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Buy Desktop Computer


In-home warranty is available only on select customizable HP desktop PCs. Need for in-home service is determined by HP support representative. Customer may be required to run system self-test programs or correct reported faults by following advice given over phone. On-site services provided only if issue can't be corrected remotely. Service not available holidays and weekends.




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Snazzy, innovative laptop designs are constantly evolving. Smartphones are ubiquitous and astonishingly capable. So where does that leave that '80s relic, the desktop PC? There are still plenty for sale, and innovation never stops in the desktop market, especially among small-form-factor and all-in-one models. But many shoppers seem to consider desktops an anachronism, heading straight to the laptop aisle for their next computer purchase.


That's not always the right move. Desktops aren't facing extinction, and they're doing anything but standing still. For consumers and businesses alike, these are the most cost-effective and customizable desktop computers for 2023, as shown by our favorite examples from recent reviews. Check them out, then read on to learn everything you need to know about finding the best desktop for you.


Simply put, the Falcon Northwest FragBox delivers superb performance for a decent price and inside a seemingly impossibly tiny chassis for what it contains. This small form factor gaming desktop is in a class of its own, somehow fitting a massive Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU inside, outpacing its competition. Paired with an Intel Core i9-13900K, it is undefeated in our gaming benchmarks.


Space-starved PC gamers in small living spaces who want to sacrifice as little performance as possible are a clear audience for the FragBox. In addition to (and despite) its size, the FragBox is quiet in operation, decently serviceable, and has mid-tower-like expansion. Falcon Northwest also targets a particularly cash-flush consumer: while this FragBox is unequaled among small-form-factor gaming desktops, it has an asking price to match.


With the OptiPlex 5090, Dell crafted an affordable office (or remote working) desktop with a professional-grade Intel Core i5 processor including vPro security technology built in as well as plenty of room for future component upgrades or replacements. While the base configuration is a little bare, higher loadouts are where it's at, which make better use of the multiple USB and DisplayPort connections.


At the other end of HP's all-in-one desktop offerings, the under-$500 Chromebase 22 brings the appeal of an easy-to-use, online-friendly Chromebook to your desk or den or kitchen counter. Its 21.5-inch 1080p screen pivots between landscape (horizontal) and portrait (vertical) modes, letting you switch from enjoying a YouTube or Netflix video to seeing most of a webpage or Google Workspace word processing document without scrolling. Its small-footprint, cone-shaped base doubles as a surprisingly high-quality speaker, and it offers a high-res webcam and wireless keyboard and mouse.


The latest Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) is another entry in Intel's long line of mini PCs, and another that comes highly recommended. Leveraging laptop components to create a truly compact desktop experience, the Intel NUC 12 Pro is surprisingly powerful, and ready for everything from media streaming to professional work. With plenty of ports and a design that encourages add-ons and novel uses, this tiny PC is great for everything shy of gaming and heavy media editing. It's also offered as either a preconfigured system, or a bare-bones kit (you provide the RAM, solid-state drive, and Windows license), making it a great choice for hobbyists looking to tinker.


Obviously, ordinary workstations like Dell's more mainstream Precision or HP's Z or Lenovo's ThinkStation desktops can handle almost all creative, architectural, and data analysis jobs. Many software applications (including our performance benchmarks) actually can't take full advantage of the P620's power. But when only the ultimate will do, scientists and engineers will be grateful for this monster's muscle.


We've reviewed an impressive variety and capability of desktops above, right? We don't deny that a laptop or tablet is a better pick for people who depend on business travel, or whose computing consists mostly of basic surfing and typing from the living-room couch. But for small offices, families, creative pros, gamers, and tech tinkerers, desktops are often the best choice and the best value.


While desktops don't come in as many distinct form factors as laptops, there's great variation in computing power and room for upgrades and expansion. Let's dive into these, and a bunch of other important factors, as you prepare to buy your next desktop.


One of the desktop's most alluring promises is the value it delivers. Your money simply goes further with desktop PCs and their components. Instead of buying a $700 laptop with a competent Intel Core i5 processor, you can get a $700 desktop with a more powerful Core i7 CPU in it, and maybe even squeeze in a dedicated graphics card.


You can find complete mini PCs for very light work and display-signage tasks for under $300, and perfectly serviceable small towers for $300 to $600. Gaming desktops with dedicated graphics cards start at around $500. You can also find all-in-one desktops, with the display and all of the computing components built into a single device, starting at around $400.


The thing with desktops is, opting for a cheap one does not carry some of the same risks you'd face with a like-priced laptop. A $250 Black Friday special or a steeply discounted refurbished desktop could perform just fine for basic computing, and you wouldn't need to worry about the wear and tear on cheap materials that you might with a laptop of a similar price. That inexpensive laptop would be subject to the vagaries of daily commuting and the occasional drop from a coffee table. The desktop, in contrast, would need to stay put and just work.


Google's ChromeOS is a viable alternative to Windows and macOS, but desktops running it (called Chromeboxes) are rare and best suited to niche uses like powering a restaurant menu display. A fourth option is to buy a desktop with no operating system at all and install an open-source one of your choosing, such as Ubuntu Linux. We don't recommend going this route unless you're technically savvy, willing to experiment, and okay fixing software compatibility issues and other quirks.


Macs and Windows PCs are available in all three of the major desktop form factors: mini PCs that can fit on a bookshelf, sleek all-in-ones with built-in (and usually high-resolution) displays, and traditional desktop towers that are bulky but offer room for more or less easy expansion. These three forms each have strengths and weaknesses, and none of them is an obvious best choice for everyone. You'll have to choose based on what you plan to do with your desktop and where you plan to put it.


An all-in-one (AIO) desktop is quite a different animal than both of these form factors. An AIO can save you some space, since the display is built in. An AIO's value proposition comes down to space saving and whether you happen to be shopping for a desktop display at the same time. Though you can find budget AIOs with basic feature sets, lower resolutions, and non-touch screens, many new models offer touch-enabled screens, and some AIO panels have exceptionally high native resolutions of 4K (3,840 by 2,160 pixels) or even 5K (5,120 by 2,880 pixels). Touch displays make them excellent choices for watching movies or serving as a multimedia hub in the kitchen or other public area of your home, though the very highest resolutions target content creators rather than consumers.


With a few exceptions for business-oriented models, you will give up a lot of room for expansion in an AIO versus traditional desktop tower. Cracking open an AIO for an upgrade or fix, while not impossible, is a bigger deal than opening the side of a desktop tower. Apple's late-model iMacs are particularly difficult to open.


AMD and Intel, the two biggest makers of processors for PCs, offer desktop-class chips and laptop-class chips to system manufacturers, but often the CPU model names are similar and tricky to tell apart. For example, you will see Intel's Core i7 in both laptops and desktops, but having a "true" desktop CPU versus one made for a mobile device makes a big performance difference.


A desktop CPU gives you more power for complex content-creation work, PC gaming, or math and scientific projects. Faster processors with four, six, eight, or even as many as 18 cores will benefit software written to take advantage of the extra cores. The desktop version of a given CPU will consume more power and generate more heat than versions designed for laptops, which must be incorporated into environments that have less thermal and power-delivery leeway. A desktop CPU also has greater wiggle room to incorporate a key feature, multithreading, that allows each of the CPU's cores to address two processing threads at a time instead of just one. Multithreading (which Intel calls "Hyper-Threading") can deliver a major performance boost when engaged with suitably equipped software.


Many AIOs and mini PCs, conversely, use the same efficient, cooler-running types of CPUs that you'll find in laptops. Intel typically labels these mobile-first chip designs with a CPU name containing "U," "H," or "P"; most desktop chips instead have a "T" or a "K," or just a zero at the end. A mobile CPU might have the same number of processor cores as its desktop counterpart (four- and six-core chips are common in both), but its maximum power consumption will often be far lower. Also, the typical base and boost clock speeds may be lower, and the chip may not support multithreading. That said, many desktop PC buyers will be fine with these lower-powered CPUs for everyday work, and a little more.


All computers have a CPU, but most laptops and many cheaper desktops don't have a dedicated graphics processor, or GPU. Instead, their display output comes from a portion of the CPU, a slice of silicon known as an integrated graphics processor (IGP). An IGP is fine for basic tasks, such as checking your email, browsing the web, or even streaming videos. Doing productivity work on an IGP is completely within bounds. Indeed, most business desktops rely on IGPs. 041b061a72


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