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Best computer 2019: the best PCs we've tested

best computers

The best PCs pack more power now than ever before. They’ve evolved to the point of packing eight-core processors and super high-end graphics cards, some of which offer real time ray tracing – things that were not possible only a few years back. Staying on the cutting edge in 2019 means getting one of the best PCs included on this list, even if most of what you’ll do is browse Facebook and surf the internet.

The good news is, the best PCs available right now are also more affordable than ever, which means that regardless of what your budget might be, you'll find one that's not ideal for you and your needs, but can also keep you on the cutting edge. You can pick up a solid PC or even an all-in-one desktop for around $500 (about £390, AU$715), for example. 

In addition, many of the best PCs will last you a lifetime as they are upgradeable. It’s easy to keep them up to date by fitting in new and improved PC components, like fast SSDs, more RAM and possibly even the best graphics card.

With so many options to choose from, deciding on the best PC for you, your needs and your budget can get confusing. So we gathered all the best computers on the market, paying close attention to those that hit that sweet spot between price and performance.

Here are our top picks for the best PCs 2019 has on offer. Peruse the list and pick out what you like.

Dell XPS Tower Special Edition

Best PC: Dell XPS Tower Special Edition

This mainstream machine is a gaming PC at heart

CPU: Intel Core i5 – Core i9 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti – 1080 | RAM: 8GB –64GB

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

The Dell XPS Tower looks unremarkable, like that PC your parents used to have hidden away underneath the desk when you were a kid. However, its no-nonsense chassis hides quite a selection of exciting internals. One of the best PCs right now, the Dell XPS Tower is packed with up to an RTX 2070 graphics card, a 9th-generation Intel Core processor, and a large hard drive and/or SSD. This special edition PC configuration is only available in the US. However, UK and Australian readers can grab the regular Dell XPS Tower and then add similar upgrades, though there are some limitations such as the graphics card options topping out with the GTX 1060.

Read the full review: Dell XPS Tower Special Edition

Microsoft Surface Studio 2

Best all-in-one PC: Microsoft Surface Studio 2

The art kid’s dream computer in a metallic nutshell

CPU: Intel Core i7-7820HQ | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 – 1070 | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Storage: 1TB-2TB SSD

Brighter display
Very expensive

The Surface Studio quickly rose to prominence as one of the best PCs for artists when it first came out. It’s no surprise, therefore, that its follow up has picked up where it left off. Rocking a Kaby Lake mobile processor and Nvidia Pascal graphics, the Surface Studio 2 has a lot more power than the original, handling anything you throw at it for the next couple of years. It’s also inherited that gorgeous PixelSense display with Surface Pen support, which lets it retain the privilege of being one of the best all-in-one – not to mention, the best PCs on this list – for creatives.

Read the full review: Surface Studio 2

Intel Hades Canyon NUC

Best mini PC: Intel Hades Canyon NUC

Don’t let its size fool you

CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Radeon RX Vega M GL – GH | RAM: 4GB – 64GB | Storage: 128GB – 2TB SSD; up to 2TB secondary SSD

 Lots of ports 
 Easy to upgrade 

If you want an excellent desktop experience, but don’t have a lot of desk space, then Intel Hades Canyon NUC may just be ideal for you. This small bare-bones PC has an absurdly fast 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor and discrete-class AMD Radeon graphics. Adding some RAM and storage to the mix, and you will be conquering the best PC games without breaking a sweat. It won’t compete against a full-sized desktop, but when you’re short on space – or you want a PC that looks like a set-top box – this is one of the best PCs to consider.

Read the full review: Intel Hades Canyon NUC 

Alienware Aurora R7

Best gaming PC: Alienware Aurora R7

Lean, mean gaming machine

CPU: Intel Core i7 8700K | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, 2TB HDD

Easy to upgrade
Distinct case design
Partially obstructed cooling

With the Aurora R7, there’s no stopping Alienware from clawing its way back to the top of the best PCs for gaming. The Alienware Aurora R7 isn’t just one of the best gaming PCs; it’s also among the best computers money can buy. It has lightning fast performance with its 8th-generation Intel Core processor and GTX 10-series graphics. And, all that power is conveniently packed away inside its attractive chassis touting that gaming aesthetic. It’s also surprisingly affordable for the power it offers. Did we mention that this PC is also easily upgradeable, despite the unique form-factor?

Read the full review: Alienware Aurora R7

Corsair One i160

Best living room PC: Corsair One i160

Absolute power, ridiculously small

CPU: Intel Core i7-9700K – i9-9900K | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 – 2080 Ti | RAM: 32GB DDR4 | Storage: 480GB SSD; 2TB HDD

 Enormously powerful 
 Small and aesthetic 
 Very expensive 

If you want one of the best PCs that will look just as good in your living room as it does in your home office, then the Corsair One i160 is the way to go. It packs an unbelievable amount of power inside its sleek, compact chassis, rocking a Coffee Lake Refresh processor and Nvidia Turing graphics – not to mention a whopping 32GB of RAM. This is an absolute powerhouse, and will tear through any game you throw at it, even on your newly-purchased 4K monitor. Just be prepared, as that high price tag might send you reeling.

Read the full review: Corsair One i160 

Apple Mac mini (Late 2018)

Best Mac: Apple Mac mini (Late 2018)

Mini is back again

CPU: Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 8GB – 64GB | Storage: 128GB – 2TB SSD

Incredibly powerful
Can’t upgrade storage

It’s easy to think of Apple computers as overpriced, but your bank account will be spared if you jump on the Mac mini bandwagon. The Mac mini 2018 is a small form-factor PC that looks adorable and also packed tight with high-end desktop parts. And, that’s all for a much more accessible price than any other Mac on the market, making it a great buy for anyone who already has a slew of Mac-ready peripherals or for a Mac fan who doesn’t have the budget for a Mac Pro. What’s more, unlike many of Apple’s recent products, the Mac mini is relatively upgradeable – you can boost your memory up to 64GB of RAM.

Read the full review: Apple Mac mini

HP Pavilion Wave

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

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

Don’t confuse the HP Pavilion Wave for a fabric-woven old Mac Pro wannabe, as it is something else entirely. This curious-looking Windows machine is packed with 6th-generation Intel Core processors then paired with optional discrete AMD graphics and uniquely integrated Bang & Olufsen speakers. It’s also donning an urbane fabric exterior, definitely making it the most attractive of the best PCs to have on your desk or even a bookshelf. And, it radiates detailed sound as you browse the web or watch movies.

Read the first look: HP Pavilion Wave

Intel Compute Stick

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

Wide CPU choices
Extremely portable design
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.

Specifications (as reviewed)

ProductDell XPS Tower Special EditionMicrosoft Surface Studio 2Intel Hades Canyon NUCAlienware Aurora R7Corsair One i160Apple Mac mini (Late 2018)HP Pavilion WaveIntel Compute Stick
CPUIntel Core i7-8700Intel Core i7-7820HQ Intel Core i7-8809GIntel Core i7-8700K Intel Core i9-9900KIntel Core i3-8100Intel Core i5-7400TIntel Atom x5-Z8500
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 1070Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070Radeon RX Vega M GH graphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 1080 TiNvidia GeForce RTX 2080 TiIntel UHD Graphics 630AMD Radeon R9 M470N/A
Storage 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD, 1TB HDD (7,200 rpm)1TB PCIe SSD118GB Intel Optane SSD 800P Series (NVMe), 512GB Intel SSD 545s Series (M.2 SATA) 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, 2TB HDD 480GB M.2 NVMe SSD, 2TB HDD128GB PCIe SSD1TB HDD32GB

Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article

Image Credits: TechRadar