Desktop computers come in a bewildering variety of shapes and sizes, from sleek all-in-ones to gigantic towers. Their capabilities are as varied as their forms, from affordable Chrome-based PCs designed for lightweight productivity, to liquid-cooled gaming systems capable of smooth frame rates or fast render times to high-resolution video editing.
Instead of working on a cramped 15-inch laptop screen, desktop computers allow you to extend your workload across multiple 27-inch or larger screens. Additionally, the desktop can be upgraded relatively easily, while most portable devices offer very limited upgrade options or lack customization options.
We have researched and tested some of the best options from famous brands. These are the best desktop computers.
Best overall: Alien ware Aurora R12
Dell’s Alien ware desktop stems from a long tradition of premium gaming hardware. Shortly after Intel announced its 11th generation processors, Dell updated its Alien ware to take advantage of them. We didn’t get a chance to get our hands on the Alien ware R12, but we looked at the R11 and believed enough in the Alien ware brand to conclude that the R12 is a beast.
The hardware has an 11th generation Core-i7 processor, a fixed NVidia GeForce RTX 3080 Super GPU, 64 GB of RAM and two SSDs, for a total of 3 TB. This means you can pretty much store anything and access it very quickly.
Put everything under load and this PC gives out some heat and fan noise, but it’s on par with many gaming PCs. It is important to make sure this computer is in a location with good ventilation and airflow. But in general, this computer is happy to accept any request you put on it.
Best for gaming: HP Omen 30L
Games push the limits of every piece of PC hardware, making gaming PCs ideal for gaming and any other activity you can think of. The HP Omen series gaming PCs offer everything from affordable setups to high-end virtual reality compatible devices. Whether you spend a lot or a little, Omen gaming desktops offer excellent value for money.
Gamers in particular may someday want to upgrade their machines and luckily the HP Omen 30L makes it easy with an easy-to-use case design that’s great to work with. It’s also clear so you can see all the hardware inside, and the built-in LED lighting shows that. All in all, the HP Omen 30L is a premium gaming computer.
Best value for money: ASUS ROG G10CE
If you want to get the most out of your money, the ASUS ROG G10CE offers a respectable configuration with the latest hardware, including a powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) and plenty of storage capacity. It is enough to take full advantage of the settings of the latest games with a resolution of 1080p or to perform huge tasks of graphic design or video editing.
A spectacular apartment includes all these possibilities. Build quality is much better than a typical office PC tower. The only downside is that it gets quite loud when playing particularly demanding games, but overall you get a lot of power in a well-built package at an attractive price.
Best Chrome OS: HP Chrome base All-in-One 22
The HP Chrome base All-in-one 22 is one of the sleekest desktops you can buy on a budget, as long as Chrome OS works for you. Although the processor is slow and there isn’t much RAM, it’s good enough to run Chrome OS. The limited nature of this OS won’t be for everyone, but if you just need a computer to browse the web, watch programs or basic productivity tasks, this HP Chrome base is great value for money.
This budget PC also looks good with a spacious 21.5-inch integrated display that offers a wide range of customization options. One downside is that it only has the number of ports you’d expect from a laptop. Given the reach of Chrome OS and what you’ll likely be using it for, this isn’t a big deal.
Best Apple: Apple Mac mini (M1, 2020)
In late 2020, Apple introduced the M1 chip, the first ARM-based processor made specifically for Apple hardware. This hardware included a Mac mini, making it a great little machine. The design of the Mac mini is a bit of a letdown, though, as it’s less upgradable and has fewer ports than the previous generation of this PC.
The Mac mini is a great minimalist PC if you like the Apple operating system. It fits almost anywhere and isn’t big and heavy like many desktops. It’s also relatively cheap for a Mac, but it’s worth spending more initially for a more powerful install, as you won’t be able to upgrade along the way.
Ideal for students: HP Pavilion TG01-1120
Students usually don’t need the most powerful computer on the market, and affordability is important when choosing a device. However, for many, the ability to master challenging digital content creation is essential. The HP Pavilion TG01-1120 is the perfect choice for price and power, with capable components at a price that won’t break the bank.
With this you get fairly powerful components that can handle graphic design or other demanding tasks that you may encounter during your training. On the other hand, this PC does not have much storage space. However, the solid-state memory provides a significant speed boost to the hard drive. Plus, adding an internal or external hard drive won’t let you down if you need more storage space.
Ideal for creatives: HP 34-inch ENVY 34-c0050 All-in-One Desktop
Two things that digital content creators need, be they artists, YouTubers or video game creators, are a big screen and a lot of power behind it. The HP ENVY 34-c0050 34-inch All-in-One Desktop PC has both in an affordable, space-saving and attractive package. The huge, high-resolution screen is perfect for processing fine details, and it’s large enough to hold multiple documents or programs at once.
Under the hood is a powerful, modern processor and a fairly powerful graphics card, as well as plenty of RAM. This combination is the perfect recipe for a content creation engine. However, it is a bit expensive and unfortunately does not have a touchscreen. But when you consider how much the high-resolution display holds you back, this HP all-in-one is the ideal desktop for creating special things.
Best Design: Alien ware Aurora Ryzen Edition R14
Desktops come in many different shapes and sizes, but few stand out like the Alien ware Aurora Ryzen Edition R14. It’s hard to say whether the Aurora R14 looks more like an alien spaceship on your desktop or the jet turbine of a futuristic jet fighter.
Either way, the R14’s unique streamlined design immediately sets it apart from the RGB-lit glass-paneled towers. Unlike previous generations of Aurora PCs from Alien ware, the interior of the R14, with its transparent side panel and high-quality components, is something to praise. It can also be equipped with the latest and greatest hardware at an affordable price.
If you’re looking for a powerful and customizable desktop PC, the Alien ware Aurora R12 is definitely our top pick. We recommend the ASUS ROG G10CE at a more affordable price that can handle the arduous tasks of a desktop computer.
While some people may be able to get by with a simpler computer for web browsing and basic productivity tasks, you’ll need a discrete graphics card (GPU) if you’re editing videos or playing the latest games. NVidia makes the best GPUs right now, and most people find that the latest 30-series GPUs offer excellent performance. If your budget is tight, you can settle for an older, less powerful GPU.
It is important that your computer has sufficient RAM. In general, unless you’re considering a low-power Chrome OS device, you’ll want a minimum of 8GB. If you plan to multitask more, create content or play games, you need at least 16 GB.