When it comes to gaming, there’s plenty of attention focused on consoles and mobile, but PC gaming is still an enthusiast’s dream. Whether you’re looking for a budget option or the crème-de-la-crème, there’s something to suit the fancy of “newbie” gamers and pros alike. Some models are best suited to those looking to shift from the Xbox or PS4, while others will offer an almost infinite amount of customization. Need help deciding which is right for you? Read on to see our picks for the best gaming desktops of 2018.
Best Overall: HP Omen 880-130
Despite being just a little over two years old, HP’s Omen line-up has become a force to be reckoned with in the world of gaming. And looking at the Omen 880-130, it’s easy to see why. Undoubtedly the best gaming PC out there, it’s powered by Intel’s eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8700K processor. The hexa-core CPU supports overclocking and is helped by 16GB of DDR4 RAM, making multi-tasking a breeze.
However, the true star of the show here is NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GPU. With 11GB of dedicated GDDR5X memory, the top-tier graphics card allows the HP Omen 880-130 to make quick work of even the most-demanding AAA titles. The PC comes with a 512GB SSD for super-fast bootup times, and there’s even a massive 2TB HDD for all your game saves, videos, and more. The Omen 880-130 doesn’t skimp on connectivity features either, having everything from USB Type-C and HDMI to DisplayPort and S/PDIF. Other features include a multi-format CD/DVD burner, a 3-in-1 card reader, as well as integrated Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.2. All this goodness comes packed in a swanky-looking tower-style case, complete with red internal illumination and edge vents for better heat dissipation.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Acer Predator Orion 9000
Acer may be primarily known for its value-for-money computing products, but the Taiwanese company’s gaming portfolio is also equally (if not more) impressive. Want proof? Just take a look at the Predator Orion 9000. Featuring the perfect blend of power and performance, it ranks up there among the best gaming PCs you can buy today.
Delivering horsepower to the Acer Predator Orion 9000 is an eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8700K processor, packing six cores and extensive overclocking capabilities. Our recommended configuration includes 16GB of DDR4 RAM for hassle-free multi-tasking, as well as a 256GB SSD to ensure that all your programs and games start up in no time. Speaking of games, they all run flawlessly even at the highest settings, thanks to a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti GPU and its 11GB of discrete GDDR5X memory. Running Windows 10, the PC also comes with a 2TB HDD for all your storage needs. For I/O and connectivity, the Predator Orion 9000 features HDMI, Ethernet, DisplayPort, integrated Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, and more. Its tower-style case is also a work of art with RGB lighting (customizable via PredatorSense software), thermal zone separation for enhanced cooling, a see-through side panel, and even a dedicated ‘Turbo’ button.
Best Entry-Level: HP Pavilion 690-0020
Unless you’re a hardcore gamer, there’s no point in spending a fortune on a maxed-out rig. Thankfully, there are many great entry-level gaming PCs you can choose from, and these are perfect for playing some selective titles every once in a while. One such machine is HP’s Pavilion 690-0020.
At the heart of the Pavilion 690-0020 is AMD’s Ryzen 5 2400G processor, with a quad-core CPU and onboard RX Vega 11 graphics. Complementing that is a Radeon RX 580 GPU, with 4GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory. Add to that 8GB of DDR4 RAM (upgradeable to 32GB) and a 1TB HDD, and you’ve got a computer that can handle most modern games with little to no effort. For connecting peripherals, the HP Pavilion 690-0020 features USB Type-C, USB Type-A, HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet, and 3.5mm audio. There’s also integrated Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, and 5.1 channel audio included in the mix. Running 64-bit Windows 10, the PC includes a multi-format CD/DVD burner and a 3-in-1 card reader. The tower case’s green LED lighting and brushed metal case give the Pavilion 690-0020 a distinctly unique appearance, and the PC even comes with a wired keyboard and mouse.
Best Design: Dell Alienware Area-51
Design is certainly a primary feature of many gaming PCs. Most modern rigs have eye-catching cases, replete with sharp edges and multi-colored illumination that give them a distinct visual identity. But even then, there’s one that clearly stands out from the rest. Meet the Dell Alienware Area-51.
Hands-down the best-looking gaming PC on the market today, the Area-51 is a sight to behold. With the second-generation ‘triad’ chassis design, this massive PC resembles an extraterrestrial mothership. The case is made from carbon-powder-coated metal. It has extensive cable management features and storage bays, plus a swinging cage that allows for the tool-free addition of graphics and expansion cards. Our recommended configuration comes with an Intel Core-i7 7820X processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a 128GB M.2 SSD (as boot drive), and a 1TB HDD for storage. The Dell Alienware Area-51 includes NVIDIA’s latest and greatest GeForce RTX 2080 OC GPU, with 8GB of dedicated GDDR6 memory.
For connectivity, the PC has everything from USB Type-C (with PowerShare) to Gigabit Ethernet. There’s also integrated Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.1. With the preinstalled AlienFX software, you can not only tweak RGB lighting effects, but also save custom illumination schemes for individual games.
Best Splurge: Origin Genesis (Custom Build)
While getting a pre-configured gaming PC is definitely the easier (and relatively hassle-free) option, custom-built rigs offer practically endless options for everything from hardware components to case designs. This also means that it’s completely up to you to decide how powerful — and expensive — you want the machine to be. So, if you want the ultimate gaming PC and don’t mind paying a pretty penny for it, get an Origin Genesis.
Renowned for its high-performance computers, Origin PC lets you easily configure a custom gaming rig through their website. The company then assembles the computer to your specifications and delivers it to your doorstep. Built around Origin’s Genesis tower-style case, our recommended configuration includes Intel’s top-of-the-line Core i9-9900X processor, 64GB of DDR4 RAM, a 500GB SSD, and a 2TB HDD. In terms of graphics cards, we recommend going for dual NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti GPUs, each with 11GB of discrete GDDR6 memory. You can also opt for integrated Wi-Fi, a multi-format DVD burner, and a 40-in-1 card reader module. As far as standard I/O and connectivity features are concerned, everything from HDMI and USB Type-A to VGA and 3.5mm audio is already taken care of. With the final price coming out to be a little over $7,000 (not including the vast array of cooling and RGB lighting options), this is a gaming PC that will deliver astounding performance with any game or application you throw at it.
Best Portability: Lenovo Legion C530 Cube
As laptops play catchup to desktops in the gaming space, Lenovo’s C530 is uniquely positioned. Compact and powerful, this is a gaming desktop that’s actually portable. With an integrated carrying handle on top, the 24-pound computer is easily transported for gaming on the road. Taking it with you might seem odd, but factor in an 8th generation Intel processor (i5 or i7), up to 32GB of RAM and up to 256GB SSD and you have the power of a full-sized tower in small, moveable cube. The C530 comes with your choice of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, 1050 Ti or 1050 graphics card, each with its own dedicated memory.
Put all of these pieces together and you have an ultra-powerful gaming desktop. Fortunately, Lenovo’s brilliant design is also open to upgrades down the road. The C530 adds one press, tool-free upgrade system with best-in-class ease of access. Dolby Atmos makes gaming experience even better with outstanding audio that provides immersive sound. There is a headphone jack on the front of the PC and a slew of connectivity options in back: eight USB ports, four HDMI inputs, audio-out and a variety of display outputs for connecting to a monitor.
Best Upgradeability: Dell Alienware Aurora R7
Desktop gamers should take a long, hard look at the Dell Alienware Aurora R7 when it comes to time to make their next purchase. With high scores for upgradeability, the Dell impresses with good looks for desktop placement, a bevy of upgrade options including support for the latest 8th generation Intel Core i7 4.6GHz processors, up to 64GB of RAM, a whopping five solid-state drives, and ExtremeRange Wi-Fi technology that allows for dual external 5GHz signal amplifiers for an increased signal range. Perhaps best yet, Dell can support dual 300W graphics cards for 600W of total graphics power which is enough to support 12K gameplay. The outside is just as fantastic as the inside with more USB connections than you could ever need including six total USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.1 ports, and an added USB-C port for future proofing. A bevy of audio ports, Ethernet, HDMI, and a trifecta of DisplayPorts also ensure that you can hook the Dell up to multiple monitors for enhanced gameplay or multitasking.
Best Quiet Performance: Corsair ONE Pro
Fast, small, and quiet are not generally words we associate with desktop gaming computers, but in the case of the Corsair ONE Pro, that’s exactly the right description. Corsair’s adoption of a custom manufactured liquid-cooling system and their custom GPU and CPUs help the desktop produce just 20 dBa while idle which makes it quieter than a whisper and almost inaudible. Fortunately, running quiet doesn’t mean running slow as the Intel Core i7 processor — paired with 16GB of RAM and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card — can more than handle 4K and VR gaming.
With all that power inside, it’s a little disappointing to see the Corsair isn’t super upgradeable, but, there is even more performance power to be derived from the internal components which should continue to make the Corsair a smart buy for years to come. At just 15 inches tall and less than eight inches deep, the Corsair is a compact desktop whose size belies the power inside and, with its cylindrical style, it should fit neatly on or under your desk.