Best Desktop PC 2018: 10 best all-in-one PCs and desktop computers for all budgets

We run through the best desktop PCs you can buy right now, including buying advice for boutique system builders, compact desktops and all-in-ones.

How much should I spend on a desktop PC?

If all you need a basic PC, £350 is enough to buy a Intel Core i3 PC with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB mechanical hard drive. This will be more than sufficient for basic office and web tasks, but don’t expect to play games at high resolutions with loads of detail.

Related: The best CPUs for gaming, tested

You’ll need to spend around £500 to £800 to get a more powerful desktop, with a Core i5 processor, 8GB or 16GB of RAM and an SSD – a faster type of drive that improves performance – plus traditional mechanical hard disk for storing your photos and videos. You can expect a GTX 1050 graphics card, which will be good enough to play most games, even at Full HD resolution gaming.

If you want a proper gaming PC, you need to spend £1000 upwards. This kind of money will get you a Core i7 processor, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 or GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card. These PCs will cope with all tasks, and will easily play games at 1440p resolution, with more expensive models even managing 4K resolutions – check online benchmarks to make sure your chosen model can handle the games you want.

For all desktop PCs, you can expect to pay an extra £100 plus for a Full HD monitor, and more for higher-resolution models.

Head to our entry on boutique PC builders below to find out where to buy a custom PC.

Related: Best Monitors

For an all-in-one, you’re looking at a starting price of around £600 for a 24-inch model with a Full HD screen. Powered by efficient dual-core or quad-core Core i5 or Core i7 processors, these machines are suitable for light photo and video work.

If you want premium design, a larger screen and more resolution (up to 4K), expect to pay at least £1000, but up to £2000.

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If you want to play games, look for ‘discrete’ or ‘dedicated’ graphics from AMD or Nvidia, and check out our benchmarking figures to see how well your favourite games will play.

Desktop PC vs All-in-One: Which should you buy?

Generally speaking, traditional desktop PCs are cheaper, more powerful, have room for upgrades and are a little more flexible, letting you connect to any monitor, for example. The downside is that they’re often a little uglier and take up more room.

All-in-ones are neater, with everything contained inside a single box that also houses the monitor. Upgrading (aside from RAM, in some cases) is usually out of the question. You tend to pay more for an all-in-one and, as low-power components are used, performance is more in line with that of a laptop. However, all-in-one computers are neater than desktops.

The world of all-in-one PCs just got massively spiced up by Apple, which announced a completely overhauled range of iMacs and the brand-new iMac Pro. This pro-level beast of a machine can squeeze in up to 18 Intel Xeon CPU cores and the latest AMD Vega graphics hardware, along with a monstrous 27-inch 5K panel. Reserved entirely for professionals, this is likely to be the new standard for all-in-one PCs when it launches in December.

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Key features:

  • 3.4-3.8GHz Intel Core i5-7500 (upgradable to Core i7)
  • 1TB Fusion drive
  • 8GB memory
  • 4GB AMD Radeon Pro 560
  • Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2
  • 21.5-inch 4096 x 2304 P3 display
  • Review price: £1449

The 21.5-inch iMac is the best small all-in-one you can buy. Its price is high, but more than any other Mac product, Apple has been able to easily justify the lofty cost.

Performance from the quad-core processor is exceptional, while the AMD graphics can power 3D applications and games at Medium settings with relative ease. The whole thing whispers along, as well, with its cooling fans barely audible no matter what you’re doing. This is a near-silent powerhouse.

The screen, meanwhile, is excellent, covering 100% of the sRGB colour gamut and 98.6% of the DCI-P3 gamut used some video production settings.

We don’t really like the 1TB Fusion Drive and would strongly recommend paying a bit extra for a nice, fast SSD. You can upgrade to a 256GB SSD for £90, something we reckon is worth paying.


Read the full 21.5-inch 4K iMac review


Key features:

  • Quad-core, 2.2-2.8GHz Intel Core i5-6400T
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
  • 2x rear USB 3.0 ports, 1x rear USB 3.1 Type-C port, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs, headphone jack, 1x front USB 3.0 port
  • Integrated 360-degree speaker
  • Review Price: £730.00


The best mini PC

Few PC manufacturers design desktops to look different, which is why it’s so refreshing to see the HP Pavilion Wave. With its spherical body and B&O branding on the front, it looks a little like a high-end wireless speaker. Actually, it is.

A single driver at the top fires upwards into a parabolic reflector that shoots audio out at 360 degrees. The result is powerful audio with very little need to plug in external speakers.

There’s always a danger of form overtaking function, but that’s not the case here. A low-power quad-core Core i5 processor is only a little slower than a full-fat desktop version. With a fast 128GB SSD and 1TB hard disk, there’s a great combination of performance and disk space. And the PC remains quiet in use.

If you want a stylish PC that you connect your own peripherals and display to, there’s very little choice; it’s lucky, then, that the Pavilion Wave is so good.

A better spec in a bigger case would cost a lot less, and the bundled mouse is very basic, but this is still a great machine.

Read the full HP Pavilion Wave review


Key features:

  • 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-6400T processor
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB graphics
  • 2 x 2,133MHz DDR4 SO-DIMM sockets
  • 1 x NVMe M.2 connector
  • 1 x 2.5in SATA connector
  • Dual-band 802.11ac WiFi
  • 2 x USB 3, 2 x USB 3.1, SD card slot
  • 1yr RTB warranty
  • Review Price: £890.00


Build-your-own mini gaming PC

The general thought about gaming PCs are that they’re powerful but cumbersome. The Zotac Zbox Magnus proves that this doesn’t have to be the case.

Rather than a full desktop machine, this is a barebones PC. That means that you get the case, power supply, motherboard, low-power Core i5-6400T and GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. To complete the PC, you’ll need to buy laptop-sized DDR4 SO-DIMMs, storage (there’s an M.2 slot and 2.5-inch bay for SSDs) and a copy of Windows.

When built, the Zotac Zbox Magnus is a capable gaming PC. Although the GeForce GTX 1060 is a cut-down model, this computer can handle everything bar 4K gaming. It may be expensive, but if you want a tiny gaming rig to sit under your TV, it’s a great choice.

Read the full Zotac ZBOX Magnus EN1060 review


Key features:

  • 2.7-3.3GHz Intel Core i5-6400
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 256GB M.2 SSD + 1TB hard disk
  • 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
  • 4x front USB 3.0 ports, 4x rear USB 3.0 ports, 6x rear USB 2.0 ports, 1x USB 3.1 port
  • AlienFX lighting
  • Review Price: £1278


The best big-brand gaming PC

The Alienware Aurora is the company’s mid-range gaming PC, but don’t expect mid-range performance, as the PC comes high-end components.

Every time we update this round-up, Dell seems to change the specifications available. Right now, our choice for best-value is the second-tier model that comes in at £979. That comes with a quad-core Core i5-6400 processor and a GTX 1070. However, using Dell’s online customisation options, we switched out the slow hard disk for a much faster, 256GB SSD and dropped the HDD to the secondary slot for an extra £140.

As a result, the spec listed above, is the best value. It’s still a fast computer, too. The GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card is very fast and the word when it comes to 1440p gaming; it will even handle some titles in 4K.

If you fancy somehting faster, the £1499 model (at the time of writing) nets you a quad-core Core i7 6700, a GTX 1080 and a 512GB SSD.

With the model reviewed, the Aurora is a great value PC that’s fast in games and on the desktop, and it looks great, too.

Read the full Alienware Aurora review

Boutique gaming PC builders

5 of 10


Best value for gaming

Why buy? The PC industry in the UK started with independent boutique manufacturers, and they’re still a big part. Typically, these manufacturers only sell a specific PC model for a short period, replacing and updating as new components become available. As a result, it’s hard to include specific models in this round-up.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy a computer from one of these manufacturers. In fact, in many cases, you may well be better off doing so.

Boutique manufacturers typically build a PC carefully, choosing components from well-known brands to give the best performance at each price point. This can range from a high-performance budget PC to an amazing, super-powered gaming PC capable of 4K gaming at high frame rates. In addition, these PC manufacturers tune components, particularly at the high end, so you can buy a PC that’s pre-overclocked; you won’t get the same kind of performance from a big-name PC manufacturer.

Of course, it’s hard to pick a PC if you don’t know what specs to look for. Take a look at our Best Gaming PC build guide, which has a selection of PC specs at various budgets. This will give you a ballpark figure of what you should spend on a PC for the games you want to play.

Next, boutique PC manufacturers can build and customise a PC to your specification. Want a specific SSD, graphics card or monitor? Just give them a call, and you can usually get what you want, without having to pay through the nose.

And why not?
The downside is that you may have to wait longer to get a specific PC, especially during busy periods such as Christmas time. You’re dealing with a smaller company, so you can’t always get a quick swap out on a broken PC. This partially why you pay a premium for big-brand PC makers; they can ship a PC to you for the next day because they have pre-built systems ready and waiting to go.

Michael says: “I get asked what PC to buy probably as much as I get asked about laptops. I always recommend boutique builders; big brands can’t compete on price and service in my experience.”


Key features:

  • Quad-core, 2.2-2.8GHz Intel Core i5-6400T
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
  • 1x rear USB 3.0 port, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI input, 3 x side USB 3.0 ports, microSD card reader
  • 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 950A
  • 27-inch, 3840 x 2160-pixel touchscreen
  • Lie-flat stand
  • Review Price: £1400.00


The best premium all-in-one

It’s hard to find an all-in-one that can do everything, but the 27-inch Lenovo Ideacentre AIO 910 certainly can. A low-power quad-core Core i5 CPU is a step up from the dual-core models that a lot of all-in-one computers use. It means that most photo editing and a bit of light video editing are well within reach.

An Nvidia GeForce 950A discrete graphics chip, fitted with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, turns this all-in-one into a relatively capable Full HD games machine, too.

Lenovo has used a 4K (3840 x 2160) touchscreen display. The PC’s trick is that the flexible stand can lay the screen practically flat, making the touchscreen easier to use. A quick SSD and mechanical hard disk round the system off, giving you a great combination of storage space and performance.

A more expensive model with a Core i7 CPU, and cheaper Full HD models are available, but this spec is the best value in our opinion.

Read the full Lenovo Ideacentre AIO 910 review


Key features:

  • Quad-core 2.8-3.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700T
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • 512GB SSD
  • 1 x rear USB 2.0 port, 4 x rear USB 3.0 ports, 1 x rear USB 3.1 Type-C port, Gigabit Ethernet, SD card reader
  • 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M
  • 24-inch, 3,840 x 2,160-pixel touchscreen
  • Review Price: £1804

Also consider: Another premium all-in-one

If you want an all-in-one that can compete with the iMac in both performance and looks, the Asus Zen AiO Pro is a great choice. Made from metal, this all-in-one looks fantastic.

It may have only a 24-inch screen, but it has a 4K (3840 x 2160-pixel) display, so everything looks super-sharp on the high-quality touchscreen.

You don’t have to worry about performance, either. A low-power quad-core Core i7 CPU can handle any task, and the integrated Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M graphics chip handles gaming at Full HD resolutions well. With a 512GB SSD, you get a decent amount of fast storage, too.

This model appears to be running out of stock, so grab them while they last.

Read the full Asus Zen AiO Pro Z240ICGT review

Corsair One

8 of 10


Key features:

  • Quad-core Intel Core i7-7700K processor
  • 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • Dual liquid cooling
  • Up to 960GB SATA 3 SSD
  • Compact case
  • Review price: £2400

The best high-end living room PC

Corsair has stormed into the lounge PC market with the One. It’s rare for a first product in a new line to succeed as well as the Corsair One has, which is worth commending. It’s an ultra-powerful, super-quiet lounge PC that’s probably the classiest piece of PC design we’ve ever seen.

With a top-end Core i7 processor on-board along with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics, this will handle the latest games at ‘High’ settings for years to come. It is expensive, but the design, build and technology that’s gone into it just about justifies it.

Read the full Corsair One review


9 of 10


Key Features:

  • Quad-core Intel Core i7-7700 processor
  • 3GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1TB hard disk
  • Compact case
  • Three-year collect-and-return
  • Review price: £947

The ROG GR8 II looks brilliant and packs loads of power into its super-compact chassis. The quad-core processor is a sprightly chip and will help with more than just gaming, providing assistance for all your video editing and streaming. The GTX 1060 is nice and powerful for Full HD gaming.

You can grab one at Ebuyer with a load of accessories, which is a decent deal, although Asus is bringing an updated version of the ROG GR8 II with 6GB of graphics memory and an SSD to market later this year. We wouldn’t whole-heartedly recommend the current model on sale in the UK as it stands, but a 6GB model with an SSD would make a lot more sense.

Read the full Asus ROG GR8 II review


Key features:

  • Quad-core 2.9-3.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700T
  • 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M graphics
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 256GB PCIe SSD + 1TB hard disk
  • 4x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, HDMI 2.0 input, HDMI 2.0 output, 3.5mm headphone/microphone input
  • Review price: £1999

A stunning curved all-in-one

HP’s latest premium AIO won’t be mistaken for a PC by any other company. With its massive, 34-inch curved screen with a 3440×1440 ultra-wide resolution and compact, classy piano-black base, this is an incredible-looking machine.

That screen is fabulous, and performance is very good as well thanks to the quad-core Core i7 processor and ultra-fast PCIe-based SSD.

There’s even a wireless charger built in, and a touch-sensitive volume controller on the top of the chassis.

There are compromises even at this price, though. The processor isn’t a full-fat desktop chip and is slightly clocked back so as not to overheat in the compact chassis, but its fan is still a little noisy. And while there’s dedicated graphics hardware, it’s decidedly low-rent and will require you to drop your resolution and graphics settings to get decent performance

Read the full HP Envy 34 Curved All-in-One review