We’ve reviewed nearly two hundred desktop PCs, putting each system through stringent benchmarks to see how these PCs perform. Prebuilt systems need to offer great configurations and excellent cooling, while custom PCs should allow for easy access to the components for easy upgrades.
The best overall desktop right now is the. It’s not the most powerful system you can buy (check our best gaming PC for that option), but it’s a great value for what you’re paying for. Beyond that, we’ve also made selections for categories such as best all-in-one computer, budget budget PC, and best workstation.
At a glance
|Dell Inspiron 5680||Best desktop overall||4 out of 5|
|Apple Mac Mini||Best compact PC||4 out of 5|
|HP Omen Obelisk||Best prebuilt gaming PC||3.5 out of 5|
|Origin Neuron||Best custom gaming PC||4 out of 5|
|iMac 5K (2019)||Best all-in-one||3.5 out of 5|
|Corsair One Pro i180||Best workstation PC||4 out of 5|
|Dell XPS 8930||Best budget PC||3.5 out of 5|
Dell Inspiron 5680
Best desktop overall
Why you should buy this: You want good performance on a budget.
Who it’s for: Students, families
Why we picked the Dell Inspiron 5680:
The Inspiron 5680 is a quiet desktop PC that just gets the job done. Properly specced it can do pretty much anything you need without breaking your budget. It can serve as a solid, reliable workstation, or its intended purpose: A budget gaming rig.
It’s not the most expensive system on this list, but it has a couple of features that give it a leg up over some of its more expensive competitors. 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. It never gets very loud, and it’s practically inaudible under a desk, even under heavy load.
The Inspiron is also 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. It’s just flashy enough to look stylish without looking out of place in a home office. Overall, the Inspiron 5680 is a workhorse, plain and simple. If you need a new desktop PC, a new all-around workstation that will dutifully serve with only a sensible number of bells and whistles, the Inspiron is your best bet.
Read our full Dell Inspiron 5680 review
Apple Mac Mini
Best compact PC
Why you should buy this: It’s tiny and powerful.
Who it’s for: Budget and space-restricted Apple fans.
How much will it cost: Starts at $800. Optional hardware up to $4,100.
Why we picked the Apple Mac Mini:
Apple’s Mac Mini might have been the most neglected of the company’s hardware — that is, until the 2018 version was surprisingly announced and launched. This new Mac Mini truly embodies the idea of a miniature computer and doesn’t scrimp on the hardware inside it. It’s a little pricier than previous iterations of the micro-system, but with an eighth-Generation Intel CPU at its heart and up to 64GB of memory, it can crunch through general computing tasks with ease.
It comes with a wide selection of ports, which is a nice change of pace from some of Apple’s other small computing systems and it’s supremely quiet, thanks to a redesigned cooling system. This isn’t a gaming system — we have other recommendations for that — but MacOS isn’t exactly a hotbed of gaming activity anyhow. This is a working and media-viewing machine, and it does a fantastic job of it.
There are some alternatives out there with Windows support, like the Hades Canyon NUC from Intel, but it’s noticeably more expensive. If you need a miniature desktop system, the Mac Mini is our current favorite and a solid competitor to the other entries on this list.
Read our full Apple Mac Mini review
HP Omen Obelisk
The best prebuilt gaming PC
Why you should buy this: Punchy performance packaged in a clean design gives this desktop a more mature vibe.
Who it’s for: Gamers, home users.
How much will it cost: $849 – $4,000. Tested at $1,999.
Why we picked the HP Omen Obelisk:
As sleek as it is powerful, HP’s Omen Obelisk will appeal to gamers and non-gamers alike thanks to its understated aesthetics, sleek lines, and a modern design. Starting at just $849, the Omen Obelisk is one of the more affordable pre-built gaming systems on the market today. HP offers various customization options for this system, so you’ll only need to pay for as much power as you think you’ll need. Demanding gamers, however, will want to max out this system with a 9th-Generation Intel Core i9-9900K processor and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics packaged in a liquid-cooled metal enclosure.
Though it’s a gaming PC, the demure matte black metal case and minimal RGB lighting allows this gaming PC to serve as a general computing desktop or a a graphics workstation when you’re not gaming. Gamers will appreciate the tempered glass side panel to showcase the desktop’s tech-filled internals, and the 2019 model adds liquid cooling plumbing, which gives even more visual interest for those peering through the window. Tinkerers can also add a second graphics card to give this unit even more power. There’s plenty to love about the Omen Obelisk, and the unit’s low starting price makes it a winner for many.
Read our full HP Omen Obelisk review
Origin PC Neuron
The best custom gaming PC
Why you should buy this: Made for tight spaces, this compact desktop comes with big power.
Who it’s for: Gamers who want ultimate gaming power in a modern design
How much will it cost: $1,363- $13,000
Why we picked the Origin PC Neuron:
With plenty of customization to choose from on the outside and the inside, Origin PC’s Neuron delivers ample performance. The only thing to really limit this PC is your wallet, as upgrading different options in this compact mid-size tower will quickly add to the cost of the final build. With support for up to two graphics cards and plenty of space inside to make upgrades in the future, the Neuron is a PC that will remain as powerful years from now as it does today.
Fully configured, the Neuron costs as much as some used cars, but those who need sheer power will appreciate some of the high-end specifications of this compact desktop. Despite its small size, the Neuron can be configured with an 18-core Intel Core i9-9980XE processor, dual Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti Blower Edition graphics, 32GB RAM, and space for up to five storage drives. This makes the Neuron equally as appealing to creatives and gamers, and the buttery smooth performance delivered by the Neuron surely does not disappoint.
For those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty, the flip-out glass door design makes accessing the internals tool-less and simple. Origin PC’s optional Evolve upgrade warranty ensures that you’ll get market value for your current parts if you do decide to swap them out when making upgrades in the future. Though it ships as a pre-built gaming system, if you take advantage of the Evolve program and make upgrades in the future, you’re guaranteed to have a system that will be as powerful years down the road as technology changes and improves.
Read our full Origin PC Neuron review
Apple iMac 5K (2019)
The best all-in-one
Why you should buy this: Updated silicon inside an iconic design lets the iMac stand out from the competition.
Who it’s for: Professionals and home users looking for an iconic and powerful all-in-one computer
How much will it cost: $1,799 – $5,249
Why we picked the Apple iMac 5K (2019):
The iMac’s silhouette hasn’t changed much for about seven years now, a testament to the enduring nature of Apple’s designs. This year, Apple updated the iMac 5K to give it even more powerful innards to satiate the power-hungry needs of prosumers. Even though PC manufacturers are dragging their heels with Thunderbolt 3 support, Apple’s all-in on this standard, ensuring that your investment in this all-in-one desktop will last you for the foreseeable future.
Given that MacOS hasn’t been particularly strong when it comes to gaming support, the spacious 27-inch 5K display on the iMac will best be served for creatives who want a larger canvas for photo or video editing. Gamers who install and dual-boot into Windows can still leverage this year’s expanded selection of AMD’s discrete Radeon X graphics, and the new 9th-generation Intel Core i9-9900K processor makes this a powerful system to get work done. Though Apple’s latest hardware refresh makes the 2019 iMac 5K a modern marvel, this system lacks some features found on competing PCs, like a touchscreen or built-in digitizer support.
However, if you’re looking for a sleek desktop and don’t want sacrifice valuable desk real estate to a large tower, the iMac 5K packs in plenty of performance in a sleek design solidly constructed of aluminum.
Read our full Apple iMac 5K (2019) review
Corsair One Pro i180
The best workstation PC
Why you should buy this: It looks and performs fantastically, even among stiff competition.
Who it’s for: Creatives who need a compact, artfully-designed PC with plenty of power
How much will it cost: $4,999
Why we picked the Corsair One Pro i180:
Perhaps best described as the PC challenger to Apple’s aging Mac Pro, the Corsair One Pro packs in modern silicon components into a compact, metal-clad enclosure that’s bound to look good on any desktop. Adoring as it powerful, even though Corsair is billing the One Pro i180 as a workstation, this PC comes loaded with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 graphics, making it just as great for serious gamers. The included 9th-Generation, 12-core Intel Core i9-9920X processor tops the performance of most gaming rigs out there, making it an agile multitasker in any office.
To cram this much performance into a tower that’s as tall as a 2-liter soda bottle requires plenty of engineering, and Corsair doesn’t disappoint with its dual radiators for liquid cooling, and strategically placed vents to maximize airflow. Though a large grate sits at the top to assist in moving air, the One Pro manages to not look like an aggressive gaming device. The two strips of RGB lighting in the front gives this workstation Tron-like vibes, and given that Apple hasn’t updated its Mac Pro in more than five years, the One Pro i180 will fill that void for creatives who need an artfully created PC with plenty of power. Like the Mac Pro from which it was inspired, pricing for the One Pro i180 comes in at a steep $4,999.
Read our full Corsair One Pro i180 review
Dell XPS 8930
Best budget desktop
Why you should buy this: You get a lot of PC for not a lot of money.
Who it’s for: Families, students, budget-conscious buyers.
How much will it cost: Starts at $500. Options up to $1,310.
Why we picked the Dell XPS 8930:
The Dell XPS 8930 offers plenty of bang for buck no matter what price point you look at. We might be inclined to add an SSD to the $500 base model, but a Core i3-8100 and 8GB of RAM is plenty of power for basic office tasks and school work. The slightly more expensive options come with dedicated graphics cards, more storage space, double the RAM, and faster processors all the way up to a six-core Core i7-8700, which can handle much heavier lifting.
No matter which configuration you opt for you, though, Dell gives you the option of customizing it to your tastes. You can expand the storage or introduce secondary drives if desired, increase the amount of memory, or even opt for slightly more capable processors and graphics cards in some cases.
Considering the only downside to our review version was that the cheapest configurations lacked must-have hardware features, you don’t need to go without as we did. Make the 8930 your own and you’ll have a fantastically affordable, but capable, machine for work and play.
Read our full Dell XPS 8930 review
Should you buy now, 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, now’s as good a time as any. Graphics card prices have come down significantly in the past few months which is great for home builders. That may mean we’ll see some offers from pre-built desktop makers which want to stay competitive. Additionally, Apple, Microsoft, Dell, and most other major manufacturers have refreshed their flagship desktop lines with Intel’s 8th and 9th-generation chips and there are some options for Ryzen+ CPU choices too.
Gamer systems now sport Nvidia’s RTX-series GPUs as well. They’re expensive, but great if you want serious gaming power and future-proofing against ray tracing and DLSS games.
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.