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Best Gaming PCs 2021

Included in this guide:

Image of a gaming PC with red RGB lights.
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

When you're in the market for a gaming PC, there's a lot to consider: power, size, components and what resolution you want to play at. (If you're looking for portability, check out the best gaming laptops.)

If all you need is to play a few AAA titles at 1080p, you won't need the absolute best GPU and/or best CPUs for gaming on the market. 

But if you want to play at 1440p or 4K, then you need to start thinking about saving more for your rig. CPU horsepower is also tied to gaming acumen, but branching out into anything over a quad-core processor will primarily see performance gains in multi-threaded workloads such as video processing, rendering and encoding, not games.

How to Choose a Gaming PC

Gaming PC Configuration Tip

Mirror Maze PC Build

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Most pre-built gaming PCs, including those on our list of the best, come in multiple configurations. While we list the ones we reviewed, others may be better for you. 

  • Bigger isn't always better: You don’t need a huge tower to get a system with high-end components. Only buy a big desktop tower if you like the look of it and want lots of room to install future upgrades.
  • Get an SSD if at all possible: This will make your computer far more faster than loading off of a traditional HDD, and has no moving parts. Look for at least a 256GB SSD boot drive, ideally paired with a larger secondary SSD or hard drive for storage.
  • You can't lose with Intel or AMD: As long as you opt for a current-generation chip, both companies offer comparable overall performance. Intel’s CPUs tend to perform a bit better when running games at lower resolutions (1080p and below), while AMD’s Ryzen processors often handle tasks like video editing better, thanks to their extra cores and threads
  • Don’t buy more RAM than you need: 8GB is OK in a pinch, but 16GB is ideal for most users. Serious game streamers and those doing high-end media creation working with large files will want more, but will have to pay a lot for options going as high as 64GB. 
  • Don’t buy a multi-card gaming rig unless you have to: If you’re a serious gamer, get a system with the best-performing single graphics card you can afford. Many games don’t perform significantly better with two or more cards in Crossfire or SLI, and some perform worse, forcing you to disable an expensive piece of hardware to get the best experience possible. Because of these complications, you should only consider a multi-card desktop if you are after more performance than can be achieved with the best high-end consumer graphics card.
  • The power supply is important: Does the PSU offer enough juice to cover the hardware inside? (In most cases, the answer is yes, but there are some exceptions, particularly if you intend to overclock.) Additionally, note if the PSU will offer enough power for future upgrades to GPUs and other components. Case size and expansion options vary drastically between our picks.
  • Ports matter: Beyond the connections necessary to plug in your monitor(s), you’ll want plenty of USB ports for plugging in other peripherals and external storage. Front-facing ports are very handy for flash drives, card readers, and other frequently used devices. For added future-proofing, look for a system with USB 3.1 Gen 2 and USB-C ports.

Graphics cards, including Nvidia's RTX 3090, RTX 3080, and RTX 3070 GPUs, are still hard to get. Some of our Nvidia-based picks still have the last-gen cards, though those who are patient or keep checking back may be able to find them with the latest and greatest. 

For most people, budget plays the biggest role in a desktop buying decision. You can sometimes find good deals on big-box desktops when they go on sale, but you’ll be stuck with the components chosen by the likes of HP, Lenovo or Dell. The beauty of a custom-built PC is that you can adjust the component configuration until it suits your needs and budget. We are happy, though, to see more builds coming with standardized parts than ever before, so you can upgrade them later on.

Best Gaming PCs You Can Buy Today

Best Mainstream Gaming PC: MSI Aegis RS 11th Gen (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

1. MSI Aegis RS 11th Gen

The Best Mainstream Gaming PC

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-11700K
GPU: MSI GeForce RTX 3080 Ventus 3X OC
RAM: 16GB Crucial Ballistix DDR4-300
Storage: 1TB XPG Gammix S70 PCIe Gen 4, 2TB Seagate Barracuda (7,200 RPM)
Reasons to buy
+Off the shelf parts+Powerful gaming performance+Decent pack-in peripherals
Reasons to avoid
-MSI Center software is clunky-Middling file transfer speeds

The MSI Aegis RS 11th is a top-of-the line pre-built gaming desktop. The 11th Gen Intel Core CPU and options for an RTX 3080 bring awesome gaming performance in a design that you can upgrade yourself down the line.

All of the parts are standardized, including the case. In fact, MSI makes the case, motherboard, CPU cooler, fans, GPU and power supply. This is the type of pre-built that you can upgrade, tinker with and make your own over the next several years. 

If you don't have a keyboard and mouse, the peripherals that MSI includes are decent enough to get started, though you'll likely want to bump up the keyboard to something with mechanical switches eventually.

Read: MSI Aegis RS 11th review 

Powerhouse PC With RTX 3090: Alienware Aurora R11

Powerhouse PC With RTX 3090: Alienware Aurora R11 (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. Alienware Aurora R11

A Powerhouse PC With an RTX 3090

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i9-10900K
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090
RAM: 64GB HyperX Fury DDR4-3200MHz
Storage: 2 TB M.2 NVMe SSD and 2 TB, 7,200-rpm HDD
Reasons to buy
+Fairly compact design+Strong gaming performance with 10th Gen Core i9 and RTX 3090+Little bloatware
Reasons to avoid
-Loud and needs better cooling-Very expensive

The Alienware Aurora R11 muscled its way onto our list with its sheer GPU power. Right now, it's really hard to find one of Nvidia's Ampere GPUs, but as of this writing Alienware is shipping with both RTX 3080 and RTX 3090, so that's one way to go.

The design is futuristic, and while it may be divisive to some, you can't argue that it's fairly compact. The RTX 3090, compared with the Intel Core i9-10900K in our review unit, offered some top-notch gaming performance. It uses largely standardized parts and has plenty of room for extra drives.

The biggest downside is that the machine gets loud with few case fans. It's also expensive, but it's a maxxed out machine, not just the graphics card.

Read: Alienware Aurora R11 review 

The Alienware Aurora R11 has been supplanted by the Alienware Aurora R12. We haven't tested it yet, but if you're looking for the newest, you may want to try these configurations:

Alienware Aurora R12: Intel Core i9 11900F | RTX 3080
An alternate configuration with an Intel Core i9-11900F, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, 32GB DDR4-3200, 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and 1TB HDD.View Deal

Alienware Aurora R12: Intel Core i7-11700KF, RTX 3070
An alternate configuration with an Intel Core i7-11700KF, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, 16GB RAM, 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and 1TB HDD.View Deal

A Subtle Small Form Factor Gaming PC: iBuypower Revolt 3 i7BG  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. iBuypower Revolt 3 i7BG

The Best Small Form Factor Gaming PC (for Most People)

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-11700KF
GPU: Aorus GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming OC 10G (10GB GDDR6X)
RAM: 16GB T-Force DDR4-3200
Storage: Western Digital SN550 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD
Reasons to buy
+Attractive, understated case+Includes a handle and two headset hangers+Great performance
Reasons to avoid
-Limited space for upgrades-Bottom-mounted IO complicates peripheral swaps

No intense lighting, no glass windows, just a small tower packed with gaming power. The iBuypower Revolt 3 has steel panels, black mesh and a largely subtle design. It's clever, though, with two headset hangers and a built-in handle to carry it to your next LAN party.

At $2,599 as tested with an Intel Core i7-11700KF and an RTX 3080, it's not listed at a crazy price considering today's component shortage. And those components offer excellent performance in this tiny chassis.

Small form factor PCs can bring some oddities. This one has the motherboard I/O on the bottom of the case, so you have to lift it up to plug in or remove peripherals. Additionally, there is limited room in this case for when you want to make upgrades.

We also happen to like this case this system comes in on its own, if you're looking to build your own PC.

Read: iBuypower Revolt 3 i7BG Review 

Best Premium Small Form Factor Gaming PC: Corsair One a200 (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Corsair One a200

The Best premium Small Form Factor Gaming PC

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
GPU: Liquid-cooled Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 (10GB GDDR6X)
RAM: 32GB (2x16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200
Storage: 1TB M.2 NVMe, 2TB 2.5-inch SATA HDD
Reasons to buy
+Top-end performance+Space-saving, quiet shell+Liquid-cooled CPU and GPU
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Limited upgrade options

The Corsair One a200 takes up minimal space on your desk, thanks to its tall, tower shape that crams in components. This desktop has an AMD Ryzen 9 5900X and Nvidia Geforce RTX 3080, both of which are liquid cooled to offer top-end performance. It also came with 32GB of RAM, a 1TB M.2 SSD and a 2.5 TB HDD for more games.

Despite the powerful parts, the computer is largely quiet thanks to an effective cooling system that draws in cool air through the sides to cool the components, and then expels hot air with a fan on the top. This can, however, make the system difficult to upgrade later, as everything is really packed into the 12-liter chassis.

The downside to top-of-the-line components is the price. We tested the Corsair One a200 at $3,799.99. 

Read: Corsair One a200 Review 

There are two other versions, both of which are Intel-based. There's an 11th Gen Intel Core Core i9-11900K version for the same price on Corsair's website and a cheaper $3,599.99 version:

Corsair One i200 ($3,599.99)
An alternate configuration with an Intel Core i9-11900K, 32GB DDR4 RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, 1TB M.2 PCIe NVME SSD and 2TB HDD.View Deal

Corsair One i200 ($3,399.99)
An alternate configuration with an Intel Core i7-11700K, 32GB DDR4 RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, 1TB M.2 PCIe NVME SSD and 2TB HDD.

Best Splurge Gaming PC: Maingear Vybe 2020  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. Maingear Vybe 2020

The Best Splurge Gaming PC

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i9-10900K
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
RAM: 32 GB DDR4-3200
Storage: 1 TB M.2 NVMe SSD and 4 TB, 7,200-rpm HDD
Reasons to buy
+Extremely quiet operation+Stunning aesthetics+Ample front-panel connectivity
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive as configured-Odd choice of boot drive

Do you strictly need to spend more than $5,000 on a gaming PC? No, but you can, and you’ll get a luxurious experience. The Maingear Vybe is a gorgeous desktop thanks to options for automotive paint and a minimalistic design. And with its Apex liquid cooling, it’s stunningly quiet.

That’s even when running an overclocked Intel Core i9-10900K at 5.3 GHz. Between that chip and an RTX 2080 Ti, the system provides incredible gaming performance.

One big area you may want to configure differently is our review unit, which used a budget Intel 665P SSD, but you can make this thing to order, including AMD Ryzen options.

If you prefer something a bit smaller that's still a splurge, the Maingear Turbo has the same build quality, though you can only get it with Ryzen CPUs.

Read: Maingear Vybe review 

Best Budget PC: Dell G5 (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

6. Dell G5

The Best Budget PC

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-9700
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 (6GB GDDR5)
RAM: 16GB DDR4-2666MHz
Storage: 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Compact size+Lots of ports on the front+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Limited cooling solutions-Proprietary motherboard and server PSU

The Dell G5 is small for a mid-tower, and can play most games at mid or high settings at an affordable price. If you want to get into PC gaming and don’t care to focus on tinkering too much, it’s a good choice, though there are a ton of configuration options.

The G5 also has a lot of ports on the front and on the rear, making it easy to expand with peripherals and external storage. Inside, expansion options include extra room in hard drive cages and m.2 2280 slots. 

Read: Dell G5 review

Dell G5 Updated Configuration 

(Image credit: Future)

Dell G5 (Model: i5000-7385BLK-PUS)

The Best Budget PC - Alternate Configuration

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-10700F
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (6GB GDDR6)
RAM: 16GB DDR4-2933
Storage: 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Empty List
Reasons to avoid
-Empty List

It's been awhile since we reviewed the G5 desktop, though Dell is still using a similar chassis (albeit with optional RGB lighting now). Mid-tier users may want to opt for a current version with a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10400F, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB M.2 SSD for $1,149.99 at Dell, or with an i7-10700F, GTX 1660 Ti, 16GB of RAM and 1TB SSD for $1,349.99 at Best Buy

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

7. HP Omen 30L

An attractive design with name-brand parts

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i9-10900K
GPU: Custom HP GeForce RTX 3080 (10GB GDDR6X)
RAM: 32GB HyperX DDR4-3200
Storage: 2TB WD Black M.2 NVMe, 2TB Seagate 2.5-inch SATA HDD
Reasons to buy
+Improved, attractive design+Powerful-name brand components
Reasons to avoid
-Cooling could use improvement-Has a lot of bloatware

The HP Omen 30L is a big-box gaming PC that feels like one you build. The latest design adds more airflow with an intake fan, plus sleek glass front and side panels and still has an easy-access panel to get to the most critical components. Oh, and of course the new intake fan has some sleek RGB to go with the new logo and the rest of the system.

The version we tested, with a 10th Gen Intel Core i9 and an RTX 3080 proved powerful in our gaming benchmarks and productivity tests. We do wish that HP had a more powerful CPU cooler, as the single 120 mm fan isn't always enough for the Intel Core i9.

The addition of name-brand parts is also nice to see. There's little, if anything, proprietary about the system, which includes a micro-ATX motherboard, WD Black SSD, Seagate HDD and a 750W power supply. That's the special sauce that makes it feel a bit more like an enthusiast machine than some alternatives.

Read: HP Omen 30L Review 

If you can't find the model we tested, there are a variety of other options, including some with AMD processors:

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X | Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
An alternate configuration of the HP Omen 30L with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800X, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 and 1TB PCie NVMe SSD.View Deal

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G | Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
An alternate configuration of the HP Omen 30L with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600G, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 and 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD.View Deal

Gaming PCs You Can Get During the Component Shortage

Right now, we're going through a global component shortage, which has made it difficult to buy the best CPUs for gaming, the best GPUs and really anything that goes in a gaming PC at all. In turn, people are turning to buy anything they can, including full-built gaming PCs, even if they only need a few parts. This is especially the case with Nvidia's RTX graphics cards.

We haven't been able to review all of these PCs, so shop with caution, but we're keeping an eye on the market so you can see what may be available since our last update.

$2,000 and more Gaming PCs

Skytech Chronos Gaming PCAMD Ryzen 5 5600X / Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070See at Amazon
Alienware Aurora R12Intel Core i9-11900F / Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 TiSee at Dell

$1,000 - $2,000 Gaming PCs

Alienware Aurora R12Intel Core i7-11700F / Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 TiSee at Dell
Cyberpower PC Gamer XtremeIntel Core i7-11700F / Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060See at Best Buy

Under $1,000 Gaming PCs

Lenovo Legion Tower 5iIntel Core i5-11400 / Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 SuperSee at Best Buy

Discounts on the Best Gaming PCs

If you're looking for a system that's among our best gaming PCs or something similar, you may find savings by checking out the latest Newegg promo codes, Corsair coupon codes, Dell coupon codes, HP coupon codes, Lenovo coupon codes or Razer promo codes.

MORE: Best Gaming Laptops
MORE: 
Best PC Builds

Andrew E. Freedman

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex. among others.

  • Colif
    You can't lose with Intel or AMD

    Damn it, I wanted a Cyrux cpu...

    wonders why Razer promo codes are at bottom of post when no razer PC was mentioned in article.
    Reply
  • NTNER
    Alienware made the list lol? I guess I should have less faith that TH lists are actually tested?


    8ulhFi5N2hcView: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ulhFi5N2hc
    Reply
  • Ahmed_Khalifa
    What are your thoughts on the gaming PCs listed on this post (https://custom-pcbuilding.com/the-best-pre-built-gaming-pc-under-1000-1500-2000/)? It seems like they are very well priced, especially when compared to the ones on this post, and they use high-quality components. Let me know if you have any suggestions, please.
    Reply
  • Ahmed_Khalifa
    NTNER said:
    Alienware made the list lol? I guess I should have less faith that TH lists are actually tested?


    8ulhFi5N2hcView: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ulhFi5N2hc
    What are your thoughts on the gaming PCs listed on this post (https://custom-pcbuilding.com/the-best-pre-built-gaming-pc-under-1000-1500-2000/)? It seems like they are very well priced, especially when compared to the ones on this post, and they use high-quality components. Let me know if you have any suggestions, please.
    Reply
  • Colif
    Ahmed_Khalifa said:
    What are your thoughts on the gaming PCs listed on this post (https://custom-pcbuilding.com/the-best-pre-built-gaming-pc-under-1000-1500-2000/)? It seems like they are very well priced, especially when compared to the ones on this post, and they use high-quality components. Let me know if you have any suggestions, please.
    Make a new post about it in a new thread and more people will reply. You shouldn't hijack a news thread :)
    Reply