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Best Overall: Dell Optiplex 7060 at Walmart
"With versatility and a slim profile under a pretty impressive price point"
Runner-Up, Best Overall: HP Pavilion Wave Compact Desktop at Amazon
"Built to be the entertainment center of your home."
Best Budget: Lenovo Ideacentre 300 at Amazon
"Right in the middle of performance, price and brand name reliability."
Best for the Office: HP Pavilion 2016 at Amazon
"Offering ample space for the inevitable buildup of files, documents and PowerPoints."
Best Gaming: Dell Inspiron 5676 at Walmart
"Offers the AMD Ryzen 3 processor with up to 3.7GHz of speeds and AMD’s Precision Boost."
Best for Families: Acer Chromebase AIO Touch Desktop at Amazon
"Comes with the Google Chrome OS that works perfectly with all your favorite Google apps."
Best Design: Acer Aspire S24 at Amazon
"A testament to why mid-range prices can equal high-end appearances."
Best for Photo/Video Editing: HP Pavilion 27-a230 at Walmart
"A welcome addition to any creator’s desk."
Courtesy of Walmart
With a huge range of PCs spanning from full-featured powerhouse laptops all the way to gaming desktop tanks, there really is something for everyone in Dell’s desktop line. The Optiplex range gets our nod here for versatility, slim profile, and all those features dovetailing under a pretty impressive price point.
This 7000 configuration gives you a lot for a sub-$1000 PC. There’s an 8th gen 3GHz Intel i5 chipset that’ll serve you well for most tasks (and because it works well in the chassis, it most likely won’t give you any throttling trouble). The machine can accommodate up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM to support your temporary storage needs, and there’s an internal solid state drive with 128GB of headroom for amazingly fast boot speeds. The Intel UHD Graphics 630 card provides good visual support, though it’s important to note that it shares its RAM needs with the computer’s central memory (although, with the aforementioned 64GB available, you’ll probably be good to go).
The Optiplex 7060 has 10 USB ports with a combination of 2.0, 3.1 and type C options, plus a Display Port connection to cover a pretty decent swath of the I/O expectations for most use cases. And with the 64-bit Windows 10 loaded on, you’ll be ready to roll right out of the box.
Both powerful and well-designed, the HP Pavilion Wave Compact Desktop is the new normal for home computing. Built to be the entertainment center of your home, the computer can easily be confused with a speaker. Only 9.25 inches tall and 6.62 inches wide, the Wave is appropriately labeled as compact. However, it’s small size belies its internal power. The HP Pavilion Wave is packed with a 7th generation Intel i5 Processor, 8GB of RAM (user upgradeable to 32), and dual hard drives (1TB 7200RPM SATA and 256GB SSD).
Adding to the form factor are dual array microphones on top that offer a multitude of uses. Initially, it’s easy to think these microphones are solely for Skype calls or asking Cortana to read your schedule, but the Wave goes beyond both of those use cases incorporating Amazon Alexa. Like Cortana, Alexa can check your calendar, create shopping lists, and control your smart home and that’s just for starters. Everything that Cortana and Alexa read back to you is handled by the integrated 360-degree speaker. Mounted on top, the speaker fires up into a parabolic reflector that pumps noise in every direction.
Finding the right combination of price and performance in a budget desktop is no easy task. You’re likely to find items that are too cheap and underpowered or overpowered and too expensive. Fortunately, the Lenovo Ideacentre 300 is a fantastic combination that meets right in the middle of performance, price and brand name reliability. Powered by a 6th generation Intel i3 3.7GHz processor, 8GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive, it has more than enough computing power for everyday tasks, all at a wallet-friendly price.
The desktop feels perfect for either the home or office, with plenty of storage and memory all at a value price. Unfortunately, at budget pricing levels you don’t always get as much room for expansion in the future in terms of additional RAM or extra hard drives. What it lacks in expansion, it more than makes up for with daily use that is perfect for the budget category.
HP’s 2016 Pavilion desktop might not look like much, but when it comes to office work, it’s a must own. It offers a 6th generation quad-core Intel i7 2.8GHz processor, 8GB of RAM and a 2TB hard drive. You’ll typically find plenty of space available in computers that fit in the office desktop world, but the 2TB hard drive offers ample space for the inevitable buildup of files, documents and PowerPoints that will accrue over the years. Beyond the hard drive, there’s a DVD burner, multi-display support for both HDMI and VA output as well as two USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0 ports.
Sizing up at 7 x 14 x 14 inches, the 13-pound Pavilion is no lightweight, but it’s small enough to fit underneath a desktop and be completely out of sight. The inclusion of 802.11ac offers a higher-speed connection, which is ideal for computers in an office environment where faster speeds are essential for downloading and uploading large files.
Courtesy of Walmart
Dell isn’t often the first choice for gaming computers, but with the inclusion of their new Ryzen graphics processors, you’d be making a big mistake to overlook this Inspiron model. And for right around $700, this gaming PC delivers quite a bit of processing power.
This particular configuration offers the AMD Ryzen 3 processor with up to 3.7GHz of speeds, AMD’s Precision Boost to update clock speeds no matter what you’re doing, an extended frequency range to optimize cooling for intense gaming sessions, and even a Pure Power mode to streamline your draw. It has up to 32GB of internal memory, 1TB of hard drive space to store your installed games, and the option to include a solid state drive for faster data recall.
If you're going for full gaming immersion, you'll appreciate the option to connect a pretty intense surround speaker system with the dynamic audio setting. Dell has even optimized the system to ensure quiet operation, so this tank won’t disrupt your environment even when you’re doing quiet work instead of gaming. The whole thing comes in a well-designed chassis with blue accents to complement your gaming station.
The space-saving Acer Chromebase AIO Touch Desktop won’t take up too much space in your family room, but soon you’ll wonder what your family did without it. This stylish all-in-one has a generously sized screen at 23.8” even though its footprint is small, and it comes with the Google Chrome OS that works perfectly with all your favorite Google apps such as Gmail, YouTube, Hangouts and Docs. The touchscreen conveniently features 10-point touch, making it easy for even little hands to use for watching educational videos or playing simple games. Parents will love it, too, for its stunning full HD visuals and user-friendly accessibility. With a 5th Generation Intel Core i5-5200U Processor (Up to 2.7GHz) and 8GB DDR3L Memory & 32GB SSD, this machine has plenty of power. A 30-degree HD webcam and four built-in microphones make it ideal for video-chatting with friends and relatives as well.
With a striking black and matte gold design, Acer’s latest model is a testament to why mid-range prices can equal high-end appearances. With an Intel Core i5-825OU, it might not be the most powerful desktop on the market, but the 12GB of RAM is still significant, and it differentiates itself with a super-slim, futuristic design.
While its insides are pretty mainstream for the price bracket — although the Qi built-in charging pad is a nice surprise — the outside matters quite a bit, too. The 23.8-inch full HD display measures a slim 0.23 inches, creating a statement piece for your home or office, though 4K and touchscreen options are not available. The bezel is equally thin at 0.12 inches, resulting in a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio, and the display can tilt between -5 and 25 degrees. Though its UHD 620 graphics are best just for casual use, Acer has included features like Acer ExaColor to increase color saturation and Bluelight Shield to diminish blue light at night.
If you're using your computer for any sort of visual work, it's extremely important to consider how the screen looks, behaves, and how it interacts with the computer itself. Getting an all-in-one from HP’s Pavilion line ensures that your screen is as in-tune with the computer as possible — because it’s built in. For just under $1,000, this machine gives you an Intel Core i5 quad-core processor that delivers the power required for basic video editing. Plus, you have the option to increase up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM (actually pretty impressive for such a slim machine).
The 1TB SATA hard drive can store high volumes of media files, and there’s an HD Graphics 630 card for decent visual rendering. Of course, that screen we mentioned gives you 27 diagonal inches of real estate, and even though it is only full HD, the bright IPS display tech gives you great viewing angles for the pixels you have. There are a ton of USB ports, HDMI, Ethernet, etc. HP even includes a wireless keyboard and optical mouse to get you started right out of the box. This sleek powerhouse will give you plenty of features and will be a welcome addition to any creator’s desk.
Value - The price of PCs on this list may be capped at $1,000, but there’s still a huge difference between a $400 PC and a $1,000 one. It’s important to get the most bang for your buck here, but that doesn’t mean only focusing on price. Look at balancing the features you get (and what you need versus what you don’t) with quality and price when you’re looking for a machine.
Monitor - If you have an extra external computer monitor lying around the house, then you don’t need to think about this. Otherwise, you might want to buy a system that includes one. If you don’t, you should factor a separate monitor into the price you’re paying.
Specs - When you’re buying a new machine, it’s always important to look at hard drive space, RAM, and processor power. If you’re planning on using the computer to check email and browse the web, you can get away with much less power than if you want to play resource-heavy computer games or edit video.