Best Desktop PC Windows Central 2020
Laptops are a great way to keep your PC with you at all times, but not everyone needs something portable. While you can usually build your desktop PC for less money, pre-built models have been narrowing the price gap, and you can find a quality device that's relatively affordable considering the hardware inside. Ideal for most people, we recommend checking out Dell's XPS Tower 8940 Special Edition. It has plenty of customizable configuration options available, including dedicated graphics, and it's an attractive tower that's been redesigned for 2020.
- Best Overall: Dell XPS Tower 8940 Special Edition
- Also Great: HP ENVY Desktop
- Great Value: Acer Aspire TC-885
- Best Gaming: Alienware Aurora R11
- Best Business: Lenovo Thinkstation P330 Tower
- Best All-in-One: HP Envy 32 AiO
Best Overall: Dell XPS Tower 8940 Special Edition
Dell's XPS Tower 8940 Special Edition is easy to recommend thanks to a ton of configuration options, modest introductory price for the hardware you're getting, and a silver tower with a fresh, modern redesign. On the front are USB-C 3.1, three USB-A 3.1, a 3.5mm audio port, and an SD card reader that are easy to reach for common accessories. Above is an optical drive for watching movies and burning disks. The back has many more ports, including four USB-A 3.1, two USB-A 2.0, HDM1 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2, Ethernet, and audio ports. Video ports will vary depending on the dedicated graphics card you opt for; up to an NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super — one of our picks for best graphics cards — is available.
The baseline model includes a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10400 processor (CPU), 8GB of DDR4-2666MHz RAM, a 256GB M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) coupled with a 1TB hard-disk drive (HDD), and an NVIDIA GTX 1660 Super dedicated GPU. If you're looking to use the PC for productivity work — word processing, spreadsheets, web browsing, and streaming — this hardware will be more than up to the job, plus the GPU will help with gaming and editing work.
Scaling up for far better gaming and VR performance, you can opt for an unlocked 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10900K CPU, 64GB of dual-channel DDR4 RAM, up to 4TB of storage, and a beefy NVIDIA RTX 2070 Super GPU with 8GB of VRAM. This is high-end power that will run any intensive AAA games at a smooth framerate. Included with all models are a keyboard and mouse.
- Configuration options for any need
- Plenty of ports
- Keyboard and mouse included
- Easy tool-less entry for future upgrades
- Nicely redesigned tower
- Starting price more than other options
Great for most people
With a wide variety of hardware options and easy upgrades, the XPS Tower 8940 Special Edition should be a good fit.
Also Great: HP ENVY Desktop
If you're looking for a multipurpose desktop PC that doesn't come with as high of a starting price, HP's ENVY is likely going to be a winner. Entry models include a 10th Gen Intel Core i3-10100 CPU, 8GB of DDR4-2666MHz RAM, and a 256GB SSD, which will do well if you're just looking for a PC for general productivity work. Wi-Fi 6 can be added for just a few dollars more.
Adding an NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU with 4GB of VRAM for extra gaming power still doesn't push it past the starting price for our top pick, but you might want to upgrade the CPU at the same time. If you do need ultimate performance, you can configure a model with 9th Gen Intel Core i7-10700 CPU, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, 3TB of storage, and an NVIDIA RTX 2060 Super GPU with 8GB of VRAM.
The tower has a rather modern look with a black tile finish on the front. It does a great job of hiding the included DVD-RW optical drive, and it includes a good selection of ports on the front for your most-used accessories. USB-C, four USB-A, an SD card reader, and 3.5mm are visible, and the rear has another four USB-A, 3.5mm audio jacks, and Ethernet. Video out depends on the GPU you choose. All models include a keyboard and mouse.
- Modern tower design
- Affordable starting price
- Plenty of configuration options
- Lots of ports
- 10th Gen Intel CPUs
- GPU options not as powerful as top pick
Solid all-around choice for many people
The HP ENVY Desktop starts at a much lower price than our top pick and has plenty of configurations to choose from.
Great Value: Acer Aspire TC-885
Acer's Aspire TC-885 is an excellent option if you're on a tight budget and don't want to build your own PC. It has the power to cut through productivity work with a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-9400 CPU, and it has 12GB of DDR4 RAM for support. Instead of a slow HDD, the Aspire comes with a speedier 512GB SSD.
The tower is maybe not quite as fancy as our top picks, but it still has a DVD-RW optical drive on the front, as well as an SD card reader, USB-A, USB-C, and 3.5mm audio jacks. The back includes another five USB-A ports, two HDMI, and VGA for connecting the included keyboard and mouse. There is no dedicated GPU here, but hardware can be upgraded after purchase to keep it relevant longer.
- Everyday deal pricing
- Keyboard and mouse included
- Solid performance
- Lots of ports
- 512GB SSD and 12GB of RAM
- No dedicated GPU
- Can't configure your own model
Affordable pre-built PC
If you're just looking to handle productivity work, the Acer Aspire TC-885 will save you a ton of money.
Best Gaming: Alienware Aurora R11
If you want a pre-built gaming PC available in many different configurations based on budget and level of performance, Alienware's Aurora R11 should not be missed. Not only does it come in a unique updated tower with customizable lighting true to the Alienware name, but it also remains customizable thanks to tool-less entry and a PSU swing arm that allows for easy access to crucial hardware. You still get a ton of ports for connecting accessories (keyboard and mouse are included), plus you can upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 for blazing wireless speeds.
The introductory model includes a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10400F CPU, 8GB of HyperX FURY DDR4-2933MHz RAM, 1TB HDD, and NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU with 4GB of VRAM. This option costs less than $1,000; if you have a larger budget, hardware can be scaled up considerably. Add a 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10900K, dual NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti GPUs with 11GB of VRAM each, 64GB of DDR4 RAM, and 4TB of total storage split between SSDs and HDDs.
If you're more a fan of AMD hardware, don't miss the Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 with up to a Ryzen 9 3950X CPU, 64GB of DDR4 RAM, and a NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti GPU.
- Unreal hardware options
- Unique tower with customizable lighting
- Modest starting price
- Easy future upgrades
- Intel and AMD models
- High-end models very expensive
Your next gaming PC
If you'd like a lethal combination of power and looks for gaming, don't miss the Alienware Aurora R11.
Best Business: Lenovo Thinkstation P330 Tower
Like some of its mobile workstations, Lenovo's Thinkstation line comes with ISV certifications and specialized hardware options to handle design and development software. On top of extra security and remote management features, the P330 is durable and packs in the ports on the front and back.
Baseline configurations start with a 9th Gen Intel Core i5-9400 CPU, 8GB of RAM, NVIDIA Quadro P620 GPU with 2GB of VRAM, and a 1TB HDD, all for a reasonable price. This would make a good PC for productivity work, but you can add quite a bit more power if you need it. The P330 tops out with Intel Xeon CPUs and an NVIDIA Quadro P2200 dedicated GPU with 5GB of VRAM. Keyboard and mouse are not included, but the P330 is designed to handle up to eight external displays for an ultimate workstation.
- Attractive starting price
- Durable tower
- Lots of ports
- Management and security features
- Impressive hardware options
- Enterprise features add unnecessary cost for the average user
- Keyboard and mouse not included
Extra security and management features
Whether you need the extra security of specialized hardware, Lenovo's Thinkstation P330 Tower has you covered.
Best All-in-One: HP Envy 32 AiO
HP's Envy 32 all-in-one (AiO) PC spits in the face of most other AiOs, bringing ridiculous performance and an enormous 4K HDR600 display with near-perfect DCI-P3 color reproduction and anti-glare finish. It's convenient — all required hardware is built into space behind the display — and it doesn't water down the PC experience like a lot of other AiOs on the market today.
It comes available with up to a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10700 CPU, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD coupled with 1TB HDD, and up to an NVIDIA RTX 2070 GPU with 8GB of VRAM. Oh, you want to game? No problem. Want to watch videos in glorious 4K? No big deal. Especially factoring in the loud, clear speakers that run just below the screen.
The Envy 32 AiO isn't just about performance and display, though, as it comes with IR camera, Qi wireless charging built into its stand, and beautiful keyboard that pairs perfectly with the PC. Rounding things out is a bevy of ports, including Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, USB-C, and USB-A. If you're shopping for an AiO and want the best, this is it.
- Beautiful 32-inch 4K display with HDR
- Superb audio
- Plenty of ports
- High-end performance options
- Custom keyboard
- Relatively expensive
It killed the Apple iMac 27
Screen, performance, audio, and design come together to make up the best AiO PC you can buy today.
There are plenty of pre-built desktop PCs on the market that remove the effort of buying separate components and putting them together yourself, but Dell's XPS Tower 8940 Special Edition should appeal to most people.
There are many configuration options available depending on your needs and budget, and the included dedicated GPU offers extra performance for gaming and editing work. You'll be able to tackle productivity tasks with ease, and the silver tower will fit in anywhere. Lots of ports are included for connecting accessories, and a keyboard and mouse are included. All you have to do is add a quality monitor for a stellar setup.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, and accessory coverage, as well as the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.
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