Best 2.1 Computer Speakers:
The designation "2.1" means a speaker system has two satellite speakers and a dedicated subwoofer. These types of systems can be pretty expensive, though - home theater setups often end up costing thousands of dollars. For a computer setup, the sound is usually close and intense, and really nice speakers can definitely enhance that experience. The two main factors I looked at while making these picks were the sound quality and the types of features offered with each setup. Of course, you want a unit that sounds good and can get as loud as you want, but it should also be user-friendly. While cost can be an issue, you should know that high-quality 2.1 computer speakers are going to be a expensive - but the sound is worth the price.
Though Corsair might be better known for producing computer memory and other components, this is one terrific offering from them for computer sound. Not only is it incredibly powerful, but it includes a control pod with a screen and some of the best user controls I've seen. Terrific sound quality and a sleek design completes the picture and makes for an easy choice. Read Full Review »
A tremendous setup that includes two great satellites and a really solid subwoofer. These speakers look nice and offer great sound quality, though they are slightly less powerful than the Corsair offering above. This set includes a control pod for easy adjustments of volume and bass, but isn't quite as nice as the setup provided by Corsair. Read Full Review »
These are great speakers that sound terrific, but just lack some of the options and functionality of the two above. While these are THX-certified speakers, which means they are guaranteed to sound fantastic, controls for volume and bass are located on one of the satellite speakers. This means you'll need the speaker close to make audio adjustments, which can restrict how you set them up. Read Full Review »
These are undoubtedly the nicest-looking speakers I picked, and can definitely look great in any setup. While they are powerful and sound great, they have the same issues with lack of control that the Klipsch model above has. The subwoofer looks great, but since you'll probably have it under your desk, that's a bit of a wasted effort for most people. Read Full Review »
This is a THX-certified speaker setup offered by Logitech for a pretty reasonable price. Their sound quality is great and they're just as powerful as almost any other system I picked. Ease of use and functionality once again set this system apart from the Corsair and Altec Lansing models above, however, since it features on-speaker controls. Read Full Review »
Best 5.1 Computer Speakers:
When it comes to 5.1 computer speakers, I really looked for overall sound quality and the types of features these setups were coupled with. You're not going to find many of these systems at a budget level, and they are usually designed for serious audiophiles. 5.1 means there are five satellite speakers, usually arranged with one to the front left side of a listener, one to the front right, another to the back right, one to the back left, and one in the center. These systems also come with a dedicated subwoofer for more powerful bass than a setup with only satellite speakers. This is something of a specialty market for computer audio, but within it, you can find a range of products that offer you different features and great sound quality overall.
This is a tremendous set of speakers for use with a computer - or even a home entertainment center. They're THX-certified and incredibly powerful, providing you with all the volume and deep bass you could want. There's a small control center and even a remote control you can use to adjust the volume from across the room. Read Full Review »
For less than one-fourth the cost of the Logitech setup above, you can get some solid 5.1 audio, but you're going to be lacking some of the bells and whistles. These speakers aren't as powerful as the Logitech ones, but if you're just sitting at your computer, the volume levels should be more than sufficient. It lacks a remote, but a wired control pod lets you adjust audio quite easily. Read Full Review »
This setup should be available for about the same cost as the Cyber Acoustics system above. For the cost, you'll get pretty comparable speakers with five satellites and one subwoofer. This system also has a wired control unit, but it isn't quite as nice or convenient as the one included in the Cyber Acoustics set. Read Full Review »
This system is more expensive than the Cyber Acoustics or Creative setups above, but is still about half the price of the Logitech speakers. It's not necessarily designed for a computer, but the small speakers can still work well for such a setup. This is an especially good choice if you need to mount the speakers on the walls around your computer, rather than set them on a desktop or other surfaces. Read Full Review »
Best Budget Computer Speakers:
When looking at budget computer speakers, first and foremost, I looked at the price. A really nice, top-of-the-line set of speakers can run hundreds of dollars - potentially into the thousands, if you're willing to pay it. But for a budget set, I wanted to find speakers that came in at $50 or less, and within that category, I picked the best ones around. One thing to consider is that these picks include both 2.1 and 2.0 sound, which means some of them include a separate subwoofer and some do not. Your particular preference on this issue will depend a lot on what you have room for at your computer setup and the level of bass you want from your audio. Either way, these picks give you great sound quality at a cost that won't compete with the price you paid for your computer itself.
2.1 sound at a reasonable price. This set includes two main speakers and a dedicated subwoofer. There's also a control pod that you can use to easily adjust volume without having to have direct access to a speaker within reach. A solid system with good sound quality. Read Full Review »
If you're looking for solid, inexpensive 2.0 sound, this is about the best option you're going to find. They look good, sound better, and are very reasonably priced. While you won't get the bass depth that a 2.1 setup offers, you can also use these speakers in a smaller space that might not have room for a subwoofer. Read Full Review »
Similar in many ways to the Logitech 2.1 setup above, there were just a few features lacking in this system. Sound controls are on one of the speakers itself, which limits your options for how you place them and keep them in reach. Otherwise, however, these are quite comparable to the Logitech Z313 set. Read Full Review »
My other choice for a 2.0 speaker setup on a budget, these offer solid sound quality and look a bit sleeker and nicer than the Sony ones above. They are a bit taller, however, which can be difficult in some setups. One nice perk, however, is that they have an audio input jack that the Sony speakers lack. Read Full Review »
Another good option for 2.1 sound that includes a great subwoofer and two solid satellite speakers. This set also includes a control pod, but much like the Logitech system, it is physically wired to the speakers. It sounds good and looks good, but still doesn't offer everything I want in a single setup. Read Full Review »
Best Wireless Computer Speakers:
Wireless computer speakers are typically designed to function at a distance from a computer, using a receiver of some kind, such as an internal Bluetooth component or a dongle. Such devices are often meant for a wide range of uses, including desktop computer areas without room for speakers by the computer, laptops that can work with portable speakers, and some designed to function with other media devices. In general, however, I looked at how well the speakers worked with a computer, and other functions were largely secondary. Though these devices are available at a fairly wide range of prices, the cost of such speakers wasn't a major factor in choosing them. Functionality and sound quality were the most important considerations.
These are great speakers that look and sound good, providing some solid audio from a distance. You'll need a Bluetooth receiver of your own, either as an internal component or a separate dongle. As long as you have that, these provide great audio quality and provide you with a few extra features as well. Read Full Review »
This is a great setup for anyone looking to build a system over time. You can purchase the main speaker and start using it, and Creative offers additional units that you can buy later to add to the setup. There's even a model of this speaker that you can purchase with a Bluetooth dongle, which is ideal if you do not already have a component in your computer that handles a Bluetooth signal. Read Full Review »
This is a single speaker unit much like the ZiiSound D3x, but you cannot upgrade it with additional units. Logitech provides a USB transmitter that you can use to connect this wirelessly to a computer or other device, and it can also connect to devices via Bluetooth. This speaker runs on rechargeable batteries and includes a recharger that you can plug into a wall outlet. Its small size and rechargeable power supply make this a great choice for any computer setup and with other devices. Read Full Review »
My most expensive pick, but this is also the most elaborate, high-quality setup on this list. Not only does this include two separate speakers, but a dedicated subwoofer as well. While no wires may be needed to connect this to a computer, there are cables running between each component and the wall, so this won't be ideal for all setups. Read Full Review »
This is a set of two speakers, much like the Audyssey set above, though it's offered at less than half the price. The audio quality from this set is not likely to be as good as the one above and some people have had issues getting the Bluetooth connection to work properly. Considering the price difference, however, these can be a solid choice if you're looking for a dual-speaker style at a more reasonable cost. Read Full Review »
Best Laptop Speakers:
A laptop with the right internal components and connections can essentially work with any type of standard computer speaker. Laptop speakers, however, are usually designed to be fairly small and easy to use wherever someone might want to have a laptop set up. Most laptops have internal speakers that are usually weak and tend to sound terrible, so external speakers let you listen to music or watch movies more easily from a laptop and still have decent sound quality. Since these are usually pretty small and relatively inexpensive, you're not going to get tremendous audio from them. Primarily, I was looking for picks that sound good and were ideal for travel or other uses where you'd probably want a laptop.
When it comes to small, travel-ready speakers, these are pretty hard to beat. They are remarkably compact and offer decent sound quality considering their size. What really sets them apart, however, is that they can be connected to other X-Mini speakers to increase their performance. Read Full Review »
A great set of travel speakers in their own right, they are small and simple to use with just about any laptop. They are not quite as ideal for portable use, since they require an external power supply through a USB connection. Once connected, however, they certainly offer great sound quality and include volume controls on the back. Read Full Review »
This is a great little set of speakers that offers terrific sound and some decent portability. Though they work well as laptop speakers, they are not quite as small as some of my other picks on this list. As long as you're willing to use something a bit larger, however, these are a great choice. Read Full Review »
These are comparable in many ways to the Arctic Sound S111 speakers above. They provide good sound quality despite their small size, and look terrific. A USB power source is required to use them, but their size still makes them quite portable. Their suggested retail price is pretty high, however, which is unfortunate. Read Full Review »
In many ways, these seem to simply be slightly smaller desktop speakers. While they have good sound quality, they are certainly not ideal for travel and are not especially portable. This is made worse since they require a wall outlet connection for power. But they sound good and work well, as long as you dont mind their size. Read Full Review »