Best Gaming Desktops

Updated May 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

26 Models Considered
10 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
328 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best gaming desktops

Last Updated May 2019

Nowadays, there are plenty of ways a person can enjoy gaming: on a tablet, on a gaming console, on a smartphone. But there’s still one place that serious gamers go to get the very best gaming experience possible: a gaming desktop computer.

Shopping for a gaming desktop PC can be a daunting task. After all, there’s a lot you need to know to make the right choice — and because it’s an investment, you want to do it right the first time. Understanding a computer’s processing power, graphics card, and memory will give you an idea of what it’s capable of. It will also give you a clear picture of what you would need to buy when it’s time for an upgrade. In that same vein, knowing a particular machine’s compatibility features and the elements of its tower design can give you an idea of what it could do for you.

Read on to learn about the key elements of a gaming desktop. When you’re ready to make a purchase, check out our favorites. We think you’ll like what you see.

Virtual reality (VR) is a huge part of gaming. Because of this, you may want to buy a system that is VR-ready.

Gaming desktop life force: processing power and speed

The lifeforce of your gaming desktop is its processor. How powerful it is determines how well your machine performs. Technology advances every year, so you’ll want to find a machine with a processor that meets your needs now … and one that could be upgraded later as needed. 

Power: You’re going to want a CPU with at least a dual-core processor. Multi-tasking and competitive gaming shouldn’t be a problem here. That said, keep in mind that intensive games require more power and that a user running a dual-core processor would likely need to upgrade sooner than later. Buying a machine packaged with a quad-core processor or higher will set you up with a much more robust gaming experience.

Speed: The faster the processor, the more processes it can run at any given time. High processing speeds (measured in GHz) translate to quicker access to memory and better multitasking capabilities, both of which can improve your gaming experience.  

EXPERT TIP

If you’re new to PC gaming but serious about upgrading your system, stick to towers that are easily accessible — ones that you can open with few or no tools.


Staff  | BestReviews

Gaming desktop memory

There are two types of memory you’ll need to look at when choosing a gaming desktop; both types play a role in the performance of the machine.

Storage (HDD or SSD)

This is basically how much space your computer has to store games and files. If you’re a serious gamer and plan on downloading lots and lots of games, think big here. Increasing HDD storage is straightforward, and it can be built internally and externally.

RAM

Random access memory refers to how much space your machine has to store files for short-term use. Essentially, your computer will store files it thinks it needs in the near future, so when it’s time to access a file, it can do so instantly. This is important for short load times as well as speedy gameplay.

Gaming desktop features

Graphics card

Even though processing power plays a vital role in overall performance, many will claim that the graphics card is the most important element of a gaming desktop computer. After all, what’s the use of playing a beautiful game if you don’t have the graphics card to do it justice? A graphics card works by converting data into language your monitor can understand, thus delivering an accurate image to the screen. The more powerful the graphics card is, the smoother the image will be.

Tower design

Your tower or casing will house, protect, and preserve all your computer's main hardware components. Because gaming desktops are highly customizable, you’ll want to understand how to access your towers and where components are stored. Important units like fans and cooling systems rely on having the proper space within the tower, especially if they are being added on later.

Power supply

Keep an eye on your computer’s components and how much power they demand. A good power supply should provide enough energy for everything. For most gaming computers, you’ll need roughly 500W. As you add more parts, you’ll likely need to increase the power supply.

Compatibility

Your gaming desktop motherboard is where the internal components connect and communicate with each other. The motherboard plays a vital role in your machine’s potential to grow. Make sure that it can support all the hardware you think you’ll want, including memory slots and peripheral ports.   

Cooling system

Gaming PCs are some of the most powerful computers on the market. Because of this, you’ll need to keep your system cool as it processes information. A cooling system is key to protecting your internal parts from overheating. Some cooling systems include multiple fans that are installed in the tower; others use more advanced solutions like liquid cooling. The size and construction of your system casing can help you determine which options are best.

As a PC owner, you have the luxury of building on top of what you already have. When considering tower design, be sure to buy a large enough body that you can add new parts. A smaller form could limit the growth of your system.

Gaming desktop prices

Budget prices

You can find a great starter system in the $400 to $600 range but bear in mind that you’ll be limited to entry-level parts, such as processors and graphic cards. Also note that a computer in this range would need to be upgraded in the future if you want to keep up with growing tech.

Moderate prices

If you’ve got bit more cash to spend, you can get yourself off to a good start and do a bit of future-proofing with $600 to $800. Look for a machine that focuses on solid processing power (quad-core to six-core) and a decent graphics card. Pricier components, such as expandable memory and additional drives, can be added later.

Higher prices

If you’re willing to spend $1,000 or more on a gaming desktop, you can get one of the most future-proof machines available. These gaming PCs are usually VR-ready and provide all the components needed to run the biggest and most complex games. They’re also likely be able to support 4K and 5K gaming.

Tips

  • When it comes to ports, USB Type-C and Thunderbolt ports are the way to go with a gaming desktop. These allow users to benefit from faster transfer speeds, and both are compatible with 4K or 5K monitoring.
  • If you want the best gaming experience, connect your gaming desktop to a large monitor, not a TV. Though a television would work, it’s not the optimal choice due to refresh rates and latency issues.
  • If you’re serious about PC gaming, you should consider having a multi-monitor setup. With more than one monitor, you enjoy a wider viewing range, and you can also use the setup to monitor important information like gaming maps (if the game allows), walkthrough information, and chat rooms while streaming.
DID YOU KNOW?

Hardcore PC gamers often incorporate at least three monitors of the same size in their desktop gaming setup: one in the center and one on either side for screen expansion.

Other products we considered

There were a few other excellent products we looked into while doing our research. The Dell i5680-7813BLU-PUS Inspiron Gaming PC sports a six-core intel processor, 16GB of RAM, and 2TB HDD. The NVIDIA graphics card is a beast, and the entire system is VR-ready. It’s a perfect machine for gaming and multitasking, and it should last for quite some time without needing an upgrade.

Another powerful VR-ready machine is the CUK Stratos VR Ready Gamer PC. Not only is this somewhat expensive desktop awesome to look at, it also has some of the most powerful components under the hood. A six-core processor accompanies 16GBs of RAM and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. Its LED fans keep the system cool on the inside and out. The system also comes packaged with a quality USB gaming keyboard and mouse.

High-quality gaming PCs outperform even the best gaming consoles when it comes to computing power. In fact, with the ability to customize machines, a user could theoretically design a mid-priced gaming PC that outdoes their favorite console system.

FAQ

Q. Do all gaming desktops come with a keyboard and mouse?
A.
Many gaming desktops are packaged with a compatible keyboard and mouse. While these devices would work adequately, a serious gamer may want to purchase a higher-quality keyboard and mouse to get the most out of their machine.

Q. Do gaming desktops play DVDs or Blu-ray?
A.
Many, but not all, gaming PCs come with a DVD read/write drive. Since games today are often downloaded directly to the machine from the internet, however, you might not need this feature. If it turns out you want something like a Blu-ray player, you could always purchase it separately and install it yourself.

Q. Will most gaming desktops connect TVs?
A.
Yes. Most modern gaming desktops are HDMI compatible, so as long as your TV or monitor has an HDMI input, you’ll be fine. Gaming desktops typically support display port connections as well, so most monitors are also compatible.

The team that worked on this review
  • Austin
    Austin
    Writer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Taji
    Taji
    Writer

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