Friday, May 14, 2021

Best Gaming PCs 2021: Prebuilt Desktop PCs Made to Game

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The Xbox Series X is shaping up to be the 4K gaming machine it promises to be and presumably the PS5 will follow suit. But if you’re looking for the best possible looking games there’s still several reasons to buy a gaming PC instead. Firstly, you can just get more raw graphical power packed into a gaming desktop especially if you opt for machine with one of Nvidia’s Ampere graphics cards like the RTX 3080 or RTX 3090.While gaming desktops might much more complicated, buying a desktop computer isn’t too different buying a new Xbox or PlayStation especially with us to help guide you. Whether you’re looking to just dip your toe in PC gaming or buy the most powerful machine on the market, there’s a rig for you out there. If you’re not ready to build a desktop yourself, buying a pre-built can give you a great starting point, which you can further upgrade with a new processor, memory or storage. If you’re browsing in the UK, click here to find out where you can find the best gaming PCs.

TL;DR – These are the Best Gaming PCs

1. NZXT Streaming PC

Best Gaming PC

Our Pick

NZXT Streaming PC

On NZXT

There’s no shame in buying a pre-built gaming PC, and the NZXT Streaming PC proves it. For $1,500, you can get a stylish PC with components no one should be scoffing at, especially when it’s been proving difficult for anyone to get their hands on the latest generation of graphics cards.

The NZXT Streaming PC comes kitted out with an eight-core AMD Ryzen 7 3700X processor that’ll chew through everyday workloads and handle simultaneous gaming and streaming with aplomb (perhaps that’s why NZXT chose to call this the Streaming PC). Driving the gaming performance further is none other than the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, which shouldn’t shy away from just about any gaming scenario aside from the most demanding games at 4K or with ray-tracing effects dialed way up. NZXT keeps the value coming with 1TB of storage that comes in the form of a PCIe drive, rather than a slower SATA drive. NZXT even goes the extra mile with a Kraken M22 water cooler for the CPU rather than sticking with the stock cooler.

2. Skytech Archangel

Best Budget Gaming PC

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Skytech Archangel

On Amazon

Skytech is no slouch when it comes to making gaming PCs that offer a good value, a decent balance of internals, and an aesthetic that’s more than a little easy on the eyes. The Skytech Archangel keeps this up with a $1,000 price point that simply makes a ton of sense for anyone that’s not looking to do the PC building themselves.

This setup of the Archangel is well kitted out to be a performance champ at 1080p and a decent challenger in 1440p gaming. The Ryzen 5 3600 processor inside is up to the task in a wide variety of games, and it’s six cores easily handle busy workdays. The Nvidia GTX 1660 Super is an effective partner for the Ryzen 5 3600, so your gaming experience shouldn’t see one severely bottlenecking the other. Skytech also kits this model out with a 500GB SSD and 16GB of reasonably speedy DDR4-3000 memory. You also get dual-band Wi-Fi and three RGB fans.

3. Corsair One a100

Best Compact Gaming PC

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Corsair One a100

On Corsair

One of the best excuses for getting a pre-built is the compact designs available. Some of them manage to pack so much power into such a tight space, it can be hard to imagine doing it yourself. The Corsair One a100 is a perfect example. This machine squeezes some beefy hardware into a chassis that’s only 12 liters in volume.

How much power exactly? Well, it comes loaded with an AMD Ryzen 9 3950X processor (that’s 16 cores and 32 threads), 32GB of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti? If you want high frame rates and resolutions all with graphics settings maxed out in games, this computer will do it. All that, and it even loads in a 2TB hard drive to complement its 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD.

4. Alienware Aurora Ryzen Editon R10

Best High-End Gaming PC

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Alienware Ryzen Edition Aurora R10

On Dell

If you’re ready to plunk down the cash for one of the most capable gaming desktop money can buy, there isn’t really a much better option than the Alienware Aurora Ryzen Editon R10. This rig comes fully loaded with an dodeca-core AMD processor and Nvidia’s latest RTX 3090 graphics. Not only will you be able to enjoy true 4K 60 fps PC gaming, you’ll also be able to squeeze the most ray tracing effects from this gaming desktop’s GPU without having to greatly sacrifice frame rate.

With all this graphical and processing power, the Alienware Aurora is easily capable of more than gaming and should serve as a solid video production machine. Alternatively, this gaming desktop could easily serve as streaming PC without any noticable hit on its gaming prowess.

5. Dell XPS Tower Special Edition

Best Sleeper Gaming PC

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Dell XPS Tower Special Edition 8940

On Dell

If you prefer a gaming PC with a more unassuming design, the Dell XPS Tower Special Edition puts powerful gaming hardware into a sleek-but-plain chassis, so no one will know you’re not using it for work. It comes kitted with a plenty powerful Intel Core i7 CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060. That’ll handle even high-end gaming just fine, but Dell also lets you customize your rig to include up to an i9-10900K and RTX 2070 Super.

The case is surprisingly compact, but it still boasts four USB 3.1 ports on the front panel, six USB ports around the back, as well as a full-size SD card reader and an optical disk drive. What’s more, you get a tool-less design similar to the Alienware Aurora for super easy upgrades. If you want a machine that doesn’t look like a typical gaming PC, the reserved Dell XPS Tower line is a great option.

6. Maingear Turbo

Best Mini Gaming PC

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Maingear Turbo

On Maingear

Want a gaming PC that will make people do a double take? Then the Maingear Turbo Stage 3 might be just the one for you. This compact PC may look fairly unassuming given its small stature and muted design, but a quick peak through the tempered glass side panel will show off what makes this machine purr.

Inside, you’ll find an AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT processor with a 240mm liquid cooler mounted onto it. You’ll also be getting 32GB of RAM running at a fast 3,600MHz. And, the coup de grâce is the new Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 (read our review) graphics processor inside. This combination of hardware will let your compact PC handle just about any gaming demands you have for it, including smooth 4K gaming.

7. MSI MPG Trident X

Best Console-Style Prebuilt PC for Your Living Room

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MSI MPG Trident X

On Amazon

A lot of things may come to mind when you think of gaming PCs, but one thing that you probably wouldn’t think of is a small stature. Still, MSI’s MPG Trident X manages to deliver a beastly gaming PC that wouldn’t look out of place next to an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5. Except, of course, this one has RGB lighting.

This thin gaming PC weighs under 15 pounds and is only 5.1-inches wide, but it still manages to pack in a 10-core Intel Core i9-10900KF processor with 32GB of RAM and an Nvidia RTX 3070 graphics processor. The combination will handle 1440p gaming with aplomb. What’s extra impressive is that, on top of a 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD, MSI saw fit to squeeze in a 2TB hard drive as well.

8. HP Omen Desktop 25L

It’s Just a Tower Gaming PC

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HP Omen Desktop 25 L

On HP

If you’re thinking I just want a regular mid-tower after looking through mini-PCs, cube PCs, and a desktop that’s basically a triangle, the Omen Desktop 25L is the system for you. It’s about as normal as gaming PC get from the major brands, but it still incorporates a few tricks like the two top panels that open to reveal hot-swappable hard drive bays.

The system is pretty well loaded with an Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics. Users can configure their system with up to an Intel Core i9-10900K processor and Nvidia RTX 2060 Super, though we think the above configuration will suit many gamers. A big perk of this desktop’s simplicity is that it’s also easy to upgrade – no exotic motherboard or case designs making it incredibly hard to find upgrade components that will fit.

Where to Get the Best Gaming PC in the UK

Getting your gaming PC prebuilt can save a lot of time and hassle for you, and this is still the case no matter where you are in the world. We’ve cheated a little bit with this, as plenty of the options on our list are available to purchase and shipped to the UK. Newegg, for example, will ship several brilliant pre-builds, all the way from the US to the UK. Costs for shipping, and the PCs in general, are low, so you shouldn’t have any worries going forward.

What to Look For in a Gaming PC

Below I go over the basic specifications you should prioritize when buying a gaming PC and how to get the most of your purchase of a prebuilt rig. I also explain a few alternative options you might find of interest as well.

Prebuilts are the most surefire way of getting into gaming and arguably the most cost-effective hardware you can buy. When buying a system, you’re not only getting the hardware inside but time savings of having to track down the best processor to best RAM for your system and putting it all together yourself and praying it actually boots up correctly.

That said, just like building your own PC you want to make sure you’re spending your money where it’s needed most. Firstly, you should prioritize you’re getting the graphics card you need for the gaming monitor or the 4K TV you’re gaming on. There’s no need for anything better than an Nvidia GTX 1660 if you’re just playing games on a 1080p display.

Likewise, you should only need an Intel Core i5 or Ryzen 5 processor with at least four cores to play most modern games comfortably at any resolution.

System memory and solid-state drives can be the biggest money sink for any system. Those comfortable with upgrading their system after it arrives should choose a configuration with the smallest storage and RAM capacities possible, as buying these components yourself can often be more cost-effective.

If that last suggestion resonates with you, perhaps a barebones system is what you seek. Barebones PCs can be much cheaper since they come with all the major hardware—such as the CPU, GPU, and power supply—installed, but they usually lack storage, memory and an operating system as a trade-off.

Lastly, if you want more control over what exactly is going into your build, go with a boutique PC builder. Origin, Maingear, DigitalStorm, Falcon Northwest, PC Specialist, and many more companies offer excellent PC building services that let you pick exactly which components go into your gaming PC. From there, they build your system with the sort of cable management some can only dream of while ensuring it all works properly out of the box.

In case this all sounds a little overwhelming to you, NZXT rolled out its own PC building service called BLD. Instead of picking every part that will go into your PC, you chose the games you’ll actually play and the service gives you several configuration options that will be able to run the games for a smooth experience.

Similarly, iBuyPower offers an Easy Builder service that operates in very much the same fashion. Users can select games that they play from a small pool that includes Fortnite, GTA V, Apex Legends, WoW, League of Legends, Overwatch, and Battlefield V. From there, users can select whether they play at a 1080p or 1440p resolution, as well as their budget and the system, will spit back a few configurations to choose from.

Beyond choosing the components you need, prebuilt PC’s come with several features and pieces of software you might find convenient. Many gaming PCs in this category come with some sort of overclocking support and even a one-click button to boost your system’s performance. Of course, it’s easy enough to download a piece of overclocking software like MSI Afterburner or EVGA Precision X. Additionally, your machine may come with system monitoring software that makes downloading and updating drivers a breeze.

Life after purchase

Another important thing you’ll want to keep in mind when buying a prebuilt desktop is how easy is it to upgrade down the line.

Most PC manufacturers have figured out users absolutely hate proprietary parts. While you might still find no-name motherboards installed into the hearth of your PC, they should all at least fall in line with the standard size and layout of Mini ITX or Micro ATX motherboards. The best gaming PCs should allow you to easily swap out the CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage on your system with just a few simple tools or just a screwdriver.

Better yet, systems that tout tool-less upgradability don’t require you to undo screws or anything to replace any of the major components. One of the things you’ll likely find on most modern chassis are thumbscrews, which can be removed after a few quick twists with your fingers rather than a screwdriver. Additionally, tool-less SSD and hard drive caddies make expanding and replacing your storage just a little bit easier.

For more deals on games, tech, and lots of other cool stuff, check out our best Black Friday deals coverage, which includes deals on items for last and current-gen consoles like the PS4 and PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch that are live now through the end of Cyber Monday.

More Expert Tech Roundups

Kevin Lee is IGN’s Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam

Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark



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