The 9 best computers of 2017: the best PCs ranked

Update: We've modified the specs of the XPS Tower Special Edition to match those of Dell's latest at number 1 while, at number 9, we've replaced the Asus VivoMini UN45 with the more recent Asus VivoMini UN65U. Read on to find out more! 

Now that the Oculus Rift is cheaper than ever before, it’s becoming increasingly more tempting to upgrade your computer. Though they aren’t all ripe for VR, many of the best PCs now make it possible for businesses to nab Windows 10 and Office 365 together for a simplified cost.

In the productivity space, PCs promote comfort and proficiency, bearing sophisticated designs and powerful specs unparalleled by tablets and laptops. And you can take solace knowing that while all of the top computers on this list boast tight security – even if it’s not quite this much.

Do keep in mind, however, that only some of these PCs are upgradeable. Whereas certain models can be augmented with better parts done the line, others are limited to what you get out of the box. Nevertheless, these are the top 10 best computers you can buy today.

Dell Inspiron 3000

1. Dell XPS Tower Special Edition

Don’t be fooled, this machine is a gaming PC at heart

CPU: Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 580 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Storage: 256GB SSD; 1TB HDD – 512GB SSD; 2TB HDD | Communication: Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 7.09 x 14.02 x 15.22 inches

Compact, minimalist design
Full online customer support
Starting memory isn't ideal for VR
Lower graphical performance compared to rivals

Though it may be disguised as an “ordinary” computer akin to what you’d find your parents using, the Dell XPS Tower Special Edition is a master of deception. Inside, you’ll find your choice of one of the latest high-end graphics card solutions from AMD or Nvidia in addition to a powerful Kaby Lake processor paired with plenty of storage, SSD and otherwise. It may not have “the look,” but this PC is capable of far more than basic word processing.

Dell didn’t stop there, however. Rather, the computer company managed to squeeze in discrete graphics that, surprisingly for a pre-built machine, don’t cost an outrageous wad of cash. Not only that, but register your XPS Tower Special Edition with Dell and they’ll throw in complimentary customer support via the web. If you prefer your PCs with subdued, austere designs over those bedecked with aliens and snakes, this one does it all.

Read the full review: Dell XPS Tower Special Edition

  • This product is only available in the US. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Alienware Aurora R5.

2. Surface Studio

The art kid’s dream computer in a metallic nutshell

CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M – 980M | RAM: 8GB – 32GB | Storage: 64GB SSD; 1TB HDD – 128GB SSD; 2TB HDD | Communication: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 | Dimensions: 25.09x 17.27 x 0.44 inches (63.7 x 43.9 x 1.14cm W x D x H)

The best digital drawing board
Impeccable build quality
All rearward ports
Pricey proposition for most

Microsoft doesn’t seem to have a care in the world for what other hardware makers are doing, making the Surface Studio all the more glamorous as a result. It costs quite more than the competing Dell XPS 27 and more than double that of the HP Envy AIO 27, but it’s also a more premium product. Featuring Surface Pen support and 10-point multi-touch, it’s more than a basic productivity and entertainment machine.

The 28-inch, 4,500 x 3,000 PixelSense Display puts even most 4K screens to shame, while the fully-articulating stand makes it a rather versatile tool whether it’s for work or play. That goes without mentioning the aluminum finish, which suits the Surface Studio well against the sheen of the Microsoft Windows logo from the rear. Though the port placement is a little funky, the Surface Studio goes above and beyond.

Read the full review: Surface Studio

Apple iMac

3. Apple iMac with 5K Retina display (2015)

A stylish all-in-one with a stunning screen

CPU: Intel Dual-Core i5 - Quad-Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics 6000 | RAM: 8GB - 32GB | Storage: 1TB HDD - 3TB SSD | Communication: Wireless: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 196 x 196 x 36mm

Bright IPS screen
Few wires or cables
Tough to upgrade

The iMac keeps it classy and, better yet, simple. Easy-to-use hardware combined with the famed accessibility of macOS makes for a nigh-perfect computing experience. A built-in screen, speakers and 802.11ac wireless networking are only complemented by the fantastic Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2. All you need is a single power cable to get it up and running.

The 27-inch, 5K iMac in particular can be configured with a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor touting up to 3.9GHz clock speeds with Turbo Boost kicked into high gear. And, of course, trumpeting that eloquent 5K screen, it looks just as sleek as it feels to use. Plus, even bearing the guts of an entire desktop rig, the aluminum chassis somehow stays slimmer than most standalone monitors.

Read the full review: Apple iMac with 5K Retina display

Apple 4K iMac

4. Apple iMac with 4K Retina display (21.5-inch, Late 2015)

Still stylish, still stunning, but compact too

CPU: Intel Quad-Core i5 | Graphics: Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200 | RAM: 8GB 1867MHz LPDDR3 | Storage: 1TB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400RPM | Communication: Wireless: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 45cm x 52.8cm x 17.5cm

Display
Accessories
SSD not standard
Pricey

When it comes to 21.5-inch screens, 4K is more than enough, and that’s exactly what Apple has exemplified with this charming rendition of the iMac. This Intel Skylake-powered beast houses a Retina 4K display that's packed with vibrant colors and that classic aluminum finish Mac lovers can’t live without – plus, it hardly takes up any desk space, leaving plenty of room for trinkets and accessories.

Its display's massive, 4,096 x 2,304 pixel-resolution is great for surfing the web in comfort with multiple windows side-by-side in macOS Sierra’s Split View in addition to image and video editing, watching 4K video content and doing just about everything else. Like the 5K iMac, the Magic Mouse 2 (or Magic Trackpad 2 if you’re so inclined) is included along with the newest Magic Keyboard.

Read the full review: Apple iMac with 4K Retina display (21.5-inch, Late 2015)

Apple Mac Mini

5. Apple Mac mini

The cheapest way you can go Mac

CPU: Intel Dual-Core i5 | Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics 5100 | RAM: 4GB - 8GB | Storage: 500GB HDD | Communication: Wireless: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 196 x 196 x 36mm

The most affordable Mac
Internal power supply
Few expansion options
Upgrades get expensive

The Mac mini exhibits the luxury of an Apple desktop without the extravagant price tag to match. Though it ships without the otherwise expected Magic Mouse and Keyboard peripherals, getting to choose your own accessories is, at the very least, liberating. Featuring an aluminum shell and a chassis design that’s both compact and simple, the Mac Mini is Apple at its most quintessential.

And, while it hasn't been updated in quite some time on the hardware front, the Mac Mini's Haswell-based i5 processor still chugs along nicely. Plus, with Iris Graphics onboard, you'll get a bit more juice than expected. Combined with 500GB of storage space and 4GB of RAM, the Mac mini is arguably the best starting point for macOS newcomers even if a contemporary makeover is long past due.

Read the full review: Apple Mac mini

HP Pavilion Mini

6. HP Pavilion Wave

It's a prettier, if less-beefy, Mac Pro

CPU: Intel Core i3 – Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530 – AMD Radeon R9 M470 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 1TB HDD | Communication: 802.11ac, Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.2 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 6.81 x 6.62 x 9.25 inches

Unique, stylish cylindrical form factor
Clever and effective audio solution
No optical audio port
Unflattering specs

The HP Pavilion Wave is perhaps the most inconspicuous computer you can buy. Developed in conjunction with Bang & Olufsen, the speaker is the system steals the spotlight of the rest of the machine. Thanks to its quality-woven fabric chassis and Bluetooth audio output capabilities, the HP Pavilion Wave is the ultimate PC for music lovers. 

Rather than muddling the audio quality exerted from the Wave’s onboard speaker system, HP and B&O Play have devised a clever cylindrical design that actually improves on sound quality while looking good at the same time. The HP Pavilion Wave also manages to future-proof itself with three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, DisplayPort and even a single USB Type-C port.

Read the first look: HP Pavilion Wave

LG Chromebase

7. Dell XPS 27 AIO

A well-rounded jab at Apple’s ageing iMac

CPU: Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530 | RAM: 8GB – 32GB | Storage: 1TB HDD – 2TB HDD; 32GB SSD | Communication: 802.11ac; Ethernet; Bluetooth 4.0 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 17.1 x 24.6 x 3.16 inches

Handsome display
Virtually unparalleled built-in sound
Relatively expensive
No HDMI in

The Dell XPS 27 is an all-in-one that does it all, and it does so with pristine equity. Resting atop an articulating stand is a massive 4K Ultra HD touchscreen display and a whopping sextet of ear-numbing speakers. Not only is it attractive, what with its silvery metallic finish and uniquely molded mouse and keyboard, but it’s also top-notch when it comes to delivering powerful specs. 

No, there’s no HDMI-in or pressure-sensitive stylus, but that’s because the Dell XPS 27 knows its audience. And that’s, almost strictly, AV junkies and music producers. Whether you’re making your own beats or vibing out to someone else’s; watching films or editing them yourself, the Dell XPS 27 should be at the top of your list when shopping around for a new PC. 

Read the full review: Dell XPS 27 AIO

HP 260 G1

8. Intel Compute Stick (Core M)

The tiny computer that can

CPU: Intel Core m3 – Core m5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB eMMC | Communication: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 38mm x 12mm x 125mm

Powerful CPU
Extremely portable design
Still hindered by fan cooling
Limited RAM and storage

You wouldn’t assume a PC that’s the size of a flash drive to run Windows 10 almost seamlessly. This little computer that could does that and more, however, without wasting space in your living room or in a cabinet beneath your desk. 

Though we were admittedly disappointed by the initial run of Atom-equipped Intel Compute Sticks, now that you can choose between an Intel Core m3 or Core m5 chip, our qualms have been (mostly) assuaged. The Intel Compute Stick is still cheap enough that its few shortcomings can be overlooked. Its tiny form factor and competent CPU should be enough to satisfy.

Asus K31ADE

9. Asus VivoMini UN65U

A compact desktop for everyday computing

CPU: Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Integrated Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB – 32GB | Storage: 32GB – 256GB SSD; HDD up to 1TB | Communication: 802.11ac, Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0 | Dimensions (W x D x H): 5.16 x 5.16 x 2.05 inches

Gorgeous midnight blue finish
No-frills 4K media playback
No pre-configured options
Windows sold separately

Asus is a unique hardware maker in that it offers a wide range of computers for every type of user. The Asus VivoMini UN65 specifically is designed for those yearning to keep their desktop in the living room. It may look like an external DVD drive, but this is a full-on desktop that can be used to watch 4K movies, present slideshows or anything else a “regular” desktop can do.

Although it doesn’t include an SSD, RAM or an operating system (you’ll have to install Windows 10 by yourself), once you do get it up and running, it’s dead silent and just as capable as some desktop towers multiple times its size.

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article