Best Gaming Desktops

In 2016, we relaunched our desktop PC reviews with a new test suite that includes 11 games and a plethora of hardware-intensive synthetic benchmarks. Since then, we've tested several gaming desktops of varying performance levels, form factor, and pricing. As it's harder to give awards based on value when it comes to custom-shop PCs, this article includes the majority of our award winners and some that may not have brought home honors, but still impressed us none the less.

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Best Gaming Desktop PCs

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When shopping for a new gaming PC, it's important to have a goal in mind. If you need your system to provide excellent framerates in AAA games at 1920 x 1080, you won't need the absolute best (and most expensive) GPU on the market to accomplish this. If you intend to run games with multiple displays or at higher resolutions, that's when you go for the big boys with multi-GPU setups. CPU horsepower is also similarly tied to gaming acumen, and branching out into anything over a quad-core processor will only see performance gains in multi-threaded workloads such as video processing, rendering, and encoding.

Storage and memory capacity is also a prime buy factor that can push the price of a PC fairy high rather quickly. Solid-state storage devices (SSDs) will obviously garner more performance than a traditional hard disk drive (HDD), but they also cost more for less capacity. If you are a gamer, having a moderate-sized SSD as a primary partition (256GB or so) with a sizable HDD (1TB) is enough to start a respectable game library. Similarly, memory capacity may not improve performance, but faster speeds can see gains in RAM-intensive workloads. Gamer's won't likely need much more than 16GB of memory (and speed usually doesn't play a part in game framerates), but if you have professional-grade applications in store for your new system, a higher memory capacity and speed could be in the cards.

Power is also a prime consideration when choosing a PC. Does the PSU offer enough juice to cover the hardware inside (in most cases, yes, but there are some exceptions)? Can the power supply be upgraded? Is there enough available power to upgrade in the future? The ability to upgrade is another important factor, and case size and expansion options vary drastically between our picks.

Aesthetic value and form factor are also contributing factors to a purchase. If you want your case to shine as bright as the sun or to fit in your living room entertainment center, there are assuredly options out there for either scenario (or both). Most custom shops offer overclocking services to get the most out of your hardware, and if you aren't versed in the art of overclocking and want every drop of performance from your new gaming rig, these services are ideal. Ultimately, budget plays a significant role in a buying decision, and the beauty of a custom-built PC is that you can adjust the configuration until it suits your needs and price.

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  • TMTOWTSAC
    You may want to include some commentary up at the top regarding the value proposition, esp. in regards to the Coffee Lake release. It's largely a paper launch at the moment, but assuming availability picks up anyone making purchasing decisions could be in for some serious buyers remorse if they don't take that information into account. Not to mention how Ryzen pricing has been affected.
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  • AgentLozen
    I'm leaning in the same direction as TMTOWTSAC. Gamers who aren't hardcore computer nerds would be happy with any of these desktops. On the other hand, readers who regularly visit Tomshardware shouldn't buy any of these right now with the advent of Coffee Lake.
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  • lun471k
    What do you mean when you write "I can't keep up" as a con ? Is it just a joke, or something I don't comprehend ? English is not my mother tongue so I'm not sure if I'm missing the point here :)
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  • shrapnel_indie
    Not bad info... on prebuilt systems. But at those prices... I'll continue to build my own.


    Anonymous said:
    I'm leaning in the same direction as TMTOWTSAC. Gamers who aren't hardcore computer nerds would be happy with any of these desktops. On the other hand, readers who regularly visit Tomshardware shouldn't buy any of these right now with the advent of Coffee Lake.


    with current availability of Coffee Lake... waiting for the real supply to get to market... If you absolutely need a new PC within the next month - month and a half, I wouldn't bother waiting. (Depending on Intel, it could be longer) The only real benefit Coffee Lake offers anyway is an improved core count, and it would be pretty difficult to obtain a Coffee Lake CPU at this time anyway.
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  • TMTOWTSAC
    I should clarify. i7 Coffee Lake CPU's as an individual component are either impossible to find or massively overpriced. But Coffee Lake pre-builts are largely available right now. There are i7 8700k systems available to order from most of the companies reviewed in this article, with ship dates of about 2 weeks.

    So as a standalone part it was a bit of a paper launch, but system manufacturers did get their shipments and are assembling systems. So for anyone looking at buying a pre-built anyway (the target audience for this article) they should be made aware of the current situation.
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  • derekullo
    I'm impressed and a bit scared at the same time that the Gigabyte BRIX GB-GZ1DTi7-1070-NK has a Geforce 1070 and an i7-6700k with a 400 watt psu.

    Nvidia recommends a 500 watt psu minimum for a Geforce 1070.

    https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/geforce/products/10series/geforce-gtx-1070/#specs

    At first I thought it was a typo, but Newegg and Gigabyte both confirm the "Flex-ATX (only 12V) 400W" specification.

    What makes the "Flex-ATX (only 12V) 400W" so special, besides being small and 12V only, that Gigabyte would choose to use it to power a high end cpu and graphics card?
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  • Commotion
    This article is nothing but an advertisement, designed to get clicks that turn into commissions for Tom's. Many of these systems are more than 1 year out of date! No Velocity Micro in this group? You must be kidding! www.velocitymicro.com
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