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Latest Which? desktop PCs on test: are big brands better?

Two Best Buys revealed in our latest round of desktop PC testing

We’ve tested PC brands from A(cer) to Z(oostorm) this month, pitting the best-known brands up against those you might not have heard of. Two earned Best Buy status, but two were scored uncomfortably close to being Don’t Buys.

Most desktop PCs are formed from very similar components, usually from the likes of AMD, Intel and Nvidia. Despite the limited range of parts available, prices between similarly specified models vary quite wildly. So while you might know what it is you’re after in terms of performance, it can be hard to know what you should be paying.

In this batch we find five PCs from various brands, three of which are priced identically with very different specifications. Which? exclusive lab tests reveal which one is better value.

Browse all our desktop PC Best Buys to discover the cream of the current crop.

Zoostorm Voyager, £600

The Voyager comes from UK PC brand Zoostorm. You can find the brand in various UK retailers, including Argos and Very.

This big desktop PC comes with all the internal specs you could want in a multimedia or office PC. It should even have enough grunt for a bit of 3D gaming, thanks to its dedicated graphics card.

Key specs:

  • Dual-core Intel Core i3 processor
  • 8GB Ram
  • 1TB hard disk
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card

Read our full Zoostorm Voyager review to see whether it’s up to scratch.

Packard Bell iMedia S3730, £300

This cheap desktop comes from Packard Bell, a name that’s a bit of a blast from the past – it was a much bigger name in the 80s and 90s than it is now. In fact, the Packard Bell name is really just a sub-brand of Acer and is only sold in Europe.

The iMedia is a compact PC with an attractive design and a very low price. The spec sheet doesn’t promise much, but its low price will certainly attract home users who use their PCs for basic word processing and web browsing tasks.

Key specs:

  • Dual-core Intel Celeron processor
  • 4GB Ram
  • 1TB hard disk

Read our full Packard Bell iMedia S3730 review for our final score.

Acer Aspire TC-780, £600

On to the big brands, and Acer has an updated version of its Aspire TC-780 computer in our labs.

The specification on test points to a PC that’s ready for photo editing and office work, thanks to its quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and dedicated graphics card from Nvidia. Our test lab looked closely at its performance to see whether it’s good value for money.

Key specs:

  • Quad-core Intel Core i5 processor
  • 8GB Ram
  • 1TB hard disk
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 730 graphics card

Read our Acer Aspire TC-780 review for the full verdict.

Lenovo Ideacentre 510S, £420

Another machine we’ve looked at before that’s now been updated, this Lenovo is a prime example of a basic business PC that can still look the part.

Its attractive silver styling and small form means it’ll fit onto any desk. Our lab looks at more than just its pretty face, though, to see whether the dual-core processor is up to scratch and whether this PC can actually handle the sorts of tasks you’re likely to throw at it.

Key specs:

  • Dual-core Intel Core i3 processor
  • 4GB Ram
  • 1TB hard disk

Our full Lenovo Ideacentre 510S review reveals the bottom line on this desktop.

Lenovo Ideacentre 720, £600

This stylish machine from Lenovo packs in a quad-core AMD Ryzen 5 processor along with dedicated AMD Radeon RX 550 graphics. It looks like the ideal multimedia and light gaming PC with those sorts of statistics, but it’s far from a foregone conclusion.

Key specs:

  • Quad-core AMD Ryzen 5
  • 8GB Ram
  • 2TB hard disk
  • AMD Radeon RX 550 graphics card

Does this PC live up to its performance promise? Our full Lenovo Ideacentre 720 review delivers the verdict.

How to choose the right PC

One of the most important factors in buying a PC is ensuring you don’t get tricked into buying something that’s not right for you. It may seem obvious, but once you’ve seen a £300 and a £3,000 computer both being described as ‘powerful’, the lines blur and confusion can set in.

As a very general rule, the more you pay, the more you get in terms of performance. But as our reviews of the PCs above will show, the gulf in quality of similarly priced PCs is still enough to make the buying experience unpredictable.

To help cut through the jargon, read our guides to Intel’s processor naming scheme and SSDs vs hard disks to help with some important buying decisions. We can also help if you’re wondering how to buy the best desktop PC.

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