This article was last updated on June 11, 2020 by Digital Trends editor Luke Larsen.
The best desktop computer you can buy is the one . While you always get the best performance per dollar with your own computer, the XPS 8930 SE is the best pre-built PC you can buy, whether for a family room at home or for a dorm room. You can equip it with powerful processors, but Dell also offers an affordable base model.
Many people choose desktops over laptops to meet extreme performance demands. For this reason, we've listed tips for more difficult tasks like games or video editing below. We've also included the best options for ultra-compact desktops or all-in-one desktops that are ideal for those with limited space.
The best desktop PCs at a glance:
The best desktop PC: Dell XPS 8930 SE
Why should you buy this: You get a lot of PC for not a lot of money.
For whom it is: Families, students, price-conscious buyers.
Why we chose the Dell XPS 8930 SE:
The best overall desktop is the one that works for most users, and that's the Dell XPS 8930 SE. On the outside it is not noticeable, but it is a conservative desktop that easily fits into a cabin or a home office.
Regardless of which configuration you choose, you will find something that suits your needs. However, the basic model is a good starting point. A 6-core Core i5 processor and a discrete GTX 1650 GPU are not something to make fun of and should be relatively easy to handle most of what you throw at them. It is important that it has a 256 GB SSD M.2 boot drive and a 1 TB hard drive for fast app loading and lots of hard drive space.
If you want a better photo and video editing device from there, you can switch to a Core i9-9900K processor for additional cores. If you want to do more gaming, you can upgrade to an RTX 2080 Super. The best part? Although it is relatively small and portable, everything is modular and can be upgraded for future expansion.
Read our in-depth Dell XPS 8930 SE review
The best gaming desktop: HP Omen Obelisk
Chuong Nguyen / Digital Trends
Why should you buy this: Punchy performance in a clear design gives this desktop a more mature atmosphere.
For whom it is: PC players who do not want to build their own system.
Why we chose the HP Omen Obelisk:
Not everyone has the time or interest to build their own gaming PC from scratch. The HP Omen Obelisk gives you most of the benefits of building your own system without the hassle. It's extremely easy to update, offers almost unlimited configurations, and still gives you a glimpse of your glowing gaming monster through the tempered glass.
You can save a little money by choosing slightly less powerful parts without losing a lot of performance. Our review unit, available for just $ 1,700, comes with an older 8th generation processor and an Nvidia RTX 2080. In this configuration, even demanding games could be played in 4K resolution, and most of the games in our test were played at around 100 FPS when reduced to 1440p. If you need more power later, the spacious tower makes the upgrades simple and straightforward.
Now you can configure the Obelisk with the Core i9-9900K and an RTX 2070 Super as the most powerful gaming PC you can imagine.
Read our detailed HP Omen Obelisk review
The best all-in-one desktop: Apple iMac 5K (2019)
Why should you buy this: The updated silicon in an iconic design makes the iMac stand out from the competition.
For whom it is: Professionals and home users are looking for a compact, beautiful and powerful all-in-one computer
Why we chose the Apple iMac 5K (2019):
The silhouette of the iMac has hardly changed in about seven years. This is a testament to the longevity of Apple's design. This year, Apple updated the iMac 5K to offer even more powerful offaling to meet the power-hungry needs of prosumers. With a 9th generation Intel i9-9900K processor with up to eight cores, the 5K edition of Apple's all-in-one processor is the fastest we've tested and allows desktop Mac users to have discrete desktop graphics without having to upgrade the more expensive iMac Pro or the redesigned Mac Pro.
This iMac's 27-inch screen is not intended for gaming, but is suitable for tasks such as video and photo editing, office work, and media consumption. Thanks to its bright, high-contrast display, which supports 100% of the sRGB color space, it is still ideal for editors.
Despite an older case, the 2019 iMac 5K is still an almost perfect all-in-one. Although no biometric logins are supported and touchscreen support is still absent, this desktop offers fast performance in a compact form factor with a large screen for content creation and consumption.
Read our in-depth review of the Apple iMac 5K (2019)
The best desktop for video editing: Adamant Ryzen Threadripper Professional PC
Why should you buy this: It has absolutely ridiculous performance and lots of customization options.
For whom it is: Creative and company with deep pockets.
Why we chose the Adamant Ryzen Threadripper Pro video editing PC:
Adamant's PCs may not be the sexiest, but they are state of the art. With the latest AMD Threadripper 3000 high-performance CPUs, including 3960X and 3970X, with up to 32 cores, there is nothing with more multithreaded performance than this system. Now if you even support the 3990X with 64 cores, you can be sure that this system will fly through your Premiere renderings.
In addition to the 32-core CPU, there is up to 256 GB of high-speed memory, options for terabytes for terabytes of fast memory and a choice of GPUs between simple workstation cards for general rendering of special effects and powerful creator cards for thousands of dollars. The basic model has the performance you need for fast processing. However, if you need more for certain tasks, you can buy it.
Even better, with built-in water cooling, this system not only stays cool, but also quiet. You don't need a wind turbine in your house just to get a fast video editing PC. This Adamant system meets all requirements.
If the price is a bit high, Adamant offers systems with the common Ryzen 3950X and 3900X, which each have 16 and 12 cores. These options would still be fantastic machine tools and would be offered at a fraction of the price.
The best student desktop: Dell G5 Gaming Desktop
Why should you buy this: It does an excellent job for the price.
For whom it is: Students, families, beginners
Why we chose the Dell G5 Gaming Desktop:
When choosing the best desktop, we wanted something that offered everything at an affordable price. This is the Dell G5 gaming desktop at a discount. Even the $ 580 base model is a solid PC, including a GTX 1650 and a quad-core core i3 processor. That's a lot of power for most students, whether you're working on a video project, editing photos, coding a game, or just writing your research.
Although most students can get a low-cost desktop with a competent processor, more and more schools need projects that require more graphics power as part of the curriculum, and a discrete GPU is beneficial. The G5 Gaming Desktop from Dell is marketed as an inexpensive gaming rig, but offers up to a Core i9-9900K on this front and options for discrete graphics up to an RTX 2070 Super or RTX 2080. This is as powerful as with mainstream -PCs received.
Given the recent price cuts that make this system even more competitive, it's a good time to buy it.
Read our detailed review of the Dell G5 Gaming Desktop
The best compact desktop: Apple Mac Mini
Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends
Why should you buy this: It is tiny and powerful.
For whom it is: Budget and space-constrained Apple fans.
Why we chose the Apple Mac Mini:
The Apple Mac Mini was possibly the company's most neglected hardware – until the 2018 version appeared surprising. This Mac Mini really embodies the idea of a miniature computer and does not save on the hardware inside. It's a little more expensive than previous iterations of the microsystem, but with an 8th-generation Intel CPU with six cores and up to 64 GB of memory, it can easily handle general computing tasks.
However, the Mac Mini is not without drawbacks. While ideal for most of your computing needs, it's not an ideal choice for gamers and PC users looking for flexibility on a desktop due to the lack of discrete graphics support and non-upgradeable memory. Fortunately, Apple made some smart decisions when it came to developing Mac Mini-Thunderbolt 3 support. With this support, you can add an external GPU. The included SSD is one of the fastest drives we've tested on a system. And despite the price jump, the Mac Mini is one of the cheapest ways to join the MacOS ecosystem.
For most home and office users, the Mac Mini is a fast and powerful desktop that does most of your office work, web browsing, and media consumption. Most users will be happy with how quickly MacOS runs on the updated 8th generation Intel processor for most of their computer work. Since Apple didn't consider it necessary to update the previous version of this desktop for five years, this year's model should be able to remain relevant as long as the history is an indication of it.
Read our in-depth Apple Mac Mini review
How we test
You have read our reviews. You have read our conclusions. And now you're wondering how we got to them.
Reviews often lack context. We issue a score and analyze the subtleties of desktop performance. How do we come to these conclusions? How do we test these machines?
Allow us to lift the veil. Here we explain the benchmarks we use for objective tests and the perspective from which we approach subjective issues. We don't expect everyone to agree with us, but we hope that by sharing our process, you'll be better equipped to decide which desktop best suits your needs.
Research and buying tips
What is the best desktop brand?
Choosing the right desktop for your needs over the next few years can be an overwhelming decision given the wide range of models on store shelves and online. Fortunately, most systems today come with similar components unless you're looking for a particularly niche model – like an extremely compact desktop or one with multiple graphics cards – so you can expect comparable performance from systems with similar components. Some are more expensive than others, but the options are there.
If you get the performance out of the way, you can take a look at some of the more unique features, such as: B. The unique design of a desktop and the support of the manufacturer after purchase. For support, Apple typically wins with its Genius Grove – formerly known as the Genius Bar – which gives you personal access to support in the company's many retail stores.
If you're looking for extended support, you're better off with an enterprise-class desktop from brands like Dell, HP, and Lenovo. Business desktops are a little more expensive than consumer desktops, but are rigorously tested and often come with optional warranty upgrades that cover on-site repairs, accidental damage protection, and advanced coverage options that extend beyond the standard one-year warranty for the life of yours To extend investment.
Should my desktop computer have an SSD or GPU?
SSDs and graphics cards are premium upgrades that are worth it to keep your desktop running smoothly for years. Prices for SSDs have dropped in recent years, but you don't have to fancy spending on a high-capacity solid-state drive to take advantage. Instead, students on a budget can choose a two-drive strategy that combines a more manageable and faster SSD with enough capacity to store the operating system and commonly used applications, while using a cheaper and larger hard drive to hold larger files.
In addition to memory, you also want to examine how much memory you need on your desktop. Most PCs today come with at least 8 GB of RAM. 16 GB is worth the price for gamers and strong web users, but 32 GB and more are really only useful for high-end tasks like video editing and rendering.
Even if you're not a player or creator of heavy content, having discrete graphics can be an asset. With more apps shifting some of the overhead from the processor to the GPU, a decent graphics card can help speed up some office tasks and browsing the web when GPU acceleration is enabled.
Graphics cards can be useful for some tasks, but their main function is to play. If you don't, you don't have to spend much on a large, powerful system – especially since they can easily become the most expensive component in your system. High-end cards like the ray tracing-capable RTX 2080 or 2080 Ti from Nvidia are overkill for most, but offer excellent frame rates and details. If you want to better respect the budget, consider a mid-range GTX 1660 Super or RX 5600 XT instead.
What is the best processor for a desktop computer?
The best CPU depends on how you use your desktop. Players who want the highest performance want an overclockable Intel Core i9-9900K that can be found on most high-end systems, while creatives who want to juggle large media files want something with more cores. That means AMD, which offers 12- and 16-core chips in the form of the Ryzen 3900X and 3950X.
If you can benefit even more from this, you should opt for the Threadripper 3000 CPUs from AMD, which offer up to 64 cores, although these are quite expensive.
If you mainly work on office files and use your desktop to surf the Internet, scaling to an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 or a Ryzen 7 or Ryzen 5 CPU can bring you significant savings without significantly impacting performance.
Should my desktop have USB-C or Thunderbolt 3?
USB-C is increasingly appearing in desktop builds, but is becoming more common on laptops. This is not absolutely necessary as there are many USB-A to USB-C cables. However, if this is a must for you, keep an eye on the case that your new system is launched. That will have USB or not -C as standard.
Thunderbolt 3 is even rarer on desktops, but currently offers the largest bandwidth of all USB-based cable connections. If you want, you have to choose an Intel system. However, if it is not standard on the chassis or motherboard, you can always purchase a PCI Express mezzanine card with this system.