What’s the best desktop PC in 2021?
With the majority of workers trapped at home right now, it’s a good time to be on the lookout for a desktop PC rather than a laptop.
In the list below, we’ve included PCs that excel at day-to-day office tasks, as well as powerhouse machines that are a dream come true for artists and photographers. There’s even a gaming system, if that’s more your jam.
Of course, you can build your own desktop PC rather than buying (with the help of our Best Processor and Best Graphics Cards guides), but modern-day components can be pricey, and it can be quite a task if you’re not a competent builder.
Check out our Best PC picks below, or scroll down for our in-depth look and a link to the full review.
Related: Intel vs AMD
1. Apple iMac 2020
The best all-in-one desktop PC you can buy right now
- Excellent 5K display
- Versatile performance and customisable options
- Much-improved 1080p webcam
- Plenty of ports
- A refreshed design would have been welcome, especially with a slimmer bezel
- Keyboard and mouse aren’t the best
- 8GB base RAM feels a little tight
The Apple iMac 2020 may not feature the much speculated redesign that fans had hoped for, but thanks to updated specs and improvements to the built-in webcam, Apple retains its crown as the king of the all-in-one desktop PCs.
The new 27-inch iMac models have been fitted with Intel’s 10th Generation desktop processor, which results in a sizeable performance boost. Unfortunately, the 21.5-inch model has been left in the dust when it comes to processor upgrades, although rumours suggest it will get a makeover later this year.
For now, the 27-inch iMac 2020 is the best all-in-one desktop PC you can buy, with a gorgeous 5K display and performance competent enough to excel at both productivity tasks and content creation.
Read our full Apple iMac 2020 review
2. Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra
An excellent modular PC that offers superb long-term value
- Fantastic upgrade options with modular design
- Small footprint on desk
- Affordable price
- Decent display
- Low performance
- No GPU grunt
- Closing the stand can be fiddly
The Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra may look like your typical Windows 2-in-1 laptop on the surface, but it actually has a unique trick in the form of its modular stand.
A small computer module can be taken out of the device, allowing you to swap it for a more powerful version whenever you fancy an upgrade. The monitor can also be replaced with any screen that supports a VESA mount, giving you oodles of flexibility.
Since you can upgrade both the components and the monitor, the OptiPlex offers better long-term value than most 2-in-1 PCs. It isn’t the most powerful system, though, especially in the graphics department. This means the OptiPlex 7070 Ultra is only really worth considering for those who will stick to basic tasks such as web browsing, spreadsheets and video streaming.
Read our full Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra review
3. Surface Studio 2
The ultimate Windows 10 all-in-one PC for creatives
- Superb display
- Excellent screen
- Great to draw on
- Uses an old processor
The Surface Studio 2 is a unique desktop computer, boasting the specs to power through most creative tasks alongside a versatile touchscreen that artists can scribble and sketch on.
The 28-inch screen can be flipped and moved into all sorts of positions to make it easier to draw on with the Surface Pen. What’s more, the 4500 x 3000 pixel resolution ensures a gorgeous display that’s just as good as, if not better than, the panel you get with the iMac.
Unfortunately, you’re limited to a 7th Generation Intel Core CPU here, with very few configuration options to chop and change. This means the Studio 2 lags quite a way behind leading competitors for raw performance speeds, leaving that incredible touchscreen as the main incentive to invest. Note that a Surface Studio 3 is expected to arrive later this year, however.
Read our full Surface Studio 2 review
4. MSI Trident A
A great console-sized gaming PC
- Solid 1080p and 1440p gaming
- Compact design
- Well-balanced components
- RTX 2060 Super is faster
- A little pricey compared to conventional PCs
- Some suspect build quality
The majority of gaming PCs are pretty huge, which can make it difficult to accommodate beside your desk. The MSI Trident A is an exception, rocking a console-sized case and performance powerful enough to play AAA titles in 1080p and 1440p.
There is a drawback to having such a tiny gaming PC, however. It leaves little room for upgrades in case you want to buy a 4K-capable graphics card in the future. But at such an affordable price, the MSI Trident A is still a fantastic option for those happy to stick to Full HD/Quad HD gaming for the foreseeable future.
Read our full MSI Trident A review
Still can’t find the best PC for you?
Still can’t find the perfect device? No worries, as we’ve got plenty more best lists to help you out. Check out a selection of them below: