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5 Best Prebuilt PCs for Gaming/VR (December 2021 Guide)


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Hunting the Best Value Gaming Desktops (Good Alternatives to Building a PC)

Last Updated: December 4, 2021

In this carefully selected roundup, I hand pick some of the best prebuilt gaming PCs for the money that I could find on the market right now. In PC hardware communities, prebuilt PCs are insulted more often than poor little R2D2 was by C3PO. Makes sense though, seeing as R2 was built by a mass-production droid manufacturer, while smug C3PO was proudly custom built by some whiz kid using spare parts. But I quite dramatically digress. 

Besides the fact that building your own PC is typically the more cost-effective option overall (most prebuilts are overpriced relative to buying each component individually), there are other reasons why prebuilts get a bad name. The convenience of buying a pre-assembled, 100% ready-to-go computer is tempting, but there are various pitfalls you must be aware of in order to avoid buying a dud of a droid.

For example, if it’s a particularly bad prebuilt – the type that would get a deserved roasting from Steve from Gamer’s Nexus – it may include an obscure branded, unreliable, low-quality ticking-timebomb of a power supply that you wouldn’t want any half-decent gaming PC to have to rely over multiple years. Or, it could have poor, restricted airflow that could lead to excessive noise, high temperatures, overheating, or worse (big bada boom). But besides companies cutting corners on component quality, there are other potential downsides to buying a prebuilt. If you’re interested, see building vs buying a gaming PC for more detail.

But not all prebuilt PCs are horrible piles of steaming scrap metal, and if you do your research there are options worth considering out there. Especially if you stick to the more trusted prebuilt brands. Despite the advantages of building your own PC, perhaps you don’t have the patience to learn how to do so, and to spend the extra time needed to pick and choose each individual part. And that’s okay.

Why some prebuilt gaming PCs may be a bad purchaseBe skeptical and keep your wits about you when shopping for a prebuilt PC as they’re not always as they seem (look past flashy exteriors or clever marketing)

Besides, buying a graphics card to build your own PC is not the easiest of tasks at this time, especially if you’re like most of us and looking to pay a normal-ish price that’s not absurdly beyond the card’s intended MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price). If you weren’t already aware, graphics cards are in massive demand right now, without the supply to meet it. So, getting a prebuilt PC is definitely a worthwhile option if you just want the easiest way to get a hold of the latest NVidia RTX or AMD RX graphics cards.

But if you do go down the prebuilt PC route, you absolutely must keep your wits about you, meaning do your research. Many, perhaps most prebuilt PCs are either way overpriced for what you get, or they are systems that cut a little too many corners in terms of component quality as mentioned, but also in features (eg low storage, limited upgrade flexibility, inadequate airflow, and so on). 

If you want my opinion on some of the best prebuilt gaming PCs out there right now, let’s cut the ranting and get into my recommendations after having analyzed the current minefield of a market with its many overpriced systems, ticking time-bomb abominations, but the occasional diamond in the rough that represents fair value for money that I can stick my neck out for and recommend.

Important Notes:

  • Prices mentioned are in USD (US Dollars)
  • At the time of writing, all models below fit into their respective price categories, but if prices change and a certain model no longer fits into its category, it’s safe to assume I no longer recommend that model

Best Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $1000 (December 2021)

HP Pavilion GTX 1650 Super (Amazon / HP)

This category is an especially tough one, as it’s fairly difficult to find a good prebuilt PC for gaming under $1200 US that’s worth recommending, at least in my completely honest opinion. Most prebuilts in this range have too many limitations for my liking. But if you understand and accept those limitations, and just want the cheapest desktop you can get away with for some decent gaming, this HP Pavilion is, reluctantly, my top pick right now based on current pricing.

First to the good side of things, and a GeForce GTX 1650 Super graphics card paired with the 10th gen Intel i3 10100 processor makes for a very solid entry-level gaming computer that will produce a very smooth 60FPS on high settings in many titles. So long as you stick to 1080p 60Hz, or 1080p 144Hz in less demanding titles (CSGO, Fortnite, League of Legends, Valorant, etc), and with this setup you’re good to go for a good gaming experience.

You also get a fast NVMe SSD, albeit a small one so most people will have to purchase an additional SSD or HDD at some point (256GB fills up quickly, especially if you download a bunch of big modern games as explained in the SSD buyer’s guide for gamers).

Now to the downsides, and the most immediate drawback is the limited upgrade flexibility, as HP prebuilts like this use their own in-house case that doesn’t allow you to just open things up and add whichever modular components you want ’till your hearts content (like you can with other prebuilts on this list). You also can’t migrate the motherboard or PSU to another case, as they are proprietary HP components.

Besides the lack of storage as mentioned, the biggest drawback of the internal components is the RAM – you only get one stick of 8GB running at an average 2666MHz speed, which these days is not enough for modern games, many of which crave 16GB of RAM for maximum performance.

See Also: The Best Refurbished Gaming PCs

For less demanding games, 8GB is fine, but if you want to play more demanding titles, or if you’re doing a ton of multitasking on your system in general, I’d upgrade to 16GB from the get-go (the motherboard has 2 RAM slots, with 1 free if you want to add another 8GB DDR4 to make 16GB in total).

Model Number: TG01-1070m

CPU: Intel Core i3-10100 (4 Core)

CPU Cooler: Intel Stock Cooler

GPU: NVidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super (4GB)

RAM: 1x8GB DDR4 2666MHz (Supports 32GB)

Motherboard: HP Proprietary

Storage: 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD

Power Supply: HP Proprietary

Case: HP Proprietary

Case Fans: 2x

OS: Windows 10 Home

WiFi: WiFi 5 (802.11ac)

Other: Included HP Keyboard and Mouse

Warranty: 1 Year

Overall, it’s an okay prebuilt if you’re on a tight budget, especially if you find it well under the $1000 US target for this category. If you’re planning to use it for the best VR headsets though, give this gaming desktop a miss, as you really want a stronger GPU for virtual reality. Same goes for 1440p and 4K gaming monitors – you need more GPU power.

Honorable Mentions

Skytech Blaze II (Amazon)

Model: ‎ST-BLAZE2-0355-B-AM

GTX 1650 Super 4GB, AMD Ryzen 3 3100, 8GB 3200MHz DDR4, 500GB SSD, WiFi 5

Skytech Chronos Mini (Amazon)

Model: ‎ST-CHRONOSM-0349-B-AM

GTX 1650 Super 4GB, AMD Ryzen 3 3100, 8GB 3200MHz DDR4, 500GB SSD, WiFi 5

Acer Aspire (Amazon)

Model: ‎TC-390-UA91

Integrated Graphics, AMD Ryzen 3 3200G, 8GB 2666Mhz DDR4, 512GB NVMe SSD, WiFi 5

Best Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $1500 (December 2021)

CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme RTX 3060 (Amazon / B&H / BestBuy)

If you’re chasing the best prebuilt gaming PC between the $1000 and $1500 range, you’ll see a lot of desktops with a GTX 1660 Super, GTX 1660 Ti (slightly faster), or RTX 2060 (slightly faster still). But if you do some digging, you’ll be able to find some with the latest mid-range GPUs from NVidia and AMD, the RTX 3060 or RX 6600, which is a much better purchase.

In other words, if you want the most bang for buck, in the sub $1500 range I would only consider prebuilt PCs that have either of these graphics cards (unless the price is much closer to the $1000 mark in which case a GTX 1660 Super or something along those lines is fine).

At the time of writing this, the best prebuilt gaming PC under $1500 in terms of overall value is this particular CyberPowerPC desktop, which boasts an RTX 3060 but also a very good CPU, the i5 11600KF. It’s also got a healthy 16GB of RAM, though you’d expect nothing else for this price: if you see a system with 8GB of RAM that’s selling in this price range, run for the hills because you can find plenty that do have 16GB.

The speed of the RAM isn’t specified, so you’d assume it’s an average DDR4 speed like 2666MHz which is okay. The system looks nice, and is adequately cooled with 3 pre installed 120mm fans (2 up front, 1 in the back). Storage is okay, with a 500GB NVMe SSD, but some people may want to get an additional SSD or HDD for more room, especially if you want to play a ton of modern games (which can easily eat up space).

In terms of CyberPowerPC as a brand, and whether you can rely on them, I’d rate them as middle of the road. Not the best, but there’s definitely a lot worse out there. The internal components you get are basic, but they’ll get the job done, and you’re free to upgrade your system fairly easily with their machines. So overall, if you want the fastest gaming performance for the money, I can recommend their systems, but only if you strategically choose the best value model – a lot of their systems are overpriced, so you have to pick and choose carefully.

This particular model with the RTX 3060 for under $1500 is the best value I could find from within their range at the time of writing (and also when comparing other brands, most of which are selling RTX 3060 systems for a lot more). It’s well suited for a range of different gaming use cases, whether that’s 1080p 60Hz, 1080p 144Hz, 1440p 60Hz, and VR.

Model Number: GXi1280V4

CPU: Intel Core i5 11600KF (6-Core)

CPU Cooler: Intel Stock Cooler

GPU: NVidia GeForce RTX 3060 (12GB GDDR6)

RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2x8GB)

Motherboard: Intel B560 (LGA 1200)

Storage: 500GB NVMe SSD

Power Supply: 600 Watts

Case: CyberPowerPC Onyxia III White Mid-Tower

Case Fans: 3 x 120mm RGB

OS: Windows 10 Home

WiFi: Yes (802.11AC WiFi 5)

Other: Included Keyboard and Mouse

Warranty: 1 Year

Honorable Mentions

Skytech Blaze 3.0 (Amazon)

Model: ST-BLAZE3-0304-W-AM

RX 6600 XT 8GB, Intel Core i5 10400F, 16GB 3200MHz DDR4, 1TB NVMe SSD, WiFi 5

CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme (B&H)

Model: GXI11140CPGV7

RTX 3060 12GB, Intel Core i5 11600KF, 16GB DDR4, 1TB NVMe SSD, WiFi 5

CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme + Upgrade RAM (Amazon)

Model: GXiVR8060A11

RTX 2060 6GB, Intel Core i5 11400F, 8GB DDR4, 500GB NVMe SSD, WiFi 5

Skytech Chronos Mini (Amazon)

Model: ‎ST-CHRONOSM-0173-AM

GTX 1660 Super 6GB, AMD Ryzen 3 3100, 16GB 3200MHz DDR4, 500GB NVMe SSD, WiFi 5

MSI Aegis SE (Amazon)

Model: ‎10SI-211US

GTX 1660 Ti 6GB, Intel Core i5-10400F, 16GB 3000MHz DDR4, 240GB SSD, 1TB HDD, WiFi 6

Best Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $2000 (December 2021)

Skytech Archangel RTX 3060 Ti (Amazon)

If you want the best prebuilt gaming PC with a powerful gaming CPU and GPU (5600X and RTX 3060 Ti), from an affordable and generally reliable manufacturer that includes decent quality components, the Skytech Archangel 3.0 gets my pick based on current pricing and availability.

With this setup you can expect excellent performance for 1080p or 1440p on high settings, and even with 144Hz monitors as the super quick 5600X processor really helps in getting high frame rates. The 16GB of fast 3200MHz memory is also ideal for modern gaming, and for fast productivity and multitasking in general.

The system also looks nice, with a slick white case and 3 included RGB fans, and it comes complete with a gaming keyboard and mouse (albeit basic), included WiFi, a large 1TB NVMe SSD for fast loading of a ton of games and applications, and it’s nice they included an 80 Plus Gold 600 watt power supply (though the exact model is unspecified).

See Also: The Best Gaming Monitors

Overall, the internal components aren’t as high quality as what you could build yourself, but they could be a lot worse. This is arguably among the best value prebuilts you can find in this sort of price range right now, at least in my opinion based on my research.

But do check out the many alternative options as well that I found (listed below), as they may suit you better in terms of price, specs, and design. There’s a fair amount of decent options in the $1500 to $2000 US price range.

Just ensure you don’t get suckered into any prebuilts in this price range that don’t at least have an RTX 3060 or 3060 Ti graphics card. Also avoid ones with older CPUs, as for this price you ideally want to be getting a current-gen CPU like the 5600X, or a previous-gen CPU like the 3700X at the very least (5600X is better for gaming though).

Once you get around the 2K budget range, you’ll start seeing some with a RTX 3070 or RX 6700 XT as well, which are worth considering if you want extra firepower for 1440p, 4K, or VR gaming. For most gamers though, the 3060 or 3060 Ti is better value overall.

Model Number: ‎ST-Arch3.0-0296-AM

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X (6-Core)

CPU Cooler: AMD Wraith Stealth (Stock Cooler)

GPU: NVidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti (8GB)

RAM: 16GB DDR4 (3200MHz)

Motherboard: AMD B550 (Unspecified)

Storage: 1TB NVMe PCIe (SSD)

Power Supply: 600 Watt (80 Plus Gold)

Case: Thermaltake H200 TG RGB (White)

Case Fans: 3 x 120mm RGB

OS: Windows 10 Home

WiFi: Yes (802.11AC WiFi 5)

Other: Included Keyboard and Mouse

Warranty: 1 Year

The Skytech Archangel not only has a very decent RTX 3060 Ti, but just as importantly a decent list of components overall, including a very fast AMD Ryzen 5 5600X processor that reaches high frame rates for 1080p 144Hz gaming, a healthy 16GB of RAM at a fairly fast 3000MHz speed, decent cooling with a front-mesh case that comes with 3 pre-installed fans, and a passable (albeit quite basic) PSU and motherboard. It also looks nice with its basic yet fairly slick case, see-through side panel, and plenty of lighting (3x RGB fans you can set to any color).

Skytech have taken the prebuilt PC market by storm in the past couple of years, and by that I simply mean they’re selling like hot cakes, especially on Amazon. Popularity doesn’t necessarily equate to quality, but in this instance it is warranted in my opinion, as they currently offer some of the best value gaming desktops on the market whilst importantly not cutting too many corners to make that happen.

But of course, they still do that to an extent, just as any prebuilt PC company does if they want to compete, but from the many Skytech systems I’ve now researched over recent times (I started recommending them roughly a year ago), and having kept a close critical eye on them for a while now, they genuinely seem better than most prebuilt PCs in terms of the components they use, the overall flexibility of their builds (they’re mostly easily upgradeable), and the gaming performance you get for the money. Their customer support also seems decent from my research.

Honorable Mentions

MSI Aegis R (Amazon)

Model: 11TC-099US

RTX 3060, Intel Core i7-11700, 16GB 3000MHz DDR4, 1TB NVMe SSD, WiFi 6

MSI Aegis RS (Amazon / B&H)

Model: 10DS-217US

RX 6700 XT 12GB, Intel Core i7-10700K, 16GB 3000MHz DDR4, 1TB SSD, 1TB HDD, WiFi 6

Skytech Shiva (Amazon)

Model: ST-SHIVA-0128

RTX 3070 8GB, AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, 16GB 3200MHz DDR4, 1TB NVMe SSD, WiFi 5

ASUS ROG Strix GA15DK (Amazon)

Model: ‎GA15DK-AS776

RTX 3070 8GB, AMD Ryzen 7 5800X, 16GB 3200MHz DDR4, 512GB NVMe SSD, 1TB HDD, WiFi 5

Thermaltake Glacier 360 (Amazon / BestBuy / TT)

Model: ‎S3WT-B550-G36-LCS

RTX 3060, AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, 16GB 3600MHz DDR4, 1TB NVMe SSD, WiFi 5

CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme VR (Amazon)

Model: GXiVR8480A10

RTX 3060 12GB, Intel Core i5 11600KF, 16GB DDR4, 500GB NVMe SSD, 1TB HDD, WiFi 5

Skytech Shadow 3.0 (Amazon)

Model: ‎ST-SHADOW-0226

RTX 3060 Ti 8GB, AMD Ryzen 5 3600, 16GB 3000MHz DDR4, 1TB NVMe SSD, WiFi 5

Best Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $3500 (December 2021)

HP Omen 30L RTX 3080 (Amazon)

For the best 4K or VR experience (or 1440p 144Hz) the ideal setup is having a super powerful NVidia RTX 3080 or competing RX 6800 XT. Prebuilt PCs with these cards don’t come cheap, but the HP Omen 30L is one of the more affordable models at the time of writing that also has a decent set of supporting components. Like almost all prebuilt PCs, it’s got drawbacks though, such as limited upgradeability due to a small proprietary motherboard and average cooling with a subpar, small 120mm liquid cooler that doesn’t give such a powerful CPU as the i9 10850K much leeway. If your new setup will live in a warmish room/climate, I don’t recommend it, as you’ll want something with better airflow and cooling.

But based on current pricing at the time of writing this, it’s one of the better “value” RTX 3080 gaming desktops I’ve seen, and the list of components gets a pass from me. Yep, just a pass, since prebuilt PCs like this always cut corners and doesn’t compare to building your own gaming PC (where you have freedom to only include top notch parts and brands), but a pass by my perfectionist high standards as a lifetime DIYer is a stronger recommendation than it may sound, with most other RTX 3080 prebuilt gaming PCs failing that test due to being way overpriced.

If you know hardware and DIY well, most prebuilt PCs are overpriced to be fair, but some are less so than others. And besides the strong CPU and GPU, this HP does have some other positives going for it such as an efficient Platinum certified power supply (it’s not a high-end brand but Cooler Master PSUs are okay), the latest WiFi 6 standard for full compatibility with next-gen routers, and plenty of storage with a large and fast 1TB SSD from Western Digital and a secondary 2TB hard drive.

See Also: Best PC VR Headsets

Just keep in mind these prebuilt recommendations were based on the prices at the time of writing, and PC prices fluctuate often (especially during this current volatile market) meaning that by the time you read this there may be a better “value” RTX 3080 or RX 6800/XT option. But right now after having searched the market deeply, if your PC will live in a nicely cooled room this particular HP model is worth considering if you want to save a little money over more feature-rich RTX 3080 desktops.

Model Number: GT13-0092

CPU: Intel Core i9 10850K (10-Core)

CPU Cooler: Proprietary HP AiO Liquid Cooler (120mm)

GPU: NVidia GeForce RTX 3080 (10GB GDDR6X)

RAM: Kingston HyperX 32GB DDR4 (2x16GB, 3200MHz)

Motherboard: Proprietary HP Z490 (mATX)

Storage: Western Digital Black 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 (SSD) & 2TB 7200RPM SATA (HDD)

Power Supply: Cooler Master 750 Watt (80 Plus Platinum)

Case: Proprietary HP Model

Case Fans: 1x 120mm Front, 1x 92mm Rear

OS: Windows 10 Home

WiFi: Yes (802.11AX WiFi 6)

Other: Bluetooth, HP Keyboard and Mouse

Warranty: 1 Year

Honorable Mentions

Skytech Siege (Amazon)

Model: ST-SIEGE3.0-0135

RX 6900 XT 16GB, AMD Ryzen 7 5800X, 16GB 3200MHz DDR4, 1TB Gen4 NVMe SSD, WiFi 5

Skytech Shiva (Amazon)

Model: ST-SHIVA-0129

RTX 3080 10GB, AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, 16GB 3200MHz DDR4, 1TB NVMe SSD, WiFi 5

MSI Aegis RS (Amazon / MSI)

Model: 11TE-089US

RTX 3080 8GB, Intel Core i7-11700K, 16GB 3000MHz DDR4, 1TB NVMe SSD, 2TB SSD, WiFi 6

MSI Aegis RS (Amazon / MSI)

Model: AegRS11TE243

RTX 3070 Ti 8GB, Intel Core i9-11900KF, 32GB 3600MHz DDR4, 1TB NVMe SSD, WiFi 6E

Best Prebuilt Gaming PC Under $5000 (December 2021)

Skytech Prism II RTX 3090 (Amazon)

Next up is a monster for the hardcore gamers and VR enthusiasts who want the fastest gaming PC possible with a RTX 3090, which is the single best gaming GPU on the planet right now, and which edges out AMD’s top offering as well (RX 6900 XT). Just a reminder for anyone new to PC land that these graphics cards offer diminishing returns in performance compared to cheaper cards like the RTX 3080 and RX 6800 XT – sure, you’ll get extra frames with a 3090, and it allows you to crank up the eye candy in VR or in 4K, but its significantly higher cost than the aforementioned “cheaper” cards isn’t worth it for most people.

With that out of the way, if you don’t care to be cost-effective, out of all the RTX 3090 desktops I found in my search the Skytech Prism II is among the best “value” based on pricing at the time of writing. If it creeps up too far beyond $4000 though, I’d look elsewhere, but for around that price it’s an okay buy. I say okay because pretty much every single prebuilt PC in this price range is overpriced based on the component list you get, but considering the current GPU market of doom it could be your best bet at getting your hands on a RTX 3090 system these days.

See Also: Best 4K 144Hz Monitors for Gaming

The full component list of the Skytech Prism II is decent, but nothing fancy, and it does lack the latest WiFi 6 standard which is annoying for the price. But if you don’t care for that – perhaps you’re still using a WiFi 5 router which can still be blazing fast mind you – then this PC is worth a look. Again, assuming its price doesn’t creep too far beyond $4000 US (prebuilt prices fluctuate often). The system is well cooled with a ton of included fans and a 360mm AiO liquid cooler. Last but not least, you also get a large 1000 watt Gold-rated power supply, a must for such a powerful system.

Model Number: ‎ST-PRISMll-0302-B-AM

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X (12-Core)

CPU Cooler: 360mm AiO (Liquid Cooler)

GPU: NVidia GeForce RTX 3090 (24GB)

RAM: 16GB DDR4 3200MHz (2x8GB)

Motherboard: AMD X570 (Unspecified)

Storage: 1TB NVMe PCIe Gen4 (SSD)

Power Supply: 1000 Watt (80 Plus Gold)

Case: Phanteks Qube

Case Fans: 9x RGB (3 on AiO, 3 Top, 3 Bottom)

OS: Windows 10 Home

WiFi: Yes (802.11AC WiFi 5)

Other: Bluetooth, Keyboard and Mouse

Warranty: 1 Year

Honorable Mentions

MSI Aegis RS (Amazon / B&H)

Model: 11TF-223US

RTX 3080 Ti 12GB, Intel Core i7-11700K, 32GB 3000MHz DDR4, 2TB SSD, 2TB HDD, WiFi 6E

iBUYPOWER Pro (Amazon / B&H)

Model: TraceMR 224i

RTX 3090 24GB, Intel Core i9-11900KF, 32GB DDR4, 1TB SSD, 2TB HDD, WiFi 5

Specs to Look for When Choosing a Prebuilt PC

If you’re new to PC hardware, here are some basic things to keep in mind about choosing a good prebuilt desktop for gaming in terms of their parts-list. There are tons of specs and features that make up a computer, but these are the key things to know if you’re a gamer.

  • Look at Graphics Card First: For gaming, whether VR or not, the most important component of the computer by far is the graphics card (also called the GPU) since it has a huge say in what performance you’ll experience. So, when choosing and comparing prebuilt desktops, first look at the GPU in the specs to quickly weed out PCs that aren’t worth your time. If you want to make a smart purchase, before your hunt you should have at least a basic general idea of the modern GPU hierarchy – in other words, which cards are fastest right now, which are mid-range cards, and so on. Even computers marketed as “gaming PCs” may not necessarily have a good GPU inside, and oftentimes they include considerably less powerful GPUs than they could have included for that price. Stay on your toes and compare different prebuilt PCs around your price range to get a sense of the best GPU/s you could get in a system around that budget. See the gaming GPU buyer’s guide for more.
  • Check the CPU: The CPU also determines the gaming performance (read: frame rates) that your new system will offer you, but not anywhere near as much as the graphics card. Most prebuilt PCs with a good graphics card will have a sufficient CPU, so unless you have extra requirements other than gaming (eg very demanding non-gaming applications such as heavy video editing, or seriously heavy multitasking) then you often won’t have to worry too much about which CPU is included if you’re getting the graphics card that you want. But of course, do get a basic understanding of what CPU you’re getting and what sort of tier it is in terms of gaming performance. Oh and in general, you can’t go wrong with either Intel or AMD these days. In the past Intel was clearly better for gaming, but in recent years AMD caught up nicely and has even overtaken Intel in certain aspects. See the gaming CPU buyer’s guide for full details if interested. 
  • 16GB RAM is Ideal: For modern gaming, 8GB of RAM is the absolute minimum to shoot for, so don’t buy a prebuilt PC that doesn’t have at least this amount. However, 16GB of RAM is ideal, especially for VR gaming which are typically more demanding than flatscreen titles. 16GB will also make for a super fast multitasking machine. If you want to leave nothing to chance for the absolute most demanding games on the market now and over the coming few years, 32GB would be amazing but is a luxury and not a requirement. As for the speed of RAM, it doesn’t matter anywhere near as much as the amount of RAM, but the ideal these days is having RAM with a speed of 3000MHz or faster. On a cheaper PC, if the speed is only 2666MHz, don’t worry about it.
  • Always Get An SSD: These days there’s no excuse to not get a SSD as your main storage drive (where your operating system and other key programs/games will be stored). SSD are much more affordable these days, so if a prebuilt PC doesn’t include even a small 120GB-240GB one, then avoid that system at all costs. Any half decent prebuilt PC will have an SSD though. If you’re downloading a bunch of modern games, they can be quite large so you’ll ideally want a 1TB drive (500GB at the minimum). That said, you can always easily add a secondary drive to any prebuilt PC by either installing it inside the case (if there’s room) or by just using it externally (sitting on your desk). Lastly, if you’re spending a good amount on a gaming desktop, you’ll want to ensure the SSD it includes is a NVMe drive, which are faster than SATA drives. See the SSD buyer’s guide for more on SSDs.
  • Check the Power Supply: One very common downside to buying a prebuilt PC is the fact you’ll often be getting an average quality power supply (PSU) from a less than desirable brand. Do your research on the particular PSU that’s included in the system, especially if you are buying a more powerful system. For example, you really don’t want a cheap no-name PSU in a high-end RTX 3080 desktop for instance. You should also consider how much wattage the PSU has if you’re considering a future upgrade of your GPU, to ensure you have enough headroom. See the PSU buyer’s guide for full details.
  • Check WiFi Support: Most higher-end desktops will have wireless functionality, but some cheaper prebuilt PCs may not. So, if you need WiFi, check the specs. If it doesn’t have WiFi, you can always buy a WiFi card or USB adapter. Also, most prebuilts will have WiFi 5 (“AC”), but some have next-gen WiFi 6 (“AX”) for use with next-gen WiFi 6 routers. If you have one of these latest WiFi 6 routers, you’ll want a prebuilt with WiFi 6 in the spec sheet.
  • Consider Cooling: Last but definitely not least, if the gaming desktop you’re looking at is quite powerful, as in one that has a mid to high-end graphics card and a fast CPU, you want to ensure the system has good enough cooling for those particular parts. Especially if you want the system to run cool and/or quiet – some prebuilts don’t have very effective cooling out of the box and can run hot or loud. To gauge how good the cooling is before buying, it’s a good idea to read multiple customer (and professional if possible) reviews to get a sense, but never rely on just one review as gospel. If you are a bit more tech savvy, you can get a sense of how well the system is cooled in various ways such as looking into the specific case used in the build (and how well that case is designed for airflow, eg does it have a front mesh design that allows for air to easily get sucked into the case, or is it closed off?). How many fans are included is another way to assess the cooling, as well as how good the air or liquid cooler is relative to the CPU used.

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About Me

Indie game programmer currently working on my first official game release (after years of hobby projects), an atmospheric story-driven VR FPS built with Unreal Engine to be announced once I’m ready here and here (for anyone into VR FPS’s). Also likes writing about tech, which helps to fund development of the game.

My favs of all time are OOT, Perfect Dark, MGS1 and 2, GE007, DKC2, THPS3, HL1, WC3, Vice City, and KOTOR, with the most recent addition to my list of immortals being the VR masterpiece Half Life AlyxIf you want help with a new build or upgrade feel free to ask on the main PC builds guide. I try to respond to every comment. – Julz


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