5 Best Gaming PCs for Cities Skylines 2023

By Dominic Cooper on May 01, 2021

Cities: Skylines is not a very demanding game in respect to the average gaming desktop, but it still needs some decent specs if you are to enjoy it to the fullest. To know what these are, you’d have to take a look at the buyer’s guide we have prepared.

Minimum & Recommended Desktop Configurations for Cities Skylines

To enjoy any city-building simulation game like Cities Skylines you need to maintain these minimum system requirements – an AMD Ryzen 5 3500 processor, 8GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Super graphics card, and a 240GB SSD.

While these specifications will allow you to run the game, you will not get optimal performance.

For the best gaming experience, the recommended system requirements for Cities Skylines are an Intel i7-10700F processor, 32GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card, and a 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD and 1TB HDD.

With these specifications, you can expect smooth and high-quality performance while building virtual cities.

Minimum System Requirements: AMD Ryzen 5 3500 | 8GB RAM | NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Super | 240GB SSD.

Recommended System Requirements: Intel i7-10700F or better processor | 32GB RAM or more | NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 or better GPU | 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD and 1TB HDD or more storage.

5 Best Gaming PCs for Cities Skylines:

1. SkyTech Shadow 3.0 Gaming PC – Best Overall

SkyTech Shadow 3.0

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Bottom Line: If your kind of usage requires a lot of VRAM, then this is the desktop to get. With other good specs, it runs Cities Skylines much smoothly as well, even on higher resolutions and game settings.

Key Features:

Pros

Cons

The importance of a good CPU and equally good video card is very high for certain Cities Skylines players since they have enormous cities saved with heavy assets that take up time to load, even on high-end systems.

If you are one of them, then Shadow 3.0 could be your friend.

It comes with a Ryzen 7 3700X processor, an 8 core 16 threaded product from AMD.

And while it may not have the clock rates as high as the newest Intel alternatives, it does allow you convenient upgrades since all the AMD CPUs have AM4 sockets, unlike Intel.

If graphics are more important to you, then you’d be excited since it has an RTX 3060 12 GB video card in it.

Such an amount of VRAM when combined with the other specs is sure to provide impressive performance and you’d be able to use high-resolution monitors too.

Then there is 16 GB of RAM and a 1 TB SSD for storage, which can also be expanded easily if needed.

The SkyTech Shadow 3.0 is thus a versatile option that you can use to do a lot more than just run Cities Skylines.

The game itself would be running quite smoothly on this, and provide you with all the visual delight as well.

2. iBUYPOWER Element MR 9320 – Runner up

iBUYPOWER Element MR 9320

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Bottom Line: The Gaming PC MR 9320 is a simple, yet efficient gaming machine that you can use to run Cities Skylines. The addition of a USB Type-C port would have made things much better though.

Key Features:

Pros

Cons

Next is an iBUYPOWER Element MR 9320, that can be an optimal choice if you’re looking for a good-performing prebuilt desktop, which is also priced within affordable margins.

And while it doesn’t have the ray-tracing features or 4K performance, it does have enough to offer to the user.

The design of the desktop is quite simple, but it has a touch of RGB here and there, so by no means does it look monotonous.

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The MR 9320 has got a Core i7-10700F CPU, which is the non-overclockable version, with the same 8 cores, 16 threads, and a maximum frequency of 5.1 GHz.

The other aspects of the configuration include a GTX 1660 Ti video card, and as we were saying it has got 6 GB of VRAM that Cities Skylines would be able to utilize.

Along with this is 16 GB of RAM, and while we cannot promise 4K performance, it can provide amply for gaming on mid to high settings at 1080p and 1440p.

There’s both primary and secondary storage present in sufficient amounts.

While we only have a few complaints about it, those regarding connectivity are the most notable ones.

There are numerous ports on this, but it would have been better if even one of these supported Type-C connectors.

3. MSI Codex R Gaming Desktop – Great Capability for Mid-range Use

MSI Codex R Gaming Desktop

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Bottom Line: This desktop is packed with a mid-range of specifications that are more than sufficient for enjoying the Cities Skylines smoothly. For its balanced configurations, this device is a great option for any mid-range use.

Key Features:

Pros

Cons

The MSI Codex R gaming desktop is a good option for playing Cities Skylines due to its strong and updated specifications.

With an Intel i5-11400F processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti graphics card, this desktop gains sufficient power and speed to handle this city-building simulation game under any circumstances.

Being a VR-Ready device, the users can also enjoy the 3D world.

The desktop also features a 500 GB NVMe SSD for fast data processing, and it allows the PC to quickly launch any game.

It improves the responsiveness of the system. Overall, this MSI desktop is a very good option for multitasking and playing casual games like Cities Skylines.

4. Dell Alienware Aurora R10 – Plain-sailing Gaming on 4K

Dell Alienware Aurora R10

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Bottom Line: Be it running Cities Skylines on 4K, or some other application heavily, the Dell Aurora R10 has got enough potential to cater to all your computing requirements.

Key Features:

Pros

Cons

One of the desktops on the list had to be something robust, and we thought what could be better than the Dell Alienware Aurora R10 if you’re looking for the best performance, and that too in a slim form factor?

Now, design-wise, Dell has not made any major changes in it, considering the other recent devices in the Aurora line-up. Regardless, there are a lot of attractive things about the desktop.

The processor, for example, is a top-of-the-line Ryzen 7 5800X, which provides a maximum turbo frequency of 4.7 GHz. This is excellent for gaming and other tasks that rely on high frequency for better performance.

There are 8 cores and 16 threads in this, and so you have a lot of headroom to expand and modify your cities inside the game.

Among other CPU and GPU combinations, RTX 3070 is the one paired with the CPU in this instance.

This 8 GB video card can offer enough power for you to play the game on 4K (Ultra settings) and still get more than 60 fps on average.

The desktop also comes with 32 gigs of RAM, a 1 TB SSD for storage, and WIFI 6, things that are very useful for any sort of gamer.

And not just Cities Skylines, the rig can be used to run other heavier games, along with content creation and so on.

You’d also be getting a USB Type-C port at the front, that too is a very handy port to have.

5. HP Pavilion Gaming PC – Value for Money

HP Pavilion Gaming PC

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Bottom Line: This is a great desktop if you’re looking for some casual gameplay on Cities Skylines. However, add some more RAM, and the desktop lets you enjoy smoother gameplay with ease.

Key Features:

Pros

Cons

The HP Pavilion Gaming PC is one of the very pocket-friendly desktops on this list that is still good enough for playing Cities Skylines on 1080p without any issues.

And not just that, it also has reliable hardware and many other options, which makes it a solid desktop to consider.

The desktop comes with a Ryzen 5 3500 processor, which has a clock rate ranging from 3.6 – 4.1 GHz.

The 6 cores and 12 threads on it make the desktop very capable of running the game, at the desired settings as well as the desired frame rates at 1080p.

Though the processor already has Integrated Radeon Graphics, HP has provided a discrete GTX 1650 Super GPU with it.

This is a 4 GB video card, and hence you get almost double the VRAM than the minimum system requirements mentioned.

In the storage and memory department, there is a 256 GB SSD and 8 GB of RAM installed, which only gives so much headroom.

An upgrade in either of these, however, shouldn’t cost you much and yet the performance would then be much better.

The specs it already has are good enough for casual usage, but if you’re planning to add many assets and mods to the game, then a few upgrades would be needed.

How to Choose a Best Gaming PC for Cities Skylines?

Best Gaming PCs for Cities Skylines

Every video game has its minimum system requirements that the user needs to maintain on their PC.

And while these are very low for this particular game, one needs to have much more than that as they start playing on higher settings, expanding their city, loading mods, and so on.

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Cities Skylines, fortunately, is one of the less demanding ones (if you play it that way) and so you can run it on almost every desktop bought in the last 2-3 years.

And while it might run on low-end systems too, you won’t have a comfortable enough experience unless certain aspects are taken care of.

The game may look timid on paper, but load certain mods and assets and you’d soon see that it eats up system resources like a beast.

While some gamers prefer making upgrades down the road, others buy a better system from the very beginning.

What these things are, if you ask, are what we have discussed below in this guide.

All that you need to know about the most important hardware aspects are here, and depending on the kind of preferences, the choice is yours to make.

OS

Most of the users of Cities Skylines have Windows as the primary OS, and not just because these desktops are available in all budget segments.

More importantly, the game has very few Operating Systems that it is compatible with, so Windows seems to be the easiest choice.

You might be wondering if your Mac desktop would support the game, and it is a very valid question.

The short answer is yes, it will. But is it worth it?

Based on what we noticed, even the latest iMacs have issues running the game beyond medium settings.

And here too, you would be getting a modest 40-ish fps, and chances are you’d never be able to enjoy a smooth 60+ fps gameplay.

For that, high-end iMacs can be considered if you are fine with paying the premium price. Although, it won’t be very desirable if you spend thousands on your Mac and still cannot get a good enough experience.

The options are more if you consider MacBooks, but these aren’t relevant here.

So simply put, unless you have no other option, it is better to go with Windows (the 64-bit version), primarily for this game.

Budget

One of the first things that you have to decide is your budget, and if you’re planning on playing the game even on lower settings, we would suggest that you pick the hardware wisely.

Usually, the more you spend on computer hardware, the better the performance can be seen in the software you run.

There are exceptions to this though, and for a game like Cities Skylines, these are more profound.

For example, for this game, many people use very high-end systems but still complain about low frame rates and how the game is unplayable. This is mostly because the optimization in the game is not all that great.

So, you cannot just spend all the money you have and expect buttery smooth performance, it has to be spent rightly.

It all largely depends on the size of your city though, and the average gamer would be satisfied with any desktop ranging from $1000-1500.

Those who have a massive number of assets and mods installed, however, would have to spend more, since high-frequency CPUs and beefy GPUs would be necessary. In these cases, a budget of $2000+ would be needed.

Processor

One of the things that we noticed while looking around for information regarding Cities Skylines, that you would too, is that it is CPU intensive.

And while the game doesn’t only depend on the processor, it has the most role to play, no matter at what resolution or settings you’re playing.

You can just buy the most expensive CPU that you can with the highest frequency possible to be on the safe side, but honestly, that wouldn’t be needed.

Even professional gamers prefer a Core i7 or Ryzen 7 CPU for the game.

The official recommendations still suggest age-old CPUs, but that won’t be able to cut it.

What you need is at least 3 GHz of clock rate and more cores than you would require than any other game usually.

This is because it has a lot of renderings and simulations to perform, and as the size of the city increases, so does the intensity of these.

With that out of the way, a quad-core CPU is thus a minimum here, and you can go up to 8 or 10 core ones, after which there is not much of a benefit. Which brand to choose is the question that remains though.

To keep things simple, you can have either Intel or AMD processors, but the latter has a bit of an advantage since they are cheaper, and a few of AMD’s APUs have better-integrated GPUs.

We will be talking more about this in the next section.

Graphics

Although Cities Skylines is a largely CPU-intensive video game, the requirement of decent graphics is still present here.

You’d need at least 2 GB of video memory, but at times it may seem that the more VRAM you can have, the better it is.

The game doesn’t go well with Intel’s integrated GPUs, so for integrated graphics, an AMD APU is the only option. And even then, you might still need to use a discrete GPU to get the playable frame rates.

Not that the game won’t run at all on integrated graphics, but the experience would not be as good.

On the mid-range, GPUs with 4-6 GB of VRAM are the best options here, given their price to performance ratio.

You can try out 1440p on relatively higher settings and still get a smooth enough experience with some of these video cards.

Even better are the RTX ones obviously, but these are only suggested for those of you who would be playing on 2K or 4K monitors and have massive assets present in the game.

The ray-tracing feature has not yet fully developed in the game, and whether or not you could see those dedicated cores on your RTX GPU in action, is still an unanswered question.

However, the extra VRAM would surely come in handy, and this is why NVIDIA GPUs are better on the upper-end.

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AMD has a few solid options in the budget segment, like the Radeon RX 570, but other than that, NVIDIA dominates mostly. The more popular options would be the GTX 1660 Ti or GTX 1660 Super GPUs.

RAM

The game, depending on how you play it, is going to put a lot of workload on the processor of your desktop, and so it can be taxing on the RAM too.

You’d be amazed to know that some Cities Skylines players with as much as 64 gigs of RAM report that a large portion of the system memory is being used up.

What’s more surprising is that desktops with as low as 6 GB of RAM have been able to run it, albeit at lower settings and simpler in-game resources.

The way you play the game can thus determine the majority of the hardware choices, including RAM.

More RAM in the game would not only make the overall gameplay smoother but also let you expand your city with more mods, reduce loading times, and so on.

A few extra GB of system memory would also be needed if you’re a live streamer, who likes to show the techniques and designs being used in the game with his audience.

You may have noticed that on the list above there are mostly 16 GB RAM options present, which seems to be enough for most users.

Based on the other system specs and how you intend to play the game, you may select the amount of RAM to put on the desktop accordingly.

Keep in mind that it is more RAM that influences the game, rather than RAM frequency.

Storage

Most of the games that have been launched recently get a performance boost from the speed of the storage drive they are stored in, and you’d notice the differences more in Cities Skylines.

If you’re looking for the best experience, a quick response from the storage drive is necessary, no matter how good the rest of the hardware is.

So it is suggested that even the average users use SSDs since the importance of the storage responses would increase largely as your city grows in size, and you add additional resources to the game.

And not just for this, having an SSD can also improve the overall system responses, as well as benefit the other games that you may play.

The game itself takes about 3 GB of space to download, which includes the base files and some other DLCs (Downloadable Content), and requires at least 5 GB of free disk space initially on your storage drive.

These sizes are likely to increase over time as you keep playing and install expansion packs and such, so SSDs are the most ideal.

A 256 or 512 GB SSD is the most budget-friendly choice here, and you may buy bigger ones too if you are comfortable.

Some also combine an SSD with a hard drive, which is a viable option as well.

Connectivity

Although some aspects of the game may work offline, Cities Skylines is mostly an online game, which means it requires a steady internet connection.

And not just for playing, you’d also need an internet connection to download several mods down the road.

So if you don’t have that in your home already, it might be time to get a new router.

The other connectivity requirements are all the basic ones, like USB ports, Ethernet slots for headphones, video ports, etc on the wired side, along with Bluetooth and WIFI on the Wireless side.

It all largely depends on the kind of player you are, since the average gamer does not require as many ports as a regular streamer does.

Accessories

As you may know already, accessories are a very important aspect if you’re looking for a gaming rig.

Now a good mouse or keyboard may have nothing to do with frame rates but it does allow a better overall experience, something that also matters in certain games.

Gamers usually prefer mechanical keyboards and mice with multiple buttons, and based on your budget you can buy these too. The additional RGB elements in these are sure to spice up your gaming sessions.

About more important peripherals, the monitor is the one that probably matters the most.

Planning and building a city on Cities Skylines requires keen attention. With so many things to manage, the display you have in front of you while playing must be big enough.

And not just the size, the resolution of the monitor matters too, for those who are concerned about graphics quality.

Well, the game is no less entertaining on an FHD screen, but many prefer even clearer visuals and hence play on QHD and even 4K monitors.

Only you would know the kind of settings you’re looking for, so the choice of the monitor is a personal one.

Questions & Answers:

Is a $1000 budget good for Cities: Skylines?

Yes, $1000 can get you a nice desktop that you can use to play Cities Skylines. However, you would only be able to play on medium to high settings (on FHD quality) and might have to tone down some graphical details.

But these settings should be more than enough for an average gamer, so with a budget like this, you can start looking for a desktop to buy.

Is Cities Skylines GPU or CPU intensive?

Cities Skylines is mostly a CPU-intensive game and is one of those kinds which utilize both the frequency and the cores available on the processor.

This is why gamers always choose a good CPU when playing the game, although the Graphics part needs some attention too. It all depends on the settings and resolution on which you play the game.

Finishing up

The reason why Cities Skylines is still so popular is because of the tons of detailing and features it provides. And you, as a city planner, can customize every aspect of your city to a large extent.

To make sure your city stands out from the rest and you have no troubles even when loading heavy resources, it is of utmost importance that you choose the right configuration for your desktop.