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The Top-Performing Machines for PC Gaming This Year

Eric Elliot

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Home » Technology » The Top-Performing Machines for PC Gaming This Year

If you’re looking for the best gaming experience possible in 2023, a high-quality pre-built desktop to match your gaming chair, is the way to go. We tested and ranked the top ready-to-play towers to find the machines that deliver elite performance right out of the box.

After extensive benchmarking and hands-on gameplay sessions, two PCs rose above the rest: the MSI Aegis RS for incredible 4K gaming power, and the budget-friendly Lenovo Legion 5i for smooth HD gameplay.

The MSI Aegis RS: A Powerful and Expandable High-End Rig

If money is no object and you demand cutting-edge performance, the MSI Aegis RS is hands-down the top choice. This customizable monster tower aced our real-world tests with its potent component mix of an Intel Core i7 CPU and Nvidia’s flagship RTX 3080 graphics.

The Aegis RS makes 4K gaming a breeze today, while leaving plenty of room to upgrade later as more demanding games come out. Even at max settings, stuttering and sluggishness are virtually nonexistent.

And it’s not just about speed. The Aegis brings premium style with programmable RGB case lighting and an attractive design brimming with gamer aesthetic.

Lenovo’s Legion 5i: Excellent 1080p Gaming on a Budget

You don’t need to spend a small fortune for quality PC gaming. Lenovo’s Legion 5i shocked us with how well its budget-tier specs held up. For around $950, this unassuming tower handled AAA games fluidly at 60 fps when we cranked settings to ultra at 1080p resolution.

The GTX 1660 Super graphics and Core i5 processor won’t blow you away, but provide plenty of muscle for smooth HD gameplay. Down the road you can upgrade components like the GPU for improved 4K readiness.

If you’re just looking for excellent performance at common resolutions like 1920 x 1080, the Legion 5i has incredible value.

What We Looked For: Benchmarks, Real-World Use and More

We put these pre-built towers through rigorous testing to see which rose above the rest. Our evaluation combined both synthetic benchmarks and real-world gameplay.

Benchmarks like 3DMark Time Spy gave us quantitative data on overall speeds. We also monitored components like CPU and GPU temperatures under heavy loads.

But numbers alone don’t tell the full story. We played numerous hours of games like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War noting framerates and playability. This let us experience first-hand how well these machines hold up when gaming for long sessions.

We also evaluated factors beyond pure speed, like design and noise levels. The full gaming experience involves more than just high FPS.

Key Specs to Look For: GPU, CPU, RAM, Storage and More

When shopping for a gaming PC, focus on components like:

  • Graphics Card: The GPU plays the biggest role in gaming performance. Aim for at least an RTX 3060 or Radeon RX 6600 XT.
  • Processor: Get a mid-range to high-end CPU like an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5.
  • RAM: 16GB is the sweet spot, but 8GB works for budget builds. Go higher if running intensive tasks outside gaming.
  • Storage: Get an SSD for your operating system and games. Add a high-capacity HDD for extra storage.

The right specs deliver the performance you need while fitting your budget.

Design and Build Quality Are Also Important

While what’s inside counts most, aesthetics and construction shouldn’t be overlooked. Consider these factors as well:

  • Style: Many gaming PCs sport aggressive, “gamer-centric” designs. Make sure it aligns with your tastes.
  • Size: Bulkier towers fit premium components at the cost of desk space. Compacts have trade-offs but great portability.
  • Cooling: Advanced liquid and airflow cooling keeps high-end components from overheating during intense gaming sessions.
  • Upgradability: Look for PCs that provide easy access to swap out components down the road.

MSI’s Aegis RS Brings Top-Tier Power

Our hands-on testing showed the Aegis RS has the right specs and real-world performance for incredible 4K gaming. The Nvidia RTX 3080 GPU blitzed through demanding modern titles while the Core i7-11700K CPU ripped through any task we threw at it.

Combined with 32GB of RAM and fast M.2 solid-state storage, this system laughs at system requirements. Gaming while livestreaming, recording gameplay, and running apps in the background is no problem.

The Aegis RS also runs cool and quiet thanks to liquid cooling and ample case airflow from multiple fans. And with tool-less entry, upgrading parts is a cinch.

Simply put, the Aegis RS brings elite-tier power and future-proofing that’s hard to beat. Just be prepared to pay for it.

Lenovo’s Legion 5i: Excellent Value Gaming

Lenovo’s Legion 5i proves you don’t need the highest specs for great 1080p PC gaming. The Nvidia GTX 1660 Super GPU and Intel Core i5-11400 offer modest power on paper. But this combo easily exceeded 60 fps on high settings in our favorite AAA titles.

8GB of RAM is on the lighter side for serious gaming, but provides enough memory for smooth general use. Storage is limited at just 256GB, but games run slick and responsive loaded onto the NVMe SSD.

Down the line, you can upgrade components like the RAM and GPU to boost performance. But for most HD gaming, the Legion 5i packs plenty already at this reasonable price point.

Other Contenders: Quality Alternatives for Different Needs

Beyond our top two choices, we evaluated other high-performing options ideal for certain gamers:

  • Corsair One a200: Compact powerhouse if you need 4K performance in a small form factor.
  • NZXT H1: Attractive design that’s easy to upgrade. Better for 1080p gaming.
  • Origin Chronos: Offers extensive customization options to tailor components to your budget.
  • Intel NUC 11: Tiny but expensive gaming PC. Limits future expandability.

Shopping for a Gaming Desktop? Focus on Your Needs

If you’re considering a pre-built gaming PC, your needs determine which option makes sense:

  • For flawless 4K gaming, target premium components like the MSI’s Aegis RS.
  • If you play at 1080p, something like Lenovo’s Legion 5i provides incredible value.
  • Mini PCs like the Intel NUC 11 trade power for tiny size. Make sure performance isn’t compromised.
  • Opt for expandable systems like the Origin Chronos if you plan to regularly upgrade parts down the road.

Think about the specs required for your target resolutions and graphics settings. This makes choosing a appropriately powered gaming rig much easier. Don’t forget supporting accessories as well. A gaming-grade chair, high refresh rate monitor, and other equipment can take your desktop setup to the next level.