In this article, we will explore the best desktop computer you can buy in 2022. While building your own desktop PC will always get you the best performance per dollar, one of my favorite pick is the Dell XPS 8950 which is the best prebuilt PC you can buy, whether that’s for a family room at home or a student dorm room. You can spec it up with a powerful Intel Core processor, but Dell also offers an affordable base model.
Dell isn’t the only desktop brand, though, and there are several other great options. We’ve included picks below for heavier tasks like gaming or video editing. We’ve also included some mini PC and all-in-one options, which are ideal for those with limited space. If you want to save some money, you can also take a look at some of the best desktop deals we’ve found for you today.
Table of Contents
Dell XPS 8950
The best desktop computer for 2022
- Sleek, minimalist design
- Highly configurable
- 12th-gen Intel and Nvidia RTX 30-series options
- A few options for upgrades
- A bit loud
- Pricey upgrades
Why you should buy this: The XPS 8950 is a highly-customizable desktop PC with some impressive performance potential.
Who it’s for: Families, students, budget-conscious buyers.
What we thought of the Dell XPS 8950:
The best overall desktop PC is the one that will work for the most people, and that’s the Dell XPS 8950. It’s understated in all the right ways, reasonably priced considering the power you can pack inside, and comes in a variety of configurations to suit work, gaming, or both.
Regardless of what configuration you choose, you’ll find something that matches your needs. That’s because Dell builds them custom ordered, which is the best feature of the XPS 8950. The options are nearly endless, with prices ranging from $750 to over $3,000 depending on the parts you choose. Some of the desktops come without a discrete graphics card, meaning they’re more suited for work than games. However, you can get one of the more expensive ones that include a discrete graphics card.
Dell is offering this new XPS desktop with Intel Alder Lake and DDR5 RAM for those who are in search of the best gaming PC. You can add in up to an RTX 3090 graphics card as well, which is a serious amount of power considering the size of the machine. Powerful hardware means more heat, but the XPS 8950 gets rid of it well with optional liquid cooling and a case with plenty of room for airflow.
Even better, Dell frequently marks down the XPS 8950, so you might be able to score it on sale if you pay attention to the deals page.
HP Omen 45L
The best desktop computer for gaming in 2022
- Excellent CPU cooling solution
- Tool-less design
- Upgradable with off-the-shelf parts
- Great gaming performance
- Doesn’t get too loud
- Extra hard drive bays
- Limited number of USB ports
- No DDR5 option
- Bloatware is a little annoying
Why you should buy this: The Omen 45L is easier to upgrade than most DIY PCs, and it comes with flagship hardware.
Who it’s for: PC gamers who don’t want to build their own system.
What we thought of the HP Omen 45L:
The HP Omen 45L takes what made the Omen 30L so special and expands on it. Just like its smaller sibling, the Omen 45L comes with a tool-less case design that allows you to upgrade any of the components inside. HP likes this design so much, in fact, that it now sells the Omen 45L case on its own.
Part of the reason why is the innovative Cryo Chamber design. The all-in-one liquid cooler is separated from the main chamber, allowing it clear access to air on both sides. This leads to much lower temperatures in the Omen 45L, as well as less fan noise.
Prices start at $1,800 for an AMD Ryzen 7 5800X and Nvidia RTX 3060, but you can scale much higher. At the top end, you can spend as much as $4,000 or more with an Intel Core i9-12900K and Nvidia RTX 3090. The great thing is that HP offers the Omen 45L with an AMD or Nvidia graphics card, as well as an AMD or Intel processor.
For the latest Intel chips, the Omen 45L doesn’t support next-gen DDR5 memory, but it doesn’t make a big difference. If you want the best gaming desktop without the fuss, the HP Omen 45L can deliver.
Apple iMac 24-inch
The best all-in-one desktop computer for 2022
- Eye-popping screen
- Speakers sound amazing
- Webcam is excellent
- M1 performance still surprises
- Lots of fun color options
- Touch ID built into keyboard
- Lame port selection
- The Magic Mouse is still annoying
Why you should buy this: Apple’s 24-inch iMac is a powerful all-in-one desktop computer that makes for a stunning and compact addition to any office.
Who it’s for: Professionals and home users looking for compact, beautiful, and powerful all-in-one computers.
What we thought of the Apple iMac M1 (24-inch):
Apple is more of a laptop than a desktop brand, but the iMac is an exception. It’s a balanced computer that has power where it counts and looks that are unmatched.
When it comes to Apple, a portion of the charm lies in the aesthetic. The 24-inch iMac is no exception. Coming in up to seven colors — blue, green, pink, white, yellow, orange, and purple — the iMac offers the ability to choose a look that fits you. It’s also shockingly thin, measuring at a mere 11.5mm, making it thinner than any other all-in-one desktop on the market.
The 24-inch (or 23.5-inch, to be precise) version of the iMac is not just a pretty package with little to back it up. Equipped with Apple’s signature breathtaking 4.5K Retina display, this is a powerhouse for both professionals and home users who value display quality. Prices start at $1,299 for the base model with Apple’s M1 chip — an 8-core processor that is also found in the Macbook Air — but you can spend up to $2,499 if you want extra RAM and storage.
Outside of raw power, the iMac M1 is a great desktop because it’s easy to use. Setup is seamless thanks to the no-nonsense macOS operating system, and you don’t need to worry about finding a space for a hefty desktop. It’s a fantastic option for everyday use, but the M1 chip still provides enough power to run creative apps like Logic and Final Cut without breaking a sweat.
We’re still waiting on the iMac to get the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips inside the new MacBook Pro, which should push Apple’s all-in-one even further up the list.
HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop
The best budget desktop computer for 2022
- It’s very affordable
- It can handle productivity and multitasking
- Suitable for 1080p gaming
- Only supports entry-level gaming
Why you should buy this: It’s a solid budget gaming PC in a time when options are few and far between.
Who it’s for: Students and entry-level gamers
What we thought of the HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop:
Dell discontinued our previous pick for this slot — the G5 Gaming Desktop — and there aren’t a lot of gaming PCs for around $1,000 right now. The only exception is the HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop. Although not as powerful as a machine with top specs, this Pavilion machine has power where it counts — and it’s as cheap as $700.
Unlike similar machines, this desktop PC comes with an AMD Ryzen APU regardless of your configuration. The base model starts with an AMD Ryzen 3 5300G and AMD RX 5500. If you can extend your budget, you can pick up the Pavilion Gaming Desktop with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super or AMD Radeon RX 5500. You’re also getting an operating system right from the get-go, saving some extra bucks.
It’s a fantastic option for students and 1080p gamers that don’t want to go broke buying a PC — especially with how graphics card prices are right now. Most competing machines are less powerful and cost more, and some lack a discrete graphics card altogether. The HP Pavilion Gaming PC doesn’t make a lot of compromises considering its price, and that’s tough to find these days.
Apple Mac Mini M1
The best small desktop computer for 2022
- Blistering CPU performance
- Incredibly fast SSDs
- Superb value
- Compact, sturdy design
- MacOS Big Sur is great
- Subpar gaming performance
Why you should buy this: Tiny but mighty, the Mac Mini M1 is a great full desktop replacement.
Who it’s for: Budget- and space-restricted Apple fans.
What we thought of the Apple Mac Mini M1:
With a $699 starting price, Apple’s Mac Mini PC got a big refresh with a major brain transplant to give it even more power in a compact package. It now features Apple’s M1 chip, which is probably the best feature. It’s the same chip inside new iMacs and Macbook Pros, offering you the same power as other Mac computers — just in a smaller package.
Size is the obvious standout feature of the Mac Mini. True to its name, it’s a square that measures 7.7 inches long and wide, and only 1.4 inches tall. It only weighs 2.6 pounds, too, so you can easily throw it in a backpack if you want some serious computing power on the go. It easily beats the best mini PC you can buy in the balance of size and performance.
If you don’t care about a Retina display and want a traditional desktop solution, the Mac Mini M1 is for you. It’s identical to Apple’s other computers in terms of specs, just with a much smaller body and lower price point. The other option is the Macbook Air, but even then, you’re paying a premium over the Mac Mini PC.
If you need more power, Apple’s new Mac Studio is basically a supercharged Mac Mini. It comes with the much more powerful M1 Ultra processor, making it ideal for creative pros.
HP Envy 34 All-in-One
The best Windows all-in-one desktop computer for 2022
- Large 5K display
- Powerful and upgradable
- Wireless charging built into the stand
Why you should buy this: It’s a massively powerful all-in-one that allows for upgrades in the future.
Who it’s for: Remote workers who need a powerful PC without the extra clutter.
What we thought of the HP Envy 34 All-in-One:
The HP Envy 34 All-in-One packs flagship hardware behind a screen. If you’re looking for a Windows iMac alternative, the HP Envy 34 is your best option. It features a beautiful 34-inch ultrawide display, which you can open toolless-ly in the back to upgrade memory and storage.
For specs, you can pack up to an eight-core Intel Core i9-11900 processor behind the screen, along with up to an Nvidia RTX 3080 discrete GPU. The Envy 34 is a great day-to-day machine, but it has enough power for creative pros and even gamers.
Outside of raw power, the Envy 34 has a slew of quality-of-life features. It includes a detachable webcam, which you can position at five different points around the screen, and the stand supports wireless charging for your phone. The ports are built directly into the stand, too, offering quick access to everything you need.
All-in-one PCs are a dime a dozen, but the HP Envy 34 manages to stand out. If you want to keep your desk clean while still having a powerful PC, the Envy 34 is for you.
Lenovo ThinkStation P620
The best workstation desktop computer for 2022
- Insane processor performance
- Easily upgradeable
- Tool-free design
- 10Gb Ethernet
Why you should buy this: Powered by a powerhouse of a processor, this is a workstation capable of tackling most tasks you’ll want to throw at it.
Who it’s for: Creatives, scientists, machine-learning enthusiasts, and other notorious multitaskers who need a powerful workstation.
What we thought of the Lenovo ThinkStation P620:
The Lenovo ThinkStation P620 is a workstation in every sense of the word. This is a desktop designed to perform the most resource-heavy tasks out there. Created specifically for engineering, data science, machine learning, 3D modeling, video editing, and more, the ThinkStation is the kind of PC that will find uses across many fields, aiding professionals in their daily tasks.
Lenovo offers different configurations, but all of them have one feature in common — the absolute best processors AMD has to offer. At the heart of every system is one of the latest AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro chips, from the 12-core Threadripper 3945WX to the obscenely powerful 64-core Threadripper 3995WX.
The processor alone is enough to make the ThinkStation P620 worth considering, but there’s more. This workstation comes with one of Nvidia’s Quadro series cards. These cards were designed specifically to support computer-aided design (CAD), digital content creation, machine learning, and other challenging tasks. If you need access to high-power computing, you should buy the ThinkStation P620.
While the Lenovo ThinkStation P620 only comes with an SSD (up to 2TB) and no additional storage, you can customize it to add an extra drive. You can also increase the amount of RAM up to 64GB, upping the price, but also the performance.
Falcon Northwest Tiki
The best mini gaming PC
- Blazing 4K gaming performance
- Fantastic thermal design
- Top-notch build quality
- Accessible upgrades
- Standard three-year warranty
- Limited fan noise
- Limited Intel configurations
Why you should buy this: It’s one of the smallest gaming PCs you can buy, and it still manages flagship performance without thermal or noise issues.
Who it’s for: Gamers and creative professionals that don’t mind paying extra for longevity.
What we thought of the Falcon Northwest Tiki:
Falcon Northwest is one of the few true boutique PC builders left, and the Tiki explains why. It’s one of the smallest gaming PCs you can buy, and it still manages to pack in flagship hardware. More importantly, the Tiki does both without sacrificing heat or thermals, which is the biggest pitfall for small form factor machines.
It’s expensive, but Falcon Northwest’s attention to detail still manages to stand out. From premium component selection to a detailed dossier of every aspect of your build, the Tiki goes beyond being just a shell for high-end components.
Falcon Northwest offers the machine with AMD or Intel configurations, paired with up to an RTX 3090 GPU. Although the Tiki is clearly a gaming PC first, Falcon Northwest also offers it with Nvidia’s professional GPUs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best brand of desktop computer?
Picking the right desktop PC to serve your needs for the next few years can be an overwhelming decision given the large selection of models on store shelves and online. Fortunately, though, unless you’re searching for a particularly niche model — like an extremely compact desktop or one that’s equipped with multiple graphics cards — most systems today ship with similar components inside, so you can expect comparable performance for systems outfitted with similar components. Some are more expensive than others, but the options are there.
With performance out of the way, this frees you up to look at other features, like a desktop’s unique design and the manufacturer’s post-purchase support. For support, Apple usually wins with its Genius Grove — formerly called the Genius Bar — where you have in-person access to support at the company’s many retail locations.
If you’re looking for extended support, you’ll be better off with an enterprise-class desktop brand like Dell, HP, and Lenovo. Business desktops are a bit more expensive than their consumer counterparts, but they’re rigorously tested and often come with optional warranty upgrades that cover on-site repairs, accidental damage protection, and extended coverage options beyond the standard one-year warranty that can help to extend the life of your investment.
What is the best processor for a desktop computer?
The best CPU will depend on how you’re using your desktop. Gamers who want the utmost performance will want an overclockable Intel Core i9-11900K found on most high-end systems, while creatives looking at juggling large media files will want something with more cores. That means AMD, which offers 12- and 16-core chips in the form of the AMD Ryzen 5900X and 5950X.
If you’re working primarily on Office files and use your desktop to browse the web, scaling down to an Intel Core i5 or Core i7, or an AMD Ryzen 7 or Ryzen 5 processor, would help make substantial savings without impacting performance much.
Should my desktop have USB-C or Thunderbolt 3?
USB-C is beginning to show up in more desktop builds, but it’s still more common on laptops. It’s not strictly necessary, as there are plenty of USB-A to USB-C cables out there, but if it’s a must for you, keep an eye on the case that your new system comes in. That will or won’t have USB-C as standard.
Thunderbolt 3 uses the USB-C form factor but it offers the most bandwidth of any USB-based wired connection available at this time, giving speeds that scorch standard USB ports. However, it is even less common on desktops than plain old USB-C. If you want it, you’ll need to go with an Intel or Apple system, though if you opt for the former and Thunderbolt 3 is not standard on the chassis or motherboard, you could always get a PCI-Express add-in card that has it.
When is the best time to buy a desktop?
The best time to buy a desktop is when your current computer isn’t able to handle the applications you want to use. Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day usually bring the steepest discounts on desktop computers, but the reality is that you can score a deal on a PC almost any time during the year. Make sure to keep our roundup of the best desktop deals handy for when you want to upgrade.
How do you know if you need a laptop or desktop?
Choosing between a desktop and a laptop comes down to portability and comfort. You can take a laptop nearly anywhere, but they’re not as comfortable to use as desktops with a larger screen. On the other hand, a desktop is more flexible and allows you to use a keyboard/mouse combo you like, but it’s restricted to one area.
Consider what you’ll use your machine for. If you’re gaming, for example, a desktop makes more sense. If you’re answering email and browsing the internet, a laptop is probably better a option.
How do you evaluate how good a desktop computer is?
The main question anyone should ask when shopping for a new desktop PC is what they are hoping to get out of it. Different desktop brands provide different things, and students on a budget will be searching for an entirely different set of specifications than gaming enthusiasts with considerable savings.
One good way to evaluate the true power of a desktop computer is to do some research. A lot of the PCs on our list have their own dedicated reviews right here on Digital Trends, so you can check them out to learn more about these computers. In addition, looking up benchmarks is a sure-fire way to explore the performance of a given computer.
In general, the three most important components to look at in a pre-built PC are the processor, the graphics card (where applicable,) and the RAM (memory.) Take a look at these when shopping in order to determine whether the PC is new or not. Our list only includes computers made with components from the last two years, so you can browse through these without second-guessing.