There is a never-ending list of reasons to own one of the best desktop PCs. Gamers are well-known to enjoy the tweak-ability factor of old-school tower computers, whereas everyone else will be charmed by their lightweight pricing. That goes without mentioning that, if you already own a mouse, keyboard or monitor, you won’t have to spend as much as you would on a laptop. However, like everything else in the world, desktop PCs have changed.
Nowadays, there are computers that come with mice and keyboards. Alternatively, some are built into screens; these are called all-in-one PCs. They can’t be easily upgraded in most cases, and sometimes they’re equipped with laptop components. But, what they can do, is provide you with worthwhile performance in a convenient package. Otherwise, more conventional box computers still exist alongside more experimental innovations, like the Intel Compute Stick.
Whatever your cup of tea, we’ve devised a list of the best desktop PCs that doesn’t revolve around only one sector of the personal computing space, nor does it emphasize a particular budget. You will find below that all of our picks offer a bang-up job for the money, which itself ranges from $35 (about £25, AU$45) to $3,000 (around £2,290, AU$3,900). That way, no matter who you are, what your job is and what your hobbies are, you will find a computer that suits you.
Best PC: Dell XPS Tower Special Edition
Don’t be fooled, this mainstream 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
For lack of a better description, the Dell XPS Tower Special Edition is a master of disguise. Appearing as subtle as the PC your parents hid under the desk, don’t be deceived by this boring exterior. Inside, you’ll find your choice of one of the latest high-end graphics card solutions from AMD and Nvidia in addition to a powerful Kaby Lake processor paired with plenty of hard drive and/or SSD storage. While the Special Edition of this PC is only available in the US, our readers in Australia and the United Kingdom will still be able to pick up the regular Dell XPS Tower and configure a system to the top spec.
Best all-in-one PC: Microsoft 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
The Microsoft Surface Studio is one of the most glamorous PCs you can buy. It shakes up the all-in-one formula of putting all the components behind the screen, and instead moves everything to the base. The resulting device has one of the thinnest 28-inch PixelSense Displays that puts even most 4K screens to shame. What’s more, the fully-articulating stand makes it a versatile tool for work and play with Surface Pen support. All in all, the Surface Studio is an exceptional work of, and for, art.
Best mini PC: Zotac Magnus EN1060
A VR-ready micro-machine
CPU: : Intel Core i5-6400T | Graphics: : Nvidia GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5 VRAM) | RAM: N/A | Storage: N/A
The Zotac Magnus EN1060 is practically as small as the Apple , but it’s an exponentially more powerful gaming PC, potent enough to drive virtual reality experiences. Thanks to its small size and understated features, users can place this mini PC under an entertainment center and it won’t draw attention to itself. Keep in mind, though, this system doesn’t come with storage or RAM pre-installed, not to mention it lacks an operating system, so interested users will need buy these components and software separately.
Best gaming PC: Alienware Aurora R6
Great gaming performance without breaking the bank
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 560 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti | RAM: 8GB – 64GB | Storage: 1TB – 2TB HDD, 256GB - 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD, 2TB HDD
The Alienware Aurora R6 is an excellent gaming PC that offers brilliant performance in a conveniently compact body. The affordable price is pretty great as well, considering the power on offer and users itching for upgrades will have room to pick up a second graphics card, plus more RAM and storage.
See more like this: The best gaming PCs
Best living room PC: MSI Trident 3
A slimline console-sized mini PC for your living room
CPU: Intel Core i5-7400 – i7-7700 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti – 1060 | RAM: 8GB – 32GB DDR4 (2,400MHz) | Storage: 2TB HDD; 120GB SSD – 2TB HDD; 1TB SSD
Positioned as a “console killer,” the MSI Trident 3 looks a lot like an and , but it’s a far more powerful PC that feels just right in your living room. Complete with all the ports you could ever dream of, the MSI Trident 3’s advantages are clear. Still, in trying to be as thin and light as possible, the MSI Trident 3 comes equipped with a 330W external power supply brick, resembling some of the least attractive console designs.
Best Mac: Apple iMac (2017)
A powerful, price-efficient (albeit old-hat) package
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 – AMD Radeon Pro 560 | RAM: 8GB – 32GB | Storage: 1TB HDD – 1TB SSD
You wouldn’t see it coming based on the logo alone, but Apple’s latest iMac is neatly priced when compared to other all-in-one computers out there. In fact, the Surface Studio costs three times as much as the iMac to start. Despite lacking the fancy trimmings of its Microsoft-contrived competitor, e.g., a touchscreen and adjustable stand, the option for a 4K P3 wide color display and 7th-generation processor make the 21.5-inch iMac not only gorgeous, but up to date as well.
Read the full review: Apple iMac (2017)
See more like this: The best Macs
Best budget PC: 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
Though at first you might confuse it for a fabric-woven refresh, the HP Pavilion Wave is anything but. This compact Windows machine packs in 6th-generation Intel Core processors and optional discrete AMD graphics with a uniquely integrated Bang & Olufsen speaker. Wrapped in a handsome fabric exterior, this is the perfect PC to have on the desk, as it radiates crisp sound while you browse the web or watch movies.
Best stick PC: Intel Compute Stick
The tiny computer that can
CPU: Intel Atom – Intel Core m5 | Graphics: : Intel HD Graphics – Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 1GB – 4GB | Storage: 8GB-64GB eMMC
No, this isn’t a USB thumb drive you’re looking at. The Intel Core Compute Stick might look like something you would store a PowerPoint presentation on shortly before losing it, but it’s actually a palm-sized personal computer that plugs into any screen with an HDMI port. Configurations start at a lowly 1.33GHz Intel Atom processor running Linux, and at the highest end is a notebook-class Intel Core m5 processor.
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article
- While you’re at it, we’ve also found the best gaming desktop PC you can buy