The best gaming PCs in 2016

Posted on 11/10 17:50 in | 0

Gaming on PC is the only way to get the very best versions of multiplatform games because - unlike a console - PCs can be upgraded, piece by piece, to keep them up to speed with the latest technology. While it’s true putting together a rig from separate components you buy and install yourself is cheaper than forking out for a pre-built system, not everyone wants to screw a motherboard into a case or stress out applying thermal compound to a CPU. If you’d rather all the hard work was done for you, our list of the best gaming PCs has you covered.

If you want to play games at framerates and resolutions far above what PS4 or Xbox One can deliver, the PCs we’ve chosen are up to the task. Now, because of the sheer flexibility and wealth of components involved in PC gaming, there really is no ‘ultimate pre-defined set-up’. What you’ll find here are a range of US and UK machines to fit a variety of budgets. So whether you want the best 4K/60fps experience money can buy, or are happy to go with a budget rig that will still outperform consoles, you’ll find a gaming PC to match your needs here.

4K gaming doesn’t have to cost the Earth… merely several of its continents. StormForce’s oh so sultry, UK-only Tornado rig is still a significant outlay, but when you consider that investment gets you a Windows 10 PC with a GTX 1070 and 16GB of 2133MHz Kingston HyperX Fury DDR4 RAM, your money is actually going a long way. Nvidia’s stellar GPU is only outmuscled by the Green Team’s 1080 and Titan X models, and with 8GB of onboard RAM, this is graphics card can deliver the goods at 4K… with a few tweaks. 

Playing games at 60fps on ultra settings is going to be off the table for more demanding titles if you hope to stay at 2160p, but dropping down to high/medium presets should net respectable framerates. At 1440p, though, the GTX 1070 is a brilliant performer, and you’ll have no problem hitting 60fps at a resolution that still offers a tangible upgrade over 1080p. Our only real gripe with this rig is the decision to build it around a slightly underpowered Intel Core i5 CPU, rather than an i7.

Best for... Those who want decent 4K results and/or excellent 2K performance

The G20CB is not your average looking rig. This stylish, superbly compact PC sports such a bold, futuristic design it could pass for the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey… well, provided you could get some tiny chimpanzees to rub up and down it. At a little over 14 inches tall, and 13 inches long, the G20 isn’t much bigger than a PS4, yet thanks to its respectable innards, it runs rings around Sony’s sales-conquering console. 

Despite its mini form factor, the G20 is no slouch when it comes to power. Packing a GTX 1070 and 16GB of RAM, this teeny rig can comfortably hand in a rock solid 1440p/60fps in many modern titles, while 4K isn’t totally off the table in well optimised games. The G20 also boasts an Oculus-ready seal of approval, meaning it’s capable of delivering the required 90fps needed to effectively combat VR motion sickness. 

Best for... VR enthusiasts who also want a beautifully formed, space-saving PC

How important is resolution to you? If your inner obsessive pixel counter yearns for Ultra HD gaming like your lungs crave oxygen, then Acer’s G1-710-70001 should be right up your 4K alley. Boasting the world’s second most powerful GPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a beefy Intel Core i7-6700 CPU, this demonic looking box can comfortably deliver respectable performance at 2160p. Indeed, Nvidia’s GTX 1080 is such a monster, it nails 4K/60fps in many modern titles. 

The only slight downer is the fact Acer chose to include the vanilla i7-6700, not the K version. It means overclocking with this rig’s processor is limited, which may hobble performance a little in games that really lean on CPU streaming, such as demanding open worlds like Fallout 4. Still, the amount of power Acer has snuck into a box that is just 16 inches high and 13 inches long is admirable. You can pick this killer rig up from Amazon US for (an admittedly super expensive) $2299.99, or the similarly specced G6-710 from Acer’s UK shop. Hey, no one said the 4K dream was cheap.

Best for... Gamers who don’t mind paying top dollar for superb 4K performance

You’ll notice a trend on this list: every PC here packs a Nvidia GPU. The Green Team has long been producing graphics card for a variety of budgets that consistently outperform their AMD equivalents in most games. It’s no surprise then that this respectively specced Ankermann boasts a GeForce GTX 1050 TI at its core: one of the best budget cards around. The newest addition to Nvidia’s Pascal family is a fine 1080p performer, and will run many titles at a steady 60fps on high/medium settings.

This particular Ankermann also includes an Intel Core i5-6600K, which offers more than enough grunt to deliver stable performance at 1080ps. Oh, and it’s a good overclocker to boot. Throw in a 120GB SSD (perfect for cutting down loading times), and 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and you’re looking at a decidedly decent rig. Though Ankermann PCs are only available in Europe, gamers in the States can pick up the SkyTech Shadow from Amazon US for $599.99. With its own 1050 TI and mid-range AMD processor, it offers similar bang for your buck.  

Best for... Gamers who want 1080p/60fps and don’t mind cutting back a few settings

Unless you have Tony Stark levels of disposable income, you probably can’t afford to buy the sort of GPU that’s going to have enough grunt to power 4K gaming. Seeing as the vast majority of PC gamers still play at 1080p or below, though, chasing the Ultra HD dream perhaps shouldn’t be your main priority. If you’re happy to give up on extreme resolutions, Alienware’s stylish, smartly designed mid-tower is well worth considering. 

Now, with a Core i3 CPU and a GTX 950 graphics card, the Aurora’s performance isn’t going to blow you away. That said, for a pretty reasonable outlay of $799.99 on Dell US or £749.99 at Dell UK you get a Windows 10 powered rig that has far more chance of delivering games at 1080p/60fps than a PS4 or Xbox One. Provided you drop a few settings - you’ll have to enable FXAA rather than MSAA when it comes to anti-aliasing, for example - the Aurora hands in console-beating performance with room to spare. The tower’s excellent fans and insane amount of USB slots are nice bonuses, too.

Best for... Gamers on a budget who still want PS4-beating performance

Have you recently inherited an exceedingly wealthy, long lost relative’s estate? Congratulations! Now get out there and start building a recklessly powerful PC. Origin offers a ludicrous amount of customisation options when you buy a rig from its site; everything from the interior chassis colour to the type of thermal compound used on the CPU can be tweaked. The company’s mid-tower Millennium model probably offers the best combo of looks and size, and boy can you cram all sorts of wallet-assaulting goodies into it.

If you really want to push the boat out - and the rest of the fleet - you can stuff two GTX 1080s, an i7-6700K CPU, 32GB of DDR4 RAM and a Blu-Ray burner in there. The cost of such an absurdly powerful SLI setup will set you back $3544 from Origin’s US site (sadly, there’s not a UK branch), so now might be the time to start looking into that second mortgage. Still, you’ll be able to play pretty much game you want at 4K/60fps on ultra settings. Now, can you lend us some cash, Mr/Mrs Moneybags? 

Best for... Those with the bank balance of an oligarch who want the ultimate 4K gaming experience

The first batch of Steam Machines were a great idea in practice. They were console-sized, idiot-proof next to standard PCs, and with their focus on Steam Big Picture, the discreet boxes were well suited for living room play. Trouble is, many of these systems shipped without Windows, and were limited to running Steam OS. That little omission meant you couldn’t play swathes of triple-A big hitters, like The Witcher 3, Fallout 4 or GTA 5. Thankfully, this Alienware Alpha offers a much better compromise. 

For one thing, it comes with Windows 10 pre-installed, instantly opening up the whole of Steam’s vast library. You can also play Uplay and Origin games, though in somewhat fiddly fashion, the Alpha forces you to quit out of Alienware’s custom UI into desktop mode to run Ubisoft and EA’s platforms. Yet once you learn this box’s quirks, the teeny rig offers impressive, console-beating performance thanks to its Intel Core i3-4170T CPU and custom Nvidia GTX GPU that boasts 2GB of GDDR5 RAM. It’s not as flexible as a normal PC, granted. Then again, it only costs $499 from Dell US or £499 from Dell UK

Best for... Budget-minded gamers who want a hassle-free, console-like experience


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