Holiday Guide: Best Mainstream PCs and Best Small PCs

by Reads (2,319)

The mainstream desktop market has been changing more quickly than almost any other segment of the consumer tech industry, save perhaps for smartphones and tablets. The boring beige boxes of yesteryear have been replaced with stunning designs, wild lighting, and razor-thin all-in-ones. 

We’ve picked some of our highest rated desktops, as well as a few that tickled our first impressions. 

If you can’t quite choose the best PC for your needs, take heart! The knowledgeable team in our ‘What Desktop Should I Buy?‘ forum have your back, and will walk you through your next big purchase.

#1 Apple Mac Mini

Apple Mac Mini

Apple recently updated the littlest Mac ever, giving the Mac Mini a much-needed performance boost. The new update really puts the Mac Mini into a class of its own in terms of offering a mix of power efficiency, performance, and size – though you do end up paying a slight price premium at the higher end of the lineup.

Like the previous generation, the new Mac Minis feature a single Thunderbolt port, Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 3.0 ports, and an SDXC card slot. There’s also Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11a/b/g/n (2.4GHz and 5GHz) built in. 

In terms of performance, this update finally brings Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs to the Mini line, though you’re unsurprisingly stuck with dual-core chips at the low-end. Similarly, graphics are provided by integrated Intel HD 4000 on-die GPUs. The days of the discrete Mac Mini GPU are behind us, at least for this iteration.

Rating Average: 9 out of 10

Read more about the Apple Mac Mini

#2 Dell Inspiron 660s

Dell Inspiron 660s

High-end Alienware rigs are nice, but they’re not where the Round Rock computer giant makes all of its money. The value-centric Inspiron desktop line has always been a consistently strong seller, offering consumers a basic desktop that handles the majority of what users need without breaking the bank.

The Inspiron line has change very, very little over the last couple of generations – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We reviewed the Inspiron 580s, and the new 660s features the same brightly colored facades, allowing you to personalize your computer to fit your room. Most importantly, it keeps the low, low price – under $300

Rating Average: 8 out of 10

Read the Dell Inspiron 580s Review

#3 HP Pavilion 20 All-in-one

HP Pavilion 20 all-in-one

What’s not to love about the Pavilion 20 All-in-one? It’s cheap, it’s light, and it gets the job done. Basic dual-core functionality, but all of the Windows 8 goodness, along with a 20-inch, 1366×768 display.

The Pavilion 20 is HP’s most affordable entry in the new suite of Windows 8-powered all-in-ones, but don’t let that stop you from taking a look. It’s an easy way to get up and going with just a single cord.

Rating Average: 8 out of 10

Read more about the HP Pavilion 20 All-in-one

#4 Dell Inspiron One 23 All-in-one

Dell Inspiron 23 all-in-one

Computer manufacturers are churning out all-in-one updates left and right, but Dell has remained silent. That silence was recently broken thanks to the introduction of the Dell Inspiron One 2320, a new 23-inch update to Dell’s all-in-one lineup. The Inspiron One 2320 includes Blu-ray, lots of storage, and a gorgeous HD display.

The new design for the Inspiron One computer hearkens back to HP’s older TouchSmart models, which offered the same three-point easel design: two legs in the front, and a folding plane in the rear. Inside, you’ll find that Dell’s kept the spec sheet for this new all-in-one fairly competitive, offering up newer Intel Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs, discrete NVIDIA GeForce GT525M graphics, HDMI-in, Blu-ray optical drives, up to 8GB of DDR3 SDRAM and more.

You’ll also get a wireless keyboard and mouse setup, as well as Intel’s Wi-Di Wireless Dispay compatibility (which lets you send video wirelessly from your computer to compatible nearby displays).

Rating Average: 8 out of 10

Read more about the Dell Inspiron One 23 All-in-one

#5 ASUS ET27 All-in-one


The ASUS ET27000 is a consumer multimedia all-in-one with a huge Full HD 27-inch display. ASUS boasts of the ET2700’s performance, 178 degree wide viewing angles, and rich sound.

Since the ET2700 will essentially look like an HDTV sitting on your desk, the video ASUS put together to show off this bad boy features it mounted up on a wall.

Using it in your living room will be a breeze too, thanks to the wireless keyboard, mouse and subwoofer included in every purchase. It also has an optional 10-finger multitouch display.

At 27 inches, the ASUS ET2700 might not be just your new computer – it might be your new HDTV, too.

Rating Average: 8 out of 10

Read the ASUS ET27 All-in-one Review


Back to DesktopReview Holiday Guide 2012

Want to know which desktops are tops in the minds of DesktopReview‘s readers?  Check out our Most Popular Desktops lists, based on traffic across our site!



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