I play most of my games the same way I read a good paperback: Curled up on the couch or in bed. I mean, where else can we go right now? I’m usually glued to my Nintendo Switch or laptop; they’re great for everyday gaming. But sometimes I get a craving for something a little more immersive, a gaming experience with razor-sharp graphics and a buttery-smooth refresh rate. That’s where a desktop comes in handy.
A good gaming desktop can deliver high-fidelity visuals unrivaled by even the most powerful laptop or game console. Paired with the right peripherals—a quick and responsive mouse, a mechanical keyboard, and a good headset—a gaming PC can transform any desk into a battle station, an altar to the gods of burnished aluminum and singing silicon.
Choosing a gaming desktop is no easy feat, though. With a product this expensive, it pays to do some research. There are a ton of numbers, specs, and components you need to figure out, and we’ve crunched ’em all. It feels good to build something with your own hands, but if you don’t want the hassle of building your own PC, these are the best gaming desktops we’ve tested at WIRED.
Updated September 2020: We’ve added the Lenovo Legion C730 Mini Gaming Cube, put some descriptions of the specs you’ll want for each model, and updated the links and prices throughout this guide.