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The best desktop PC you can buy

From hot rods to budget sleepers, our favorite desktops can handle anything

best desktop pcs origin millenium pc
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

The desktop computer landscape has changed in recent years. Laptops, tablets and smartphones have gained ground on their stationary cousins.

As those devices become more capable the desktop, our old standby, is too easily forgotten. But while manufacturers might lament the decline in desktop sales, it’s all good news for consumers. You’ve always been able to get more bang for your buck out of a desktop computer than you could out of, say, a laptop. Now, more than ever desktop manufacturers are in fierce competition to provide you with the best value without sacrificing performance.

Below we’ve compiled some of the best desktop computers currently on the market. Whether you need something for your dorm room, your home office, or your gaming cave, we’ve got you covered.

Our pick

Falcon Mach V

Falcon Northwest Mach V

Why you should buy this: You want the best of the best — a grim obelisk, thrumming with dark power.

Who it’s for: Gamers, professionals, overclocking enthusiasts

How much will it cost: Between $2,500 and $8,800

Why we picked the Falcon Mach V

Like the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Falcon Mach V is a solid black pillar of immense power. It’s understated, elegant, and expensive.

If you want a desktop that will outperform and outlast any other desktop on the market, and price isn’t too much of an issue, then you can’t do better than the Falcon Mach V. It’s fully configurable, from the processor to the paint job, and while it’s a little pricey you’re going to come away with something tailored to your specific needs.

Compared to some other systems, the Mach V may seem a bit mundane. But that is to its benefit. It doesn’t call too much attention to itself, so it can work as a high-end workstation, a supercharged gaming PC, or anything in between. You may want to seek another rig if flash is important to you, but we think most users will prefer this monolith’s look. Also, it tends to run quieter than competitors, so it won’t distract you with whirring fans.

The conventional design also makes the Mach V easy to upgrade. It has a large, spacious, logically arranged interior, with plenty of room for new hard drives or a large graphics card. If it breaks within the first three years, though, you’re covered — Falcon’s standard warranty is among the best in the business.

The best budget desktop

Dell XPS 8900

Dell XPS 8900 Desktop

Why you should buy this: You want good performance on a budget.

Who it’s for: Students, families.

How much will it cost: $800 – $1,200 depending on specs.

Why we picked the Dell XPS 8900

The XPS 8900 is a quiet desktop PC that just gets the job done. Properly specced it can do pretty much anything you need it to without breaking your budget. It can serve as a solid, reliable workstation, and even do a pretty good job running the latest games – you might have to tweak your graphics settings a little, though, depending on the game.

It’s not the most expensive system on this list, but it’s got a couple features that give the XPS a leg up over some of its more expensive competitors. Namely, it’s very quiet. Seriously, it’s whisper quiet even under a heavy load, which makes it a great choice for dorm rooms or living rooms, or anywhere that excessive fan noise wouldn’t be particularly appreciated.

Also, the XPS 8900 is surprisingly compact. You can put this thing anywhere, it’d fit comfortably under a desk, on top of it, or even in a small cupboard.

The XPS 8900 is a workhorse, plain and simple. If you need a new desktop PC, a new all-around workstation that will dutifully serve without all the bells and whistles, then the XPS 8900 is there for you. You can buy a less expensive desktop and get away with it. But if you want one that’s going to last for five years or more, and still feel reasonably quick, this is your best option.

The best gaming desktop

Origin Millennium

Origin Millenium PC 2016

Why you should buy this: You want a carbon-fiber clad jet engine that also runs games.

Who it’s for: Gamers, game players, and also people who play video games.

How much will it cost: $1,800 – $12,000 depending on specs

Why we picked the Origin Millennium

The Origin Millennium is a hot rod. It’s loud, ostentatious, and fast.

It might set you back a bit, depending on the specs, but it performs like a dream and it completely obliterated our benchmark tests. It’s designed for gaming from the ground up and it shows. No really, it shows. The Millennium is not made for toiling under a desk, this is truly a desktop computer. Its design practically begs for the spotlight.

Like any good gaming PC, the Millennium is built to be upgraded and customized. The internal components are very easily swapped out. The case looks impenetrable from the outside, but once you open it up, the internals are laid bare in a way that makes them easily accessible. For instance, everything other than the motherboard can be removed and replaced without removing any other component.

The Millennium is a good investment if you’re looking for a gaming PC that will outpace the competition for a long time. Even once it starts to show its age in a few years, you can just pop it open and upgrade it as needed without too much trouble. The Millennium is built for long-term performance.

It’s not for everyone, but if you want a PC that can outperform the competition and show off while doing it, the Origin Millennium is your best bet.

The best mac

Apple Mac 27-inch with 5K Display

Apple iMac with Retina

Why you should buy this: You want macOS and a stylish, compact computer.

Who it’s for: Students, families, creative professionals, IKEA showrooms.

How much will it cost: About $2,000

Why we picked the Apple iMac 27-inch with 5K Display

Looking for a more reserved style? Maybe you just want an all-in-one with a tack-sharp screen? Then the iMac with Apple’s 5K display is a solid choice particularly if space is a consideration, or if you just don’t want to deal with all the hassles that come along with a typical desktop PC.

The iMac lives up to the famous Apple promise: it just works. This is a desktop that gets out of your way, and gets the job done. The gorgeous, luxurious screen makes the iMac a great choice for multi-purpose use.

As a workstation, it’s got a big enough monitor that you’ve got all the space you could need, as an entertainment center or even a TV replacement, it’s got vivid colors, deep blacks, and unparalleled color clarity.

In addition to all of that, the iMac is surprisingly fast. It’s snappy and responsive, with quick load times, and decent multi-tasking performance as long as you don’t push it too hard.

Performance, paired with a classic glass-and-aluminum design, make the iMac a good choice for consumers looking for a well-rounded desktop that doesn’t take up too much of the desk top.

Should you buy or wait?

That’s the real question here, isn’t it? If you’ve read this far, you probably already have a good idea of what you want out of a new desktop, but when should you pull the trigger on the decision?

Well, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to wait just a little while. Intel is about to roll out their latest Kaby Lake processors, and they’re probably worth waiting for if you’re going to shell out for the Falcon Mach V or the Origin Millennium.

If you’ve got your eye on that Dell 8900 though, go for it. It’s a discontinued line, so you’ll probably get a pretty good deal, and it’s not going to get a Kaby Lake processor anyway – the next model might, but it’ll probably cost a little more.

The iMac is a bit of a special case, and we’d advise waiting on that one in particular. Apple hasn’t refreshed their 5K iMac line since 2015, and it’s due for an update any day now. Rumors put the date anywhere from October 2016, to early 2017, but no matter the date it’s probably best to wait until the iMacs get refreshed before going out and picking one up.

Even if you don’t mind a previous-generation model, it’s a good idea to wait on the iMac. Once the latest models are unveiled, third party retailers will likely mark down the last-gen iMacs fairly significantly.

How we test

You’ve read our reviews. You’ve read our conclusions. And now you’re wondering how we came to them.

Reviews often lack context. We’ll give out a score and analyze the finer points of desktop performance, but how do we reach those conclusions? How do we test these machines?

Allow us to lift the veil. Here we’ll explain the benchmarks we use for objective testing and the perspective from which we approach subjective topics. We don’t expect everyone to agree with our opinions, but we hope that sharing our process will leave you better equipped to decide what desktop best fits your needs.h2