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Desktop computer reviews

Last updated: 18 August 2014

In a time when mobile computing is all the rage, the humble desktop computer still has a place. You can easily find one with better performance and more functionality than any portable gizmo, all for a fraction of the price. Our desktop computer buying guide will help you decide which features and specifications you need and how we test explains what goes on in the CHOICE computer labs.

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Our test covers Windows and Mac desktop computers.

Our expert testers give every computer a thorough workout to help find the models that:

  • are the best performers
  • are easiest to use
  • cost the least to run
  • have the best displays.

Our interactive comparison tool helps you find which computers have all the specs you need, such as touchscreen, a TV tuner and HDMI inputs and outputs. Our Recommended list will help you see quickly which models come out on top.

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List of brands we tested in this review.


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Price paid in June 2014.

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Operating system

Test results

Ease of use score
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We assess supplied security hardware and software, if any, along with the format and comprehensiveness of any manuals. We also assess the monitor for brightness/contrast, glare/surface reflections, angles of view and video playback; and assess keyboard and mouse, general design features and the desktop's overall style.

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Display score
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Display score is made up of colour, brightness and contrast (50%), text (20%), glare/surface reflections (10%), angles of view (10%) and Blu-ray playback (10%).

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Performance score
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We compare each computer's performance using a combination of tests that reflect everyday usage. The tests cover processor and graphics performance, memory and storage.  Included in the testing are comparisons using cross-platform benchmarking software that allows us to compare desktops with different operating systems - in this case Windows 7, Windows 8 and Mac OS X.

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Annual energy cost
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We measure each desktop's power consumption in active use and on standby, calculating an annual cost based on an average use scenario of six hours per day in use, plus 18 hours per day on standby, costed at 26c per kilowatt hour.

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HDMI output
DVD burner
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DVD+/-RW drive: reads and writes DVDs and CDs.

Card reader
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Various media card formats are available; check with the manufacturer which are supported.


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RAM: Random-access memory. GB: Gigabyte. 

Screen size
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The size of the image area of the screen, measured diagonally in inches.

Included in this review

Members-only access
  • Recommended
  • Overall score
  • Performance score
  • Ease of use score
  • Display score
  • Annual energy cost
  • Good points
  • Bad points
  • Brand
  • Model
  • Price
  • Operating system
  • Weight
  • Screen size
  • Screen panel type
  • Processor
  • Number of CPU cores
  • CPU family
  • Video
  • Video RAM
  • HDD
  • RAM
  • Wi-Fi
  • DVD burner
  • TV tuner
  • USB 3
  • USB 2
  • Thunderbolt
  • VGA
  • Displayport
  • HDMI input
  • HDMI output
  • Card reader
  • Touchscreen
  • Wall mountable
  • Warranty (months)
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