While the best laptops (opens in new tab) offer plenty of power but with added flexibility, the best home computer will always come out on top in terms of pure graphical grunt. Pair it with a great monitor, too, and you’ll be surprised how much you can get done at your desk.
Still, there’s a lot to consider, making it tricky to pick one. Are you a gamer or video editor? Then you’ll want to move towards something like an Alienware option with a powerful GPU. More focused on day-to-day tasks like email or word processing? Maybe a more budget-conscious option is ideal for you.
Then there’s the eternal debate between macOS and Windows, with Apple’s operating system often seen as being better for creative work, while Windows dominates for gaming and customization. For more on this topic, be sure to check out our guide (opens in new tab) pitting the two against each other.
Depending on the home computer you choose, you may also need to buy a monitor and speakers. Some, like the iMac, offer everything you need out of the box, with the computer built right into the screen. On the other hand, something like the Mac Mini will need a display to be able to work.
Whatever your budget or preference, here’s our list of the best home computers for 2022.
The best home computers available
1. Dell XPS desktop: Best home computer overall(opens in new tab)
We chose the Dell XPS desktop range as our best home computers for 2021 because the quality of what you get in each PC here is unbeatable. The XPS is Dell’s premium range of PCs, and all the components used inside each unit is top quality. These PCs are well built, stylish, very user-friendly, and they run whisper quiet almost all the time. What’s more, Dell’s customer support is first-class, and you get a year’s worth of free support, antivirus coverage, and a lifetime use of Windows 10. You can choose and configure your XPS desktop as you desire, and the price of each PC is fair for what you get. Not the cheapest, but great value considering the quality.
The XPS range uses Intel 10th and 11th-gen processors, and while you can get an i3 PC for cheap - the range starts at $649 - we recommend getting an i5 or i7 XPS, depending on your needs. If you want your PC for web browsing and running more basic applications, then an i5 is fine - we’d suggest this build (opens in new tab), which has an i5 processor, 16GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD with a 1TB HDD, and an Nvidia 1650 GPU. This covers all bases, and you’ll usually get it for less than $1000.
If you want something more powerful, for video editing, gaming, and other more demanding tasks, this i7 model (opens in new tab) is perfect. You get an 11th-gen i7 chip, 16GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD and 1TB HDD, and an Nvidia 1660Ti graphics card for around $1400. If you’re working with 4K video, we suggest this model (opens in new tab), with 32GB of RAM and an i9 processor.
All the Dell XPS PCs have a great range of fast connections, and come with WiFi6 built-in, so you can connect to a wireless router and get a strong signal. They’re excellent PCs.
- Read our full Dell XPS desktop review (opens in new tab)
2. Apple iMac (2021): Best Apple home computer(opens in new tab)
The new Apple iMac is a bold step forward for Apple’s home computer range, which hasn’t been properly updated for years. Until now. What we love about the iMac is how stylish and compact it is - this is a thin all-in-one computer, and it’ll happily slot into any desk or home office space as it’s essentially the same size as a regular monitor. It’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.
However, as a working computer, this is an exceptional 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 looking 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 (opens in new tab), and they’re available in a range of colors.
In terms of style, you simply 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 look incredible, even if they’re a little smaller than some monitors. Our only real 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 (opens in new tab) to add more files and apps.
Please note that the 2021 models are extremely new, so may be on preorder or backorder.
- Read our full Apple iMac review (opens in new tab)
3. Dell Inspiron desktop: Best budget home computer(opens in new tab)
Sometimes you just don’t want 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.
The Dell Inspiron range starts around $470 (opens in new tab), although deals are frequent, and for this you get an i3 processor, 8GB RAM, and a 1TB HDD. For low-power users, this is all you really need, and while your PC won’t load Windows super fast, or run a load of apps at once, you’ll have a cheap, solid machine for basic tasks - all backed up with a year of Dell support and a free copy of Windows 10.
If we were buying Inspiron, we think this build is incredible value (opens in new tab). What you get here is an all-in-one PC, so no need to spend extra on a monitor or keyboard. It has an 11th-gen i5 processor, which is pretty damn quick, 8GB of RAM, and a combo storage drive with a 256GB SSD and a 1TB HDD, and a 27-inch Full HD screen. All for less than $930. That may not seem very budget, but you get all you need here for less than $1000, discounts are frequent, and your PC is actually pretty fast and versatile.
- Read our full Dell Inspiron desktop review (opens in new tab)
4. Alienware Aurora R13: Best gaming home computer(opens in new tab)
Alienware has long been known as a gaming brand, but the latest version of the company’s Aurora hardware is a powerful, compact machine and it looks great.
It’s also eye-wateringly expensive, but does offer 1TB of superfast NVMe storage, 32GB of RAM, and perhaps most importantly for anyone looking to play the latest releases, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 GPU with 10GB of VRAM alongside a core i7. In layman’s terms, it’s a beast, and runs Windows 11 right out of the box, which is a plus.
There’s an argument that you’d get more for your money by building your own, but if you’re in the market for a gaming machine and don’t want to do the legwork yourself, this machine will have you set for years.
5. Mac Mini 2021: Best compact home computer(opens in new tab)
Recently upgraded to include the new Apple M1 chip, the Mac Mini starts at just $800. You’ll need to add a monitor, keyboard and mouse to that to actually be able to use it, of course, and 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 is never going to be a games machine.
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 between the two is largely a matter of taste, with no single big 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. With the new M1 CPU, however, it will blitz its way through photo editing and any other CPU-intensive tasks with ease. It’s the perfect home office machine, and also excels as a media center, connecting to a TV directly or storing your media on its large, fast SSD and serving it via a system such as Plex. And it’s so small, you can easily keep it in a cupboard.
- Read our full Apple Mac Mini review (opens in new tab)
6. Acer Aspire TC: Another superb budget option(opens in new tab)
We’re actually seriously impressed with how much computer you get for your money with Acer. While the support and customer care options can’t match Dell, and you’re getting older and lower quality components inside, you actually get more power for your buck than at any other home computer manufacturer. The Aspire TC series is at the heart of Acer’s value range, and we think you could do loads worse than one of these basic, but solid, desktops.
The range starts with the Intel i5 build, which comes with 8GB RAM and a 1TB HDD - more than enough for everyday use - and it starts at $479 (opens in new tab), which is a great price. If you’d rather have a super fast SSD inside your PC instead of a hard drive (and we’d recommend that, no matter what kind of user you are) then you can get the same spec but with a 512GB SSD for a few bucks more at $549 (opens in new tab). These desktops are often on sale too, so don’t be surprised if you buy it for less than $500. This is superb value for what you’re getting.
Acer has other desktop ranges, including the PS4-looking Veriton computers, but you’re paying more for the compact design here, and you’re getting less powerful PCs for your money. Stick with the Aspire sub-brand you’ll get a neat PC for less.
- Read our full Acer Aspire TC desktop review (opens in new tab)
7. Origin PC - Best custom home computers
And now for something completely different. While most home computers come pre-built, and maybe have a few customization options, Origin PC is a website that lets you custom build your own desktop computer from scratch.
Origin PC has a broad range of components from loads of different manufacturers, so you should be able to build the perfect desktop PC, whatever your needs. The website’s primary focus is on building gaming PCs, but you can also build workstations that are ideal for professionals working from home.
What sets websites like Origin PC apart from the competition is the level of customization on offer. You can choose whether you want an Intel or AMD CPU, or how much RAM you need, or whether you want an Nvidia or AMD graphics card, or even if you want fancier options like water cooling.
With choice comes a certain requirement of knowledge though. You need to know a bit about computers if you’re going to be choosing your own spec to this level, and Origin doesn’t really do low end components - the cheapest PCs it sells are still over $1000, so these will be overkill for casual users.
- Read our full Origin PC review (opens in new tab).
8. Alienware Ryzen Edition R10: Best budget gaming computer(opens in new tab)
Saving money on a gaming rig is, frankly, a challenge. You really do get what you pay for, so the more cash you sink into a gaming computer, the more power you get. However, if you’re willing to buy into the AMD brand of processors, which are actually equal to and better than Intel’s chips in some respects, you can shave a few hundred dollars 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 slight saving at $1080 (opens in new tab), but it’s marginal. For what you get, it’s good value, but you’ll struggle to run 1080p games at higher settings. We’d recommend the mid-range Ryzen 7 5800 build, however, which has the 16GB of RAM you’ll need, a 512GB SSD for faster gaming loading, and a neat Nvidia 3060 Ti graphics card. That’s a powerful machine for $1820 (opens in new tab).
You can go all the way up to a Ryzen 9 build, with an Nvidia 3080 graphics card, for $2769 (opens in new tab)… which is good value, certainly. If you do decide to spend the extra, we thoroughly recommend adding an extra 16GB of RAM to future-proof your machine, and perhaps getting a second storage drive too, for mass storage, as the 1TB SSD it comes with will fill quickly if you’re running Windows, apps, and games from it.
- Read our full Alienware Aurora R10 Ryzen review (opens in new tab)
9. Microsoft Surface Studio 2 - Best Windows all in one computer
The Microsoft Surface Studio 2 is a few years old now, but it still has one of the best displays on the market - bask in the glory of this 28-inch 4,500 x 3,000 pixel screen. If you’re a creative person who is regularly doing digital design work who prefers Windows devices, then this is the best option out there for you.
The machine itself looks stunning too - you certainly won’t be embarrassed to have this beauty sat on your desk. The stand has a double hinge, letting you adjust between upright and shallow angles depending on what you’re doing
As we said though, the Microsoft Surface Studio 2 is a few years old now and it shows in the components. The CPU is still a decent model, but you can easily get cheaper and faster options these days. It’s the same story with the GPUs that are available - they’re perfectly suited to running creative software, but they’re not top of the line anymore. With prices starting at $3,499, you’re paying a lot of money for that fancy screen, but what a screen it is.
- Read our full Microsoft Surface Studio 2 review (opens in new tab).
10. Lenovo Legion Tower 5i(opens in new tab)
As home gaming computers go, Lenovo’s option is an attractive one – you’ll need a monitor and speakers, but at this price point there are definitely reasons to be cheerful. These include fast M.2 storage, an understated but still powerful design, and the fact it runs impressively quietly.
It’s still running Windows 10, which is unlikely to be an issue, but the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 inside isn’t the most powerful around. Still, it’s likely to be a dependable workhorse for gaming and video editing work, but the 6GB of video RAM won’t go too far for creative professionals.
In better news, though, if you do know what you’re doing, the machine is fairly easy to upgrade – but there’s an argument that if you’re doing that, it might be worth just building your own with a more powerful GPU.
What to look for in the best home computer
Home Computer Explainer
There are plenty of key components to the best home computers. Below we explain what each of them do, so you can confidently choose the best computer for you.
Also known as the “Central Processing Unit”, the CPU is the nerve-center of the machine and is in charge of getting things done. As you input tasks, the CPU processes each one.
For Windows machines, CPUs are usually built by either Intel or AMD, and both are dependable. You’ll usually get more performance with additional cores, while some CPUs are more powerful (and come with a larger price tag).
Apple recently switched to its own Apple Silicon starting with the M1 chip, and these incorporate multiple components into one system on a chip (SoC). This increases power efficiency while still affording impressive power.
RAM means “Random Access Memory”, and the more of it you have, the more you’ll be able to do at any one time.
That’s because RAM acts as a channel that your CPU and GPU unit use to communicate, and the bigger the channel, the clearer that dialogue becomes.
Higher amounts of RAM are key for gaming machines, too, because they allow for more complex exchanges between CPU and GPU.
Your machine’s Graphics Processing Unit, or GPU, is more colloquially known as a graphics card.
Cheaper machines will offer integrated graphics, which offer a certain amount of power, but you’ll find a dedicated GPU will offer more impressive graphics for running the latest games or managing creative work like video editing.
GPUs also often come with their own dedicated RAM, known as VRAM, which is graphics-related memory.
As mentioned earlier, Apple’s M1 chips and beyond include GPUs in the same chip as the CPU. In this instance, the chip uses “unified memory” to divert resources between RAM and VRAM.
Computers store a lot of data, and this is done through a Hard Disc Drive (HDD), or Solid State Drive (SSD) that’ll hold a set number of GB (gigabytes) or TB (terabytes).
SSDs are significantly faster than HDDs, and they don’t use moving parts which can mean they last longer as there’s less chance of a mechanical failure. They are, however, almost always more expensive than their slower counterparts, particularly at higher storage amounts.
Hybrid drives offer the high storage space of an HDD with an SSD part, too, usually for storing apps and programs so they run quickly.
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. However, 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 need a monitor. Most PC monitors start around 24-inches, and can go well past 32-inches. We think the sweet spot is a 27-inch monitor, for most home offices. Almost all monitors are Full HD ready now, so 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 (opens in new tab), and run to... well, over $2000 for the mega gaming screens.
Keyboard - Yeah, you'll need a keyboard for your desktop too. Happily, you can get a wired keyboard and mouse combo for around $25 (opens in new tab), which is only a little extra on top of your PC purchase. Most manufacturers offer the chance to bundle a keyboard and mouse when you buy a desktop, so we suggest you just do that.
Mouse - As mentioned above, you'll also need a mouse, but they can be easily bundled with a keyboard at little extra expense when you buy. While you'll probably be fine with a wired keyboard, we do think it's worth paying a little extra for a wireless mouse, to eliminate the tangle of wires.
Cables - While most PCs come with all the cables 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 want to plug into your router for a wired connection you'll need an ethernet cable to do that.
Router - While almost all households have a router nowadays, it should be mentioned that you can't access the internet without one, so make sure you have a router when you buy your PC. We have a list of the best wireless routers (opens in new tab) if you need it, 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 separate camera if you want to take part in video calls, or record yourself. Again, we have a guide to the best webcams (opens in new tab), and they really aren't all that expensive.
Printer - This isn’t a necessity, but a printer is a great addition to your home office set up. A good all in one printer (opens in new tab) will let you print, scan, and copy documents from the comfort of your own home - ideal when you’re working from home. If you’re short on space, you could get a compact printer (opens in new tab), while photography buffs can benefit from a photo printer (opens in new tab) to make the most of your camera work.