I’m going to be honest. These days I play most of my games the same way I read a good paperback: Curled up on the couch, in bed, or waiting for a train. That’s why I’m 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 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 might be more cost-efficient to build your own, but if you don’t want the hassle, these are the best gaming desktops we’ve tested at WIRED.
Updated January 2020: We’ve included the Alienware Aurora R9 and updated prices throughout this guide.