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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.
However, pre-builts definitely make sense in some cases. If you need a compact solution that standard PC parts can't provide, or if you need several new devices on a short notice. How about if you 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 guide includes the best pre-built PC offerings in each of those categories.
- Best for Gaming
- Best Gaming Value
- Best All-In-One PC
- Best Value All-In-One
- Best Mini PC
- Best Windows Mini PC
Best for Gaming
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, 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. A similar system but with a non-Ti RTX 4070 and the same CPU is available for $2,100.
If you are planning to use the PC for more than just gaming, the Intel-based i7500 series offers the same GPU for $200 more, but the 28-thread Core i7-14700K 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 NVMe drive 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.
Best Gaming Value
If you'd rather save some money, then NZXT may have good options for you in its Player: One series. These gaming desktops use the H5 Flow case, which has replaced the H510 Flow that we have recommended for value-conscious gaming builds.
What's good about NZXT's offerings is that RAM and storage upgrades aren't too overpriced: 32GB of DDR4-3200 memory costs $60 more than 16GB, and a 2TB NVMe drive is just $70 more expensive than 500GB. With other companies, such upgrades can cost you much more.
The GeForce RTX 3060 is another upgrade option, but for $200 over the default RTX 3050 we think it's too expensive. For gaming, the 12-thread Intel Core i5-12400F won't be the bottleneck either way, and the T120 RGB cooler is more than enough for it. The 650W power supply with 80 Plus Gold efficiency leaves ample room for future upgrades.
With our suggested upgrades, the system costs $879 as of writing. The price includes Windows 11 Home, two years of warranty and a 30-day trial of Xbox Game Pass.
Best All-in-One PC
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 $1,900 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 DDR5-4000 memory, and 1TB of NVMe storage. The memory and storage are easy to upgrade with two M.2 slots and four 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 seven more USB ports, including another Type-C. The price includes Windows 11 Home, HP's 915 wireless keyboard and mouse combo, 30-day trial periods for several apps, and 25GB of Dropbox storage for a year.
The Apple Alternative
Released in 2021, the 24" iMac featured unprecedented efficiency and design for a device of its kind. The AIO's monitor is just 11.5mm thick. With the release of the M3 chip, the same iMac has been upgraded to Apple's latest and greatest tech.
The iMac starts at $1,300 with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and you'll need to add $200 if you want 16GB of RAM. You may want to add another $200 for the model with 10 active graphics units, not just for the 25% difference in graphics performance. That version has two USB 3.0 Type-C ports in addition to the two Thunderbolt/USB4 and headphone jack found in the base version. It also comes with a Touch ID sensor on the Magic Keyboard and Ethernet on the power brick for no extra cost, and has more color and storage options.
The iMac still puts up a fight thanks to 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 six speakers: four woofers and two tweeters. It also has three microphones to complement the 1080p camera.
On both versions, you can expand storage although upgrades are very expensive: $200 for 512GB, or $400 for 1TB. 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. We wish there was a larger iMac with the same M3 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 Value All-in-One
If you don't need a powerful GPU but still want to enjoy a great display, then the Lenovo IdeaCentre 5i will offer you the best value. For $1,180 you can get it with the Intel Core i7-13700H, a 20-thread CPU designed for high-performance laptops, 2 x 8GB of DDR5-4800 memory, and 512GB of storage on an NVMe drive.
The 27", 1440p touchscreen with a 100Hz refresh rate uses an IPS panel for great viewing angles. Sound quality is above average with two tweeters and a woofer. The stylish stand is tilt-adjustable, and its base can be used as a wireless phone charger (although reviews indicate it's not quite reliable as such).
The 5MP camera with facial recognition pops in and out for privacy. The rear and side include two USB-C and three USB-A ports, Ethernet, and two HDMI ports, so the AIO can be used with or as a second display. The price includes Windows 11 Home, wireless keyboard and mouse, and one year of warranty.
Best Mini PC
The Mac Mini M2 isn't just better than the M1 version, but it's also cheaper. It's 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/USB4 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 speaker built-in. The Mini M2 Pro versions add 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 will be another $100.
Best Windows Mini PC
For $800, Asus offers an unbeatable combination of performance, price, and compact size for a Windows PC: the ExpertCenter PN53 includes AMD's Ryzen 7 6800H, a 16-thread CPU often found in high-end laptops, 1 x 16GB of DDR5-4800 memory for future expandability, and a 512GB NVMe drive (you can add another PCIe 4.0 SSD).
At 5.31" x 4.72" x 2.28", the ExpertCenter is taller and more desk-friendly than 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 want to reuse your old computer's storage. It also supports VESA mounting.
Connectors include two USB4 ports with DisplayPort tunneling and power delivery, five USB 3.0 (or "3.2 gen 1") ports, two HDMI ports and another DisplayPort, 2.5Gb Ethernet and a headphone/microphone jack. The PC comes with Windows 11 Pro and three years of warranty.