The best gaming PC in 2021

The best gaming PC will put the latest and greatest hardware in your hands faster than if you tried to build a new system, or even update an existing rig. The sad truth is that, though we love DIY PC builds, they're one of the many casualties of the chip supply crisis. System builders simply have a better chance of getting hold of CPUs and GPUs than we do of bagging one at the local Best Buy, however early you get in line.

System builders like Corsair, Alienware, and Lenovo will have an easier time securing these much sought-after parts. Though, it would be best if you prepared yourself for some pretty long lead times, around 3-4 weeks on average. There are exceptions, with the likes of iBuyPower offering its RDY prebuilt systems for same day shipping meaning you can get a whole new PC, with a GeForce RTX 3080 inside it, in your hands within a couple of days.

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.

Where should I look for the best Black Friday Gaming PC deals?

Our favorite Black Friday gaming PC deals

HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop | Ryzen 3 5300G | RTX 3060 | $969.99 $869.99 at HP (save $100)
Set the graphics card to an RTX 3060 in the configuration screen, and you can get a 30-series gaming PC for  $869.99—saving $50 on the normal price. You’d ideally want to up the CPU to a Ryzen 5 5600G, RAM to 16GB, and SSD to a 512GB model too, but you’ll soon find yourself way over $1,000 if you do. 

Alienware Aurora R12 | Intel Core i7 11700F | Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti | 16GB RAM | 512GB | $1,999.99 $1,371.99 at Dell (Save $628)
The RTX 3060 Ti is a little monster of a GPU that can even pump out frames at 4K, and coupled with a top-end 11th Gen Intel processor, you cant go wrong. This one comes with a good amount of RAM and enough speedy NVMe storage to see you through.

OMEN 30L | Intel Core i7 10700K | Nvidia RTX 3080 | 16GB RAM | 512GB WD Black NVMe SSD | $2,319.99 $2,219.99 at HP (Save $100)
For a machine with an RTX 3080 inside, this is already a good price without the discount. When configured with slightly more storage and RAM than the base model (which would have been just 256GB and 8GB respectively), it’s a little more to the average PC enthusiast’s taste. And that’s a WD Black NVMe SSD in there, one of our favourites.

Best gaming PCs

Alienware Aurora R10 gaming PC pictured front-on

(Image credit: Alienware)

1. Alienware Aurora R10 Ryzen Edition

The best AMD gaming PC

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X–Ryzen 9 5950X | GPU: Nvidia GTX 1660 Super–Nvidia RTX 3090 | RAM: 8GB–32GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB–1TB HDD + 1TB SSD | Warranty: 1 year (onsite)

AMD CPU + Nvidia GPU combo
Ton of USB ports
After sales care
Sounds like it'll take off
Divisive case design

Our favorite Aurora R10 config:

Ryzen 7 5800 | Radeon RX 6800 XT | 16GB DDR4-3200
If you thought Nvidia GPUs were tough to find, AMD’s GPUs are even rarer. But this config delivers both the latest 8-core Zen 3 CPU and the Radeon RX 6800 XT. That’s one of the best gaming processors around and probably the best graphics card AMD has ever created. Quite a combo if you’re aiming to grab a brand new gaming PC during the chip crisis.

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 Zen 3-powered AMD Ryzen 5000-series CPUs and either Nvidia's high-performance RTX 30-series or AMD's RX 6000-series graphics cards.

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

The latest AMD Ryzen processors themselves are exemplary in terms of both performance and price, with the Ryzen 9 5900X, in particular, is a spectacular chip not just for productivity but also for gaming. That 12-core, 24-thread CPU shows just how far AMD has managed to push its smart chiplet-based Zen 3 architecture to deliver an actually affordable, seriously high core-count processor for a gaming PC. 

Those used to purely be server-side specs.

*Read more

And where old AMD chips couldn't keep pace with Intel when it comes to gaming, the current Ryzen range absolutely can, especially when paired with one of the latest AMD or Nvidia graphics cards.

There are currently six different configurations on offer, though you can dig in and customize before you buy if you would prefer a different CPU or GPU, or more SSD capacity. Starting with the GTX 1660 Super and a six-core RX 5600X, going all the way up to the mighty GeForce RTX 3090 and the monstrous 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen 9 5950X.

It's worth noting that you should definitely take a look in the configuration options, because the lowest spec option only comes with a single stick of DDR4 memory, which will halve the available bandwidth compared with running a pair of them, even at the same capacity. That costs, however, and there aren't options, for example, to either have one 8GB stick or two 4GB sticks.

Take a look at the SSD on offer, too. Something with a 256GB SSD in 2021 is not going to get you much change out of having Windows 11 and Forza Horizon 5 installed at the same time.

Alienware is offering both the dark and light chassis options for the current lineup and, however you feel about the design, it does certainly make for a striking machine. It's worth stating that the Aurora cases are not necessarily the easiest to upgrade due to their bespoke design. They're awkward to dig into if you want to start upgrading yourself, and you will soon see why they don't offer tempered glass side panels yet once you look inside.

But as a first machine, the Alienware Aurora 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 few months lead time is pretty great.


Image 1 of 3

Alienware Aurora R12 gaming PC pictured front-on

(Image credit: Alienware)
Image 2 of 3

Alienware Aurora R12 gaming PC

(Image credit: Alienware)
Image 3 of 3

Alienware Aurora R12 gaming PC

(Image credit: Alienware)

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 favorite Aurora R12 config:

Core i5 11600KF | RTX 3060 Ti | 16GB DDR4-3200
This specific configuration of the Alienware gaming PC will get you the impressive RTX 3060 Ti for a sub $2,000 price tag. You’ll also get a Rocket Lake Core i5 11600KF; that’s an impressively speedy gaming chip that doesn’t demand either crazy cooling or a heap of power. This pairing will deliver seriously high-end gaming performance without breaking the bank.

While the extra-terrestrial styling may not appeal to everyone, the performance of Alienware's Aurora R12 gaming PCs remains undeniable. The latest Aurora R12 uses the same compact design as its R9 and R10 forebears and gives the current Intel 11th Gen processors and Nvidia RTX 30-series GPUs a home in Alienware's classic chassis. 

Like the Aurora R10 Ryzen Edition, Alienware offers the choice of both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards, but you have to dig into the customization options if you want to pick from either the Radeon RX 6800 XT or RX 6900 XT cards. Outside of that, Alienware offers eight discrete configurations on its site, from low-end gaming rigs, sporting the GTX 1650 Super and Core i5 11400F, all the way up to RTX 3090 gaming monsters.

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.

*Read more

While the actual configs Alienware offers are great starting points, like with the Ryzen Edition, it's absolutely worth digging around in the customization options when it comes to picking the right rig for you. Our favorite setup, boasting the Core i5 11600KF and RTX 3060 Ti GPU, only comes with a 256GB SSD, and is sold with a single 16GB stick of DDR4 by default. 

The memory thing is something you have to watch Alienware for specifically. In the customization options you can choose to change that to a pair of 8GB DDR modules, running at the same speed and total capacity, for free. That will automatically double your memory bandwidth, and it's a bit off that it's otherwise sold with the weaker solitary stick.

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 11400F and 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 definitely be our picks if you're looking 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 massive 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. So long as you're familiar with the design. There's an obvious priority on providing a convenient, premium product with some potential for upgrades, and the Aurora design just about 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 best.


Corsair Vengeance gaming PC pictured from the side on a grey background

(Image credit: Corsair)

3. Corsair Vengeance

The best PC for streaming

CPU: Up to AMD 5900X | Intel 10850K | GPU: Up to AMD RX 6800 XT | Nvidia RTX 3090 | RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4-3200 | Storage: 2x 2TB SSD | Warranty: 2 year

Solid Performance
4K Capture Card
Cool Case
No such thing as an entry-level offering
Desperately needs a larger SSD

Our favorite Corsair Vengeance config:

Ryzen 5 5600X | RTX 3070
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 configuration comes with the outstanding hex-core Ryzen CPU, and Nvidia’s outstanding RTX 3070. You’ll also find 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM, properly configured in dual channel mode, and a 1TB SSD.

There's a reason Razer is desperate to follow Corsair's lead; it's one of the biggest names in PC gaming hardware right now. Through continual product expansion, and some super smart acquisitions, Corsair now has its fingers in pretty much every facet of our hobby. 

In fact, CPUs, motherboards, and GPUs are the only places you won't find a Corsair logo, but with its impressive line of premium gaming PCs that logo will still contain all three; the very finest of all that technical jazz.

And, if you're looking to kick start your career as the next big Twitch streamer, Corsair's integration of Elgato streaming tech in its PCs means they're a great option for the budding stream-star.

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

Sure, you can just use OBS Studio, or Nvidia's Shadowplay (or whatever it's calling itself these days) but there will always be some overhead to deal with. Using a professional capture card can really take the load off. And that's especially good for broadcasting a live stream.

*Read more

Since Corsair acquired Elgato, it now has access to some of the world's best streaming hardware for its Vengeance rigs. Pair that with Corsair's classic component quality, and you have a recipe for not only great gaming PCs but fantastic streaming rigs too. You've got to hand it to Corsair; it sure knows how to build a fine PC.

We've played with its more bespoke Corsair One PCs, the ones that look like the Mac Pro or softer Series X, and they're great little machines. But the Vengeance gaming PCs are more straightforward, and that means they're also far easier to upgrade down the line.

Corsair's chassis are among the best around, and the most accessible when it comes to getting all DIY yourself, which makes the Vengeance machines a great first PC with a view to getting into the upgrade game later on down the line. The only issue with that is Corsair doesn't really lend itself to the more affordable end of the PC spectrum.

You're not going to get a $1,000 Vengeance rig as an entry-level PC and build from there, so don't expect to hit the budget builds here—Corsair's machines are most definitely premium PCs for the enthusiast.

Read our full Corsair Vengeance A4100 review.


Image 1 of 3

HP Omen 30L gaming PC

(Image credit: HP)
Image 2 of 3

HP Omen 30L gaming PC

(Image credit: HP)
Image 3 of 3

HP Omen 30L gaming PC

(Image credit: HP)

4. HP Omen

The best gaming PC around $1,500

CPU: Intel Core i9 10900K or Ryzen 9 5900X | GPU: Up to Nvidia RTX 3080 | RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4-3200 | Storage: Up to 2TB M.2 SSD and extra HDD storage | 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 i7 10700 | Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti
Configure the system with the mighty RTX 3060 Ti, 16GB dual channel memory, and a healthy 512GB SSD, and you’ve got the makings of a seriously powerful gaming PC for a pretty decent price. There are further configuration options available, too, should you wish to bump it up to a 1TB SSD for another $100.

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 line of gaming PCs. HP Omen offers a wide range of customisation options with its Omen 25L and Omen 30L systems, allowing you to take your pick of AMD, Intel, and Nvidia component CPU and GPU options.

You can also take that configuration to the memory and storage requirements, too, allowing you to really tailor your system. HP Omen rigs are on the more restrained side of PC gaming, so you won't find an over-elaborate liquid cooling system or a massive suite of spectacular RGB lighting; the Omen systems are appropriately named dense black blocks 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 HP lineup.

We haven't specifically reviewed the latest range of gaming systems from HP, but we've been testing its gaming PCs since the Obelisk range, and have always been impressed by its no-unnecessary-frills approach to system building and the value proposition of its rigs.

Origin Chronos gaming PC from the front

(Image credit: Origin)

5. Origin Chronos

The best AMD-powered small form factor PC

CPU: Up to AMD Ryzen 9 5950X | GPU: Up to RTX 3080 Ti | 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
Configure the Chronos with our favorite Zen 3 CPU from AMD and the mighty RTX 3080 GPU from Nvidia, and this small form factor Chronos v2 machine can be both a stunning gaming rig and a hell of a workstation machine too. Especially if you’re after something that isn’t the size of a house too.

Origin PC's Chronos machine is a slight 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 well-built, super customizable, and you could still create a far more affordable gaming machine from a Ryzen 5 5600X and an RTX 3060 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.

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

Corsair a200 compact gaming PC for three angles on a grey background

(Image credit: Corsair)

6. Corsair One A200

Our special pick

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 / Intel Core i7–i9 | GPU: Up to RTX 3080 Ti | RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4 3200 | Storage: Gen4 PCIe SSD up to 2TB | Warranty: 2 year

Unfettered performance for 4K gaming
Simple and easy to use
Surprisingly quiet
CPU runs a little hot
Not easily upgradeable

Our favorite Corsair One config:

Corsair One A200 | RTX 3080 + Ryzen 9 5900X
While we do love an overpowered machine, the savvy combination of Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 and Ryzen 9 5900X means this machines runs quietly and still offers extreme gaming and creative performance. 

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.

Corsair has overhauled its compact One gaming PCs with the latest parts from both AMD and Nvidia—and we're here for it.

The Corsair One A200 delivers top-of-the-line gaming performance, which is perhaps unsurprisingly considering its credentials: up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti and AMD Ryzen 9 5950X. It's wild what you can stuff into such a small chassis nowadays and have it run reasonably cool and quiet too.

The Corsair One achieves this by using two compact liquid coolers, one for the CPU and one for the GPU. You'll have to adjust your expectations for CPU temperatures perhaps a little above your comfort zone during intense operations, but nothing these chips aren't built to handle day in, day out.

It's an impressive PC given its small stature—you could happily sit this PC on your desktop and still leave plenty of room for your gamer drinks and tinted glasses.

Read our full Corsair One A200 review.

Best Gaming PC FAQ

Why buy a pre-built gaming PC?

One of the most significant advantages of 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 process can take some time and 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.

What do you get for your money in a pre-built PC?

When you pay the premium to configure or purchase a pre-built PC, you pay for more than just the parts. You pay 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. 

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

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.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *