Our favorite gaming desktops make the latest consoles look pathetic

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. So which one is the best gaming desktop money can buy?

Well, 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.

Our pick

Digital Storm Velox

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 the best of the best, and don’t mind dropping some serious dough

How much will it cost: $1,659+, depending on specs

Why we picked the Digital Storm Velox

Not only does Digital Storm’s Velox own the distinction of housing Intel’s Core i7-7700K processor — it also overclocked that processor to a ridiculous 5GHz, and cleared our tests with flying colors. Simply put, the Velox is among the most powerful gaming desktops you can buy. And if the i7-7700K isn’t to your tastes, well, you can get a Core i7-6950X, or one of AMD’s new Ryzen processors.

Despite its speed and extravagance, opening up the Velox and tinkering with its innards is far less intimidating than performing the same process on other rigs, due to its intuitive case design, which eschews screws and buttons in favor of simple pegs that pop in and out with little effort.

You can essentially trick out the Velox to no end (playing with options on Digital Storm’s website, we managed to jack the overall price up to over $30,000), but our review model ran short of $5,000, and it absolutely hauled digital ass.

Altogether, the Velox is hard to beat — on top of being incredibly powerful, it looks great, and it’s easy to fiddle with. If you want a future-proof PC, this is just about your best bet.

Our review

The best compact gaming desktop

Falcon Northwest Tiki

Falcon Northwest Tiki (2015)
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: $2,230 – $4,200, depending on specs

Why we picked the Falcon Northwest Tiki

The Falcon Northwest Tiki actually scored a little better than the Velox in our review, but they’re very different machines. Digital Storm’s desktop is a powerhouse, and that’s reflected in its aesthetic; the custom metal chassis is certainly a joy to behold, but we wouldn’t classify it as minimalistic. Sure, it’s less flashy than many gaming rigs, but it’s still eye-catching, and takes up a decent chunk of real estate. The Tiki takes after a different tradition, trading visuals and a luxuriant interior for economy of space. This thing is tiny.

It’s 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 Origin PCs are hot rods 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.

Our review

The best affordable gaming desktop

Dell Inspiron 5675 Gaming Desktop

Why you should buy this: You want performance without breaking the bank

Who it’s for: Budget-minded gamers who want a slick gaming rig

How much will it cost: Starts at $650, tested at $950

Why we picked the Dell Inspiron 5675

Not everyone wants (or is able) to spend thousands on a gaming PC. Luckily, there are potent options out there for even the most frugal gamers, and Dell’s Inspiron 5675 is at the top of the list.

If you’re a fiend for gorgeous graphics, you can find better options, but few — if any — desktops offer the same level of power as the Inspiron for such a reasonable price. At 1080p, but it’ll play demanding games like Battlefield 1 without breaking a sweat.

In Battlefield 1, the Inspiron and its RX 580 never dipped below 60 FPS at 1440p, even at ultra-high detail settings. To be fair though, our review unit wasn’t the basic $650 model, but a slightly upgraded model which retails for $950. Either way, it’s still an exceptionally capable machine at a bargain basement price.

The Dell Inspiron 5675 is a solid performer with a few drawbacks, but its low price and solid gaming performance make it a good choice, especially if you’re looking to step into the world of PC gaming for the first time.

Our review

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.

Updated 10-3-17: Added the Dell Inspiron 5675 as the most affordable gaming desktop.