Finding the right gaming desktop can be a serious chore. Sorting through Amazon feedback, spec sheets, and parsing countless reviews for details relevant to your needs can be a massive headache, but we’re here to help.
It seems like we get new gaming desktops to review every week, and each one comes with its own quirks and eccentricities. Let’s be honest, the internals in all the top-of-the-line desktops are going to be remarkably similar.
When you’re buying a high-end gaming desktop you should be on the lookout for more than just raw performance. Any machine in the same price category will be capable of hitting similar benchmarks. What you’re really looking for in a long term solution is something with manageable quirks, features and eccentricities. You want a gaming desktop that reflects you and your needs, without compromising its horsepower.
Most of all, a gaming computer should be fun, so we’ve got the picks to keep the whole process from turning into a stressful mess.
Why you should buy this: You’re in it for the long haul, you want the best gaming rig on the market, and you want to keep it up to date.
Who it’s for: Gamers who want a stylish jet engine on their desk
How much will it cost: $1,800 – $12,000, depending on specs
Why we picked the Origin Millennium
Unmitigated power, in a big bold package. That’s what you get with the Origin Millennium. It’s brash, brazen, and doesn’t pull any punches. If you want the best gaming desktop on the market, and a one with plenty of room inside, the Origin is the choice for you.
With stellar performance in most modern games at 1440p and ultra-high detail settings, the Origin Millennium leaves most of the competition in the dust no matter how you configure it. You can’t talk about the Millennium without discussing its appearance. All that power is wrapped up in a matte black case with glowing LEDs and carbon fiber details. It’s out there, and it’s not to everyone’s taste. But hold your judgment and take a look inside.
Inside that brash exterior lies the heart of a gaming desktop you can upgrade over and over. You can remove and replace any single component without moving anything else, it’s an under-appreciated feature but when you’re digging around trying to install a new GPU or a couple new sticks of RAM, that extra space really comes in handy.
Plus, you won’t have to dig into a rats nest of cables every time you want to upgrade it, or give the interior a quick cleaning.
The Origin Millennium is capable and powerful, and has all the features you need to keep it that way.
The best compact gaming desktop
Why you should buy this: You’re looking for something small, dense, and deceptively powerful (like a neutron star).
Who it’s for: Gamers who want compact, understated power
How much will it cost: $1,900 – $4,200, depending on specs
Why we picked the Falcon Northwest Tiki
The Tiki actually scored a little better than the Origin in our review, but they’re very different machines. The Origin is a flashy desktop, loud and bright — what you would expect out of a gaming desktop. It epitomizes and celebrates a certain “gaming gear” aesthetic with its glowing lights and carbon fiber. The Tiki takes after a different tradition, trading visuals and a luxuriant interior for economy of space. This thing is tiny.
It’s is also a good choice if you’re averse to some of the flashier gaming PCs out there. Not everyone has a taste for neon red and flashing lights. Like most high-end gaming rigs, you can customize the appearance of the Tiki, but there’s something about its sleek, professional design that lends itself well to shades of black.
If the Origin is a cherry-red hot rod with racing stripes, the Tiki is a slick black sports coupe with tinted windows and growling engine. Really, it growls. It’s a little loud, particularly under a heavy load, but given how small it is, you could tuck this thing under your desk to muffle the worst of the fan noise. Or just sit it out in the open and enjoy the sound of a miniature jet engine.
There are quieter gaming PCs out there, but you might have to make a few compromises.
The best affordable gaming desktop
Why you should buy this: You want performance without breaking the bank.
Who it’s for: Budget-minded gamers who don’t want to pay extra for glowing lights and custom paint jobs
How much will it cost: $800 – $1,200 depending on specs
Why we picked the Dell XPS 8900
The Dell XPS 8900 is a sleeper. It’s easy to ignore because it’s inexpensive and doesn’t really look like a gaming desktop, but it’ll sneak up on you. Even at its most inexpensive, budget spec, it can handle gaming at 1440p reasonably well.
You might have to turn down that anti-aliasing, but a little over $1,000, the Dell XPS 8900 performs more than admirably. It can crank out 60FPS in Battlefield 4 on ultra-high settings at 1440p. That’s right, this little guy can seriously compete with more expensive, flashier, bigger desktops on the market and can be configured down to less than $1,000.
Not to mention, it’s surprisingly quiet. The case is small and compact, and the air-cooled internals remain barely audible even while gaming. Under heavy load, there’s still an audible hum, but only if you really listen for it.
The Dell XPS 8900 is a great choice if you’re looking for a gaming solution that won’t leave a serious dent in your bank account, while still offering up serious performance in a small, unassuming package.
How we test
You’ve read our reviews. You’ve read our conclusions. And now you’re wondering how we came to them. Reviews often lack context. We’ll give out a score and analyze the finer points of desktop performance, but how do we reach those conclusions? How do we test these machines?
Allow us to lift the veil. Here we’ll explain the benchmarks we use for objective testing and the perspective from which we approach subjective topics. We don’t expect everyone to agree with our opinions, but we hope that sharing our process will leave you better equipped to decide what desktop best fits your needs.