The best desktop PCs we’ve tested for every budget, from brands such as Dell, HP and Asus. We’ll include budget models, mid-range computers and higher-end workstations. No matter the task, we’ve got you covered.

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A decent desktop PC can make those daily computing tasks a breeze. No more watching that pesky Windows egg timer slowly tick down, or drumming your fingers impatiently on the desk.

Make the wrong purchase and you could end up lumbered with a computer that’s slow, has a poor-quality screen or is overpowered for your needs.  In this guide, we’ll run through the specifications to look for when buying a computer for different uses, along with the pros and cons of desktops versus all-in-one PCs. We also look at the accessories you need to complete your setup.

What specs should I look for in a desktop PC?

It’s easy to get bogged down in numbers and specifications when looking at desktops, so if you know how much you want to spend and what sort of things you want to do on your machine, the specifications we recommend below should get you on the right track.

A basic PC for email, documents and web browsing: If you only need the very basics, you can make do with a PC with an Intel Pentium or Core i3 processor, or an AMD A8, A10 or Ryzen 3 processor. Make sure you get at least 4GB of Ram (preferably 8GB if you can), which will help Windows 10 run a lot more smoothly

A PC for lots of multi-tasking or photo-editing: If you like to do a lot of things quickly, you’ll want an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor. You’ll also want 8GB of Ram and a solid-state drive (SSD) to make things feel really sprightly. Read our guide on Intel processors and SSDs to better understand the difference these choices can make.

A PC for video editing and gaming: You’ll need all of the above recommendation as a minimum, along with a dedicated graphics card that will assist with video editing and make your games run more smoothly.

Our guide to gaming laptops runs through the reasons why this is important and our guide to AMD, Intel and Nvidia explains what to expect from each brand. If you’re going to be editing 4K video and need it done quickly, consider an Intel Core i7, AMD Ryzen 7 or Intel Core i9 processor and at least 16, if not 32GB of Ram.

 

Best desktop PCs

 

Desktop PC vs all-in-one

If you’re looking for a computer to use primarily at home or in the office, the choice will come down to either a traditional desktop PC or an all-in-one PC.

There are big differences between desktop PCs and all-in-ones to consider. Most obvious is the form factor. A desktop PC is what many consider to be the traditional ‘tower’ computer, where a big black or grey box is connected to a separate monitor screen, keyboard and mouse. An all-in-one is essentially a large screen with the internal components of the computer sitting behind it.

You’ll still need to plug in a keyboard and mouse, though, but these are more often than not supplied in the box with an all-in-one. Outside of whether you want a traditional ‘box’ and separate monitor and accessories, it’s the specifications (and what you’ll pay for them) that are the key difference between desktops and all-in-ones.

If you’re regularly on the move, then you may wish to pick up a laptop.

Browse our laptop reviews to find the right model for you.

Advantages of a tower desktop PC

You’ll find that they come in various shapes and sizes, from large bulky hulks that need to sit under your desk, to more discreet and stylish models that can be tucked away.

More customisable – The big plus-point of a desktop PC is that the large, tower-style models can be easily adapted to suit your needs. You can pick the monitor you want and make more significant changes internally, such as adding more Ram, a new graphics card, or a more powerful processor. The upshot of this that a desktop can be kept ticking over longer than an all-in-one; you can replace the bits you need without having to get rid of the whole device.

Can be cheaper – If you already have a monitor and a keyboard and mouse, then a desktop PC can be a good value option compared to an all-in-one. Generally speaking, it can be cheaper to buy a powerful Core i5 or i7-processor desktop, compared to the equivalent on an all-in-one.

More powerful – While the basic specs might not look all that different, larger tower desktop PCs are generally a little faster than all-in-ones. That is because their internal components have more room to expel heat, meaning they can run faster for longer. The components inside of an all-in-one are usually more akin to what you’ll find in a laptop.

Disadvantages of a desktop

PC Sometimes bulky – Not all desktop PCs are created equal, and we’ve tested some models that managed to pack their workings into a small box than can be easily hidden on a desk. However, you’ll find that there are plenty of bulky desktop towers out there too, so make sure you know the measurements of anything you’re buying, especially if ordering online.

Separate accessory costs – What comes in the box with your desktop depends on where you order it from. Some come with keyboard and mouse, while others will require you to purchase a monitor, speakers, and peripherals separately. While this does grant you the freedom to pick the ones you want, it does lack the convenience of an all-in-one where everything you need is in the box.

Not as user-friendly – While we’ve come a long way since the days of home PCs being the reserve of the technologically minded, if you’re skittish around tech, you might be slightly put off by the concept of a connecting up a desktop or custom-choosing its inner workings, compared to the ‘plug and play’ nature of an all-in-one.

Advantages of an all-in-one PC

Gaining popularity in recent years, an all-in-one is essentially a PC with all the workings conveniently placed in the screen. There’s no separate tower to contend with, and they’re easy to set up. They come with a keyboard and mouse, and the speakers are usually integrated into the device.Best desktop PCs

Easy set up – There’s very little fuss involved in setting up an all-in-one PC, with most simply requiring you to take it out of the box, place it where you want it, and turn it on. It’s a good option if you don’t want to be bogged down by cables and you want to get up and running quickly.

Space saving – If space is at a premium, an all-in-one can be a good fit as you’ll only need to consider where to place the screen, and don’t have to house a traditional ‘tower’ too. This makes them more flexible in the home, and also a degree more portable. While you won’t want to take it on the train with you, it’s much easier to move an all-in-one from one spot in your home to another.

Disadvantages of an all-in-one PC

Cheap accessories – While all-in-ones do come with accessories in the box and built in speakers, our tests tend to reveal that they’re rarely great, and usually rather basic. A desktop PC might allow you to choose the peripherals you would like, but with an all-in-one, you’re stuck with those it comes with, unless you want to shell out and purchase additional accessories.

More expensive – You can end up paying extra for convenience. While there are benefits to picking up an all-in-one, you’re often left paying extra. You could find that an equivalently powered desktop PC is considerably cheaper, even once the monitor and accessories have been taken into account.

Less powerful – as mentioned above, they often use laptop-grade components instead of more powerful desktop-grade ones. This is fine, but if absolute performance is a must, you should opt for a big tower instead.

If you’re buying a desktop PC, then you’ll also have to purchase a monitor to go with it. Modern monitors tend to be slim, power-efficient and crisply detailed, but there are various specs to contend with. Monitors vary wildly in price, with the top end ‘8K’ models priced highly due to their super-detailed screens.

But, you should be able to find a reasonably priced model if you know what you’re looking for.

How to buy a monitor for your desktop PC Screen

resolution is key when buying a monitor, and should be your primary concern. Anything that is less than Full High Definition (1920 x 1080 pixels) should be rejected, but you’re unlikely to find a modern day monitor with lower resolution. Generally speaking, the higher the number of pixels, the sharper the image.

If you’re using your desktop PC for mostly office tasks, Full HD will be more than enough, but if you’re doing a lot of graphics work, or playing games, you’ll notice a big difference by stepping up to a ‘4K’ or ‘ultra HD’ screen. How far away you sit from the monitor is also key, as the closer you are, the more likely you’ll be to spot lower resolution.

It’s also important to remember that if you choose a higher resolution, the objects on the screen (such as program icons) will become smaller.

You can delve into the PC settings to increase their default sizes, however.  Resolution isn’t everything though – our guide to the best computer monitors takes you through not only which are the best we’ve tested, but what other features you should look out for.

Best desktop PCs

How to buy peripherals

Once you’ve bought your new desktop PC, you’ll need to pick up some accessories, depending on what was included in the box. These will include a keyboard, mouse and speakers, as well as a monitor. While there are a wide selection of peripherals for all budgets, it’s important to consider your own requirements and not be tempted by flashy products that you won’t make use of.

How to buy a keyboard

Wired or wireless – Most of us tend to use a keyboard in the same position, so it may not matter if you’re tethered by a wire. However, it’s always nice to cut out clutter, so one fewer wire can help keep your work station tidy. A good wireless keyboard can be more expensive than a wired option, but gives a freedom that you won’t get with a wired one.

Ergonomic keyboards – Ergonomic keyboards are designed to feel more natural to type on, and can be a boon if you spend hours at a time typing. They tend to put less stress on the wrists and forearms, helping to cut down on chronic pain and repetitive strain. They take some getting used to, as the button placement is slightly different to a traditional keyboard. If possible, try one out before buying.

UK keyboard – Keyboards have different layouts depending on the country they are intended for. This can be as small a change as the placement of the @ symbol, to the ordering of the letters being rearranged. Check that the keyboard is UK standard, especially if you’re buying online.

Media keys – For those using their PCs to play music and movies, a keyboard with dedicated media buttons can be extremely convenient. The inclusion of play, pause and volume buttons saves having to navigate to the program with the mouse.

 

How to buy a PC mouse

Wired or wireless – A wireless mouse is arguably more useful if it’s being used with a laptop, but if you want a wire-free work surface, then they can be a great choice for a desktop, too. As the power drain on a wireless mouse is low, you’ll find that the battery life is excellent, with one set lasting you for months. Some models are rechargeable too.

How many buttons – Most desktop mouse designs have two buttons and a scroll wheel. However, with the introduction of programmable buttons on more advanced models, there can be huge convenience to being able to add your most used keys to the mouse.

Ergonomic mouse – You’ll be using you mouse a lot, so it’s important that it feels comfortable. Ergonomic mouse designs pay special attention to the contours of your hand, with natural button placement. They’re not for everyone, and can feel a bit strange initially, but can be useful for eliminating some conditions, such as RSI.

Left-handed mouse – Most computer mouse designs will work with either hand, but this isn’t always the case, especially for specially designed ergonomic models. If you’re left handed, make sure that the one you pick feels comfortable.

 

Best desktop PCs Reviews

 

Apple iMac 27″ 2020 review

Test scoreShow Context

89%

Key features

  • AIO
  • MacOS

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verdict: Near perfection

Given the price, anything less than near-perfection would have been hugely disappointing. Apple has delivered on every front and produced a fast computer with a fantastic screen and amazing speakers. Although the cost might be prohibitive for some, you really do get what you pay for – this is the best of the best.

Pros
  • Fantastic display
  • Fast
  • Good speakers
  • Decent keyboard and mouse
Cons
  • Takes up a lot of space
  • Ports are hard to reach
  • Expensive upgrades

Apple Mac Mini 2020 M1 review

£699.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

88%

Key features

  • Desktop
  • MacOS

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verdict: Big performance in a small package

This is a terrific computer that’s every bit as fast as Apple’s other M1-powered machines. Its tiny and stylish design means it will fit onto any desk, and the lack of a screen means you can pick exactly the right monitor for your needs. It doesn’t have many ports, and the built-in speaker is poor, but aside from that there is very little to complain about.

Pros
  • Tiny design
  • Very fast
  • Lovely build quality
Cons
  • Poor built-in speaker
  • Small chassis means few ports

Apple iMac 21-inch 4K review

£1,299.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

87%

Key features

  • AIO
  • MacOS

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verdict: Stunning performance and design

This is an excellent all-in-one PC that performs as good as it looks. It handles everyday tasks without breaking a sweat, and has an excellent screen and superb speakers. It’s a worthy Best Buy.

Pros
  • Excellent performance
  • Fantastic screen
  • Superb speakers
Cons
  • Keyboard could be bigger
  • Slow startup speed

Apple iMac 24-inch review

£1,249.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

86%

Key features

  • AIO
  • MacOS

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verdict: Excellent all-in-one

This is a brilliant desktop computer. Not only does it ace all of our tests when it comes to screen and sound quality, it’s also really fast thanks to its excellent Apple M1 processor. The only real downsides here are a lack of ports you might otherwise expect – including full-size USBs and an Ethernet port – but beyond that, if your budget will stretch, it’s well worth a look.

Pros
  • Great screen
  • Fast
  • Good speakers
Cons
  • The few ports are awkwardly positioned
  • Small keyboard

Stormforce Onyx i3 8GB 1TB 120GB GTX1650 Gaming PC review

Test scoreShow Context

85%

Key features

  • Desktop
  • Windows 10

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verdict: Fast and flash

If you’re after a gaming PC, there’s very little not to like here. Just keep in mind that this is a large computer, and that in addition to a monitor you will also need to buy a keyboard and mouse if you don’t have them already.

Pros
  • Great for games
  • Interesting design
Cons
  • Faster processor would have been nice
  • Small SSD

Dell XPS 8940 review

£899.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

84%

Key features

  • Desktop
  • Windows 10

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verdict: Scintillatingly speedy

This is a great desktop computer that’s fast and has all the ports and connectivity you could wish for. For the average home office user it might be a slight overkill, particularly with the fast Nvidia graphics card, but if you want a computer that looks the part and is capable of whatever task you throw at it, it’s well worth a look.

Pros
  • Very fast
  • Great graphics performance
  • Plenty of ports
  • DVD drive included
Cons
  • No high-capacity hard disk
  • Keyboard and mouse are cheap and not that cheerful

Acer Aspire XC-895 review

£529.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

83%

Key features

  • Desktop
  • Windows 10

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verdict: A speedy and compact computer

There’s little not to like about this simple but effective compact computer. The processor has plenty of power, and there’s a wide selection of ports, so it should have everything you need to get you through your daily computing tasks.

Pros
  • Compact size
  • Fast processor
  • Plenty of ports
Cons
  • No SSD
  • Rear ports are cramped

Lenovo IdeaCentre 5i 23.8 F0FB000NUK review

£649.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

76%

Key features

  • AIO
  • Windows 10

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verdict: A speedy all-in-one

This is a good all-in-one computer that earns it Best Buy stripes. It’s fast, looks great, and the nifty built-in wireless charger is a nice bonus. We wish the screen was a little bit better, though.

Pros
  • Fast processor
  • Built-in wireless charger
  • Easy-to-access ports
Cons
  • Screen lacks punch
  • Sound could be better

Acer Chromebase 23.8″ review

£599.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

75%

Key features

  • AIO
  • ChromeOS

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 verdict: A decent all-in-one

It’s not a Best Buy, but this is a decent computer that will let you get the basics done without any messing around. The screen is lacking and the built-in speakers are disappointing, but for everyday work there are no big downsides.

Pros
  • Simple to use
  • Lots of ports
  • Touchscreen is useful
Cons
  • Old processor isn’t the fastest
  • Screen and sound could be better

HP M01-F1002na review

£599.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

75%

Key features

  • Desktop
  • Windows 10

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verdict: A decent desktop

This is a good desktop PC that handles everyday tasks with ease. The keyboard and mouse could be better and it could perhaps do with a few more USB ports at the rear, but beyond that there isn’t much to complain about.

Pros
  • Snappy performance
  • Lots of ports on the front
Cons
  • No DVD drive
  • Rear USB ports are all slow

HP 24-df0073na review

£479.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

69%

Key features

  • AIO
  • Windows 10

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 verdict: Reasonable for the price

It doesn’t excel in any particular area but, given its price, there is a certain level of forgiveness required for this computer. If you want a PC for getting lots of work done and multitasking in several programs, look elsewhere. But if you just need a complete home computer without spending any more than you need, it will do just fine.

Pros
  • Big screen
  • Reasonably cheap
Cons
  • Disappointing speakers
  • Ports are hard to reach
  • Not the fastest

Asus Vivo V222FAK-BA020T review

£549.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

68%

Key features

  • AIO
  • Windows 10

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verdict: Mediocre

This is a reasonable all-in-one, but it’s nothing special. The screen is mediocre and the speakers are disappointing, while the webcam is atrocious. On the plus side, it’s compact for an all-in-one PC and it’s quick enough for the basics. Still, it’s worth looking elsewhere for something a bit better.

Pros
  • Wireless keyboard and mouse are handy
  • Compact size
Cons
  • Not the fastest
  • Mediocre screen

Beelink U55 Mini PC review

£247.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

58%

Key features

  • Mini desktop
  • Windows 10

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verdict: Small, but not mighty

This is a compact desktop PC that will fit perfectly under a TV, but unfortunately has lacklustre video playback and falls down at anything beyond basic tasks such as web browsing

Pros
  • Compact design
  • Budget price
  • Reasonable connectivity
Cons
  • Slow performance
  • Poor video playback
  • Plasticky build quality

Lenovo IdeaCentre 3 90MV006WUK review

£300.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

57%

Key features

  • Desktop
  • Windows 10

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verdict: A bit slow

Given its low price, it’s hard to be too critical of this compact PC. But if you regularly need to carry out any more than one simple computing task at a time, this model probably isn’t cut out for what you need it for, as it’s just a bit too slow.

Pros
  • Lots of ports
  • Compact design
Cons
  • Slow processor
  • Cheap-feeling keyboard and mouse

HP 22-df0000na review

Test scoreShow Context

51%

Key features

  • AIO
  • Windows 10

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 verdict: Give it a miss

There’s something of a laundry list of things not to like about this computer, which means it’s impossible for us to recommend. The price might seem attractive, but it’s a false economy given the myriad of compromises.

Pros
  • Plenty of ports
Cons
  • Slow processor
  • Poor speakers
  • Disappointing screen

HP Slim S01-af (Celeron) review

£299.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

50%

Key features

  • Desktop
  • Windows 10

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verdict: Poor choice.

This is a poor desktop PC that has flaws in several areas. While it handles the basics well, it hasn’t got the fire power for more complex tasks and falls well short of making the grade as a Which? Best Buy. We’d suggest you check out our Best Buy recommendations instead.

Pros
  • Budget price
  • Reasonable connectivity
Cons
  • Limited performance
  • Keyboard and mouse could be better
  • Some cramped USB sockets