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Updated May 2022
Best Gaming Desktops Review by BestReviews
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
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.Read more 
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HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best gaming desktops

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 a 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.

Person with headphones in front of a gaming PC
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 Essentials: CPU and GPU

The lifeforce of your gaming desktop is its Central Processing Unit (CPU). How powerful it is will determine how well your machine performs. The power of your video card, or Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), affects the quality of the video and images you see on your screen. Technology advances every year, so you’ll want to find a machine that meets your needs now and one that could be upgraded later as needed. 

CPU

The gaming PCs we recommend come with either AMD Ryzen processors or Intel CPUs. In general, AMD processors are faster, although the two are generally comparable. We recommend getting a CPU with at least four cores.

Expert TIp
Microchip shortages have hit the graphics card industry especially hard–so you may want to invest in a machine with a higher-end video card while you can. While video card prices may go down in the future, any short-term upgrades to your video card will come with a decent wait.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

GPU

Gaming PCs have separate GPUs that do the heavy lifting of processing video game graphics. Most video cards are based on NVIDIA chipsets like the GTX 1650, but they're made by different manufacturers. When a PC's specifications list integrated graphics, not a separate GPU,  that means it relies on the CPU for graphics and won’t make a very good gaming computer.

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.

Expert TIp
If you dislike the bold LED lighting that so many powerful gaming PCs come with, you can usually disable any internal lighting using software or by disconnecting the lights from the motherboard.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Gaming desktop features

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.

Expert TIp
As you design your gaming rig, take ergonomics into consideration, especially for your back and wrists.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Essential accessories

Complete your gaming rig with this must-have gear—it’ll make a huge difference to both your playing and your comfort.

Gaming chair

Acethrone PC Gaming Chair 

Acethrone’s best seller is quite possibly the perfect gaming chair. It’s adjustable, so you can tweak everything from the back angle to the lumbar support. The cushion is soft enough to help you endure marathon gaming sessions, and the five-year warranty means you don’t have to worry if anything goes wrong. Gaming chairs can get pretty pricey, making this one an incredible value for the features.

Gaming headphones

If you’re into playing games that support surround sound but you don’t have the space for a proper multi-speaker setup, your best bet is a gaming headset with premium speakers.

Mechanical keyboard

Logitech K840 Mechanical Keyboard 

The K840 keyboard pairs two of our favorite things in PC gaming: mechanical keyboards and Logitech quality. The big deal here is just how well made the keyboard is; each key has a complex, spring-loaded system that can withstand years of typing and gaming, no matter how frantically you play. If you’re looking for a gaming keyboard that favors longevity over flashy features like LED backlighting, this is the keyboard to get.

Gaming desktop prices

Inexpensive

You can find a great starter system in the $700 to $1,000 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.

Mid-range

If you’ve got a bit more cash to spend, you can get yourself off to a good start and do a bit of future-proofing with $1,000 to $1,500. 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.

Expensive

If you’re willing to spend $1,500 to $3,000 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 will also likely be able to support 4K and 5K gaming.

    Person in front of monitor and PC at a desk
    Expert Tip
    If you use a wireless mouse, switch to rechargeable batteries. You’ll always want a spare set around, and disposable batteries can get expensive.
    BestReviews Electronics Expert

    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.
    Person playing a video game at a desk
    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.

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