The best desktop computer you can buy

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

Best Desktop Computer Falcon Northwest Mach V
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.

Here we’ve compiled 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 with the best desktop PCs on the market today.

Our pick

Falcon Mach V

Falcon Northwest Mach V
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

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 mundane, but that’s 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. And if it breaks within the first three years (god forbid), you’re covered: Falcon’s standard warranty is among the best in the business.

The best budget desktop

Dell Inspiron 5675

Dell Inspiron 5675 review offset
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

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

Who it’s for: Students, families

How much will it cost: Starts at $530, tested at $650

Why we picked the Dell Inspiron 5675

The Inspiron 5675 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, or its intended purpose: a budget gaming rig.

It’s not the most expensive system on this list, but it’s got a couple features that give the it a leg up over some of its more expensive competitors. For starters, 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. 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 5675 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.

The best gaming desktop

Digital Storm Velox

Digital Storm Velox (Kaby Lake) 2016
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

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 anyone into video games

How much will it cost: Starts at $1,704, tested at $4,737

Why we picked the  Digital Storm Velox

The Digital Storm Velox is a hot rod. It’s big, 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 Velox 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 Velox 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. The Velox 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 Velox 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 Digital Storm Velox is your best bet (but check out our list of the best gaming PCs and best gaming laptops for more options).

The best mac

Apple Mac 27-inch with 5K Display

Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display review full angle
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

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: Starts at $1,800

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 with 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 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. Intel’s Kaby Lake chips rolled out late last year, and the new models (code-named Coffee Lake) are slated to come out soon — but they’re not going to be as big a leap forward as before. Additionally, Apple, Microsoft, Dell, and most other major manufacturers have already refreshed their flagship desktop lines for the year.

If you buy today, or sometime soon, you’re in a good position to get a reliable desktop at a reasonable price. Keep an eye out for those Cyber Monday deals though.

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.