Best Buy Computer, Desktop PCs, and Macs in 2021
These are the best computer right now. There’s a computer here for every requirement and budget, from Windows desktop PCs to Apple Macs to All-in-One PCs.
We’ve finally updated our design to the best computer to make sure you find the ideal desktop PC for your requirements. Buying for a new computer can be both exciting and daunting at the same time, with all kinds of technical language and specifications thrown at you all at once. We have been writing on Windows PCs and Macs for decades, and now we’ve used our experience to help you make the right call on a computer for your home.
When you see the best computer for your wants, it does come down to budget vs. use. In many words: how much can you afford to spend on a new PC or Mac, and what will you be doing most of the time? While the particular brand can make a difference, the main thing you need to worry about is getting the proper specifications for your needs. We will help with that here, and there is also information in our total reviews of each variety of PC or Mac you see here.
Before we jump into the best computer options, we wanted to give you more information on what each part of the PC is and what it does to keep you informed.
It stands for Central Processing Unit. Also, it’s the brain of your PC. The better the processor, the faster your PC operates, and the more demanding apps it can run. Right now, two manufacturers make CPUs – Intel and AMD – though most PCs you’ll see use Intel. While we could go into loads of features here, all you want to know is that Intel i3 chips are the slowest and most affordable, i5, i7, and i9 increasing the power. Intel is currently in the 11th generation of its chips, and these are the latest and most effective processors.
SSD and HDD
These are the systems of storage on a computer. SSD stands for Solid State Drive. Moreover, these are more unusual, more active drives for storing all your apps, documents, and Windows / macOS itself. HDDs (or Hard Disk Drives) are more past, more comfortable drives that perform the same function. They’re far more affordable, so you get more extra storage for your money. Storage is measured in GB (Gigabytes) also TB (Terabytes).
RAM stands for Random Access Memory. All you genuinely need to know about RAM is that it acts as the channel with which data flows in your apps and your computer’s processing chips (CPUs and graphics cards). The more RAM you have, the more competent your PC or Mac runs many programs and more extensive apps.
The GPU is your graphics processing unit, also generally known as a graphics card. These are most usually found in gaming PCs, or PCs designed to handle video and photo apps, and they are often the most costly component inside a PC. If you think about the game, you need one, and we’ll read more at the bottom of this example, as there’s a whole bunch to know. Suppose your computer doesn’t have a ‘dedicated graphics card.’ In that case, it usually has onboard graphics, which use your CPU to power graphics requirements, which allows virtual gaming and video/photo editing.
That’s all you want to know for now. We’ll review the specifics of what you need for your usage in both the home computer text here and at the end of this guide. You can start right there if you need to, using the nav on this screen.
Best Buy Computer, Desktop PCs, and Macs in 2021
1. Dell XPS Desktop: Best home computer overall
- These Windows-powered premium PCs are of great value, fully supported, and powerful
- OS: Windows | Build to order: Yes ok | Upgradable: Yes | Built-in screen: No
- Powerful premium PCs
- Excellent customer support
- Whisper quiet running
- Relatively expensive
We picked the Dell XPS desktop range as our best computer for 2021 because the quality of what you get in all PC here is unbeatable. The XPS is Dell’s premium quality of PCs, and all the ingredients used inside each unit are top quality. These PCs are well built, innovative, very user-friendly, and they run secret rest almost all the time. What’s also, Dell’s customer support is first-class, and you get a year’s goodness of free support, antivirus coverage, and lifetime use of Windows 10. You can select and configure your XPS desktop as you want, and the price of each PC is fair for what you get. Not the most affordable, but great value considering the quality.
The XPS series uses Intel 10th and 11th-gen processors. Also, while you can get an i3 PC for cheap – the range starts at $649 – we suggest getting an i5 or i7 XPS, depending on your requirements. If you need your PC for web browsing and working more essential applications, when an i5 is fine – we’d recommend this build, which has an i5 processor, 16GB RAM, plus a 256GB SSD with a 1TB HDD, also an Nvidia 1650 GPU. This covers all bases, and you’ll typically get it for less than $1000.
If you want something more powerful for video editing, gaming, and other more demanding tasks, this i7 model is ideal. You make an 11th-gen i7 chip, 16GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD also 1TB HDD, and an Nvidia 1660Ti graphics card for around $1400. If you’re working with 4K video, we recommend this model, while 32GB of RAM and an i9 processor.
All the Dell XPS PCs have an excellent quality of active connections and come with WiFi6 built-in, so you can connect to a wireless router and make a strong signal. They’re great PCs.
2. Apple iMac (2021): Best Apple home computer
- Greatly improved, more powerful, and also colorful – the new iMac is a grace
- OS: macOS (Windows optional) | Build to order: No | Upgradable: No (although you want colors) | Built-in screen: Yes
- Wonderful, thin computer
- Colourful and efficient
- Not as expensive as older iMacs
- But still expensive
- Poor storage
The new Apple iMac is a bold move forward for Apple’s computer home range, which hasn’t been fully updated for years. Until now. We love about the iMac and how stylish and compact it is – this is a thin all-in-one computer, and it’ll gladly slot into any desk or home office space as it’s essentially the same size as a regular monitor. That’s only 11.5mm in depth. The downside is that you pay a lot for it, and you don’t get the same raw power as you would with a Windows PC. Macs are more efficient than PCs, but you’d still need to spend a lot to get an iMac capable of heavy video editing. Generally speaking, Macs are not gaming PCs either.
But, as a working computer, this is a fantastic machine. The new range is available at the end of May, and all these iMacs feature 24-inch screens and Apple’s new M1 processor. You’re staring at $1299 for the cheapest machine, with a 256GB SSD and regular keyboard and mouse thrown in, all the way up to $1699 for the top-of-the-range iMac, which comes with 512GB of storage. You’ll find all three options here, and they’re available in a range of colors.
In terms of style, you can’t beat the new iMacs. And while they’re not as powerful as many PCs, they do their work quietly and efficiently. Each one has wireless tech built-in and a range of ports to plug in various devices. The screens themselves are 4.5K retinas and see incredible, even if they’re a little smaller than some monitors. Our only genuine concern is the lack of storage space on the iMac itself – even 512GB isn’t that much, and you’ll quickly find yourself using iCloud and external hard drives to add more files and apps.
Please note that the 2021 models are incredibly new, so maybe on preorder or backorder.
3. Dell Inspiron desktop: Best budget home computer
- Quality PC units and first-class tech support, on a budget
- OS: Windows | Built to order: Yes | Upgradeable: Yes | Built-in screen: No
- Affordable Dell quality
- Easy to upgrade or modify
- Great customer care
- Not as cheap as some
Sometimes you don’t need to spend $1000s on a new computer. That’s where Dell’s Inspiron range comes in – you still get the quality and customer service of a Dell product, but you’re paying less for a non-premium machine that will still do an excellent job at everyday tasks. Unlike the XPS desktops that top our guide, the Inspirons are better for simple internet browsing, word processing, and smaller apps that help you organize your everyday life.
If we were purchasing Inspiron, we think this build is of incredible value. You get here an all-in-one PC, so there is no want to spend extra on a monitor or keyboard. It has an 11th-gen i5 processor, which is much damn fast, 8GB of RAM, and a combo storage drive with a 256GB SSD and a 1TB HDD 27-inch Full HD screen. Only for fewer than $930. That may not seem very budget, but you get all you want here for less than $1000, discounts are frequent, and your PC is pretty fast and versatile.
4. Alienware Aurora R12: Best gaming home computer
- For gaming, Alienware gives quality components and powerful, stylish builds
- OS: Windows | Built to order: Yes | Upgradeable: Yes | Built-in screen: No
- Powerful gaming PCs
- Very stylish
- Uses good quality components
- Just so expensive
- Not as good as building your own
Then you need a serious gaming computer? The Alienware series isn’t the cheapest, and – if you know what you’re doing – they aren’t as good value as building a gaming PC yourself. But, If you need a powerful, stylish pre-built gaming PC, the Alienware series is the best out there, with premium components inside. While the quality of things like RAM and SSDs in regular home computers doesn’t matter all that much, the quality of a graphics card and all the extra parts you want inside a gaming PC to keep it running efficiently very much do – and this is what you pay for with Alienware. More affordable gaming PCs exist, but you lose out on the quality of what’s inside.
The Aurora R12 series starts with the rather pointless i5 / 8GB RAM / 1TB HDD / Nvidia 1650 Super build for $1100. That, frankly, isn’t a good gaming PC. For solid Full HD gaming, you need to start with the R12 at $1929, which has 16GB RAM, an i7 K-series chip, and a proper 3060 Ti graphics card. You can dabble in 4K gaming with this, but the most demanding games will ask for even more power.
If you’re going Alienware and want a proper gaming spec, the R12 with an i9 processor, 32GB of 3200MHz RAM, a 1TB SSD and 1TB HDD, and an Nvidia 3080 graphics card is enough to crush any game at 4K. Boy, do you pay for it, though, with a base price of $3100? That’s before you add a gaming-grade keyboard and mouse, which will add another $200, and a proper 4K gaming monitor that will likely be an extra $700+. Not much change out of $4000 here, then, though you are getting one of the most capable gaming devices around. Millionaire playboys can opt for the $5129 mega-machine, an i9 KF-series processor, an Nvidia 3090, also a whopping 128GB RAM, but that feels excessive.
- The power of an iMac in a pint-sized package
- OS: macOS (Windows optional) | Build to order: Yes | Upgradable: RAM only | Built-in screen: No
- Small form factor
- High spec possible
- Poor graphics performance
- Limited upgrade potential
Newly upgraded to include the new Apple M1 chip, the Mac Mini starts at just $800. You’ll want to add a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to that actually to be able to use it, of course. By adding options through the build-to-order website, it’s possible to spec yourself a decently powerful computer. As long as you don’t need graphics processing performance, the Mini will never be a games computer.
As with the iMac, the Mac Mini comes with Apple’s macOS operating system rather than Windows, although you can install Microsoft’s OS if you want to. Choosing in the two is a topic of feeling; with no single prominent feature, one can do that the other can’t.
The Mac Mini is at the bottom of Apple’s range, and despite the build-to-order options, it’s never going to be the computer you want if your interests include 3D rendering or anything that needs a GPU. But, with the new M1 CPU, it will blitz its way through photo editing and any other CPU-intensive tasks with power. It’s the ideal home office computer and also excels as a media center, connecting to a TV directly or storing your media on its extended, fast SSD and serving it via a system such as Plex. And it’s so tiny, and you can easily keep it in a cupboard.
6. Acer Aspire TC: Another excellent budget option
- Require gaming power at a lightly lower price? Try the Ryzen Alienware range
- OS: Windows | Build to order: Yes | Upgradable: Yes | Built-in screen: No
- Hugely powerful
- Multipurpose machine
- Handsome design
- Yet expensive
Saving money on a gaming rig is, honestly, a challenge. You do get what you pay for, so the more money you sink into a gaming computer, the more power you get. But, if you’re willing to purchase into the AMD brand of processors, which are equal to and better than Intel’s chips in some regards, you can cut several hundred money off the price of your gaming PC.
Ok, so as we’ve flagged this as our budget option, we’ll link you to the lowest spec of the AMD Aurora PC, which has a Ryzen 5 processor, an AMD Radeon RX5300 GPU, and 8GB RAM – that’s more power than the same Intel-based Alienware PC, and a small saving at $1080, but it’s marginal. It’s good content from what you get, but you’ll struggle to run 1080p games at higher settings. We’d suggest the mid-range Ryzen 7 5800 builds, though, which have the 16GB of RAM you’ll want, a 512GB SSD for faster gaming loading, and a neat Nvidia 3060 Ti graphics card.
7. HP Pavilion desktop
A stable, if unremarkable desktop PC, which will still do a good job
- OS: Windows | Build to order: No | Upgradeable: No | Built-in screen: No
Sometimes you need a good PC that seems ok and does a job. While the HP Pavilion series doesn’t do any one thing better than any of its competitors, you’re still getting an excellent daily work PC here from a highly reputable manufacturer. If that sounds like faint praise, well, it is. However, we’ve evaluated the HP Pavilion PCs, and they are great machines, so if you see a top deal on a Pavilion, we’d suggest considering getting one.
It has all the ports and connections you could want, it looks good, and it runs almost silently too. You don’t get the same quality, new components as the Dell XPS series, but this keeps the cost down a little for anyone who wants a nice spec workhorse PC but doesn’t want to pay Dell’s prices. The most affordable Pavilion is excellent cost, at $549, and you get a decent AMD processor, 8GB RAM, and a 1TB HDD / 256GB SSD PLUS a DVD writer thrown in.
Are the best home computers Windows or Mac?
Well, there’s a question. As we mentioned above, it all comes down to personal preference. However, in terms of raw power and value for money, Windows PCs are the best. If you want to play games, then, again, you need a Windows PC. In terms of how much power you get for your money, then Windows PCs get you more grunt for your money.
If you’re more concerned about aesthetics and efficiency, then a Mac comes out on top. While iMacs and other Mac desktops don’t have the same raw power, they use their components more efficiently, which means apps that run on Macs have cheaper system requirements, generally. Macs look great, and they integrate well with other Apple devices like iPhones and iPads.
What spec of home computer do you need?
Light user – So you want to browse the internet, type out some emails, and maybe use a word processor? Heck, go wild, you fancy a spreadsheet or two. In this case, we recommend you save yourself some money and get either an Intel i3 or i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive. That’s all you need. Given that you want simplicity, you could get an all-in-one PC to save money on peripherals like a monitor and keyboard.
Work user – If you use your PC for work and want to run several programs at once and more demanding apps, you need a beefier machine. We would strongly recommend an Intel i5 or i7 processor (11th-gen), with 16GB of RAM and either a pure SSD or a combo SSD/HDD storage system. Why? Having an SSD means Windows will load much quicker (as will all your other apps), and your processor and RAM will allow you to switch quickly between multiple apps as you do your work. It’s a very efficient solution and shouldn’t break the bank too much.
Creative user – This all depends on what you’re creating, but if you’re running Adobe Suite or equivalent… you need either an i7 Windows PC, with 16GB/32GB of RAM and a large SSD (512GB-1TB), or a newer iMac. You’ll be processing larger files, and using power-hungry apps, so your machine needs to be able to keep up. Don’t forget that you’ll probably need to add a 4K monitor to your cost too, and these start around $300.
Gamer – Sure, you can get by with a primary gaming spec, but because gaming machines are so expensive, and tend to age quicker than other types of computers, here’s what we suggest. Begin with an i7 processor (11th-gen) or above, and get yourself an Nvidia 3060 Ti. You’ll need 16GB of RAM as a minimum, and we suggest at least a 1TB SSD. Sure, you can run games off an HDD, but having an SSD saves a significant amount of time offloading.
What extras do you need to buy?
If you get an All-in-One computer, like an iMac, you don’t need any extras to get started unless you’re adding a compact printer to your home office set-up. But, if you’re buying a desktop tower – like most of the PCs on our list – then you’ll need extra equipment.
Monitor – Unless you plug your PC into the TV, which we don’t recommend as a full-time solution for anything other than it being a media center, you’ll want a monitor. Most PC monitors start around 24-inches and can go well past 32-inches. We think the friendly place is a 27-inch monitor for most home offices. Almost all monitors are Full HD ready now, so they will display up to 1080p, which is fine for anything except higher demand tasks like video and photo editing and high-end gaming. For these, you may need either a higher-refresh monitor or a 4K screen. Monitors start at just over $100 and run to… well, up to $2000 for the mega gaming screens.
Keyboard – Yeah, you’ll want a keyboard for your desktop too. Luckily, you can get a wired keyboard and mouse combo for around $25, which is only a little extra on top of your PC buying. Most manufacturers offer the chance to bundle a keyboard and mouse when you buy a desktop, so we recommend doing that.
Mouse – As stated before, you’ll also need a mouse, though they can be easily bundled with a keyboard at a little extra expense when you purchase. While you’ll presumably be OK with a wired keyboard, we do think it’s worth paying a little extra for a wireless mouse to overcome the tangle of wires.
Cables – While most PCs come with all the lines you need, it’s worth considering whether or not you need to plug anything else in. Some monitors include an HDMI, for example, but not all do. If you need to plug into your router for a wired connection, you’ll want an ethernet cable to do that.
Router – While nearly all homes have a router now, it should be mentioned that you can’t access the internet without one, so make sure you have a router when you purchase your PC. We have a list of the best wireless routers if you need them, although most internet providers will bundle one with their subscription plans.
Webcam – While some All-in-One computers come with built-in webcams, and some monitors have them, you’ll likely need a different camera if you want to take part in video calls or record yourself. Repeat, we have a guide to the best webcams, and they aren’t all that valuable.