The best gaming desktops for 2019

Our favorite gaming desktops make the latest consoles look pathetic

We rigorously review new gaming desktops nearly every week, each with its own quirks and eccentricities. Performance is always important, but we also look for the long-term viability of these systems in terms of extra features, upgradability, and noise levels.

The best you can buy right now is the HP Omen Obelisk. It’s not necessarily the most powerful gaming PC you can buy, but it offers a fantastic blend of performance, sleek design, and value. We’ve also included fantastic options below for different form factors and budget levels.

HP Omen Obelisk

The best gaming desktop

HP Omen Obelisk

Why you should buy this: HP’s Omen Obelisk delivers punchy performance in a sleek, modern design at an affordable price point.

Who it’s for: Gamers who don’t want to build a system from scratch but demand RTX graphics performance

Why we picked the HP Omen Obelisk:

With plenty of configuration options and a price point to meet any budget, HP’s Omen Obelisk is a sleek desktop that you’ll be proud to showcase on your desk. With a durable metal build, sleek all-black design with complementary red accents, and a see-through tempered glass window to add visual interest to the powerful liquid-cooled Intel 9th-generation Core i9-9900K and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 graphics inside, the Omen Obelisk is as powerful as it is beautiful.

If you’re looking for a system primarily for basic computing tasks, you can bring the price down by configuring the Omen Obelisk with less powerful components. The late-2018 configuration we tested didn’t come with the latest silicon choices, giving it lower marks than competing systems, but HP’s updated 2019 Omen Obelisk comes with the latest processors from Intel and Nvidia, making it a great and affordably priced option for even the most demanding gamer.

But don’t let the Obelisk’s humble looks and pre-built classification fool you. With a spacious chassis and support for up to dual graphics, DIY tinkerers can grow the Omen Obelisk into a system that’s even more powerful in the future. With options for the latest silicons, support for 64GB of RAM, upgrades for Intel Optane memory support, and three drive bays for plenty of storage, the Omen Obelisk is a powerful system that will last gamers for years. Given its understated aesthetics, even non-gamers and some creatives will find the sleek lines of the Omen Obelisk appealing. 

Read our full HP Omen Obelisk review

Digital Storm Aventum X

Best powerhouse gaming PC

digital storm aventum x review 5
Chuong Nguyen/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: You’re looking for unrivaled performance and cost is no object.

Who it’s for: Gamers who crave the best performance

Why we picked the Digital Storm Aventum X:

If you have a budget to consider, then you probably shouldn’t look at Digital Storm’s Aventum X. With two large see-through glass windows, the Aventum X was created as both a showpiece to highlight what’s achievable when you combine the best silicons — in multiple quantities — available and a trophy that’s an object of desire for any gamer. Like a sports car, at a cost in excess of $50,000, the Aventum X is truly decadent, but it delivers unstoppable, unrivaled performance.

As a built-to-order system, the Aventum X is a highly configurable systems accommodating both surface-level customization — trim color, backlighting, and cooling options — to choice of silicon. Topping out with a 28-core Intel Xeon W-3175X processor, 512GB of RAM, and up to three bays of storage, support for up to four Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card, liquid cooling options, noise dampening design upgrades, and three high performance computing processors, the Aventum X is an unstoppable beast that delivers unrivaled performance.

Despite the glow emitted by the numerous RGB-lit liquid cooling elements, the illuminated multi-GPU setup, and the powerful fans that adorn the unit, the Aventum X never appeared too garish. Though the Aventum X’s aesthetics may not be demure enough to use in an office studio for creative work, peering at the highly organized internals by peering through the glass makes it seem like you’re looking at an over-engineered car engine rather than an ostentatious gaming rig. This massive full-size tower accommodates plenty of space for future upgrades, but fully configured, it’s hard to imagine what you can add to the Aventum X to give it more performance.

Read our full Digital Storm Aventum X review

Intel Hades Canyon NUC

The best mini gaming desktop

intel hades canyon nuc8i7hvk nuc fronton
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this: You want the best performance in the smallest form factor possible.

Who’s it for: Gamers who play at small desks or entertainment centers.

Why we picked the Intel Hades Canyon NUC:

Wanting a desktop this small is certainly for a niche group of people out there. The 1.2-liter box is for the person who wants an ultra-clean desk or to hide their PC under an entertainment center. There’s definitely a ‘wow’ factor with the kind of performance Intel’s mini-PC achieves. Those high framerates come from the killer combination of the Core i7-8705G processor and AMD Radeon RX Vega graphics. By means of comparison, you should see framerates in-between a GTX 1050 Ti and a 1060.

There’s one catch though with the NUC — it doesn’t come with RAM or a hard drive installed. That’s right, the already relatively high $740 starting price doesn’t come with necessary components for computing. Tinkerers will love that, but not everyone wants to buy a system that won’t work right out of the box.

Read our full Intel Hades Canyon NUC review

Origin PC Neuron

Best compact gaming desktop

origin neuron 2019

Why you should buy this: You need a compact tower to fit in tight spaces that doesn’t sacrifice performance.

Who it’s for: Gamers who demand heavyweight performance in a lightweight package

Why we picked the Origin PC Neuron:

Though it’s not the most compact tower on the market, the star of Origin PC’s Neuron is its versatile design that allows this sleek and powerful gaming rig to go between game room to living room with ease. The star of the Neuron’s configurable design is its removable and repositionable magnetic feet, allowing this tower to stand upright or rest horizontally as a living room home theater PC (HTPC).

Don’t be fooled by the Neuron’s small size. Despite its compact footprint, the Neuron had some of the best benchmark results we’ve seen. If you demand the best Neuron money can buy, Origin allows gamers to configure the unit with a liquid-cooled 18-core Intel Core i9-9980XE processor, dual-Nvidia RTX graphics, and five drive bays, giving this desktop a surprisingly big punch despite its small stature. And for gamers who need to make future upgrades, a tool-less design with a flip-open glass door makes it easy to access the unit’s internals. If you know you’re going to upgrade some of the internal silicon down the road, you may want to consider the optional Evolve upgrade warranty plan, which pays market value when you trade in existing parts. This will save you the time and hassle of trying to existing components yourself on the used market.

Like the HP Omen Obelisk on this list, the Neuron comes with more grown-up aesthetics, boasting a simple, modern design with minimal gaming flourishes. The single glass side panel showcases some of the technology inside, including the liquid cooling, radiators, and even though there is RGB lighting, it is done tastefully. For those who want a more demure desktop, the candy apple red finish on our metal-clad Neuron case can be swapped for a simple black hue at the time of purchase.

Building your own custom gaming rig from scratch can be a daunting endeavor given the numerous options for parts available. But given the extensive level of customization Origin PC offers to the case design and the silicon parts inside, buying a Neuron is like getting a pre-built gaming PC that feels like it was designed specifically for you. With Origin PC curating the choices for the graphics, processor, storage, and memory, choosing these options for a pre-built Neuron feels less intimating than going the DIY route.

Read our full Origin Neuron review

Dell Inspiron 5680 Gaming Desktop

The best budget gaming desktop

Dell Inspiron 5680 review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

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.

Why we picked the Dell Inspiron 5680:

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 5680 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 GTX 1060 never dipped far below 60 FPS at 1440p, even at ultra-high detail settings. To be fair though, our review unit wasn’t the basic $600 model, but a slightly upgraded one which retails for $1,100. Either way, it’s still an exceptionally capable machine at a bargain price. Dell also sells an AMD-powered version featuring up to an RX 570.

The Dell Inspiron 5680 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.

Read our full Dell Inspion 5680 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

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