It seems like we get new gaming desktops to review every week, and each one comes with its own quirks and eccentricities. For the most part, the internals in a lot of the top-of-the-line desktops are going to be remarkably similar. So which one is the best gaming PCs money can buy?
Well, when you’re buying a high-end gaming desktop, you should be on the lookout for more than just raw performance. Any machine in the same price category will be capable of hitting similar benchmarks. What you’re really looking for in a long term solution is something with manageable quirks, features, and eccentricities. You want a gaming desktop that reflects you and your needs, without compromising its horsepower.
Most of all, a gaming computer should be fun, so we’ve got the picks to keep the whole process from turning into a stressful mess.
Why you should buy this: You’re in it for the long haul, you want the best gaming rig on the market, and you want to keep it up to date.
Who it’s for: Gamers who want the best of the best, and don’t mind dropping some serious dough
How much will it cost: $4,530, as reviewed
Why we picked the Origin Millennium
The Origin Millennium has Intel’s latest 8th-generation Core i7-8700K processor, and cleared our tests with flying colors. Not to mention, it features not one but two Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080Ti graphics cards running in SLI. Simply put, the Millennium is among the most powerful gaming desktops you can buy. But wait, as they say, there’s more.
Despite its speed and extravagance, opening up the Millennium and tinkering with its innards is far less intimidating than performing the same process on other rigs, due to its intuitive custom-built case and killer cable organization. Seriously, if you get this thing, do yourself a favor and pop it open to check out those elegantly organized braided cables.
You can pretty much scale the Origin Millennium up or down depending on your preferences if you want more powerful or less powerful hardware inside. Our review model ran short of $5,000, and it absolutely obliterated our benchmarks
Altogether, the Origin Millennium is the desktop to beat — on top of being incredibly powerful, it looks great, and it’s easy to fiddle with. If you want a future-proof PC, this is just about your best bet.
Our full Origin Millenium review
The best compact gaming desktop
Falcon Northwest Tiki
Why you should buy this: You’re looking for something small, dense, and deceptively powerful (like a neutron star).
Who it’s for: Gamers who want compact, understated power
How much will it cost: $2,437 – $6,000+ depending on specs
Why we picked the Falcon Northwest Tiki
The Falcon Northwest Tiki is Digital Storm’s desktop a powerhouse, and that’s reflected in its aesthetic; the custom metal chassis is certainly a joy to behold, but we wouldn’t classify it as minimalistic. Sure, it’s less flashy than many gaming rigs, but it’s still eye-catching, and takes up a decent chunk of real estate. The Tiki takes after a different tradition, trading visuals and a luxuriant interior for economy of space. This thing is tiny.
It’s also a good choice if you’re averse to some of the flashier gaming PCs out there. Not everyone has a taste for neon red and flashing lights. Like most high-end gaming rigs, you can customize the appearance of the Tiki, but there’s something about its sleek, professional design that lends itself well to shades of black.
If Origin PCs are hot rods with racing stripes, the Tiki is a slick black sports coupe with tinted windows and growling engine. Really, it growls. It’s a little loud, particularly under a heavy load, but given how small it is, you could tuck this thing under your desk to muffle the worst of the fan noise. Or just sit it out in the open and enjoy the sound of a miniature jet engine.
Our full Falcon Northwest Tiki review
The best affordable gaming desktop
Dell Inspiron 5675 Gaming Desktop
Why you should buy this: You want performance without breaking the bank
Who it’s for: Budget-minded gamers who want a slick gaming rig
How much will it cost: Starts at $650
Why we picked the Dell Inspiron 5675
Not everyone wants (or is able) to spend thousands on a gaming PC. Luckily, there are potent options out there for even the most frugal gamers, and Dell’s Inspiron 5675 is at the top of the list.
If you’re a fiend for gorgeous graphics, you can find better options, but few — if any — desktops offer the same level of power as the Inspiron for such a reasonable price. It’s best suited to 1080p resolution, but it’ll play demanding games like Battlefield 1 without breaking a sweat.
In Battlefield 1, the Inspiron and its RX 580 never dipped below 60 FPS at 1440p, even at ultra-high detail settings. To be fair though, our review unit wasn’t the basic $650 model, but a slightly upgraded model which retails for $950. Either way, it’s still an exceptionally capable machine at a bargain basement price. Dell also sells an Nvidia-powered version, offering up to a GTX 1060.
The Dell Inspiron 5675 is a solid performer with a few drawbacks, but its low price and solid gaming performance make it a good choice, especially if you’re looking to step into the world of PC gaming for the first time.
Our full Dell Inspion 5675 review
The best stealth gaming desktop
Dell XPS 8930
Why you should buy this: It’s a gaming PC in a professional chassis.
Who it’s for: Professionals who like to game in the off hours on the same machine.
How much will it cost: $750+
Why we picked the Dell XPS 8930:
Too often gaming systems seem tied into the idea of looking like a gaming system. Not every person who plays games wants their PC festooned with LEDs and aggressive styling. Even compared to the Dell Inspiron 5675, the 8930 has a button-up look that doesn’t draw much attention to itself.
The Dell XPS 8930 packs all of the power of a gaming PC inside the chassis of an understated office machine. It wouldn’t look out of place hidden under a cubicle desk and yet it packs anything up to an 8th-generation Core i7, six-core CPU, 64GB of memory, and a GTX 1060. The review system we looked at was a little less powerful than that, but still a perfectly capable gaming system – especially when falling below $1,000.
It’s not heavily customizable in other senses, although you can choose storage options and RAM up to 16GB. But this isn’t a system that’s targeted at people who want a purpose-built red watercooling loop to be seen through their system’s side window.
If you want to game, without overtly advertising yourself as a gamer, this system is a great choice – not least because of its relative affordability during graphics card price inflation.
You might even be able to suggest this as your next office upgrade for a little gaming after hours. From the outside, no one will know it’s got some serious power under the hood.
Our full Dell XPS 8930 review
How we test
You’ve read our reviews. You’ve read our conclusions. And now you’re wondering how we came to them. Reviews often lack context. We’ll give out a score and analyze the finer points of desktop performance, but how do we reach those conclusions? How do we test these machines?
Allow us to lift the veil. Here we’ll explain the benchmarks we use for objective testing and the perspective from which we approach subjective topics. We don’t expect everyone to agree with our opinions, but we hope that sharing our process will leave you better equipped to decide what desktop best fits your needs