What is a gaming computer?

Gaming is a billion-dollar industry that is more popular than ever, and new consoles continue to hit the market. While the PS5 and Xbox Series X are still popular, a gaming computer setup can take your gameplay to the next level. You can certainly play games on a regular computer. Still, because of the high resolution and extremely fast frame rates, a decent gaming computer is a must for any competitive gamer looking to optimize performance.

However, there is no one-size-fits-all gaming computer, and many enthusiasts opt to build a gaming computer on their own by purchasing the main components separately since they can customize their gaming experience. Gaming computers are also versatile and can be more beneficial than a traditional computer for graphic design, animation, or simply streaming movies and TV.

Shop this article: Gigabyte GeForce RTX 4090 Gaming OC 24G Graphics CardSceptre Curved 24-inch Gaming Monitor and Alienware Aurora R10.

Build your own vs. pre-built gaming computers

What sets pre-built gaming PCs apart is the design and the infrastructure. You’re paying for more than just the parts; you’re paying for the warranty, support and the knowledge that it was properly assembled. Given how quickly technology can advance, it’s beneficial to look for models that are easy to upgrade. This prevents you from having to purchase a brand-new system down the road.

Building a gaming computer can be beneficial if you have the knowledge. This lets you take advantage of discounts, sales, coupon codes, and combo deals on individual components. It also makes it easy to upgrade your rig, and you can reuse parts and components that aren’t outdated for your new gaming setup.

Laptop or desktop?

The differences between a gaming laptop and a desktop are similar to your choices when purchasing a regular PC. If low cost and portability are a priority, then laptops are ideal. Desktops are better suited for those who seek higher performance and the ability to upgrade more easily.

Desktop gaming computers can reach speeds that are simply unachievable by gaming laptops, especially if they’ve been overclocked.

Essential components of a gaming computer


 Intel Core i5-13400 Desktop Processor blue box on white background

Think of the central processing unit as the brain of your computer. CPUs range from four cores and four threads for beginners to eight cores and 12 threads for more advanced users. They can even get more powerful if so desired, but that has minimal impact when it comes to gaming since most modern games will only partially use most of the cores. Still, if you plan on streaming while you play, it can’t hurt to invest in a CPU with as many cores as possible.

Graphics cards

 GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 4090 Gaming OC 24G Graphics Card on white background

Graphic processing units (GPU) are essential because they are the heart and soul of your computer. High-quality graphics cards are worth the investment if you’re replacing your existing gaming computer or building your own.


G.SKILL Trident Z5 RGB Series (Intel XMP 3.0) DDR5 RAM 32GB on white background

Random access memory is an essential component for getting the most out of your gaming rig, as it will boost your system responsiveness and can improve your overall framerate. Between 8 and 16 gigabytes of RAM is sufficient for most modern games while leaving plenty of room for other applications. 


Sceptre 24" Curved 75Hz Gaming LED Monitor on white background

Monitors are often sold separately, and the size you need depends on how close you plan to sit to your station. 24- to 27-inch gaming monitors are considered ideal unless sitting extremely close. Full high-definition monitors are some of the most popular, as they provide a better visual experience.

Cooling system

DeepCool AK620 CPU Air Cooler on white background

Overheating can damage your equipment over time, which will degrade your PC’s performance and your gaming experience. The more processing power, the more heat your computer can generate. When buying a cooling system, it’s important to consider the additional noise created by the fan. Quiet models, such as the DeepCool AK620 are generally preferred, but you’ll be able to hear the whining of the fans no matter how quiet it is. In general, fan noise is less noticeable if your case is sealed.

What you can expect to spend on a gaming computer

High-end gaming computer cost

Corsair iCUE H100i Elite CAPELLIX XT Liquid CPU Cooler on white background

How much does a gaming computer cost? A high-end model will cost you well over $1,000 dollars and can go significantly beyond that for the best of the best. They have top-end processing power and luxuries like liquid cooling. Many are compatible with virtual reality tech, so they can run the most complex games.

Moderate-end gaming computer cost

These run between $600 and $900. They still have solid processing power and decent graphics cards but lack some of the more expensive models’ high-end features. Upgrades might be required much sooner.

Low-end gaming computer cost

If on a budget, you can purchase a gaming computer for $400 to $600. However, you will most likely need to upgrade sooner to include the newest tech and make it compatible with the latest accessories and games. In this price range, tradeoffs are often necessary, and it’s beneficial if you can swap out certain components. 

The best gaming computers

Alienware Aurora R15 desktop computer on white background

Alienware Aurora R15

From a trusted brand in the industry, this Alienware gaming computer is a powerful unit with a fast processor. It is easy to set up and upgrade. Customers are happy with the audio quality, and the case is compact, so it doesn’t take up much room.  

Corsair Vengeance i7400 Series computer on white background

Corsair Vengeance i7400 Series

This model comes with 1 terabyte of built-in storage and an impressive 32GB of RAM, meaning you’ll likely never have to worry about lag. It has a liquid-cooled Intel Core i7 13700K CPU and gorgeous RGB components.

Cooler Master 30th Year Anniversary Cosmos Infinity Gaming PC on white background

Cooler Master 30th Year Anniversary Cosmos Infinity Gaming PC

This PC features a bold design, with unique contours and RGB lighting. The transparent siding gives you a full view of the internal components, including the liquid cooling system and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080-32GB DDR5 graphics card.

Dell XPS 8960 computer on white background

Dell XPS 8960

An excellent choice for those who aren’t looking to break the bank. This option doesn’t include flashy RGB lighting or a liquid cooling system. Still, its 16 GB of RAM and Intel UHD 770 Graphics, which is built into the processor, is more than enough for the average gamer.

ASUS ROG Strix GL10DH computer on white background


A solid gaming computer for those shopping on a budget. It’s optimized for multitasking and is virtual reality-ready. Consumers have been happy with the fast load times and easy setup.

Skytech Chronos Gaming PC on white background

Skytech Chronos Gaming PC

This budget PC includes RGB lighting, clear side panels, and 16GB of RAM, ensuring you’ll rarely deal with lagging games. The 1TB solid state drive gives you plenty of room to store gaming videos and other files, and the NVIDIA Geforce RTX 4070 Ti 12GB GDDR6X graphics card offers a solid visual experience.

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Ryan Dempsey writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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