the best desktop computers for your money
Desktops also make for better ergonomics. Most experts agree that maintaining good posture while you work — that is, keeping the monitor at eye level, the keyboard at elbow level, and back fairly straight— can help prevent aches and pain caused by prolonged hours at a desk
Desktops have a reputation for being bulky and heavy. But new compact or slim desktops are about half the size of traditional full-size towers and easily fit in small spaces. There are also small, square mini PCs that take just a few inches of space, and the tower-less all-in-one desktops (AIO) whose parts — motherboard, processor, memory, storage, etc. — are all contained within the monitor, such as Apple’s popular iMac
For example, a 10th generation Intel processor would be listed as Intel Core i9-10900 whereas a 9th generation would be Core i9-9900. Generally speaking, the newer generations have more powerful and altogether superior capabilities
The processor core is the individual processing unit within the CPU, and each one focuses on one task at the time. Most computers now have multiple processor cores, usually starting at four-core (quad-core), which enables them to run various programs and tasks simultaneously
Some high-end models have 10-core processors, with clock speeds up to 5.2Ghz. However, if you’re just going to perform general tasks, like streaming and word processing, a dual or quad-core with 2.9GHz to 4.3GHz should be sufficient
There are two types of GPU cards — integrated and discrete. Integrated graphics cards are embedded within the CPU, and are usually less powerful than discrete. Discrete, or dedicated graphics cards, are mounted on their own circuit board and have their own memory and cooling fan
Most PCs include integrated graphics cards that are powerful enough for casual gaming and watching 4K videos, but they’ll struggle with software that require heavy processing power or games on their highest resolution settings. Serious gamers or graphic design professionals should most likely get an integrated graphics card to ensure better performance
• Storage Drives: SSD vs. HDD. There are two types of storage drives, solid-state drive (SSD) and hard disk drive (HDD). They both refer to storage capacity and do pretty much the same job, with some slight differences
Having said that, there are many desktops that feature a dual-drive system, which combines an SSD as a primary drive and a hard drive as secondary. This dual system can add between $100 and $400 to the base price
Most desktop computers have at least 8GB of RAM, and can be configured to have up to 128GB. Broadly speaking, 8GB is enough for average users. But if you’ll be running multiple large programs at the same time, go for 16GB or higher
• Ports. Unlike laptops, which are sometimes limited to one or two USB ports and an audio jack, desktops offer more ports. This gives you more options for connecting a variety of add-ons and devices at the same time, such as printers, external hard drives, and so on. These are usually placed at the front of the desktop and at the rear, though those at the front are more convenient and easy to reach without having to move the tower
The Dell XPS offers multiple configurations, but starting at around $500 you can get a PC with a 10th Gen Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a hard drive of 1TB. In other words, this desktop comes with an entry-level processor, enough memory for daily tasks, and plenty of storage for a really low price
If you want more power, upgrade to an Intel Core i9 processor, 128GB of RAM, and up to 2TB of SSD and hard drive. You can max it out even more by choosing either a Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super or an AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT graphics card. Plus you can choose between a black or white chassis. With these configurations, the Dell XPS is capable of matching most users’ needs, though doing so may increase the price by a factor of five or six
The XPS 8940 includes a wide array of ports. In the front you’ll find an SD card reader, three USB type-A, one type-C, an headset jack, and an optional optical drive. On the back, you get six additional USBs, a DisplayPort for monitors, an HDMI, and audio ports
This Dell model is also ready for future upgrades. It comes with additional storage bays for a 3.3” HDD, two for a 2.5” NB HDD, and three PCIe slots for adding peripheral components like sound cards, graphic cards, and other expansion cards
Even though the new 27-inch iMac model (late 2020 version) looks the same as prior models, it was upgraded with a 10th generation Intel Core processor, the AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series, and a new 1080p webcam, reaffirming its position as one of the best professional all-in-one workstations in the market
And for the first time, there’s the option to configure it with nano-texture glass, which reduces glare without affecting color brilliance. This option is ideal for rooms that receive direct sunlight or have changing lighting. It does, however, add a hefty $500 to the total price
Apple also upgraded the SDXC card reader to support Ultra High Speed SD cards, or UHS-II. These are used in professional cameras, and give photographers and videographers faster speeds to transfer their work.
Additionally, there’s the option to upgrade the standard 1Gbps Ethernet jack to 10Gbps for an extra $100. The latter is ideal for users that have high-speed local networks and want high performance for transferring large files from and to the network.
One other thing to consider: the new 2021 iMac model will soon be released. That one will reportedly feature a thinner screen border — bezel— and an Apple-designed chip (they already started transitioning away from the Intel chip in late 2020)
Consistently retailing under $600, this PC tower offers enough power and features to perform all the basic computing functions you need, such as word processing, streaming, and web browsing. It comes with a 10th Gen Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, up to 32GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. It also has an entry-level graphics card — Intel UHD Graphics 360 — that can be used for videos and casual light-gaming in settings of 720p or less
The Aspire TC is Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-enabled, and offers multiple connectivity options. There are two USB ports in the front — one USB type C and one USB 3.2 type A — an SD card reader, an optical disc drive, and headphone and microphone jacks
There are also four additional USB 3.2 Gen 1, two USB 2.0 (type B) ideal for printers, scanners, or external hard drive connectivity, two HDMIs, the traditional microphone, stereo and woofer ports, and an Ethernet LAN port
Before deciding this is the desktop for you, consider two potential drawbacks. First, the Aspire TC doesn’t have a VGA/DVI port, so the monitor you choose must be HDMI-compatible. Second, its integrated GPU will perform poorly with graphic-intensive software like video editing or content creation like Adobe After Effects. The same goes for games that require high-resolution settings
The HP Pavilion is a mid-range PC that fuses performance with a stylish design. Like Apple’s iMac, the Pavilion is an all-in-one (AIO) desktop, meaning that its hardware is included inside the monitor, eliminating the need for the traditional desktop computer tower.
Models with AMD Ryzen 5 processor start around $800. The HP Pavilion features a Full HD 24-inch touchscreen, 16GB RAM, and 256GB SSD storage, giving it the speed to run multiple programs and tabs at the same time without slowdowns. Depending on whether it comes with an AMD Ryzen or Intel Core 10th Gen processor, it features an AMD Radeon Graphics or an Intel UHD Graphics 360, respectively.
Other notable features are the Pavilion’s retractable pop-up webcam that allows you to push it down whenever you’re not using it (perfect for those currently covering your webcam with a sticker), and its built-in dual speakers by Bang & Olufsen, a Danish high-end audio manufacturer. As with most all-in-ones (AIO), connectivity ports are in the rear, these include three USB type A, two USB type C, a three-in-one media card reader, an Ethernet port, two HDMI, and an audio jack.