Best Gaming Desktops 2019
We've tested dozens of the most popular gaming PCs available, running our rigorous suite of benchmarks and playing several demanding games on each system. Our current overall favorite is the Alienware Aurora, thanks to its eye-catching design, easy upgradability and a variety of pricing options for both budget shoppers and VR enthusiasts. If you're looking for a great gaming PC under $800, the CyberPower Gamer Xtreme VR is our top budget pick.
But there are tons of great options in between, from compact console-sized computers for the living room to exorbitant boutique beasts with RGB lights and multiple graphics cards. No matter your needs, here are the best gaming desktops to buy right now.
Latest News and Updates (February 2019)
- The Corsair One i160 joins our list as our new favorite compact gaming desktop, packing an Intel Core i9 processor and Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics into a sleek and stunningly small design.
- Nvidia's new GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card promises immersive ray tracing for just $349, but is it worth it? Check out our friends at Tom's Hardware's comprehensive RTX 2060 review.
If you want dummy-proof upgradability with future-proof specs, the Alienware Aurora is for you. This sleek mid-sized tower can be popped open with the push of a button, allowing you to upgrade the storage, RAM and even the graphics card without any tools. It's also beastly enough to power 4K and VR gaming, with support for speedy Intel Core i7 processors and the latest Nvidia GTX 1080 GPUs. Factor in some awesome customizable lighting and a variety of configuration options, and you've got an excellent gaming PCs for newbies and hardcore enthusiasts alike.
The CyberPower Gamer Xtreme VR is an excellent value for folks who want to spend $800 without sacrificing much in the way of power. Packing a Core i5 processor and an Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card, this desktop can run mainstream games at high settings and even handle virtual reality without much of a sweat. Better yet, the Gamer Xtreme VR is very easy to open up, making it a great starting point for gamers who eventually want to upgrade to more powerful parts.
How do you improve on one of the slickest and easiest-to-upgrade desktops around? Simply add Intel's new 8th-gen processors, a handy front-facing USB-C port and tons of customization options at the point of purchase. These new perks are complemented by the same great Dell XPS Tower design, which you can easily open up to swap parts out without the need for tools.
Who says you need a gigantic tower for high-end gaming PC power? The Corsair One i160 hones the compact gaming PC concept to near perfection, cramming an Intel Core i9 processor and Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti GPU into a stunningly sleek chassis that can blend into offices and command centers equally well. The Corsair One's slick RGB lighting offers a ton of customization options, and its liquid-cooled internal design keeps this small machine quiet even during heated 4K showdowns.
There's no gaming PC that quite catches the eye like the iBuyPower Snowblind. This desktop's side panel is a translucent, fully-functioning LCD display, which you can use to show off cool animated wallpapers, monitor your PC performance, or even play games (though we don't recommend that last part). It's also simply a great gaming machine, with lots of reasonably priced configuration options that support such high-end components as an Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti GPU.
Maingear has a knack for crafting extravagant, customizable showpieces for folks willing to shed a few thousand bucks, and the F131 is no exception. This stunning tower packs Maingear's new APEX liquid cooling system, which is expertly crafted to keep your system from overheating while also being a marvel to look at. Factor in a ton of droolworthy paint and lighting options and support for up to two Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti cards, and you've got the ultimate desktop for gamers looking to go all-out.
How We Test Gaming PCs
Every gaming desktop we review endures a standardized gauntlet of real-world and benchmark tests, in order to measure how each PC stacks up as both a gaming machine and as an everyday computer.
As far as hard numbers go, we currently run the framerate benchmark utilities for Rise of the Tomb Raider, Hitman, Grand Theft Auto V and Middle-earth: Shadow of War at 1920 x 1080 with graphics maxed out, as well as at 2560 x 1440 and 4K if a system allows for it. On top of that, we simply play tons of graphics-intensive games such as Star Wars Battlefront II, Injustice 2 and Forza Horizon 4 in order to give you a sense of how these gaming desktops hold up in the real world.
In terms of synthetic tests, we run a gamut of benchmarks that include 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra (for graphics) and Geekbench 4 (for processor performance). We also run the SteamVR Performance Test on all of our machines to evaluate how ready they are for virtual reality. To test a system's hard drive, we measure how fast each PC can copy 4.97GB worth of multimedia files.
What Gaming PCs Cost
The price of gaming PCs varies wildly, depending on what specs you're after. You can find a decent rig for as low as $600, though you'll be settling for entry-level processors and graphics cards at that range. You'll need to pay between $800 and $1,000 to start getting into VR-ready territory, at at least $1,500 for something that can reasonably handle 4K gaming.
If money isn't an issue, there are plenty of boutique manufacturers such as OriginPC and Maingear that allow you to build the exorbitant, custom-painted PC of your dreams for anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000.
If you plan on gaming in VR, pay close attention to specs. At the minimum, the Oculus Rift requires an Nvidia GTX 960 or AMD equivalent graphics card, an Intel Core i3-6100 or AMD FX4350 processor, 8GB of RAM, two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI 1.3 port and Windows 8 or newer. However, Oculus recommends at least a GTX 970 and Core i5 processor for the best experience.
For the Vive, HTC recommends a Core i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350 CPU, an Nvidia GTX 1060 or Radeon RX 480 GPU, 4GB of RAM, an HDMI 1.4 port or DisplayPort 1.2 or newer, 1 USB 2.0 port and Windows 7 or newer.