PC monitors: Buying a new PC Choosing the best desktop PC

What you need to know when buying a desktop PC

Although the portability of a laptop is convenient, if you have the desk space and you don’t need portability, a desktop PC can cost you less and give you much more computing power and storage for your money.

In short, a desktop will usually pack more of a computing punch - ideal if you need a bit of extra computing power for playing games or editing videos, for instance.

Desktop PCs are also more comfortable to use for long periods of time. You can pick a keyboard that suits you and a large clear monitor that’s easy on the eyes - and you can set it all up on a desk that gives you a comfortable working position.

Here, we'll go through the things you should prioritise when choosing the best desktop PC for you.

See the desktop PC brands that Which? members recommend in our desktop PC satisfaction survey.

Desktop PC

What type of desktop PC should I buy?

When buying a new PC, you’ll find models to suit all tastes and budgets. Whether you want a cutting-edge powerhouse that’ll play all the latest games or a simple budget model for checking emails, there’s a PC for you.

Designs are very flexible, and there are a lot of options when choosing the best desktop PC for you. A simple way to start is by thinking of what you want to do with a PC.

Basic PC user

If you’re on a limited budget, you’ll be able to pick up a basic PC for just a few hundred pounds. If you only need to check email, surf the web and do the occasional bit of word-processing, buying a new PC of this level is a sensible and economic choice.

Don’t be convinced to part with thousands of pounds for a computer that you don’t really need, but don’t expect a low-budget computer to handle all the latest 3D games, for example.

If you’re planning to carry out power-hungry tasks such as video editing, it’s worth considering spending a little more for a faster machine.

Home PC user

For demanding tasks, including viewing and editing movies, and playing the odd game , consider spending between £500 and £1,000 on a typical home user desktop PC. You’ll get a PC that will handle a wider range of tasks, but without the price tag of a high-performing gaming PC. 

pc-game

PC gamers

If you’re keen on showing off the latest 3D games in all their glory, you’ll need to pay for the privilege. The latest hardware – in particular the graphics card that handles the display – can be very expensive. Still, if you spend £1,000 or more on a gaming PC, the results can be impressive – but don’t forget how quickly new developments occur, be prepared for something cheaper and better coming along soon.

Windows desktop PCs or Apple desktops?

Apple fans love the simple Mac OS X operating system and elegant styling of their Mac computers, while Windows PC supporters like the large range of software and customisable hardware that’s available for them.

When choosing the best desktop computer for you, neither option is wrong, overall. 

Apple Macs score highly for ease of use and customer satisfaction, but you’ll get more computing power for your money with a Windows PC and more people are already familiar with using this type of computer.

Choosing a shape and style of desktop computer

There are plenty of design options to help you find a new PC that will best suit your desk space.

The traditional tower-style case that sits under the desk is a tried-and-tested option, and is a good choice for those who may want to upgrade their PC in the future.

You’ll also find slimline desktop computers that’ll sit happily on your desk – beneath the monitor, for instance.

And don’t rule out small format PCs such as the Dell Zino or Mac Mini. These tiny machines are ideal if you need to put a PC in a living room, for instance.

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