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Aaron Allen
Aaron Allen

New Pc Buy


Snazzy, innovative laptop designs are constantly evolving. Smartphones are ubiquitous and astonishingly capable. So where does that leave that '80s relic, the desktop PC? There are still plenty for sale, and innovation never stops in the desktop market, especially among small-form-factor and all-in-one models. But many shoppers seem to consider desktops an anachronism, heading straight to the laptop aisle for their next computer purchase.




new pc buy



That's not always the right move. Desktops aren't facing extinction, and they're doing anything but standing still. For consumers and businesses alike, these are the most cost-effective and customizable desktop computers for 2023, as shown by our favorite examples from recent reviews. Check them out, then read on to learn everything you need to know about finding the best desktop for you.


We can quibble that the Legion Tower 5i lacks a front-mounted USB-C port and you'll likely want to upgrade its 8GB of standard RAM to 12GB or 16GB, but otherwise it's a great gaming bargain. Mid-level players with low-level budgets will find it an ideal option.


Simply put, the Falcon Northwest FragBox delivers superb performance for a decent price and inside a seemingly impossibly tiny chassis for what it contains. This small form factor gaming desktop is in a class of its own, somehow fitting a massive Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU inside, outpacing its competition. Paired with an Intel Core i9-13900K, it is undefeated in our gaming benchmarks.


Space-starved PC gamers in small living spaces who want to sacrifice as little performance as possible are a clear audience for the FragBox. In addition to (and despite) its size, the FragBox is quiet in operation, decently serviceable, and has mid-tower-like expansion. Falcon Northwest also targets a particularly cash-flush consumer: while this FragBox is unequaled among small-form-factor gaming desktops, it has an asking price to match.


With the OptiPlex 5090, Dell crafted an affordable office (or remote working) desktop with a professional-grade Intel Core i5 processor including vPro security technology built in as well as plenty of room for future component upgrades or replacements. While the base configuration is a little bare, higher loadouts are where it's at, which make better use of the multiple USB and DisplayPort connections.


Apple's latest Mac mini actually serves quite a wide audience, from the budget-conscious Mac fan to those of you out there who use Macs professionally. It all depends upon how you configure your Mac mini before checkout. If you need an update to keep relevant with Apple's Mac platform, then this is where to start.


Is a big, sharp screen your first priority in an AIO? HP's Envy 34 All-in-One offers a massive (34-inch diagonal) 5K display with panoramic 5,120-by-2,160-pixel resolution, as well as a 16-megapixel webcam that magnetically snaps almost anywhere along the top or either side of the screen to make you look your best. It's also a lively performer, even for mid-level gaming, thanks to a discrete Nvidia GeForce GPU instead of the usual integrated graphics, and it has all the ports, memory, and storage you'll likely need, as well as a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.


With Apple taking its 27-inch Retina Display iMac off the market, there's a dearth of premium all-in-one PCs, and the Envy 34 fills the niche nicely. Though not cheap, it's not prohibitively expensive, and its 21:9 aspect ratio widescreen is as good as a dual-monitor setup for arranging multiple app windows for max productivity. One of PCMag's staffers bought one and edited this writeup on it.


At the other end of HP's all-in-one desktop offerings, the under-$500 Chromebase 22 brings the appeal of an easy-to-use, online-friendly Chromebook to your desk or den or kitchen counter. Its 21.5-inch 1080p screen pivots between landscape (horizontal) and portrait (vertical) modes, letting you switch from enjoying a YouTube or Netflix video to seeing most of a webpage or Google Workspace word processing document without scrolling. Its small-footprint, cone-shaped base doubles as a surprisingly high-quality speaker, and it offers a high-res webcam and wireless keyboard and mouse.


The mostly browser-based design of ChromeOS means it's a poor choice for demanding apps like photo or video editing (as is the HP's Pentium Gold CPU), but a fine fit for everyday productivity, schoolwork, email, and web surfing. Few Android games can take advantage of its rotating display, but it's a nifty online kiosk for a family room or even a home office.


The latest Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) is another entry in Intel's long line of mini PCs, and another that comes highly recommended. Leveraging laptop components to create a truly compact desktop experience, the Intel NUC 12 Pro is surprisingly powerful, and ready for everything from media streaming to professional work. With plenty of ports and a design that encourages add-ons and novel uses, this tiny PC is great for everything shy of gaming and heavy media editing. It's also offered as either a preconfigured system, or a bare-bones kit (you provide the RAM, solid-state drive, and Windows license), making it a great choice for hobbyists looking to tinker.


With capability that can meet professional standards, this is one flexible mini PC, whether you want to use it to power signage or a point-of-sale device, or use it as your daily driver. The NUC form factor makes it especially fitting for space-strapped offices or hybrid workplaces that don't want large, permanent towers cluttering up desks.


Obviously, ordinary workstations like Dell's more mainstream Precision or HP's Z or Lenovo's ThinkStation desktops can handle almost all creative, architectural, and data analysis jobs. Many software applications (including our performance benchmarks) actually can't take full advantage of the P620's power. But when only the ultimate will do, scientists and engineers will be grateful for this monster's muscle.


We've reviewed an impressive variety and capability of desktops above, right? We don't deny that a laptop or tablet is a better pick for people who depend on business travel, or whose computing consists mostly of basic surfing and typing from the living-room couch. But for small offices, families, creative pros, gamers, and tech tinkerers, desktops are often the best choice and the best value.


While desktops don't come in as many distinct form factors as laptops, there's great variation in computing power and room for upgrades and expansion. Let's dive into these, and a bunch of other important factors, as you prepare to buy your next desktop.


One of the desktop's most alluring promises is the value it delivers. Your money simply goes further with desktop PCs and their components. Instead of buying a $700 laptop with a competent Intel Core i5 processor, you can get a $700 desktop with a more powerful Core i7 CPU in it, and maybe even squeeze in a dedicated graphics card.


You can find complete mini PCs for very light work and display-signage tasks for under $300, and perfectly serviceable small towers for $300 to $600. Gaming desktops with dedicated graphics cards start at around $500. You can also find all-in-one desktops, with the display and all of the computing components built into a single device, starting at around $400.


The thing with desktops is, opting for a cheap one does not carry some of the same risks you'd face with a like-priced laptop. A $250 Black Friday special or a steeply discounted refurbished desktop could perform just fine for basic computing, and you wouldn't need to worry about the wear and tear on cheap materials that you might with a laptop of a similar price. That inexpensive laptop would be subject to the vagaries of daily commuting and the occasional drop from a coffee table. The desktop, in contrast, would need to stay put and just work.


At the top end of the market are business workstations, tricked-out gaming rigs, and magnificently engineered all-in-one PCs that cost several thousand dollars. Not only will a $3,000 gaming tower offer immense computing power today, but it should come with so much room for expansion and potential for upgradability that its useful life will be far longer than any laptop's. And that's before you even delve into the wild world of custom PCs: automotive-grade paint jobs, liquid cooling, and fanciful lighting and wiring.


The Mac vs. PC debate is one of the oldest in modern technology, and we're not going to pick a side or try to settle that particular religious war here. But if you're not wedded to one or the other by years of habit (or the peripherals and software you own) and are open to switching, here's a quick rundown of your choices.


Windows is the latest iteration of Microsoft's operating system. Desktops that use it and previous versions of the OS are what most people typically rely on, so you'll be assured of the best compatibility and the widest selection of third-party software. Desktops running Windows are also readily available below $500, making them attractive to casual users, families looking for a second PC, and bargain hunters.


Macs are an excellent choice if you're already in an Apple-centric household, since they offer seamless compatibility with iPads and iPhones, including the ability to send and receive messages on any device connected to your iCloud account. The cost of entry will be higher than with the least expensive PCs, however.


Google's ChromeOS is a viable alternative to Windows and macOS, but desktops running it (called Chromeboxes) are rare and best suited to niche uses like powering a restaurant menu display. A fourth option is to buy a desktop with no operating system at all and install an open-source one of your choosing, such as Ubuntu Linux. We don't recommend going this route unless you're technically savvy, willing to experiment, and okay fixing software compatibility issues and other quirks.


Macs and Windows PCs are available in all three of the major desktop form factors: mini PCs that can fit on a bookshelf, sleek all-in-ones with built-in (and usually high-resolution) displays, and traditional desktop towers that are bulky but offer room for more or less easy expansion. These three forms each have strengths and weaknesses, and none of them is an obvious best choice for everyone. You'll have to choose based on what you plan to do with your desktop and where you plan to put it. 041b061a72


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