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, for the past year, graphics card prices have made pre-built PCs an interesting option even for gamers and hardcore enthusiasts.

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 PCs in each category.

Best for Gaming

HP Omen 30L

One shortcoming with most PC makers offering pre-builts is that you can’t know exactly what you’re getting (except for boutique builders). HP is one of the only PC makers that specifies the brand of the RAM, SSD, and power supply in the systems they sell which is a big plus.

At the time of writing, for $2,500, you can get the HP Omen 30L powered by Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card, Intel's Core i9-10850K 10-core processor, 32GB of RAM clocked at 3,200Mhz from HyperX, a 1TB PCIe SSD, and a 2TB 7,200 RPM disk drive.

The SSD is from WD's Black series ‒ probably the DRAM-equipped, PCIe 3.0 SN750 as the CPU doesn’t support PCIe 4.0. The Cooler Master PSU offers 750W and 80 Plus Platinum efficiency.

The proprietary motherboard uses the Intel Z490 chipset. It has 4 RAM slots and two M.2 storage slots. Despite the Omen's height it can't fit an ATX motherboard, but only mATX and a radiator under the top panel.

Thanks to the perforated sides of the case’s front panel, the single front fan should be able to get cool air into the system. The front I/O is surprisingly simple, with just two USB connectors, but the rear has 7 more, including one Type-C.

The price includes Windows 10 Home (upgradable to Windows 11), one year of warranty, Microsoft Office and McAfee LiveSafe trials, and a basic mouse and keyboard.

Best Gaming Value

Lenovo Legion Tower 5

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If you'd rather save some money, then Lenovo's Legion Tower 5 series is a good option. For $1,220 as of writing, you can get a PC with Nvidia's GTX 1660 Super, a Ryzen 5 5600G 6-core CPU, 2 x 8GB of RAM at 3,200MHz, an unnamed 512GB SSD that supposedly supports PCIe 4.0 speeds (which the CPU doesn't support anyway), and a 1TB 7200RPM hard disk.

The best part about this system is the B550 motherboard: it has 4 memory slots, two M.2 connectors for storage, and 5 USB ports in the rear, including one Type-C. The main problem is that the 400W PSU may lack the power or even the cables to handle more power-hungry components in the future if you want to upgrade.

On a more positive note, the mATX case looks like it allows decent airflow. It also has 2 additional front USB ports.

The Legion Tower 5 comes with Windows 10 Home, and one year of warranty that includes 24/7 service. You can expand that warranty to 2 years for $39, and up to 5 years for $40 more per year. Basic mouse and keyboard are also included in the box.

Best for Basic Computing

Acer Aspire TC (TC-391)

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If you already have a monitor and are looking for the most affordable desktop PC that's not a waste of money, then Acer may have the answer for you with its Aspire TC series. For $420 you get a Ryzen 3 4300G quad-core CPU, 8GB of RAM at an unimpressive 2666MHz, and an unnamed 512GB PCIe SSD.

The case is properly ventilated, and has two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card reader in the front. The motherboard has 6 USB ports in the rear, including two 3.1 (or "3.2 Gen 2"), and HDMI and VGA display ports. The PC also offers a slim optical drive.

If you want to utilize the CPU's decent graphics processing unit for playing esports games, you could upgrade the RAM which these days is inexpensive and thankfully comes easy, as the motherboard has 4 memory slots. If you want to add a graphics card, it should be one that doesn't require a power connector, such as the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, as the power supply only provides 250W. Storage upgradability isn't great either, with just one 3.5" bay.

The PC comes with Windows 10 Home, one year of warranty, and a basic keyboard and mouse.

Best All-in-One

Apple iMac 24" M1 - 2021

With the same Apple M1 processor found in MacBooks and iPad Pro tablets, Apple's 24" iMac features unprecedented efficiency and design for a device of its kind. The AIO's monitor is just 11.5mm thick.

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. Like 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 twitters. It also has 3 microphones to complement the 1080p camera.

The iMac starts at $1,299 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 cheaper 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 cheaper version has been shown to have an inferior cooling system that can make the M1 throttle under heavy workloads.

On both versions, you can expand storage although upgrades are very expensive: 512GB for $200, or 1TB for $400. On the more expensive version, you can get 2TB for $800. 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. If you want both devices, you'll need to pay $129.

All in all, the iMac is a premium priced all-in-one affair, but a modern and well rounded take while at it. The 27" iMac has not been updated yet to the new design language and Apple M1 internals, so don't expect the same features and power efficiency -- or rather, don't bother with that until it's updated.

Best Gaming All-in-One

HP Envy 32 AIO

If you are a non-competitive gamer and can live with a 60Hz display, HP has a great all-in-one option for you. The Envy 32 has a 4K, 31.5" display with a color gamut similar to the iMac's, anti-reflective coating and 600 nits of peak brightness. With a 6,000:1 static contrast ratio, it qualifies as HDR-600.

For $2,300, you'll get Intel's desktop Core i7-10700 8-core processor, a GeForce RTX 2070 with 8GB of GDDR6 memory, 2 x 8GB of RAM at 2,933MHz, a 512GB M.2 Intel SSD, a 1TB hard drive, and 32GB of Optane memory, which can help you load your frequently played games quickly even if they are saved on the slower, mechanical drive.

The massive sound bar, made by Bang & Olufsen, includes 5 speakers, including two twitters and a woofer, and can play surround sound all by itself. It can also stream music from your phone even when the PC itself is off.

The included wireless keyboard and mouse don't seem to have any gaming-specific features, but the keyboard can be connected to up to 3 devices at once. The Envy's 5MP camera pops up out of the top of the monitor to remove any privacy concerns. Another plus is that the base of the computer's stand can be used as a wireless charging device.

Connectivity includes one Thunderbolt with USB-C 3.1 support, another USB-C 3.1, two USB-A 3.1, one USB-A 3.0 and a headphone jack. If you want to connect more monitors, the Envy also has two DisplayPort, one HDMI and one DVI-D connectors. An Ethernet port and an SD card reader are also included. The Envy comes with Windows 10, and 1 year of warranty, which you can expand up to 3 years with 24/7 technical support.

Best Value All-in-One

HP Pavilion 24 AIO - 2021

If you don't need a gaming-grade machine but still want to enjoy a great display, HP once again has the best offer for you. The Pavilion 24 has a full-HD touchscreen with an IPS panel that offers great viewing angles and full sRGB coverage. For $900 you get AMD's great 6-core Ryzen 5 4600H, 2 x 8GB of RAM at 3,200MHz, a 256GB NVME SSD, and a 1TB disk drive spinning at 7,200 RPM.

The PC has five USB 3.0 ports, including one Type-C, two HDMI ports for connecting another monitor or using the PC as another PC's monitor, an SD card reader, Ethernet and a headphone jack. Like the Envy, the Pavilion has a pop-out 5MP camera. It also has a B&O sound bar, but not with as many speakers.

By the time you get this PC, it will ship with Windows 11 Home. Wired keyboard and mouse will also be included. The Pavilion comes with 1 year of warranty, and you can expand it to 2 or 3 with 24/7 technical support. If you want something a bit more powerful, for $1,200 you can grab a very similar AIO with a 27" display and an 8-core Ryzen 7 4800H CPU.

Best Mini PC

Apple Mac Mini M1

For $699, Apple's Mac Mini is as powerful as the more expensive version of the 24" iMac, it's driven by the Apple M1 chip and 8 active graphics processing units. This small form factor computer is 7.7" long and wide, and 1.4" tall, including an internal PSU.

Connectors include two Thunderbolt/USB 4.0 with 6K display support (using either connector), one HDMI 2.0 with 4K support, two USB-A 3.0, Ethernet and a headphone jack with no microphone support. The Mini also has a basic built-in speaker.

The base Mini configuration comes with 8GB or 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, or even $400 for 1TB. If you want 10Gb Ethernet instead of the default 1Gb, it'll be another $100.

Best Windows Mini PC

Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5

For $600, Lenovo offers an unbeatable combination of performance, price, and compact size for a Windows PC: the IdeaCentre Mini 5 includes Intel's desktop Core i5-10400 six-core processor, 1 stick of 8GB of RAM at 2,666MHz (you can and probably should add another one), 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 six USB 3.0 (or "3.2 Gen 1"), including one Type-C, DisplayPort, HDMI, Ethernet and a headphone/microphone jack. The PC comes with Windows 10 Home.