Best Gaming PC – Desktop Computers Tested for Gamers(April 2018)

When it comes to pure performance, gaming desktops are simply second to none. Nothing can really make or break your gaming experience quite like having the ideal PC.

While having a great mouse and mechanical keyboard can really help improve your gaming setup. Your PC is really the foundation of it all and having the best gaming desktop can really take your setup to the next level.

There are plenty of tower rigs that have different strong points and weaknesses. We have listed them so that you can choose which features are quintessential, and which are unimportant to you.

Desktops for Gamers – Our Top Picks


iBUYPOWER 9200 i7-8700K 6-Core 3.7 GHz

Best Overall Gaming Computer

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Looking to run all your games on ultra-high settings? The iBUYPOWER desktop 9200 is definitely a gaming powerhouse for a reasonable price. This neatly packed rig with its elegant exterior can offer enough power for almost any gamers needs.

Specifications

  • I7-8700K 3.7 GHz (4.7 GHz Max Turbo)
  • 240GB SSD + 1TB HDD
  • Nvidia GTX 1070 8GB VRAM
  • Windows 10 64Bit
  • 16 color RGB lit case
  • Liquid Cooled

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First up, most games these days are CPU capped. Meaning the GPUs are more than comfortable handling Extreme or ultra-high settings. This is where this desktop excels as unless you want to shell out an arm & a leg and go for Intel’s i9 series the i7-8700K is the best realistic target for most gamers. The high 3 figure price tag for the i9s make the 8th gen i7-8700K a no-brainer and this CPU is the best fit here.

Having said all of that the GPU is no slouch by any stretch of the imagination. 1080 might be the only upgrade that might be causing you some confusion, but we felt 1070 was more than capable of handling anything we threw at it. The 8GB VRAM & the speed was pretty good for gaming even the most demanding of titles like Battlefield, Warhammer 2 (which is known to be very much CPU capped) at very high frame rates. The monitors you use also vary your experience to ours, but it was quite positive in general. Generally, this fared well with 1080P gaming and 4K streaming.

The case is pretty elegant with 3.5mm jacks & USB slots at the top. This might make the front presentable, but if you have a tight setup regarding height, then the buttons might be annoying to access. You do get lifetime tech support despite the warranty for parts and labor being just 1 year. We felt this was still positive.

It has 16GB of ram, but you can very easily expand this to a 24 or change it for more. 16 is typically sufficient unless you are using highly demanding applications and like to multitask as well. Considering its predecessor on our list offered the 1080 & 32 GB of RAM we had some mixed feelings about the updated offering. The SSD, HDD hybrid of 240+1TB is quite standard among most gaming laptops & desktops, and at this price, this is the least we could expect. An SSHD or 512GB SSD would have made this even more competitive at this price point.

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The RGB lighting which you control remotely is pretty cool, and you can see through as the sides made of tempered glass. As you can see at first glance, while it’s a neat setup on the inside, there’s insufficient room for expansion. Running an SLI setup (even though it’s not quite needed most of the time) is not possible without changing the motherboard itself to gain more room. Similarly, there isn’t any Blu-ray slot if you decide that’s the way you would like to go at any point in the future.

Liquid Cooling is always a fantastic addition and comes as an add-on with this rig. So if you are thinking of overclocking this turns out to be an absolute must unless you decide to run it with a giant air cooler than protrudes outside the case. This can add to the cost a tad and can make for a pricey package overall. If you decide overclocking isn’t your thing we’d be happy to report that this setup runs pretty quietly without any cooling issues. All in all, an impressive yet expensive desktop by iBUYPOWER. 


ASUS GR8 II-T044Z

Best Budget PC

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Nimble yet packs a punch. If we were, to sum up, the ASUS GR8 II-T044Z then this would be it. This mini desktop boasts a sleek design, makes little noise but still perform great in most modern day triple-A games.

Specifications:

  • Intel i5-7400 processor 3.5GHz
  • 8GB RAM
  • Nvidia GTX 1060 3GB VRAM
  • 1TB HDD 2.5.”

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When gaming on a budget it’s always important to try to squeeze out the most for every penny you spend. Another thing that’s often overlooked which is also important is relevancy going forward. It is quite common to see questions like “I am looking to upgrade will this processor last me a few years? etc.” The i5-7400 is definitely a good gaming processor that will last you quite a while. While many view the 7600K as one of the best gaming CPUs that are highly affordable, then the 7400 isn’t far behind at all and more important will last you a few years at least. A slightly lower clock speed in comparison but most games do run well as the Geforce GTX 1060 does a lot of the heavy lifting.

The audio output quality we found to be quite exceptional, in-game and during music sessions. The Sonic Studio 3 and Sonic Radar offer a pretty immersive gaming experience. The lighting and the aesthetics look great, so it’s definitely a rig you can proudly show off. You can overclock this PC, and the ASUS interface will let you play around with the modes and fan speeds.

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While this is one of the better ones in the budget gaming segment, this desktop does leave us wanting in some areas. The major one being storage. The 1TB 2.5HDD is frankly a tad slow. Your only other option would be a 512GB SSD which is a better bet but can cost you more. When you factor the price in along with the specs you find one even some cheap laptops that boast a 1060 card then you can question ASUS’s decision.

There are a fair few USB slots, a couple of 2.0s, a couple of 3.0s and a type-C slot for modern devices too. Cooling is something that pops into one’s mind especially when you see a PC this small. The ASUS does quite well in this department except when overclocking which can take a toll on any PC for that matter. The fan is reasonably quiet when performing basic tasks but can get slightly noisy during gaming sessions, but this is relatively negligible and was hardly an issue for us. The GR8 II-TO69Z despite its long designation is a compact powerhouse worthy of consideration by any gamer on a budget.


How to find the Best Gaming Computer – Buying Guide

We put together a short guide on what to look out for when shopping for a new computer. This guide will help you understand all the different specifications and which are most important.

The Performance Trinity (Processor, Storage, Graphics)

To find the right gaming desktop that offers you unparalleled performance, you will need to consider having a powerful processor, RAM, storage drive and a graphics card. You might notice a drop in performance or load times even if one of these elements are lacking.

Processor:

This solely depends on what type of game you are after. If you are into playing the major titles like Fallout, Overwatch and are into regularly hosting games online, then we suggest you stick with an i7 or its AMD equivalent at the very least. Otherwise, for VR titles, even i5 variants can handle headsets like the Oculus well. Most options on our list will probably have the i7 6700 series which we feel is adequate for a standard gaming experience. If you are looking for the best in the market, then it’s undoubtedly Intel’s i7 6950X extreme edition that you need to have your eye on. This ten core processing beast will set you back a few hundred dollars, but it’s definitely worth the price if you want the very best.

Storage:

We’ve included RAM as part of storage. With game titles and even windows software becoming RAM hungry look to have 16GB of RAM at the very least for a comfortable gaming experience.

A simple search for gaming desktops can leave you utterly confused at times, with manufacturers offering all sorts of hybrids, SSD and HDD solutions. Let us break it down for you. An HDD or hard disk drive can be found in most PCs and external hard drives bought before 2013 (approximately). An HDD has a mechanical arm that reads and writes data to the disk, and therefore it can be slower and unreliable over the long run. You might commonly see an rpm stated as part of storage specs. That is merely the speed at which the hard disk rotates. The two common ones are 5400rpm and 7200rpm. The quicker, the better. The advantage these types of discs have is capacity they offer at least 1TB of storage as a standard, whereas the SSD which we will touch on is a bit limited on that front offering mostly just 512GB.

An SSD or solid state drive uses no moving parts, and all your data is stored in tiny microchips. The read and write speeds are incredibly high, and there are many variants amongst these 2. SSDs are vital for games these days since it complements the rate offered by your processor and Graphics Card. SSD and HDD hybrids are also a great option since your operating system loads onto the SSD. The prices of SSDs are steadily decreasing, and we feel it won’t be surprising to find 1TB SSDs and 2TB SSDs hitting the markets at reasonable prices.

Graphics

Going forward, we are seeing more and more popular games adopting the VR platform. Hence we feel it would be wise to buy a VR ready tower to cater to your high-end gaming needs in the long run. Look for towers that at least have an NVidia 970s or higher versions of GeForce. Although if you read through our options, we have already thrown in a few outstanding VR options. If you are looking for the best card in the market at the moment, then you can opt for a GeForce 1080 or its AMD equivalent.

Other Factors

Moving on from the core elements to other elements that supplement the performance. And none is more important than cooling. Whether you buy a mid-sized or a full-sized tower, keeping your PC cool while it’s turned on for hours or days is vital for it to serve you well for many years. If you have a single graphics card more often than not a few fans plus a very well designed case will do the trick. Fan cooling is cheap compared to liquid cooling. A heat sink, a few case fans, processor fans and a fan for your GPU and you are all set. Whereas liquid cooling requires fans to move the water, radiators, coolant filled tubes, etc. This has its advantages as it allows you to cool specific components more than others. Some of the towers we have listed provide excellent cooling for the PC. If you are considering a super high-end SLI Graphic Cards and are into regularly overclocking your processor, then opt for a model that has liquid cooling.

The gaming experience is not complete without peripherals of course. Make sure you pair your rig up with some fantastic gaming headsets, keyboards, and mouse. The monitor is also essential. Most graphics cards support 4K displays so opt for that if you are given a choice. The VR displays have a much higher pixel count that most 1080P displays. Some of the components will make your desktop all the pricey but make sure you don’t compromise on things like Cooling, SSDs, and processing power if you want to have a great gaming experience.

Let’s face it, if you are a hard-core gamer, you will greatly desire a gaming rig. With so many on the market to choose from, you might need a little help. We’ve come up with a list of, what we think are the best gaming PCs, for you to consider buying. Especially for pro gamers, having ultra-high frame rates, a solid surround sound system and large displays are vital. While there are pretty amped up gaming laptops in the market, they don’t come close to the comfort and speed that a gaming rig can offer you.


Old Favorites – Our Top Picks Last Season

While gaming computers definitely have an expiration date, these rigs from last season still hold up very nicely and can often be found with a greatly reduced price tag.

CUK MSI Nightblade MI2

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The marketing for this machine describes it as a lean, mean, gaming machine, and they weren’t kidding. It’s quite awesome, how something this small and compact can pack that much power.

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The CUK MSI comes with one of the best graphics cards on the market that can produce stunning 4K visuals. You have the option of upgrading this as well.

Usually, with a rig of this size, everyone will assume that cooling is its weak point. However, this rig can stay pretty cool thanks to the Silent Stormcooling design. Having said that, for the price it might be better to include a full liquid cooler in the model. This PC can handle games like Witcher 3, Doom and tomb raider very well.

One of its strong points is the storage. With the 2.5 terabytes you get, thanks to the Solid State Drive and the Hard Drive, you have plenty of space to store games and essential programs.

The SSD could have a bit quicker read/write speed we thought, considering how cheap they are becoming. This amount of storage is a rarity among PCs, which are even three times more expensive.

A neat feature that many gamers find appealing is to do with the aesthetics. You can customize the lights on the front of the tower using the inbuilt Nahimic app.

The audio thanks to the Nahimic surround sound are quite something as well. The sounds are so crisp and precise you will know exactly who is lurking in which part of the map. Who says it’s not possible to have eyes in the back of your head! Overall, a pretty solid gaming PC which can provide you a couple of fps shy of the best the market has to offer.

Specifications:

  • Intel i7-6700K Quad Core 4.0GHz
  • 16GB RAM
  • 500GB SSD + 2TB HDD combo
  • Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB RAM

Alienware Area-51

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If you are like most people, once you buy an Alienware device, desktop or laptop, you always tend to stare at it for a few minutes in awe of the design. The Alienware Area – 51 is no exception.

The rig’s design is truly an amazing work of art. As for the performance well, this piece is no slouch.

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We’re reviewing the GTX980 version, and the load speeds and frame rates on games like the latest Need for Speed, Fallout 4 etc. The GTX980 might not be a 10 series card, but it can give most of the 10 series cards a run for its money. The card can run three 4K monitors quite comfortably.

The read and write speeds of the storage combo is quite incredible, and perfect for running games and intensive applications.

The angled design contributes to how the cooling system works on this desktop, compared to others. The model helps hot air escape more naturally, instead of circulating within or next to the casing.

Although NVidia GTX 980 is not a VR ready card on its own, the Alienware Vive-optimized PCs such as this one can handle VR quite comfortably, which makes it a stellar choice for games in the future. This desktop is also suitable for games like Bioshock Infinite, FIFA 17, Dying Light and most A+ titles!

This PC will easily allow you to game to the extreme, and design an aircraft wing in great detail if you have to. Where we think the Alienware is lacking, is the capacity of the SSD. A mere 128GB is a bit on the low side for storing essential programs and the ever-updating windows 10. Dell’s customer service isn’t that great either, so make sure you have your warranty set in case you run into any issues.

The rig can handle most games even at 4K, but if you run the games that have just released in late 2016, then you might face a drop in frame rates when running at ultra-high graphics settings. A great piece nonetheless, a great brand offering stability and fast performance.

Specifications:

  • Intel i7-5820K 6 Cores 3.3GHz
  • 16GB RAM
  • 128GB SSD + 2TB HDD combo
  • NVidia GTX 980 4GB RAM

iBUYPOWER AM501X

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Now we arrive at the most expensive rig on our list. The AM501X is a fully loaded gaming PC. The red visuals on the casing and the fans look quite stunning. Many of the features boast the best of the best currently available in the market. The Six core i7-6000K can handle anything that the gaming world can throw at it. You also have the best graphics card available in the market currently with the NVidia GTX 1080.

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This souped-up PC also boasts 32GB of RAM and over 2 TB of storage.

The customization options are aplenty, but if you happen to switch over to AMD hardware, then the two fans in the front and the two at the back might not suffice.

Cooling, we thought was good but not great overall. Especially when you overclock your processor, you notice a difference. Nonetheless, four fans in a large casing were quite the achievement design wise.

We recommend, you buy your own gaming keyboard and mouse, and use the ones you receive with this rig as a backup. For entry-level folks, this combo will serve you fine, however.

The price was we thought pretty high considering this is a mid-tower and not a full tower cabinet.

Ultimately the IBUYPOWER AM501X offers one of the best non-SLi PC gaming experience you can get in the market. It can handle the punishment given by games like Battlefield 1, Fallout 4, Witcher 3, Dishonoured, etc.

If you are in the habit of stacking up graphics cards or expanding things like your hard disk and more, then this PC can leave you a tad frustrated on that end. Among other things worth mentioning is that the motherboard is an X99 Chipset so that you can explore other options if need be. If you have no plans of upgrading individual components, then you can confidently buy this PC.

Specifications:

  • Intel i7-6800K 6 Core 3.4GHz
  • NVidia GTX 1080 8GB
  • 32GB RAM
  • 240GB SSD + 2 TB HDD combo

Cybertron PC Palladium – 1070X

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Moving onto the Palladium – 1070X. Now, it might be hard for some folks to think that the previous AM501X can be topped. The Palladium comes close on a lot of fronts for sure. It boasts the 2nd best graphics card in the NVidia GTX 1070, which offers you a truly spectacular gaming experience concerning VR, and display quality.

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This PC can handle 4K gaming quite comfortably. The connectivity options are loaded with a total of 8 USB slots. However, none of them are a USB 3.1. The entire set includes a USB keyboard and Mouse as well.

The PC can offer you a 7.1 Channel HD audio experience, so you hear even the slightest rustling of leaves. Games like Call of duty: Advanced Warfare, Warhammer, Assetto Corsa, Dirt: Showdown and other 4k titles run well.

The clocking speed of the processor is slightly higher than that of the Alienware, and even the AM501X. The processor has four instead of the six cores you find on some of the others on this list. This, however, does not have too significant an effect on general performance.

The areas where we found the computer wanting was primarily storage related. The lack of an SSD was a big surprise. Considering how important it is for games and apps to load in an instant, the non-inclusion of the SSD was a big downside. The storage capacity, in general, was a bit low. A 2TB hard disk could be better to store ample amount of games, movies, and music.

A must mention how excellent the customer service is. They can answer any queries and quickly arrange fixes for any issues. This is something that makes this rig a very safe buy.

Specifications:

  • Intel i7-6700 Quad Core 3.4GHz
  • 16GB RAM
  • 1TB Hard Drive
  • NVidia GTX 1070 8GB RAM

CYBERPOWER PC Gamer Ultra

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The Cyberpower gamer Ultra is our first AMD system on the list. We’ve gone through a few that are perfect for the mid-level and the hard-core gamer; now this rig is for those who are just starting out. The first thing that caught our eye was how good the design of the case is. A very eye-catching design that stores some potent hardware inside.

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The PC has an AMD FX-400 which is a quad-core processor that can function at 3.8GHz. The graphics card is an R7 250 which has about 2GB of VRAM. A very basic card, but it can handle the majority of the games on the market. It also supports multiple displays which are pretty great. A fantastic choice for games like LoL or Counter Strike Global Offensive and most other games on steam. You get a gaming mouse and a keyboard as well.

As for the storage aspect, you have to make do with a 1TB hard drive, which can be more than sufficient for most gamers.

This PC can be ideal for MOBA and MMO games like LoL, Dota2, etc. On the connectivity side, you have 7 USB 2.0 ports. We expected at least a few USB 3.0 ports, as it has become a fundamental requirement these days. This PC doesn’t come with a wireless adapter, so LAN is the way to go if you need to game. This can be a bit of a pain if your router is away from where the rig is set up.

What could have made this PC great was the introduction of an SSD, instead of the keyboard and mouse which are a bit average. If you are starting out and need a PC to work hard and play hard, then this is the one for you!

Specifications:

  • AMD FX-4300 Quad Core 3.8GHz
  • 8GB RAM
  • AMD R7 250 2GB RAM
  • 1TB SATAIII Hard Drive