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Review Tom Brant The Best Desktop Computers of 2018 Packing more power and flexibility than laptops, and more stylish designs than in the past, desktops are still an appealing option.

Which OS? Windows? Mac? Other?

Here are some of our recent favorites, along with some in-depth shopping advice. Simply put, some computing tasks mobile devices like laptops and tablets can't fulfill as well as the stalwart desktop.

  • Limiting access to desktop PCs lets you control who sees confidential business data, and the combination of a desktop PC and a large screen means that parents can monitor what their children are doing online via a quick glance across the room;
  • For the very latest reviews, check out our desktops product guide;
  • If you've used computers before, you might have developed an operating system OS preference.

Here's what to consider when deciding on your next desktop PC. Desktop-class CPUs and graphics processors are simply more powerful than their mobile counterparts for the same money. They give you the power to finish whatever task you're working on in less time. You can get desktops with screens that are already built in see our guide to the best all-in-one PCsor they can be connected externally to a monitor.

In either case, you're almost guaranteed to have a bigger display than even the largest desktop-replacement laptopwhich tops out at about 18 inches in screen size. Another plus is that expandable desktops can accommodate multiple graphics cards to support more than two simultaneous displays. For some sensitive situations, buying a desktop gives you physical control of the computer and its use. Limiting access to desktop PCs lets you control who sees confidential business data, and the combination of a desktop PC and a large screen means that parents can monitor what their children are doing online via a quick glance across the room.

If you've used computers before, you might have developed an operating system OS preference. PC debate is one of the oldest in modern technology, and we're not going to pick sides here. But if you've managed to keep an open mind and are considering a switch, here's a quick rundown of your choices.

Windows 10 is the latest iteration of Microsoft's operating system. Desktops that use it and previous versions of the OS are what most people typically use, so you'll be assured of the best compatibility and widest selection of third-party software.

This also applies to browser plug-ins, since some only work with Windows.

It's an excellent choice if you're already in an Apple-centric household, since it interfaces seamlessly with devices like iPads and iPhones, with all your iTunes purchases and subscriptions, and lets you receive iMessages on any device connected to your iCloud account. Laptops running Chrome OS, dubbed chromebooks, are easy to come by, but desktops running the OS "chromeboxes" are less common.

Most of them are tiny, inexpensive PCs with small amounts of memory and storage.

  • Choosing one these days is a matter of space constraints and purpose;
  • They give you the power to finish whatever task you're working on in less time.

While it has its fans, Linux is more of a do-it-yourself operating system, where you'll have to rely on your own faculties for installation, sourcing programs, and support. Chrome OS, macOS, and Windows are certainly easier choices if you simply want to buy a desktop and use it right away. If all you need to do is surf the internet, write Word documents, or make simple spreadsheets, then an entry-level desktop is the way to go.

As for storage, a paltry 32GB of eMMC flash storage is found on the least expensive desktops these are all compact budget models, usually far smaller than a laptopbut a 1TB hard drive is more prevalent as a baseline for larger desktops and a better option for most users.

Midrange desktops will stay functional longer, thanks to more CPU power and speed, memory for multitasking, storage, or a larger built-in screen.

Desktop PCs: All About the Power

You will have to make some sacrifices, but even demanding users will be able to find a midrange system that will last them at least five years. High-end desktops offer top-of-the-line components, such as the latest CPUs that will give you all the power you need for multimedia projects, loads of storage a 512GB SSD or a 1TB hard drive, but typically 2TB or more, sometimes in an SSD-and-hard-drive combination3D graphics capability for gaming, or a combination of all three.

While sticking to one of the three price ranges, we recommend that you buy just a little more than you need for the tasks you do now, if you can. That way, you future-proof your purchase and won't have to shop for a replacement for a while. General-purpose desktops, which are the kind you typically see in retail stores, are well suited to general office tasks, surfing the internet, video conferencing, and the like.

They're designed to be jacks-of-all-trades: Performance PCs, which include multimedia machines and workstations, will give you more power for complex creative or math and scientific projects.

Faster processors with four, six, or even 18 cores make quick work of your tasks. More memory 8GB to 64GB is installed, so you can keep larger images on screen while editing a video, rendering a 3D model, or processing a humongous spreadsheet full of numbers you have to graph.

You'll also find extra storage in the form of large hard drives and SSDs that will let you hold a multitude of work documents and program library files.

Workstations are specialized machines made to do the heavy lifting of high-end media creation, scientific calculations, and strenuous work tasks that have razor-thin deadlines. Some come with on-site tech support. Gaming PCs have even faster versions of the multicore processors found in the performance PCs. Plus, they have dedicated graphics cards, so you can smoothly view and interact with the virtual worlds that the game developers create.

Flashy design elements like automotive paint, multiple graphics cards viewable through Plexiglas or sometimes real glass case doors, and elaborate liquid cooling setups are available, for a price. Upgradability is almost but not quite a must-have.

Size Does Matter Desktops are no longer the uniform metal boxes they used to be. Even the tiniest PCs have enough built-in components to rival high-performance PCs of the past.

Choosing one these days is a matter of space constraints and purpose. Even so, they contain a processor, memory, storage, and ports to hook up displays, keyboardsand mice. They are usually the most economical to buy and run, since they use power-saving components and processors. The total volume of one of these systems is rarely larger than that of a small jewelry box.

The Best Desktop Computers of 2018

SFF desktops have more internal space, allowing you to attach additional hard drives and possibly even a gaming-grade graphics card. You'll also find more powerful CPUs here, with their more strenuous cooling requirements.

Traditional tower desktops, including mini, midsize, and full-size towers, have the most internal space, so you can install multiple hard drives, more RAM, or multiple graphics cards, depending on your needs. They are the most flexible, but also the bulkiest.

An all-in-one AIO desktop will save you some space, since the display is built in. With a few exceptions for business-oriented all-in-ones, you will give up expandability compared with the traditional desktop. Screens come in sizes from 18 to 34 inches, and support up to 5K 5,120-by-2,880-pixel resolution.

Which Desktop Is Best for You? We review hundreds of PCs every year at PC Labs, evaluating their features and testing their performance against peers in their respective categories.

That way you'll know which is best 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. We pull from our full range of desktops reviews for the frequently updated list below, and include top-rated models from as many categories as possible.

For the very latest reviews, check out our desktops product guide.