The best gaming PC in 2021 null


The best gaming PC is one surefire way to land a graphics card and processor in light of current stock issues. Buying a pre-built gaming system is your best bet because system builders often have a steady supply of the latest GPUs and CPUs coming in. And although there have been cases of PCs shipping with no GPU, buying a full pre-built gaming PC is still a viable option to secure an Nvidia RTX 3080 or AMD RX 5900X.

Best gaming laptops

best gaming laptop guide header

(Image credit: Future)

If you prefer gaming on-the-go, you'll want to take a look at our best gaming laptop guide.

While DIY PC building is super satisfying, we admit it's probably not for everyone. Besides, the best gaming PC doesn't have to be a hassle. Getting a professional outfit to do the hard work for you is the simplest route into PC gaming; you can forgo the potential stress of part-matching, tech-sourcing, and faffing around putting it together.

All you need be concerned about in deciding on a pre-built rig, is finding a good balance of price and performance on the spec sheet. Ideally, your gaming PC will have one of the best graphics cards and the best CPUs for gaming, but there's something for everyone out there. Just make sure they offer good after-sale support—that's the mark of a great system builder. 24/7 tech support and generous warranties are often overlooked, but could save a headache down the road. 

Best gaming PCs

(Image credit: Alienware)

1. Alienware Aurora R10

The best AMD gaming PC

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X–Ryzen 9 5950X | GPU: AMD RX 5300–Nvidia RTX 3070 | RAM: 8GB–64GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB HDD–2TB HDD + 2TB SSD | Warranty: 1 year (onsite)

AMD CPU + Nvidia GPU combo
Ton of USB ports
After sales care
Noisy
Divisive Case Design

Our favorite Aurora R10 config:

Ryzen 7 5900 | Radeon RX 6800 XT | 32GB DDR4-3200
$2,529.99 $2,519.99 at Dell
If you thought Nvidia GPUs were tough to find, AMD’s GPUs are even rarer. But this config delivers both the latest 12-core Zen 3 CPU as well as the Radeon RX 6800 XT.

It took a while to come, but Alienware finally listened and created an AMD-focused line of its popular Aurora machines. The latest edition, the Aurora Ryzen Edition R10, delivers the latest AMD Zen 3, Ryzen 5000-series CPUs, and Nvidia's high-performance RTX 30-series graphics cards.

This is also one of the few places you might be able to find yourself an AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT, too—the red team GPU actually capable of going toe-to-toe with Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3080.

The latest AMD Ryzen processors are exemplary in terms of both performance and price, with the Ryzen 9 5900X, in particular, being a spectacular chip not just for productivity but for gaming too.

The different configurations start at $1,080, for which you get a six-core Ryzen 5 5600X alongside a Radeon RX 5300. We'd recommend upgrading the graphics to a GeForce GTX 1660 Super for less than $30 extra so that you can nail 1080p gaming in that sleek Alienware chassis.

Like the other Aurora cases, it's not necessarily the easiest to upgrade due to its bespoke design, but as a first machine, the R10 will not do you wrong. And given the general component drought right now, the fact that you can bag an all-AMD Alienware machine with just a month lead time is actually pretty great.

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2. Alienware Aurora R12

The best Intel gaming PC

CPU: Intel Core i5 11400F–Core i9 11900KF | GPU: Nvidia GTX 1650 Super–RTX 3090 | RAM: 8GB DDR4-3200–128GB DDR4-3400 | Storage: Up to 2TB M.2 PCIe SSD + 2TB SATA HDD | Warranty: 1 Year (onsite)

Toolless access
Upgradeable
Solid after-sale support
Pricey higher end configs
Case starting to show its age

Our favorite Aurora R12 config:

Core i5 11400F | RTX 3060 Ti | 16GB DDR4-3200 | 512GB SSD
$1,749.99 at Dell
This specific configuration of the new Alienware gaming PC will get you the impressive RTX 3060 Ti for a sub $2,000 price tag. You’ll also get a new Rocket Lake Core i5 11400F, an impressively speedy gaming chip that doesn’t demand either crazy cooling or a heap of power.

Alienware is a household name for gaming desktops that share a, shall we say, unique aesthetic. While the extra-terrestrial styling may not appeal to everyone, their performance remains undeniable. The freshly minted Aurora R12 uses the same compact design as its R9 and R10 forebears and gives the new Intel 11th Gen processors. Nvidia RTX 30-series GPUs have a home in Alienware's Aurora chassis. 

There are six different configurations of Comet Lake CPU to choose from: the Core i5 11400F, Core i5 11600KF, Core i7 11700F, Core i7 11700KF, Core i9 10900F, and Core i9 11900KF. They're paired with Nvidia GPUs from the GTX 1650 Super up to the unfeasibly expensive RTX 3090. That gives you a range of Alienware gaming machines from reasonably affordable 1080p gaming right up to blistering 4K workload-smashing performance, and the Alienware AIO cooling system will help keep the cozy interior of the case at a reasonable temperature too.

Now, we're not entirely sold on the high-end Rocket Lake 11th Gen CPUs, but the fact that Alienware is now offering the Core i5 11600KF in its Intel range is a great shout. Both the new Intel Core i5 chips make great gaming CPUs, thanks to their Cypress Cove core architecture, and would probably be our pick for a new Aurora R12 build

We have played with the RTX 3090 version of the last-gen Aurora R10, sans liquid chilled GPU, and in gaming terms, you're not really going to get a lot higher frame rates than you would with the RTX 3080 build. That's not a huge surprise given our own testing of the RTX 3090 at launch; it only makes sense if you need that 24GB frame buffer for creative work.

The unconventional design of the case exploits every inch of its limited space but initially feels a bit awkward to tinker with. However, the ability to access nearly every part of the PC without tools is a definite plus and expedites upgrades and maintenance. There's an obvious priority here on providing a convenient, premium product with some potential for upgrades, and the Aurora design accomplishes that goal.

The issue with all gaming PCs and parts right now is availability. And that's now hitting Alienware as hard as the rest. Picking up a new Aurora R12 rig today means you're not going actually to receive it for a month at least.

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3. HP Omen Obelisk

The best gaming PC around $1,500

CPU: Intel Core i7 8700 | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 | RAM: 16GB DDR4-2666 | Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD, 2TB HDD | Warranty: 1 year

Powerful components 
Designed to remove needless frills and keep costs low
Limited Software 
Not the most optimal airflow

Our favorite HP Omen config:

Core i5 11400 | Nvidia GTX 1650 Super
$799.99 at HP.com
For under $800 you can grab this six-core, 12-thread Rocket Lake gaming PC, and while it might only come with a GTX 1650 Super as standard, you can upgrade to an RTX 3060 Ti if you’re willing to pay the extra $350. The standard config comes with 8GB dual-channel memory, and a 256GB SSD.

Hewlett Packard has been around since before the Second World War, and that historical expertise is evident in the design and construction of the Omen Obelisk. The Obelisk is highly customizable, starting with a GTX 1660 Super and Ryzen 5 3600 and reaching up to some top-class parts, including the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080. We received the original review unit packed an RTX 2080 and an 8th Gen Core i7 8700, but we've come a long way since then.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Obelisk is the price tag. Despite the high-end RTX card and that rock-solid CPU (as well as 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and 2TB HDD), the Obelisks comes in just under $2,000. This is largely due to HP trimming off all the non-essential frills that tend to pad out the price of several similarly specced machines. 

You won't find an over-elaborate liquid cooling system or a massive suite of spectacular RGB lighting; the Obelisk is an appropriately named dense black block of computing power. If you value smooth lines and compact design over the flash and spectacle of RGB, you'll appreciate the dark, slightly brooding aesthetic of the Obelisk.

It's similarly configured to the slightly more expensive Corsair Vengeance, but it comes in a much smaller frame. While on the one hand, there's less space to muck around in the case if you do decide to upgrade in the future, the Obelisk can slip easily into much tighter spaces than a larger case and is easier to transport. It's the epitome of function over form and available at a great price.

Read our full HP Omen Obelisk review.

ORIGIN

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4. Origin Chronos

The best AMD-powered small form factor PC

CPU: Up to Ryzen 9 3900X | GPU: Up to RTX 3090 | RAM: Up to 32GB 3,000MHz | Storage: Gen4 PCIe SSD up to 2TB | Warranty: 1 year

Powerful Micro gaming rig
Vertical or horizontal positioning
Huge choice of components
Wifi not great
Limited storage options

Our favorite Origin Chronos config:

Ryzen 9 5900X | RTX 3080
$3,131 at OriginPC
Configured with our favorite Zen 3 CPU from AMD and RTX 30-series GPU from Nvidia, this small form factor Chronos v2 machine can be both a stunning gaming rig and a hell of a workstation machine too.

Origin PC's Chronos machine is a small form factor build that can house the most powerful gaming components around. And, to be honest, the fact you can squeeze a 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 in there means you could have yourself one hell of a powerful workstation too. That next-gen hardware is now available in the Chronos V2 design.

But that way lies supreme expense. Origin PCs aren't cheap, but they are really well-built, super customizable, and you could still create a far more affordable gaming machine from a Ryzen 5 3600 and a GTX 1660 pairing. If you're not sold on the actual Origin Chronos chassis and maybe fancy a little more Perspex in your build, you can go for the lovely Fractal Define Nano S instead. There's also the Fractal ERA if you're the serious type.

That will negate any potential thermal issues you might encounter, dropping super high-end components into the smaller confines of the Chronos case.

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5. Corsair Vengeance A4100

The best PC for streaming

CPU: Intel Core i5 9400F | GPU: Nvidia GTX 1660 6GB | RAM: 8GB DDR4-2400 | Storage: 1TB HDD 7200RPM + 128GB SSD | Warranty: 2 year

Solid Performance
4K Capture Card
Cool Case
No USB Type-C on front panel
Desperately needs a larger SSD

Our favorite Corsair Vengeance config:

Ryzen 5 5600X | RTX 3070
$2,149.99 at Corsair.com
The Vengeance a7200 machine comes with the latest hardware from AMD and Nvidia and will make for one supremely powerful gaming PC straight out of the box. This is future-proof gaming in your hands in just three weeks.

If you're looking to kick start your career as the next big Twitch streamer, the last thing you need to worry about is letting down your audience because your broadcast crapped out in the middle of your epic Call of Duty: Warzone match. Enter the Corsair Vengeance A4100.

This powerful AMD/RTX combo means that you'll be able to play and stream most games without much trouble. What makes this system stand out is the inclusion of an Elgato 4K60 Pro capture card, which allows for delay-free 4K gameplay footage capture from your gaming PC, consoles, or 4K camera via HDMI.

This powerful Corsair rig has everything you need for gaming, streaming, and everything else in-between.

Read the full Corsair Vengeance A4100 review.

Best gaming keyboard | Best gaming mouse | Best gaming chair
Best VR headset | Best wireless gaming mouse | Best CPU for gaming

Best Gaming PC FAQ

Q. Why buy a pre-built gaming PC?

A. One of the most significant advantages to building your own PC is the ability to hand-pick every single component in the system. This allows you to take your time shopping around for deals and finding the perfect combination of parts to fit your budget and performance needs. The downside for most inexperienced builders is that this whole process can take some time and can cause quite a headache if something goes wrong. You only get warranties on the individual components, not your finished build, and this is where the best pre-built gaming PCs shine.

Q. What do you get for your money?

A. When you pay the premium to configure or purchase a pre-built PC, you pay for more than just the parts. You are paying for warranty service, support, and peace of mind that professionals put your system together. These are some of the things we value highly when considering what the best gaming PC is. We also look at other unique selling points like design, upgradability, and anything you wouldn't be able to do when building it yourself.

Q. What sets a pre-built machine apart from a DIY build?

A. One of the most significant factors that make PCs stand apart from the competition is the design. Pre-built systems like the Alienware Aurora R11 or Corsair One use unique in-house chassis designs you wouldn't be able to purchase when building it yourself. You can take some comfort in knowing that these systems were designed and built specially to house your configuration, though that can make upgrading more awkward later on down the line.

When we set out to choose our top choices of pre-built gaming PCs, we look at almost every major manufacturer and system integrator to find the best combination of value, reliability, customer feedback, design, and performance for various budgets and needs.

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