While the best laptops (opens in new tab) offer portability and a full PC experience, there’s something to be said for investing in one of the best home computers. They can be bigger, more powerful, and offer additional perks like a much larger monitor.
With so many manufacturers, though, and hundreds of parts and components, it can be tough to wrap your head around the options. Should you look to build a PC yourself? Or are you comfortable with a pre-built or made-to-order option?
A lot of this will depend on your workload. For example, if you want to do a lot of coding, or complex video editing, you’ll want to look into a powerful computer with a capable GPU, and the same goes for playing the latest games at high settings. If you’re looking for something to write on, view the family photos, and browse your emails, then you can look toward a more affordable option.
You’ll also need to pick between Windows and Mac, with each operating system offering its own pros and cons. Macs tend to be expensive, but they hold their value and last a long time. Windows PCs, on the other hand, aren’t usually quite as good looking, but have more headroom for swapping out parts, and are infinitely better for gaming.
Whichever home computer you opt for, be sure to make note of what comes in the box. Some computers, like the Mac Mini, are “headless” and don’t include a monitor, while the iMac has everything built into the screen.
So without further ado, below is our list of the best home computers you can buy in 2022.
The best home computers available(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)
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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)
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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)
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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.
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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)
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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)
If Windows and Mac are a little too heavy for you, then Google’s ChromeOS is doing some very interesting things in the home computing space. While the company’s Chromebook range offers portability in spades, the Chromebase is a joint venture with HP that offers an all-in-one PC.
Because it runs using ChromeOS, the apps included are Google’s own. If you’ve used an Android phone or are a keen Google Photos, Docs, or Drive user, you’ll feel right at home. There’s even the Play Store for adding additional apps to use, or playing games or streaming movies.
That’s also arguably the biggest downside, though – because ChromeOS is a lightweight operating system, it just can’t compete for the sheer number of programs, services, and applications available on macOS or Windows.
Still, if you can look past that, the swiveling display and built-in speaker are well worth a look. It’s got plenty of ports tucked into the base, comes with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard combo, and has a built-in webcam for work calls and family time. There’s even Google Assistant support, so you can use it like a smart speaker, too, and ask what the weather is like or start playing a song using just your voice.
8. Alienware Ryzen Edition R10: Best budget gaming computer
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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 several key components to the best home computers. Here’s a quick rundown of what they are, and what they do.
Short for “Central Processing Unit”, think of the CPU as the brain of a home computer that’s in charge of lining up tasks and ensuring they’re completed.
In Apple machines, the company now uses its own system on a chip (SoC) which contains multiple components. This makes it quicker because it’s not transferring data.
On the other hand, Intel and AMD are the primary manufacturers of CPUs on Windows and ChromeOS machines, and they’ll pass on information to the GPU.
The Graphics Processing Unit is more commonly referred to as a graphics card, and the more powerful your GPU the more impressive graphical fidelity you’ll get while working in large video projects or playing the latest games.
Because Apple now integrates both the CPU and GPU on the same chip, their machines have a sort of “ceiling” depending on the chip in your device. On the other hand, Windows machines are much more customizable (if you know what you’re doing), and you can put a GPU that outpaces the latest game consoles inside.
If your CPU is the brain and your GPU is the muscle, then RAM essentially acts as the nerves connecting the two. Short for Random Access Memory, the more RAM you have, the more you can do at once – meaning more RAM is ideal for multitasking.
More RAM is also ideal for gaming, because it means the CPU and GPU can “talk” more easily. Many GPUs even have their own dedicated RAM, so that they have more resource to pull from.
While your personal memories and files used to be stored on large mechanical hard drives (HDDs) that were prone to failure after extended periods of use, things are a little different in the modern computing world.
That’s because much of the industry has moved to Solid State Drives (SSDs) which don’t have moving parts and are more reliable in the long term. They’re also much faster than older drives, and have advanced to take up much less space – allowing for slimmer computers.
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.