3. Acer Aspire M3985

Acer Aspire M3985 pic

Get workstation power but without paying a workstation price; Acer has built a high-end desktop that is up to workstation tasks. Running a third generation Intel Core i5 3330 3GHz processor, its four HyperThreading cores can process eight threads simultaneously, tackling all but the most demanding tasks.

Installed with 12GB of DDR3 memory as standard, it does fall short of the full 16GB of which the system is capable. But a basic 1TB drive can be accompanied by another two SATA drives for expanded storage, and it's good to see 802.11n wireless sitting next to the usual Gigabit LAN.

There's the token addition of a Nvidia GeForce 605 graphics card with 1GB of memory, but this isn't going to offer much more performance than the integrated Intel graphics and is largely useful for its additional graphic outputs, which enable multi-monitor installations. While this will lack the bulletproof design of high end workstations its Intel hardware and drivers will ensure solid running.

4.Lenovo ThinkCentre Edge 71

Lenove ThinkCentre Edge 71 pic

Lenovo delivers a system that's all about getting work done and comes with the long-standing black and angular Lenovo styling. The Edge 71 family starts with this highly competent second generation model powered by an Intel Core i3 2100, and can be configured with anything up to a Core i7. This explains why the base option is just 2GB of DDR3 memory, but that's enough for the office basics and Lenovo has updated the range to Windows 8 64-bit with memory expandable up to 8GB.

Even the base unit provides dual monitor output, and comes with a host of business security features including USB disable, Computrace and Auto PC lock that uses a webcam to detect when the system is unused and locks it. With smart touches like a spill-resistant keyboard, a design that eMbraces maintenance plus the choice of a full tower or slimline desktop, the Lenovo ThinkCentre Edge 71 is designed as a robust workhorse.

5. Acer Aspire XC600

Acer Aspire XC600 pic

Acer delivers the ideal low cost, high tech office solution that even comes pre-installed with Windows 8 64-bit. Don't let the low cost put you off; Acer might be better known for its laptops, but this small form-factor desktop is well built, both in terms of it physical chassis and also its internal Intel architecture.

The base model is powered by the Pentium G645. This is a 2.9GHz dual-core processor that was released at the end of 2012 and is based on the last-generation Sandy Bridge 32nm process. Putting it inline with the Core i3 2x00 range in terms of power and features, though it does lack Intel vPro support.

The supplied 2GB of DDR3 memory is basic but can be expanded up to 8GB. The integrated Intel HD Graphics supports dual monitors and usable 3D capabilities. It's packing a speedy Gigabit LAN and a roomy 500GB hard drive, which should be good enough for standard office work. Uprated models provide Intel Core i3 and i5 processor options with Intel vPro support.

6. Acer Aspire ZS600

Acer Aspire ZS600 pic

Acer brings its consumer know-how to a workplace all-in-one. It's an interesting proposition, and if you contrast it with the Acer XC600 with its lesser specification you can see your extra investment is going into its impressive display.

Based around a 23-inch, 1920x1080 pixel touch-enabled display, this Acer Aspire ZS600 delivers a pin sharp image from about as large a display as this class of PC is going to support. This base model is running the latest generation Intel Pentium G640 dual-core processor with 3Mb of L2 cache, which is based on the solid Intel Core i architecture and is more than up for all office tasks.

Acer isn't messing around either with 6GB of memory (from a maximum of 8GB), the usual roomy 500GB of drive space, Gigabit LAN, wireless 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0 all in for the deal. The one-year return to base warranty is the main weakness for the system. It can be upgraded to one-year on site with two additional return to base, but again this might not suit all needs.