Best desktop PC 2015 - tower, mini and all-in-one picks
Discover what PCs to buy in 2015 and read our in-depth PC reviews, as rated by our team of expert reviewers. Not sure if a computer is right for you? We've got something for everyone here, from compact computers you can hide behind your monitor or television, to the overclocked gaming PCs and space-saving all-in-one PCs from all the major brands.
You don’t even have to spend a lot of money on a PC to get decent performance with plenty of budget options available as well. A lot of the systems we review come with or without a monitor so you can always use your old one, so now is a great time to pick up a new PC. Our always up-to-date list can help you make your choice. Click through to our full reviews for all the information you'll need.
Desktop buying guide
A PC's processor defines how well it handles the most basic of tasks. The faster your processor, the snappier the operating system will feel and the faster you'll be able to perform complex tasks such as photo and video editing. The more cores a processor has, the better it will be at performing multiple tasks at the same time without feeling the strain. It'll also dramatically improve performance in programs that support multiple cores.
You'll be hard pressed to find a modern PC with less than two cores, and most of the PCs nowadays have four. Processor speed is also very important, and a few system builders have taken the opportunity to boost performance by overclocking them.
This is something you can do at home, but it requires a lot of patience, experience and there's a fair degree of risk that you could permanently damage your PC by doing so. Professional PC builders typically stress test their PCs to ensure their overclocks won't shorten the life of your system.
If you're looking for a gaming machine, though, processor speed is not the most important factor that will define its in-game performance. It's your graphics card that will handle the visuals for your games. You'll ideally want to have discrete graphics cards, forgoing the onboard graphics capabilities of their CPUs.
You can get some very capable graphics cards in a system costing less than £700, all of which can be expected to play all of today's modern games at Full HD resolution. Whether you're able to crank up the eye candy to the max depends on what card your system has. The upper mid-tier cards such as the Nvidia GeForce 760 and AMD Radeon R7 265 and upwards have the power to run the latest games at their highest settings, while those beneath them may sacrifice some fidelity to maintain a consistent frame rate of more than 30fps in the toughest games such as Crysis 3. If you're not cost-constrained, spending more on a system with a more powerful graphics card such as the AMD Radeon R9 290 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 can see you playing the latest titles at 4K resolutions.
Whatever you're using your PC for, you'll want somewhere to store all your data. The ideal scenario will see you having your operating system installed on an SSD, which provide super-quick read and write speeds making your computer feel more responsive. SSDs can be pricy when it comes to capacity, however, so it's best to pair these with a secondary hard disk where you can store your media and documents.
PC Case and PSU
If your PC is a long term investment that you want to upgrade in the future, you should carefully inspect both the case and the motherboard. Some smaller cases don't leave much room for big graphics cards and don't have many extra bays for hard disks or optical drives. Furthermore, the motherboard might not have enough spare ports for extra components. Look out for PCI-E slots if you want to install an extra graphics card or wireless adaptor, and check how many SATA ports are free if you're planning on investing in extra storage. If you're installing high performance storage such as an SSD, you'll need to make sure there are spare SATA3 ports, as slower SATA2 ports won't be able to take advantage of the higher speeds offered by solid-state storage.
Look out for extra RAM slots, too. Some motherboards will have four spaces for memory modules, but the PC builder might have only filled two. This means you could buy more RAM later when demand requires it. You'll also want to make sure the power supply unit (PSU) can provide ample power for any future upgrades.
If you're starting from scratch with a brand-new PC, you shouldn't settle for a poor monitor. There are many quality screens available at extremely competitive prices. All the monitors in this test measure at least 23 inches diagonally, with some stretching to 24 inches. We look at colour coverage, accuracy and contrast levels, and you should also pay attention to the what screen technology a monitor is using. IPS panels offer the richest and most vibrant experience, but they are more expensive. TN panels, meanwhile, vary wildly in quality and are typically cheaper than IPS screens. They have fast response times but the cheapest of them have narrow viewing angles and disappointing colour coverage. We'll let you know in our reviews if the supplied monitor isn't worthy of your cash.
Best desktops for under £1,000
1. Acer Revo One RL85
The Acer Revo One has one of the cleverest small form-factor PCs we've ever seen. Its tiny chassis has room for three hard disks meaning you can use it as a dedicated media PC for your living room or even set it up as a Windows-powered fileshare if you want. It's not the fastest PC on the planet, but its dual core Intel Core i3 processor and onboard graphics are capable of playing Full HD videos just fine, which is about as much as you can expect. Depending on which model you buy, you'll also get a handy remote, perfect for those looking to avoid the inflexibility of a keyboard and mouse pairing
Price when reviewed: £300 - Read our full Acer Revo One review for details
Processor: Dual-core 1.7GHz Intel Core i3-4005U, RAM: 4GB, Front USB ports : 0, Rear USB ports: 2x USB, 2x USB3, Total storage: 2TB hard disk, Graphics card: Integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics, Display: N/A, Operating system: Windows 8.1
2. Scan 3XS NUC N16
The Scan 3XS NUC is based on one of Intel's NUC Kits and they've adapted it into a well-designed PC. It is incredibly quick for its size, squeezing a large amount of storage space into its tiny chassis. Small enough to place out of the way or mount behind your monitor. The only thing it lacks is more connectivity which can be excused considering it comes in such a tiny package. It strikes a perfect balance between price, performance and features, making it an excellent Best Buy.
Price when reviewed: £650. Read our full Scan 3XS NUC N16 review for details.
Processor: Dual-core 1.3GHz Intel Core i5-4250U, RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports: 2, Rear USB ports: 2, Total storage: 1TB hard disk, Graphics card: Integrated, Display: N/A, Operating system: Windows 8.1
3. Palicomp AMD Kaveri Evolution
It's always a joy to see manufacturers push the boundaries of what you can expect in a budget PC and this is what Palicomp have achieved with the AMD Kaveri Evolution. We've been massively impressed by the capabilities of the AMD's Kaveri processors, and this budget PC shows them off to great effect. It has a powerful processor that's been capably overclocked and offers reasonable upgrade potential. You also get a big, good-quality 24in monitor that lets you enjoy movies and games comfortably. It also uses a 1TB SSHD that uses 8GB of NAND cache to help Windows feel responsive and bootup and shutdown super swiftly. This system offers a wonderful combination of application and gaming performance that makes it a good all-round home PC. This is quite simply one of the best PCs you can get for £500.
Price when reviewed: £500. Read our full Palicomp AMD Kaveri Evolution review for details.
Processor: Quad-core 4GHz AMD A10-7700K, RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports : 3, Rear USB ports: 4, Total storage: 1TB SSHD, Graphics card: Integrated, Display: 24in widescreen LCD, Operating system: Windows 8.1
4. Palicomp Intel Haswell i5 Commander
Palicomp has assembled a great selection of components, and we particularly like the AMD Radeon R9 270X graphics card. It's ideal if you want to buy something that can play the latest games at the highest, or very nearly the highest, quality without spending a lot of money. You also get a 60GB SSD as well as a 1TB hard disk for storage, and the SSD in particular made Windows 8 feel super responsive although its actual storage capacity is low. The Palicomp Intel Haswell i5 Commander is a great combination of both value and performance.
Price when reviewed: £650. Read our full Palicomp Intel Haswell i5 Commander review for details.
Processor: Quad-core 4GHz Intel Core i5-4670K, RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports : 3, Rear USB ports: 6, Total storage: 60GB SSD, 1TB hard disk, Graphics card: 2GB AMD Radeon R9 270X, Display: N/A, Operating system: Windows 8.1
5. Chillblast Fusion Obelisk
With the Chillblast Fusion Obelisk you get a system equipped with a quad-core Intel Core i5-4690K and an AMD Radeon R7 265 that means it packs a both good application performance and gaming potential. The CPU is overclocked to 4.2GHz and temperatures are kept under control with an Akasa CPU fan. Impressively, the system manages to still run whisper-quiet even when put through its paces. Paired with a Full HD 23in Asus VS239HV IPS monitor you get a quality complete PC package. Overall, the Chillblast Fusion Obelisk is great value at £700.
Price when reviewed: £700. Read our full Chillblast Fusion Obelisk review for details.
Processor: Quad-core 4.2GHz Intel Core i5-4690K, RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports : 3, Rear USB ports: 6, Total storage: 120GB SSD, 1TB Hard disk, Graphics card: AMD Radeon R7 265, Display: 23in Asus VS239HV, Operating system: Windows 8.1
Best desktops for over £1,000
1. Yoyotech BlackBox DB3
The Yoyotech Blackbox DB3 has a gigantic transparent side panel that gives you a glimpse at its powerful components. An Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 gives the system plenty of gaming punch and the eminently powerful six-core Intel i7-5930K is well-cooled by a Corsair liquid cooler.
You also get plenty of storage space and we were pleased to find the Yoyotech BlackBox DB3 ran quietly, even when its adjustable fans were set to performance mode, meaning the noise never became distracting. It has an MSI X99S Gaming 7 motherboard that will also mean future upgrades are well accommodated.
Price when reviewed: £1,735. Read our full Yoyotech BlackBox DB3 review for details.
Processor: Six-core 3.5GHz Intel Core i7-5930K, RAM: 16GB, Front USB ports : 2x USB3, 2x USB2, Rear USB ports: 8x USB3, 2x USB2, Total storage: 120GB SSD, 2TB Hard disk, Graphics card: 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 Gaming Edition, Display: N/A, Operating system: Windows 8.1
2. Chillblast Fusion Ares
The Chillblast Fusion Ares is a breathtakingly beautiful and well put together PC that uses a powerful six-core Intel Core i7 “Haswell-E” processor and a high-quality Intell X99-based board all housed within an elegant and understated NZXT H440 case. A quality Samsung 840 Evo SSD makes everything feel super responsive and the2GB VTX3D Radeon R8 285 X-Edition GPU brings great gaming performance, making the Fusion Ares a fantastic all-round performer.
Price when reviewed: £1,400. Read our full Chillblast Fusion Ares review for details.
Processor: Six-core 4.2GHz Intel Core i7-5820K, RAM: 16GB, Front USB ports : 2x USB3, 2x USB2, Rear USB ports: 6x USB3, 4x USB2, Total storage: 250GB SSD, 2TB Hard disk, Graphics card: 2GB VTX3D Radeon R9 285 X-Edition, Display: , Operating system: Windows 8.1
3. Apple 27-inch iMac 2014
You know what to expect from an Apple iMac: a powerful all-in-one computer with a fantastic display and looks to shame a supermodel, but a slightly wince-inducing price. This late 2014 version of the 27in iMac is all of those things and now with a stunning 5K display with a resolution of 5,120x2,880.The display itself is also phenomenal and especially useful if you need a lot of room to work with. It also has fantastic colour accuracy and contrast. If you can afford the iMac, it's impossible not to fall for. The ultimate all-in-one.
Price when reviewed: £1,999. Read our full Apple 27-inch iMac review for details.
Processor: Quad-core 3.5GHz Intel Core i5-4690, RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports : 4x USB3, Rear USB ports: 0, Total storage: 1TB Hard disk, Graphics card: AMD Radeon R9 M290x, Display: 27in IPS LCD, Operating system: OS X 10.10 Yosemite
4. Scan 3XS Z97 Performance GTX
The Scan 3XS Z97 Performance GTX strikes a good balance between scintillating application performance and gaming punch thanks to its combination of Intel's Core i5-4690K 'Devil's Canyon' CPU and Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 graphics card. The system is also incredibly well assembled and includes a dedicated sound card to boot. There's also decent scope for upgrades and the system is equipped with 8GB of fast memory. This all makes the 3XS Z97 Performance GTX a great mid-range gaming PC and excellent value.
Price when reviewed: £1,200. Read our full Scan 3XS Z97 Performance GTX review for details.
Processor: Quad-core 4.7GHz Intel Core i5-4690K, RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports : 4, Rear USB ports: 6, Total storage: 256GB SSD, 2TB Hard disk Graphics card: 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 770, Display: N/A, Operating system: Windows 8.1