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Best computer 2021: the best PCs we've tested

best computers
Here are our top picks for the best PCs 2021 has on offer. (Image credit: Future)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best computers of 2021 pack more performance than ever, due to the increasingly powerful processors and graphics cards  coming out, and are also cheaper than they have been in the past. Regardless of whether you’re investing in a budget PC or a maxed-out behemoth, you’re getting a lot of value for your money.

Considering how much power the best computers have under the hood, there’s not much they can’t handle. And, because Nvidia, AMD, and Intel are constantly trying to better each other’s offerings with more robust and cheaper PC components, you can find something in your preferred price range.

But, you need to figure out which one is right for you. Are you looking to play graphics-heavy AAA games? Take a look at the best gaming PCs on our list, which come with some high-end internals, like the best RAM. Are you trying to render 4K video? Then, maybe consider a powerful workstation equipped with fast SSDs. Or, do you have limited funds for your next purchase? Then, check out some great budget PCs that also made it onto our list of the best computers.

Dell XPS Tower Special Edition

(Image credit: Dell)

Best PC: Dell XPS Tower

Affordable, high-performing machine

Specifications
CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i3 – i9
Graphics: Intel HD – UHD Graphics
RAM: 8GB - 64GB
Storage: 1TB HDD – 2TB SSD + 2TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Fully configurable
Reasons to avoid
-Highest configurations can be pricey

The Dell XPS Tower gets our vote for the best of the best computers 2021 has to offer for one simple fact. It boasts enough power and features without costing you a lot. This latest XPS Tower line is fitted with 9th-generation Intel Core processors and advanced VR-ready graphics, and it’s also fully configurable, which makes it future-proof. On top of all that, it’s got a good selection of configurations on hand so you can take your pick depending on your needs and budget. And, if you’re a big fan of the no-nonsense look, this tower’s simple 90s homogenous look.

iMac 27-inch (2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

Best all-in-one PC: iMac (27-inch, 2020)

A formidable AIO

Specifications
CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i5 – i9
Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 5300 - Radeon Pro 5700 XT
RAM: 8GB – 128GB 2666MHz DDR4
Storage: 256GB – 8TB SSD
Display: 27-inch (diagonal) 5120 x 2880 Retina 5K display
Reasons to buy
+Improved internals+Can be configured to be very powerful
Reasons to avoid
-Design is getting old-Just two Thunderbolt ports

Even though the iMac 27-inch’s last update was only last year, Apple couldn’t help but step up in the upgrades department with its 2021 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 hasn’t seen so much as a tweak, making it look a bit tired, but if power is at the top of your list, this one’s the best PC for you in the all-in-one sphere.

Read the full review: iMac (27-inch, 2020)

Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10

(Image credit: Alienware)

Best gaming PC: Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10

Powerful gaming for all budgets

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3500 – 9 3950X
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 5600 – NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
RAM: 8GB – 64GB DDR4
Storage: 1TB 7200RPM SATA – 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD + 2TB 7200RPM SATA
Reasons to buy
+Powerful specs+Affordable+Stunning design
Reasons to avoid
-Still very expensive at highest configurations

With AMD’s solid campaign to win the CPU and GPU markets, it’s no surprise that many of the best PCs are switching over Team Red’s cause. Our favorite Alienware Aurora gaming desktop PC line is among them, fitting its R10 models with AMD’s powerful yet affordable Ryzen CPUs. Not only do these deliver brute strength when it comes to gaming, but they also tout affordability, giving budget gamers to partake in what those with souped up rigs experience everyday without burning a hole in their pockets.

Dell G5 Gaming Desktop

(Image credit: Dell)

Best affordable gaming PC: Dell G5 Gaming Desktop

Budget PC gaming at its best

Specifications
CPU: 9th Gen Intel Core i3-9100 – i9 9900K
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 – RTX 2070
RAM: 8GB – 64GB
Storage: 1TBSSD – 1TB SSD + 2TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+VR-ready configurations
Reasons to avoid
-Base models won’t get you through the most demanding games

A unique chassis coupled with a price to beat, Dell’s latest in its G series gaming PCs is a solid contender in budget gaming. The Dell G5 boasts 9th-generation Intel chips as well as Nvidia’s most powerful gaming GTX and RTX graphics cards, starting with an i3 processor and the GTX 1650 to handle many powerful games without burning a whole in your pocket. Of course, if you’ve got more case to spare, it’s VR ready configurations are also on hand, though even those are absolutely affordable.

Intel Ghost Canyon NUC

(Image credit: Intel)

Best mini PC: Intel Ghost Canyon NUC

Small, but dangerous

Specifications
CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i5 – i9
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM: 8GB – 64B DDR4
Storage: 128GB SSD – 2TB + 2TB
Reasons to buy
+Affordable at its low configurations+Highly upgradeable+Great performance
Reasons to avoid
-Can get pretty pricey at the highest configurations

Intel’s NUC has come a long way from its humble beginnings. For example, while the previous Hades Canyon didn’t come with a RAM or storage, the newer Ghost Canyon has both. In fact, not only does it have more offerings now in terms of specs, but it’s also highly configurable so you can personalize it to your liking before hitting that buy button. With 9th-generation Intel Core chips, up to 64GB of memory and up to 4TB dual storage, we’re all for it. The only catch is that it's pricier now as well. The lower configurations are still quite affordable, and a terrific option for the budget-conscious. However, you may want to stay away from the highest configurations.

HP Omen Desktop PC

(Image credit: HP)

Best high-end gaming PC: HP Omen Desktop PC

Gaming PC powerhouse that’s worth the price

Specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7-8700 – i7-9700K
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti – RTX 2080 Ti
RAM: Up to 64GB
Storage: 1TB HDD – 512GB SSD + 2TB HDD
Reasons to buy
+High powered+Highly upgradable+Up to 165Hz refresh rates
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best looking PC

While the Decepticon look this gaming PC sports might only be for some, there’s definitely something for everybody as far as configurations go – whether you’re a casual gamer on a budget or a hardcore one willing to drop a lot of dough for a souped up rig. At less than $1,500 (about £1,180, AU$2,170), you’re getting more than enough power to get you through AAA games, albeit probably not on Ultra. At $2,335 (about £1,835, AU$3,235) or more, you’re getting a considerable amount of power and storage. Plus, HP Omen Desktop PC comes in a tool-less design, making it upgradeable. If you're after a high-end gaming PC that can handle the latest games with ease, this is the one to get.

Read the full review: HP Omen Desktop PC

Apple Mac mini (2020)

(Image credit: Apple)

Best Mac: Apple Mac mini (2020)

Same size, more storage space

Specifications
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i3 – Core i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM: 8GB – 64GB 2666MHz DDR4
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+More storage+More RAM options
Reasons to avoid
-Aging processor-Older integrated graphics

Apple is changing up a bit, giving its updated Macs more storage than their predecessors as well as the option for even more RAM. It’s the case with the newly-updated Mac mini (2020). Sadly, this isn't quite the generational upgrade we were hoping for. It’s the same Mac mini with the same processor and integrated graphics that are both, unfortunately, aging at this point. Though, both are still pretty potent for the Mac mini’s target audience. Combined with more storage space, this is certainly the best computer for many Apple fans.

Intel Compute Stick

(Image credit: Intel)

Best stick PC: Intel Compute Stick

The tiny computer that can

Specifications
CPU: Intel Atom – Intel Core m5
Graphics: : Intel HD Graphics – Intel HD Graphics 515
RAM: 1GB – 4GB
Storage: 8GB-64GB eMMC
Reasons to buy
+Wide CPU choices+Extremely portable design
Reasons to avoid
-Limited fan cooling-Limited RAM and storage

Some people have issues with desktop PCs, as they’re often rather bulky. The Intel Core Compute Stick has made that irrelevant. Looking more like a thumb drive than an actual computer, this tiny renegade can connect to any monitor with an HDMI input. Its base starts with a lowly 1.33GHz Intel Atom processor running Linux, but can be configured up to an Intel Core m5 processor. This is one of the best PCs, but one that you can literally slip in your pocket, whether you need to get some work done during your daily commute or squeeze in some PC time while you’re traveling.

Lenovo Yoga A940

(Image credit: Lenovo)

Best in features: Lenovo Yoga A940

Thoughtful design, innovative features

Specifications
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8700
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 560 4GB
RAM: 32GB
Storage: 1 TB 5400 RPM + 256 GB PCIe SSD
Screen: 27" 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS Multi-touch 100% Adobe RGB
Reasons to buy
+Good price+Some nice features
Reasons to avoid
-Older components

As a designer, if you don’t fall in love with Lenovo Yoga A940’s thoughtful design, then we don’t know what will. This innovative all-in-one desktop boasts a stunning 27-inch 4K UHD display with up to 25-degree tilt, pen support and a rotating hinge for stability. It’s full of impressive features as well, like the Lenovo Precision Dial that you can attach on the left or right side of the hinge, whatever feels most comfortable for you and your process. And, unlike the best Macs, it offers 100% Adobe RGB support, an LED light at the bottom of the screen and even wireless smartphone charging. If you’re a content creator or designer, and you’re looking for an AIO that allows you a truly seamless workflow, this is the best computer for you.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga A940

iMac Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

Best for content creators: iMac Pro

Raw power

Specifications
CPU: 8 to 18-core Intel Xeon W
Graphics: Radeon Pro Vega 56 - Radeon Pro Vega 64
RAM: 32GB – 256GB DDR4 ECC
Storage: 1TB – 4TB PCIe 3.0 SSD
Screen: 27-inch 5K (5,120 x 2,880) Retina display (P3 wide color)
Reasons to buy
+Most powerful Mac ever+Excellent design+Keeps cool
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive-Non user-upgradable

Unfortunately, what does hold Lenovo Yoga A940 back are its less powerful, slightly aging internals. If you want an all-in-one powerhouse that absolutely blows you away in terms of performance, then the iMac Pro is the best computer for you. This AIO designed specifically for professionals and creatives may not be super rich in features, but it’s got a lot to offer where it truly counts. That includes its vibrant 27-inch 5K display with a P3 wide color gamut, mind-blowing Radeon Pro Vega graphics, and plenty of memory for all your exacting workloads. Just be prepared to shell out a bunch of cash, as this doesn’t come cheap.

Read the full review: iMac Pro

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

(Image credit: Raspberry Pi)

Best single-board computer: Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

Small yet mighty

Specifications
CPU: Broadcom BCM2711, Quad core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8)
Graphics: OpenGL ES 3.0
RAM: 1GB, 2GB or 4GB LPDDR4-3200 SDRAM
Reasons to buy
+More powerful CPU for a smoother user experience+The 4GB RAM model is almost a desktop replacement
Reasons to avoid
-Even at idle the CPU gets rather too warm

Despite its tiny size – it’s so small, it doesn’t even have its own chassis, the Raspberry Pi boards have proven themselves to be utterly capable little machines, surprisingly capable of handling everyday productivity tasks like word processing and spreadsheets. And, with the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, we see this powerful computer getting the fantastic update it rightly deserves. Finally, the Raspberry Pi line gives you a desktop computer and a platform to experiment and create.

Read the full review: Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article

Image Credits: TechRadar