Top 10 best business desktop PCs (August 2016)

Plus a handy buying guide

The Top 10 desktop PCs for business

While workforces have become far more mobile, there's still a need for the traditional office desktop PC. It remains the most cost-effective computing device as it's easily maintained and has the most powerful solutions available on the market.

Despite the drop in laptop prices and increase in mobile processor power, there are still distinct advantages to running desktop systems in an office environment, which is why the desktop remains the most popular form-factor for computer systems.

Speaking of form factors, the desktop PC has evolved significantly over the past three years beyond the monoliths that mid or mini-towers are.

The range of available desktop systems is as wide and varied as business needs themselves, ranging from a few off-the-shelf units for a SMB to the deployments of thousands of basic desktop PCs and everything in between.

The types of desktop PCs

A recent development in the desktop PC world has been a modest diversification of the system case. The typical business PC comes in a mini-tower box, which is probably best sited under or next to your desk.

But if space is at a premium, a smaller case would be a better choice. Dell, for example, delivers its Optiplex models in mini tower, 'thin' desktop and 'compact' small form factor sizes, each model occupying offering the same computing power but in a different case.

Three other formats that have grown in popularity are

[1] All-in-one, otherwise known as AIO, which combine the monitor with the base unit. The move to power-efficient components, the falling price of LCD panels and the ubiquity of touch functionality make AIO an increasingly popular choice in businesses. The all-in-one PC essentially resembles a slightly larger than normal LCD display that contains the processor, hard drive and memory built-in to the screen casing. The end result is a very elegant, clutter-free desktop PC.

[2] Ultra-small form factors, otherwise known as net tops or mini PCs, which borrow a lot of their designs (and components) from laptops. They are essentially laptops without a screen, input peripherals and a battery.

[3] HDMI dongles which have been inspired by tablets and smartphones and often share parts with the latter. These are usually used for display signage or and in niche markets. They are usually not powerful enough for most tasks but things are likely to improve by the end of 2016.

Top 10 best business desktop PCs of 2016 in the UK

To help narrow down your search for the ideal system for your business, here are TechRadar Pro's top ten business desktop PCs in no particular order.

1. Zoostorm 7260-3041

Desktop PC

Swapping old for new doesn't have to be expensive. Zoostorm, a UK-based computer widely represented at Ebuyer and Amazon, has the cheapest, brand new desktop PC currently available in the UK. Technically, it is just a consumer desktop PC but will perform business tasks admirably.

  • It doesn't come with any OS so you can load your own from previous computers
  • It has a GbE connector
  • It has legacy ports
  • Two monitors can be connected to it
  • It uses a Haswell processor rather than an Atom-based one

2. HP 280 G1 MT

Desktop PC

Got a few computers that you want to get rid from and still hesitating? Then consider the HP 280 G1, a micro-tower desktop PC, that costs £119.99 after trade-in that ends on 31st of March. You will have to fork the cash upfront but the process is fairly straightforward and painless.

  • It comes with Windows 7 Pro with an upgrade to Windows 10 Pro
  • It has a powerful Pentium Haswell processor, not an Atom-based one
  • Two monitors can be connected to it
  • It has plenty of ports
  • It has a GbE connector

3. HP 260 G1

HP 260 G1

That HP trade-in offer goes up to £125 for a desktop costing more than £350 and is also valid on tablets and laptops. If you are after a space saving business-ready device that doesn't cost the earth, this should fill on your short-list. Note that buying it direct from HP entitles you to a 10% on HP printers.

  • Price includes 3-year next business day onsite warranty
  • It comes with Windows 8.1 but can either be upgraded or downgraded
  • Intel Core i3 processor provides plenty of power
  • It has a mini PCIe expansion port
  • You can connect two monitors including a 4K one!

4. Lenovo S500 10HS

Lenovo S500

Available from Insight for £279.99 excluding VAT and delivery

It is just 90mm thick and yet Lenovo's S500 comes with an optical drive and a slew of ports – 14 in all - that will satisfy all but the most demanding users. Sadly, only one of them was a legacy port although it does have an M.2 card slot. As expected it runs on Windows 7 Pro with an upgrade path to Windows 10 Pro.

  • Intel Core i5 should help it deliver the goods
  • Decent expansion capabilities
  • Casing can be used vertically or horizontally
  • Capable of driving two monitors
  • Warranty is onsite albeit for one year

5. Acer Veriton X2631G

Acer Veriton

**We asked for Laptopsdirect to clarify its product summary**

If you are looking for something more functional for your business needs, the Veriton from Acer might fit the bill. While it doesn't come with the level of management features as some of its competitors, it does cost significantly cheaper while punching well above its price bracket.

  • Great value for money
  • Comes with a three-year warranty
  • Windows 7 Pro as standard with upgrade path to Windows 10 Pro
  • Comes with a biometric security solution by default
  • Desktop can be used horizontally or vertically

6. Dell Optiplex 3030

Dell Optiplex 3030

A wonderful piece of technology at an amazing price. This all in one PC from Dell is a good example of why you may want to shop around. Buying it from Dell Direct would have cost you about £25 extra (at the time of writing). Sure you don't get to customise the PC at checkout but thanks to Amazon Prime, you can get it the following day even if it is a Saturday.

  • Has dual screen functionality
  • Integrates with Dell's management tools
  • NGFF connector
  • Windows 7 Pro as standard with upgrade path to Windows 10 Pro
  • Powerful Core i5 CPU

7. Lenovo ThinkCentre M700z

Lenovo ThinkCentre M700z

It's not often that you encounter an all-in-one PC certified to the MIL-SPEC but the M700z is one of the handful of AIOs falling under that category. You can spec it up from a humble Pentium to a Core i7. We did just that and upped the system memory to 16GB. Lenovo is also giving £50 cash back for systems purchased in March 2016.

  • DisplayPort out, allowing 4K on an external monitor
  • Has a USB recovery media
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • MIL-SPEC certification
  • Integrated handle for extra mobility

8. Apple Mac Mini

Apple MacMini

Behold the Mac Mini. Apple's cheapest computer is even cheaper when bought from a third party. It is tiny even compared to the competition but still manages to pack an Intel Core i5 with a faster graphics and Thunderbolt 2 plus a myriad of other connectors, all in a box that's only 36mm thick and sits comfortably on an A4 sheet.

  • Bundled productivity applications
  • 802.11ac
  • Powerful graphics
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Power sipping laptop processor

9. Apple iMac

Apple iMac

There's no denying the solid build-quality and sheer design elegance of the Apple iMac all-in-one. If you were going out to build the most futuristic, glamorous looking office there's no doubt the Apple iMac would be at the top of your shopping list. With the base model built inside a floating-style 21.5-inch display, even the "basic" model is capable of high-end video and photography work.

  • Full HD screen resolution
  • Eye catching design
  • Plenty of ports
  • Bundled productivity applications
  • Supports external 4K monitors

10. Dell Optiplex 3020

Dell Optiplex 3020

If you need a solid PC system that's going to work day-in day-out then the Dell Optiplex range should get a good chunk of your attention. The 3020 range is based on a no-nonsense micro tower system, which comes with Windows 7 Pro 64-with a free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. This system has everything you need to get your business up and running, while remaining expandable as you go.

  • Reasonably priced
  • Reasonably powerful processor
  • Integrates with Dell management tools
  • Offers great expandability
  • DisplayPort connector allows for 4K monitors

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