Last Updated on May 30, 2021
Game development is among the most advanced task that you can perform on a desktop. Playing game itself requires a high end desktop so you can imagine that the desktop for building games must be extraordinary to say the least.
Of course the type of hardware you choose would depend upon the level and sophistication of the game you plan to develop. This in turn would entail the budget you would set for procuring the right machine.
In this article, we will look at the best desktops for game development of different complexities.
So in other words, we will review from affordable all the way to expensive workstation grade desktops.
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Comparison of Top Desktop for Game Development
|AMD Ryzen 5|
|8 GB||Radeon |
|ROG Strix GL10DH||AMD Ryzen 7 |
|ROG Strix |
|AMD Ryzen 7 |
1 TB HDD
|Dell Alienware |
|AMD Ryzen 9 |
|32 GB||Radeon RX |
|CUK Stratos||AMD Ryzen 9|
2 TB HDD
List of Best Desktops for Game Development in 2021
These desktops are not all the same in terms of performance and hence designated for different levels of gaming development complexities.
- Skytech Archangel Ryzen 5 – Recommended For Most Beginner Game Developers
- iBUYPOWER Trace 4 – For Low Key Game Development
- ROG Strix GL10DH – Great Processing Power for Compilation
- Skytech Archangel Ryzen 7 – Powerful Processor and Powerful Graphics Card
- HP Omen Obelisk 875-1023 – Light Workstation Grade Desktop for Game Development
- CUK Mantis – High Performance Game Development Workstation – Ryzen 9
1. Skytech Archangel Ryzen 5 – Mid Range Recommended For Most Beginner Game Developers
A mid range desktop for casual game development. Features AMD Ryzen 5 3600 and NVIDIA GTX 1660 Super.
Whether you are a beginner game developer or an experienced developer looking for a decent mid range machine that provides you just the right specs then this is the best desktop for game development.
We have chosen this desktop generally for those who do not have a very advanced budget nor any advanced requirements for game development.
If you create simple 2D or 3D games using GameMaker or Unity engine perhaps for mobile devices, then this desktop can provide you with enough juice to handle your work.
This desktop features a mid range AMD Ryzen 5 3600 processor. There is a consensus among most professionals game developers that the minimum you should settle for in terms of processing power is either an AMD Ryzen 5 or an Intel Core i5 processor.
Anything less than this would cause you serious frustration in the long run. A good processor is essential for fast compilation of your game and since you would be doing that very often, a good CPU is a must.
Along with a good CPU, you must also look for a powerful graphics card. Fortunately, this features a decent NVIDIA GTX 1660S graphics. This is among the most popular graphics card when it comes to performance / dollar value.
A good dedicated graphics card is important for 3D game development. This graphics card should provide you with enough power to work with intermediate levels of 3D game development.
Other than that, this option offers a good 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of SSD. While the RAM is sufficient, the storage can be a bit lacking if you have a lot of files to store. This can be rectified by getting yourself a large external hard drive like the WD My Book.
All in all, we highly recommend this for both beginners and intermediate game developers.
2. iBUYPOWER Trace 4 – For Low Key Game Development
A highly affordable performance desktop with a mainstream Ryzen 5 3600 CPU and AMD Radeon RX 5500 GPU.
Next up we have a desktop for game developers who either work on low key games or for those who are just learning the ropes of game development. Basically, this is a highly affordable desktop for those on a budget.
If your game development centers around 2D games or very simple 3D games, then we recommend this as the best desktop for game development.
Like the previous desktop, this too features a mid range AMD Ryzen 5 3600 processor. Therefore, as far as the minimum CPU requirements go, you are covered by the processing power.
As far as the GPU goes, this features the AMD Radeon RX 5500. This is a mid range GPU by AMD and in terms of performance it is weaker than the NVIDIA GTX 1660S.
Hence, for advanced 3D game modeling, this system may not be perfect for you.
Another drawback here is that it features 8GB of RAM instead of 16 GB of RAM as we saw in the desktop above. And finally, in the storage department it offers 512 GB of SSD.
The RAM here is a bit on the downside. While we recommend 16 GB of RAM, if you are on a budget and just want to meet the minimum requirement for a seamless operation for low key game development, then this is sufficient as it is.
Incidentally, most game developers are okay with 8GB of RAM. Again, this all depends upon how complex a game you wish to build.
Ofcourse for larger games, we would advise you slap in another 8 GB stick.
So in short, if you have a limited budget or if you plan to work on only low level games, then this is the best desktop for game development.
3. ROG Strix GL10DH – Great Processing Power for Compilation
It is a given fact that a power processor means a better working experience for game development.
A good processor improves almost every aspect of your work but most importantly, it improves the time it takes for the PC to compile your game.
In your time with game development you will be performing a lot of compilation even perhaps multiple times in one sitting. Hence a good processor can save you plenty of time.
This desktop features a powerful 8 core AMD Ryzen 7 3700X processor with multiple threads. So in total you get 16 threads here. Not only is this processor excellent for multitasking, it can give you a significant boost to your game development productivity.
Therefore, if getting a good processor is your #1 priority then this is best desktop for game development.
Besides that, this also features a decent NVIDIA GTX 1660Ti. Note that the “Ti” version of 1660 is more powerful than the “S” version of the 1660 as we saw in the first desktop above.
While the difference isn’t drastic, it can still provide you with an advantage when 3D game designing.
The RAM on this desktop is a fair 16 GB and it features an average 512 GB of SSD.
4. ROG Strix GL10DH – Powerful Processor and Powerful Graphics Card
A high performance PC with a powerful octa core processor and a high end RTX 2070 Super graphics card.
If you are serious about your 3D game development then not only do you need a powerful processor but also a very powerful graphics card.
The previous desktop featured a high end Ryzen 7 3700X processor but a mid range graphics card. This desktop, on the other hand, not only features AMD Ryzen 7 3700X but also a high end NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super 8 GB graphics card.
In terms of performance the RTX 2070S is far more powerful than even the 1660Ti let alone the vanilla 1660 or the 1660S.
Hence, if you plan to build complex 3D games using your favorite engine, then this is the best desktop for game development.
Of course if that is not the case and if most of your game development assets are in 2D, then this particular graphics card would be an overkill. In that case we would recommend that you maximize your budget for the processor.
However, if 3D game development is your forte, then you will need to balance your budget for both a good processor as well as a good graphics card.
And of course, having a powerful hardware also makes this an expensive machine to procure.
The desktop features a decent 16 GB of RAM and a high 512 TB of SSD storage + 1 TB of HDD.
So in short, the main highlight of this particular desktop is that it caters to the needs of 3D game developers. Hence it is recommended if you fit into that category.
5. Dell Alienware Aurora R10 – Light Workstation Grade Desktop for Game Development
A light workstation grade desktop with AMD Ryzen 9 3900 12 Core processor.
Finally we have the most expensive desktop in this list. If you run a professional game development studio where you churn out epic and sophisticated large games, then this is a beast that you can look into.
For starters, this features a powerful AMD Ryzen 9 3900 processor and of course, whenever an Ryzen 9 processor is involved, you can expect that machine to be built for the toughest of the tasks.
AMD Ryzen 9 3900 is among the most powerful processors available in the market at the moment with its 12 cores and 24 threads. A higher core count matters when you perform tasks like file compression, rendering, compilation and of course, multitasking with demanding software running simultaneously.
The other hallmark feature of this desktop is that it offers the high end AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT graphics card. This is not the most powerful GPU out there, it is in the upper echelon of the GPU market however coming in close to NVIDIA RTX 2070 in performance.
And finally the cherry on cake here is that it offers a whopping 32 GB of RAM for handling even the largest of game assets and files possible.
6. CUK Mantis – High Performance Game Development Workstation – Ryzen 9
The 5th generation Ryzen 9 processors are far more capable than their 3rd generation processors.
This desktop, while certainly much more expensive than the Dell Alienware R10 above, feature the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12 core 24 thread CPU.
In addition to having a powerful workstation CPU, it also features the NVidia RTX 3070. While obviously not the cream of the crop and not comparable in performance to RTX 3080 and 3090, the RTX 3070 should suffice for majority of the game development done by an individual or an indie developer.
To top this all up, this particular desktop also offers a whopping 64 GB of RAM and hence for very large game design and assets, this should certainly suffice.
And finally, you get 1 TB of SSD and 2TB of HDD. Unfortunately though, the hard drive is only rated at 5400 RPM and hence you may see slower transfer rates as compared to a 7200 RPM drive, but in all essence, the primary usage of an HDD when in combination with the SSD, is to be used as an archival drive.
Is Having a Powerful PC Worth It for Game Developers?
Of course it is. When it comes to any kind of development, production, editing or designing work, the more powerful a computer you have, the better would be your working experience.
A high end computer enables you to work with large assets, it allows you to compile and render your games quickly and saves your from the frustration of lags and crashed.
BUT THERE IS A CAVEAT!
You see when building games on a powerful PC you become oblivious to the needs of the average user.
You have to consider the fact that not all end users would have a powerful hardware to match the performance you experience.
Hence, when testing out the final product, you have to test the game for the minimum requirements. This may require you test your game on weaker systems as well to set a benchmark.
What Kind of Hardware Do You Need?
Well the hardware that you need would mostly depend upon whether you want to build 2D or 3D games.
It would also depend upon how a complex a game you plan to build. For instance a 2D Side Scroller built for a mobile device would not require the same hardware resources to make as would a 3D shooter for PC like Call of Duty would require.
This article by PCGamer sums up the hardware requirements well.
Basically, having a good processor is a must regardless of whether you are building 2D or a 3D game. However, the least you should aim for is an Intel Core i5 or an AMD Ryzen 5 processor.
GPU is a variable consideration and depends upon the type of game you make. For 2D, you can work with a mid to low end graphics card. For 3D games, you need a powerful graphics card.
As far as RAM goes, most small game developers can live with 8 GB of RAM. However, the recommended amount is generally 16 GB.
Other important consideration are that you get a fast NVMe SSD. It improves the performance across the board particularly when retrieving and saving files.
Let us talk about an example of a popular game engine and its requirements:
Recommended Hardware for Unity Engine
Like most system requirements for professional software, the one listed on the Unity official website are generic and only highlight the generation and the general architecture of the hardware needed.
On top of that, the highlighted hardware only tend to meet the minimum requirements. The actual requirements depend a lot on the level of game development you plan on doing. In any case, you can keep the following pointers in mind.
Recommended CPU for Unity Engine
You should aim for as beefier a CPU as you can get your hands on. In general, unity games and applications are predominantly single threaded and single core based.
However, many elements in the editor and development can be multi threaded. Elements like GI Baking, Lightmapping, Mesh skinning etc.
In addition to that the general editing experience including scene swapping, project loading, and particularly Build Time, can get progressively faster with a higher core count.
For most professional developers, going for AMD Ryzen 9 would suffice. However, if you are building an intensive game and you also run other programs simultaneously, such as an emulator, then you can look in to AMD Threader to Intel Core X series CPUs.
Recommended GPU for Unity
The primary task of the GPU in Unity is to show the game in the Viewport and when the game is compiled and running.
Unlike many other professional software, Unity does not benefit much from GPU acceleration in the editor.
Hence, you do not need to go for the cream of the crop GPU. Any mid-high range GPU from the NVIDIA 1000, 2000 or 3000 series would do.
Of, course we would not at all recommend going for entry level dedicated GPU like the NVIDIA GT 710.
Recommended RAM Amount for Unity
For beginners and for developing simple 2D side scrolling games (flappy bird), 16 GB of RAM should suffice. However, if you are building anything more complex that loads up a lot of details and high resolution assets, for instance, then 32 GB is recommended.
In fact, it is not rare to find workstation desktop feature higher than 64 GB of RAM for game development on Unity.
Multiple Monitors Setup for Game Development
Dual or triple screen setups can certainly help but are not a must. Plus, the screen you get does not have to be too expensive with 10 bit color depth, local dimming, Adobe RGB color space or things that graphic designers or photographers would deem necessary.
You can work with a decent FHD IPS screen quite well. Bigger screen with higher resolution can also help with multitasking.
Also Read: Best Laptops for Game Development
Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or an advanced game developer, you need to gauge your requirements well, particularly the fact that whether you plan to build 2D or 3D games.
You could be an expert 2D game developer, but your hardware requirements would not be the same as an expert 3D game developer.
Furthermore, a platformer game would be far less resource heavy as compared to, say, building Elder Scrolls Skyrim. Again, the hardware requirements would defer.
Here we basically looked at the best desktops for game development of different complexities.