Desktop computer buying guide

We reveal what you need to consider when buying a desktop computer.
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  • Desktop computers still offer the best value for your dollar. 
  • Although notebooks and ultrabooks are more portable and powerful than ever, you can usually buy a faster desktop, with more storage capacity, for less money. 
  • A desktop PC allows you to update components, and swap out faulty parts, extending its life expectancy for potentially less than buying a new notebook.

There are two types of desktop PC: 

  • The traditional desktop, also known as a tower. 
  • All-in-one desktop - where interior components are contained in the same case as the monitor.

While all-in-ones are great space savers, you generally can’t upgrade the internal hardware without professional help. Desktops take up more space, but they offer more upgrade freedom than all-in-ones, notebooks and ultrabooks.

Before buying a computer think about what you want and what you will be using it for. You might be looking for an entry-level or budget PC for basic computing, a mid-range PC for the family, or a multimedia and gaming powerhouse. Whether you buy a system off-the-shelf, have one built-to-order or take the all-in-one option, you’ll need to know what’s available, how the components work and how they compare.

This guide will help you choose the best system for your needs. It focuses on Windows-based PCs, but the non-Windows specific information and guidelines still apply to other computing platforms such as Mac and Linux.

For more information on computers, parts and accessories, see our Computers and accessories page.




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