Best computer 2021: the best PCs we’ve tested
Especially if you’re going to use it for work or for creative projects, you’re better off investing in the best computer for your needs. Luckily, you don’t have to burn a hole in your pocket to do so. Thanks to the increasingly powerful yet more affordable processors and graphics cards that Intel, AMD and Nvidia are rolling out, it’s easy to find a great option without spending a whole lot. In fact, there are quite a few budget PCs out there that deliver top-notch performance, keeping the cost low only by forgoing a few features instead of sacrificing on PC components.
We get it, though; it isn’t easy finding the one that gives you the best value for your money. To lend you a helping hand, we’ve gathered the best PCs in this guide, from the best gaming PCs and the best computers for creative workflows to those affordable ones touting enough power for whatever you need.
- Get one of the best gaming keyboard for your PC.
Dell’s XPS laptop line may have gone premium, price-wise, but its desktop line is still going for the trifecta – offering affordability without sacrificing performance and aesthetics. The Dell XPS Desktop Special Edition might not be a budget offering, but it remains within most people’s budgets, especially at its low- and mid-range configurations fitted with the latest innards. In fact, an Intel Core i7, RTX 3060 Ti configuration will set you back a whole lot less than its 21.5‑inch iMac equivalent while touting newer specs. Plus, it’ll look just as good in your office as it will at home.
Even though the iMac 27-inch’s last update was only last year, Apple couldn’t help but step up in the upgrades department with its 2021 follow-up. Specs-wise, this model sports some massive improvements while also upgrading its webcam and microphones for a felicitous update. More people are working from home these days, and this seems like the best all-in-one PC to invest in without being forced to make some considerable space in your existing area. Sure, its overall design hasn’t seen so much as a tweak, making it look a bit tired, but if power is at the top of your list, this one’s the best PC for you in the all-in-one sphere.
Read the full review: iMac (27-inch, 2021)
- See more like this: the best all-in-one PCs
With AMD’s solid campaign to win the CPU and GPU markets, it’s no surprise that many of the best PCs are switching over Team Red’s cause. Our favorite Alienware Aurora gaming desktop PC line is among them, fitting its R10 models with AMD’s powerful yet affordable Ryzen CPUs. Not only do these deliver brute strength when it comes to gaming, but they also tout affordability, giving budget gamers to partake in what those with souped up rigs experience everyday without burning a hole in their pockets.
- See more like this: the best gaming PCs
A unique chassis coupled with a price to beat, Dell’s latest in its G series gaming PCs is a solid contender in budget gaming. The Dell G5 boasts 9th-generation Intel chips as well as Nvidia’s most powerful gaming GTX and RTX graphics cards, starting with an i3 processor and the GTX 1650 to handle many powerful games without burning a whole in your pocket. Of course, if you’ve got more case to spare, it’s VR ready configurations are also on hand, though even those are absolutely affordable.
Intel’s NUC has come a long way from its humble beginnings. For example, while the previous Hades Canyon didn’t come with a RAM or storage, the newer Ghost Canyon has both. In fact, not only does it have more offerings now in terms of specs, but it’s also highly configurable so you can personalize it to your liking before hitting that buy button. With 9th-generation Intel Core chips, up to 64GB of memory and up to 4TB dual storage, we’re all for it. The only catch is that it’s pricier now as well. The lower configurations are still quite affordable, and a terrific option for the budget-conscious. However, you may want to stay away from the highest configurations.
A well-powered machine with an affordable price might be what you need if your gaming appetite isn’t approaching the competitive sphere. Many gamers don’t really need the priciest and mightiest gaming rig, and the Lenovo Legion Tower 5i proves this, delivering plenty of power without forcing you to go broke. Nothing especially stands out with this gaming desktop, but it also offers a great gaming experience with the latest AAA titles right out of the box, which is really all that matters.
Read the full review: Lenovo Legion Tower 5i
Apple is changing up a bit, giving its updated Macs more storage than their predecessors as well as the option for even more RAM. It’s the case with the newly-updated Mac mini (2020). Sadly, this isn’t quite the generational upgrade we were hoping for. It’s the same Mac mini with the same processor and integrated graphics that are both, unfortunately, aging at this point. Though, both are still pretty potent for the Mac mini’s target audience. Combined with more storage space, this is certainly the best computer for many Apple fans.
- See more like this: the best Macs of 2021
Some people have issues with desktop PCs, as they’re often rather bulky. The Intel Core Compute Stick has made that irrelevant. Looking more like a thumb drive than an actual computer, this tiny renegade can connect to any monitor with an HDMI input. Its base starts with a lowly 1.33GHz Intel Atom processor running Linux, but can be configured up to an Intel Core m5 processor. This is one of the best PCs, but one that you can literally slip in your pocket, whether you need to get some work done during your daily commute or squeeze in some PC time while you’re traveling.
As a designer, if you don’t fall in love with Lenovo Yoga A940’s thoughtful design, then we don’t know what will. This innovative all-in-one desktop boasts a stunning 27-inch 4K UHD display with up to 25-degree tilt, pen support and a rotating hinge for stability. It’s full of impressive features as well, like the Lenovo Precision Dial that you can attach on the left or right side of the hinge, whatever feels most comfortable for you and your process. And, unlike the best Macs, it offers 100% Adobe RGB support, an LED light at the bottom of the screen and even wireless smartphone charging. If you’re a content creator or designer, and you’re looking for an AIO that allows you a truly seamless workflow, this is the best computer for you.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga A940
Unfortunately, what does hold Lenovo Yoga A940 back are its less powerful, slightly aging internals. If you want an all-in-one powerhouse that absolutely blows you away in terms of performance, then the iMac Pro is the best computer for you. This AIO designed specifically for professionals and creatives may not be super rich in features, but it’s got a lot to offer where it truly counts. That includes its vibrant 27-inch 5K display with a P3 wide color gamut, mind-blowing Radeon Pro Vega graphics, and plenty of memory for all your exacting workloads. Just be prepared to shell out a bunch of cash, as this doesn’t come cheap.
Read the full review: iMac Pro
Despite its tiny size – it’s so small, it doesn’t even have its own chassis, the Raspberry Pi boards have proven themselves to be utterly capable little machines, surprisingly capable of handling everyday productivity tasks like word processing and spreadsheets. And, with the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, we see this powerful computer getting the fantastic update it rightly deserves. Finally, the Raspberry Pi line gives you a desktop computer and a platform to experiment and create.
Read the full review: Raspberry Pi 4 Model B
Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article
Image Credits: TechRadar
- While you’re at it, we’ve also found the best gaming desktop PC you can buy