As Palmer Luckey is hard at work on making VR more intercompatible, and as you await the release of Starcraft: Remastered due later this summer, there’s never been a better time to upgrade your PC. Though you could do so by swapping out parts, sometimes it’s just as cheap (and more risk-adverse) to buy one of the top gaming PCs pre-built.
That being the case, you may have your heart set on an equally convenient gaming laptop. But if you want to upgrade the hardware later, frankly that won’t be an option beyond perhaps memory and storage. Needless to say, there’s still plenty of room in your life for the classic tower of power, some of which – like the MSI Trident 3 – are no bigger than a console.
Especially if you would rather spend your time playing games than learning how to build a computer, the best gaming PCs below are the best place to start. Most are upgradeable, but with their already-impressive set of specs, you’ll be able to get all of your games up and running without even touching a thumbscrew.
One of the few PCs on this list to earn a perfect score, the Alienware Aurora R5 combines design elements traditional to Dell's famed luxury gaming brand with a handful of contemporary twists. The nigh-mini ITX computer bears resemblance to, say, the Area 51, but with a case that feels strikingly more native to our home planet. Of course, it simultaneously boasts top-of-the-line specs; an overclockable K-series Intel Core i7 CPU, a GeForce GTX 1080 and a massively capable 850W power supply are just a few of the Aurora R5's redeeming qualities. Plus, even with the small chassis, there's plenty of room for an unparalleled SLI configuration.
Read the full review: Alienware Aurora R5
The latest Overclockers machine is one of the best-designed gaming PCs we've ever seen, with bespoke water-cooling, a great color scheme and keen attention to detail. It marries its great design with top-notch performance in games and applications. Luckily it never gets too hot or too loud either. It is, however expensive and niche, with limited potential for upgrading. If you're looking for an attractive and unique LAN-friendly gaming PC that can handle anything from 4K gaming to VR, the Asteroid is an out-of-this-world machine with a price tag that will bring you back down to earth.
[Editor's Note: This product is only available in the UK and other European territories.]
Read the full review: Overclockers 8Pack Asteroid
Positioned as a “console killer”, the MSI Trident 3 looks a lot like an Xbox One S and is more powerful than a PS4 Pro, but at the end of the day, it’s a PC that feels just right in your living room. Complete with all the ports you could ever dream of and VR support for both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, the MSI Trident 3 may cost nearly four times as much as an Xbox, but the performance advantages are clear. Still, it’s not without its faults. In trying to be as thin and light as possible, the MSI Trident 3 comes equipped with a 330W external power supply brick, resembling some of the most less attractive console designs.
If you’re buying a pre-built PC, upgrades should be simple, right? That’s the philosophy behind the Lenovo IdeaCentre Y900, which bears a boisterous appearance that practically typecasts it as a gaming PC. It’s embellished with red lights all over, one of which even manages to make the letter “Y” look cool. The front of the chassis is bespeckled with textured patterns that’ll no doubt make your friends jealous. On top of offering support for a VR-ready GTX 1080, the Lenovo IdeaCentre boasts SLI support and room for up to 64GB of RAM, which are thankfully complemented by a convenient tool-less design.
Read the full review: Lenovo IdeaCentre Y900
The Dell XPS Tower Special Edition is a reminder of just how convenient and affordable it can be to skip the laborious assembly process and simply buy your gaming PC from a prominent and well-liked manufacturer. By making a few concessions in the CPU, PSU and storage departments, Dell was able to leverage a reasonable price tag and sweeten the deal with a handful of enticing additives. These include discrete graphics, a whopping 9 total USB ports and, of course, access to Dell’s online support system. That way, if something goes wrong, you’re not leafing through manuals to find out why your computer suddenly stopped working.
Read the full review: Dell XPS Tower Special Edition
Sure, for the price of an Origin Millennium PC, you could buy a halfway decent car. But why would you need to leave the house when you can play games in 4K at a buttery smooth 60 fps? That's the question Origin hopes you'll ask when you talk to your spouse about dropping six grand on a new gaming rig. Between its pair of EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition twins and the new Intel Broadwell-E Core i7-6950X processor, there is nothing the Origin Millennium can't handle – and on the best of the best displays at that. Of course, it's expensive; it's like ten years worth of future-proof.
Read the full review: Origin Millennium
Both in its appearances and temperature, the MSI Aegis 3 is one of those few examples of a gaming computer that’s way cooler pre-built than what you could probably assemble yourself. Not only does its chassis look like an anime mecha robot, but it also features customizable, interactive lighting. What’s more, it’s similar in size to the Alienware Aurora, but with a Kaby Lake processor rather than a Skylake. Plus, there’s an acceptable MSI-branded keyboard and mouse included in the box. The only downside, then, is that the MSI Aegis 3 isn’t DIY upgrade-friendly. Swarming with Phillips head screws, you’ll be begging for tool-lessness.
Read the full review: MSI Aegis 3
If you want a powerful gaming PC that can run everything at the highest settings, but without building or tweaking it yourself, the Corsair One is an obvious choice. Equipped with a liquid-cooled, Pascal-series Nvidia GPU, an Intel Core i7 processor and nothing but an SSD for storage, this is a machine that’s all about power and speed. But, given its compact enclosure, it also prides itself in not occupying too much space. The Corsair One is also whisper-quiet without breaking a sweat. It may be expensive and impossible to repair without voiding the warranty, but its small form factor and powerful components help make up for the lackluster options for ardent DIY-ers.
Read the full review: Corsair One
Like the Zotac Magnus EN1060 before it, the Magnus EN1080 is a barebones mini PC with some assembly required, namely in the storage and memory departments. Its main differentiators are its inclusion of an Intel Core i7-6700 and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card. With these components on-hand, the EN1080 can handle everything from 4K gaming at middling frame rates to 1080p gaming at refresh rates upwards of 120Hz. Though it’s as costly a unit as might be expected from a PC armed with these specs, there are very few mid- to large-form factor PCs, not to mention mini computers, that can match the sheer heft of the EN1080’s performance output.
Read the full review: Zotac Magnus EN1080
Though you might mistake it for a Rubik’s Cube at first glance, the HP Omen X’s quirky design is all part of its charm. Don’t confuse eccentric casing with limited upgradeability, however, as the HP Omen X is more than just a pretty face. Complete with three chambers for components, including one with four hard drive bays, this desktop leaves plenty of room for expansion later down the line. Upgrades can be performed nearly without tools altogether, requiring not much more than a basic Allen wrench to lift up the panel. Perhaps the most practical aspect of the Omen X, though, is its ability to change the color of its lighting based on which components are sweating the most.
Read the full review: HP Omen X Desktop
Joe Osborne and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article