Although it’s not nearly the behemoth it once was, the desktop PC still has its place in an ever-expanding landscape of devices. Unlike laptops, tablets or even smartphones, they aren’t limited by portability and battery life requirements. Whether you want to expand on storage, memory, graphics or sheer processing power, a desktop PC gives you the most flexibility to upgrade on hardware.
It’s also a surprisingly diverse category. These machines come in all shapes and sizes and can be used in many different ways. The beautiful, compact simplicity of the all-in-one computer is undeniably attractive. Components, such as the speakers and display are built directly into a single unit, with few cables left trailing around your desk. Therefore, it’s the perfect for those of us who like to keep our workspaces neat and tidy.
Small form-factor PCs and inexpensive micro media machines are a popular choice as well. There are small desktop PCs that are intended to be used in the living room, designed to look attractive and provide a quick way to access all sorts of digital media. You can hook one up to a surround sound system and your main TV to enjoy Netflix or your own DRM-free media files with software such as Plex.
And, of course, the traditional desktop tower keeps trucking on. Whether you leave it on your desk or underneath it, this hulking form factor gives you the freedom to choose whatever components and specification your budget allows for, from an inexpensive family computer that can be used for word processing, spreadsheets and other office tasks, to a powerful video editing workstation complete with a top-end processor and graphics card.
Prices vary depending on the configuration, from less than £200 (around $303 or AUS$432) for an entry-level family desktop computer, to four figures for a desktop with a powerful video card suitable for demanding gaming.
And, with the exception of our Apple examples that naturally ship with OS X 10.11 El Capitan (soon to be replaced by macOS Sierra) and the Chromebase which beautifully packages Chrome OS, you can expect any of the PCs on this list to come with Windows 10 as standard. Here we’ve listed 10 of the best, ordered by price and spec starting first with only the most expensive and powerful machines money can buy.