Boutique PCs are a middle-of-the-road option between buying a big-brand PC with set specifications and assembling a machine by ordering separate components to piece together yourself. A boutique dealer allows you to customize a PC with a wide assortment of spec options as well as style and design choices, then ships you the computer you’ve created.
This is a useful way to get the bells and whistles often associated with tailor-made PCs (glass cases, RGB lighting, custom insignias, etc.) and your preferred specs — without the work and time of putting together a computer at home while trying to figure out which thermal paste to use. If that sounds like a good option, we’re using our experience with boutique builders to recommend several of the best PCs to start with.
Note on pricing: Since the point of boutique builds is to customize everything you want, the pricing info we’re giving is for base models. It’s a starting place only. Also note that they tend to take longer to ship than your average online computer order because, well, everything is customized.
The base model alone for this CyberPowerPC machine is a deeply impressive gaming machine featuring a beautiful Corsair case, 10th-gen Intel Core i7-10700K processor, and 1,000-watt power supply to cover anything you have planned for it. You also get an excellent Thermaltake custom water cooling kit with a 240mm radiator and a GeForce RTX 2080 GPU that’s ready for demanding games.
But it’s the customization process CyberPowerPC offers that impresses us the most With an easy-to-use scrolling interface, you can pick any option you want to make this build your own, from choosing a different case to picking out just the right fans, chips, overclocking software, and everything else (including some neat engraving options). Not only does this allow you to tweak exactly what kind of components you want right down to the type of RAM and motherboard, but it also allows you to adjust the price until you find a number that works for you. This is also the one downside of this model — it’s one of the most expensive on our list, and boutique PCs don’t come cheap.
Origin’s Super Tower has more room for custom LED and UV lights, more room to show off components, and an extra expansion bay for building now or in the future. That makes this model an excellent long-term investment for ambitious gamers.
The base model also includes a GTX 1660 GPU, five-bay hard drive cage, 16GB of RAM, and AMD’s Ryzen 5 3600 six-core processor. Origin also has some excellent personalization options for color both inside and outside, lighting picks, laser etching, and much more. It also offers a one-year part replacement warranty, which helps if a component doesn’t live up to expectations. Oversized PCs do need extra space on your desk or under it, though, so factor that in before hitting the buy button.
While Xidax offers a few different X-2 starting models, this is one of most impressive, featuring a Ryzen 5 3600XT processor, 16GB of memory, a GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, and 1TB HDD. While Xidax’s customization interface isn’t as great as other boutique sites, its choices remain excellent, with plenty of ways to tweak the base model toward what you prefer, and some very stylish cases to boot. This X-2 comes with the Gaming Pro Carbon AC case, which has built-in Wi-Fi to support any mobile devices in your room.
While the Xidax site interface makes it a little more difficult to cycle through options than some of our picks, there are a lot of options to consider. That includes 15 choices for storage, 13 GPUs, and even the ability to pick between several sound cards and optical drives.
Falcon’s Tiki model has an interesting premise: It’s designed to cram top-tier components inside a minimized PC tower that can fit in much smaller space, without worrying about overheating or noise. The result is a compact base model that can be built up to incredible levels, starting with an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X CPU and 32GB of RAM. You also get a GeForce RTX 2070 GPU and 500GB SSD, along with an Asetek liquid cooling unit. While the Tiki is designed to be fully enclosed (no glass viewing pane), it does include several color options and has a removable base for more versatile placement.
Falcon Northwest also offers an excellent assortment of paint job options, including some custom UV print choices. This compact tower also has a lower 450-watt power supply compared to our other picks, which may help save on energy bills while still delivering the gaming performance you need.
Digital Storm has several beautiful starting models for its boutique PCs, but we really like how the Velox is a more affordable option that’s specifically designed to prevent overheating. All panels on the forged aluminum case are vented, front intakes are positioned beside the hottest components, and Digital Storm’s control board is a great way to check out real-time temperatures.
The base model also includes two USB 3.0 ports and room for up to three 3.5-inch HDDs and two 2.5-inch SSDs. You start off with a Ryzen 5 3600X processor, but can easily upgrade to a better CPU, switch to a 10th-gen Intel processor, or upgrade all the way to an AMD Threadripper. There are also heaps of customization options for graphics cards and cooling, so you can make the PC that’s just right for you and your budget.
AvaDirect continues to be one of the best boutique options for customizing your PC right down to the wire management and thermal paste you prefer. This base model is fairly simple, with tempered glass Corsair case, AMD Ryzen 5 3600X six-core processor (max 4.4GHz), and an EVGA GeForce GRX 1650 GPU. Memory starts at 8GBs and storage offers both a WD 500GB SSD and a Seagate 1TB HDD.
Particularly for AvaDirect models, it’s helpful to think of these and starting-off points for more elaborate customization, and tags that offer advice like “VR-Ready” or “Recommended” specs make customization even easier for beginners. Plan on spending quite a bit of time cycling through the build options to find the perfect fit.
Maingear’s beautiful Vybe PC comes in several different types, but the Stage 3 build is an excellent choice for ensuring a smooth 1440p display performance. The model includes an AMD Ryzen 5 3600X processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, 16GB of RAM, and 250GB SSD/1TB HDD combination storage. You also start with an AMD Wraith cooler, and the RGB lighting kit is included.
It’s important to note that Maingear Vybe PCs specialize in pre-configured models, which means there isn’t much room to customize any of these features unless you want to move to a different model. However, you can choose to “Boost” a Vybe Stage 3 to improve RAM or storage. Maingear also lets you build a custom model from the ground up, but the Vybe remains a top option if you’d prefer to have a pre-built model without worrying about as many details.
Maybe you want a gaming PC you can be proud of, but you really, really don’t want to spend over $1,000 for it. If you balked at the other prices on this list, then you’ll like this Starter PC build from NZXT. It’s not as powerful as our other picks, but it is a great starter build and can handle VR if you want to link up a headset.
The base model starts with a ninth-gen Intel Core i5-9400F processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a 500GB SSD. You also get a sleek case in black or white, with a glass pane and RGB lights for showing off your rig — and a very welcome USB-C port, which not all boutique builders offer yet. Customization options are pretty limited, but the focus here is on affordability instead, and it really delivers.
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