Best desktop PC 2015 - Windows 10 PC buying guide

The very best desktop PCs around, from all-in-ones to hardcore gaming rigs - now with Windows 10

Got a relative who wants a PC for Christmas? We have you covered: 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.

Jump to the best desktop list

Desktop buying guide

Processing power

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.

Graphics cards

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.

Storage space

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. 

Windows 10

Until the end of July 2016, any PC running a legitimate copy of Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 is eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft's latest operating system. Most of the systems listed here will ship with Windows 10 pre-installed (we reviewed them with Windows 8.1 installed), but depending on the age of stock, you may sometimes find yourself with a Windows 8.1 PC instead. The upgrade process to Windows 10 isn't particularly long or difficult, but the 3GB software download required may be achingly slow depending on your internet connection. We'd recommend upgrading to Windows 10 as soon as you start using your new PC, so you can immediately get used to the updated user interface and more desktop-friendly design as soon as possible.

Some of the custom PC builders listed here will also supply your PC with Windows 7 or 8.1 if you'd prefer; this is something you have to choose during the customisation process.

We have a number of guides on the process, including how to install Windows 10, and a series of articles on Windows 10's new features

Buy soon

If you're buying from a custom builder (such as Scan, Chillblast etc), order as soon as possible. These firms get extremely busy in the run up to Christmas, so it's worth being ahead of the game to avoid disappointment. 

Best Desktops 2015

Best desktops for under £1,000

1. Acer Revo One RL85 - a mini miracle 

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, Operating system: Windows 8.1

2. Zotac Zbox Nano Ci321 (Plus) - a budget media PC

Zotac Zbox Nano CI321 Plus

Media streaming PCs are at their best when they're small, subtly styled and quiet, and the Zotac ticks all those boxes. In fact, it's completely silent, with passive cooling possible due to the incredibly low TDP of the Celeron processor inside. Of course, such low power results in fairly leisurely performance, but as long as your needs are modest, you'll have no issues. 

The other benefit of this PC is that it's easily upgradable. There's a proper 2.5in SSD inside which can easily be removed, and you can also upgrade the RAM, too. For just £230 it's a bit of a steal and worth the money for anyone who wants to add to their home cinema setup on the cheap.

Price when reviewed: £230. Read our full Zotac Zbox Nano Ci321 (Plus) review for details.

Processor socket: N/A, Chipset: Intel, Memory slots: 1,PCI-E x16 slots: 0, USB ports: 4x USB3, 1x USB, Video outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort, Max 2 1/2in drive bays: 1

3. Asus Chromebox - a great first PC

Asus Chromebox front angle

The Asus Chromebox isn't for power users or even those who want a media streaming PC. It is however perfect for somebody with very modest needs or even a child who only needs a fairly limited, web-based PC for their bedroom. It may not have heartrate-boosting specifications, but with the lightweight Chrome OS installed performance still feels genuinely sprightly. 

Working on documents, browsing image-heavy webpages and watching online videos is quick and easy, and you'll have no problem doing all the basic tasks you'd normally do on a much larger PC. A keyboard and mouse are supplied, but you'll need a monitor in order to use the Chromebox. For £208, it's a great buy.

Price when reviewed: £208. Read our full Asus Chromebox M031U review for more details.

Processor: Dual-core 1.4GHz Intel Celeron 2955U, RAM: 4GB, Front USB ports : 2x USB3, Rear USB ports: 2x USB3, Total storage: 16GB SSD, Graphics card: Intel HD Graphics, Operating system: Chrome OS

4. Palicomp AMD Shockwave - Full HD gaming on a budget

Palicomp has squeezed an impressive amountr of power into the tight £500 budget. Much of the cost saving has come from the use of a cheap quad-core AMD Athlon X40 860K and while this chip won't offer Intel Core i5-levels of performance, for the money there's very little that can touch it. Overclocked to 4GHz, it achieved respectable results in our Windows benchmark tests. 

Saving money on the processor, Palicomp has chosen the budget-friendly AMD Radeon R7 370 with 4GB of memory. It'll handle the latest games in Full HD with a little bit of tweaking, and older titles and less intensive ones will be no problem whatsoever. 

If bang for buck is your priority, there's little better than the Palicomp AMD Shockwave.

Price when reveiwed: £500. For more information, read our full Palicomp AMD Shockwave review

Processor: Quad-core 4GHz AMD Athlon X4 860K (overclocked), RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports : 2x USB3, Rear USB ports: 4x USB2, 2x USB3, Total storage: 1TB hybrid hard disk,Graphics card: 4GB AMD Radeon R7 370, Display: None,Operating system: Windows 10 Home 64-bit

5. Yoyotech Warbird RS10 - the complete gaming package

Yoyotech Warbird RS10

Yoyotech's Warbird RS10 squeezes and awful lot of power into the £700 budget we set them (£600 without a monitor). The quad-core Skylake-series Intel Core i5-6600K has been overclocked to 4.4GHz, producing stellar results in our benchmark tests. Video and photography work are well within the reaches of this PC. For graphics, you get an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960, which is one of the best-value graphics cards you can buy, and is perfect for Full HD gaming. There's 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard disk and plenty of room for future expansion, making this a solid all-rounder.

Price when reviewed: £700. Click here to read our full Yoyotech Warbird RS10 review

Processor: Quad-core 4.4GHz Intel Core i5-6600K (overclocked), RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports : 2x USB3, Rear USB ports: 6x USB3, Total storage: 1TB hard disk, Graphics card: 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 960,Display: 22in Iiyama ProLite E2283HS, Operating system: Windows 10 Home

Best desktops for over £1,000

1. Scan 3XS Z170 Performance GTK6 - Overclocked Skylake perfection

Scan was quick off the marks when it came to producing a stable, overclocked Intel Skylake-based system, but within their £1,000 budget, the firm managed a very well specified and powerful machine. The quad-core 3.5GHz Intel Core i5-6600K, overclocked to 4.6GHz, is astonishingly quick for the money, ready to power through any multimedia tasks you throw at it.

The Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 graphics card provides great gaming performance, meanwhile, and the 256GB SSD and 1TB hard disk will eat up your files and games with ease. Our only complaint is with the choice of chassis, which is a trifle dull. But that's something you can configure to your liking, so it's not a big deal. 

Price when reviewed: £1,000. Read our full Scan 3XS Z70 Performance GTK6 review

Processor: Quad-core 3.5GHz Intel Core i5-6600K (Overclocked), RAM: 8GB, Front USB ports : 4x USB3, Rear USB ports: 2x USB 3.1, 1x USB 3.1 type-C, 2x USB2, Total storage: 256GB SSD, 1TB hard disk,Graphics card: 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970, Operating system: Windows 10

2. Wired2Fire Diablo Elite - Extreme gaming for under £1600

The Wired2Fire Diablo Elite topped our benchmark rankings with the highest score we've ever seen from a desktop PC. There's little surprise, though; the Skylake-generation 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K has been overclocked to Turbo Boost at 4.7GHz, and the firm has thrown in a Fractal closed-circuit water cooler to keep temperatures in line. 

Elsewhere, the 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti is a superb 4K performer, managing to post some seriously high frame rates in games running at Ultra HD resolution. If you only have a Full HD monitor it's almost certainly overkill, but if you run multiple screens or have a high-resolution panel, it will fit the bill. A 500GB SSD and a 2TB hard disk mean there's plenty of room for pretty much everything you can think of, and a generous 16GB of RAM means the machine will likely exceed the recommended specifications of games for years to come. 

Our only complaint is the slightly drab chassis, and while you can switch it out for another one on Wired2Fire's website, none of the alternatives are particularly appealing. Still, it's a ridiculously powerful PC at a great price.

Price when reviewed: £1,549. For more information, read our full Wired2Fire Diablo Elite review

Processor: Quad-core 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K (overclocked), RAM: 16GB, Front USB ports : 2x USB3, Rear USB ports: 1x USB3.1, 1x USB3.1 Type-C, 4x USB3, 2x USB2, Total storage: 500GB SSD, 2TB hard disk, Graphics card: 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti, Display: N/A, Operating system: Windows 10 Home 64-bit

3. Chillblast Fusion Ares - A beautiful beast

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 Intel 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, Operating system: Windows 10

4. Apple 27in iMac with Retina 5K display (2015) - Perfect for photographers

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 2015 version of the 27in iMac is all of those things and now with a stunning 5K display with a resolution of  5,120x2,880.

It also has fantastic colour accuracy and contrast, which has been improved for this year's model. The 2015 5K iMac now supports the DCI P3 colour space, which will be a big deal for photographers and videographers alike.  If you can afford the iMac, it's impossible not to fall for. It's he ultimate all-in-one.

Processor: 3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5-6500, RAM: 8GB,Front USB ports : 0, Rear USB ports: 4x USB3, Total storage: 1TB fusion drive, Graphics card: AMD Radeon R9 M390, Display: Apple 27in integrated,Operating system: Apple OS X 10.11 El Capitan