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

What is the best gaming PC? Our number one pick is the Alienware Aurora Ryzen R14. We analyzed CPU, RAM, GPU, and storage to uncover the best gaming PC on the market.
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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, and 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 they are 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

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Alienware

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5950X | RAM: Up to 128GB | Storage: Up to 4TB | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 | Power supply: 750W Platinum | Wireless: Wi-Fi 6/Bluetooth 5.2

The Aurora Ryzen Edition R14 from Alienware is an absolute beast of a gaming PC. It comes with 64GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD boot drive, a 1TB HDD storage drive, an RTX 3090 GPU, and AMD Ryzen 9 5950X processor. The 750 watt power supply is liquid cooled for more efficient heat dissipation to keep your fancy new computer running at optimal temperatures. You can configure the desktop with up to 128GB of RAM and up to 4TB of storage, but be prepared to tack quite a bit more onto the already high price tag. It features Wi-Fi 6 compatibility for blazing fast wireless internet speeds as well as Bluetooth 5.2 for more reliable connections to wireless peripherals like keyboards, headsets, and mice.

And if you think this desktop is expensive, you should check out my list of the most expensive gaming computers you can buy; this will seem downright cheap in comparison.

Pros

  • Dual drives
  • User upgradeable
  • Wi-Fi 6/Bluetooth 5.2
  • Liquid cooling

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No peripherals or software included
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HP

CPU: Intel Core i7-11700 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 256GB SSD/2TB HDD | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 | Power supply: 500W Gold | Wireless: Wi-Fi /Bluetooth 5

At around $1,400, the HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop is considered a mid-range model, offering an excellent balance between price and performance. It's equipped with an 11th gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, a 2TB HDD, and an RTX 3060 graphics card. The SSD acts as the boot drive, allowing you to start up your PC in seconds and launch your most-played games faster than a traditional HDD. The 2TB backup drive is great for storing larger game downloads and other files that you may not need to launch or access as often. This desktop also supports 5.1CH surround sound audio, so you can create a more immersive experience with a few extra speakers or compatible headset. It also comes with a wired keyboard and mouse, so you can start playing your favorite games right out of the box.

Pros

  • Dual drives
  • 5.1CH support
  • Keyboard and mouse included

Cons

  • No Wi-Fi 6
  • Older Bluetooth version
  • No Thunderbolt connections
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HP

CPU: Intel Core i5-12400F | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 256GB SSD | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 | Power supply: 350W 80 Plus Gold | Wireless: Wi-Fi/Bluetooth 5

The Victus desktop is a new offering from HP, and the base model is priced low enough to fit all but the strictest of budgets. The base configuration features the new, 12th gen Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a GTX 1660 Super graphics card. You can add more RAM or and still keep it under $1,100. But if you want an RTX 30 series GPU, you'll have to be willing to shell out quite a bit more, especially since the RTX 3060 Ti is the only one that supports dual drives. PC gaming newbies will love that this desktop also comes with a keyboard and mouse, so you can start gaming right away. 

If laptops are more your speed, you can check out my list of the best cheap gaming laptops, so you can save money while gaming on-the-go.

Pros

  • Under $1,000
  • Most configurations stay affordable
  • Keyboard and mouse included

Cons

  • Wi-Fi 6 costs extra
  • RTX 30 series GPUs push price over $1,500
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MSI

CPU: Intel Core i5-10400F | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super | Power supply: 350W | Wireless: Wi-Fi 5/Bluetooth 4.2

This bundle from MSI is a perfect opportunity for PC gaming newbies and veterans alike to get their hands on everything they need for an awesome setup. Not only will you get the Aegis SE tower, you'll get an MSI-branded keyboard and mouse, and you can even get a FREE MSI Optix G241V 24-inch monitor. And the best part: you won't spend a fortune on the bundle. 

The tower features a 10th gen Intel Core i5, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a GTX 1660 Super graphics card. And don't be disappointed by the somewhat older components; they still do an excellent job running most triple-A titles, and you can always swap them out for newer parts later if you want. The tower also has an RGB switch to turn lighting effects on and off, which is perfect if your gaming space doubles as a home office or shared workspace.

Pros

  • Keyboard and mouse included
  • Free monitor available
  • Great price
  • Good performance

Cons

  • Older CPU and GPU
  • Somewhat small power supply
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MSI

CPU: Intel Core i5-11400 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB SSD | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 | Power supply: 330 AC adapter | Wireless: Wi-Fi 6/Bluetooth 5.2

Like the name implies, this desktop is best suited for gamers who are also content creators. Whether you're editing together a Twitch highlight reel or making thumbnails for your YouTube channel, the P50 can handle it all. It features an 11th gen Intel Core i5 processor, RTX 3060 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. You can reconfigure the RAM up to 64GB for more rendering power when working on digital art or 3D animations. It also has an incredibly compact design, making it perfect for tucking behind a multi-monitor setup or mounting to the side of a desk to conserve space. It uses Wi-Fi 6 for ultra-fast wireless internet speeds, and you can connect dual 4K or 5K monitors via the Thunderbolt 4 ports for ultra-high definition graphics while gaming or working. You can connect 4 1080p screens via HDMI and DisplayPort ports for the ultimate multitasking station. 

Pros

  • 5K monitor support
  • User upgradeable
  • Affordable for a workstation
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Thunderbolt 4

Cons

  • Creator OSD program is clunky
  • Only 2 RAM slots
  • No support for RTX 3070, 3080, or 3090 GPUs

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 are either new to PC gaming or who aren't worried about trying to keep up with the latest triple-A games.

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.

Which gaming PC is right for you?

The snarky answer is: the one you can afford. But jokes aside, aside from 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 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 RTX 2080, knowing that it will still let you play all but the most technically-demanding titles.

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 can also 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 8 or 16GB of RAM is going to be plenty in order 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 or isn't comfortable with building a gaming computer themselves. They're also really convenient, 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, since 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 be paying for components you won't utilize fully, such as HDDs or SSDs with more than 2TB of space, more than 16GB of RAM, 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, are more suited to creative professionals, or are from brands that are less well-known. 

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