While I’m not a very big fan of pre-built PCs, I can absolutely understand that people simply do not have the time or the experience to build their own PCs. Whether it’s just not having time or not being good with electronics, wanting to go for a pre-built PC is a sound choice.
Of course, not all pre-built Pcs are perfect, and some do have issues here and there. That being said, they can save you a lot of effort and act as a great stepping stone for future upgrades. And who knows? Maybe owning a pre-built PC will encourage you to build your own in the future.
So, what is the best gaming PC under $1500? 🖥️ 🎮
Best Choice: iBUYPOWER Gaming PC Trace 9220
Pros & Cons
- Lots of storage
- Great GPU
- Quality control can be hit and miss
- CPU: i7-8700k Hexa-core 3.7 GHz
- GPU: NVIDIA Geforce RTX 2070 8GB
- RAM: 16GB DDR4-2666 RAM
- 1TB HDD
- 240GB SSD
iBUYPOWER Elite Gaming PC Review
Toeing the line between high performance and cheap is pretty hard when it comes to gaming PCs, but iBuyPower has done a relatively good job of it. The best choice in this build is the decision to go with an Intel-Nvidia pairing, something that is very common (and the fans probably love it).
The i7-8700k is an excellent CPU that is not much worse than one of the best CPUs for gaming, the i7-9700k. Winning over the i9 in terms of price, you’ll be able to play all of your favorite titles without spending boatloads of cash.
This means that the i7-8700k offers great productivity performance, so if you do a lot of video/photo editing and manipulation, this PC will serve you pretty well.
As for the GPU, the GTX 2070 is a great, feature-proof solution. While it’s true that there aren’t many games with ray tracing, that’s certainly not going to be the case in the next 4-5 years. Luckily, the GTX 2070 can also easily handle VR and is likely to be compatible with the next-gen that Vive and Oculus will have in store.
Moving on to storage, I’m happy to see that they decided to install 240gig SSD and a 1TB HDD. With how big modern games are getting, The Witcher 3 being 50gigs, you can easily fill up your storage with games. This is even more so compounded with a high-end gaming PC which is made for AAA games with large file sizes.
One thing which could be slightly better is the RAM. Not so much in terms of quantity, but in terms of quantity. I would have liked to see a higher bus speed, but it’s certainly not a deal-breaker.
Finally, one thing I should mention with iBuyPower is that some people have had quality control issues. Not sure if this is an issue with iBuyPower itself, or the shipping, but either way it’s a good thing to keep in mind. For just under $1,400, this PC offers a ton of hardware for a good price. While you won’t be getting the best gear you possibly can, you’ll certainly be getting pretty close.
Premium Pick: iBUYPOWER Pro Trace 9230
Pros & Cons
- Powerful Graphics Card
- Less ram than the Elite
- CPU: Intel i7-9700k 3.6 GHz
- GPU: Geforce RTX 2070 8GB
- RAM: 16GB DDR4
- 1TB HDD
- 240GB SSD
iBUYPOWER Pro Trace 9230 Review
I’m not especially sure why iBuyPower thinks ‘Pro’ is better than ‘Elite’, but since I’m not in their marketing department, I can’t really fix that. Either way, the Elite sees an upgrade on one side and a downgrade in another.
For the CPU they chose the competitor to the 2700X, the i7-9700k. While it might seem a bit of a cop-out to essentially pick the same performing CPU but from a different brand, there certainly is a sense to that madness.
You see, the Intel CPU has a much better overclocking potential, with higher maximum clock speeds and overall performance gain. Paired with some liquid cooling, you can push the i7-9700k much further than you ever could the 2700X
The GPU is also a good upgrade from the Elite, with a GTX 2070 and an extra 2GB, bringing the total up to 8GB. Honestly, when you’ve reached high-end graphics cards, the VRAM is more important than the minute differences in performance.
That’s why I think 8GB of ram should be standard for high-end gaming PCs, so the fact that it’s included in the Pro already puts it way above the Elite.
Where the Pro does fumble is that it has a smaller HDD. While it’s still 1TB and not a deal-breaker, I still find it incredibly annoying that a premium pick gaming PC wouldn’t have 2GB. Thankfully, you can easily increase the storage by adding an internal drive or having an external one, but it’s still a shame.
All in all, the Pro starts hitting the spot of diminishing returns in terms of performance. There is better hardware out there, but it won’t net you more than an extra 10% in performance while costing two or even three times the price.
Best Value: CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme VR GXiVR8480A
Pros & Cons
- High end i5
- Good AMD Graphics card
- Only 8GB RAM
- CPU: Intel Core i5-9400F 2.9GHz
- GPU: AMD Radeon RX 580 4GB
- RAM: 8GB DDR4
- 1TB HDD
CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme VR GXiVR8480A Review
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being in the lower end for the high-end bracket, especially when you’re under $1k.
CyberPower decided to go with the i5 rather than an i7 in their build and I can’t really fault them for it. The i5-9400 actually has a better overall performance than the i7-7700k, so it’s a really powerful CPU that pushes the boundaries of the i5 series.
Similarly, it has one of the best dollars per performance values, only being beaten out by a couple of CPUs in the AMD Ryzen 5 series, so you’re really getting the most financially efficient option.
Where I can fault CyberPower though is in their choice of the AMD Radeon RX 580 and personally, I would prefer to see a GTX 1660 over the RX 580. Not only that but going with a GTX 1660 still wouldn’t have pushed the price over $1500 and it’d offer even better value.
Alternatively, they could have spent the extra money on more storage, because again, it’s not very much for modern usage. Having at least 120GB SSD would be useful for mostly the OS and day-to-day applications, with the 1TB HDD being used for games and your other entertainment. You’ll certainly start feeling the storage pinch after a year of usage.
That being said, you can definitely add more storage, but it would have been better to have it in there from the get-go.
At the end of the day though, even though the GPU might not have been the best, it future proofs your PC and offers you a ton of performance. As for the CPU, if it ever causes a bottleneck issue down the line (which is very unlikely), it’s pretty easy to do an upgrade, so it’s not a dealbreaker. The only thing that really would have served this build better, is some more storage.
If you're interested in seeing more options at this price range, check out our guide on the best gaming PCs under $800.
Best For Work: iBUYPOWER Elite Slate2 070i
Pros & Cons
- Great CPU-GPU choice
- Lots of RAM
- Could do with more storage
- CPU: Intel i7 8700 3.2GHz
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB
- RAM: 16GB DDR4
- 1TB HDD
- 240GB SSD
iBUYPOWER Elite Slate2 070i Review
I’m sure lots of people don’t only want a gaming computer and would like something that could also function as a work PC. That’s what we have here in this version of the Elite, which is similar to the previous one listed on the list, but with a few upgrades.
Without treading a lot of the same ground, what I can point out is that the choice of an Intel i7 8700 is actually pretty smart. Coupled with Nvidia 1060 GPU, you’re not going to have any performance issues for the time being.
Aside from that, it still has the storage issue from the other iBuyPower Elite on the list. I know I keep harping on about it, but the truth is that a total of 1.24T is really not that much on a modern computer that’s expected to play several AAA games, run a modern OS and have archiving for films, shows, etc...
Add on to all that productivity software such as Maya or Ableton, and the massive file size of the projects, and you’re going to be running out of space very quickly. Even with the lower amount of storage space, the iBuyPower Elite with the Intel is a beast of a machine for both gaming and productivity. As for the storage? You should really be upgrading that at some point anyway.
If you're interested in seeing more options at this price range, check out our guide on the best gaming PCs under $1000.
Best Cheap: SkyTech Azure
Pros & Cons
- Great GPU for the price
- Not enough storage
- CPU: Ryzen 5 1600 6-core 3.2 GHz
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB
- RAM: 16GB DDR4
- 500G NVMe PCI e SSD
SkyTech Azure Review
Of course, not everybody has over $1k to spend on a gaming PC. That’s where the Skytech comes in with a great little entry that provides a bunch of power.
Much like the other PCs on this list, SkyTech chose to go with an RTX card, rather than a GTX one. That certainly makes sense these days with ray tracing being closer on the horizon. Even so, going for a GTX 1660 might have been a better choice given the CPU that they paired it up with.
For that, they went with the Ryzen 5 1600, which isn’t really a bad CPU by any means. As I mentioned earlier, the Ryzen 5 series has some of the best dollar per performance for any CPU and the 1600 tops that list.
It also comes with 6 cores which is absolutely excellent for productivity software and is only outshined by 8-core CPUs and the nearly impossibly expensive 16-core CPUs. My main issue lies in whether the Ryzen 1600 will become a bottleneck when you pair it with the RTX 2060. It’s a powerful CPU, but maybe a Ryzen 7 or i7 would have better suited this build.
As for the storage, it’s still a little lacking, although a 500Gb NVMe SSD is pretty excellent as far as performance goes. Personally, I would have liked to see another 120GB SSD for the OS and day to day apps, as well as maybe a 1TB HDD for archiving.
Whichever way you cut it though, the SkyTech Azure is an excellent budget PC and should serve you well for the next 5-7 years. As for the CPU and storage, you could always upgrade those down the line, as I don’t see the GTX 20 series being upended by anything for a good long while.
If you're interested in seeing more of cheap options, check out our article on the best budget gaming PCs.
Gaming PCs Under $1500: Buying Guide
When you’re trying to purchase a high-end gaming PC for a low budget, you’re going to end up making quite a lot of compromises, which is normal. The issue here is that when you go for pre-built options, the choices for the hardware might not make a lot of sense, or at the very least, that could be better. Since this article lists all pre-built PCs, here are a few things you should be keeping in mind when you go that route.
Generally speaking, the largest compromise you’re going to make is either in the CPU or the GPU. When it comes to pre-built, it’s almost always going to be the CPU because manufacturers believe that marketing a high-end graphics card is better than having a balanced build.
The issue arises from bottlenecks that can happen during usage. If you pair a powerful GPU with a not-so-powerful CPU, you don’t actually get a chance to use the power of the GPU. The same applies in reverse with a powerful CPU but an underpowered GPU. Thankfully, this isn’t so much an issue with the PCs on this list, and modern builds in general, but you should certainly be aware of this issue.
Usually, pre-built PCs have good ram choice settling at a minimum of 8Gigs DDR4 and going up to 16Gigs DDR4. The only potential issue with the RAM in pre-built PCs is that they usually go for lower bus speeds of around 2133Mhz to 2400Mhz. It’s not a deal-breaker being that low, but it’s preferable to get something around 3200Mhz if you can.
This is the biggest issue with pre-built PCs, in that they generally come without too much storage. I know I keep mentioning this a lot, but I know the frustrating feeling of running out of space at a critical moment and having to delete stuff.
Even worse is the fact that you really don’t want to fill up your storage device to it’s maximum, otherwise you’re going to start getting performance hit. Leaving 10% of a 1TB HDD empty is a lot of empty space in a build where every gig counts. All that being said, it’s not as big an issue since expanding your storage is relatively easy, and hassle-free if you go for an external hard drive.
If you decide to spend thousands on a gaming PC, it would be wise to keep it protected from all kinds of danger.
For example, by getting the best surge protector for gaming PCs, you can avoid hardware burnouts from power outrages. Furthermore, here are some other things you might want to purchase and prevent overheating and subsequent hardware loss:
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Games Better on PC or Console?
Oooh, you’re really wanting to open up a can of worms there. The battle between which is better is pretty massive and there’s no real definitive answer . . . mostly because each offers something different.
Gaming on consoles is great because it’s very hassle-free. Just stick the disk in or download the game and you’re done. You don’t have to worry about anything else except buying the game, and maybe your storage space if you’ve downloaded a lot. Consoles are also great as a media machine that you can as a DVD/Blu-ray player, and for streaming or browsing the internet, which is great if you don’t have a smart TV.
On the other hand, PCs can be quite complicated, even if you buy a pre-built one. You’ll have to worry about driver updates and installing the game on your device. But, PCs have much, much more powerful hardware and can easily hit higher than 60 frames per second, the absolute maximum for consoles. You can also generally put higher graphical settings on the PC which means you can’t beat its graphical fidelity.
So, at the end of the day it’s very much up to what you prefer; more performance or more user-friendliness. Also, check out our guide on the best gaming PCs.
What Is the Difference Between Gaming Computer and PC?
The difference between a gaming computer and any other computer is that gaming computers generally have much more powerful graphics cards. In fact, many work computers don’t even have graphics cards and instead rely either on APUs or onboard graphics.
Can You Use a Regular PC for Gaming?
You could provided it has a graphics card. Just bear in mind that you won’t be able to play the majority of games, at least on good graphical settings or at high frames per second.
Which is better a gaming laptop or desktop?
This is another one that depends a lot on your preferences. If you tend to travel or move a lot and would like to game as you do, a gaming laptop is your best choice. On the other hand, if you game in the same spot for the majority of your time, a gaming desktop is better.
Either way, a gaming desktop of equivalent hardware to a gaming laptop will almost always cost less. For example, if you're on a super-tight budget, we recommend getting the best gaming PC under $500, as it will perform as good as a $1000 laptop.
As you can see, pre-built PCs aren’t always perfect but they are pretty powerful. Not all the PCs on the list come with an RTX graphics card, which doesn’t mean that you won’t have to upgrade in due time. As for the rest of the hardware, it might serve as a good opportunity to learn how to upgrade your own computer, and maybe even build one, so check our guide on how to build a gaming PC.
Either way, good luck!