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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.
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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.
Is a big, sharp screen your first priority in an AIO? HP's Envy 34 All-in-One offers a massive (34-inch diagonal) 5K display with panoramic 5,120-by-2,160-pixel resolution, as well as a 16-megapixel webcam that magnetically snaps almost anywhere along the top or either side of the screen to make you look your best. It's also a lively performer, even for mid-level gaming, thanks to a discrete Nvidia GeForce GPU instead of the usual integrated graphics, and it has all the ports, memory, and storage you'll likely need, as well as a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.
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.
Windows is the latest iteration of Microsoft's operating system. Desktops that use it and previous versions of the OS are what most people typically rely on, so you'll be assured of the best compatibility and the widest selection of third-party software. Desktops running Windows are also readily available below $500, making them attractive to casual users, families looking for a second PC, and bargain hunters.
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.
For truly cramped quarters or light workloads, as well as for people who love the efficient use of space, a mini PC could be the best choice. They come in sizes ranging from tiny sticks not much larger than a USB thumb drive to small-form-factor (SFF) towers that may be nearly a foot tall but have compact footprints. The very smallest sizes have the benefit of disappearing behind an HDMI-equipped monitor or TV, and they contain a processor, memory, storage, and ports to hook up keyboards and mice. They're economical and power-efficient, and can serve as adequate web browsing or multimedia viewing platforms. But know that the models at the truly tiny end of the scale offer no room for adding extra internal components, and their preinstalled parts are usually difficult or impossible to upgrade.
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.
You might be able to excuse a relative lack of input and output ports on a sleek AIO. The screen and speakers are built in, and you'll likely use a wireless keyboard and mouse, anyway. But mini PCs and desktop towers need the right selection of ports. At a minimum, they'll have to connect to a display, speakers or headphones, and a power source.
For most people in the market for an inexpensive desktop tower, there's no single best time to buy. While traditional sale holidays such as Black Friday can net you the odd bargain, when you find a system whose features, price, and performance match what you're looking for, take it home.
This is where return policies come in handy. If you find a desktop with your ideal specifications online but can't audition it locally, a seller with a liberal return policy is your best friend. Just make sure you've got adequate time to return it, if it ends up not working out.
Armed with all of the knowledge and decision points above, you're almost ready to shop. The final consideration is how well a desktop PC performs. We review hundreds of PCs every year, evaluating their features and testing their performance against peers in their respective categories. That way, you'll know which are best suited for gaming, which is our favorite general-purpose all-in-one, and which is the best if all you need is a small, powerful system you can get up and running quickly.
The Dell Latitude 3520 is a fairly reliable workhorse of a laptop while still being well-priced. It has an 11th-generation Intel Core i5 processor along with 8GB of memory and 256GB of SSD storage. That makes it a little long in the tooth compared to some other models but it's a robust design as you'd expect from one of the best laptop brands. A 15.6-inch HD screen only offers a 1366 x 768 resolution but that helps keep battery life high with ExpressCharge helping you get to 80% in an hour. Intelligent audio helps enhance audio quality while on calls and there's ExpressConnect which helps you connect to the strongest access points in your office. A numeric keypad rounds off the useful set of features.
Dell continues to offer some of the best laptop deals around with a sizeable discount on the Dell XPS 17. Ordinarily priced at $2,299, it's currently down to $1,749 so you save $550 on this excellent laptop. With all the hardware you could need for this price while neatly wrapped up in a stylish shell, it's a great bet for any business users who need to work effectively on the move. Snap it up now before the deal ends or keep reading while we tell you all about it.
Why you should buy the Dell XPS 17The Dell XPS 17 is easily one of the best laptops you can buy today if you're in need of an extra sizeable screen. It has a 17-inch full HD+ display with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 and 500 nits of brightness, yet it manages to pack that into a 15-inch size so you don't have as much bulk to carry around. Hardware-wise, it's powerful with a 12th-generation intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory and 512GB of SSD storage. Besides being ideal for multitasking, it can even handle some gaming thanks to its Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 graphics card.
One of the best Microsoft Office deals is on Microsoft 365 Family at Amazon. If you buy today, you can get a 12-month subscription for the whole family for $100 instead of $150, plus you get a $50 Amazon gift card bundled in for free. Combined, that means the Microsoft 365 Family Subscription works out at just $50 for the year. Here's a look at who needs it and why.
Why you should buy Microsoft 365 Family 12-month subscriptionIf you've been checking out the best alternatives to Microsoft Office, you'll appreciate that you can't go wrong with the genuine article. This version of Microsoft 365 gives you 12 months of access for up to six people so the whole family can easily use its services all year around. It provides you with access to Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Outlook.
All-in-one (AIO) computers that integrate the internal components into the same chassis as the display have a long history, stretching back to 1980s devices such as the Osborne 1 and Kaypro II. However, most people now associate the AIO category with a computer that looks very much like an LCD monitor, and in particular with Apple's range of LCD-based iMacs, which debuted with the iMac G4 in 2002.
AIO computers can be pricey, but that's not the case with HP's All-in-One 22, which starts at $549.99 with an AMD Athlon 3150U processor, rising to $579.99 when equipped with a 12th-generation Intel Core i3-1215U. The Athlon model is unusual in sporting a DVD-writer, which is a rare sight on any computer these days; this legacy component is not available on the Core i3 version. For a budget computer, the All-in-One 22 looks pretty smart, with its 21.5-inch FHD IPS screen sitting above a speaker grille and resting on a stand fashioned from tubular metal. The webcam (HD only) pops up from the top of the screen when in use -- a neat privacy measure.
You can't expect stellar performance from a computer based on the Athlon 3150U or Core i3-1215U, even with the maximum 16GB of RAM on board. But if you temper your use case expectations, the HP All-in-One 22 is an excellent budget choice.
Launched back in October 2018, Microsoft's Surface Studio 2, a 28-inch AIO computer, was well received. However, by 2022 it had become distinctly long in the tooth, being based on 7th-generation Intel Core processors -- well behind today's 13th-generation silicon. That said, the Surface Studio's innovative and versatile design with its clever 'zero gravity' screen hinge is holding up well, and clearly influenced the 2021 Surface Laptop Studio. 041b061a72