Whether it's for music, gaming or movies, a pair of the best PC speakers are a must if you want to enjoy immersive audio
If you want to enjoy an engaging, immersive audio experience at your desk, you’re going to need to add a pair of the best PC speakers to your desktop setup.
Also known as desktop speakers, PC speakers are a simple way to improve upon the sound quality delivered by monitors and laptops which tends to be pretty disappointing. Without the need for large amplifiers or lots of connection cables, as with most passive speakers, they are usually simple to set up, too.
Whether you’re looking for a cheap, compact audio solution or you’re upgrading to an audiophile experience to do your custom-built gaming rig justice, we’ve tested plenty of the best computer speakers available and have listed our favourites, fitting a range of price points, down below. Do also read through our other guides to the best speakers full stop and best bookshelf speakers, as well as plenty of gaming-related roundups covering the best PC gaming keyboards, best gaming chairs and best gaming monitors for your setup.
How we test PC speakers
Our PC speaker testing involves assessing audio performance levels across the full range of a particular product’s connections. For most PC speakers, this sees us viewing and listening to content via a USB-C or 3.5mm analogue connection, though we’ll also test out how the speaker sounds when streaming over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections where supported.
Speakers are fed content from a variety of sources, including but not limited to films and shows on services such as Netflix and Prime Video, playlists on Spotify and YouTube videos. If high-resolution or Dolby Atmos audio are supported, we ensure that the test material we’re using meets the relevant standards. Performance is tested at multiple volume levels to evaluate consistency in frequency spectrum reproduction and we make sure to push speakers to the limits to note any distortion that might occur at higher volumes.
We also analyse how easy speakers are to get up and running and integrate into a desktop setup, taking into account speaker size, shape and the position of its connection ports.
1. Creative T60: The best PC speakers for home offices
Price when reviewed: £63 | Check price at Amazon
Creative’s new T60 desktop speakers are among the cheapest PC speakers you can buy that offer truly decent sound quality, instead of producing a noise that’s barely better than your laptop speakers.
Listen to them with your eyes closed and you’d swear you were listening to speakers costing three times as much and with drivers considerably larger than the 2.75in full-range modules that nestle inside each unit. The sheer loudness is impressive: we recorded peak sound levels of 91dB at a 1m distance, although some distortion does rear its ugly head when you crank the volume right up.
Sound quality is not the only thing these speakers do well, though. They’re also exceptionally well specified and even include (unusually for sub-£100 speakers) a built-in DAC. This means you can connect them to a USB sound source, as well as via the more usual 3.5mm AUX and Bluetooth inputs.
And, thanks to that USB socket, you can also use the T60 with Creative’s SmartComms Kit software, which offers automatic noise cancellation and auto-mute when you connect your microphone or headset via the 3.5mm input jacks. All in all, these are superb desktop speakers and are especially well suited for use as part of a home office communications setup.
Key specs – System Configuration: 2.0; Power Output: 2 x 15W RMS; Supported Codecs: SBC; Connectivity: Bluetooth, AUX-in, USB; Size: 157 x 92 x 199mm; Weight: 1.9kg
2. Edifier S351DB: The best PC speakers for all-round sound and features
Price when reviewed: £280 | Check price at Amazon
Edifier may not be the best-known manufacturer of audio equipment but we’ve yet to come across anything carrying its name that hasn’t impressed us. The S351DB system is no different. It’s a conventional 2.1 rig that comes with a monstrous subwoofer and a plethora of connectivity options, including aptX Bluetooth 4.0, 2 x RCA line-in, plus coaxial and optical digital. The sub uses a wired connection to its satellite speakers, which means there’s a fair amount of cable spaghetti but the plus side is you only need one power socket for the whole system.
All three boxes are built from veneered MDF but there are no mesh grilles, making this a system that will appeal to users who want their speaker system to look “high tech” rather than “hi-fi”. Edifier even includes a remote control, although you can turn the system on and off and adjust the volume, treble and bass using controls on the side of the master satellite speaker, which also has a small and rather hard-to-read LED source indicator under the main driver.
The sound quality is excellent, with plenty of detail and a massive amount of bass if you turn the subwoofer up to 11. The S351DB is perhaps more at home with music and video sources than gaming because the system is tuned for warmth and balance rather than staccato detail but that subwoofer certainly gives gaming sound effects some serious impact.
Key specs – System Configuration: 2.1; Power Output: 2 x 40W, 1 x 70W RMS; Supported Codecs: SBC, aptX; Connectivity: RCA Line-In, Coaxial, Optical, Bluetooth; Size: 312 x 265 x 289mm (sub), 156 x 127 x 217mm (satellites); Weight: 18.3kg (12kg x 1, 3.15kg x 2)
3. Creative Stage SE: Best budget PC soundbar
Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at Amazon
If money is tight and you just want simple, compact soundbar to improve your PC audio, the Creative Stage SE is the bar to buy. Audio quality is superior to other soundbars in the Stage SE’s price bracket, with a robust bass response and decent vocal clarity combining to create what is a pretty immersive soundstage for an all-in-one desktop audio solution this cheap.
Its compact design helps it fit seamlessly under most monitors, while intuitive controls, including a handy volume wheel, make it a user-friendly option to plug in and enjoy right away. The only connectivity you might miss is an AUX-in but as an alternative to traditional PC speakers, the Stage SE does so much else right at extremely low cost that its absence is easy enough to forgive.
Read our full Creative Stage SE review for more details
Key specs – System Configuration: 2.0; Power Output: 48W RMS; Supported Codecs: SBC; Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB-C to USB-A; Size: 108 x 410 x 68mm (HWD); Weight: 1.22kg
4. Adam Audio T5V: The best-value active PC speakers
Price when reviewed: £138 (sold singly) | Check price at Amazon
Adam Audio is known for delivering high-end studio monitors at a similarly high-end price, but the T5V prove that you can have your affordable cake and eat it. They’re not the lightest or most stylish speakers around, but they deliver superb sound for the price.
The bass is rich and, while the treble isn’t quite as impressive, it was still pleasant to listen to in our tests. The T5V are loud too, with a volume that will easily fill most medium-sized rooms. That’s partly due to a scooped-out waveguide that helps the sound reflected off of the ceilings and walls stay true to what’s directly coming out of the speaker. They even sounded great in our echoey living room.
The all-black design might not appeal to those who prefer a wooden effect, but there’s no denying the sheer amount of quality you’re getting here for under £150. The Adam Audio T5V go toe-to-toe with hi-fi systems that cost two or even three times more. They’re a brilliant achievement.
Read our full Adam Audio T5V review for more details
Key specs – Type: 2.0 stereo; Inputs: XLR and RCA; Dimensions: 197 x 297 x 298mm (each satellite)
5. Creative Pebble V3: The best compact PC speakers
Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at Amazon
The V3 are the first speakers in Creative’s affordable Pebble range to feature Bluetooth connectivity and are an excellent choice for those with limited budgets and desk space.
The USB-powered spherical satellites are compact enough to be slotted into just about any desktop setup, while audio quality is good given the low cost of entry. Dialogue is communicated particularly well, but those wanting impactful bass reproduction will be better served by a 2.1 speaker setup like the Pebble Plus.
Simple to use, space-efficient and packing up to 8W RMS of power, the Pebble V3 are a superb value-for-money way of improving your laptop or desktop PC’s audio performance.
Read our full Creative Pebble V3 review for more details
Key specs – Type: 2.0; Inputs: USB-C, 3.5mm AUX-in, Bluetooth 5.0; Outputs: None; Dimensions: 123 x 120 x 118mm (each satellite)
6. Ruark MR1 MKII: The most stylish PC speakers
Price when reviewed: £349 | Check price at Amazon
The Ruark MR1 MKII combine phenomenal sound quality with a compact, classy aesthetic that will appeal to those with a sensibility for retro design. There’s great width to their soundstage and this provides ample space for individual instruments to be expertly articulated. Mids and treble are extremely clean and there’s real depth to their bass extension. They pack a powerful punch, too; you’re unlikely to need to push them above 50% volume while at your desk watching a film or listening to a playlist.
Primarily designed for use over Bluetooth, the MR1 MKII feature AUX-in and optical inputs on the rear of their right satellite. These additional connection options are very welcome and mean the MR1 can gamely double up as TV speakers if you don’t own a soundbar. You can even use them as portable speakers if you’re willing to fork out an additional £69 for Ruark’s battery pack, the BackPack 3.
Controlling the MR1 couldn’t be easier via the included remote, which lets you switch sources, adjust volume and pair the speakers with up to eight different devices. Simple to set up and use, easy on the eye and wonderfully musical, the Ruark MR1 MKII are a superb addition to any desktop setup.
Key specs – Type: 2.0 stereo satellite speakers; Inputs: Bluetooth, AUX-in and Toslink optical; Outputs: Subwoofer out; Dimensions: 130 x 140 x 175mm (each satellite)
7. Creative Pebble Plus: The best cheap 2.1 PC speakers
Price when reviewed: £35 | Check price at Argos
If you’re looking for something with a decent amount of oomph and don’t have a lot to spend, the Creative Pebble Plus is an excellent choice. Unlike the Logitech Z200 or the Creative Pebble V3, the Plus has a dedicated subwoofer; this improves the speakers’ frequency response, which extends down to 50Hz as opposed to 100Hz on the 2.0 system.
The speakers don’t require any additional power, just one of your computer’s USB sockets and a 3.5mm auxiliary port. Angled at 45˚, the system reproduces a pleasant audio experience with impressive bass tones, accurate-sounding mids and a wide soundstage – it’s loud enough to fill a small bedroom.
Key specs – Type: 2.1 stereo; Inputs: 3.5mm input; Outputs: None; Dimensions: 116 x 122 x 115mm (satellites)
8. Razer Leviathan V2: Best PC soundbar and subwoofer combination
Price when reviewed: £192 | Check price at Amazon
If you’re looking for a powerful, colourful and compact soundbar and subwoofer to boost your PC audio, the Razer Leviathan V2 is our pick of the options available. At 500mm wide, the bar sits perfectly underneath 25in monitors, while the subwoofer slots under desks with minimal fuss. The system is capable of delivering 65W of sound, which is more than enough when you’re sitting in close proximity to it, and THX Spatial Audio adds a level of immersion to compatible content. The discrete sub packs a hearty low-end punch to give bassy film and game soundtracks extra oomph and the bar itself handles mids and treble confidently.
Connection options aren’t the most extensive, but Bluetooth provides a welcome wireless option if you’re not hooking the bar up to your PC using the included USB-C to USB-A cable or simply want to use the Leviathan V2 to stream music from your phone. Speaking of your phone, the Razer Audio mobile app allows you to select from Music, Game, Movie and Flat EQs, or create your own using a ten-band graphic equaliser. You can also customise the Chroma lighting effect on the bottom of the bar, and similar options can also be found in the Razer Synapse software for PC.
If you don’t want to make room for the subwoofer, Razer sells the Leviathan V2 X for £100. Like the V2, the V2 X is customisable via the Razer Audio app and Razer Synapse software but is a standalone soundbar and even more compact than the V2 at just 400mm wide.
Read our full Razer Leviathan V2 review for more details
Key specs – Type: 2.1 stereo; Inputs: Bluetooth 5.2, USB-C; Outputs: Subwoofer; Dimensions: Soundbar – 500 x 91 x 84mm, subwoofer – 220 x 220 x 242mm
9. JBL One Series 104-BT: Punchy, crisp and pleasingly versatile
Price when reviewed: £183 | Check price at Amazon
JBL’s One Series 104 were impressive desktop speakers, but the new model adds Bluetooth to the mix. The result is great-sounding speakers that are perfectly suited to both work and play.
The 60-watt Class D amplifier delivers 30 watts to each speaker, and this pushes the 4.5in woofer and 0.75in tweeter to surprisingly high volumes. Sound quality is good too, with enough bass to give music a decent amount of weight, and a high-end that reveals detail in everything from Zoom calls to delicate classical works.
The killer feature here is that you can listen to all three analogue inputs and Bluetooth input simultaneously. That means you can stream music wirelessly while still hearing notifications and receiving voice or video calls from your other devices – and that’s genuinely handy.
No, they’re not as refined as bigger active speakers, but if you’re looking for great sound in a compact, versatile package, they’re hard to beat.
Read our full JBL One Series 104-BT review for more details
Key specs – Type: 2.0; Inputs: 6.35mm balanced, TRS unbalanced, 3.5mm AUX-in, Bluetooth 5.0; Outputs: Headphones; Dimensions: 247 x 153 x 124mm (each satellite)
10. Creative T100: Attractive stereo speakers with connection options aplenty
Price when reviewed: £100 | Check price at Amazon
The Creative T100 doesn’t try to do anything too flashy but does the basics extremely well. The setup sounds great whatever you’re listening to and there are a number of different ways in which you can connect to your audio output, with a 3.5mm port, optical-in, USB Type-A and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.
You’ll want to connect the speakers via the 3.5mm cable when watching video content to avoid audio lag, but aside from that minor quibble, it’s hard to fault this pair of compact and smartly designed desktop speakers, which can be controlled via an included infrared remote.
Read our full Creative T100 review for more details
Key specs – Type: 2.0 stereo; Inputs: 3.5mm line-in, optical-in, Bluetooth 5.0, USB (FAT32, 32GB maximum); Outputs: N/A; Dimensions: 220 x 90 x 120mm
11. Razer Nommo Pro: The best premium PC speakers for gaming
Price when reviewed: £417 | Check price at Razer
This pricey 2.1 speaker system includes two futuristically designed satellites, a beefy downward-firing subwoofer and a control hub that allows you to select from the impressive range of input sources on offer. Bluetooth, optical, analogue and USB can all be connected simultaneously and switched between at the simple press of a button.
You can also select between three audio modes using Razer’s Synapse 3 software: stereo, THX and Dolby Virtual Surround, giving you great flexibility in how you listen to music or enjoy in-game audio. And for lovers of RGB, the satellites provide minimalist lighting via thin LED strips on their bases.
The sheer size of the Nommo Pro makes it a poor choice for those short on desk space but if you have the room to accommodate it, it’s a powerful and versatile system that will enhance your audio experience whether you’re gaming, watching a movie or simply listening to some tunes.
Key specs – Type: 2.1 stereo (plus virtual surround sound); Inputs: 3.5mm, Bluetooth 4,2, optical, USB-B; Outputs: None; Dimensions: Satellites – 27 x 13cm, Subwoofer – 39 x 27cm
12. Edifier S3000 Pro: Incredible stereo sound – but expensive
Price: £489 | Check price at Amazon
The S3000 Pro active speakers are exceptional. Housed inside a beautiful wooden enclosure, the pair of 6.5in aluminium mid-to-low-end drivers and 107mm planar tweeters deliver an outstanding 256W of RMS power. These can get incredibly loud and yet it’s not the sheer volume of this system that will blow you away – it’s the quality. The pair delivers an incredible soundstage, an exquisite bassline that extends down to 38Hz and highs that sparkle at the top end.
For connectivity, you’ve got a selection of wired connections and Bluetooth, with some for the Hi-res aptX HD codec. The right and left speaker units are also wirelessly connected but there’s no wire between the two so you will need to connect each to its own power socket. You can tailor the sound to your liking using volume, bass and treble knobs located on the rear of the right speaker and there are also four EQ profiles that can be accessed via the included IR remote.
If you like the look of the S3000 Pro but want a more compact and affordable option, Edifier’s S2000 MKIII are well worth checking out.
Key specs – Type: 2.0 stereo; Inputs: USB, RCA, Balanced XLR (3-pin), coaxial, optical, Bluetooth; Outputs: N/A; Dimensions: 356 x 232 x 268mm
13. Creative Sound Blaster Katana SE: Best compact soundbar for PC gaming
Price when reviewed: £300 | Check price at Creative
The Katana SE is a single-unit soundbar that uses two up-firing mid-bass drivers in place of a discrete subwoofer. It loses out on a bit of low-end oomph compared to its stablemates the Katana V2 and V2X as a result, but the upside is that you don’t have to find room for a chunky sub.
That’s handy if space is at a premium but the Katana SE has more going for it than just its compact all-in-one nature. Its audio is clear and balanced and can be customised extensively using the Creative app, while the bar makes a decent fist of virtual surround sound. Its attractive LED display can be personalised, while connection options are wide-ranging and enable you to use the bar with your TV as well as your PC.
If you’re a PC gamer who prioritises practicality over low-end power, this is the option for you.
Read our Creative Sound Blaster Katana SE review for more details
Key specs – Type: 2.0 soundbar; Inputs: HDMI (ARC), Toslkink optical-in, 3.5mm AUX-in, USB-C input, optical, Bluetooth 5.0; Outputs: SXFI; Dimensions: 650 x 109 x 78mm
How much do I need to spend?
You can buy a little set of stereo (also known as 2.0) speakers for your PC or Mac for as little as £10, and while they may be an improvement on the tinny sound that emanates from most laptops and tablets, they’re never going to let you sit back and wallow in your favourite tunes. So, even if you’re working to a tight budget, we’d generally advise that you budget to spend around £30 on a basic set of speakers that do offer a real upgrade.
It’s hard to quantify something as subjective as audio quality, but the physical build quality of a set of PC speakers can often be a good indication. Cheaper speakers that are housed in a lightweight plastic “cabinet” tend to vibrate as you start to pump up the volume, causing distortion that affects the sound quality. That’s not to say that plastic speakers are all automatically terrible, but it’s not until you spend around £100 that you get solid rattle-free build quality that does its bit to reduce distortion and improve clarity.
As you head towards and beyond the £200 mark, you’ll also start to come across PC speaker cabinets made out of wood, with MDF being a popular choice for many manufacturers and audio enthusiasts. You’ll also find that speakers may boast more potent amplification (measured in watts), which may provide higher volumes and clearer sound compared to lower-end models.
Above the £300 level, you’re getting into audiophile territory so it’s worth doing a bit of research of your own before buying. Since many speakers at this level are designed for proper hi-fi or music production, you may find that local music and hi-fi shops will allow you to compare multiple models before splashing out. When you’re spending this kind of money, it’s worth checking which speakers you prefer the sound of.
What kind of connections should I look out for?
One other thing to remember is that most stereo PC speakers are not intended to be portable. They’ll spend most of their time sitting on a desk or shelf at home, so they’ll often use a 3.5mm audio cable to connect to your PC. Certain stereo speakers may offer Bluetooth as an extra feature – so you can use them wirelessly with a smartphone or tablet – but you’ll generally get better results with a wired connection.
Speakers with Bluetooth aptX technology avoid most of the sound-quality compromises that can mar the audio quality of lesser Bluetooth speakers. However, some high-end speakers also offer Wi-Fi connectivity, which uses your Wi-Fi network to deliver improved wireless sound quality. This often goes hand in hand with the option of linking multiple speakers together as part of a multiroom speaker system.
Some speakers may also include a USB interface. This can be handy for smaller speakers, as it allows them to draw their power supply from the USB, with no need for any additional power cables. Speakers with a USB input option may also provide a DAC (digital to analogue converter) that’s capable of handling high-res audio files.
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Do I want 2.0 or 2.1 PC speakers?
For most people, the decision between 2.0 (stereo) and 2.1 (stereo plus subwoofer) systems will come down to space and neatness. The extra space and cabling required for 2.1 systems, which include two smaller satellite speakers alongside a separate subwoofer, may be enough to put some people off straight away. The benefit of a 2.1 system is that the smaller speakers can handle the less demanding upper frequencies, while the larger subwoofer deals with the rumble and thump of the bass regions.
If you’re looking for the loudest, most bombastic sound on a budget – say, for gaming – a 2.1 system is a good shout. Spend similar money on a good 2.0 system, however, and you’ll generally get a better quality of sound, with more clarity and detail, and tighter, less exaggerated bass. It’s also worth remembering that some 2.0 speakers include an output connector for a subwoofer, which will allow you to upgrade your speaker system with a standalone subwoofer in the future.
What manual controls should I look out for?
The most basic PC speaker systems have no controls of their own, and you just have to control the outputs once you’ve connected them to your computer. However, many systems come with manual controls that let you adjust variants such as volume, bass and treble levels to fine-tune audio output to your preference. You’re always better off opting for the models that have manual controls, but this is dependent on personal preference. If the speakers you’re considering include these controls, be sure they’re easily reachable: on the left or right speaker or satellite, or on a control pod or remote control, rather than on the back of a subwoofer that will reside under your desk, for instance.