In this article:
- Desktop PCs: Tested and recommended
- Other recommended desktop PCs
- What astir a Mac Pro?
- Chromebox, Mini PCs and different niche options
- How we trial computers
Modern laptops and tablets whitethorn beryllium large for those connected the move, but you conscionable can't bushed the powerfulness and ratio of a desktop computer. Only one-fifth of computers sold these days are desktops, but erstwhile you spot what the close desktop has to offer, you'll recognize they're worthy considering.
The champion diagnostic of astir desktop PCs is their upgradability and longevity. Not lone are desktops built much solidly, but they endure acold little deterioration and teardrop than a accepted laptop. You tin often get a decent spot much powerfulness and expandability than you could from a laptop, including higher-end graphics cards and much retention options. That processor powerfulness and retention imaginable are peculiarly important if you're readying to usage your idiosyncratic machine arsenic a gaming PC oregon a graphics-editing powerhouse.
A desktop machine is mostly going to travel successful the signifier of either a operation oregon an all-in-one (with an integrated screen), though determination are smaller designs (sometimes called "small signifier origin PCs") similar the Mac Mini for tighter spaces.
Though laptops inactive inhabit the bulk of our editors' clip and effort with CNET's hands-on reviews, we've rounded up caller products to bring you our apical desktop machine options, listed below. This database starts with models we've tested, and past moves connected to much wide configuration suggestions that we haven't specifically tested, but the specs listed should present sizeable worth for the price, based connected our acquisition with likewise configured PCs.
Unless different indicated, the products listed beneath don't see a monitor, keyboard, mouse or webcam. You'll request to bring your ain oregon bargain them separately. We'll update this champion desktop machine database periodically.
Desktop PCs: Tested and recommended
These are the champion desktop PC models that we've precocious tested and tin urge based connected our hands-on experience.
Now disposable successful a new, much almighty version, the Mac Mini desktop is 1 of Apple's longest-standing merchandise lines, dating backmost to 2005 (in a pre-Intel version), a twelvemonth earlier the first MacBook. All these years later, it retains the aforesaid basal signifier and appeals to overmuch of the aforesaid audience. Unlike Apple's MacBook Pro and Air laptops, oregon the iMac desktop, the Mini is designed to enactment down the scenes, fitting into tiny spaces and pairing with your prime of show and input devices.
At $599 (£649, AU$999) to start, the Mini remains the slightest costly mode to get a MacOS machine by a ample margin. The comparatively past M1 MacBook Air from 2020 is the closest rival price-wise, astatine $999. The M2 Pro mentation of the Mac Mini starts astatine $1,299.
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While we similar all-in-ones for their convenience, they're not casual to upgrade, if they tin beryllium astatine all. Dell's XPS Desktop is compact and quiescent capable for a tiny workspace but tin beryllium loaded with a 12th-gen Core i9 processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti graphics card, up to 64GB of representation and 4TB of retention -- and there's inactive country wrong for more. And if you person humble needs now, but privation the country to adhd successful components down the road, the basal XPS starts astatine nether $800. However, if you bash program to upgrade down the road, walk a small other for its 750- oregon 1,000-watt powerfulness supply. Want to walk a spot less? Check retired the much affordable desktop machine options recommended further down the page.
Read our Dell XPS Desktop 8950 review
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Both Apple and Microsoft person discontinued their bigger-screen all-in-one desktops, truthful arsenic 1 of the sole remaining premium big-screen options (as acold arsenic I tin tell), the HP Envy 34 AIO is astir the champion prime successful that people by default.
It's a good strategy with a bully 34-inch show and immoderate utile features, similar a magnetically attachable webcam and Qi charging pad successful the base, though you're paying for beauteous and not for show (but it does person a laptop-version Nvidia 3060 GPU). We similar the HP Envy 34 AIO, and it surely feels similar a bully location oregon accepted bureau strategy for radical who request large screens successful a tiny space.
Introduced successful 2021, this afloat redesigned iMac is inactive Apple's existent go-to all-in-one (note that the larger 27-inch iMac has been discontinued arsenic of March 2022). It's built connected the aforesaid M1 spot recovered successful galore of Apple's computers, with a gorgeous 24-inch surface replacing the erstwhile 21.5-inch version. The 1080p webcam is simply a large upgrade, and the rainbow of disposable colors -- hearkening backmost to the 1999 iMac G3 -- is simply a invited addition. Just beryllium prepared to walk up for the myriad retention and accessory upgrades.
Read our 24-inch Apple iMac review
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If you're dissatisfied with the deficiency of configuration options disposable for prebuilt gaming desktops, going with a customized builder is the champion mode to sate your appetite. The $5,000-plus terms of this custom-configured strategy afloat decked retired is excessively affluent for, well, astir people's blood. And galore radical don't request everything maxed out, adjacent for gaming. But you tin get tenable configurations for astir fractional the terms of my valuation unit.
Origin PC builds good, coagulated systems. Unless you're looking for thing ungraded cheap, you'll beryllium capable to enactment unneurotic thing you similar astatine a terms you tolerate.
The Mac Pro has agelong been the apical canine successful Apple's machine lineup, but the existent mentation is an aging Intel exemplary that starts astatine a whopping $5,000. By comparison, the new-for-2022 Mac Studio is powered by the latest, top Apple silicon chips -- the M1 Max oregon M1 Ultra -- and starts astatine little than fractional that price. It's fundamentally a Mac Mini connected steroids, and -- for anyone who doesn't privation to hold for the eventual Mac Pro revision -- it's your champion stake for moving creative-centric Mac apps, including animation, graphics, video-editing and audio-editing software.
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Compact all-in-one desktops marque bully centralized household computers. The HP Chromebase takes it a measurement further by pairing 1 with the elemental and unafraid Chrome OS -- the aforesaid operating strategy recovered connected the Chromebooks your kids are astir apt utilizing astatine school. With a 21.5-inch touchscreen attached to a grey fabric-covered base, the desktop looks similar a supersized mentation of Google's own Nest Hub astute display (and with Google Assistant baked in, you tin usage it similar one, too). Inside, though, is up to an Intel Core i3-10110U processor, up to 16GB of representation and up to a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD. The full-HD show adjacent rotates vertically, cleanable for viewing vertical videos, pursuing recipes oregon scrolling your favourite sites.
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Other recommended desktop PCs
We haven't reviewed the circumstantial models below, but we person reviewed systems utilizing precise akin hardware. These wide configurations should service you well, particularly if you store astir for predominant deals.
Basic Windows PC operation (starting astir $620)
The specs we'd suggest for a basal Windows 11 machine:
- Intel Core i5 (12th oregon 13th-gen) oregon AMD Ryzen 5 (3000 oregon 5000 series)
- Default integrated graphics (such arsenic Intel UHD oregon Iris oregon baseline AMD Radeon)
- 512GB oregon larger NVMe SSD drive
- 16GB of RAM oregon more
- Four oregon much USB 3.1 oregon 3.2 ports with USB-C and USB-A formats (at slightest 1 oregon 2 connected the front)
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless
- At slightest 1 PCI-E (x16) enlargement slot (for adding a video card)
- Optional: DVD oregon Blu-ray optical thrust (only if you request it for bequest bundle oregon media)
With those specs successful mind, you should beryllium capable to find a bully PC operation from brands similar Dell, Acer, Asus oregon HP for betwixt $500 and $600. Here are immoderate that acceptable the bill, offering a large bang for the subordinate if you don't request a laptop:
Acer Aspire TC-895-UA92 (under $650)
Aside from a somewhat older 10th-gen Intel Core i5 CPU, this configuration different includes everything listed above, on with Wi-Fi 6 compatibility and a keyboard and mouse, too.
HP Pavilion Desktop TP01-2040 (under $700)
This strategy offers a susceptible AMD Ryzen 5 CPU, and HP throws successful a rodent and keyboard.
PC operation for airy gaming and originative duties (starting astir $900)
Want to bash immoderate PC gaming, oregon bash you walk clip editing photos oregon video? You'll privation to level up the preceding configuration with much RAM and amended graphics options. Expect terms points to beryllium betwixt $800 and $1,200 -- and adjacent higher if you spell for a much bleeding-edge video card.
- Nvidia GTX/RTX oregon AMD Radeon RX graphics paper (GPU)
- 16GB of RAM oregon more
- 350-watt (or more) powerfulness supply
Looking for a gaming machine with much muscle? Check retired our database of best gaming PCs.
HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop (under $1,000)
This HP rig boasts an 11th-generation and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU and 16GB of RAM.
Basic Windows All-in-One (starts astir $800)
An "all-in-one PC" (also known arsenic AIO PC) is fundamentally a Windows mentation of an iMac. That means the PC "guts" are fundamentally built into a show oregon its base. Unlike the PC towers listed above, all-in-ones mostly connection nary quality to upgrade the graphics card, and possibly not adjacent the retention oregon RAM. The vantage is having less cables, however, since everything is integrated into the body.
Recommended specs for an all-in-one are mostly akin to the basal operation above, albeit with compromises due to the fact that of abstraction considerations. Don't expect an optical drive, for instance, and cognize that show is often a measurement down from "real" desktop models due to the fact that immoderate all-in-ones usage laptop components to amended maximize disposable space. You'll privation a ample surface with bully resolution. The saccharine spots we'd suggest are:
- 24 inches astatine 1,920x1,080 pixels (aka 2K oregon 1080p)
- 27 inches astatine 2,560x1,440 pixels (aka 1440p)
- 32 inches astatine 3,840x2,160 pixels (aka 4K)
The 24-inchers are bully for kids, but adults should astir apt spell for 27 inches and up. Expect to wage astatine slightest $800 astatine that second size, particularly if you privation to debar underpowered Intel Core i3 oregon AMD Athlon CPUs. The HP Envy 32/34 and Apple iMacs are examples of precocious extremity all-in-one computers, but here's a much reasonably priced alternative.
Acer Aspire C27-962-UA91 (starts astir $600; debased stock)
While the surface connected this Acer Aspire exemplary is simply a spacious 27 inches, solution is lone 1080p (also known arsenic afloat HD) -- but that's par for the people beneath $1,000. This exemplary besides lacks a DVD thrust and USB-C ports. That said, you get a 10th-gen Intel Core i5 CPU, on-board Nvidia MX graphics (not arsenic bully arsenic a GTX oregon RTX card, but amended than average), 512GB of SSD retention and a built-in webcam (along with a keyboard and mouse).
HP All-in-ones (recommended models starting astatine $800)
Back successful aboriginal 2020, we reviewed the HP Envy 32, a Windows instrumentality connected the basal iMac design. At that time, it had somewhat dated specs: a ninth-gen Intel CPU and a spinning hard thrust backing up the 256GB solid-state drive. The 32-inch exemplary appears to person been discontinued, but HP maintains a unchangeable of existent models successful 22- to 27-inch surface sizes, with a caller $2,000 34-inch HP Envy 34 present surviving astatine the apical of the line.
What astir a Mac Pro?
While you're paying a large premium for the Apple name, an iMac is mostly a large enactment for Apple fans who privation an all-in-one machine with a superior display. And present that the 24-inch iMac has gotten a bully overhaul, implicit with the M1 chip, that's a large starting point. And portion the 27-inch iMac is nary more, the caller Mac Studio starts astatine $2,000, and offers immoderate superior power, particularly if you ramp up to the M1 Ultra chipset.
Need adjacent much power? While Apple has a Mac Pro surviving astatine the apical of its desktop line, the existent exemplary is an aging Intel design, which the institution has already pledged to regenerate with an Apple Silicon version. If the Mac Studio can't grip your high-end Apple needs, we'd powerfully urge steering wide of the Mac Pro until that caller mentation hits.
Chromebox, Mini PCs and different niche options
When it comes to desktop PCs, towers and all-in-ones correspond the immense bulk of the market. There are alternatives, but successful the 2020s, they mostly correspond progressively constrictive slices of that market.
Mini PCs: Following the debut of the Mac Mini successful 2005, Windows PC makers experimented with likewise tiny designs. In the aftermath of likable tiny models similar the Acer Revo One and HP Pavilion Mini, we adjacent saw (woefully underpowered) "PC connected a stick" offerings starting successful 2015, but involvement seems to person ebbed since then. Outside of specialty vendors similar Beelink, the champion choices successful this mini PC size are astir apt the Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing), astir of which are sold arsenic hobbyist options, requiring immoderate BYO additions similar user-supplied storage, RAM and different components -- including the operating system. See much bare-bones Mini PCs astatine Newegg.
Chromeboxes: If you're looking for precise basal computing -- browsing the web, email, societal media, YouTube and the similar -- the Chrome operating strategy is the astir affordable way for location computing. This Google operating strategy efficaciously is small much than the Chrome web browser. That makes it casual for aggregate users (only a Gmail code is needed to log in), and -- due to the fact that there's nary dense operating strategy beyond the browser -- viruses aren't truly an issue. Colloquially known arsenic "Chromeboxes" (versus a "Chromebook" laptop), these systems don't person beefy CPUs, RAM oregon retention requirements. That said, if you request immoderate bundle beyond browser-based web apps, oregon if you don't person fantabulous broadband, you'll privation to instrumentality with Windows oregon Mac options above. Now, earlier you walk immoderate money, you should cheque retired the escaped mentation of the operating strategy known as ChromeOS Flex, which you tin instal connected astir aged PCs (including moving it from an attached USB drive). But if that's not an enactment and you privation to bargain new, expect to wage betwixt $200 and $500 for a Chrome-based desktop. However, the person you get to that $500 terms point, the much you should see stepping up to a Chromebook laptop oregon a basal Windows operation (see above) for conscionable a spot more. See Chromebox options astatine Newegg.
Linux PCs: No, Windows, Mac and ChromeOS are not your lone operating strategy options. There's a wide satellite of Linux operating systems retired there, galore of which are efficaciously free. You tin get PCs with Linux preinstalled, but the better, much affordable enactment is astir apt installing it (or dual-booting) connected a utilized Windows PC. See Linux PC options astatine Newegg.
Raspberry Pi: You whitethorn person heard of a tiny machine that's nary bigger than a paperback book, and tin beryllium had for astir $150. That's the Raspberry Pi, and it's 100% existent and precise chill -- if you're a hobbyist looking to physique your ain Lego-style machine and instal your ain customized Linux operating systems. We conscionable wouldn't urge it arsenic a superior machine if you're looking to tally mainstream software. See the Raspberry Pi 4 kit astatine Amazon.
The reappraisal process for laptops, desktops, tablets and different computer-like devices consists of 2 parts: show investigating nether controlled conditions successful the CNET Labs and extended hands-on usage by our adept reviewers. This includes evaluating a device's aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A last reappraisal verdict is simply a operation of some those nonsubjective and subjective judgments.
The database of benchmarking bundle we usage changes implicit clip arsenic the devices we trial evolve. The astir important halfway tests we're presently moving connected each compatible machine include: Primate Labs Geekbench 5, Cinebench R23, PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra.
A much elaborate statement of each benchmark and however we usage it tin beryllium recovered successful our How We Test Computers page.