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Top desktop computers
Compare popular options and determine the best fit for your needs.
While the trusty desktop computer may not be quite as popular as the laptop, it’s a clear winner for processing speed, storage space and bang for your buck. Desktop computer prices range from less than $500 for entry-level models up to $5,000 for top-spec gaming PCs.
Top desktop computers
|Processor||Screen size (in)||RAM||Hard drive||Purchase|
|Dell Inspiron 24 3000||$599||Up to 8th Generation Intel Core i3-8145U||23.8||Up to 8GB||1TB|
|Dell Inspiron 27 7000||$1,100||Up to 10th Generation Intel Core i5-10210U||27||Up to 8GB||Up to 256GB|
|Lenovo Ideacentre AIO 730s||$999||Up to 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8550U||23.8||Up to 16GB||Up to 2 TB|
|HP ProOne 400 G3||$875||7th Generation Intel Core i5||20||4GB||500GB|
|Acer Aspire S24-880-UR12||$899||8th Generation Intel Core i5-8250U||23.8||12GB||1TB|
|Apple iMac 21.5 inch||$1,099||7th-generation Intel Core i5||21.5||8GB||1TB|
|HP ProOne 600 G4||$1,200||Up to 9th Generation Intel Core i7||21.5||8GB||Up to 1TB|
|ASUS Vivo AiO V272UA||$999||Intel Core i5-8250U||27||8GB||1TB|
|Dell Inspiron 24 5000||$849||Up to 10th Generation Intel Core i5-10210U||23.8||8GB||256GB|
|Apple iMac 27 inch||$1,899||Up to 3.7GHz 6-core 9th-generation Intel Core i5||27||Up to 64GB||Up to 2TB|
|Microsoft Surface Studio 2||$3,499|
Intel Core i7-7820HQ
|28||Up to 32GB||Up to 2TB|
Why should I consider a desktop computer?
Why choose a desktop over a laptop? Desktops typically offer:
- Bigger screens. In the interest of portability, even the largest laptops only have screens of up to 18 inches. Using a desktop means you can choose a much larger display, potentially turning it into a media center where you can view movies, TV and pictures.
- More power. The CPU and graphics processor in a desktop computer are usually more powerful than what you’d find in a similarly-priced laptop.
- Better cooling. If you’re using a traditional desktop tower, this setup provides more space and enough room for bigger cooling fans, allowing you to run more powerful equipment.
- More freedom to upgrade and customize. The extra space in a traditional desktop case also provides room to add an extra drive or graphics card. Unlike laptops, which are sold as a finished product, you can mix and match features to build a desktop that suits your needs.
- More connection ports. The larger size of desktop computers allows for the inclusion of a greater range of connection ports.
- Better value for money. Compare the specs and features of a similarly-priced PC and laptop, and chances are the PC will come out on top.
Who shouldn’t consider a desktop computer?
The biggest downside of a desktop computer is that it’s not portable. If you want a device you can take with you when you travel or that’s easy to move from one room to another, a laptop or tablet might be more suitable. Laptops and tablets also take up a lot less room than most desktops, making them a smarter choice if space is at a premium.
What types are available?
Buying a desktop doesn’t necessarily mean choosing a tower with cables running from it to a separate monitor. While tower-based setups still exist, the desktop category now includes a range of computer types:
This is the traditional desktop computer setup that most people are familiar with. It features a large upright case that houses key components like the CPU and graphics processor. This case is then connected to a separate monitor.
- Pros: Powerful, easy to upgrade, choose the display size you want
- Cons: Bulky, cables can be messy, very inconvenient to move
Also called mini PCs and micro desktops, compact desktop computers pack all the key components of a PC — minus the monitor — into a case the size of a sandwich, or in some cases, into something the size of a thumb drive. They can be plugged into most TVs or monitors and are generally used for basic everyday tasks like surfing the web or streaming content.
- Pros: Portable, easy to use, uses minimal space, cheap
- Cons: Reduced power and storage space, often only suitable for basic tasks, limited potential to expand or upgrade
All-in-one desktop computers are self-contained units that feature the monitor and all the components in one single unit, with the computer itself housed behind the screen. They usually look much the same as an ordinary desktop monitor, offer a stylish design and can be a useful space-saving solution.
- Pros: Use much less space than a tower, easier to set up, many feature a touchscreen
- Cons: Can’t be expanded or upgraded like a tower unit, reduced performance compared to a tower unit
How to choose an operating system
You might already have a preference for one operating system over another. But if you’ve decided to switch — or are buying your first computer — there are a few options to choose from:
- Windows. Windows 10 is the latest iteration of the most widely used OS. Due to its popularity, you won’t have to worry about compatibility when moving files between devices, while you can also enjoy access to a wide range of third-party software products.
- Mac. Released in October 2019, macOS Catalina is the latest OS iteration for iMac users. If you’re already part of the Apple ecosystem, choosing a Mac ensures that your desktop can easily interact with your iPad and iPhone, your iTunes purchases and subscriptions and your iCloud account.
- Google. While it’s not as widespread as Windows and Mac operating systems, Google offers its Chrome OS for PCs. If you’ve used the Chrome web browser before, this OS will look and feel familiar. More programs, including the Microsoft Office suite, now have Chrome OS-compatible versions. You can also run Android-based apps from the Google Play store.
- Linux. The Linux OS is a Windows alternative that’s really only an option for advanced users. This free, open-source OS may be an option if you have a high level of computer knowledge and like doing things yourself. But it’s not suitable if you want a PC you can buy and use right away.
How to compare desktop computers
When choosing a desktop computer, you’ll need to consider your own preferences, as well as the CPU, memory, storage space, display and cost of the available options. Take the following factors into account before deciding which desktop computer to buy.
- How you’ll use it. If your desktop will mostly be used to check emails and browse the web, you’ll be able to find all the features you need at the bottom of the price spectrum. If you’re involved in online gaming or multimedia creation, high-performance processors and top-spec graphics cards will be on your shopping list — which will drive prices up.
- Space. The amount of room you have to set up your computer could determine whether you choose a bulky tower PC or a space-saving all-in-one.
- CPU. The CPU is a chip that powers all programs and functions. Intel and AMD are the two main choices, with Intel being more widely available. But AMD is generally cheaper. Check the number of cores and the processing speed — measured in gigahertz — of any option you’re considering.
- Memory (RAM). RAM is crucial to the speed at which programs will run on your computer. 4GB is the absolute minimum you’ll want in a general-use desktop, but it’s best to aim for 8GB.
- Storage space. Look for 1TB of storage as a minimum, or more if you can afford it. Make sure you’re aware of the differences between a hard disk drive (HDD) and a solid state drive (SSD). A hard disk drive is is cheaper and has more capacity, while a solid state drive is faster and produces less heat.
- Graphics card. If your PC is only for general use, a model with integrated graphics will be adequate. But if you’ll be gaming or using other graphics-intensive programs, look for a dedicated graphics card.
- CD, DVD, Blu-ray and other features. If you’ll need to play CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray discs on your desktop, check that it has drives to support them. You might also want a webcam and speakers.
- Connection ports. Check whether there are enough HDMI and USB 3.0 connection ports for your needs and that they’re easy to access.
- Software. Will there be any software bundled together with your desktop, such as Microsoft Office or an antivirus program? If so, only pay for the programs you need and make sure you’re getting the best value.
- Screen. Monitors these days are LCDs and generally 23 inches or larger. If you want to view full HD content, look for a 1,920 x 1,080 model. If buying a tower computer, check to see whether a monitor is included in the purchase price. If not, can you bundle your items together to get a better deal?
- Your budget. Desktop computer prices vary substantially depending on the type of device you want. While you can get a mini PC for around $200 and an entry-level desktop tower around the $500 mark, a top-of-the-line gaming PC or all-in-one could be as much as $5,000.
Which desktop computer is best for me?
The best desktop computer for you depends on how you plan to use it. For example, a dedicated online gamer will have very different requirements from someone who simply wants a PC to browse the web and check emails.
To help make it easier to find the right desktop, we’ve compared the pros and cons of five popular models:
|Dell XPS 27 Touch|
|Microsoft Surface Studio|
|Apple iMac 27 inch|
|Lenovo Ideacentre AIO 730s|
|Asus Zen AiO Pro Z240IE|
If you’re interested in buying a desktop computer, start browsing and comparing.
If you’re in the market for a new desktop computer, compare your options when it comes to price point, brand, storage and overall features to help you get the best value for your money.
How did we choose these products?
We compared overall features, storage, memory, operating system, size, brand and price when creating our list of the top desktop computers. We also factored in customer reviews and our own online research.
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