Console gaming is great in many ways but for many gamers the humble PC is still the ultimate machine – especially if you want to play FPS and MOBA titles with a keyboard and mouse. The best gaming PCs have oodles of power and you can upgrade them when new components arrive.
There’s a large choice of processors and graphics cards, plus these rigs are often cheaper than a lower-powered gaming laptop – as long as you’re ok with getting a monitor etc and not easily being able to take it with you.
There’s also the benefit of using them to get work or other tasks done, such as video editing, when you’re not gaming. You really will be making use of the power available to you. Here are our top picks for gaming PCs and you can click through to read full reviews of each complete with more photos and benchmarks.
Best Gaming PCs 2021
1. PC Specialist Obsidian I – Best Overall
Brilliant gaming speed
Accessible, good-looking case
Decent components throughout
AMD's CPUs are faster
No PCIe 4 support
The PC Specialist Obsidian I deploys an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 to deliver 4K-level gaming power – there’s virtually nothing quicker.
Elsewhere, this system has solid components throughout and a good-looking, sturdy and accessible chassis – and a decent price.
If you need more CPU power, though, AMD’s chips offer far more performance – so those chips are better if you want a PC for work as well as play.
Read our full
Review PC Specialist Obsidian I
2. Acer Nitro N50 – Best Value
Solid 1080p and eSports performance
Compact & well-made
From $799 | Model reviewed $979
The Acer Nitro N50-610 is a compelling gaming PC for those on a limited budget. It gets the important things right and the sacrifices are both understandable and acceptable.
It’s not particularly interesting inside and has limited scope to upgrade in the future but that’s not really the point here.
The N50 offers an attractive design and good build quality in a compact tower. More importantly, the core components are able to deliver solid gaming performance if you’re needs aren’t overly demanding such as 4K gaming and Ray Tracing.
Read our full
Review Acer Nitro N50-610
3. PC Specialist Fnatic Gaming PC – Best for eSports
Plenty of power
Decent components throughout
Once again, PC Specialist has built a gaming rig that’s pretty easy to recommend, whether or not you’re a Fnatic fan or otherwise.
This is a stylish and well-made gaming PC that’s got a lot going for it. We find it impressive across many areas, namely the specs and speed across graphics and applications making it a good choice if it’s for work as well as play compared to many rivals.
Our only real caveat is that you can get Nvidia systems with a few more frames per second for less money if those rigs appeal in other areas.
Read our full
Review PC Specalist Fnatic Gaming PC
4. Chillblast Fusion Sorcerer – Best Case
Robust & stylish
There’s a lot to like about the Chillblast Fusion Sorcerer including it’s design and build along with decent 1080p and esports gaming performance.
However, there are rival systems out there from the likes of AlphaBeta that will get you a more powerful RTX 2060 Super or even 2070 Super if you want higher frame rates.
The Fusion Sorcerer does have some advantages that might swing it though, including its versatile AMD processor, speedy storage and excellent warranty.
Read our full
Review Chillblast Fusion Sorcerer
5. Asus ROG Strix G15DH – Best for Plug & Play
Solid gaming performance
Limited upgrade options
This gaming tower from Asus has shortcomings but will appeal to a particular category of buyer.
Essentially those who want a machine from a big brand they can simply plug-and-play onced unboxed. The build quality and upgradability is a lot lower than specialist PC makers, but the ROG Strix G15 isn’t really designed to be opened up and tinkered with.
What you get is some decent enough core specs including a powerful AMD Ryzen CPU and solid performance from the Nvidia RTX graphics card. There’s also decent storage and memory, too.
Overall, it’s good value for money and there are a range of different models at various prices available.
Read our full
Review Asus ROG Strix G15DH
6. Asus ROG Strix GL10CS – Best Compact PC
Some basic spec
If you can’t afford a more expensive gaming machine and simply want to plug-and-play without tinkering with what’s inside then the Asus ROG Strix GL10CS is a reasonable option.
This machine will comfortably handle 1080p gaming and day-to-day computing tasks, too. Just be aware that build quality isn’t great and the specs are nothing special when you look beyond the CPU and GPU.
It’s also pretty noisy so there are downsides to buying a budget machine.
Read our full
Review Asus ROG Strix GL10CS
Your Buying Guide for the Best Gaming PCs in 2021
It’s worth understanding what to look for as each supplier allows you to customise and configure your PC to tailor it for your needs. We have also tested the
best gaming laptops, which might be a better option. These are the
best gaming phones if you want to game anywhere.
Different games place different demands on your computer hardware, but choosing a gaming PC will involve a balancing act between CPU and graphics performance.
For gaming PCs, we’re happy to allow system builders to overclock processors, which can significantly increase performance without having to stump up for the most expensive chips from Intel and AMD.
Overclocked processors place additional demands on the system’s power supply and also require better cooling, so expect to pay more for PCs with more extreme overclocking.
overclock the processor yourself if you wish, but it can be a good idea to buy a pre-overclocked system that’s covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
CPU buying guide for a more detailed look at processors.
There are several points to consider when choosing the right motherboard for your PC. If you’re not into technical details you may be tempted to overlook the motherboard and concentrate on the processor and graphics, but the motherboard is extremely important.
Not all motherboards support overclocking, and opting for a lower-cost motherboard can allow you to spend a little more on your graphics card, which can have a big impact on your final performance figures.
If you want the latest ports and connectors including USB 3.1 Gen 2 (which supports transfers at twice the speed of USB 3.0 – also known as USB 3.1 Gen 1) and PCIe 4.0 then make sure you check this before ordering. Also, look out for USB-C and Thunderbolt support.
It’s usually the graphics card that will determine the overall quality of your gaming experience. This is why we suggest gamers go for a mid-range processor as the difference in price will almost certainly serve you better spent on the graphics card rather than on the CPU.
To ensure smooth gameplay, you generally want to achieve a minimum of 60 frames per second (fps) in your game. This is the limiting speed of most PC displays, so you won’t really need to go faster than this unless you have a
high-speed gaming monitor that allows for faster refresh rates.
Any extra performance will then allow you to increase the quality settings in your game, making characters sharper, textures more realistic and graphical effects more immersive.
The most commonly found are from Nvidia and the latest range of RTX cards such as the 3080. Cheaper options will include cards like the GTX 1660 Ti or RTX 2060. We’ll let you know in the reviews what performance they can achieve.
It’s fairly niche, but you can buy an
HTC Vive or
Oculus Rift and play VR games on a PC. You can read our
complete guide to VR for more in-depth information on the headsets, games and apps available.
If your PC struggles to play games at 1080p – the minimum is considered 30 frames per second – then it’s not going to cope with running an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive which both have a 2160×1200 screen, especially if you want 90fps, which is the ideal frame rate for a decent experience.
For more, see
Nvidia’s VR Ready site and
AMD’s Radeon VR Ready page.
Cases & Cooling
We’ve already talked about processor cooling, but gamers tend to like their PC tower system to look the part as well. Many come with fans that light up in various colours but don’t overlook the fact that the case needs to be practical. Internal cable management aids airflow, while fan controllers let you reduce noise or boost cooling as necessary.
Graphics cards can also come with various cooling systems, the more advanced of which can allow for faster clock speeds on the GPU and less noise when playing games.
For more immersive gameplay, go for the largest display you can find and one with a good contrast ratio. TN-based monitors will cost less and provide most of these features, but IPS-based displays will give you better overall colour reproduction and wider viewing angles, although response times tend to be slower.
For a more responsive display, go for a gaming monitor with a high refresh rate of 120- or 144Hz, although you’ll need powerful graphics to supply frames at this speed. Check out our round-up of the
best gaming monitors.
If you’re using your PC on a desk with a monitor, you’ll benefit from the improved responsiveness of wired rather than wireless devices. Look for
high-resolution mice, and keyboards with programmable keys and backlighting.
High-grade mechanical switches in keyboards have a better ‘feel’ and provide longer life than cheap membrane switches. Here are the
best gaming keyboards.
A gaming sound card can provide a more immersive experience by adding multiple sound effects, with improved audio fidelity. Also, consider a gaming headset with a built-in mic.
Warranty terms are crucial when it comes to gaming PCs and a key advantage of buying a pre-built overclocked PC is that all of the overclocking will be tested and covered by the vendor’s warranty.
The longer the warranty the better, but also look for a collect-and-return rather than return-to-base option. Also, pay attention to whether parts and labour are both covered and for how long.