The best gaming PC in 2021

Picking up the best gaming PC saves you the time and hassle of building your own. While it is satisfying to build your gaming rig with your own hands with parts you sourced on your own, DIYers has had a rough year seeing that key hardware components like CPUs and GPUs are nearly impossible to track due to the global tech supply crisis.

The systems below have all of the specs that strike the perfect balance of price and performance. Ideally, your gaming PC will have one of the best graphics cards and the best CPUs for gaming. Whether it's 4K gaming or a decent 1080p system that'll spit out a high frame rate for competitive gaming, there's something for everyone.

We are currently putting Alienware's Aurora desktops at the top because you can find a configuration for just about any budget while still being impressed by its overall performance. The sci-fi engine aesthetic isn't for everyone, but we are big fans of it, along with the bountiful amount of USB ports.

Corsair is another OEM that's stepped up its game as far prebuilts are concerned, offering desktops with pre-installed capture cards, which are great for streamers and content creators.

The systems below have all of the specs that strike the perfect balance of price and performance. Ideally, your gaming PC will have one of the best graphics cards and the best CPUs for gaming. Whether it's 4K gaming or a decent 1080p system that'll spit out a high frame rate for competitive gaming, there's something for everyone.

To keep you up-to-date with the latest updates and products, we're constantly testing the newest gaming PCs from most major brands and builders to see whose is the fastest, offers the best build quality, and delivers the best service. We've even noted our favorite configurations on models that offer multiple SKUs.

Black Alienware Aurora front side view on grey

(Image credit: Alienware)

1. Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition

The best AMD gaming PC

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600–5950X | GPU: Nvidia GTX 1650 Super–RTX 3090 | RAM: 8GB–64GB DDR4 3200MHz | Storage: 1TB HDD–2TB HDD + 2TB SSD | Warranty: 1 year (onsite)

AMD CPU + Nvidia GPU combo
Quality Alienware/Dell design
After sales care
Sounds like it'll take off
Divisive case design

Our favourite Aurora Ryzen config:

Ryzen 9 5900X | RTX 3070 | 16GB DDR4-3200
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 is a great card for 1440p gaming and when paired with the absolute powerhouse that is the 12-core, 24-thread 5900X, it can turn its hand it pretty much anything you throw at it. 

The Aurora Ryzen Edition takes over the top spot from the Intel builds. The AMD Ryzen processors of the new generation are exemplary in terms of both performance and price. And with the potential for a 16-core, 32-thread chip inside your Alienware gaming PC, alongside an Nvidia RTX 3090, you're looking at something rather special.

But the lower end has something to offer too. The different configurations on offer mean that for £1,249 you can get a six-core machine with a GTX 1650 Super inside it that will handle 1080p gaming in that sleek Alienware chassis.

It does have to be said that there is an Alienware premium attached to whichever components you choose. However, the higher-than-average price provides you with reliable build quality, exceptional customer service, and solid warranties. The numerous pre-fab options offered by Alienware also help eliminate much of the guesswork associated with customizing your system. Some options provide better value for the parts used, but for hassle-free PC gaming out of the box, it's tough to beat the ease of use that Alienware provides.

The unconventional design of the case exploits every inch of its limited space but does initially feel 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 Ryzen Edition accomplishes that goal.

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

Our favourite Aurora R12 config:

Core i5 11400F | RTX 3060 Ti | 16GB DDR4-3200
Pairing the impressive RTX 3060 Ti with Intel’s best budget CPU will give you a great gaming PC without an offensively exorbitant price tag. This config also comes with 16GB DDR4-3200—importantly configured in dual-channel mode—and a 512GB NVMe SSD.

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. Thanks to their Cypress Cove core architecture, the new Intel Core i5 chips make great gaming CPUs 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 going to get a lot higher frame rates than you would with the RTX 3080 build. That's not a huge surprise given our 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, access to nearly every part of the PC without tools is a definite plus and expedites upgrades and maintenance. There's an obvious priority 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 currently 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.

CyberPower PC X109 front side view on grey

(Image credit: CyberPower PC)

3. CyberPowerPC Infinity X109 Gaming PC

The best machine for 1440p gaming

CPU: Intel Core i9 10850K | GPU: MSI GeForce RTX 3070 8GB | RAM: 16GB DDR4 3200MHz | Storage: 500GB WD SN550 + 2TB Seagate HDD | Warranty: 3 year

Powerful and quiet running
Standout lighting and looks
Excellent for 1440p gaming
Can get a little noisy

Our favourite CyberPowerPC Infinity X109 config:

Core i9 10850K | RTX 3070 | 16GB DDR4-3200
This powerful build boasts one of Intel’s top CPUs right now alongside the 1440p powerhouse that is the RTX 3070. This an impressively quiet gaming PC that also looks incredible thanks to a wealth of RGB-lit fans.

When you buy a new PC, you're essentially looking for a powerful system that offers decent value for money from a reliable company. You want it to look good as well. Quiet running wouldn't hurt. Throw in a graphics card that you can't buy for love or money, and you have the Cyberpower Infinity X109 Gaming PC. A machine that has more lights than your average Christmas tree, more fans than the dome at the end of the Crystal Maze (ok, there are five case fans), packs the latest hardware, and yet is incredibly quiet in use. And all for a thoroughly good pile of cash. Consider us impressed.

For just over two grand, you get a powerful 10-core, 20-thread Intel Core i9 10850K, which, thanks to the Cooler Master MasterLiquid Lite 240 cooler, happily sits at 4.9GHz most of the time. You also get a GeForce RTX 3070, which is a solid mid-to-high-end card. It'll handle 1080p and 1440p gaming brilliantly—we saw 128fps in Division 2, 139fps in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and 110fps at 1080p. All silky smooth. 4K can be a bit of a stretch, but not outside the realms of possibility as well.

The rest of the spec is pretty much what you'd hope for at this price point, although the SSD is a little on the small side for my tastes. 500GB is fine, but I'd recommend upgrading to a 1TB model at order time for a bit of extra, to give you more space for your most played games. You do get a 2TB hard drive as standard too, so it's not like you're going to run out of space any time soon.

All of this is wrapped up in the Corsair 4000D mid-tower case, which manages to offer up excellent airflow while looking brilliant at the same time. The dust filters are easy to clean, and if you don't mind a bit of RGB lighting, you're going to be delighted. Overall, this is a quality system that will handle 1440p gaming for years to come. You can tweak pretty much every aspect of the system to your liking before you hit the buy button as well.  

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4. Corsair One

The best compact high-end gaming PC

CPU: Up to AMD Ryzen 9 5950X | Intel Core i9 11900K | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 | RAM: 32GB DDR4-3200 | Storage: Up to 2TB NVMe SSD | Warranty: 2 year

Slim, minimalist footprint
Incredible looks
Outstanding performance
Hard to access interior

Our favorite Corsair One config:

Ryzen 9 5900X | RTX 3080 | 32GB DDR4-3200
Finding powerful, small form factor gaming PCs is tough going, but the Corsair One design has big Mac Pro energy, and this beastly mini machine sports both the finest AMD processor you can buy as well as Nvidia’s best 30-series graphics card. And don’t come at me with your overpriced RTX 3080 Ti…

One of our highest-rated pre-built gaming PCs is back in an updated model, the Corsair One i164. It's still the same small form factor PC, but with a revamped internal layout and a few other slight changes. The case design still looks like something straight out of Tron. The CPU and GPU both use independent liquid cooling solutions, and all the hot air is pumped out by a single 140mm maglev fan. The PSU now sits below the motherboard, and some of the USB ports have been re-positioned on the front of the case, but that's the extent of the non-component changes. 

Like a number of the pre-built systems on this list, the Corsair One i164 isn't the only configuration the One comes in. In fact, with an Intel Core i9 9900K and an RTX 2080 Ti, the i164 is the mid-range model. Yes, you read that right, the mid-range model. The lower model comes with a Core i7 9700K and an RTX 2080, while the Corsair One Pro workstation model comes with a Core i9 9920X and an RTX 2080 Ti. 

There's still no word on Nvidia RTX 30-series cards yet, although we would expect that to be corrected before long. Likely, Corsair will also have to invest in more PSU capacity for the change too.

The price varies based on the specs, of course, so if £3,600 for the i164 is a little too rich for your blood, the i145 is £1,200 less at £2,400, which is £100 less than the a100 with a 3900X CPU. If you are in the market for a compact workstation, the i200 will zap £4,700 from your bank account. All models come with 32GB of RAM, so you won't need to worry about upgrading that aspect of the One for years to come.

Regardless of the configuration, the Corsair One is a sleek, potent little machine designed for anyone wrestling with space considerations or for those who want a powerful PC but don't want to listen to it whine every time it's stressed with a graphically intensive game.

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

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HP Omen 25L

(Image credit: HP)
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HP Omen 25L

(Image credit: HP)
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HP Omen 25L

(Image credit: HP)
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HP Omen 25L

(Image credit: HP)

5. HP Omen

The best gaming PC for under £1,000

CPU: Intel Core i5 10400F | GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 | RAM: 16GB HyperX DDR4-2666 | Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD, 1TB HDD | Warranty: 1 year

Powerful components 
Sober thrill-free designed 
Easy to upgrade

Our favorite HP Omen config:

Ryzen 7 3700X | RTX 3060 Ti | 16GB DDR4-3200
The updated HP Omen desktop machine comes with a shinier chassis and can be configured to house an RTX 3060 Ti for under £1,400. It’s worth upgrading the 256GB SSD at the time of purchase through, as that’s a bit pokey by modern standards.

Hewlett Packard has been around since before the Second World War, and that historical expertise is evident in the design and construction of its Omen 25L and 30L desktop PCs. The Omen 25L is highly customizable, starting with an RTX 2060 and Core i5 10400F and going up to a Core i9 and RTX 2080 Super.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Omen 25L is the price tag. Despite the presence of an RTX card and that rock-solid CPU (as well as 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and 2TB HDD), it comes in at just £999. This is primarily 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-elaborated liquid cooling system or a massive suite of spectacular RGB lighting; this machine is a 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. 

You can find similar specs from plenty of retailers, 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, it can slip easily into much tighter spaces than a more significant case and is easier to transport. It's the epitome of function over form and is available at a great price.

There's no word on RTX 30-series or AMD RX 6000-series GPUs just yet but watch this space. Hopefully, we'll see movement from HP before long.

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Scan 3XS 3080 Gaming PC

(Image credit: Scan)

6. Scan 3XS 3080 Gaming PC

The best PC for streaming

CPU: Intel Core i7 10700F | GPU: EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 10GB | RAM: 16GB DDR4-2666 | Storage: 1TB Intel 665p | Warranty: 3 year

Excellent build quality
Strong components selection
Great warranty

Our favorite Scan 3XS Gamer config:

Core i7 11700K | RTX 3070 | 16GB DDR4-3200
It’s not easy getting your hands on Nvidia’s Ampere GPUs, but Scan is one of the biggest retailers in the UK and seems to have better access than most. This combo of Intel Core i7 10700F and RTX 3080 should see you right for years, even at 4K. 

Your next upgrade

(Image credit: Future)

Best CPU for gaming: the top chips from Intel and AMD
Best graphics card: your perfect pixel-pusher awaits
Best SSD for gaming: get into the game ahead of the rest

Scan has been a mainstay of system building in the UK for years, and we've used enough of their systems to know that we're in safe hands whenever we get a gaming PC in for review. The systems are well built, using well-known components, and all backed up by a brilliant three-year warranty (on-site first year). That warranty does bring peace of mind.

This 3XS Gamer 3080 is like a wishlist given physical form, boasting an RTX 3080 alongside Intel's excellent gaming CPU, the Core i7 10700F. This may not be the overclockable variant (it lacks that all-important trailing K for that), but given overclocking has little impact on gaming performance, we're cool with that. Speaking of being chill, the Corsair Hydro H100x does an excellent job of keeping the CPU in check.

You get a 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX kit for your money, which should see you good for years of gaming to come, and there's a healthy 1TB SSD from Intel to keep things humming along. This is all housed in the Corsair iCue 220T case, which is a good-looking case offering plenty of airflow to keep your components running optimally.

You can, of course, configure the machine to your heart's content, with faster processors, more memory, better storage options, you name. Scan also has a few other builds to get you started, including RTX 3070 systems from £1,500 and the option of going with either Intel's Core i5 10700 or AMD's brand new Ryzen 7 5800X.

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

Buying advice: best gaming PC

Should I buy a pre-built PC?

One of the most significant advantages to building your 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 has the potential to 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.

Are pre-built PCs good value for money?

When you pay the premium to configure or purchase a pre-built PC, you are paying for more than just the parts. You are paying for warranty service, support, and peace of mind that your system was put together by professionals. 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.

What’s better, pre-built or DIY gaming PC?

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.