While laptops have become more and more 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 as well as much more memory and storage. Many desktop models offer both SSD and traditional hard-disk drives for faster boot times and file access as well as 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, though if you want to be able 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 just dropping in additional memory and storage (relatively easy) or completely reconfiguring your new rig (way more advanced). This is especially helpful for gamers who maybe want to start with a mid-level pre-built gaming PC and then upgrade piecemeal as they become more confident or have larger budgets.
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
- Most 2022 models are very compact
- Customizable components
If you’re worried about a bonkers-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 that range from the size of a shoebox to truly 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.
Confused by Configurations? How To Pick the Right Desktop Computer
In general, 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 just 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 512GB hard drive
- An AMD Ryzen 3 or Intel Core i3 CPU
- And dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity
For professionals who need to perform more complex tasks, we recommend buying a newer laptop 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 make sure 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 constantly unplug and re-plug cords.
Below, you’ll find our ranking of the best desktop computers for sale in 2022, with options for every type of user and budget.
1. Dell XPS Special Edition
The Dell XPS Special Edition is one of the best desktop towers you can get your hands on. It has tons of configuration options like an 11th generation Intel i7 or i9 that can be overclocked, dual storage drives (both an MVNe SSD and HDD) up to 2TB each, and up to 64GB 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 itself 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.
Finally, we aren’t the only ones impressed by this desktop. This tower computer has more than 5,300 5-star reviews from Dell customers, who have given it glowing ratings for its speed, connectivity and graphics.
Dell XPS Special Edition
Starting at $949.00
2. Apple iMac with M1
BEST ALL-IN-ONE MAC
Before the M1 iMac was unveiled in April 2021, Apple hadn’t updated the overall aesthetic of the iMac line since 2007, and these computers have had the same exact design since 2012. And while it didn’t necessarily need a visual refresh, we’re not complaining because the new iMac is not only sleeker and more compact, but it’s also fun. Available in seven 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 all-new 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. If you’re still all-in on the Mac ecosystem, the iMac is the way to go.
Apple iMac with M1
3. M1 Mac Mini
BEST COMPACT MAC
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 actually outperform most desktops and laptops that cost two or three times as much. Of course, you will need to invest in monitors.
M1 Mac Mini
4. Dell New XPS Desktop
BEST FOR DISTANCE LEARNING
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 getting better. While you can configure the newest XPS to your liking, we love the value that comes with a build featuring a 12th-generation Intel Core i3 CPU and 8 GB of RAM, which will get you through all of your daily computing needs short of gaming or intensive video editing. Plus, the updated design of the striking XPS logo and silver-accented grill makes for a standout unit.
Dell New XPS Desktop
5. ASUS ExpertCenter
BEST BUDGET TOWER
Looking for the best desktop computers under $700? The ExpertCenter tower from ASUS proves that you don’t have to spend a ton of 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.
6. HP Envy 34 All-In-One PC
BEST 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 completely 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 built into it to keep your phone and other devices charged all day.
HP Envy 34 All-In-One Desktop
7. Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display (2020)
BEST UHD DISPLAY
It’s not the cheapest option available (although it’s not financially prohibitive), and it’s not the most powerful on this list (although it’s definitely more than capable), but 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. For professionals, students and creatives who need a machine that can keep up with them, you can’t do better than the gorgeous iMac.
Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display
8. 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 as 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.
HP Pavilion All-in-One
9. Acer Chromebox
BEST CHROME OS DESKTOP
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 you’ll be nearly set to go right out of the box.
10. Dell Inspiron 27 7000 All-In-One
BEST FOR CREATIVES
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 all of your favorite peripherals like mice, keyboards, and drawing pads while Dell Mobile Connect lets you mirror your mobile devices to your PC for easier drawing and app use.
Dell Inspiron 27 7000 All-In-One
Starting at $999.00
11. HP Z2 Mini G5 Workstation
BEST COMPACT PC
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 all of 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 Wi-Fi 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 of 2021
HP Z2 Mini G5 Workstation
12. Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 Gaming PC
BEST GAMING PC
Pre-built gaming PCs tend to get a bad rap, but they’re great for anyone who either doesn’t have the time to build their own rig or is just starting out and is nervous about building 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.
Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10
Starting at $1,028.99
Everything You Need to Know About the Best Desktop Computers
Desktops and laptops definitely have their relative merits with the major difference boiling down to portability. But if you’re largely using your computer at home, here are some advantages of buying a desktop:
- Power: The best desktop computers are more powerful than your typical laptop.
- Affordability: The best desktop computers offer more bang for the buck.
- Upgradability: Many of the best desktop computers can be repaired or upgraded more easily.
- Flexibility: The best desktop computers allow you to pick your own monitor, speakers, keyboard and mouse.
The specs you want from the best desktop computers will largely depend on what your needs are. But the main things you’ll want to look for when buying a new computer are:
- CPU: A powerful CPU sets the standard for the overall speed and capability of your computer. As a baseline, you should want a computer that has at least a 10th generation Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 CPU. Ideally, you’ll want a desktop computer that has an 11th generation Intel Core i5 CPU (or an AMD Ryzen 5 CPU) If you’re a gamer or a creative professional (photographer, illustrator, video editor, etc.) you will likely want an 11th generation Intel Core i7 CPU (or an AMD Ryzen 7 CPU).
- RAM: Random access memory is specifically for apps to temporarily use while they’re running. Working together with the CPU, more RAM enables demanding apps to run as fast as possible, or many apps to run at the same time. At minimum, you’ll want to buy computer with 4GB of RAM, but 8GB of RAM is preferable. This will ensure that your computer can handle everything from web browsing productivity software 4K video and even some light photo and video editing. For dedicated gamers, streamers and creative professionals, 16GB of RAM is more desirable.
- GPU: For most users, the graphics cards that come with any of the best desktop computers will be fine. But gamers and creative professionals will want to spend a little extra to upgrade in this area. While a graphics card like an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 is a fine choice, jumping up to an GeForce RTX 2060 or 2080 will make a huge difference in what you can do with your computer.
- Storage: For most people, choosing between a hard drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SDD) will be a matter of preference when it comes to the best desktop computers. While hard drives are slower and more prone to failure because they have moving parts, they also offer more storage for the money. SSDs may be more costly, but their speed and reliability often makes them a great choice for gamers and video editors trying to squeeze every last ounce of performance out of their machines.
- Accessability/Upgradability: If you’re looking to buy a computer that will last you more than a few years, you’re going to want to buy a desktop computer that is fixable, upgradable and/or expandable. This means that you’ll be able to open up the case of your tower and access the hard drive/SSD, GPU, RAM and optical drive. Generally speaking, components such as the CPU, motherboard and power supply are not upgradable in pre-configured computers.
Most computer brands have made a solid desktop computer at some point or another, but here are a few of our favorite companies right now:
If you're not interested in building your own gaming PC, then we recommend buying a pre-built PC from Alienware. Specifically, we recommend the impressive Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 Gaming PC. Yes, we know it's pricey, but this PC has features like (deep breath) an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 GPU, 11th generation Intel i5 CPU, 2TB SSD, 2TB HDD, 128GB RAM, and Windows 11.
Ultimately, this is a matter of preference and budget, but our editors prefer the new 2021 iMac with M1 Chip. The M1 chip is just such an impressive feat of engineering, so much so that the $650 M1 Mac Mini can also be used for photo and video editing. If you prefer a PC to Mac, then we'd recommend either the Dell Inspiron 27 7000 or the new HP Envy 34 all-in-one computers.
Unlike a tower PC, which requires a separate external monitor, an all-in-one PC comes with its own monitor. Of course, you can still connect additional monitors if you want to maximize your workstation.