While the good old desktop computer may not be able to match the laptop in the popularity stakes, it's a clear winner for processing speed, storage space and even bang for your buck. Desktop computer prices range from less than $500 for entry-level models up to $5,000 for top-spec gaming PCs, with shoppers at all budget levels spoiled for choice.
If you're looking to buy a new desktop computer, our buyer's guide will walk you through the types of PCs available, key features to look for and how to choose the best desktop for your needs.
Compare some of the best desktop computers
Why should I consider a desktop computer?
Why choose a desktop over a laptop? Quite simply, there are several computing tasks and features where the laptop can't match it with a desktop PC. Desktops typically offer:
Who shouldn't consider a desktop computer?
The biggest downside of a desktop computer is that it's not portable. If you want a device you can take with you when you travel – either to work or on holiday – or that's easy to move from one room to another at home, you'll need to consider buying a tablet or laptop.
Laptops and tablets also take up a lot less room than most desktops, making them a smarter choice if space is at a premium. If you think a laptop might be a better fit for your needs, check out our guide to eight of the best sites to buy laptops online.
What types are available?
Buying a desktop doesn't necessarily mean choosing a tower with cables running from it to a separate monitor. While tower-based set-ups still exist, the desktop category now includes a number of different types of computers:
Choosing an operating system
Unless this is your first computer, there's a good chance you will have developed an operating system preference. But if you've decided not to stick with what you know and are considering switching, there are a few options to choose from:
- Windows. Windows 10 is the latest iteration of the most widely used OS. The advantage of this popularity is that you won't have to worry about compatibility when moving files between devices, while you can also enjoy access to a wide range of third-party software products. Find out more about this OS at our Windows 10 hub.
- Mac. Released in September 2018, macOS Mojave is the latest OS iteration for iMac users. If you're already part of the Apple ecosystem, choosing a Mac will ensure that your desktop can easily interact with your iPad and iPhone, all your iTunes purchases and subscriptions, and your iCloud account.
- Google. While it's not as widespread as Windows and Mac operating systems, Google offers its Chrome OS for PCs. If you've used the Chrome web browser before, this OS will look and feel familiar from the get-go. An increasing number of programs (including the Microsoft Office suite) now have Chrome OS-compatible versions, while you can also run Android-based apps from the Google Play store.
- Linux. The Linux OS is a Windows alternative that's really only an option for advanced users. This free, open-source OS may be an option if you've got a high level of computer knowledge and like doing things yourself, but it's not suitable if you want a PC you can buy and use straight away.
How to compare desktop computers
When choosing a desktop computer, you'll need to consider your own requirements as well as the CPU, memory, storage space, display and cost of the available options. Make sure you take the following factors into account before deciding which desktop computer to buy.
Which desktop computer is best for me?
There's no "one size fits all" answer to this question as the best desktop computer for you will depend on how you plan to use it. For example, a dedicated online gamer will have very different requirements to someone who simply wants a PC to browse the web and check emails.
To help make it easier to find the right desktop, we've compared the pros and cons of five popular models:
|The good||The bad|
|Dell XPS 27 Touch|
|Microsoft Surface Studio|
|Apple iMac 27 inch|
|Lenovo Ideacentre AIO 730s|
|Asus Zen AiO Pro Z240IE|
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