The best gaming PC 2021: the 5 best PCs for gaming

Having the best gaming PC doesn't necessarily mean having a computer with all the latest and greatest components. Whether to you, that ...

Having the best gaming PC doesn't necessarily mean having a computer with all the latest and greatest components. Whether to you, that means getting an affordable one under $1,000 that offers smooth 1080p gaming or splurging on a kitted out option touting the most powerful components, is more the point. What’s important is that you’re getting a PC that will see you through your gaming needs and is within your budget.

Although there’s always the option of building your own PC for gaming, a lot of people still think that buying a pre-built gaming PC is the best and most convenient way to go. Luckily, investing in such a system isn’t going to be pricey. In fact, it often costs less. And, we’re here to help you make the right choice.

From premium models like the highly-coveted Alienware to cheap kits from budget-friendly models, we found the best PCs for gaming in 2021 and put them on this list for you to peruse. Check out our top picks below.

What should you look for when buying a new gaming PC?

While building a PC for gaming can be pricey or a bit of a hassle, excellent gaming PCs are more affordable than ever before. Even the Intel Comet Lake and AMD Ryzen 5000 chips, as well as the Nvidia Ampere or Big Navi GPUs, are more accessible than their predecessors, price-wise. So, don’t stress out over the cost so much. Whatever your budget, guaranteed you won’t have to compromise as much as you would think.

Whether you’re playing the best PC games or lower-budget free games, your priority should be choosing something that manages to be affordable to you without compromising on performance or scrimping on vital features like a healthy port selection and appealing RGB lighting. That could very well mean a pricey desktop PC that will see you through 4K gaming  or one of the best budget gaming PCs that will give you a smooth 1080p gaming experience. Don’t worry so much about the frills and the design unless your budget is flexible or you’ve got deep pockets.

Make sure that there’s also enough speedy RAM and fast storage. These days, an 8GB DDR4 memory is the minimum, but upgrade to 16GB if you can. Plenty of SSD storage is ideal as well, since many top titles take up a lot of space, although you can always get an additional drive later down the line.

Finally, make sure you have enough money for quality peripherals as well. After all, a gaming PC is only as good as its peripherals. Only when coupled with the best gaming monitor and the best gaming keyboards will yours be the stuff of legends. 

Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 from the side and from the front on a white background

(Image credit: Alienware)

1. Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10

Powerful gaming for all budgets

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3500 – 9 3950X | Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 5600 – NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti | RAM: 8GB – 64GB DDR4 | Storage: 1TB 7200RPM SATA – 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD + 2TB 7200RPM SATA

Powerful specs
Stunning design
Still very expensive at highest configurations

With AMD’s solid campaign to win the CPU and GPU markets, it’s no surprise that many of the best PCs are switching over Team Red’s cause. Our favorite Alienware Aurora gaming desktop PC line is among them, fitting its R10 models with AMD’s powerful yet affordable Ryzen CPUs. Not only do these deliver brute strength when it comes to gaming, but they also tout affordability, giving budget gamers to partake in what those with souped up rigs experience everyday without burning a hole in their pockets. This is the best gaming PC, bar none – especially with the next generation rocking with configurations touting the RTX 3090 for 8K resolution gaming.

MSI Trident 3 10th on a white background at an angle

(Image credit: MSI)

2. MSI Trident 3 10th

Best small form-factor gaming PC

CPU: up to 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10700 | Graphics: up to MSI GeForce RTX 2060 Super | RAM: up to 64GB DDR4 2666MHz | Storage: 1 x M.2 SSD + 1 x 2.5" HDD / SSD

Esports-ready performance
Small form-factor
Plenty of front-facing ports
Entry level model runs off a hard drive
Not easily user-serviceable

If space is an issue, or you simply want a gaming PC set up right in your living room, then the MSI Trident 3 10th is worth considering. This isn’t just one of the smallest gaming PCs we've ever seen, not much larger than the best gaming laptops; it’s also more affordable than the competition with equivalent hardware. Without draining your wallet while touting a smaller footprint, the specs inside will be more than enough to ensure an excellent experience. And, as long as flashy RGB lighting and liquid cooling aren’t vital – and you don’t care much about upgradeability, this is the best gaming PC for you.

Read the full review: MSI Trident 3 10th

Acer Predator Orion 3000 showcasing its RGB lighting on a white background

(Image credit: Acer)

3. Acer Predator Orion 3000

Best compact gaming PC for 4K gaming

CPU: Intel Core i7-10700 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 500GB SSD + 1TB HDD

Smart build with lovely RGB
Great gaming performance matched with superb cooling
Headset grip can block front ports

The Acer Predator Orion 3000 is superbly built, with an attention to detail that’s practically unrivalled and a tidy, compact design that makes it so portable and easy to move. It’s RGB lighting is also something to behold, made even better by the FrostBlade fans and light bars on the side. It doesn’t stop on the outside. Inside, there’s plenty of power as well, with specs powerful enough to see gamers through immersive 4K and VR gaming. It doesn’t sit in the budget department, but for something that will last a few years into the future, it’s certainly a compelling purchase for gamers who care just as much about aesthetics as they do about performance. 

Read the full review: Acer Predator Orion 3000

HP OMEN 30L on a white background with its fans light on

(Image credit: HP)

4. HP Omen 30L

Simplicity meets power

CPU: Intel Core i7-10700K - Intel Core i9-10900K | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 - 3090 | RAM: 16GB - 64GB | Storage: 512GB - 2TB SSD + 0 - 2TB HDD

Fair value
Capable performance
Constricted internals

The HP Omen 30L can come kitted out with some serious hardware, and it delivers on performance despite some tight internals that had us worried about airflow. There are other things to love as well – its few RGB zones, fair pricing, and elegant design are much appreciated as well. While the system does allow for customization, its tight confines may make it hard to do a lot of expansions, and there’s very little that can be done to add to the cooling. 

Read the full review: HP Omen 30L

Corsair One a100 on a white background with its RGB lighting lit up

(Image credit: Corsair)

5. Corsair One a100

Tiny PC, big power

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X – 3950X | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX RTX 2080 Super – 2080 Ti | RAM: 32GB DDR4-3200 | Storage: 500GB NVMe SSD + 2TB HDD – 1TB NVMe SSD + 2TB HDD

Extremely powerful
Looks cool
All liquid cooling
Hard to service

Never underestimate this compact PC because of its size. The Corsair One a100 is one incredibly powerful machine, packing internals like the legendary AMD Ryzen 9 3950X and Nvidia’s unbeatable RTX 2080 Ti into a tiny chassis that would disappear into the background had it not been for its stylish RGB. Coupled with 32GB of memory and lots of storage space, this one’s a boon for the professional creative types as well. Rightly so, as they’re among the very few who can truly afford that hefty price tag. If you want something that looks cool and runs all the best games, the Corsair One a100 is the best gaming PC for you… if you have a ton of cash to throw, that is.

Read the full review: Corsair One a100

Corsair Vengeance i4200 on a white background, with RGB fans

(Image credit: Corsair)

6. Corsair Vengeance i4200

Back with a vengeance

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X – Intel Core i7-10700KF | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super – 2080 Super | RAM: 16GB – 32GB DDR4-3200 | Storage: 960GB NVMe SSD – 480GB NVMe SSD + 2TB HDD

Sleek tower and lighting design through iCue
Solid gaming performance
Storage capacity is lacking

Blending its sleek mid-tower design with clever LED lighting controls and top-tier specs, the Corsair Vengeance i4200 is no slouch, even at its lower configuration (there are only two). It’s the more powerful one that you’d want to go for here – starting at $2,000, you might as well go big – with breathtaking specs like the Intel Core i7-10700KF and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super as well as up to 32GB of memory. If you’re a hardcore gamer, then this is one of the best gaming PCs for you without going completely broke. Though get ready to shell out a bit more for an external SSD, if you find the storage offerings a bit lacking.

Read the full review: Corsair Vengeance i4200

How we test gaming PCs

A gaming PC is a big purchase that shouldn’t be taken lightly, which is why we don’t take our testing lightly either. Testing gaming PCs is always a comprehensive undertaking for us, using it to play not only the latest or hottest games, but also older yet still demanding titles as well, noting things like performance – especially in gaming – and cooling efficiency. We also run synthetic benchmarks like PCMark 10, 3DMark and Geekbench 5.

Furthermore, we take a look at its design, things like availability of ports, expandability and upgradability, RGB lighting, and accessibility that its chassis offers. For good measure, we’ll also check how it does with daily tasks, because most of us don’t only use our gaming PCs for gaming; it serves as our everyday computer as well.

We then take everything we’ve learned about the gaming PC and compare it to its price – whether or not it’s performance and features are worth that price tag, and whether or not it offers the best value to customers.

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