MEK1

Need a new desktop PC for family use, home or small office, home theater, or gaming? No problem - you've come to the right place! This guide profiles a dozen of the very best off-the-shelf PCs on the market, and we're positive you'll find a system in this guide that will work for you!

We're actually dealing with a very odd PC market right now, as in many cases you can save money buying a pre-built PC versus building your own. That's because of the effect of the cryptocurrency mining craze on the retail video card market. Essentially, there is no retail video card market anymore! Everything is being sold at huge markups, or is simply unavailable. Thus, our Spring 2018 guide is more important than ever, because we really do believe that every single one of the PCs in this guide is the very best option at each respective price point, even for those consumers who would otherwise be willing to build their own PCs. Our picks start at under $400 for a great all-around family, and go up to $2,500 for the elite gamers out there. Also on the list are some amazingly-small home office and home theater PCs. Note that the dozen picks in this guide are divided into three sections corresponding to home/small office use, home theater use, and gaming use, although there's certainly plenty of opportunity to choose various options depending on the mix of uses you envision.

Now, a few words on the components that really make a difference to the average user. First, you have the CPU, which most consumers are at least a little familiar with by now. Intel has recently shaken up its product line to better compete with a resurgent AMD, and while we definitely like AMD Ryzen CPUs, they just haven't made much headway among OEMs. Thus, all our recommendations in this guide stick with Intel, starting with some older dual-core models on the budget end, and going all the way up to the best all-around CPU Intel has ever released, the six-core i7-8700K.

Secondly, we come to the solid-state drive. We think just about every user should have an SSD in their PC at this point to improve boot up speed and system responsiveness, and therefore all but two of the desktop PCs in this guide have one. And trust us, even finding 10 PCs with SSDs took a lot of combing through the options, because manufacturers still don't trust that consumers actually know that a 250GB solid-state drive is worth a whole lot more than a 1TB hard drive. Trust us, it is!

One last note: we really believe that for most users, big black (or beige) boxes should become a thing of the past. The vast majority of PC users would be happier with a small PC they can hide away, rather than one that dominates a desk space. We particularly like the high-end Zotac MEK1 pictured above, but our guide has plenty of miniature PCs at every pricepoint.

And just a plug here for our Do-It-Yourself PC Build Guides - if you have any technical inclination whatsoever, you should really consider building your own PC. It's very rewarding, and you'll get to choose exactly the components you want (starting with a big SSD, of course!). That being said, a few of the specialized pre-built systems in this guide would be impossible to put together on your own, given their innovative, custom-designed exteriors.

One last note: to support continued development of this guide, please use the links we provide if you decide to purchase one of the PCs we recommend.

Desktops - Spring 2018

Home/Small Office

    The Basic Office Desktop:

    Acer Aspire TC-780-ACKi3

    Equipped with Intel's Core i5-7400 dual-core processor, 12GB of memory, and a 2TB hard drive, this is a great entry-level PC. It offers seven USB ports (two in front, five in back), HDMI video out along with the older VGA analog standard, as well as a built-in DVD burner and memory card reader. It even has built-in 802.11ac wireless networking and Bluetooth, which are extremely rare in entry-level PCs.

    The Guru's Tip:

    There's no doubt about it - this is an incredible deal, especially coming from a major manufacturer like Acer!

    The Mid-Range HTPC:

    Acer Revo One RL85-UR52

    This system has been around for a while, but it's still our favorite pick for a high-end family PC. Inside its small, stylish case, it features a zippy 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U dual-core processor with Turbo to 2.7GHz, 8GB of RAM, and 1TB Solid State Hybrid Drive, which offers a great mix of capacity and responsiveness.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This PC even comes with 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth, and a wireless keyboard and mouse, which means it would also make for a fantastic low-cost home theater PC!

    The Ultra-Compact Home Office PC:

    ASUS VivoMini Mini PC VC66-B007Z

    The ultra-compact Asus Vivo Mini is the ultimate streamlined business PC solution. Simply put, if you are equipping a next-gen workstation, whether at home or in an office, skip the clunky towers and go for the VivoMini! Equipped with a 3.0GHz Intel Core i5-7400 quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and a big, fast 512GB solid-state drive, this is all you'll ever need from a workstation for many years to come. In terms of ports, it has DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs, as well as two USB 2.0, three USB 3.0 and one USB 3.0 Type-C ports, plus a built-in DVD burner and flash card reader!

    The Guru's Tip:

    We believe that this form factor will become the norm in business desktop computing within the next 2-3 years. There's simply no reason for offices to be outfitting their workstations with desktop towers given the state of today's PC technology.

    The Small Business Desktop:

    HP EliteDesk 800 G3

    If you need a lot of processing power for serious business applications along with a compact design, the EliteDesk 800 G3 from HP is the system for you. It features an Intel Core i7-7700 quad-core processor with Hyperthreading, which boosts speed tremendously in applications like spreadsheets and photo/video processing. The system also includes 8GB of RAM (expandable to 64GB!), a 256GB PCIe-based solid-state drive for great responsiveness, and Windows 10 Pro pre-installed.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Packing in a total of 11 USB ports (including a USB Type-C port), along with dual DisplayPort outputs for high-resolution monitors, this model has plenty of  connectivity.

Home Theater

    The Ultra-Slim Home Theater PC:

    Zotac Magnus EN51050

    Want an absolute bargain when it comes to a slimline home theater PC that can also run games at HD resolutions? Look no further than this sweet model from Zotac! Equipped with a Core i5-7500T 2.7GHz quad-core processor, a GTX 1050 2GB video card, 8GB of RAM, a 120GB solid-state drive, and a 1TB hard drive, it's the perfect machine to use as a media player, game console replacement, or even a standard desktop PC.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This PC is about 8" square, and under 2.5" tall!

Gaming

    The Budget Gamer:

    CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme GXIVR8020A4

    Featuring an Intel Core i5-7400 quad-core processor and the potent Radeon RX 580 4GB graphics card, which has been sold out on store shelves since mid-2017 due to its popularity with cryptocurrency miners, this system is truly far less expensive than any true gaming system you could build yourself at this point.

    The Guru's Tip:

    You get a keyboard, mouse, and even a 802.11ac wireless USB adapter with this system!

    The Slim Gaming/HTPC:

    MSI Trident 3 VR7RC-025US

    Want the power of a standard tower PC, but in a system barely larger than your average hard-cover book? Then go for the amazing Trident from MSI. Featuring an efficient Intel Core i7-7700 quad-core processor with Hyperthreading and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB video card, it has serious home theater and gaming potential, despite it's ultra-compact proportions. It also packs in 16GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive, and a 1TB hard drive. And the best part is that the sleek styling will make it a natural fit in any home theater setup!

    The Guru's Tip:

    The Trident is just 13.93" wide, 9.15" deep and 2.83" tall. Basically, it's the size of a set-top box!

    The High-End Gaming PC:

    iBUYPOWER 9200 Desktop Gaming PC

    Packing in a potent Ryzen 5 1500X 3.5GHz quad-core processor, along with Nvidia's efficient and powerful GTX 1060 6GB video card, this is a true gaming system at a very reasonable price. Adding additional value is the ample 16GB RAM kit and 120GB solid-state drive, which will mean the system boots in a flash!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that due to the terrible effects of cryptocurrency mining on GPU supplies, you can't possibly build a machine like this for anywhere near the same price.

    The Ultra-Compact Gamer:

    Zotac MEK1

    Prepare to be blown away by the value packed into this slim desktop system! Featuring an Intel Core i7-7700 quad-core processor, a potent Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070 Ti 8GB video card, 16GB of RAM, a 240GB solid-state drive, and a 1TB hard drive, this is the real deal. To be frank, you're barely paying any premium at all to have this pre-assembled for you with a 1-year warranty!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This system even has a stylish RGB lighting system to help make it stand out in a crowd (or on a desk!).

    The High-End Gaming PC:

    CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme VR GXiVR8140A

    Equipped with an ultra-fast Intel Core i7-8700K hexa-core processor, an awesome GeForce GTX 1080 8GB video card, 16GB of memory, a 240GB solid-state drive, and a 2TB hard drive, this system has what it takes to keep any gamer happy for years to come!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Need even more gaming power? The system below takes has all the same basic specs, but bumps the video card up from a GTX 1080 to a 1080 Ti, and adds liquid cooling to the CPU!

    The Premium Gaming PC:

    CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme VR GXiVR8080A2

    CyberpowerPC has clearly proven that it knows how to pack its systems full of power at shockingly-good prices. So it should come as no surprise that despite coming in at well under $2,000, this is indeed a monstrous gaming PC! You get a liquid-cooled Intel Core i7-8700K hexa-core CPU with Hyperthreading, a GTX 1080 Ti 11GB video card, 16GB of memory, and a 240GB SSD along with a 1TB hard drive.

    The Guru's Tip:

    With a 1-year warranty and free lifetime tech support, this system is perfect for anyone who wants the ultimate gaming experience but isn't quite ready to build their own PC!

    The Ultimate Compact Gamer:

    Corsair One Pro GTX 1080 Ti

    If you want both extreme gaming power and amazing portability, look no further than the custom-designed ONE from Corsair. It's just 15" tall, 7.9" deep, and 6.9" wide, giving it an absolutely tiny footprint. And yet it packs in a Core i7-7700K processor and a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB video card, both cooled by Corsair's class-leading liquid cooling. Also along for the ride are 16GB of RAM, a 480GB solid-state drive, and a 2TB hard drive. What makes this system truly unique is that just a single fan is used to drive cool air through both the CPU and GPU radiators, making this system amazingly quiet despite its compact dimensions and massive gaming firepower. Put another way, this thing is seriously "One"-of-a-kind!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Simply put, there is no way you could ever build a system like this yourself. Corsair's custom-designed case is unlike anything on the market, as it's built around Corsair's proprietary CPU and GPU coolers.