Selecting the best business computers for your specific purposes is no easy task and there are many different factors to consider. To give you a helping hand, this guide offers a rundown of the best business desktop PCs money can buy.
Laptops and smartphones are essential business tools, and are becoming more powerful and feature-rich every year, but while they are good for people who travel a lot for work, they cannot compete with the best business computers for certain tasks.
For a start, desktop PCs are much more powerful than the best business laptops, and they are cheaper as well. Also, unless you're buying an all-in-one computer, these business computers are also relatively easy to open up and upgrade, making them far more future-proof than laptops or smartphones, which can sometimes start to feel rather outdated after only a few years.
This makes the best business computers a wise financial decision when kitting out your office. And, while traditional desktop PCs are excellent devices to have in an office, we've also listed some of the best all-in-one PCs as well. These devices, like Apple's iconic iMac, have the computing components built into a screen. While this means they are less easily upgradable than traditional PCs, they are easier to set up, take up less space on a desk, and look fantastic as well. Aesthetics might not be your primary concern when buying a business computer, but they will make almost any office or studio look clean and modern.
We've compared the best business computers across numerous aspects, from their CPU and graphics power to the RAM and storage. We looked at how well they handled different apps, what types of businesses they're best suited for, and the overall ease of setting them up, among other aspects.
We've also included our exclusive price comparison tool, which will search the web for the best deals, so once you’ve found the best computers for your business needs, you can buy in confidence knowing you’re getting the best price. Complete your setup with one of the best business monitors or one of the best monitors.
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The best business computers of 2022 in full
To help narrow down your search for the ideal system for your business, here are TechRadar Pro's top 10 business desktop PCs.
Dell is a well-known and well respected name when it comes to business computers, so you can be sure when you buy a machine from Dell that it is a well-built and well-supported device.
The Dell OptiPlex 3050 Micro offers very good base specs that can be customised to your needs, for a very compelling price. The slim line case also keeps your desk or office from feeling cluttered.
Apt for small business owners, this computer is a smart choice if you want multiple mounting options. But since it lacks space, you'll want to ensure you're storing your data online as well so that the HDD doesn't slow down.
This computer offers good graphics and sharpness, guarantees records protection, and overall performs quite smoothly. However, don't expect it to seamlessly run resource-heavy apps and games.
Even though the iMac 27-inch’s last update was only last year, Apple could not help but step up in the upgrades department with its 2020 follow-up. Specs-wise, this model sports some massive improvements while also upgrading its webcam and microphones for a felicitous update.
More people are working from home these days, and this seems like the best all-in-one PC to invest in without being forced to make some considerable space in your existing area. Sure, its overall design has not seen so much as a tweak, making it look a bit tired, but if power is at the top of your list, this one is the best business PC for you.
The iMac 27-inch is a highly configurable computer that has an excellent webcam along with improved internals.
Read the full review: iMac (27-inch, 2020)
If you’re looking for an incredibly powerful, yet stylishly designed, all-in-one PC that’s not made by Apple, then Microsoft’s brilliant Surface Studio will be for you. It comes at a price, but for build quality and performance, you’ll not want to look any further, especially if you work in the creative industry.
The Surface Studio is courting IT professionals and enterprise users by allowing users to utilize custom scripts when updating the OS. While that won’t be of interest to most users, it goes to show how capable this PC really is.
Visually, the Microsoft Surface Studio is a stunning machine. All the CPU components are moved to the base, and the display is just a touchscreen with slim bezels. Without any bulk at the back of the monitor, the screen's profile is just 12.5mm, making it one of the slimmest monitors on the market.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Studio
We've always loved the Apple iMac, and now Apple has produced a professional-orientated, workstation-level, version called the iMac Pro. This is a seriously powerful all-in-one with cutting edge tech, with a choice of powerful Intel Xeon W processors, bags of RAM and hefty graphical processing power. All of this in an iconic Apple design.
If you have the budget for it, the iMac Pro is one of the best business PCs money can buy. It goes for much more than what most consumers would be willing to spend on a computer, but for professionals that want a dedicated workstation to streamline a heavy-duty workflow, the price is worth the convenience and performance.
Photographers, game designers, and architects will all thoroughly enjoy the performance this beast has to offer. The iMac Pro is just 5mm thick, so it won’t eat up the space on your desk, and weighs only 0.7kg (21.38 pounds).
Read the full review: Apple iMac Pro
Behold the Mac mini (opens in new tab). 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 faster graphics and other connectors, all in a box that's only 36mm thick and sits comfortably on an A4 sheet.
The connectivity options include four USB 3.0 ports and two Thunderbolt 2.0 ports at the back, so that you can connect several compatible peripherals — from external storage drives to monitors. There's also an HDMI port if you want to connect to an external display, but if your cables are thick, you won't be able to connect the HDMI and Thunderbolt 2 ports at the same time.
An issue with the Mac mini is that it's not upgradeable. The computer is limited to a dual-core processor and 8GB of RAM, which means it'll struggle with resource-intensive apps.
Read the full review: Apple Mac mini
If you need a solid PC system that is going to work day-in, day-out, then the Dell Optiplex range should get a good chunk of your attention. The 3020 (opens in new tab) range is based on a no-nonsense micro-tower system, which comes with Windows 7 Pro 64-bit 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.
But this is an entry-level PC system and it won't run heavy apps for graphic design or photo editing. Although it supports dual monitor functionality, it lacks in graphic performance and doesn't have an HDMI port to connect to external displays.
Nonetheless, thanks to its affordable pricing and flexible size formats, the Optiplex 3020 is a fairly efficient computer for small and medium-sized companies.
The HP Elite Slice for Meeting Rooms (opens in new tab) proves that business desktops don’t have to be big and bulky. This simple yet powerful device has a small form factor that makes it slot onto desks or in meeting rooms with ease, and with dual-microphones, HP Noise cancellation and specialist conferencing software, it makes it the perfect device for holding meetings on.
This PC has a compact but attractive body and features Bang & Olufsen speakers that produce crisp sound. It has various connectivity options, including USB-C, HDMI, USB 3.0, Ethernet, DisplayPort, and a headset jack. There is wireless connectivity as well (802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.1), so you can enjoy a neat and wire-free setup at work.
The HP Elite Slice is versatile, so it will work well as a conference desktop and as a regular computer for individual use.
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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 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 for 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 in niche markets. They are usually not powerful enough for most tasks but things are likely to improve by the end of 2016.
Workstation vs Desktop PC: What is the difference?
- TechRadarPro Q&A with Anu Herranen, Director of New Product Introduction, Advanced Compute and Solutions at HP Inc (opens in new tab).
The main thing here is that you must ignore the form factors. In this case, the question would really be, what is the difference between a (regular) desktop PC and a desktop workstation? The answer is that the workstation has been developed for a specific professional workflow.
It is not just about the raw performance of the processor or other components in a device. It is about how well they perform in specific tasks relevant to the work they are designed to do. Do they make that system easier, faster and remove unnecessary complexity so you can focus on the task and be more productive and creative?
Usually a data scientist will not place emphasis on the colour accuracy on a display, but they will care about having a device that can process huge data sets for hours without crashing mid-way. A graphic designer or VR developer on the other hand will care about being able to process jobs quicker by managing how power is split between the CPU and GPU depending on the task.
You also need to get beyond the box. What software stack or operating system does the workstation need to run? Does the workstation need to run the full Adobe creative suite? Is the keyboard and other input devices optimized for the needs of the user? Examples might include a VR headset or a set of separate programmable keys.
Security and manageability in workstations are also designed to work seamlessly across the whole stack and conform to specific requirements defined by role and managed by IT departments. Devices are often configured to get the best out of a given software and may even carry certifications that guarantee performance for certain software, such as those from companies like Autodesk.
All of this adds up to a curated experience – a device absolutely dedicated in every way to a workflow and ready to go out of the box, saving days of configuration time.
The final key difference is that workstations are very expandable – designed with upgrading in mind. Whilst that is of course true of many PCs, workstations are engineered with this capability in mind. A workstation is designed to be a device that can expand with your needs over a long period of time.
How to choose the best business computers for you?
When choosing the best business computers for yourself, start with assessing the nature of your business, the number of computers you need, and the operating system.
If you're in architecture, graphic design, or any other field that demands the use of resource-intensive apps, then you'll want to opt for powerful computers with impressive graphic capabilities. But if your work primarily involves using an internet browser use or data entry, then an entry-level computer should work perfectly well.
How much RAM you need will depend on how resource-heavy the apps you use are and whether you do a lot of multitasking. The more apps you run simultaneously, the more RAM you'll want for a smoother experience.
You'll want to evaluate what operating system works best for you. If your employees are used to working on Windows, then it's more efficient to stick to that rather than switching to a new system.
Consider the size of the machines if you don't have a lot of desk space or if you want a neat workplace setup. You'll also want to consider the pricing of the computers and whether the seller offers discounts on bulk purchases.
The best business computers: How we test
To test the best business computers, we first looked at their specifications, like the CPU, graphics, RAM, storage, connectivity, and dimensions. We considered the types and sizes of businesses they'd be suitable for and whether the tech configurations were expandable.
We assessed how well they handled multiple apps at a time, how smoothly they ran resource-heavy apps, and how easy the overall setup process was.
We evaluated the dimensions and weight of the computers to check whether they take up a lot of desk space and if they're light enough to be moved around easily. We also considered whether the computers had dual monitor capabilities, ports to connect to external displays, and swift wireless connectivity.