Wave

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 ten of the best PCs on the market, and we're positive you'll find a system in this guide that will work for you!

For Fall 2018, you can get more for your money than ever before, thanks to falling prices on RAM, solid-state drives, video cards, and CPUs. Our picks start at under $200 for a family PC, and go up to over $4,000 for the most elite of gamers out there. In between, you'll find an amazing assortment of innovative systems, including the HP Wave shown here, which integrates Amazon Alexa voice capability right into the case, making it a true 2-in-1 device.

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 behemoth Core i9-7960X sixteen-core CPU.

Secondly, we come to the solid-state drive. We think just about every PC should have an SSD in it at this point, as SSDs vastly improve boot up speed and system responsiveness. And yet, finding budget-oriented PCs with SSDs is hard to do - manufacturers are still peddling systems with traditional hard drives as their sole system drive, because a 1TB hard drive "sounds" better than a 250GB SSD, even if it isn't. With that said, there are two PCs on our list that use this configuration, simply to hit very low price points.

The third most important component is the graphics card. A long time ago, every system needed one, but today, most systems have them built into the CPU. Therefore you only need a graphics card (also called a video card) if you will be doing a lot of gaming or need true 4K output. All of our home theater and gaming system picks include a graphics card for that reason, but none of our home office systems do, because they don't provide any benefits for that type of usage.

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. That's why nearly half of the PCs we recommend use compact form factors, giving you the option to balance price, performance, and size. Sometimes you'll pay a bit more for a small PC than a big tower PC, but you'll likely thank yourself down the line!

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.

Please keep in mind that we limit advertising to give you the best browsing experience, so 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 - Fall 2018

Home/Small Office

    The Ultra-Compact Home PC:

    Zotac ZBOX PI225

    This system proves just have far technology has advanced in the past few years. With Zotac's latest Zbox, you get a PC that's no larger than a deck of cards, and yet it contains an Intel dual-core 1.1GHz processor with boost to 2.4GHz, 4GB of memory, a 32GB solid-state drive, and a full version of Windows 10. It even has 802.11ac networking and Bluetooth built in! This is truly the perfect system to attach to a monitor and use as a kitchen or family room PC, using the included USB 3.1-to-HDMI adapter.

    The Guru's Tip:

    While storage is a bit limited on this system (it's basically enough for the OS and a couple of apps), you can easily store plenty of media by using an add-on micro-SD card, like this SanDisk 128GB model.

    The Basic Office Desktop:

    Acer Aspire TC-780-ACKi3

    Equipped with Intel's Core i3-7100 dual-core processor, 8GB of memory, and a 1TB 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 Perfect Family PC:

    HP Pavilion Wave

    Now this is what we call innovation! Pairing a smart home speaker with a desktop PC makes a ton of sense, and HP has made it look easy with the new Wave. But that takes nothing away from what HP has done here: you're getting an Intel Core i5-7400T quad-core CPU, 8GB RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive with Windows 10 pre-loaded, plus a 1TB hard drive for data storage. This is most definitely the perfect family PC!

    The Guru's Tip:

    To make the most of this system's music playing capabilities, it featurs speakers by Bang & Olufsen.

    The Ultra-Compact Home Office PC:

    ASUS PB60-B5042ZC Mini PC

    The ultra-compact model from Asus 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 this instead! Equipped with an Intel Core i5-8400T six-core processor with Turbo up to 3.3GHz, along with 8GB of RAM and a 256 GB solid-state drive, this is all you'll ever need from a workstation for many years to come. In terms of ports, it has HDMI and DisplayPort outputs, as well eight USB ports, including USB Type-C in front for easy connectivity with modern devices.

    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.

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. At just 8" square, and under 2.5" tall, this can fit practically anywhere.

    The Guru's Tip:

    What makes this PC much more suitable for home theater use than most compact PCs is the GTX 1050 video card, not so much for its processing power, but for its HDMI 2.0 output. That's the only way you can output 4K/60Hz signals to a 4K TV; onboard video doesn't go higher than 30Hz at that resolution.

Gaming

    The Budget Gamer:

    CyberpowerPC Gamer Xtreme GXIVR8020A5

    Featuring an Intel Core i5-8400 six-core processor and the potent Radeon RX 580 4GB graphics card, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive, 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 Mid-Range Gaming PC:

    iBUYPOWER Slate 001iV2 Gaming Desktop PC

    If you want a system that game and works great for browsing the web and using office applications, you want this system. It offers awesome gaming power for gaming at 1920 x 1080 resolutions, thanks to the Core i5-8400 six-core CPU and GTX 1060 3GB video card. And thanks to its 120GB solid-state drive, it also provides ultra-fast boot-up times, app launching times, and system responsiveness. It's paired with a 1TB for bulk storage, along with 8GB of RAM.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Some bonus features of this system include RGB lighting, built-in WiFi, and a bundled mouse and keyboard.

    The High-End Gaming PC:

    iBUYPOWER Slate 9210 Gaming Desktop PC

    Packing in a potent liquid-cooled Core i7-8700K six-core processor with Hyperthreading, along with Nvidia's high-end GTX 1070 Ti 8GB video card, this is a true gaming system at a very reasonable price. Adding additional value is the ample 16GB RAM kit and 240GB solid-state drive, which will mean the system boots in a flash, along with a 1TB hard drive.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This PC is actually cheaper than what you could build yourself with the same components!

    The Premium Gaming PC:

    CYBERPOWERPC Gamer Xtreme GXi11060CPG

    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 under $2,500, this is indeed a monstrous gaming PC! You get an Intel Core i7-8700K hexa-core CPU with Hyperthreading, a cutting-edge GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB video card (worth $1,200 on its own!), 16GB of memory, and a 240GB SSD along with a 2TB 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 Gaming PC:

    CyberpowerPC Gamer Supreme Liquid Cool SLC9060CPG

    If you're after the ultimate gaming system, you won't find a better system that the Gamer Supreme from CyberpowerPC. It sports Intel's very best all-around CPU, the awesome Core i9-7960X, which packs in an insane sixteen cores and 32 threads of processing power. It's teamed up with the cutting-edge Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB video card with ray-tracing capabilities, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1TB solid-state drive, and a 3TB hard drive.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The super-stylish case used by CyberpowerPC for the Gamer Supreme is none other than Thermaltake's View 37, which stands out as the only "gull-wing" case on the market. The entire top and side is one single panel, allowing the system to really shine.