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There are too many variations to test. But if you want to play games that are more detailed and realistic-looking than Minecraft , you should spend a bit more on a computer with a dedicated graphics card, or GPU. If you can give up the portability of a laptop and have a spot that you can devote to work, school, or just browsing online, you should consider a desktop PC. Desktops typically last longer, and are easier to repair and upgrade, than laptops. A standard tower is also cheaper and easier to upgrade than a mini PC or an all-in-one computer.
You need a monitor and a webcam and in some cases, a keyboard and a mouse to go with your desktop, but those separate accessories will be better than what you can get from most all-in-ones. This guide focuses on shopping for a new desktop, but if price is your biggest concern, you can get a decent desktop for even less by shopping for a used one. Mostly, a good desktop is defined by its specifications—the processor, how much memory it has, how much and what kind of storage it uses, and its graphics card if it has one.
Though we find a lot of variation in quality and performance when we review laptops, desktops are much easier to compare, and similar features are more likely to provide similar performance. Plus, you get to choose your own screen , and replacing the included keyboard and mouse is inexpensive and easy if you want something better. These entry-level desktops are best for doing basic computer activities, such as browsing the web, editing documents and spreadsheets, and playing basic games like Minecraft.
If you have any issues with your new desktop, return it and let us know about your experience. The SpFse model can handle web browsing, documents and spreadsheets, media streaming, Zoom calls, DVD burning, and even some light gaming. If you want to spend a little more for a faster computer, we also recommend the SpFxt version, which has a faster processor, double the memory, and more solid-state storage.
As a small form factor PC, the HP Slim Desktop takes up less room than the midsize towers that are common in this price range. Why we like this one: Our recommended model of the Dell Inspiron Desktop is fast enough for doing schoolwork or working at home. If you want a gaming PC, normally your best and most fun option is to build one yourself. We expect graphics card shortages to continue throughout , so buying a faster GPU as part of a prebuilt system will continue to be easier and often cheaper than buying one separately.
But if you find a sale on an otherwise great computer, those older versions are okay. We considered and dismissed multiple iterations of the Pavilion Desktop TP01 , including the t and xt , because they cost more than equivalent versions of the HP Slim Desktop with the same specs.
And we dismissed all versions of the HP Omen 25L Desktop and 30L Desktop for being more expensive than our other gaming recommendations. But if you want to connect two monitors to an entry-level desktop, you might need to use VGA for the second screen. For details, you can read more about how Wirecutter works.
Andrew Cunningham is a former senior staff writer on Wirecutter's tech team. He has been writing about laptops, phones, routers, and other tech since Before that he spent five years in IT fixing computers and helping people buy the best tech for their needs. Kimber Streams is a senior staff writer and has been covering laptops, gaming gear, keyboards, storage, and more for Wirecutter since A mini PC can be a great option for a home office or remote learning, and the Lenovo ThinkCentre M70q Tiny is the best choice for most people.
Major stores and manufacturers sell refurbished, refreshed, and used laptops and desktops that sometimes perform as well as new ones, but for much lower prices. All the entry-level desktop computers we researched meet those expectations some more capably than others. Indeed, many users actually seem impressed with how well our top picks perform. We reviewed systems with processors, or "central processing units," from both of the big players, Intel and AMD.
Intel CPUs are most common among budget desktops. The performance of AMD processors is generally on par with that of their Intel counterparts. Which is better depends on the particular CPUs you're comparing. RAM is a relatively inexpensive feature, so manufacturers can bump it up without increasing the overall cost too much. Even low-cost computers have sizable hard drives. Many of the desktops we researched offer 1TB of storage, which should be more than enough for home users.
Like system memory, hard disk drives are rather cheap, which is why manufacturers can afford to offer copious storage without driving up the retail price. Mini PCs generally have significantly less internal storage but may be expandable via microSD card slots. An optical drive used to be standard equipment on inexpensive desktop computers. Buying a cheap computer doesn't mean you should settle for limited connectivity options. We looked for models with support for Don't expect too much from a cheap desktop on the graphics front.
Entry-level machines almost always use integrated video chips that draw on the system memory, as opposed to separate and more powerful graphics cards with their own dedicated memory, which are found on more expensive machines, particularly gaming computers, and allow faster video processing.
The built-in video processors on low-cost desktops correspond to the CPU brand Intel or AMD and can handle many tasks such as photo editing, video streaming, and casual games. Try running more graphics-intensive programs like the latest 3D shooter, however, and you'll be disappointed -- budget computers simply lack the horsepower for those games.
Some manufacturers throw in accessories or freebies such as a keyboard and mouse, or preinstalled software. Typically, the accessories included with budget PCs are pretty cheaply made. If you buy directly through the manufacturer, you may have the option to decline the ones you don't need. Preinstalled software, often derided as "bloatware," is more of a nuisance than a bargain, as the programs tend to be trial versions that let you use the software for a limited time.
However, some, such as good antivirus software, are nice extras. Buyers of the Dell Inspiron and have the option to add a subscription to Microsoft Office at a discount when ordering from the manufacturer. Here are 17 places across America where fried chicken sandwiches rule the roost and draw flocks of diners.
Icons such as Stetson, Pendleton, and many upstarts are resisting the If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission to support our work. Learn more. Cheapism may earn a commission if you buy through a link on our site. Sign up for our newsletter. Shopping Best Cheap Desktop Computers. Michael Sweet. Recent Updates July 25, While laptops, notebooks, and tablets seem to be the way of the future, there's no denying the processing power, reliability, and affordability of desktop computers.
May 01, If you don't want to opt for an expensive extended warranty on your tech products, check out: 15 Tips to Make Technology Last Beyond the Warranty. Pros: Powerful quad-core Intel Core i processor. Fast 2TB hard drive. Doesn't take up much desk or floor space about 16 by 7 by 17 inches. Top tray with 2 USB 3. PC Verge Editors' Choice. Cons: Some users complain of frequent crashes.
More processing power than necessary for light computer users, according to PC Build Advisor. Dell Inspiron Review Available from Dell. Pros: Performs basic functions well and is capable of light multitasking, reviewers say. Relatively fast quad-core AMD A processor. Bright, anti-glare, DVD drive rare these days.
Attractive, space-saving design. Recommended by PC Verge as an inexpensive yet powerful computer for a home office. Cons: Performance is on the slow side, according to some user reviews. Not ready to use right out of the box; some users report that initial Windows updates took hours. No height adjustment for the monitor. Pros: Powerful performance in a small package about 7 square inches by 1.
Not much bloatware. More customization options than most mini computers when buying direct from Lenovo. Wirecutter's pick for the best mini PC. Large external power supply. Dell Inspiron Review Buy on. Pros: Easy to set up and use, according to reviews on BestBuy. Fast 7th-generation Intel Core i3 processor. Cons: In online reviews, some Amazon and Best Buy customers complain that the machine is sluggish.
Older Apple Mac Mini Review. Pros: Affordable Apple computer. Small, portable, attractive design; less than 8 square inches and 1. Integrated power supply and quiet, energy-efficient operation.
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