with quality customer service. 
  • End-user friendliness: I always make sure that each gaming PC that I include on this list is able to be upgraded and modified by end-users. Whether you're dropping in a new graphics card or setting up a liquid cooling system, each gaming PC on this list features full user customization. 
  • Connectivity: It's important that your new gaming PC is able to connect to every peripheral you use. Whether it's Bluetooth, USB 3.0 or USB-C, each gaming PC on this list has been vetted for compatibility with a variety of connection types. 
  • Double-duty tech: Not everyone has the time, space, or cash for maintaining separate work and gaming computers. Every gaming PC I test and research is ensured to be able to handle everything from spreadsheets and Zoom calls to the latest triple-A game releases. 

Is a cheap gaming PC a good choice?

Yes, you can absolutely find a budget-friendly, sub-$1,000 gaming computer with the storage space and processing power for just about any game. Read here for my top selections of budget gaming PCs.You can also save money on a prebuilt or custom build by opting for an older GPU. While these aren't the newest, shiniest tech, budget gaming PCs still have plenty of juice to run a lot of triple-A titles at decent settings. 

You can also save by choosing a configuration with less RAM and storage since you can often swap them out later; this lets you take advantage of component sales that work with your overall budget. Just be sure to check that your gaming laptop doesn't have a RAM stick that can't be removed or replaced. 

How much RAM do I need for gaming?

8GB - 16GB of RAM is plenty to provide a smooth gaming experience. You can also 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, this amount of RAM is geared towards animators and professional content creators.

Read also: The 5 best RAM: Top memory upgrades for your PC, Mac or server 

Is it cheaper to build a gaming PC myself?

Yes, 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 doesn't have time 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).

Read more: SSD vs HDD: What's the difference, and which should you buy? 

Is liquid cooling your gaming PC worth it?

Liquid cooling your PC can be overkill unless you have high-end, power-hungry components like the new RTX 4090 graphics card. However, a liquid cooling system is more efficient at drawing away waste heat than traditional, air-cooling fan systems. With the advent of all-in-one cooling systems, first-time builders can liquid-cool their gaming rigs without the fear of leaks; but the AIO systems are meant to focus on single components like CPUs or graphics cards. 

If you want to liquid cool your entire rig, you'll need a custom cooling system, including a radiator, plenty of tubing, coolant pumps, and an exhaust fan. DIY PC pros can set up intricate liquid cooling systems to maintain optimal temperatures while showing off their personal style with colored coolant, RGB lights, and copper tubing.

What do power supply ratings mean?

Power supply ratings are divided into six categories: white, bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and titanium. A white rating means that the PSU has the lowest power efficiency, while a titanium rating indicates the very best power efficiency. While it's tempting to spring for a white-rated PSU, you may end up spending a lot more in the long run since it will be more prone to failure and might require frequent replacing. 

Read amore: Choosing the right PSU for your PC

But this doesn't mean you have to spring for the ultra-expensive titanium rating. An 80-plus gold rating is more than enough power efficiency for most gaming PCs, but if you're a content creator, you may want to consider a platinum or titanium-rated PSU to protect high-end components like graphics cards and processors against power fluctuations.

What is a VTuber? How do I become one?

The word "VTuber" is a portmanteau/abbreviation of the phrase "Virtual YouTuber," and it refers to content creators that use either a 2D or 3D avatar rather than a live feed of their real selves when streaming. Some creators choose to use an avatar in order to create a fun character to play on their channel, creating a backstory and incorporating ideas and inside jokes from their audience into their channel lore. Others see it as a way to maintain better anonymity, adding another layer of security over their real identities to keep personal data safer from bad faith actors. 

Becoming a VTuber does have a bit of a steep learning curve, as well as a high-priced entry point if you're not particularly skilled with animation and modeling software. But with programs like VSeeFace and VRoid Studio, you can quickly create and animate a basic model to get you started. 

More gaming PCs to consider:

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