The best PC you can afford might just be one of the most important investments in your life. These days, your computer is your lifeline, vital to your day-to-day productivity, staying connected with family and friends, or getting to the top of the leaderboards. And with powerful components hitting the shelves practically every month, PCs are only getting better and better.
These days, the strongest contenders for the best PCs are rocking powerful 8th- to 10th-generation processors, as well as super high-end graphics cards from Nvidia (some with real time ray tracing) or AMD. Simply put, they have been designed to demolish every computing task that comes their way or to offer the best value to performance ratio.
Get an all-in-one desktop powerhouse, a future-proof gaming PC, or the most robust creative tool rocking the latest and greatest PC components, like fast SSDs, more RAM and possibly even the best graphics card. Whatever it is you need, you’ll certainly find something on our list of the best PCs.
Best PC: Dell XPS Tower
Affordable, high-performing machine
CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i3 – i9 | Graphics: Intel HD – UHD Graphics | RAM: 8GB – 64GB | Storage: 1TB HDD – 2TB SSD + 2TB HDD
Highest configurations can be pricey
The Dell XPS Tower gets our vote for the best of the best computers 2020 has to offer for one simple fact. It boasts enough power and features without costing you a lot. This latest XPS Tower line is fitted with 9th-generation Intel Core processors and advanced VR-ready graphics, and it’s also fully configurable, which makes it future-proof. On top of all that, it’s got a good selection of configurations on hand so you can take your pick depending on your needs and budget. And, if you’re a big fan of the no-nonsense look, this tower’s simple 90s homogenous look.
Best all-in-one PC: Microsoft Surface Studio 2
Ultimate digital drafting table
CPU: Intel Core i7-7820HQ | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 – 1070 | RAM: 16GB or 32GB | Storage: 1TB or 2TB SSD
The Surface Studio 2 isn’t going to compare well against most PCs, but that’s only because it was never designed to compete with them in the first place. This device is meant for the digital artist or other visually-focused content creators, and even with aging parts, it’s still the most robust digital drafting table on the market. It boasts a bright, vibrant display, and improved specs next to its predecessor. If you’re a digital artist or a content creator who’s visually-focused, this is the best computer for you.
Read the full review: Surface Studio 2
Best gaming PC: Alienware Aurora R9
Powerful gaming for all budgets
CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i5 – i9 | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 – RTX 2080 Super | RAM: 8GB – 64GB | Storage: 1TB HDD – 2TB SSD + 2TB HDD
A broad range of specifications available
The perfect blend of form and function
That design may not age well
Alienware has a knack for concocting form factors you won’t see anywhere else, which makes its gaming laptops and desktops more appealing than their rivals. With Alienware Aurora R9, the manufacturer took things to a whole new level, design-wise. More importantly, it boasts configurations touting the most powerful internals right now. But what’s even better is that budget-minded users won’t even have to look elsewhere. This new line boasts a broad range of specifications, so that you don’t have to pay a small fortune to take it home.
Read the full review: Alienware Aurora R9
Best afffordable gaming PC: Dell G5 Gaming Desktop
Budget PC gaming at its best
CPU: 9th Gen Intel Core i3-9100 – i9 9900K | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 – RTX 2070 | RAM: 8GB – 64GB | Storage: 1TBSSD – 1TB SSD + 2TB HDD
Base models won’t get you through the most demanding games
A unique chassis coupled with a price to beat, Dell’s latest in its G series gaming PCs is a solid contender in budget gaming. The Dell G5 boasts 9th-generation Intel chips as well as Nvidia’s most powerful gaming GTX and RTX graphics cards, starting with an i3 processor and the GTX 1650 to handle many powerful games without burning a whole in your pocket. Of course, if you’ve got more case to spare, it’s VR ready configurations are also on hand, though even those are absolutely affordable.
Best mini PC: Intel Hades Canyon NUC
Don’t let its size fool you
CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Radeon RX Vega M GL – GH | RAM: 4GB – 64GB | Storage: 128GB – 2TB SSD; up to 2TB secondary SSD
Lots of ports
Easy to upgrade
If you want an excellent desktop experience, but don’t have a lot of desk space, then Intel Hades Canyon NUC may just be ideal for you. This small bare-bones PC has an absurdly fast 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor and discrete-class AMD Radeon graphics. Adding some RAM and storage to the mix, and you will be conquering the best PC games without breaking a sweat. It won’t compete against a full-sized desktop, but when you’re short on space – or you want a PC that looks like a set-top box – this is one of the best PCs to consider.
Read the full review: Intel Hades Canyon NUC
Best high-end gaming PC: HP Omen Desktop PC
Gaming PC powerhouse that’s worth the price
CPU: Intel Core i7-8700 – i7-9700K | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti – RTX 2080 Ti | RAM: Up to 64GB | Storage: 1TB HDD – 512GB SSD + 2TB HDD
Up to 165Hz refresh rates
Not the best looking PC
While the Decepticon look this gaming PC sports might only be for some, there’s definitely something for everybody as far as configurations go – whether you’re a casual gamer on a budget or a hardcore one willing to drop a lot of dough for a souped up rig. At less than $1,500 (about £1,180, AU$2,170), you’re getting more than enough power to get you through AAA games, albeit probably not on Ultra. At $2,335 (about £1,835, AU$3,235) or more, you’re getting a considerable amount of power and storage. Plus, HP Omen Desktop PC comes in a tool-less design, making it upgradeable. If you’re after a high-end gaming PC that can handle the latest games with ease, this is the one to get.
Read the full review: HP Omen Desktop PC
Best Mac: Apple Mac mini (Late 2018)
CPU: Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 8GB – 64GB | Storage: 128GB – 2TB SSD
Can’t upgrade storage
It’s easy to think of Apple computers as overpriced, but your bank account will be spared if you jump on the Mac mini bandwagon. The Mac mini 2018 is a small form-factor PC that looks adorable and also packed tight with high-end desktop parts. And, that’s all for a much more accessible price than any other Mac on the market, making it a great buy for anyone who already has a slew of Mac-ready peripherals or for a Mac fan who doesn’t have the budget for a Mac Pro. What’s more, unlike many of Apple’s recent products, the Mac mini is relatively upgradeable – you can boost your memory up to 64GB of RAM.
Read the full review: Apple Mac mini
Best stick PC: Intel Compute Stick
The tiny computer that can
CPU: Intel Atom – Intel Core m5 | Graphics: : Intel HD Graphics – Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 1GB – 4GB | Storage: 8GB-64GB eMMC
Wide CPU choices
Extremely portable design
Limited fan cooling
Limited RAM and storage
Some people have issues with desktop PCs, as they’re often rather bulky. The Intel Core Compute Stick has made that irrelevant. Looking more like a thumb drive than an actual computer, this tiny renegade can connect to any monitor with an HDMI input. Its base starts with a lowly 1.33GHz Intel Atom processor running Linux, but can be configured up to an Intel Core m5 processor. This is one of the best PCs, but one that you can literally slip in your pocket, whether you need to get some work done during your daily commute or squeeze in some PC time while you’re traveling.
Best in features: Lenovo Yoga A940
Thoughtful design, innovative features
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8700 | Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 560 4GB | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 1 TB 5400 RPM + 256 GB PCIe SSD | Screen: 27″ 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS Multi-touch 100% Adobe RGB
Some nice features
As a designer, if you don’t fall in love with Lenovo Yoga A940’s thoughtful design, then we don’t know what will. This innovative all-in-one desktop boasts a stunning 27-inch 4K UHD display with up to 25-degree tilt, pen support and a rotating hinge for stability. It’s full of impressive features as well, like the Lenovo Precision Dial that you can attach on the left or right side of the hinge, whatever feels most comfortable for you and your process. And, unlike the best Macs, it offers 100% Adobe RGB support, an LED light at the bottom of the screen and even wireless smartphone charging. If you’re a content creator or designer, and you’re looking for an AIO that allows you a truly seamless workflow, this is the best computer for you.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga A940
Best for content creators: iMac Pro
CPU: 8 to 18-core Intel Xeon W | Graphics: Radeon Pro Vega 56 – Radeon Pro Vega 64 | RAM: 32GB – 256GB DDR4 ECC | Storage: 1TB – 4TB PCIe 3.0 SSD | Screen: 27-inch 5K (5,120 x 2,880) Retina display (P3 wide color)
Most powerful Mac ever
Unfortunately, what does hold Lenovo Yoga A940 back are its less powerful, slightly aging internals. If you want an all-in-one powerhouse that absolutely blows you away in terms of performance, then the iMac Pro is the best computer for you. This AIO designed specifically for professionals and creatives may not be super rich in features, but it’s got a lot to offer where it truly counts. That includes its vibrant 27-inch 5K display with a P3 wide color gamut, mind-blowing Radeon Pro Vega graphics, and plenty of memory for all your exacting workloads. Just be prepared to shell out a bunch of cash, as this doesn’t come cheap.
Read the full review: iMac Pro
Best single-board computer: Raspberry Pi 4 Model B
CPU: Broadcom BCM2711, Quad core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) | Graphics: OpenGL ES 3.0 | RAM: 1GB, 2GB or 4GB LPDDR4-3200 SDRAM
More powerful CPU for a smoother user experience
The 4GB RAM model is almost a desktop replacement
Even at idle the CPU gets rather too warm
Despite its tiny size – it’s so small, it doesn’t even have its own chassis, the Raspberry Pi boards have proven themselves to be utterly capable little machines, surprisingly capable of handling everyday productivity tasks like word processing and spreadsheets. And, with the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, we see this powerful computer getting the fantastic update it rightly deserves. Finally, the Raspberry Pi line gives you a desktop computer and a platform to experiment and create.
Read the full review: Raspberry Pi 4 Model B
Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article
Image Credits: TechRadar