CR's top-rated desktops from the likes of Apple, Dell, and HP deliver performance at a range of prices
By Nicholas De Leon
Buying a desktop computer may seem old-school, but retailers keep selling them for good reason. Compared with similarly priced laptops, they often are more powerful, offer more storage, and let you upgrade with greater ease.
They’re frequently paired with bigger displays, too, which can be much gentler on the eyes and neck, especially over long stretches of time.
“When I want to sit and do my bills, I use my desktop,” says Richard Fisco, who oversees electronics testing at Consumer Reports. “I don’t have to—I have a laptop sitting at my kitchen table—but my wife and I will go through a big spreadsheet together and do our banking on our desktop.”
At Consumer Reports, we group the desktop computers we test into three categories: full-sized, compact, and all-in-one.
Full-sized desktops typically come in the form of a tower that takes up a lot of space but is easy to upgrade with additional memory, storage, and other components. Compact desktops require less room but leave less room to upgrade, too. For example, the tiny Apple Mac Mini performs very well in our tests, but users cannot upgrade the memory or storage, according to Apple.
Full-sized and compact desktops don’t always include a monitor, mouse, or keyboard.
By contrast, all-in-one desktops resemble a computer monitor, with the internal components located behind the display. All-in-ones also tend to have a sleek design with small bezels surrounding the monitor. As such, they may be a good choice for consumers who want something powerful to plop on a desk without giving it much thought.
Below you’ll find some of the best desktop computers in our ratings (which CR members are welcome to review).
This fast, highly rated desktop includes a mouse and keyboard in the box. In terms of specs, you’re looking at an Intel Core i7 processor, 16 gigabytes of memory, and 1 terabyte of solid state storage. It doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card, however, so it’s not ideal for gaming (though there are plenty of gaming computers in our ratings if that interests you).
Beyond the pure performance, our testers highlight its versatility and ergonomics: It has eight USB ports, built-in WiFi (though it’s the older standard, known as WiFi 5), and gigabit ethernet, and the included wireless keyboard and mouse allow you to create a comfortable, cord-free setup. You have to supply your own monitor, though.
This desktop is powered by Windows 11, the latest version of the popular Microsoft operating system.
HP Envy TE01-1254
Dell XPS Tower
This desktop, powered by Windows 11, has an Intel Core i7 processor, 16 gigabytes of memory, and 512GB of solid state storage. It does not have a dedicated graphics card, nor does it come with a display.
In addition to the strong performance, our testers appreciate the inclusion of a wired mouse and keyboard and a built-in DVD drive. That’s somewhat rare nowadays but can be helpful for installing software, watching a movie, or listening to music unavailable on streaming services.
You’ll also find eight USB ports, wired gigabit ethernet, and WiFi 5.
Dell XPS Tower
This model has an Intel Core i5 processor, 12 gigabytes of memory, 256GB of solid state storage and a 1-terabyte traditional hard drive, which is great for archiving photos, video, and other files that don’t require fast load speeds.
The computer ships with Windows 10, but you can upgrade to Windows 11 free of charge. There is no dedicated graphics card or display. Our testers also highlight the inclusion of a wired keyboard and mouse, DVD drive, six USB ports, wired gigabit ethernet, and WiFi 5.
Dell Inspiron 3880-5876BLK
Acer Aspire XC
This model has an Intel Core i5 processor, 8 gigabytes of memory, and 512GB of solid state storage. It does not have a dedicated graphics card or a display. It ships with Windows 10, which can be upgraded to Windows 11 free of charge.
Our testers appreciate the inclusion of a wired mouse and keyboard, as well as a built-in DVD drive. There are six built-in USB ports, gigabit ethernet, and WiFi 5.
Acer Aspire XC-1660G-UW93
Apple Mac Mini M1
This latest version of Apple’s well-known compact desktop has the company’s homegrown M1 processor, 8 gigabytes of memory, and 256GB of solid state storage. It does not have a dedicated graphics card.
Our testers note strong performance for typical tasks, like web browsing and office productivity apps. That, coupled with Apple’s high marks in our predicted reliability and user satisfaction surveys, make this a good choice, especially if you’re already used to working inside the Apple ecosystem.
The Mac Mini does not include a mouse, keyboard, or display, so you’ll have to supply your own.
Apple Mac Mini M1 Chip
Lenovo Yoga AIO 7
This is a 27-inch, all-in-one desktop with an AMD Ryzen 7 processor, 16 gigabytes of memory, 512GB of solid state storage, and a dedicated graphics card, also from AMD. (To see how AMD’s Ryzen line stacks up to Intel’s offerings, read our processor breakdown.)
Our testers find this model to be quite powerful, easily breezing through everyday productivity tasks, while also being able to handle the latest games.
The touch screen display is bright and color-accurate, making it a fine streaming video companion. The unit includes a wireless mouse and keyboard, gigabit ethernet, and WiFi 6.
Lenovo Yoga AIO 7 27ACH6
Dell Inspiron 7700
This 27-inch all-in-one has an Intel Core i7 processor, 16 gigabytes of memory, 512GB of solid state storage, 1 terabyte of traditional hard drive storage, and a dedicated Nvidia graphics card. It ships with Windows 10, which you can upgrade to Windows 11 free of charge.
For those who prefer HP, the HP Pavilion 27 is another solid 27-inch all-in-one with an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and 1 terabyte of solid state storage.
Dell Inspiron 7700-7740SLV
Apple’s latest-generation iMac has the company’s homegrown M1 processor, 8 gigabytes of memory, and 256GB of solid state storage.
The 24-inch display is the star of the show here. Both bright and color-accurate, it has a wide viewing angle. That means it won’t wash out when viewed from off to the side.
Apple also makes a 27-inch iMac. It’s a fine choice, too, and faster in some of our tests, but the enhancements afforded by the M1 (including an improved webcam and support for running iOS apps), not to mention the lower price, may give this model the edge.
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