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Whether you're an avid gamer, a student or a professional working from home, a good quality desktop computer is an essential investment. While a laptop offers the freedom of moving around, there's something about a traditional PC fixture that encourages productivity. They also offer better bang for buck than laptops, both in terms of specifications and bundled accessories.
Below you will find six of the best computers you can get in Australia right now, based on thousands of customer reviews and our own testing experience. We've included options for a variety of users and budgets – from tricked-out gaming rigs to budget all-in-one PCs.
Our editorial team selected the products on this list based on extensive research and real customer reviews. For each category we identified the products with the highest review score within those categories, also taking into account opinions and scores from expert tech and gaming reviewers. The "budget" category was defined as under $1,000, with no price restrictions on other categories.
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If you're looking for an all-rounder, pre-built desktop computer, you can't go past the Acer Aspire TC-895 desktop. It comes highly recommended by both expert reviewers and consumers, as the latest iteration of the popular Acer Aspire TC desktop series. Reviewers on Amazon rate the PC an average score of 4.6 out of 5 from 570 reviews, while it's also well-rated on local retailer Harvey Norman with an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars.
Reviewers praise the Aspire TC overwhelmingly for its value for money, especially when it can be found on sale. Under the hood it boasts an Intel Core i5-10400 CPU, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD, which together are more than enough for speedy processing on all the tasks and programs a regular user would need. The Aspire's hybrid storage system also includes a 1TB HDD to make space for all your extra files. Unlike many modern desktops, the Aspire still features a DVD-RW drive for disk reading and writing, as well as USB-C and USB 3.1 ports, an SD card slot and mic and headphone jacks.
For those who need a bit more grunt, you can also find the Aspire TC desktop with an Intel Core i7 chip, as well as iterations with extra RAM and SSD storage. The computer tower is sleek and compact. The Aspire's case design is plain enough to suit any office space, but boasts just enough detailing to stand out from your average tower.
I was trying to use this computer for creativity only, but it has slowly turned into my everyday computer as well. I haven't had any issues with anything running slow, nothing shutting off on me or anything!" Read reviews.
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While decent all-in-ones are being made for Windows systems, Apple's iMac range has long dominated the category, and none of its competitors have been able to put out a product to topple it yet. Looking at the entry-level 21.5" iMac, Apple's latest all-in-one boasts an average review score of 4.7 stars from ratings by 3,248 users on Google.
While the iMac can be customised with more memory and storage, the current base-level computer features 8GB of 2133MHz DDR4 RAM and either 256GB SSD storage or 1TB "Fusion Drive" storage that intelligently combines SSD and HDD storage. It also boasts a 2.3GHz dual-core 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor that can be overclocked to 3.6GHz where needed.
The iMac is useful for creative professionals, with Apple offering bundles including production software Final Cut Pro or Logic Pro. However, some software, games and hardware still have compatibility issues with the Mac operating system, so make sure all your work is compatible before purchasing.
Very fast and quiet computer and stays cool even though it sits in a computer cabinet of my desk. My old HP tower would heat up like a heater was in the cabinet, but not so with this Acer Aspire." Read reviews.
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While it can be tempting to look for a cheap desktop tower when buying on a budget, an all-in-one is the better choice thanks to its built-in monitor. When it comes to budget, HP's entry-level all-in-one is the best for value for money, with an average review of 4.6 stars on Harvey Norman and 4.7 stars on Google Reviews.
The cheapest HP all-in-one is the 23.8-inch screen with AMD's Athlon 3050U CPU. While models with upgrades to the CPU, RAM and storage can be found, the base model comes with 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD. For a budget computer, the HP boasts heaps of handy ports and add-ons, including a DVD reader and burner, two USB 3.0 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports and a card reader. The all-in-one even features a pop-up webcam for users wanting to make use of Zoom and other video calling.
As a lower-end computer, the HP sacrifices a lot in the way of processing power, meaning this isn't a great option for users wanting to do more than basic photo or video editing, or intensive gaming. The small storage space also means users with lots of photos or videos will likely need to invest in external storage for keeping long-term files.
Was super easy to set up & had it running in about 5 minutes. The optical CD drive was a big selling point, as is the HDMI & ethernet. Also has a card reader, which was a bonus, as I didn't think it had one. The screen is large & display is clear." Read reviews.
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If you're looking for a PC to play the latest AAA games without having to go to the hassle of building one from scratch, you can't go past the unique-looking Alienware Aurora R11. The R11 is popular with gamers, with a 5-star average review on Google, 4.5 stars on Amazon and 4.4 stars on Dell's own website from over 4,600 reviews.
As with most gaming PCs, the Alienware Aurora R11 is customisable, allowing you to customise the amount of RAM, as well as choosing your own hard drive, CPU and the all-important graphics card. Notably, the Aurora R11 is currently one of the few pre-built gaming laptops to offer the new Nvidia 30-series cards, with options for PCs including the in-demand 3070 and 3080 GPUs.
The top-end, 3080-sporting model gets expensive, partially due to the Alienware brand name, with prices topping $5,000. However, the Aurora R11's entry-level model can be bought for as little as $2,400, if you don't have your heart set on running AAA games on max settings.
I build my own PCs 99.9% of the time, but every so often if the deal is right, I'll buy a prebuilt one. This is probably my 4th Alienware PC over the past decade and a half or so and it doesn't disappoint. The build quality is tight, efficient and very well done. The wiring is always well done and easy to get to if you need to throw in another HD/SSD or two." Read reviews.
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With the regular iMac already getting a shoutout for creative users, the iMac Pro takes that formula to the next level for professionals requiring a bit more grunt. The iMac Pro, not to be confused with the cheese-grater-esque Mac Pro, is highly recommended by both professional reviewers and customers, with a customer rating of over 4.7 stars on Google Reviews.
The iMac Pro boasts the most powerful hardware of any Apple-made computer, though it also sports a high price tag to match. However, for professional video editors requiring intense rendering at super-fast speeds, it can't be beat – especially with its in-built support for industry-standard editing program Final Cut Pro.
Like other high-end options, the iMac Pro is customisable, offering a 10, 14 or even 18-core Xeon processor for the most demanding applications. But for most users, even the base iMac Pro will provide just the right amount of overkill for speedy video processing. If you're looking for a non-Mac video-editing option, the recommended gaming PC above will also make short work of your 4K video assemblies.
I like the iMac Pro because it has an updated cooling system compared to the regular iMac, more cache, better graphics card, and the space grey colour. I immediately enrolled in Apple's beta software program and installed the beta of Mac OS 10.14.5 (recommend that you do so also). So far I have had no problems or crashes at all. This machine is a beast." Read reviews.
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With a small footprint and a good selection of easy-to-access ports on the front of the tower, the Dell Inspiron Desktop 3880 is a fantastic no-fuss home office computer. The PC is popular on Amazon, where it has an average user rating of 4.7 from almost 200 reviews.
With a width of 15.4cm and a depth of 29.3cm, the Inspiron is a great choice even for home offices where space is limited. The Inspiron's selection of easily accessible front-located ports include a card reader, a mic/headphone combination jack, two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.2 port and a USB-C port. Don't let the rectangle on the front of the case fool you, though – the Dell Inspiron doesn't include an optical drive of any kind.
While many of the components can be upgraded, the base PC includes a 10th-gen Intel Core i5-10400 processor, an Intel UHD GPU, 8GB RAM and 1TB HDD storage. With enough power to run lower-level games, the Inspiron can serve double-duty when not being used for work.
This is a good little box! It's more than adequate for all my daughter's school uses, and would be a fine work-from-home computer for anyone not requiring anything truly high-demand. I'd get another one if I needed it." Read reviews.
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:
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. If you're a hardcore gamer and can't decide if a desktop or laptop is right for you, check out our guide to gaming PCs vs gaming laptops.
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:
This is the traditional desktop computer set-up which most people are familiar with. It features a large upright case that houses key components like the CPU and graphics processor. This case is then connected to a separate monitor.
Also called mini PCs and micro desktops, compact desktop computers pack all the key components of a PC (but no monitor) into a case the size of a sandwich, or in some cases into something around the same size as a thumb drive. They can be plugged into most TVs or monitors and are generally used for basic everyday tasks, for example surfing the web or streaming content. Check out our mini PC price analysis for more info on how much these compact computers cost.
All-in-one desktop computers are self-contained units that feature the monitor and all the components in one single unit, with the computer itself housed behind the screen. Looking much the same as an ordinary desktop monitor, they usually offer stylish design and can be a useful space-saving solution.
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:
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.
Think carefully about how you plan to use your computer. If it'll mostly be used to check emails and browse the web, you'll find something with all the features you need at the bottom of the price spectrum. If you're involved in online gaming or multimedia creation, high-performance processors and top-spec graphics cards will be on your shopping list and will drive prices up.
Make sure you take the following factors into account before deciding which desktop computer to buy:
The amount of room you have to set up your computer could determine whether you choose a bulky tower PC or a space-saving all-in-one.
The CPU is a chip that powers all programs and functions. Intel and AMD are the two main choices, with Intel more widely available but AMD generally the cheaper of the two. Check the number of cores and the processing speed (measured in gigahertz).
RAM is crucial to the speed at which programs will run on your computer. As a general rule, 4GB is the absolute minimum you'll want in a general-use desktop, but it's best to aim for 8GB.
Look for 1TB of storage as a minimum and make sure you know the difference between a hard disk drive (HDD) and a solid state drive (SSD) – the former is cheaper with more capacity while the latter is faster and produces less heat. If you choose a tower unit, it'll usually be easy to expand storage in the future.
If your PC is only for general use, a model with integrated graphics will be adequate. However, if you'll be gaming or using other graphics-intensive programs then look for a dedicated graphics card.
If you'll need to play CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray discs on your PC, check that it features the relevant drives. Other inclusions you may desire include a webcam and speakers.
Check whether there are enough HDMI and USB3.0 connection ports to meet your requirements. Also assess how easy the ports are to access.
Will there be any software bundled together with your desktop, such as Office software or an antivirus program? If so, make sure you're only paying for programs you need and do your research to make sure you're getting good value for money.
Monitors these days are LCDs and generally 23 inches or larger. If you want to view full HD content, look for a 1,920 x 1,080 model. If buying a tower model, check if a monitor is included. If not, can you bundle your items together to get a better deal?
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