Last updated: July 1, 2020

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The personal computer (PC) has changed significantly since the first-ever computer was released: the Z1, developed by Konrad Zuse in 1936. Nowadays, personal computers are truly powerful machines with extraordinary computing power and a multitude of applications in almost every part of the world.

In spite of the huge boom in laptops, tablets, and smartphones, desktops still hold an important place in business and domestic environments. What’s more, PCs almost always outperform laptops when it comes to performance and graphics quality. Choosing the right PC can be a difficult task, as there are so many technical aspects to consider. To help you out with buying your next PC, we’ve prepared the following guide with all the information you’ll need to make a successful purchase.

Key Facts

  • The biggest advantage of desktop computers is that they are far more powerful than laptops and tablets. Additionally, PCs are easier to repair and enhance as the motherboards can be removed.
  • Currently, there are three main operating systems used in PCs. Without a doubt, the most well-known and most used operating system is Windows, whose latest version is Windows 10. In second place is the Apple macOS operating system, with the latest version being macOS 10.14 Mojave. Finally, there are open-source operating systems based on Linux, which is the least used operating system of the three.
  • When selecting a PC to purchase, the most important consideration should be how you plan on using the device. From a technical standpoint, the most important aspects to consider are the processor, RAM, storage, and graphics card.

Our Selection: The Best PCs on the U.S. Market

In the following section, we will provide you with a selection of the four best PCs that are currently available on the market. We’ve prepared this list to include a range of both Windows and Apple computers. We recommend all the products below based on their value for money, their features, and customer feedback. Take a close look at this list as we are very confident that your next PC is on it!

Best PC Under $700

The SkyTech Archangel is the ideal PC for those on a budget as it brings you immersive graphics thanks to its superior graphics card and microprocessor. Optimized for 1080p gaming and partnered with 8GB 2400 MHz memory, the Skytech Archangel is one of the best pre-built PCs for gaming. If you are looking for a cost-effective PC for gaming, then this is the one for you.

Best High-End PC for Gaming

With the Cyber PowerPC Gamer Extreme VR series, you will absolutely destroy the competition in any game you play. The Gamer Extreme VR series features the latest generation of high-performance Intel Core processors and ultra-quick DDR RAM to easily handle system-intensive tasks, such as high definition video playback and gaming. This computer is by far the most powerful PC on the market and is the one you need if you are serious about gaming!

Best Selling PC

The HP 8300 SFF Desktop is a fantastic option that features an i5 Quad-Core Processor with speeds up to 3.2 GHz, an 8GB SDRAM DDR3, and integrated Intel HD Graphics 2500. This desktop unit is the best selling computer on Amazon partly because it comes with a 500GB SATA hard drive to meet all your storage needs. What’s great is that this PC also comes with Windows 7 Professional installed, a keyboard and mouse.

Best Apple iMac

The New Apple iMac 21.5-inch Retina 4k display is by far the best all-in-one PC on the market. This computer features a 3.6GHz quad-core 8th-generation Intel Core i3 processor with 1TB that makes it incredibly powerful and fast. The sleek design is undeniably a huge drawcard for many consumers who are looking for a new addition to their home office.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About PCs

When buying a personal computer, you should consider a number of important aspects in order to buy the right product. As there are so many different PC models, finding the perfect one is not a simple task. Not all PCs offer the same features or are designed for the same type of user. In the following section, we will answer the most common questions among consumers when it comes to PCs.

A PC is an electronic device that receives and processes data and information to perform different operations.
(Source: Ali Zolghadr: xT3DQ40lus4/ Unsplash.com)

What is a PC exactly?

A PC is an electronic machine that receives, sends, and processes data and information to perform many different operations. A PC is made of a set of integrated circuits and components that are known as the hardware or physical structure.

In addition, and equally important, computers use a number of software programs, such as the operating system, to manage the resources of the system. It is with the computer software that you can utilize a wide variety of applications and programs to perform many tasks.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of PCs?

Desktop computers stand out for being high-powered machines that can perform multiple tasks at the same time. PCs easily outperform laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices thanks to their superior next-generation consoles.

However, being more powerful often means being more expensive. PCs are also heavier and are not designed to be moved around or used any like a laptop. PCs also take up much more space and always need to be connected to an electrical outlet in order to work. To learn about all the advantages and disadvantages of PCs, take a look at the following table:

Advantages Disadvantages
Much more powerful devices. PCs take up more space than laptops.
High-quality graphics. They cannot be moved easily.
PC components can be upgraded. They consume a high amount of electricity.
Often cheaper than a laptop. They need to be constantly connected to an electrical outlet.
They’re easier to repair than laptops. PCs require accessories such as a keyboard, screen, and mouse.
They have more storage capacity than laptops. PCs are often louder.
The motherboards have expansion slots to increase storage capacity.
You don’t have to worry about running out of battery.
They have more connection ports than laptops.
They are better for gaming.

Who should buy a PC?

Personal computers are recommended for practically anyone as they are such versatile products that can perform a range of tasks. PCs are particularly ideal for those people who need powerful PCs and do not need to move around. PCs are perfect for playing video games, video editing or photography, and programming.

When it comes to videogames, PCs offer excellent graphics quality and a huge range of games that are often not able to be played on a laptop. PCs are also an integral part of many companies and offices, such as architectural, engineering, and design firms.

Steve JobsApple Co-Founder

“Computers themselves, and software yet to be developed, will revolutionize the way we learn.”

What accessories does a PC need?

There are a number of accessories that you must have in order to use a PC. To begin with, a screen, keyboard, and mouse are the bare minimum. Beyond this, if you’re want to play multimedia content, you’ll to need speakers or headphones. If you will be using a PC for video conferencing, you’ll need a webcam and a microphone.

In the office environment, you’ll likely need a printer and/or scanner. When it comes to gaming, there is a huge range of specialized gaming accessories such as mousepads, keyboards, and monitors.

What types of PCs are there?

There are many types of desktop computers available on the market. From conventional desktops to gaming to workstations, there is something for everyone. To learn more about the most common types of computers, take a look at the table below.

Conventional desktop computers Gaming computer Mini PC Workstations All-in-one
Main purpose General purpose To play video games For office automation and web browsing Engineering, architecture, technical and scientific tasks General purpose
Functions Many different functions, although they are often unable to perform demanding tasks They can perform all functions as they are powerful PCs They can only perform basic functions as they are the least powerful. They can perform practically any type of function, except they are not designed for gaming. They can perform all kinds of functions and will be suitable for most users.
Scope of use Home and professional Home Home Business or scientific Home and professional
Hardware Usually not powerful equipment with an integrated graphics card. Very powerful processors and graphics cards with 8 GB of RAM or more. Very limited processors Optimized hardware for maximum performance and excellent reliability. The hardware that may be integrated into the screen. Often they feature a touch screen.

Desktop computers stand out for being high-powered computers.
(Source: Designecologist: Pmh0UoG1vlE/ Unsplash.com)

Shopping Criteria

When it comes time to purchase a PC, it’s important that you consider a number of different aspects in order to buy the most suitable product. To help you with the selection process, we have selected the aspects that we think are the most important. We have done this to provide you with a practical purchasing guide that will allow you to find the PC that is just right for your situation.

Use

When deciding which PC to purchase, it’s important to think about how you’re going to use it. You’ll require a different type of PC to simply surf the Internet and use the basic Office tools than you’d need to play next-generation video games like Call of Duty.

If you’re a gamer, you’ll want a PC that is specifically designed for that purpose and has a very powerful graphics card. If you’re a designer that is looking for a PC for graphics editing, Apple Macs are a great choice.

A PC is a great choice if you are looking for a computer to manage all your tasks.
(Source: Balkouras: ncOQxZe8Krw/ Unsplash.com)

Motherboard

The motherboard of a PC is where all the hardware components are connected, making it the central element of any computer. Generally speaking, motherboards are usually named after the chipset they use, which ultimately determines the connectivity and orientation. The types of motherboards that are available are normal, gaming, and overclocking.

There is minimal difference in quality between an expensive motherboard and a cheaper motherboard. The key difference between each option is usually the connection and expansion possibilities. The room for expansion is an important factor if you plan to expand, renew a component or improve the PC in the future.

RAM

RAM is one of the most important aspects of a computer as it will determine how fast your computer will be. It is essential that you choose a computer that has enough RAM to handle multiple programs simultaneously and a computer that offers the possibility of future expansion.

Microprocessor

The microprocessor can be referred to as the brain of a computer. It is the component that is responsible for processing information and executing program operations. Therefore, the microprocessor is a key element in the functioning of al PCs. Currently, the two main manufacturers are Intel and AMD, with AMD processors usually offering better value for money.

The most important aspect when it comes to the performance of a microprocessor is its internal architecture. The number of cores a processor has tells you how many tasks it can perform at the same time. Operating frequency is another factor to consider if you are looking for a high-performance computer.

Graphics Card

The graphics card or video card is responsible for processing the different operations related to the image and video. The function of a graphics card is to manage the information it receives from the processor and transform it onto the monitor. A good quality graphics card is a fundamental component in graphic editing and for playing video games.

The graphics card market is very active and new models with better features are continually appearing. The two main graphics card manufacturers are Nvidia and AMD, however, some PCs come with the graphics card integrated into the processor itself. Think about how important the visualization is and purchase a PC with a graphics card that will meet your needs.

PCs are much easier to repair than laptops.
(Source: Jakob Owens: YmShwj8MN7s/ Unsplash.com)

Storage Capacity

The first question you should ask yourself with it comes to storage capacity is: traditional hard drive or solid-state drive (SSD)? SSDs offer faster data access which makes them ideal for installing operating systems on them and providing a much faster computer startup speed.

However, as the price of SSDs is still considerably higher, they generally do not offer large storage capacities. Nowadays, many computers integrate an SSD for installing the operating system and a traditional hard drive for storing the heaviest files. We recommend that at a minimum, the traditional hard drive should be 1 TB.

Connectivity

All PCs offer a number of possibilities to connect different types of accessories such as keyboards, mouses, speakers, and monitors. In general, the more USB ports that a PC has, the better. You may also want a PC that has a USB-C type.

A PC must also have a WiFi connection and an Ethernet cable. Bluetooth is another interesting way to connect devices that may be useful for you. If you’re into photography or video, you should look for a PC with a microSD card reader. As for video outputs, to play video on a TV, you’ll want the graphics card to have DisplayPort and HDMI outputs.

Operating system

The operating system of a computer is an integral program that manages both the software and hardware. Today, you can choose between the three big players; Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. Linux is an open-source system that is free and has a very fast initialization time.

Windows, on the other hand, offers a greater degree of compatibility and stands out for offering complete integration with other devices, as it also works on tablets and mobiles. The latest version of Microsoft’s operating system is Windows 10. When it comes to Apple’s operating system, the latest is Mac OS 10.14 Mojave.  This operating system is a dynamic, simple, easy-to-use, and fast system.

Summary

Even though laptops, tablets, and smartphones are growing in popularity, desktops continue to have a large market share. There are many reasons why desktop computers are still so popular and why laptops will never completely replace them. PCs are much more powerful, making them ideal for more demanding applications, cheaper and easier to repair, and more comfortable to use for long periods of time.

On the market today, there is a huge variety of models with different features and technical specifications. It is crucial to be clear about what you need a PC for and what the technical specifications should be. By performing a bit of research and following the tips we’ve given you throughout this guide, you’ll easily be able to purchase an excellent PC!

If you find this guide helpful in your selection process, you can leave us a comment or share it on your social networks!

(Source of featured image: Patrick Ward: z_dLXnQg0JY/ Unsplash.com)

Why you can trust me?

Brett Holmes Technology Geek
Brett is a keen observer of the latest technology trends and knows his way around the industry because he runs an electronics store. He writes about it in his spare time and wants to help others learn more about the technology industry.