The 8 Best Desktop PCs to Buy in 2016

Shop for the top desktop PCs for your home

Shopping for the right desktop depends heavily on what you need to accomplish on a daily basis. But no matter what your needs are, there’s something for everyone. If looking at specs is your thing, you probably already know the type of configuration you want, from monitor size to processor to amount of RAM. But for the average person, the revolving door of new desktop PCs requires a little help. We’re making things a little easier by offering up our picks for the best desktops of 2016.

Best Overall: Apple iMac MK452LL/A 21.5-Inch Retina 4K Display Desktop

Apple iMac MK452LL/A 21.5-Inch Retina 4K Display Desktop
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Pairing great value with hardware that will last, our choice for the best overall desktop PC is the 21.5” 4K Apple iMac. Thin, gorgeous and classy, Apple’s value for the money is definitely something the average desktop buyer should consider. The retina display is beautiful to look at day-in and day-out and will immediately win you over.

Watching videos, from YouTube to iTunes movie downloads will immediately grab your attention, thanks to the 4,096 x 2,304 display that has 4.5 times the resolution of a 1080p HD display. The combination of the newly revamped Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2 complete the characteristic Apple no-fuss setup. Pull it out of the box, press the “on” button and away you go.

With an Intel Core i5 processor, the iMac is more than capable of handling any of the daily tasks you throw at it. From the office to the home, the iMac is ready to handle photo and video editing, spreadsheets and everything in between.

On the downside, we’d love to see Apple offer discrete graphics to bump up the gaming capability and faster storage overall to speed up boot time. And you'll have to fully buy into the Apple experience and that can often come with an additional price tag. But caveats aside, when it comes to pairing pricing and value, Apple’s iMac is still the computer to beat. Buy from Amazon »

Best Budget: Acer Chromebase 21.5" Full HD Touchscreen All-in-One Desktop

Acer Chromebase 21.5
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While Chrome OS originally debuted as an inexpensive, Windows laptop alternative, it quickly made the jump to the desktop world. The sleek, stark white all-in-one Acer Chromebase is definitely not for everyone, but the meteoric rise of Chrome OS is something that can’t be ignored on the budget-friendly front.

For a machine priced under $400, there’s unquestionably a lot of plastic. The Chromebase is designed and styled around a matte-finish white plastic that for many is just background. However, if you’re looking for high-end look and feel, this isn’t the choice for you. An SD card slot offers additional storage should you require it but it is hidden by a large plastic door, which is unusual for a desktop. And while the 21.5", 1080p touchscreen is more than useful for everyday work, it won’t win any awards for media playback. The Chromebase also comes with a ​2.1 GHz processor, two USB 2.0 ports, 4 GB of RAM and 16 GB of solid state drive.

Using Chrome OS means you’ll lack the abundance of Windows programs and you’ll need to be online to get maximum value, but there are some distinct advantages. For one, Chrome OS is predicated on not being as virus-heavy as computers running in a Windows environment, so security is definitely a plus. And the deep ties to Google mean the instant you log-in, your Gmail, Google Drive and Google Docs will be instantly available at your fingertips. So, if you can do all your work within the Chrome OS environment, this might just be the best $400 you’ve ever spent. Buy from Amazon »

Best for the Family: Lenovo C260 19.5-Inch All-in-One Touchscreen Desktop

Lenovo C260 19.5-Inch All-in-One Touchscreen Desktop
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If you can’t find yourself giving up Windows, say hello to the Lenovo C260. This family-friendly computer won’t take up too much space on the desk (it has a 19.5" display at 1600 x 900 resolution), and it's proof that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a full-featured Windows machine.

The 2.4GHz Intel Pentium processor paired with 4GB of RAM (and 500 GB 7200 rpm hard drive) won’t win any performance awards, but that’s not why you’re buying this computer. Users with a little motivation can upgrade the hard drive and memory, but, for the price, you’re likely buying this to avoid having to perform any after-market upgrades. The computer also comes equipped with three USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port. Buy from Amazon »

Best for Home Office: Acer Aspire AIO

Acer Aspire AIO
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Do you work from home a lot and need a dependable desktop? Good news: the 23.8” display Acer Aspire AIO is probably exactly what you’re looking for. Powered by Windows 10, the Acer is priced just right, not too expensive and not budget to the point of feeling underpowered. The 6th generation 2.2GHz Intel Core i5 is paired with 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive and a NVIDIA GeForce 940M graphic card with its own 2GB of dedicated video memory.

The 23.8” Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) display is beautiful, with clear and crisp colors at a 16:9 aspect ratio. The all-in-one body is just 1.4-inches slim which offers a low footprint space in the home office. Connectivity is assisted by 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 alongside four USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port and two HDMI-in ports. The included keyboard and mouse are fairly generic, so if you’re already using a pair you enjoy, we’d see no reason to unpack these out of the box.

Making movies, playing games and editing photos are a snap with the discrete NVIDIA memory card, which is an extremely nice addition for the Acer’s mid-range price tag. Acer’s built-in TrueHarmony high-performance sound won’t win any awards, but you’re not going to complain if you pop a DVD into the included drive, kick your feet up and watch a movie. Buy from Amazon »

Best Design: Acer Revo One

Acer Revo One
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The Acer Revo One, our choice for the best desktop design, is immediately going to catch your eye. The small, white box is unlike anything you’re used to seeing when it comes to a desktop computer. All too often we associate clunkiness with the desktop world and that’s definitely not the case with the Revo One.

The Revo One is the perfect union between affordability, design and functionality. Paired with an Intel Core i3, 4GB of RAM and Windows 10, there’s a media machine hidden beneath the glossy white casing. Unfortunately, you can’t upgrade the RAM which is slightly disappointing and you might want to replace the plastic keyboard.

But the wallet-friendly price tag is surprisingly offered with a host of connectivity options, including an SD card reader, two USB 2.0 ports, and a Mini DisplayPort that can be connected to a 4K monitor. PC users looking for an attractive mini desktop that is perfect for media, browsing and the rest of the desktop basics will fall in love with the Revo One. Buy from Amazon »

Best for Creative Types: Apple’s 27” iMac

Apple’s 27” iMac
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While Apple’s 21.5” iMac sits comfortably in the top spot for best overall desktop, it’s the 27” bigger brother that really shines for creative types. Powered by a 3.2GHz Intel Core i5, 1TB Fusion Drive and the 5K 27” monitor, Apple’s flagship desktop is the best option for image and movie editing. The stunning 5K display offers 14.7 million pixels, or 4.5 to 7 times the resolution of a standard HDTV. The wider color gamut offers 25 percent more available colors, which brings more true-to-life color for the display.

Image and photo editing is boosted by the AMD Radeon R9 300-series graphics chip with 2GB of dedicated memory. The Retina 5K display and the rest of the hardware are packaged in an aluminum and glass enclosure that’s just 5mm at its slimmest. Although Apple placed 8GB of memory on board, we’d love to see 16GB come standard due to the heavy load apps like Photoshop and Final Cut can carry, but 8GB should suffice for most use cases. Additionally, Apple tucked two Thunderbolt 2 and four USB 3.0 ports on the back of the display along with 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 for connectivity. Buy from Amazon »

Runner-Up, Best Overall: ASUS Zen Z240 23.8" Touch Desktop

ASUS Zen Z240 23.8
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There are times you can look at Asus design and question whether their designers are sitting in Apple’s headquarters gathering inspiration. That’s how beautiful our choice for Runner-Up Best Desktop PC fares in the design department, with a look so sharp that it captures iMac-like design magic. Paired with a SkyLake Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, there’s unquestionably more than enough power to get you through every day tasks with plenty of room to spare.

Apple touts their retina displays as class-leading, but PC manufacturers take issue with that messaging and the Asus Zen AIO Pro is no exception. The 3840 x 2160 (4K) resolution, 23” display is gorgeous and incredibly sharp. Watching a movie with this machine, especially one of the 4K variety, will have you grabbing popcorn and never wanting to look away. A powerful backlight helps eliminate most glare, but if you’re watching in a sunlit room, you might find it to be a small nuisance.

The 10-point touchscreen and Chiclet keyboard are excellent, but the “plasticky” feel might leave you longing for something with a little more “heft” for the price. But overall, there isn’t another comparable machine packing in similar specs, even it's a little pricey. Buy from Amazon »

Runner-Up, Best Budget: Acer Aspire ATC-780-UR61

Acer Aspire ATC-780-UR61
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If you’re looking for great performance on a budget, Acer’s Aspire desktop ATC-780-UR61 is ready to answer the call. Featuring a 2.7GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, a 1TB hard drive and Windows 10, the budget-level pricing looks incredibly attractive. Unfortunately, you’ll had to add your own monitor, but you shouldn't have a problem finding a cheap, high-quality one.

The Intel Graphics 530 won’t shine on the gaming front, but video editing, compiling photo albums and multitasking will be handled with ease. There’s onboard Wi-Fi with 802.11ac as well Bluetooth 4.0 and a slew of USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports. The high-definition 5.1 audio will be good enough for most basic tasks, but movie viewers might want to invest in external speakers for good measure. Expanding the RAM for even better performance is welcomed, with a maximum of 32GB allowed for the single RAM slot that the Acer ships with. Buy from Amazon »


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