While it can be the more expensive route, system builders like Alienware, Lenovo, HP, and Origin have better odds of securing hard-to-find GPUs and CPUs than the average consumer during these lean times. So even if you are on the hunt for an RTX 3080, you might be better off buying a prebuilt and stripping it for spare parts. These system builders also offer pretty generous warranties that cover parts and labor if anything goes wrong with your rig.
When ordering a prebuilt PC, keep an eye on lead times;
Some retailers have customers wait at least three to four weeks before shipping out customized PCs. If you can’t wait, places like iBuyPower offer same-day shipping on its stock of RDY prebuilt systems. Imagine playing Elden Ring on a brand new gaming PC with a Geforce RTX 3080 by the end of the workweek. Your future gaming PC has got to have the best graphics cards and best CPU for gaming that fits under your budget. That’s why we tested systems that give you the best framerate-per dollar value at 1080p,1440p, and 4K. There’s something for everyone on this list, from budget to high-end.
Best gaming PCs
Our favorite Aurora R10 config:
It took a while, but Alienware finally listened and created an AMD-focused line of its popular Aurora machines. 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 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 are exemplary in terms of both performance and price. The Ryzen 9 5900X stands out as 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 in order to deliver an affordable, seriously high core-count processor for a gaming PC.
These used to purely be server-side specs.
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 11 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. The selection starts with the GTX 1660 Super and a 6-core RX 5600X, going all the way up to the mighty GeForce RTX 3090 and the monstrous 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen 9 5950X.
You should definitely take a look at the configuration options, because the lowest spec option only comes with a single stick of DDR4 memory, which will halve the available bandwidth compared to running a pair of them, even at the same capacity. That’s expensive, however, and there aren’t options too, say, either have one 8GB stick or two 4GB sticks. Take a look at the SSD on offer, too. Something with a 256GB SSD in 2022 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. 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 starter machine, the Alienware Aurora R10 will not do you wrong. And given the general component drought right now, that you can bag an all-AMD Alienware machine with just a few months lead time is pretty great.
Our favorite Aurora R12 config:
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. Alienware also 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.
While the actual configs Alienware offers are great starting points, as 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 RAM stick of DDR4 by default.
The memory issue is something you must be aware of when buying Alienware products. In the customization options, you can choose to change that single stick of 16GB RAM to a pair of 8GB DDR modules, running at the same speed and total capacity, for free. This will double your memory bandwidth, and it’s a bit off that it’s otherwise sold with the weaker solitary stick.
We’re not entirely sold on the high-end Rocket Lake 11th, Gen CPUs,
But Alienware offers the Core i5 11400F and 11600KF, which are much more tempting. 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 case design exploits every inch of its limited space,
But it initially feels a bit awkward to tinker with. However, access to nearly every part of the PC without tools is a definite plus, as this 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 right now is availability. And that’s currently hitting Alienware as hard as everyone else. Picking up a new Aurora R12 rig today means you’re not going actually to receive it for a month at best.
Our favorite Corsair Vengeance config:
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 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 livestream.
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, which 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 is among the best around, and they’re most accessible for DIY projects, which makes the Vengeance machines a great first PC with a view to getting into the upgrade game later on. 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.
Our favorite HP Omen config:
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 customization options with its Omen 25L, 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. 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 we’ve always appreciated its no-unnecessary-frills approach to system-building and the value proposition of its rigs.
Our favorite Corsair One config:
Corsair has overhauled its compact One gaming PCs with the latest parts from Intel, AMD, and Nvidia—and we’re absolutely here for it.
The Corsair One A200 and i300 deliver 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, while on the Intel side you can have the latest Alder Lake chips, such as the incredible Core i9 12900K. 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 there’s 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 i300 review and Corsair One A200 review.
Our favorite Origin Chronos config:
Best gaming laptops
If you prefer gaming on the go, you’ll want to take a look at our best gaming laptop guide.
Origin PC’s Chronos machine is a slight form factor build that can house the most powerful gaming components around. And, to be honest, that 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 leads to the path of supreme expense. Origin PCs aren’t cheap, but they are well-built and 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 high-end components into the smaller confines of the Chronos case.
| Best gaming mouse | Best gaming chair
Best VR headset | Best wireless gaming mouse | Best CPU for gaming