Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Welcome to our big desktop PC test 2021. Here we present all the desktop PCs we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.

We want to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best desktop PCs for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a desktop PC.




Summary

  • In today's world, computers have become indispensable. Whether for private or business use, computers are very versatile.
  • Basically, you need to be clear about the area of application for your PC. As a rule, a distinction is made between office, gaming, image/video editing and CAD computers.
  • A PC consists of many individual components. The most important, however, are the processor and the graphics card. Depending on the area of application, the individual components are more or less demanded.

The best Desktop PC: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a desktop PC

Should I buy a complete desktop PC or buy the hardware components separately and assemble them?

Whether you buy a complete system or buy the hardware components separately and then assemble it depends on your skills. If you are not that familiar with PC hardware, we would recommend buying a ready-made PC.

This is a little more expensive than building your own, but you get a ready-made computer and can start right away. Another advantage is that the hardware components are usually very well coordinated.

If the PC doesn't work or a hardware component is broken, you also have a contact person for repairs and warranty issues. In most cases, the operating system and the most important drivers are already pre-installed, so you only have to switch on your PC.

Do you know a bit about connecting hardware and want to save some money? Then you should buy the hardware components individually and assemble them yourself.

Usually the hardware components come with instructions on how to wire the component to the rest of the PC. If you still have problems assembling the components, you can watch video tutorials on YouTube. They will show you exactly how to wire the components together.

If you are building your own PC, you will of course have to buy and install the operating system. But that should not be a problem. Then you have to install the drivers, for example for the graphics card. Normally, a CD is included. However, you can also download and install most drivers from the manufacturer's website.

What do I have to bear in mind about the hardware if I decide to build my own PC?

When you build your own PC, you are responsible for ensuring that your hardware is perfectly coordinated. To do this, you should follow a few tips. First of all, choose the processor you want. The product description will tell you which socket the processor requires.

When you choose your motherboard, make sure that it supports the socket of your processor. If you buy a processor cooler, you also have to look at the socket.

Furthermore, there are processors with a free multiplier (at Intel these are marked with a "K"). This means that you can overclock these processors. However, you also need a mainboard that allows overclocking.

When it comes to RAM, there are different sizes of memory modules (2, 4, 8GB) and differences in type (DDR3, DDR4), clock frequency (2133, 2666...) and latency (CL7, CL9, CL11, CL16...). Basically, you should always make sure that you install at least two RAM modules (or even several) in order to benefit from Dual Channel.

You also have to make sure that your motherboard supports the respective type. Furthermore, your motherboard also determines the maximum possible clock frequency. The higher the clock frequency and the lower the latency, the better.

The individual hardware components require a certain amount of power (watts). Especially with gagming PCs, where the graphics card and the processor need a lot of power, you have to make sure that your power supply has enough power. You can usually find the required power for the individual components in the product descriptions.

If you use your desktop PC for gaming, your power supply should have enough power. (Image source: unsplash.com/Florian Olivo)

You then have to add up these individual outputs and add a buffer (+~25%). There are also so-called "power supply calculators" on the internet. Here you only have to enter your components and suitable power supplies will be suggested.

For the case you have to consider how big your computer should be and which motherboard you want to use. In modern PCs, motherboards with the size or form factor ATX are usually used.

However, there are also Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX, Nano-ITX and Pico-ITX. The most important thing is that you like the look of your enclosure and that it supports the desired form factor of the motherboard.

If you are unsure which hardware components are right for you, you can get additional opinions on forums. Often they will even provide you with a sample configuration.

What are the advantages of buying a desktop PC set with a monitor?

Many PC set offers come with a monitor, keyboard and mouse free of charge. Here you have to decide for yourself whether this is a purchase argument for you.

Because these monitors, keyboards and mice are not always the best. They are usually inexpensive entry-level products that do their job. If you plan to play PC games or edit pictures on this monitor, these monitors will not be enough. However, if you only want to watch videos or browse the web, this monitor is sufficient.

It is usually worth buying your own monitor. Then you can determine both the size and the quality yourself.

Which operating systems are recommended for purchase?

Windows 10 Home is recommended for all users. Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise are not recommended for normal users because they are much more expensive.

Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise can be recommended for people who mainly store important work on their PC and need the additional security.

Windows 7 can also be recommended. Here, however, you should prefer Windows 10, as this operating system is more modern and secure.

Linux or other operating systems are not recommended for normal users, as they have limited functionality.

Operating system Description
Windows 10 Home Can be used by everyone
Windows 10 Pro / Enterprise Brings additional security, but is significantly more expensive
Windows 7 Basically suitable for everyone, but no longer the latest
Linux or others Not quite as intuitive to use, only for more experienced users

If your desktop PC is delivered without an operating system, you must install it first. Here you should note that if you have an SSD and an HDD, you should install the operating system on the SSD when selecting the storage space.

This will make your PC and Windows Explorer start faster, so you can save a lot of time. In addition, you should make sure that you change the storage location of your downloads, e.g. Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer, to your HDD, so that they do not place an additional load on the SSD.

These are the most important points you should consider. Setting up an operating system becomes easier and easier from time to time and is therefore also suitable for beginners.

How loud is a desktop computer?

Another important point in any office, but also in your home, is of course the volume of the device. The noise is mainly caused by the fans, which are responsible for cooling the hardware.

When gaming, but also with complex CAD applications, the hardware is often very heavily stressed. This leads to increased temperature development in the case. The temperature must then be removed by fans.

If you prefer a rather quiet computer, you should pay particular attention to the case fans, the fan in the power supply unit and the CPU and GPU cooler. An insulated case also reduces noise.

Generally speaking, most factory fans are not very quiet. If you place particular value on a quiet working environment, we recommend that you buy the fans separately.

There is also the option of using water cooling. If you want to install a water cooling system in your system, you have to consider a few things.

In the simplest case, the water cooling system consists of a cooling block, a radiator, a pump, an expansion tank and hoses that connect everything. The cooling block absorbs the heat from the component and transfers it to the water. The pump transports the heated water to the radiator, which then releases the heat into the air.

The fact alone that you need considerably more components than with air cooling makes water cooling somewhat more expensive.

Some devices produce relatively loud noises, these are mainly caused by the fan. If several PCs are to be placed in one room, quieter devices are advisable. (Image source: pixabay.com / janeb13)

Compatibility of components is also a problem. If one wants to exchange hardware components of the PC, it may be that the cooling block, for example, also has to be exchanged.

The biggest advantage is that the radiator can basically dissipate heat anywhere. You could also place it outside the case as long as the pump can pump the water to it.

This gives you more flexibility in designing the cooling system. Furthermore, water cooling systems are somewhat quieter than air cooling systems.

Which important manufacturers and brands are there?

Mifcom is a company that specialises in PC configuration. They offer all-rounder PCs, gaming PCs and high-end PCs. With a long warranty and lifetime support, this company is able to attract and retain many customers.

Alternate is a company that offers everything from hardware to e-bikes in their range. Among them you can also find a PC configurator through which you can add different PC parts.

Alienware is a PC manufacturer that belongs to Dell. Alienware specialises in gamer PCs and offers both desktop PCs and gaming laptops. Due to a good selection of PC components and a convincing design, many people swear by Alienware. However, a high-end PC can quickly become expensive.

These are just a few PC suppliers. There are various others who also offer PCs. However, you should always pay attention to the ratings.

Does it make sense to buy a used desktop PC?

Basically, used hardware is not recommended. We always advise you to buy a new system. This is for the following reasons:

  • Buying a used system is like buying a used car. There are people who clean their car, carry out regular inspections and drive with care. On the other hand, there are also people who never clean their car and do not treat it well. The same applies to a PC.
  • A PC may have been little used and cared for. However, it could also be overclocked and unkempt, so that it will quickly become defective.

If you decide to buy a used PC, you should always keep this in mind and examine everything carefully before making your purchase decision.

Decision: What types of desktop PCs are there and which one is right for you?

First of all, you need to decide what your future computer will be used for. Basically, you can distinguish between four different areas of use:

  • Computers for office work
  • Gaming PCs
  • Computers for image and video editing
  • Desktop PCs for CAD applications

Each of these areas of use places different demands on your computer. Depending on what you use your desktop PC for, your hardware will be more or less stressed.

The hardware also largely determines the price of your PC and is therefore one of the most important decision criteria.

Did you know that the first freely programmable desktop calculator was the 'Programmer 101'?

It was manufactured by Olivetti in 1965 and was described in advertisements as the first desktop computer. In 1968, the HP-9100A desk calculator was produced by Hewlett-Packard, which was called a personal computer for the first time in the advertisements.

In the following section, we would like to help you find the perfect PC for your individual application. For this purpose, we will go into more detail on the individual tasks and give you tips for your optimal hardware configuration.

What distinguishes a desktop PC for (simple) office work and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

If you only need to do simple office work, you can safely do without powerful hardware. This also makes the PC a lot cheaper.

For everyday applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, or for surfing the Internet, a standard processor and a standard graphics card are sufficient. Nevertheless, there are certain "must-haves" that make working with a PC much more pleasant.

A fast SSD (Solid State Drive) is almost a must nowadays. This saves you long waiting times when starting the system and calling up your programmes and files.

Advantages
  • No powerful hardware required
  • Usually fast start-up of the PC
  • Comparatively cheap
Disadvantages
  • Not as powerful as other models
  • Gaming and video editing only possible to a limited extent

Furthermore, you should pay attention to your RAM capacity (working memory). Less than 4GB (gigabytes) of RAM is no longer appropriate. With 8GB RAM, you are also well prepared for the future.

The processor does not have to be a "high-end model". Since the processor usually already has an integrated graphics unit, it is not necessary to buy a graphics card. The integrated graphics card is completely sufficient for everyday work with office programmes and the like.

What distinguishes a gaming desktop PC and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The world of computer games is becoming more and more realistic and detailed. With virtual reality, it is even possible not only to play the game, but also to immerse yourself in it and experience it. Of course, this requires a certain performance from your PC.

The rapidly growing e-sports scene also contributes to a certain extent to the fact that gaming PCs are in great demand. Computer games require increasingly powerful hardware to keep up with the competition.

One of the most important components in a gaming PC is certainly the graphics card (GPU). It is responsible for calculating and displaying the image. If it is too weak, the image will judder.

Of course, it also depends on the resolution and graphics settings in which you want to play. Basically, however, you should make sure that your graphics card has at least 4GB VRAM (memory). To be prepared for the future, we recommend a graphics card with 6-8GB VRAM.

Advantages
  • Powerful hardware
  • Fast processor
  • Good graphics, often VR possible
  • Versatile
Disadvantages
  • Often quite expensive
  • Requires a lot of power
  • Usually requires an extra power supply

The processor (CPU) is the heart of every computer. It should not be too slow, otherwise it becomes a "bottleneck" for the graphics card. In the meantime, a new processor generation comes onto the market almost every year. But don't worry, even with a processor that is already several years old, you can often gamble without any problems.

If you buy a new processor, you can go for a solid quad-core processor from Intel (Intel Core i5). The new generation of processors from AMD (Ryzen 5 and 7) also offer good performance and usually have a better price/performance ratio than Intel.

If you want to design your PC for a certain game, you should look at the game's system requirements. These are a good guide when choosing hardware. You can usually find the requirements on the game manufacturer's site.

The size of the RAM also plays an important role. It should be at least 8GB (16GB is better). An SSD also has advantages in the area of gaming. For example, the loading times in games are significantly reduced if they are installed on an SSD.

A gaming graphics card and a fast processor naturally require more power than ordinary hardware. That is why the power supply unit is of great importance, especially for gaming computers. Here you should pay attention to the power (watts) and the efficiency of the power supply.

The efficiency indicates how many watts the power supply unit must draw from the mains in order to supply the computer with a certain amount of energy. We recommend a power supply with 80 Plus Silver or Gold certification. This way you not only protect the environment, but also save on electricity costs.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a desktop PC for intensive image processing and video editing?

Especially for graphic designers, the question arises again and again: What is the optimal PC for image editing programmes (such as Adobe Photoshop) or video editing programmes (such as Adobe Premiere)?

In this field of application, the key component is the processor. Rendering videos in particular takes an enormous amount of time if you have a cheap or outdated processor. Therefore, it should be at least an i5 or better an i7 processor with hyperthreading from Intel.

In simple terms, hyperthreading means that the processor has, for example, 4 logical cores, but the system is "fooled" into thinking it has 8 cores. This means that the processor can execute 8 commands in parallel instead of normally only 4.

The capacity of the RAM is also very important. Your computer should have at least 16GB of RAM built in. Since RAM doesn't cost the earth these days, we would even recommend you buy 32GB.

Advantages
  • Fast processor
  • High capacity RAM
  • Good graphics
  • Versatile
Disadvantages
  • Often expensive
  • Sometimes extra SSD needed

You can save a little on the graphics card. Most processors are already sold with sufficient on-board GPUs. This means that the processor already has an integrated graphics unit. However, if you want to render and edit images more quickly, you should opt for a dedicated graphics card.

An SSD also makes sense in this application area. It speeds up the start-up of the application and the PC. However, you should also buy a 1 to 3 TB HDD, as videos and images require a lot of storage space. An SSD with this capacity is currently still very expensive and therefore not recommended.

What distinguishes a desktop PC for CAD applications and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Whether for professional or private use, a smooth and accurate display of the designed components and assemblies is very important when working with CAD programmes such as AutoCAD or CATIA. To ensure this, we recommend a professional graphics card that has been optimised for this area of application. Specifically, we are talking about the Nvidia Quadro and AMD FirePro models.

Although these graphics cards cost a little more than conventional GPUs, they have noticeably more performance. Especially complex and large 3D assemblies force standard graphics cards to their knees. The RAM is also very important. We recommend using at least 16GB RAM.

Advantages
  • Fast processor
  • Professional graphics card
  • High performance
  • Large RAM
Disadvantages
  • Often expensive
  • sometimes extra SSD necessary

The number of cores in a processor is not so crucial for CAD applications, as most design programmes do not support more than one core.

Therefore, it is much more important that the performance per core is very high. The processor should have a high clock frequency (many GHz) to ensure the best possible performance.

The CAD application should be installed on an SSD hard disk. This can extremely shorten loading times.

Purchase criteria: You can compare and evaluate desktop PCs based on these factors

In the following we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate desktop PCs. This will make it easier for you to decide which PC is right for you.

In summary, these are:

  • Dimensions and weight
  • Motherboard
  • Processor
  • Graphics card
  • Main memory
  • Hard disk
  • Optical drive

The following paragraphs go into more detail about the individual criteria and tell you how you can classify them.

Dimensions and weight

You should carefully consider whether you prefer a large tower or a simple PC in console format. This decision has some advantages but also disadvantages.

The advantage of large tower PCs is that you can replace components very easily. There is a lot of space inside, which makes wiring the components much easier. Also, the heat generation is not as concentrated as with small computers.

That's why heat dissipation is better. With large cases, you can also install a motherboard with a larger form factor.

This gives you more connections and allows you to install more hardware components. The disadvantages of large towers are certainly the weight and the larger space requirement. This also makes them more difficult to transport.

Small PCs with Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX motherboards are very easy to transport and have a certain "style factor".

Unfortunately, the heat generation is worse than with larger PCs. Therefore, you either need fans that rotate faster, which means more noise, or you cannot fully utilise the hardware components.

Smaller motherboards also don't have as many connections. The most important ones are available, but not to the same extent as on a motherboard with ATX form factor.

If you mainly work with the PC in the same place, you should rather go for a larger PC (mainboard form factor ATX). If you also want a desktop PC for on-the-go use, a mini PC is just right for you.

Motherboard

The motherboard is the control centre of every computer. This is where the individual hardware components are connected to each other. Specifically, this includes the processor, graphics card, RAM, power supply, hard drive, disk drive and fan.

All these components are wired to the motherboard. How many internal and external connections your PC has is basically also determined by the motherboard - interfaces such as USB, PCIe, SATA, LAN, audio, VGA and HDMI.

As described above, each motherboard has a specific socket. This determines which processors can be installed on the motherboard. If you want to overclock your processor, your motherboard must also support this. The type of memory and the type of RAM are also determined by the motherboard.

The type and number of PCIe slots is very important for expansion cards, such as the graphics card or special hard drives. If you want to install several graphics cards (SLI or Crossfire) in your system, you must make sure that your motherboard also supports this.

The SATA ports are crucial for connecting hard disks and drives. However, there are already motherboards that offer new M.2 SSD slots. These are particularly fast.

There are also only a limited number of connections for case fans. If you want to attach additional fans, you must read the product description of your mainboard carefully.

Your motherboard also determines the BIOS. For example, if you have an Asus motherboard, it will have the Asus BIOS pre-installed. However, the BIOS of most manufacturers only differ in certain additional features (integrated fan control, etc.).

Processor

The processor is the heart of a PC. It is also called the CPU (Central Processing Unit). The processor performs computing operations and controls parts of the computer. In the process, data is input, processed and output again at the end.

The processor only understands data in binary code (zero and one). Therefore, every piece of information must be encoded in binary code.

What is important about the CPU is the number of cores on the one hand and the clock frequency on the other. The more cores a processor has, the more instructions can be processed simultaneously. Commonly used are 1, 2, 4, 6 and 8 core processors. However, there are also high-end models with 12 or 16 cores.

Processor Description Use
This processor is the cheapest variant and also offers the lowest performance. These processors can be equipped with either two or four cores and also support the 64-bit variant of Windows This processor consumes little power and is therefore good for simple usage purposes. These processors are ideal for office or home office PCs.
i5 The i5 processor offers significantly more power than the i3. These processors can have either two, four or six cores the significant speed difference allows for easy use of video games or other resource-intensive applications. These processors are in the mid-price range and are suitable for users who use their PC frequently.
i7 With this processor, a significant increase in performance can be seen compared to the i5 processor. These processors can contain up to eight cores for particularly complex usage purposes such as video editing or virtual machines, this processor is a sensible option. If this processor is used, all other components should also be correspondingly powerful.
i9 These processors are significantly more powerful than their predecessors. In the best case, these processors can have 18 cores, which, however, is also significantly noticeable in the purchase price with this processor, even the most complex programmes can be implemented even faster. Especially for animations or scientific calculations, this processor can offer groundbreaking approaches.

The clock frequency indicates how fast the commands can be executed. It is usually given in GHz (gigahertz). 1 GHz corresponds to one billion oscillations/processes per second.

The higher your processor clocks, the more important cooling becomes. The electronics can be damaged by too much heat. That is why fans or water cooling systems are mainly used.

A processor also contains a control unit. This control unit stores and reads data from the main memory. Therefore, the type and maximum clock frequency of the RAM are also influenced by the processor. Most processors already have an integrated graphics unit. This is usually quite sufficient for normal "office" use.

Graphics card

Without a graphics card, the screen remains black. The graphics unit converts the data from the processor so that it can be displayed on a screen. The graphics unit is also called a GPU (Graphic Processing Unit).

How important the performance of the GPU is depends on the specific application. For office computers, the integrated graphics chip in the processor is often sufficient. For gaming, there is no getting around a dedicated GPU.

For CAD applications, you should use a special GPU that has been optimised for this area of application. For image or video editing, a mid-range GPU is often sufficient.

Basically, however, there are some factors with which you can compare GPUs. Every graphics card consists of a graphics processor and a video memory (VRAM). The clock frequency is, as with the CPU, very important. The higher the clock frequency, the faster the graphics card. The size of the VRAM is especially important in games.

The higher the graphics settings and the resolution, the more memory is needed. For normal applications, 1-2GB are usually enough, for workstations you need between 2-4GB. If you want to play current games with high graphics settings, 6GB and more are often required.

Main memory

The performance of a computer depends not only on the CPU and GPU, but also on the RAM. It is the link between the CPU and the hard disk. The main memory is also called RAM (Random Access Memory).

The connection between the CPU and the RAM is much faster than the connection between the CPU and the hard disk. Therefore, the RAM stores the data that has just been processed by the processor or it loads data from the hard disk that will be processed shortly. This makes the system much faster.

An important decision criterion is first and foremost the type of RAM. Currently, DDR4 RAM is available. But there is also an older version (DDR3). The memory capacity is also of great importance. For normal office computers, 4GB is often sufficient.

For video editing, however, 32GB is a big advantage. Basically, you should make sure that you have at least 2 RAM modules installed. If you want 4GB, that would be 2 x 2GB. This way you benefit from dual-channeling and your data transfer rate is extremely increased.

The clock frequency in megahertz (MHz) is the next decisive factor. For example, there are 1600, 2133, 2400, 2666, 3000 and 3200. The faster the clock frequency, the better. However, the type and clock frequency must be compatible with the processor and the motherboard.

Another decision criterion is latency. If you have to choose either a higher clock frequency or a lower latency, you should prefer a lower latency. Latency is represented, for example, like this: CL 7-7-7-21 or simply CL7. The lower it is, the better.

However, the clock frequency and latency do not have a decisive influence on the speed of the PC, except perhaps for complex games and video editing.

Hard disk

The operating system and all the files on your computer are stored on the hard disk. Basically, a distinction can be made between three different types of hard disks:

  • HDD
  • SSD
  • Hybrid

The cheapest of the three is the HDD. These are available in capacities of several terabytes (TB). However, the HDD also does not have particularly high data transfer rates.

Therefore, it is mainly used as a "data grave" for films, photos, music and larger folders and programmes. SSDs have the advantage that they have extremely high data transfer rates. They are therefore also a lot more expensive than an HDD.

But you should at least get an SSD with 100-250GB. This way you can install the operating system and the most important programmes on the SSD. Your computer and the installed programmes will start much faster.

A middle ground is the hybrid hard drive. This combines an HDD with a small but fast flash memory. The most important programmes and data are placed on the flash memory and benefit from increased data transfer rates.

Furthermore, there are different sizes. A distinction is made between 2.5″ and 3.5″ hard drives. SSDs are also available in the form of expansion cards. These then use either an M.2 or a PCIe slot.

desktop-pc

An HDD drive (Hard Disk Drive) - as shown here - is cheaper than a faster working SSD drive (Solid State Drive). Since it contains no moving parts, the latter is not a drive in the true sense of the word, but is only called such because of its function. (Image source: pexels.com / Tookapic)

Optical drive

If you still work with CDs and DVDs, an optical drive is necessary. In times of the internet, CDs are becoming less and less important. Programmes, drivers, films and even games are increasingly offered as downloads or streams. That's why desktop PCs are less and less often equipped with an optical drive.

If your PC doesn't have one either, but you still need one, you can buy an external drive as an alternative.

Picture source: Norbert Levajsics / unsplash.com

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