While the best laptops have become increasingly popular over the years, desktops still have their place in the home and office. The best desktop computers tend to be more powerful than laptops, offering better CPU and graphics cards and much more memory and storage. Many desktop models provide both SSD and traditional hard-disk drives for faster boot times and file access and more reliable, expanded storage for large files. On top of that, you can often get a top-rated desktop for less than a premium or even mid-range laptop.
Desktops are also easier to upgrade and customize than laptops. However, if you want to upgrade your computer yourself, you’ll have to go with a Windows or Chrome-based model rather than a Mac, which has integrated components that can’t be removed at home. Many desktop PCs now have extra RAM and storage drive slots for either dropping in additional memory and storage (relatively easy) or completely reconfiguring your new rig (way more advanced). This is especially helpful for gamers who want to start with a mid-level pre-built gaming PC and then upgrade piecemeal as they become more confident or have larger budgets.
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Pre-built desktops are also some of the only options you have if you want to get the new Nvidia 3000 or AMD Radeon 5000 series graphics cards, whether it’s the ongoing chip shortage or outrageous prices from scalpers, the latest GPUs are exceptionally difficult to buy right now.
Simply put, there are a lot of reasons to invest in the best desktop computers of 2022:
Can be more affordable than laptops
Typically more powerful than laptops
Easier to upgrade
Most 2022 models are remarkably compact
All-in-one setups package everything you need
If you’re worried about a huge tower taking up precious desk or floor space, you don’t have to worry anymore. Plenty of manufacturers like Apple and HP offer sleek, compact models ranging from the size of a shoebox to tiny boxes that can fit in the palm of your hand. These compact desktop computers are also perfect for anyone who has a small work-from-home space or just prefers something on the teeny-tiny side for a more streamlined workspace.
1. Dell XPS Desktop Special Edition
The Dell XPS Desktop Special Edition is one of the best desktop towers you can use. It has tons of configuration options like an 11th generation Intel i7 that can be overclocked, dual storage drives (both an MVNe SSD and HDD) up to 2TB each, and up to 128GB of RAM. It also has 10 USB ports, including a USB Type-C input, so you can connect everything from mice and keyboards to flash drives and external hard drives.
Best of all, it’s also one of the few ways you are guaranteed to get your hands on a new Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 or 3070 video card (which are still tough to find over a year-and-a-half after their release), making this a sleeper choice for gamers and creative professionals. The tower also has a sleek, minimalist design that is perfect for tucking away out of sight when space is limited or complementing a super modern office.
2. Apple iMac with M1
It’s been on the market for more than a year and deserving of an update soon, but the 24-inch Apple iMac with M1 chip is still a sleek, compact, and fun machine that packages everything you want in a worthy desktop. Available in seven pastel colors, the M1 iMac design calls back to the original, more colorful iMacs from the 90s, which came in the same range of colors (minus silver).
But don’t let the cute look fool you: This computer is built for serious work. The 24-inch iMac also features Apple’s M1 chip, which singlehandedly turned the M1 MacBook Air into a computing powerhouse. Add to that a 24-inch Retina 4.5K display, Dolby Atmos speakers, a redesigned webcam and improved microphones, and you have a computer that can just about do it all. That includes Zoom calls, streaming 4K HDR movies, editing 4K video and even playing recent games in 1080p at 60 frames per second. The iMac is the way to go if you’re still all-in on the Mac ecosystem.
3. ASUS ExpertCenter
Looking for the best desktop computers under $700? The ExpertCenter tower from ASUS proves that you don’t have to spend much cash to get a great pre-built PC. This model features both a 1TB HDD and 256GB SSD for plenty of storage for everyday files, working from home or even remote learning. It comes with 16GB of RAM, which provides plenty of power. It’s built with a 1the generation Intel core i5 CPU for plenty of power for everyday work, plenty of ports for all the accessories you may need to get through a workday, and a small (but sturdy!) package that makes it great for any workspace, big or small.
4. HP Envy 34 All-In-One PC
The Envy 34 from HP is probably the best all-in-one PC you’ll ever use; even diehard Mac users will be impressed with it. It features a 34-inch, 5K display that is factory calibrated for color accuracy and has an anti-reflection coating and low blue light mode for more comfortable, long-term use. The magnetic webcam can be quickly and easily moved around or detached entirely for conference chats, streaming, or just putting it away when you don’t need it. It’s built with an 11th generation Intel i9 processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU, Windows 11, and plenty of RAM and SSD slots for upgrading memory and storage. The stand also has a wireless charger to keep your phone and other devices charged all day.
5. Apple Mac Studio
It’s the latest Mac on this list, and while it takes inspiration from the Mac Mini’s design, the Apple Mac Studio is a different beast of a desktop. The tabletop-friendly design is an Apple staple, complete with a clever thermal design that features a set of double-sided blowers that push air through the 4,000+ perforations around the chassis. Combined with the muscle power of the 10-core CPU of the M1 Max chip and 12 high-performance ports located on the front and rear, the Mac Studio has the muscle power that video editors need to cut 4K and 8K video without slowdown.
6. Acer Chromebox
Those looking for a capable, affordable computer that can handle everything from remote learning to casual use should strongly consider a Chromebox. Powered by Google’s well-designed Chrome OS, this device can handle nearly any web-based task you can throw at it (and most people’s computer usage these days is mainly web-based, anyway). Furthermore, Acer’s affordable Chromebox is powered by an Intel Celeron processor and 4 GB of RAM, which means this machine will be fast. Plus, it includes a mouse and keyboard, so you’ll be nearly set to go right out of the box.
7. Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 Gaming PC
Pre-built gaming PCs tend to get a bad rap, but they’re great for anyone who doesn’t have the time to build their own rig or is just starting and is nervous about producing their own. And for gamers, Alienware makes the best desktop PCs for gaming, hands down.
The Alienware Aurora R12 is a pretty pricey rig at just under $4,400, but you’ll get more than enough bang for your buck with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 GPU, 11th generation Intel i5 CPU, 2TB SSD, 2TB HDD, 128GB RAM, and Windows 11. If you’ve got cash to burn, you can upgrade to an i7 or i9 processor and even choose liquid cooling options to keep your fancy components running at optimal temperatures. The rounded chassis comes in either black or light grey with blue LED accents for a futuristic look.
8. Dell New XPS Desktop
The Dell XPS line of desktop computers has been one of the best since it first arrived, and it seems that with its latest generation of PCs, it just keeps improving. While you can configure the newest XPS to your liking, we love the value of a build featuring a 12th-generation Intel Core i3 CPU and 8 GB of RAM, which will get you through all your daily computing needs short of gaming or intensive video editing. Plus, the striking XPS logo’s updated design and silver-accented grill make for a standout unit.
What makes this the best option for college students? This is a no-frills desktop that can handle everything college students might need, and we trust Dell computers to last for at least four years.
9. M1 Mac Mini
For those who don’t want an all-in-one but still want the additional horsepower that often comes with larger desktop towers, look no further than the M1 Mac Mini. While Apple hasn’t refreshed the Mac Mini since its debut in 2020, it still is well-worth considering, as it comes equipped with the same world-beating components as the game-changing M1 MacBook Air. That means this Mac Mini can handle just about any typical task without breaking a sweat — browsing the web, playing back 4K video, running apps for work — while also being powerful enough to take on things like gaming and video editing. It’s also versatile enough to plug into your TV and function as a media hub if that’s your thing. Thanks to that M1 chip, this mini-computer can outperform most desktops and laptops that cost twice as much. Of course, you will also need to invest in one of the best monitors.
This mini desktop might be two years old, but Apple’s M1 chip was a genuine game-changer. That’s a cliche term overused in the tech world, but it’s appropriate here. We don’t know how much longer this desktop will be available, and we hope to see an updated version of the Mac Mini sometime later this year. Until then, here’s the bottom line: For as long as it’s still available, the M1 Mac Mini is a small but mighty machine and the most surprising contender for the best desktop computer of 2022.
10. HP Pavilion All-In-One
Like the HP Envy All-In-One featured above, the HP Pavilion will cut an impressive figure on any desk. However, at less than half the price of the Envy, it might be the better option for businesses, students and shoppers on a tighter budget. With 8GB of RAM, the 24-inch HP Pavilion All-In-One is the computer to look at if you need something that can handle all of your everyday tasks, doesn’t require any additional hardware, and doesn’t cost a lot relative to some of the other units on this list.
11. Dell Inspiron 27 7000 All-In-One
This all-in-one PC features a 27-inch touchscreen display that is perfect for creative professionals. It also has an integrated soundbar for better audio when working with sound files, music, or virtual meetings. You can choose either integrated Intel Iris graphics or a dedicated Nvidia GPU for more graphical processing power. Bluetooth 5.1 lets you wirelessly connect your favorite peripherals like mice, keyboards, and drawing pads. At the same time, Dell Mobile Connect enables you to mirror your mobile devices to your PC for easier drawing and app use.
12. HP Z2 Mini G5 Workstation
Having a powerful PC doesn’t mean you have to have a monster tower taking up floor or desk space. The Z2 Mini G5 from HP packs tons of premium hardware into an incredibly compact chassis. It’s built with a 10th generation Intel i7 processor, 16GB of Ram, a 512 GB SSD, and Nvidia Quadro P620 GPU. You can connect your peripherals and storage devices with USB-C and 3.1 inputs, and the three DisplayPort inputs let you connect multiple monitors for the ultimate workstation. It also features Bluetooth 5.1 for wireless peripherals and WiFi 6 for blazing-fast wireless internet speeds. It even has an integrated speaker, though there is a headphone jack for private listening and calls.
Read More: The Best Small Laptops
13. Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display (2020)
It’s not the cheapest option (although it’s not financially prohibitive). It’s not the most powerful on this list (although it’s more than capable). Still, when you factor in simplicity, display, longevity and design, the 27-inch iMac 5K Retina is easily one of the best desktop computers for sale in 2022.
All-in-ones can often be underpowered, but Apple’s offering comes equipped with one of the best displays money can buy, an excellent operating system and enough oomph to handle the demands of your average photo and video editing tasks for years to come. You can’t do better than the gorgeous iMac for professionals, students and creatives who need a machine that can keep up with them.
14. HP Chromebase All-in-One Desktop
Admittedly, this falls short on a couple of our minimum recommendations for our picks — it only has four USB ports instead of six and sports 128GB of storage instead of 256GB. Thankfully we think the price reflects that. But beyond its specs, it’s a gorgeous all-in-one design with a touchscreen display that also goes vertical. It is ideal for a wide variety of applications such as coding, writing and editing content. It’s not the best desktop we’ve seen, but we feel it is worth mentioning simply for its value and display design.
How We Chose the Best Desktop Computers
There’s a lot to consider when buying any computer, let alone something as powerful as a desktop computer. We are here to make it simple for you — here’s how we chose the best desktop computers:
Size: You might think, “If I wanted something small, I’d just get a laptop.” Well, these aren’t the home computers you grew up with. The towers we picked are compact (often no taller and deep than one foot), and the “all-in-one” variety takes up just as much space on your desktop as your laptop if you include an extra monitor. The super-compact options like Mac Mini are essentially the size of an external hard drive. If that’s not compact, we don’t know what is.
Power and Connectivity: This is ultimately the point of getting a desktop computer versus a laptop, right? With the exception of the uber compact choices like the Mac Mini, we looked for options with over six USB ports and multiple other connectivity options like at least two HDMI ports and multiple display ports. For power, we looked for towers with at least 8GB of RAM but configurable up to much more processing power than that and at least 256GB of storage.
Price: One of the main benefits of a desktop computer is the performance-to-price ratio compared to laptops. We don’t think you should spend more than $2,000 for your desktop unless you are doing something intensive like crypto mining or major media editing, like full-length feature films. Except for the all-in-one options, most of the towers you’ll find below are close to or under $1,000.
Confused by Configurations? How To Pick the Right Desktop Computer
Generally, the best pre-built and all-in-one desktops are best suited for everyday users who don’t necessarily want or need fancy graphics cards or oodles of storage space. If you’re looking for a desktop that can handle everyday tasks like web browsing, streaming, and maybe your kids’ homework, there are a few things you should look for:
8-16GB of RAM
At least 256GB hard drive
An AMD Ryzen 3 or Intel Core i3 CPU
Dual-band WiFi connectivity
For professionals who need to perform more complex tasks, we recommend buying a newer desktop like the new Apple iMac with M1, the HP Envy 34 or the Dell Inspiron 27 7000, which offer more advanced configurations. The new iMac is powered by the ultra-fast M1 Chip, which we’ve been raving about since it debuted in late 2020. And if you prefer a PC, you’ll want to splurge on a more advanced configuration of a machine like the Dell Inspiron featuring an Nvidia GPU, Intel’s Core i7 processor and a 1TB hard drive. For the average user, these specs are overkill, but for photo and video editing, they’re essential.
Finally, you’ll also want to ensure your new desktop has plenty of USB inputs for transferring files, saving to flash drives or connecting devices like printers, so you don’t have to unplug and re-plug cords constantly.
Below, you’ll find our ranking of the best desktop computers for sale in 2022, with options for every type of user and budget.
Updates: This product selection in this shopping guide was last updated on Tuesday, July 19. At that time, we included the Apple Mac Studio and moved up the HP Envy 34 All-In-One PC, Acer Chromebox, and Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 Gaming PC higher on the list. In addition, we added additional purchasing options for the HP Pavillion All-in-One and the M1 Mac Mini. We also included news about a possible update to the Mac Mini, rumored for late 2022.
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1. Apple iMac
Don’t let the cute look fool you: This computer is built for serious work. The iMac also features Apple’s M1 chip, which singlehandedly turned the M1 MacBook Air into a computing powerhouse. Add to that a 24-inch Retina 4.5K display, Dolby Atmos speakers, a redesigned webcam and improved microphones, and you have a computer that can just about do it all. That includes Zoom calls, streaming 4K HDR movies, editing 4K video and even playing recent games in 1080p at 60 frames per second.
Pros: Powerful computing. Dolby Atmos speakers. Good for creative work.
Cons: Not ideal if you’re not already all-in on the Apple ecosystem.
2. HP 27 Pavilion All-in-One PC
With 16GB of RAM, the 24-inch HP Pavilion All-In-One is the computer to look at if you need something that can handle all of your everyday tasks, doesn’t require any additional hardware, and doesn’t cost a lot relative to some of the other units on this list.
Pros: Good for everyday use. Sleek design. Includes keyboard and mouse. Speakers designed with B&O. Very slim profile.
Cons: Included keyboard is somewhat small.
3. Apple Mac Mini
For those who don’t want an all-in-one, but still want the additional horsepower that often comes with larger desktop towers, look no further than the M1 Mac Mini. This mini tower can handle just about any typical task without breaking a sweat — browsing the web, playing back 4K video, running apps for work — while also being powerful enough to take on things like gaming and video editing. It’s also versatile enough to plug into your TV and function as a media hub if that’s your thing. Thanks to that M1 chip, this mini-computer can actually outperform most desktops and laptops that cost two or three times as much. Of course, you will need to invest in monitors.
Pros: Features Apple’s powerful M1 chip. Highly compact size to fit on any desk.
Cons: Some may prefer an more economical option.
4. Acer Chromebox
Those looking for a capable, affordable computer that can handle everything from remote learning to casual use should strongly consider a Chromebox. Powered by Google’s well-designed Chrome OS, this device can handle nearly any web-based task you can throw at it (and most people’s computer usage these days is largely web-based, anyway). Furthermore, Acer’s affordable Chromebox is powered by an Intel Celeron processor and 4 GB of RAM, which means this machine is going to be fast. Plus, it includes a mouse and keyboard, so once you add the monitor, you’ll be ready to go.
Pros: Economical option. Includes a mouse and keyboard. Small computer to easily fit on any desk.
Cons: Chrome OS can’t run all of the same programs as traditional computers.
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