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Best gaming desktops for college students

Which gaming desktop is best?

When you are looking at gaming PCs, there are a couple of ways to get your setup. You could research the individual components you need, get a chassis and fit the parts together yourself. There are many free online resources to help people learn how to build a gaming PC.

Of course, that takes a lot of time. If you are a busy college student, you might not have the time to learn how to build a computer. If you need a great desktop for both studies and gaming, there are two other ways to go about it. You can find a pre-packaged PC model, of which there are many options. Or you can customize an existing PC build, which many companies allow customers to do by simply choosing which parts they want to be included in their PC.

There are often options for customization, even if you are not building the PC from scratch on your own. Take some time to consider your budget, your needs and the possibilities. There are so many possible options that best suit different types of gamers. 

Keep in mind that higher-powered systems and fancier graphics cards will cost more money. One benefit of a desktop, instead of a laptop, is that you can always get one with room for improvement and swap in more advanced parts when you are ready to invest in them. 

Best gaming desktops for college gamers

Top budget gaming desktops

CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme VR

What you need to know: It is a gaming PC specifically designed for high-end VR gaming experiences.

What you’ll love: A stylish chassis and lighting setup to show off the solid Intel Core and chipset. It has fast internet connectivity and comes with a keyboard and mouse. The whole setup is under $1,000.

What you should consider: Though it includes a keyboard, if you plan to use this for more than VR gaming and general schoolwork, you might need a better keyboard. Consider that the GeForce graphics card is not RTX, so ray-tracing, DLSS and other features would not be an option for you without investing in a better graphics card.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


What you need to know: The 25L version of the Omen is a sleek and affordable gaming desktop with a chassis designed to have the space for upgrading.

What you’ll love: The interior of this model is intended for customization in the future, hence the low price tag. You get solid gameplay right away with the AMD Ryzen 5 processor, but if you are interested in upgrading the system, the chassis can fit new CPUs, graphics cards and other components. 

What you should consider: It might be a decent beginner build with room to grow, but it does not have an immense amount of memory space unless you customize it from the start or upgrade it with bigger hard drives. If you want to play popular games with large file sizes like Cold War, Warzone, Fortnite and others, make sure it has the amount of storage space you need.

Where to buy: Sold by HP

Dell G5 Gaming Desktop

What you need to know: This is a solid unit to jump into PC gaming at a still relatively affordable price with room for upgrading.

What you’ll love: The model has a pretty small physical footprint (easier to transport to and from your dorm room) and has a good cooling system. It has the Intel Core i7 CPU, so smoothly running your favorite games should not be a problem.

What you should consider: Unfortunately, the chassis is not visually customizable and the LED lighting colors cannot be changed for your personal tastes. The graphics card is a GTX model, so you might want to upgrade.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Acer Nitro 50 Gaming Desktop

What you need to know: For under $1000, this is a solid starter gaming desktop that can be easily upgraded and grow with you.

What you’ll love: The processor and graphics card will run most games smoothly. A keyboard and mouse are included, so you will have a functional PC for school and a gaming setup right away. The chassis has room to upgrade the components.

What you should consider: Due to the excellent price, you are not going to get a processor or graphics card capable of 4K gaming. This is a model you will need to upgrade if you want to keep up with the newest games and play them smoothly with decent graphical performance.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

SkyTech Archangel 3.0

What you need to know: This desktop is pushing the budget price tag but is an excellent option for getting started with PC gaming.

What you’ll love: The chassis looks great and you can choose which processor and graphics card set you want. Either the AMD Ryzen 5 with an RTX card or the Ryzen 7 with RTX would be the two best options. Whether you opt for the more advanced Ryzen CPU or not, your system is going to run games smoothly and will support future upgrades.

What you should consider: It is not perfect for operating with a 4K gaming monitor. The price, depending on the processor and graphics card you choose, is higher than the other budget picks.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top gaming desktops


What you need to know: This is a high-end performance gaming PC with new, top-of-the-line components in a sleek, easily customized chassis.

What you’ll love: The chassis has plenty of space for adding or swapping components, but you will probably not need to upgrade any time soon anyway. The model boasts the new Intel Core i9 CPU and the excellent GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card, so you should be playing your favorite games with outstanding graphics and smooth framerates. It also has an immense amount of hard drive space, so you will not need to worry about how many games to download at one time.

What you should consider: There is no included keyboard or mouse.

Where to buy: Sold by HP

Corsair Vengeance 5182

What you need to know: This is a PC that is excellent for 4K gaming, yet still very compact.

What you’ll love: The main feature of this PC is how small it is, despite housing such powerful components. It would not be difficult to pack this away for college. Also, you could easily transport this to LAN parties or events, so if you plan to join your college’s esports teams, that is something to consider. The power of the Intel Core i7 processor and the RTX graphics card will provide an excellent gaming experience regardless of where you take your setup. 

What you should consider: It does not come with a keyboard or mouse. There is no room for upgrading since the desktop is designed to fit such a small footprint.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Acer Predator Orion 3000

What you need to know: This is a very affordable, yet powerful option with a relatively small chassis too.

What you’ll love: The Predator Orion is packed with serious components, even though it is under $2,000. The Intel Core i7 processor paired with a GeForce RTX 2060 makes for a great gaming experience out of the box. This desktop is optimized for high-fidelity sound while you play. It even comes with a customizable RGB lit keyboard and mouse, making this complete set up an even more affordable option if you want real power for a lower price.

What you should consider: You will probably need to expand the memory and storage space of this PC to fit all your favorite games in addition to your files for college.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Alienware Aurora R10

What you need to know: A high-end Alienware desktop that delivers a powerful computer in the sort of stylish, sleek chassis that one would expect from Alienware products.

What you’ll love: It is no secret that AMD processors outperform their competition while being more affordable and this desktop has the newest: the AMD Ryzen 9. The Alienware Aurora Ryzen edition is also the first-ever Alienware machine that has PCI-Express 4.0 tech. It doubles the bandwidth available for graphics cards, enhancing the gaming experience. The desktop unit is also engineered to have improved airflow for its cooling system, keeping your CPU temperatures low. 

What you should consider: You will need to purchase a keyboard and mouse separately.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Elliott Rivette writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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