When buying a new desktop PC you have two main options: you can build one yourself or you can buy a "pre-built." With the sufficient time, parts and knowledge, building your own machine is the preferred method among enthusiasts, usually resulting in better value and upgradeability, not to mention the satisfaction of putting it all together yourself.

Pre-builts definitely make sense in some cases, however. If you need a compact solution that standard PC parts can't provide, need several new devices on a short notice, or simply don't have the time to learn how to build a PC, then this guide is for you.

If you have limited desk space but still want a large display, an all-in-one PC with internals built into the monitor may be a good option for you. If you already have a monitor or want to be able to upgrade it without replacing the whole computer, or if you want to use the same computer with several monitors around your house or office, a mini PC may be what you need. This PC buying guide includes the best pre-built PC offerings in each of those categories.

Best for Gaming

Corsair Vengeance a7300 & i7400

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One shortcoming with most PC makers offering pre-builts is that you can't know exactly what you're getting. Corsair is currently the company that uses the most off-the-shelf parts in its gaming PCs among the big brands, making it a relatively safe choice.

For $2,600 as of writing, you can get the a7300 with Nvidia's GeForce RTX 4070 Ti graphics card. The 16-thread AMD Ryzen 7 7700X processor should be kept cool by the 2x120mm Corsair H100i RGB Elite all-in-one liquid cooler. The X670-based motherboard includes 2.5Gb Ethernet and 8 USB ports, including 2 Type-C.

If you are planning to use the PC for more than just gaming, the Intel-based i7400 series offers the same GPU for $100 more inside a black or white chassis, but the 24-thread Core i7-13700K processor may run into thermal issues when fully utilized and will never have a sensible upgrade path, as the next-gen Intel CPUs will require new motherboards.

A dual-channel memory configuration of 2 x 16GB at DDR5-5600 speed will be enough for any game in the near future. As for storage, a 1TB SSD is a good start. The 750W power supply with 80+ Gold efficiency will quietly keep everything running, and the Corsair 4000D Airflow case will make sure your internal fans get enough cool air.

Another advantage of the Corsair models is coming with 2 years of warranty at no added cost, rather than just 1 as with most competing models. The price includes Windows 11 Home. If you were planning to get the Corsair Xeneon Flex monitor, the mentioned PCs will get you $300 off of its price.

Best Gaming Value

Lenovo Legion 5i Tower Gen 7

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If you'd rather save some money, then Lenovo may have good options for you in its Legion Tower series.

For $1,290 you can get a PC with Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3060 Ti graphics card, Intel's efficient 20-thread Core i7-12700 processor, 2 x 8GB of DDR5 memory, albeit at an unimpressive 4800 MHz speed, a 1TB SSD with TLC flash and support for PCIe 4.0 speeds for modern games, and a 1TB hard drive for older games and the rest of your media.

The B660-based motherboard offers 4 memory slots, two M.2 slots for PCIe SSDs, three SATA ports for other drives, and 7 rear USB ports, including a Type-C. The case allows enough air to flow through the system, and the 500W power supply is enough for the current parts.

The price includes Windows 11 Home, a year of warranty, 3 months of Xbox Game Pass, and a basic keyboard and mouse.

At the time of writing, we couldn't find a much cheaper machine that still makes sense for modern games. Short before we wrote the guide, we were able to customize the HP Victus 15L for similar gaming performance at hundreds of dollars less, mostly at the expense of upgradeability, but as of writing it's no longer the case.

Best All-in-One

Apple iMac 24" M1

Powered by the M1 processor found in many other Apple products, the 24" iMac features unprecedented efficiency and design for a device of its kind. The AIO's monitor is just 11.5mm thick.

The iMac starts at $1,200 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. We recommend adding $200 for 16GB of RAM. You may want to add another $200 for the model with 8 active graphics units, but not for the minor difference in graphics performance. That version has two USB 3.0 Type-C ports in addition to the two Thunderbolt/USB 4.0 and headphone jack found in the base version. It also comes with a Touch ID sensor on the Magic Keyboard and Ethernet for no extra cost, and has more color and storage options. In addition, the base model has been shown to have an inferior cooling system that can make the M1 throttle under heavy workloads.

One thing that sets the iMac apart is its screen, with a 4.5K resolution, and support for true 8-bit (16.7 million) colors, and 10-bit (1 billion) colors with FRC. Similar to most of the company's iPad lineup, it also has an anti-reflective coating and uses True Tone to automatically adjust brightness and color temperature. Another standout comes in the sound department, as the iMac has 6 speakers: 4 woofers and 2 tweeters. It also has 3 microphones to complement the 1080p camera.

On both versions, you can expand storage although upgrades are very expensive: 512GB for $200, or 1TB for $400. Unless you need all of your storage to be as fast as possible or have an extremely limited desk space, external drives will be a much better value. By default, the iMac comes with the Magic Mouse, which you can replace with the Magic Trackpad for $50.

All in all, the iMac is a premium priced all-in-one affair, but a modern and well rounded take while at it. We wish there was a larger iMac with M2 internals, but the closest thing to that now would be using the Mac Mini M2 (see below) with the 27" Apple Studio Display, which starts at $1,350.

Best Windows All-in-One

HP Envy 34 AIO - 2023

With the growing power requirements of GPUs, and the thinner bodies and higher screen resolutions of all-in-one PCs, it's getting harder to recommend any such PC for gaming, but here is one we can definitely recommend for GPU-accelerated graphical work.

The new HP Envy 34 offers an ultrawide 5K IPS display and 98% NTSC color coverage. For $2,070 you can get it with Intel's desktop-oriented Core i7-12700 processor, the laptop version of Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3060, 2 x 8GB of DDR5 memory at 4,000 MHz, and 1TB of NVMe storage. The memory and storage are easy to upgrade with two M.2 slots and 4 RAM slots.

The 16MP camera is magnetically detachable to remove privacy concerns, and can be attached to any point of the bezel.

Connectors include two Thunderbolt 4 ports, an SD card reader, and 7 more USB ports, including another Type-C. The price includes Windows 11 Home, HP's 915 wireless keyboard and mouse combo, 1-month trial periods for several apps, and 25GB of Dropbox storage for a year.

Best Value All-in-One

Lenovo IdeaCentre 3 AIO

If you aren't into graphical work but still want to enjoy a nice display, then the Lenovo IdeaCentre 3 series will offer you the best value. For $650 you can get it with the Intel Core i5-1240P, a 16-thread CPU designed for high-performance laptops, 2 x 8GB of DDR4-3200 memory, and 512GB of storage on an NVMe SSD (you can add an internal SATA drive).

The 24" touchscreen uses an IPS panel for great viewing angles. The stylish stand is tilt-adjustable. The 720p camera pops in and out for privacy.

The rear includes four USB ports and an HDMI port for a second display. The glaring omission is USB Type-C. The AIO comes with Windows 11 Home, the Calliope wireless keyboard and mouse, and 1 year of warranty.

Best Mini PC

Apple Mac Mini M2

The Apple Mac Mini M2 isn't just better than its M1-based predecessor, but it's also cheaper. It's also about the same size: 7.75" long and wide, and 1.41" tall, including an internal PSU.

Connectors on the M2 models, starting at $600, include two Thunderbolt/USB 4 with 6K display support and one HDMI with 4K support for up to 2 displays simultaneously; two USB-A 3.0, Ethernet and a headphone jack.

The Mini also has a basic built-in speaker. The M2 Pro versions adds 2 Thunderbolt ports and support for another display, including 8K through HDMI.

The base Mini configuration comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. As with the iMac, you may want to add $200 for 16GB of RAM. Unlike the iMac, relying on external storage devices will hurt the Mini's portability, so you may also want to add $200 for 512GB of storage. The M2 Pro options start at $1,300 with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. If you want 10Gb Ethernet instead of the default 1Gb, it'll be another $100.

Best Windows Mini PC

Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5 - 2022

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For $600, Lenovo offers an unbeatable combination of performance, price, and compact size for a Windows PC: the IdeaCentre Mini 5 includes Intel's Core i7-12700T, a 20-thread CPU often found in AIO computers, 2 x 8GB of DDR4-3200 memory, and a 512GB NVME SSD.

At 7.64" x 7.18" x 1.57", the IdeaCentre is about the same size as the Mac Mini, but it will need an external power brick. On the other hand, it has the space for a 2.5" SATA drive if you need more storage.

Connectors include 7 USB ports, including one Type-C, DisplayPort, HDMI, Ethernet and a headphone/microphone jack. The PC comes with Windows 11 Pro and one year of warranty.