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The best gaming desktops

The HP Omen 45L is the best gaming desktop you can buy. It's fitted with the latest CPUs and GPUs from Nvidia, AMD, or Intel, and it includes a unique case design that enables much better cooling than traditional chassis.

Although the Omen 45L is our favorite gaming PC right now, there are several other excellent options available. Using some of the picks from our roundup of the best desktop PCs, we put together the top desktops for gaming, from high-end custom behemoths to bang-for-your-buck budget builds.

HP Omen 45L (Core i9-12900K, RTX 3080 Ti)

HP Omen 45L

The best gaming desktop you can buy
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Origin Neuron

Origin Neuron

The best custom gaming desktop
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Falcon Northwest Talon

Falcon Northwest Talon

The best high-end gaming desktop
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Intel NUC 11 Extreme Barebones Kit

Intel NUC 11 Extreme Barebones Kit

The best mini gaming desktop
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Corsair One i300

Corsair One i300

The best gaming desktop for the living room
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Dell XPS Desktop (8950)

Dell XPS Desktop

The gaming desktop for remote workers
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Lenovo Legion Tower 5i

Lenovo Legion Tower 5i

The best budget gaming desktop
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hp omen 45l review 01
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

HP Omen 45L

The best gaming desktop you can buy

Pros
  • Excellent CPU cooling solution
  • Tool-less design
  • Upgradable with off-the-shelf parts
  • Great gaming performance
  • Doesn't get too loud
  • Extra hard drive bays
Cons
  • Limited number of USB ports
  • No DDR5 option
  • Bloatware is a little annoying

HP's Omen 30L used to top our list of the best gaming desktops, but it has been replaced by the excellent new Omen 45L. As the name suggests, it's a larger PC than its 30-liter sibling. HP puts that extra space to good use, though, with an innovative Cyro Chamber that keeps temperatures and noise low.

This chamber separates the all-in-one liquid cooler from the rest of the case, offering uninterrupted access to clean airflow. HP took the redesign to make the case even easier to get into as well, with an improved tool-less design that makes upgrades simple.

It's kitted out with the latest, most powerful components, too. HP offers AMD and Intel for the processor, up to a Core i9-12900K on the Intel side and up to a Ryzen 9 5900X for AMD. You can pair the CPU with one of Nvidia's RTX 30-series cards, up to the powerful RTX 3090 and up to 64GB of storage.

The only downside with the Omen 45L is that Intel 12th-generation configurations don't support DDR5 memory. In the grand scheme of things, that's not a big deal, as the Omen 45L can put out some of the best gaming and content creation performance we've seen out of a desktop.

HP Omen 45L (Core i9-12900K, RTX 3080 Ti)

HP Omen 45L

The best gaming desktop you can buy
origin neuron 2021 review 12

Origin Neuron

The best custom gaming desktop

Pros
  • Excellent cable management and design
  • Minimal bloatware
  • Lifetime 24/7 support
  • Great CPU, GPU, and motherboard options
  • Easy to upgrade
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Few non-Corsair part options
  • Limited front panel ports

There's no shortage of PC builders that use components you can buy and put together yourself, but Origin still manages to stand out. You can buy and build an exact replica of the Origin Neuron, but Origin's careful attention to detail, deep customization options, and excellent support make an argument not to.

Corsair owns Origin, so the Neuron comes fitted with Corsair components across the board. That's a good thing in this case, as Corsair makes some of the best PC fans, power supplies, and RAM modules you can buy. All of these first-party components give the Neuron a cohesive feel, free of software conflicts that could mess up your RGB lighting.

You can build the machine exactly how you want, too. Origin offers the latest CPUs from AMD and Intel, as well as the latest GPUs from Nvidia and AMD. Beyond that, you can tweak everything else — power supply rating, memory speed, you name it.

The Neuron is more expensive than a mainstream PC like the Omen 45L. That extra money buys you better build quality, more flexibility, and some modern furnishings. Out of all of the custom PC builds you can buy, the Origin Neuron is our favorite.

Origin Neuron

Origin Neuron

The best custom gaming desktop
The Falcon Northwest Talon without a side panel.

Falcon Northwest Talon

The best high-end gaming desktop

Pros
  • Rock-solid build quality
  • Endless configuration options
  • Excellent 4K gaming
Cons
  • Too expensive

The Falcon Northwest Talon is an AMD powerhouse, especially if you want to do some work alongside your gaming. Falcon has made a name for itself for exceptional build quality in the world of custom PCs. If you want someone to build a PC for you, not just another customer, Falcon Northwest can deliver.

It's a prebuilt PC that's put together with the passion of a PC you built yourself. None of the cables overlap with each other, and Falcon Northwest goes as far as to include cable extensions to keep your build looking clean. The custom Talon case includes a ton of room for expansion, too, including support for extended motherboards.

We've reviewed the AMD model, but Falcon Northwest offers Intel and AMD configurations, as well as AMD and Nvidia graphics cards (including Quadro options). Falcon Northwest offers the latest hardware but only the high-end of that hardware. If you're looking for a deal, Falcon Northwest isn't it.

The Talon is significantly more expensive than even the Origin Neuron. It's not a PC trying to meet a price point. It's trying to be the best of the best, both in terms of performance and quality, and it succeeds.

Falcon Northwest Talon

Falcon Northwest Talon

The best high-end gaming desktop
intel beast canyon nuc 11 extreme review featured

Intel NUC 11 Extreme Barebones Kit

The best mini gaming desktop

Pros
  • Stays quiet
  • Solid processor performance
  • Support for full-size graphics cards
  • Excellent connectivity
Cons
  • Too expensive
  • Larger than previous NUCs

Intel's NUC concept has gone through countless iterations, and the Beast Canyon NUC 11 Extreme feels like an inflection point. It's larger than previous NUCs but still remarkably small given the power inside. You're getting a beefed-up 11th-gen CPU, along with support for a full-size graphics card.

You can build a mini PC that's more powerful than the NUC 11 Extreme, but the process will be more frustrating. Intel paid clear attention to the build process in the NUC 11 Extreme, making upgrades and troubleshooting a breeze, even in such a small chassis.

Although the components inside get hot, the NUC 11 Extreme never got too loud during our testing, and it never limited the components based off of thermals. The three fans on the top of the case and open airflow design leave plenty of room for cooling, despite the components being tightly packed inside.

The downside is price. The barebones kit runs above $1,000, and that doesn't include a graphics card or storage. This is one of the most unique PCs on the market, and it comes with a price tag to match.

Intel NUC 11 Extreme Barebones Kit

Intel NUC 11 Extreme Barebones Kit

The best mini gaming desktop
corsair one pro i180 review
Chuong Nguyen/Digital Trends

Corsair One i300

The best gaming desktop for the living room

Pros
  • Superb performance in compact package
  • Clean, modern design
  • Excellent thermal management
  • 12-core Intel X-series CPU standard
  • Wide range of ports
Cons
  • Too expensive
  • More difficult to upgrade than other towers
  • No Thunderbolt 3

Corsair has been making the One for several years, and despite upgrading to newer, more power-hungry hardware over the years, Corsair has kept the design the same. It's a testament to how excellent the Corsair was and is, and it's the go-to small form factor gaming PC in 2022.

It's too big to be a true mini PC like the Intel NUC, but it still can serve as an excellent home theater PC and console replacement. It's only slightly larger than a console, all while packing up to an Intel Core i9-12900K, 64GB of RAM, and an Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti.

Corsair doesn't technically support upgrades on the One, but experienced PC builders shouldn't have any problem upgrading the graphics, RAM, or storage in the future, providing you can fit everything in the case. Even if upgrading some components will void your warranty, that's more than a lot of small form factor PCs can say.

Small form factor gaming PCs aren't anything new, but the Corsair One has stood the test of time because it never feels like a mini PC. It's small, but Corsair's thoughtful cooling solution and top-notch hardware means that it performs like a full desktop without getting much hotter than one.

Corsair One i300

Corsair One i300

The best gaming desktop for the living room
dell xps 8940 se desktop review 2

Dell XPS Desktop

The gaming desktop for remote workers

Pros
  • Chic aesthetic
  • Nice balance of performance and price
  • 4K gaming in compact design
  • Easy way to get an RTX 3070 despite GPU shortage
Cons
  • No Ryzen configurations
  • Limited expandability

If you want to pick up a gaming desktop but you're not interested in learning about upgrading or tricking it out with RGB, the Dell XPS 8940 Desktop is a great option. It's a stealth gaming PC, looking like an office desktop on the outside but hiding some of the most powerful components you can buy inside.

You can't upgrade major components in the Dell XPS Desktop, which is almost always a downside. But you can at least trick out this PC with up to an Intel Core i9-12900K and Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti for about $1,000 less than the competition. You can even configure it with liquid cooling.

Configurations start as low as $750, with the first configuration with a discrete graphics card coming in at around $1,100. You're giving up all of the trimmings that make a gaming PC look like one, but if you're content to recycle your PC and upgrade a few years down the line, that's not a big deal.

Although the XPS Desktop can fit into any office setting, we're recommending it specifically for remote workers. You might not want to ask your boss to bill an RGB-ridden gaming behemoth; the XPS Desktop is much more reasonable, and it still has enough muscle for gaming after hours.

Dell XPS Desktop (8950)

Dell XPS Desktop

The gaming desktop for remote workers
Lenovo Legion Tower 5i sitting on a table.

Lenovo Legion Tower 5i

The best budget gaming desktop

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Attractive case design
  • AMD and Intel options available
  • A great esports gaming machine
Cons
  • Tough to configure
  • No high-end GPU options

If you're looking for a well-rounded PC and you're not dead-set on having all the latest specs, Lenovo offers a variety of balanced desktops at a reasonable price. Available in seven configurations with different starting price points, these PCs may not pack all the latest components, but they can still handle many games on high settings.

You can pick up a Legion Tower 5i for only $1,000, and that's a downright deal considering how expensive most graphics cards are. For that price, you can get a respectable six-core Intel Core i5-11400 and an Nvidia GTX 1660 Super — perfect for 1080p gameplay.

Lenovo is slowly updating this machine with the latest components, however, so tracking down a unit is a bit tough. We found plenty of models in stock at a few retailers, but you can't configure your own with Lenovo at the time of publication.

Lenovo Legion Tower 5i

Lenovo Legion Tower 5i

The best budget gaming desktop

Frequently Asked Questions

PC versus laptop for gaming

While you can play on the go with a gaming laptop outfitted with a discrete graphics card, a gaming desktop will deliver more flexibility, power, and performance for serious gamers. With more space inside a desktop tower, thermal management is generally better, which leads to stronger graphics and processing performance without the fear of throttling.

Another benefit of going with a desktop is that there is more space to perform upgrades in the future, so you can add more memory or storage, swap out your graphics card, and upgrade your motherboard and processor down the road. When shopping for a gaming desktop, you should look for key features like upgradability, expandability, and support for the latest protocols, like Thunderbolt 3, which could help extend the life of your investment.

What's the best gaming PC for beginners?

The best gaming PC for beginners is the HP Omen 30L or 45L. These two machines live in the same family, and the 30L is slightly smaller than the 45L. We recommend them for beginners because they come with the latest, most powerful components, they're readily available, and they're easy to upgrade.

For configurations, you want to pay attention to the GPU and CPU. For beginners, we recommend the Nvidia RTX 3060 for 1080p gameplay, paired with either an AMD Ryzen 5 5600X or Intel Core i5-12600K.

Gamers will also want to have enough RAM — we suggest at least 16GB of memory — and fast storage. Moreover, taking the dual-drive route means you don't need to invest in an expensive solid-state drive with large storage. This allows you to pair a more modest-capacity SSD with a larger hard drive to store all the large media libraries for your game.

Can gaming PCs be used for work?

Most definitely. Manufacturers like HP recognize that gamers don't just play games — office workers want to stay entertained during their downtime, too. All that's needed to play games is a capable processor, a strong enough discrete graphics card, and enough memory to keep the entire system running smoothly.

If you're looking to save money by using one desktop for gaming and for your productivity tasks, you'll want to choose a PC or one of the best laptops with more understated aesthetics that will blend in better with your office decor. Once you have the right PC selected, just pick out a few games and have fun.

Is PC gaming dying?

Absolutely not. With sales of general-purpose desktops stagnating in recent years, manufacturers like HP and Lenovo are investing more resources into their gaming brands to fuel growth.

With new hardware features supported on gaming PCs — from VR and augmented reality to real-time ray tracing — developers will have plenty of new technologies to leverage in order to tell visually engaging stories through their games.

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