Quality Computers Reviews
We review hundreds of PCs every year, evaluating their features and testing their performance against peers in their respective categories. That way, you’ll know which are best suited for gaming, which is our favorite general-purpose all-in-one, and which is the best if all you need is a small, powerful system you can get up and running quickly. Large corporations lease fleets of desktops for a few years at a time, after which third parties refurbish them and offer them for resale on eBay, as well as via retailers such as Best Buy, Newegg, and TigerDirect. To find them, search or filter the product category pages for “off-lease” or refurbished systems. Desktop towers and mini PCs also require separate speakers or headphones to deliver audio. If you don’t already have them, you’ll have to spend extra money to buy some, and in the case of dedicated speakers, they’ll take up room on your desk.
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If Apple’s Mac mini is a little above your price range, don’t worry. There are a few more affordable options out there, including Lenovo’s Ideacentre Mini 5i whose classy, minimalist exterior makes it perfect for both home and office settings. You might not be able to extensively game on this PC – though you can get away with playing less demanding games like Sayonara Wild Hearts – but for casual and work use, there’s a lot of power under its textile-covered hood.
Keeping track of PC-component release cycles helps you become aware of what’s new before you buy, and also what is going off-market. For shoppers seeking maximum value or on a tight budget, getting a desktop based on a discounted last-generation CPU or GPU can be the way to go. When evaluating a desktop, beyond looking at what ports are present, also evaluate where they are. Towers tend to have a few commonly used ports on the top or front . Some AIOs, in contrast, have some of their key ports hidden behind the stand, in hard-to-reach places.
These situations—especially games, but often pro-grade apps, too—can benefit from more muscular graphics. Times like these call for a graphics card, which will bring its own GPU to the game, and the most powerful of these are found in desktop PCs. Many AIOs and mini PCs, conversely, use the same efficient, cooler-running types of CPUs that you’ll find in laptops. Intel typically labels these mobile-first chip designs with a CPU name containing “U,” “Y,” or “H”; most desktop chips instead have a “T” or a “K,” or just a zero at the end. A mobile CPU might have the same number of processor cores as its desktop counterpart (four- and six-core chips are common in both), but its maximum power consumption will often be far lower.
Instead of buying a $700 laptop with a competent Intel Core i5 processor, you can get a $700 desktop with a more powerful Core i7 CPU in it, and maybe even squeeze in a dedicated graphics card. QCS services every brand and model of desktop, laptop and notebook computer. Our team of highly skilled technicians can repair any problem, replace broken parts or upgrade your computer on site at your home or business, or you can bring your machine to our service center.
Some manufacturers and resellers offer wide ranges of extended warranties; expect to spend $100 to $300 for one of these options. Our rule of thumb is that if a warranty costs more than 15% of the desktop’s purchase price, you’re better off spending the money on backup drives or services that minimize downtime and protect precious data that you can’t replace. You might be able to excuse a relative lack of input and output ports on a sleek AIO. The screen and speakers are built in, and you’ll likely use a wireless keyboard and mouse, anyway.
He previously covered the consumer tech beat as a news reporter for PCMag in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, where he rode in several self-driving cars and witnessed the rise and fall of many startups. Before that, he worked for PCMag’s sister site, Computer Shopper, where he occasionally dunked waterproof hard drives in glasses of water. In his spare time, he’s written on topics as diverse as Borneo’s rain forests, Middle Eastern airlines, and big data’s role in presidential elections. A graduate of Middlebury College, Tom also has a master’s degree in journalism and French Studies from New York University. Check out the full feed of all of our latest desktop reviews, as well as our narrower-focused guides to our favorite all-in-one PCs, business desktops, and gaming desktops. Since you won’t be lugging a desktop around nearly as much as you would a laptop, it’s less important to handle the chassis and test-drive its build quality in the store before you bring it home.