Best Desktop Computers

Article Contents

Desktop computers cover a wide range of various makes and models with many different designs and configurations catering to numerous budgets and performance requirements. You can find great overall options for general desktop computers, all-in-one systems, and even high-end gaming rigs that can run the latest titles at incredible speeds.

If you’re not looking to break the bank, then consider some budget options for basic desktop towers, gaming systems, and all-in-ones that work well at a reasonable price. There are even some desktop computers chosen specifically for multimedia editing, as well as nettops which offer great performance in the smallest package possible.

With so many choices available to you, you should take a look at the desktop computer buyer’s guide below for more product information and explanations of common computer features.

Best Desktop Computer Overall:

If you’re someone seeking a desktop computer with overall high quality, you should look at the specs of various models from a wide range of manufacturers, and compare them against each other to find the best systems out there. With that in mind, you should compare the hardware in each system, with an eye toward components like the processor, memory, and storage. Differing levels of customization can also greatly impact the amount of control over your computer while ordering, so keep that in mind as you compare what different companies have to offer. While these aren’t necessarily the most expensive, extreme performance models on the market (such as high end PC gaming systems) they do offer excellent overall performance.

These desktop computers include a bare minimum of an excellent 4th Generation Intel quad-core processor, for great performance, and many of them include options for even faster CPUs. You get at least 8GB of memory with each of these computers, with options for additional RAM in these systems. All of these desktop computers have good video cards to let you run a decent range of PC games or stream media thanks to at least 1GB of dedicated graphics memory. You also get at least 1TB of mechanical storage or a smaller solid state drive in these systems, plus great upgrade options and at least six USB ports.

Maingear Vybe X99

This is specifically the "Best" setup for the Maingear Vybe, also called the Vybe X99, which is a solid machine overall that gives you a lot of performance even in the default layout. There are, of course, a number of changes you can make in customizing this computer, but even if you don't change anything you'll still find a powerful machine here. You get an Intel six-core processor, 16GB of RAM, and a video card with 1GB of graphics memory in this system. Read Full Review

Maingear Vybe X99

Dell XPS 8900 Special Edition Desktop Computer

Although there are several different XPS 8900 models available from Dell, this one with 24GB of memory represents the best value for your money. It's certainly not a budget model, and it includes an Intel i7 processor, 24GB of RAM, and a hard drive and solid state drive. There are some customization options with this computer but nothing like what you could get from companies like Maingear or Origin. Read Full Review

Dell XPS 8900 Special Edition Desktop Computer

Origin Millennium X99

Origin is well known for making some of the best gaming PCs on the market, but they also make terrific, general-use computers. This desktop offers great power and performance, though the price on it is a bit high. You get a ton of options for customization, and it comes with an Intel i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, 2GB of video memory, and a 500GB solid state drive. Read Full Review

Origin Millennium X99

HP Envy Phoenix 850se Windows 7 Desktop Computer

Although marketed as a gaming computer, this is a great general choice that offers solid performance and powerful components. You get an Intel six-core processor, 12GB of memory, and a video card with 4GB of graphics memory. This system comes with a solid state drive with 256GB of storage, which is great, but it does not include a mechanical drive in the default setup, which is unfortunate. Read Full Review

HP Envy Phoenix 850se Windows 7 Desktop Computer

Velocity Micro Vector Z35 Midsize ATX

This is an excellent desktop computer that gives you a great blend of solid starting hardware and plenty of upgrade options. You get an Intel quad-core processor in this system, 8GB of RAM, and a video card with 1GB of graphics memory. A 1TB hard drive and DVD burner complete this system, along with plenty of options for upgrading each component. Read Full Review

Velocity Micro Vector Z35 Midsize ATX

Best Gaming Computer Overall:

A gaming computer should be focused on one very important thing and that’s performance. As you look at different options, the components offered by different manufacturers should be the primary standard by which you judge them. It's also important to find companies that offer a lot of customization; if you're going to spend $3,000+ on a gaming rig, then you should be able to get it exactly the way you want. Since a powerful gaming computer is going to be expensive, consider overall value and what kind of performance you actually get for the money you'll spend on these systems.

These gaming computers have a minimum of 16GB of DDR3 memory though most of them have DDR4 RAM and options to upgrade with additional memory if you need the fastest performance possible. They all come with at least one powerful video card with support for 4K screen resolutions and high frame rates during gaming, but most of them also allow you to upgrade to multi-card setups that can run this year's games at ultra settings.

Additionally, these selections feature pre-built liquid cooling for at least the CPU and some even give you options for different types of coolant. They all have processors with options for professional overclocking or they are unlocked so you can boost their performance and include customization options such as chassis lighting, additional internal storage, and higher wattage power supplies to support future improvements.

Origin Genesis X99 Model

For amazing gaming systems, it's hard to argue with what Origin offers, and the Genesis is about as good as it gets. While they do have an even more powerful workstation model, you really don't need that unless you plan on creating and rendering 3D graphics and doing other intensive computing tasks. It's hard to top Origin's level of customization, and the specs on this rig are about as good as it gets. Read Full Review

Origin Genesis X99 Model

XOTIC PC Scourge v2 Stage 4 Desktop Computer

XOTIC PC offers a great combination of very impressive default hardware and substantial customization options with this computer. While you can easily just click the "Buy" button and get a great gaming computer, there are numerous options for upgrades and customization on this rig to take advantage of. XOTIC PC will also take special orders and get parts they may not normally offer if you have some specific components in mind. Read Full Review

XOTIC PC Scourge v2 Stage 4 Desktop Computer

Maingear Force X99 Best Configuration

Although not the most expensive computer offered by Maingear, this is a excellent option that really gives you your money's worth. It has some great customization choices if you want to make changes to the default build, but the basic setup on it is already excellent. While you don't get as many options as you do with a company like Origin PC, this is a great choice if you're not looking to do a lot of customizing and just want to order a powerful system. Read Full Review

Maingear Force X99 Best Configuration

CyberPowerPC Fang III - Black Mamba Desktop

This is a great system which starts out strong and offers you the option to make it even better than it already is. You can customize this setup quite a bit, but the default is definitely a powerhouse of a gaming computer in its own right. Although the price on this model is rather high, the impressive components contained within more than justify the expense. Read Full Review

CyberPowerPC Fang III - Black Mamba Desktop

Digital Storm Bolt II Ultimate Battle Box Edition

This is a tremendous computer, and a great option if you're looking for a really powerful gaming system for less than $4,000. While there are some good options for customizing your system, the options aren't quite as extensive as those offered by Origin PC. The default setup on this computer is good enough for a wide range of PC gamers, even without any customization. Read Full Review

Digital Storm Bolt II Ultimate Battle Box Edition

Best Budget Gaming Computer:

When looking at budget gaming computers, it's important to find systems undoubtedly designed specifically for gamers while of course being available at a fairly reasonable price considering the niche PC gaming market. All of these computers can be customized to some extent which of course impacts their costs, but start by looking at what they have in their default setup and compare those specs between them. Try to find the most powerful gaming rig out there with a rather low price point; these systems as default builds come in around $1200 or less, which is a reasonable price-point for a gaming computer. Additionally, the budget gaming PC market has really changed with the release of the Steam Machine series of computers, which offer great performance in a small size designed specifically for gaming.

We’ve chosen the following best budget gaming computers because they include at least 8GB of DDR3 or better memory, though some give you the option to upgrade to more RAM for better performance. They also each have great video cards to keep your games running fast thanks to at least 1GB of dedicated graphics memory. Additionally, they feature Intel quad-core processors for terrific performance and many of these include options for liquid-cooling, though they are not in the default builds. Lastly, these budget gaming computers also give you room to grow with space for additional hard drives, optical drives, or other upgrades to support future improvements.

CyberPowerPC Fang Battlebox I-200

This is a tremendous gaming computer in a small case, featuring an Intel quad-core processor, 16GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 in the default build. CyperPower offers a lot of customization options, so you can make a lot of changes to this system if you're interested in doing so. Even with the default build, however, this is an excellent gaming computer at a very reasonable price. Read Full Review

CyberPowerPC Fang Battlebox I-200

Maingear Drift Z170 Steam Machine

This is one of the early waves of Steam Machines which have hit the market and one of the better ones for playing games on the new Steam OS. It has an Intel i5 quad-core processor, 8GB of memory, and an NVIDIA graphics card with 2GB of video memory. Despite its small size, you get lots of opportunities for upgrades and improvements, including two additional hard drives and an optical drive. Read Full Review

Maingear Drift Z170 Steam Machine

ASUS G20AJ-US023S Desktop

Perhaps inspired by Steam Machines, this is a slick, small gaming computer that can save you some money without sacrificing performance. This model has an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GTX750 video card. There is not much opportunity for upgrading this system, so keep that in mind if you like to add your own components or want to change hardware. Read Full Review

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    ASUS G20AJ-US023S Desktop

    Digital Storm Vanquish 4 Level 1

    This is a traditional budget gaming computer rather than a model designed like a Steam Machine, and it delivers some solid performance within its frame. You get an Intel i5 quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. You cannot upgrade much with this computer but if you want to spend more money for better hardware, then you can simply pick another component level. Read Full Review

    Digital Storm Vanquish 4 Level 1

    Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-4980BLK Desktop Console

    If you’re not interested in customization and picking through a ton of options, then pick is a great choice that works well. This Steam Machine includes an Intel i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA 2GB video card. If you want a budget gaming computer that is also ideal for doing other tasks, then this is probably not a great choice, but it’s a solid system for dedicated Steam gaming. Read Full Review

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      Alienware Steam Machine ASM100-4980BLK Desktop Console

      Best Computer for Editing:

      When you’re looking at different computers for editing, you should focus on finding a system with the right specs so you can efficiently work with video and similar demanding types of media; for example, a powerful graphics card is essential for editing since it handles video rendering. Look at overall memory in these systems and you'll find that they have a good amount of starting RAM. The hard drive options in these computers are also very important to consider, since you need a lot of storage to hold raw files and finished media. It's also helpful to consider a wide range of systems, from workstations that you can make as powerful as you can imagine to all-in-one systems that are streamlined and easy to use.

      We’ve chosen the following best computers for editing since they start by giving you a minimum of 8GB of DDR3 memory but include upgrade options if you plan on doing very memory-intensive editing. They also come equipped with powerful graphics cards touting at least 2GB of video RAM which is important if you're editing video; you can also upgrade many of them with much more powerful graphics cards if necessary. You’ll also be getting Intel processors in these systems that have four or more cores which are handle just about anything you throw at them. Lastly, these picks include at least 500GB of storage for your data but many of them have room for additional storage drives, even hot-swappable hard drives for easy access to both raw and finished files.

      Origin Genesis Pro X2 Intel C612 Workstation

      Pure unbridled performance makes this pick an ideal computer for editing. The default build has an impressive 32GB of memory, solid options for video cards, and includes a dual-CPU setup. Origin also offers a ton of options for customization and upgrades, so if you want to control what goes into your system before you get it, then they pretty much can't be beat. Read Full Review

      Origin Genesis Pro X2 Intel C612 Workstation

      HP ENVY Phoenix 860se Desktop PC

      If something like the Origin Genesis Pro X2 Workstation is much more computer than you possibly need, then consider this model from HP. It's a powerful desktop PC with great starting components and some options for upgrades. Even the default build on this is nice with a hexa-core processor, 12GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA graphics card with 4GB of video memory. Read Full Review

      HP ENVY Phoenix 860se Desktop PC

      Apple iMac with Retina 5K display

      Apple is well known for their quality hardware as well as great software for video and picture editing. This model of their all-in-one iMac computer has an amazing display and hardware to make it a terrific system perfectly suited for any kind of editing you need to do. The options aren't nearly as robust as what a company like Origin offers, but you can still upgrade the Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 2TB hard drive. Read Full Review

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        Apple iMac with Retina 5K display

        Dell XPS One 27 XPSo27-2945BK 27" All-in-One Desktop

        If you want an all-in-one option, but you prefer PCs to Macs, then consider this model from Dell. The touch screen on it probably won't give you any particularly compelling editing functionality, but it's a nice input option to have. This one isn't quite as powerful as some other models and lacks customization, but you still get an Intel i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 2TB hard drive. Read Full Review

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          Dell XPS One 27 XPSo27-2945BK 27" All-in-One Desktop

          Dell OptiPlex 7440 All-in-One Computer

          This is a great all-in-one option from Dell for editing video or other media. The display is about 24-inches in size with 4K resolution and touchscreen functionality. Within the case are some great components that are great for media editing, including an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of DDR4 memory, and an AMD video card with 2GB of dedicated memory. Read Full Review

          Dell OptiPlex 7440 All-in-One Computer

          Best All-in-One Computer:

          As computer components have become increasingly smaller and smaller, all-in-one systems have become increasingly powerful and impressive in terms of their performance. In choosing the best all-in-one computer, you’ll want to look for systems featuring solid components that would be desirable even in a full-size desktop computer tower such as their processors, RAM, and hard drives. It can also be helpful to find systems that are relatively future-proof, with features like touchscreens for newer operating systems and other applications.

          We’ve chosen the following all-in-one computers because they give you excellent performance due to at least 8GB of memory and fast Intel i5 processors or better. They all have great storage and media options, with hard drives that give you at least 1TB of storage, though many of our picks offer much more as well as dedicated graphics memory. Looking for more? Our picks also include Wireless-AC and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, so they work with a wide range of networks and the latest wireless devices. Lastly, these computers all feature minimum 24 inch HD displays, some of which are touch-sensitive.

          Dell XPS One 27 XPSo27-2945BK 27" All-in-One Desktop

          It's hard to argue with the performance and sheer power this system offers. The screen is massive, touch-sensitive, and houses some impressive components. You get 16GB of RAM, a 2TB hard drive and smaller solid state drive, a 2GB video card, and even a Blu-ray reader to make for one serious multimedia capable computer. Read Full Review

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            Dell XPS One 27 XPSo27-2945BK 27" All-in-One Desktop

            Apple iMac with Retina 5K display

            While a lot of people argue about PCs and Macs, it ultimately comes down to your own personal preference and what you're looking for in a computer. If you prefer Apple systems over PCs, then this is definitely the all-in-one pick for you. It has a truly mind-blowing screen and great performance, thanks to an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 2TB hard drive. Read Full Review

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              Apple iMac with Retina 5K display

              HP ENVY 34-a010 34-Inch All-in-One Desktop

              The display on this all-in-one computer might not have 5K resolution, but it’s a huge 34 inch curved screen that still looks amazing. Within the case you get great performance thanks to an Intel i5 processor, 12GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. The curved display means you don’t get an optical drive, but it includes a 3D camera and plenty of USB ports. Read Full Review

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                HP ENVY 34-a010 34-Inch All-in-One Desktop

                Lenovo A740 27-Inch All-in-One Touchscreen Desktop

                This is one of the best all-in-one systems offered by Lenovo and it definitely offers up terrific performance at a pretty reasonable price. While there might not be a lot of customization options on this model, you probably won't need any more than what’s offered with it right out of the box. This pick includes a 4th Generation i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive, with some options for additional storage. Read Full Review

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                  Lenovo A740 27-Inch All-in-One Touchscreen Desktop

                  MSi AG240 2PE-003US Gaming All-in-One PC

                  Although gaming all-in-one computers are something of a niche market, the specs on this model make it an excellent choice for a wide range of tasks, not just PC gaming. This computer has a touchscreen display and a very fast Intel i7 processor with 16GB of RAM and a video chipset with 2GB of dedicated graphics memory. You also get 1TB of storage and a solid state drive, plus a Blu-ray burner, making this a great choice regardless of whether you want it for gaming or other tasks. Read Full Review

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                    MSi AG240 2PE-003US Gaming All-in-One PC

                    Best Budget Desktop Computer:

                    Even though a budget computer typically has less power behind it than its more expensive relatives, you can still find models that offer solid performance at a reasonable price. In terms of budget, consider computers that are right at or below $600 for their standard price. Of course, some of these models could be even more reasonable if you find them on sale, but you won't find them for more than about $600 in their default setup. You should also look at the specs of different computer systems within this price range and pick those equipped with the best components to offer the best possible performance.

                    We've chosen these best budget desktop computers because they offer excellent processors; you’ll find both AMD and Intel here, and they're all dual-core or better. All of these models give you at least 4GB of memory, though some have even more, and they all have support for more so you can always upgrade and put in additional RAM later. You'll also get hard drives of at least 500GB in size in these models, though most of them have 1TB of storage. These all include good networking options including at least six USB ports (with both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 connections) and Ethernet connectivity.

                    HP Envy Desktop Computer 750-110

                    This one comes in right at the budget cutoff price, but it's often on sale from HP for even better savings. There are not a ton of upgrade options with this computer, but the components it comes with should be sufficient for most computer users. You get an AMD quad-core processor in this computer, along with 8GB of RAM, a 2TB hard drive, eight USB ports, and support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Read Full Review

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                      HP Envy Desktop Computer 750-110

                      Dell XPS 8900 Desktop

                      This is a great choice if you’re looking to just purchase a budget desktop computer without spending a lot of time on customizing it. It’s a pretty great computer right out of the box and definitely one of the best options at its price. You’ll find an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, and this model even includes a video card with 2GB of graphics memory. Read Full Review

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                        Dell XPS 8900 Desktop

                        Gateway DX4375-UR22 Desktop

                        While you might not be able to add a lot of additional features or customize the components in this system, it’s an excellent computer right out of the box. This budget desktop computer comes with an AMD APU that gives you good general and video performance, plus 4GB of memory and a 1TB hard drive. You also get a DVD burner and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, all at a very reasonable price. Read Full Review

                        Gateway DX4375-UR22 Desktop

                        Velocity Micro Vector Holiday Edition

                        This computer is a great midpoint between few and excessive options for upgrades and customization. The default features on this computer are quite good and should work well for a wide range of people, but you can also choose to upgrade and change many of the components if you need something more. You get an Intel dual-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive in the default system, which are good components but the price is a bit high on it. Read Full Review

                        Velocity Micro Vector Holiday Edition

                        Lenovo ThinkCentre M79 10CN0002US Desktop

                        If you are really on a budget or looking for an inexpensive computer to buy in bulk for an office or computer lab, then this is a great option. The price on this model is about half of similar systems, while still offering an AMD APU, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. You even get a DVD burner and quite a few great upgrade options if you want to spend a little more money to make this system even better. Read Full Review

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                          Lenovo ThinkCentre M79 10CN0002US Desktop

                          Best Budget All-in-One Computer:

                          While improvements to miniaturization of components have made all-in-one systems more affordable, it can still be a bit tricky to find good, inexpensive machines of this type. At a certain point, the performance can become so low that you'd be better off just getting a tablet or laptop. It can help to focus on models that are at or under $1,000, though you don't want to go too far below that bar or you start to sacrifice quality. You're not going to find systems here that can run the most demanding PC games out there, but these are still some excellent computers that can handle a wide range of tasks.

                          We've chosen these best budget all-in-one computers because they deliver solid performance due to fast Intel 4th Generation or newer processors and at least 4GB of memory. They also give you sufficient storage for many files and programs thanks to hard drives whichare at least 500GB in size, though some have even more storage. All of these models are designed to look great thanks to screen displays which are a minimum 20 inches in size, or larger, and include DVD drives and wireless networking built into them for a variety of media and connectivity options.

                          Dell Inspiron 24 5000 i5459 23.8" FHD All-in-One

                          This Dell model is a terrific system that offers great functionality and overall performance. The major perk of this all-in-one computer is a large, touchscreen display that gives you another form of input when you use it. Packed into this great display is 1TB of storage, a 6th Generation Intel processor, and 12GB of memory. Read Full Review

                          Dell Inspiron 24 5000 i5459 23.8" FHD All-in-One

                          HP Pavilion 23st Touch All-in-One PC

                          You can get this slick all-in-one at a price reliably under a $1,000 budget and it has some solid components for that cost. It's pretty fast and offers excellent performance, thanks to a 6th Generation Intel processor and 8GB of RAM. It has a touchscreen and DVD burner, plus a 1TB hard drive, though it lacks Bluetooth connectivity. Read Full Review

                          HP Pavilion 23st Touch All-in-One PC

                          Lenovo B40-30 (F0AW00A0US) All-in-One Desktop

                          If you're looking to pick up an all-in-one computer on a pretty serious budget then this is a great option. It's certainly not the fastest model out there with just a 4th Generation Intel i3 processor and only 4GB of memory, but it does have a full 1TB of storage and a DVD burner. The price on this one comes in at less than $600, which makes it a great buy if you don't need optimal performance from your desktop. Read Full Review

                          Lenovo B40-30 (F0AW00A0US) All-in-One Desktop

                          Dell OptiPlex 3030 All-in-One with 4th Generation Intel i5 Processor

                          This is a solid model that looks great and gives you some excellent performance, but is a little more expensive than it really should be. It has just 4GB of memory and 500GB of storage, plus a 4th Generation Intel i5 processor. The display is touch-sensitive and looks great, but at 19.5 inches, it’s just a bit smaller than some other models at this price point. Read Full Review

                          Dell OptiPlex 3030 All-in-One with 4th Generation Intel i5 Processor

                          Lenovo C50-30 (F0B100KUUS) All-in-One Desktop

                          In general, this is a pretty good budget all-in-one computer, but the real value of it depends a lot on the price you find it at. It comes with a 5th Generation Intel i3 processor and 8GB of memory, plus a 23 inch display. The standard retail price on this one is $850, but you can often find it for as low as $550, which makes it an incredible value, but the price just isn't completely reliable. Read Full Review

                          Lenovo C50-30 (F0B100KUUS) All-in-One Desktop

                          Best Nettop:

                          Nettops have become even more of a niche market than when they were initially introduced. Since tablets and similar gadgets have become powerful (and portable) devices, the need for such small computers has diminished. However, there is still a market for these small computers, especially as media centers for HDTVs and as small storage and processing devices in home offices. Although they have become somewhat more difficult to find in recent years, the introduction of Steam Machines has definitely revitalized the market for these kinds of smaller computer systems. Keep in mind, however, that a Steam Machine comes with the Steam OS installed, so you may need to install Windows as well for completing general tasks.

                          We’ve chosen the following picks as the best nettops available thanks to components inside them including Intel processors and 500GB or larger hard drives. Even though these are very compact devices, they still have at least 4GB of RAM for fast speeds, and HDMI ports so they can easily connect to a display or HDTV. All of these nettops include great options for both physical and wireless connectivity, including at least four USB ports, Wi-Fi support, and an Ethernet port.

                          Alienware Alpha ASM100-1580 Console

                          Here is one of the great new nettops inspired by recent Steam Machines, but designed to run a wide range of software applications. It includes 8GB of memory, with an Intel i3 processor and 2GB video card. This model comes with a 1TB hard drive, includes both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and has a pair each of USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports. Read Full Review

                          Alienware Alpha ASM100-1580 Console

                          Zotac NEN Steam Machine (ZBOX-SN970-P)

                          This is an impressive little computer that offers excellent performance and features all in a compact case. Keep in mind this is a Steam Machine so it’s definitely not ideal if you plan on running a lot of programs requiring Windows or another operating system. However, for gaming and using the new Steam OS, this is a great option thanks to 8GB of memory, an Intel i5 processor, and 1TB hard drive. Read Full Review

                          Zotac NEN Steam Machine (ZBOX-SN970-P)

                          Apple Mac mini 2.8GHz Dual-Core

                          Whether you prefer Macs or PCs, it's hard to deny that the Mac mini is one of the best nettops on the market. It's small, sleek, and remarkably powerful. Within the case you’ll find an Intel i5 dual-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive, plus four USB 3.0 ports and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Read Full Review

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                            Apple Mac mini 2.8GHz Dual-Core

                            ASUS ROG GR8 Ultra-Compact Computer

                            This slick little nettop might be designed as a gaming platform, but it also works well for a wide range of applications. It’s not a Steam Machine but has a similar design so you know a lot of powerful components are packed into this system. You get an Intel i7 processor, 8GB of memory, a 1TB hard drive, and a graphics card with 2GB of video RAM. Read Full Review

                            ASUS ROG GR8 Ultra-Compact Computer

                            Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190 57326004 Desktop Computer

                            This model may not be as powerful as some other models out there, but it's quite affordable and comes with a wireless mouse/keyboard device. It has an Intel mobile dual-core processor, 4GB of memory, and a 500GB hard drive. You don’t get any dedicated video memory and it lacks Bluetooth support, so keep these limitations in mind. Read Full Review

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                              Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190 57326004 Desktop Computer
                               


                              Desktop Computer Buyer’s Guide

                              Computers are complicated machines with a lot of components and elements to them. As such, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with all the technical specifications and information. However, there are a handful of particular things to look for in a desktop computer. Once you know what to look for and what all the various specs mean, it becomes easy to find the right system for your needs.

                              Memory

                              The memory, or RAM, in a desktop computer is responsible for the overall speed of a system. This refers to the active memory used by your computer when you are running a program, not the storage memory used for permanent data retention. When you activate a program or open a file, the memory in your computer is used to run it.

                              More memory, measured in Gigabytes (GB), generally means your computer can handle multiple programs at once, or run a single program fast. RAM also runs at different speeds, indicated in Megahertz (MHz) or Gigahertz (GHz), and higher numbers indicate faster speeds.

                              There are different kinds of memory, however, such as DDR3 and DDR5 RAM. A higher number refers to newer and faster memory; a computer with 8GB of DDR4 memory will typically run much faster than one with 12GB of older DDR3 memory, so consider the quantity, speed, and type.

                              Processor

                              The processor or CPU is the beating heart of a computer as it basically acts as an internal clock s the pace for all programs running in your system. The faster your processor which is measured in Gigahertz (GHz), the faster all of your applications and software will run.

                              Cores
                              Modern CPUs also have multiple cores; each core basically acts as a mini-processor within the larger chip. A quad-core or four-core processor acts like having four CPUs in a single system. Performance isn’t increased in a strictly multiplicative manner, but more cores does equate to better performance. One thing to keep in mind is that AMD and Intel, the two major CPU manufacturers, use different standards for their systems.

                              Threads
                              When you compare them, you should look at how many “threads” an Intel chip has in addition to the number of cores. An Intel CPU with four cores and eight threads will probably run faster than an AMD chip with four cores, but it also depends on your overall setup and other components.

                              For in-depth information on processors, cores, and threads, check out our processor buyer's guide.

                              Graphics Card and Video Memory

                              While computers include RAM that provides memory for running general programs and applications, they also frequently include video cards with dedicated graphics memory. These cards are designed to run video applications faster, helping the system display streaming media, render 3D graphics, and load websites with multimedia elements.

                              Good video cards include dedicated video memory, measured in Gigabytes (GB), which is only used by a computer to run graphics. Some high-end systems even run multiple graphics cards together, providing additional memory, and even higher performance. New computers have GDDR5 memory in their graphics cards which is much faster than older cards with GDDR3 memory. You’re better off with a card that has 2GB of DDR5 memory than one with 3GB of DDR3 video RAM.

                              For in-depth information, check out our graphics card buyer's guide.

                              Storage

                              Storage refers to the type and amount of memory used to save files and programs on a computer. The primary things to consider about storage are the amount and type. The amount of storage indicates just how much data you can save on your system and is measured in either Gigabytes (GB) or Terabytes (TB) for very large hard drives.

                              Mechanical Drive
                              Mechanical drives are usually larger and less expensive since they require the disk to physically spin around inside the drive. However, this means data can become corrupted or damaged much more easily.

                              Solid State Drive
                              Solid state drives don’t physically move inside the drive, so they can sustain shocks without losing data. However, they’re usually more expensive and typically smaller in terms of data quantity.

                              If you want both options, there are many prebuilt systems that have a large mechanical drive for file storage, with a smaller solid state drive for your operating system and common programs.

                              Power Supply

                              As you look at different desktop computers, there are a few very good reasons to consider the power supply in them. Power supplies connect to a power socket and distribute power throughout your computer, with better models providing higher amounts of maximum power, measured in watts (W). More power in a system allows for better and more components in a system.

                              While a 500W power supply might be sufficient for a budget system, you’ll want 800W or more in a high-end gaming rig. Make sure you choose a computer with enough power for the components you need, and a power supply that can handle any additional hardware you might want to install in your system.

                              For in-depth information, check out our power supply buyer's guide.

                              System Cooling

                              Computer hardware requires a good deal of power and typically generates a lot of heat because of it. That’s why it’s very important for your system to have adequate cooling to remove and disperse heat from sensitive components that can be damaged otherwise. Most midrange systems include air cooling from a number of fans and it’s important to ensure the computer has at least two, if not more, case fans.

                              High-end systems usually require four or more fans; conversely they can make use of liquid cooling. Liquid is a better conductor of heat than air, so a liquid-cooling system can handle much more heat than fans alone, which is very important in a computer with multiple hard drives and numerous video cards.

                              Additional Components and Hardware

                              A lot of prebuilt systems also have other components either as part of the motherboard or installed in expansion slots in the computer. Consider the type of networking you need, including wireless options like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as wired connections via an Ethernet port. You’ll also want to look at the number and types of USB ports on a computer case as well as the availability of DVD or Blu-ray drives

                              While all-in-one systems include the computer components within a display, there are also desktop systems that come with a separate monitor. Most computers come with a basic mouse and keyboard, and there are some manufacturers provide options for high-end mouse and keyboard sets, audio speakers, and printers.

                              Customization Options

                              Even though a prebuilt desktop computer can rarely match building your own computer in terms of customization, many manufacturers do give you options in terms of components and hardware. Consider your needs and then look at and compare the customization options provided by different manufacturers. Companies like Origin let you choose from dozens of different components or even special order a particular piece you want installed into your prebuilt system. Toshiba, on the other hand, usually sells a single build of a computer without options for customization which makes it easy to order a good system without having to consider a range of different components.

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