Gaming is one area in which the desktop PC still reigns supreme despite smartphones being very powerful. Consoles are great, but they simply can’t match the graphical power of the latest gaming PCs or even gaming laptops.
Of course, you also get plenty of performance for all your non-gaming needs and a graphics card can also offer a considerable performance boost to other applications, such as photo and video editing software.
Your Buying Guide for the Best Gaming PCs in 2020
While you can go straight to the list below and buy a PC in the exact specification reviewed, it's worth understanding what to look for as each supplier allows you to customise and configure your PC to tailor it for your needs. We have also tested the best gaming laptops, which might be a better option. These are the best gaming phones if you want to game anywhere.
Different games place different demands on your computer hardware, but choosing a gaming PC will involve a balancing act between CPU and graphics performance.
For gaming PCs we’re happy to allow system builders to overclock processors, which can significantly increase performance without having to stump up for the most expensive chips from Intel and AMD.
Overclocked processors place additional demands on the system’s power supply and also require better cooling, so expect to pay more for PCs with more extreme overclocking. You can overclock the processor yourself if you wish, but it can be a good idea to buy a pre-overclocked system that's covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
There are several points to consider when choosing the right motherboard for your PC. If you’re not into technical details you may be tempted to overlook the motherboard and concentrate on the processor and graphics, but the motherboard is extremely important.
Not all motherboards support overclocking, and opting for a lower-cost motherboard can allow you to spend a little more on your graphics card, which can have a big impact on your final performance figures.
If you want the latest ports and connectors including USB 3.1 Gen 2 (which supports transfers at twice the speed of USB 3.0 - also known as USB 3.1 Gen 1) then make sure you check this before ordering. Also look out for USB-C and Thunderbolt support.
It’s usually the graphics card that will determine the overall quality of your gaming experience. This is why we suggest gamers go for a mid-range processor as the difference in price will almost certainly serve you better spent on the graphics card rather than on the CPU.
To ensure smooth gameplay, you generally want to achieve a minimum of 60 frames per second (fps) in your game. This is the limiting speed of most PC displays, so you won’t really need to go faster than this unless you have a high-speed gaming monitor that allows for faster refresh rates.
Any extra performance will then allow you to increase the quality settings in your game, making characters sharper, textures more realistic and graphical effects more immersive.
The most commonly found are from Nvidia and the latest range of RTX cards such as the 2070 Super. Cheaper options will include cards like the GTX 1660 Ti.
If your PC struggles to play games at 1080p – the minimum is considered 30 frames per second – then it’s not going to cope with running an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive which both have a 2160x1200 screen, especially if you want 90fps, which is the ideal frame rate for a decent experience.
Cases and cooling
We've already talked about processor cooling, but gamers tend to like their PC tower system to look the part as well. Many come with fans that light up in various colours, but don't overlook the fact that the case needs to be practical. Internal cable management aids airflow, while fan controllers let you reduce noise or boost cooling as necessary.
Graphics cards can also come with various cooling systems, the more advanced of which can allow for faster clock speeds on the GPU and less noise when playing games.
For more immersive gameplay, go for the largest display you can find and one with a good contrast ratio. TN-based monitors will cost less and provide most of these features, but IPS-based displays will give you better overall colour reproduction and wider viewing angles, although response times tend to be slower.
For a more responsive display, go for a gaming monitor with a high refresh rate of 120- or 144Hz, although you’ll need powerful graphics to supply frames at this speed. Check out our round-up of the best gaming monitors.
If you’re using your PC on a desk with a monitor, you’ll benefit from the improved responsiveness of wired rather than wireless devices. Look for high-resolution mice, and keyboards with programmable keys and backlighting.
High-grade mechanical switches in keyboards have a better ‘feel’ and provide longer life than cheap membrane switches. Here are the best gaming keyboards.
A gaming sound card can provide a more immersive experience by adding multiple sound effects, with improved audio fidelity. Also consider a gaming headset with a built-in mic.
Warranty terms are crucial when it comes to gaming PCs and a key advantage of buying a pre-built overclocked PC is that all of the overclocking will be tested and covered by the vendor’s warranty. The longer the warranty the better, but also look for a collect-and-return rather than return-to-base option. Also pay attention to whether parts and labour are both covered and for how long.
Best Gaming PCs 2020
- Reviewed on: 3 July 2019
PC Specialist has built one of the best gaming PCs you can get thanks to a careful balance of price, specs and performance.
It doesn't come with the most exciting or versatile case and the same is true of the motherboard so upgrading later on isn't going to be the easiest thing. Everything is kept neat and tidy and cooling isn't an issue.
Importantly, the money is spent where it counts and the combination of a Core i7 and RTX 2070 at this price is excellent. This machine won't stretch to 4K at amazing framerates, but can handle 1080p and 1440p with ease. The processor is also great for mainstream office applications, too, so this machine is suitable for work and play.
For us, it's the most well-rounded system you can buy at the moment.
Read our PC Specialist Vulcan S2 review.
- Reviewed on: 18 October 2019
If you're looking for a great balance of things in a gaming PC then this effort from MSI really does fit the bill.
Available at just over £1,000 it won't break the bank like many rivals but has solid gaming performance from the RTX 2060 inside - and the Core i5 is a decent enough chip.
You'll be tempted if you need a compact system as that's the idea here, even if build quality is a little shaky in places. Otherwise you can find the same GPU in cheaper and larger systems.
Read our MSI Trident A (9th) review.
- Reviewed on: 2 January 2020
If you want gaming performance at an affordable price then look no further than AlphaBeta's machine.
Despite coming in at under £1,000, it packs an Nvidia RTX 2070 Super graphics card. This comes inside a stunning glass case, too, and the Core i5 chip is fairly decent - albeit not ideal for intense work purposes but this is a gaming focused PC.
Elsewhere things could be better such as the storage, ports and memory, but they don't hamper the machine enough to stop us recommending it - especially at this price.
Read our AlphaBeta i5 RTX review.
- Reviewed on: 6 December 2018
If you can afford it, the Juggernaut 2080 is one of the best gaming PCs around at the moment.
You'll be spending more than many rivals but the performance on offer here from the overclocked Core i5 and RTX 2080 justifies the extra cost. We're very impressed with the benchmarks all-round, especially gaming framerates at high settings.
We only have minor complaints so we're sure you'll be happy with this rig for years to come.
Read our Chillblast Fusion Juggernaut 2080 review.
- Reviewed on: 2 May 2019
The Hoplite will reach 100+ FPS in games at 1080p providing a smooth gaming experience for high refresh-rate monitors and will continue to do so for the next few years at the very least.
However, if you're looking to game at 4K resolution, this machine will struggle to reach a consistent 60FPS in the latest titles.
Read our Overclockers Hoplite review.
- Reviewed on: 2 April 2018
You probably shouldn’t buy the Acer Predator Orion 9000. It’s a luxury purchase for those with enough money to throw at a PC which will exceed reasonable requirements for almost every gamer. But we certainly can’t blame you for wanting one.
If you know you will be able to make use of its immense multi-tasking capabilities and still want superb gaming performance, then you may be able to justify the purchase. But if you have this sort of money and you want the fastest gaming system you can get, you’ll probably be better off going for a system based on a Core i7-8700K.
The Acer Predator Orion 9000 is as expensive as it is powerful. If you’re happy to throw all ideas of value-for-money out of the window, it will make you the envy of your peers thanks both to its looks and breath-taking performance.
- Reviewed on: 14 February 2019
The Warbird i7S is a decent own-brand effort from GAME, mainly because it's made by Yoyotech. And this PC is a great mid-range all-rounder.
There's not much flair in terms of lighting and such but the case is solid and the system is well-built. What you're mainly getting here is a beefy overclocked Core i7 that can take on anything backed up by an RTX 2070 so you're setup for 4K gaming.
The Chillblast Fusion Juggernaut is worth a look to get the RTX 2080 if you can afford the price difference.
Read our Yoyotech Warbird i7S review.
- Reviewed on: 10 October 2019
If you can't afford a more expensive gaming machine and simply want to plug-and-play without tinkering with what's inside then the Asus ROG Strix GL10CS is a reasonable option.
This machine will comfortably handle 1080p gaming and day-to-day computing tasks, too. Just be aware that build quality isn't great and the specs are nothing special when you look beyond the CPU and GPU.
It's also pretty noisy so there are downsides to buying a budget machine.
Read our Asus ROG Strix GL10CS review.
- Reviewed on: 1 May 2017
The Mesh Ryzen 7 Gaming PC-A is beautifully built, but ultimately flawed in its configuration. Let down by a slow SSD and a non-overclocked graphics card, yet coming with an unnecessarily expensive operating system, we feel this PC could do much better with a couple of minor tweaks to the spec.
Read our Mesh Ryzen 7 Gaming PC-A review.