Best Gaming Desktop PC Windows Central 2020

If you thought you had to build a gaming PC to get the most out of it, you'd be wrong. There are amazing pre-built rigs out there, like the HP Omen Obelisk, that give you all the fun without any of the fuss. And you're not excluded from upgrading it yourself, either.

Best Overall - HP Omen Obelisk

HP's Omen Obelisk is large, powerful, and ultra-impressive. In an era where building your PC is so common, many manufacturers are trying to think outside the box with their desktop rigs. However, HP just grabbed the box, made it look like the sort of PC you might put together yourself, then proceeded to stuff it with LED lighting and all the hardware you can shake a stick at.

On the one hand, you might say the design is uninspiring, but to the PC gamer, this is a machine where function is the primary concern, and ease of access is paramount. You simply pull the glass side panel off, and you have free access to all internal components, all of which can be upgraded over time.

The Obelisk boasts the high-end of the NVIDIA RTX GPU lineup, CPUs from either Intel or AMD's respective gamer-friendly desktop lineup, DDR4 RAM from HyperX, SSD storage, and Intel's Optane memory if you wish. Literally, everything is replaceable, including the case fans, and the bottom line is that this is a PC any enthusiast would be happy with. HP did the work for you, though.

Reasons to buy

  • User upgradeable
  • Powerful
  • Straightforward design
  • Affordable entry model

Reasons not to buy

  • No optical drive
  • Limited PCIe expansion

Best Overall

HP Omen Obelisk

A no-fuss rig enthusiasts will love

The Obelisk does away with fancy design and simply packs powerful parts into an easy to access case that makes it easy to live with for any PC gamer.

Runner-Up - Alienware Aurora R11

Aurora R11 Source: Alienware

Just like its parent Dell brand, Alienware has been making some amazing hardware recently. The Aurora is one such example, revived and reborn with a whole new design that's both striking and clever.

Thanks to touches like the swing-out vertically mounted power supply, you get more space for other goodies. You can squeeze in a pair of graphics cards as well as a liquid cooler for the CPU. You also get plenty of space for additional drive bays. It's a little awkward to work in, but there's still a significant opportunity for user upgrades. Or, if you prefer, spec up an entry-level or beast mode build from the factory.

It isn't even that expensive at the entry-level. While you're not getting the most powerful parts on the cheaper models, the ease of upgrade means you're not limited by what you can initially afford. Adding more RAM or a new graphics card is completely tool-free and takes just a couple of minutes. What the Aurora offers is something for everyone: those on a tighter budget, those looking for ridiculous power, those hoping to upgrade in the future, and everyone else in between.

Reasons to buy

  • Lots of configurations
  • User upgradeable
  • Powerful
  • Fairly compact
  • Inexpensive entry point

Reasons not to buy

  • No optical drive
  • Awkward internal design

Runner-Up

Alienware Aurora R11

The latest Alienware Aurora is an incredible thing

The latest Aurora now comes with 10th Gen Intel processors and up to dual RTX 2080 Ti GPUs.

Best Small Form - MSi Trident 3

Msi Trident 3Source: MSi

There is a fashion for large gaming PCs with mad cases and more RGB lights than a Vegas hotel, but not everyone wants or has the space for a colossal rig. It's also not necessary anymore, with some truly amazing and small gaming PCs like the MSi Trident 3.

It's about the same size as a games console, and yet has an eight-core i7 processor and an NVIDIA RTX 2060 Super GPU inside it. That's pretty remarkable, and when you add 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, you wonder why you'd ever want a large PC again. If you often take your PC on the go to LAN parties, this is a perfect option.

Parts are upgradeable, though due to the unique design of the Trident 3 you'll have to put in a little work. But even if you're not down for that, what you get out of the box is plenty to keep you gaming for years to come.

Reasons to buy

  • Compact build
  • Lots of gaming power
  • Good price
  • Lots of ports

Reasons not to buy

  • Tough to upgrade
  • Still on 9th Gen processor

Best small form

MSi Trident 3

Despite its tiny size, this PC still packs a punch

The form factor means it's a fraction of the size of a regular gaming rig, while still packing an RTX 2060 Super and 8-core Intel Core i7 processor.

Best Budget - HP Pavilion Desktop

PC gaming can get expensive, but if you were worried that you couldn't engage without spending a fortune, worry no longer. For not a lot of money, you can get this excellent desktop PC from HP that serves as both a solid entry point to gaming as well as keeping your budget firmly in check.

With a combination of a Ryzen 5 and 8GB RX 580 GPU, both from AMD, you're well placed for 1080p gaming, and the RX 580, in particular, is a good piece of kit to get at this price point. The only real drawback to it is that you're limited to a single HDMI output; the only other option is DisplayPort, which isn't all that common on budget gaming monitors right now.

The Pavilion also serves well as a workhorse, with an understated design, a whole bundle of ports for connecting additional hardware and displays. The most affordable versions rely on AMD hardware, but HP now offers NVIDIA RTX GPUs as an alternative if you're prepared to pay a bit more.

Reasons to buy

  • Amazing price
  • Excellent graphics card options
  • Stylish and compact
  • Plenty of ports

Reasons not to buy

  • No optical drive on latest refresh
  • Longer graphics cards might not fit

Best budget

HP Pavilion Desktop

Spending a little can still get you a lot

Not all PC gamers want to spend thousands or need the power from the top-of-the-line GPUs. For not a lot, you can get an HP Pavilion Desktop with a Ryzen 5 processor and 8GB AMD RX 580 graphics card.

Best for Work - Dell XPS 8930

XPS 8930

While RGB is all the rage these days in gaming PCs, such a thing isn't suited to an office environment, at home or work. Some just want a powerful PC that can game without it screaming, "I'm a gamer." That's where the superb Dell XPS 8930 comes in.

It's pretty stylish to look at, although it's a bit boring by the standard of most gaming PCs, anyway. XPS is Dell's professional brand, and the 8930 fits right into that, except it's also packing some serious horsepower for gaming.

Dell has a whole host of configurations to choose from, all of which offer dedicated graphics from NVIDIA, including the RTX 2060 or the GTX 1080. It has also been updated to offer 9th Gen Intel processors, and since it uses standard parts, much is upgradeable. Dell also uses superfast NVMe SSD storage, so this is a desktop PC that can hang with the best of them.

Reasons to buy

  • Lots of configurations
  • Easy to upgrade
  • Powerful
  • Optical drive

Reasons not to buy

  • Can get expensive
  • Entry-level a little underpowered

Best for Work

Dell XPS 8930

Looks like an office PC, games like a champion

If you want a PC to game on that doesn't look like a teenager designed it, here it is. The Dell XPS tower is sleek and powerful.

Conclusion

There are a lot of great pre-built gaming PCs out there but it's hard to do better than the HP Omen Obelisk right now. You can either save money now and upgrade it down the line or spec it up out of the box with all the power you could ever want. It's easy to live with and trades wild design for user-friendliness.

What's also very apparent right now is that there's a good selection of affordable gaming PCs, too. Even the Obelisk can be had for a very attractive entry-level price. It's no longer necessary to build your PC to get the best deals.

And the Obelisk is so well designed that beginners and enthusiasts alike will fall in love with it. It can be all the PC you need for many years to come.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Richard Devine Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming.

Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.

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