The best pre-built gaming PCs give you all of the high-performance hardware you need to play the most demanding PC video games—without the hassle of actually building a system yourself. Pre-built systems cost a small premium over the do-it-yourself approach, but the convenience can be worth it if you’re short on time or expertise.
If you just want to start gaming at higher frame rates, resolutions and detail settings straight away, a pre-built gaming PC is a great way to upgrade your gaming experience today. While you’re upping your PC gaming gear game, also consider one of the best gaming headsets. Here are some of the best pre-built gaming PCs you can buy today.
Best Pre-Built Gaming PC Overall
Quality And Performance At A Fair Price
Best Compact Pre-Built Gaming PC
A Console-like Gaming PC
Best High-End Pre-Built Gaming PC
Cutting Edge Performance
Best Pre-Built Gaming PC Under $1,000
Easily Outclassing The Competition
Best Pre-Built Gaming PC For Speed
As Fast As It Gets
Best Pre-Built Gaming PC Under $1,500
Save Big On This Super Powered PC
Best Beginner Pre-Built Gaming PC
Best Budget Pre-Built Gaming PC
Powerful Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Graphics At A Low Price
What To Consider When Buying A Pre-Built Gaming PC
When you buy a pre-built gaming PC from one of the major brands, the focus is on the convenience of buying ready-to-go out of the box. You don’t need to worry as much about all the intricacies of how the system is put together, but you do need to factor in important specifications and features. For this story, we looked at pre-built systems sold as a pre-configured package. Some manufacturers also sell directly, and have self-configure options if you know the specific set of components you want in your pre-built gaming system.
The heart of any gaming PC is the processor, or CPU. It’s not the linchpin of gaming performance it once was, but it’s still important. You want a recent CPU—Intel 10th, 11th or 12th generation CPUs, or AMD Ryzen 3000 or 5000—and something with at least four cores. That’s typically Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 and up.
Great mid-range CPU options include the Ryzen 5 5600X and the Intel Core i5-12600K, with high-end systems targeting the Intel Core i7-12700K and Core i9-12900K, or the AMD Ryzen 5 5800X and Ryzen 7 5800X3D.
This is the most important component for any gaming PC. Graphics cards can get expensive, though, and it helps to target a card that best matches your use.
If you’re looking to run esports games at 1080p, you can get away with a budget GPU or at least top out at the mid-range. Higher-end cards are better for 2K (also referred to as 1440p) and 4K resolutions in AAA games. Look for budget options like the AMD Radeon RX 6400, or the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super, or more mid-range cards like the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, and Radeon RX 6600.
For higher-end systems where you want to hit those higher detail settings and frame rates, look for at least an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 or AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT, but you’ll get better 4K performance out of top cards like the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, and Radeon RX 6850 XT. The best performance can be had with the RTX 3090 and 3090 Ti, but know that they are very expensive.
RAM is something that can really hamstring your system if you don’t have enough of it. Make sure you have at least 8GB, and better yet 16GB for mid-range gaming and everyday tasks both. For maximum performance, look for systems with 32GB of RAM, best for the latest and most demanding games at the highest resolution.
As far as speed goes, your memory should be at least 3,000MHz or faster; below that you’ll really see a drop off in performance. If you want cutting edge performance and you’re buying a compatible Intel 12th generation system, then consider the newer DDR5 memory too. While DDR5 memory is faster than DDR4, but note the performance uplift isn’t huge and the price increase can be dramatic.
The only absolute must with gaming PC storage is that you need an SSD. Look for an NVMe SSD for your boot drive and game drive. NVMe is significantly faster than a SATA SSD; NVMe drives typically maintain 3.5GBps sustained read/write throughput, as compared with SATA’s 600MBps. You want at least 256GB, but you’ll have more space for larger games if you target at least 512GB.
If you want to store a lot of photos, video, or audio, consider a secondary external hard drive for a more affordable long-term storage solution.
The computer’s chassis is important in gaming, and not just because you might want to make a statement with the case’s aesthetic touches. Case design takes on more importance for pre-built gaming PCs, because system cooling becomes imperative when running CPUs and graphics cards at max for hours on end. Make sure the case has at least one intake fan and one exhaust fan, and ideally has dust filters on the intakes. Cable management, expansion bays and RGB lighting will vary dramatically from PC to PC, so be sure to check individual reviews for specific recommendations.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pre-Built Gaming PCs
Are Pre-Built Gaming PCs Worth It?
Definitely. A pre-built gaming PC is a great way to start playing your favorite games straight away without having to build the system yourself. You’ll still have to install some games and your favorite programs, but it’s a much quicker way to get gaming, and you can often get a more powerful mix of components for the price in a gaming desktop than a gaming laptop.
You also get more support, extra warranty coverage and guarantees that mean if your new PC fails for whatever reason in the first year (or more, depending on the manufacturer and warranty you select on purchase) you can have someone fix it for you, rather than having to troubleshoot it yourself. Pre-built gaming PCs are great for those who just want to game and don’t care about learning how it all works themselves.
Can You Upgrade Pre-Built Gaming PCs?
Typically, yes, so long as the system’s motherboard has available internal connectors to support adding additional RAM or storage. Beyond that, pre-built gaming PCs and gaming PCs you put together yourself are the same. Some cases are more difficult to navigate and aren’t as easy to open as others, a factor to dig deeper on if upgrade potential is important to you.
Is It Cheaper To Build Your Own Gaming PC?
Almost always. Since you aren’t paying for someone’s time to build it for you or give a warranty, you can typically save money by building your own gaming PC. You’ll also be able to maximize your budget to focus on the components most important to you. All of the pre-built gaming PC picks above are selected for their mix of components at a given price. One gotcha with pre-built PCs: Manufacturers might skimp on one component in favor of another to hit a specific price.
When you build your own gaming PC, you can make sure that the GPU matches your needs and you’re not overspending on the case or unnecessary extras, and that you have enough storage and memory for what you want to do with it. The only caveat to all of this is that many graphics card prices are still sky high. If you want a high-end GPU for your next PC build, buying a pre-built can sometimes be cheaper.