Best-Rated Desktop Computers

Canstar Blue’s review of desktop computers compares HP, Dell and Apple on performance and reliability, appearance and design, user friendliness, customer service, value for money and overall satisfaction.

See our Ratings Methodology.

Best desktop comptuers 2021

Most Satisfied Customers | HP

HP was rated best in Canstar Blue’s desktop review, achieving five stars for performance and reliability, user friendliness, customer service and overall satisfaction.

Fact Checked Fact Checked

HP hard-wired in top spot for desktop computers

It’s hard to beat laptops and tablets on convenience, but in terms of performance, there’s a long way to go before they can outdo desktop computers. If you’re a professional, having a fast and reliable PC can be the difference between being in the good books with your boss for meeting your Friday deadline or being in the doghouse on Monday. If you’re a gamer, it’s a matter of life or death in the virtual world.

You get it, having a good quality PC is important and sussing out your options even more so. In fact, 49% of the Aussies we surveyed researched their computers before buying anything, and that’s also where we come in handy.

We’ve canvassed the opinions of more than 200 Australians on the desktop computer(s) they’ve recently bought and used in the last three years. Respondents rated their respective brands on performance and reliability, design, user-friendliness, customer service and value for money. Brands that received the minimum survey sample size of 30 responses are included in the table above.

HP ‘clicked’ with consumers in this year’s desktop computer ratings, receiving the only five-star review for overall satisfaction and rating best in several other categories!

Best Desktop Computer Brands

Best desktop computers reviews

Here are the best brands of desktop computers, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s latest review:

  1. HP
  2. Dell
  3. Apple

HP ended the search for the best desktop computer brand with a five-star review for overall satisfaction as well as for performance and reliability, user friendliness and customer service. Dell trailed behind on four stars, followed by Apple on three stars overall. Although, consumers steered towards Dell for bang for buck, with the brand rating best for value for money and five stars for user friendliness. Apple also outshined the rest in terms of design.

Read on for a quick overview of the brands in our report, including the products, prices and specs they offer.

Desktop Computers

HP

HP desktop computer review

HP short for the Hewlett-Packard company, is a leading brand in the space of home electronics, with a range spanning across laptops, printers, toners, desktops and more. HP offers a wide selection of new and refurbished home and work PCs, including monitors, towers and all-in-one computers. Prices in the range start from $639 and can reach up to $4,499 for newer and more advanced models.

If you need a desktop for ‘everyday’ use, there are desktop towers like the HP All-in-One that’s designed to ‘grow with you’ and features a removable panel so that you can upgrade your hardware. The series has several other standout features, such as a 27-inch touchscreen display, AMD Ryzen 5 Processor and a pop-up privacy camera that you can hide when not in use. For serious gamers, HP also offers desktops like the OMEN 30L Desktop PC. This is said to provide complete RGB control and comes with a tempered glass front and side panels, plus raised feet and a large front fan to stay cool.

Here are some other models from HP’s desktop computer range:

  • HP Slim Desktop S01-af1103a PC: $639 RRP*
  • HP Pavilion 27-d060a PC: $2,999 RRP*
  • HP OMEN 30L Desktop GT13-0810a: $1,039 RRP*

HP was rated five stars across several categories, including for performance and reliability, user friendliness, customer service and overall satisfaction. It got four stars for design and value for money.

Dell

Dell desktop computer review

Dell is another well-known multinational computer technology company that spins a decent selection of desktop towers and monitors, all-in-one PCs and gaming computers. The brand often has sales or limited-time deals on certain Dell computers, so it’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for those to score yourself a bargain. More broadly, prices in the range can start from under $1,000 and go up to the $3,500 mark for an XPS Desktop, or reach up to $7,800 for the brand’s Alienware line.

If you’re looking for a home or office computer, the Inspiron 27-inch 7000 All-in-One PC (pictured) is a mid-range option that won’t break the bank. Retailing for $1,499, it features a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10210U processor, plenty of memory and storage and a Windows 10 Pro operating system with remote desktop capability, so you can have access to your PC no matter where you are.

Here are some other models from Dell’s desktop computer range:

  • Dell Inspiron Compact Desktop: from $758.99 RRP*
  • Dell Inspiron 24 5000 All-in-One: $1,199 RRP*
  • Dell Inspiron 27 7000 All-in-One: $2,699 RRP*

Dell impressed users on user friendliness and value for money with five-star reviews, plus got four stars for overall satisfaction and everywhere else.

Apple

Apple iMac review

Tech giant Apple is often the pick of the bunch for the latest tech from earphones, to tablets and laptops and more. The brand also has its very own range of desktop PCs under the iMac banner, usually retailing around the $2,000 mark and reaching nearly $3,500 or more when you add all the bells and whistles. All new Apple desktops are eligible for AppleCare+ protection which provides up to three years of expert technical support and additional hardware coverage from Apple, including up to two incidents of accidental damage protection every 12 months.

Apple’s 24-inch iMac range includes the brand’s latest desktop system and typically comes with 8GB unified memory and a 4.5K retina display. The models with 256GB and 512GB storage additionally come with a magic keyboard with touch ID, two USB ports and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity.

Here are some other models from Apple’s desktop computer range:

  • Apple 24-inch iMac (256GB, 8-Core GPU & CPU): $2,199 RRP*
  • Apple 27-inch iMac (256GB, 3.1GHz 6-Core Processor): $2,699 RRP*
  • Apple 24-inch iMac (512GB, 3.8GHz 8-Core Processor): $3,449 RRP*

Apple rounded up the scores on five stars for appearance and design, and four stars for user friendliness and customer service. It ended on three stars for performance, value for money and overall satisfaction.

What to look out for when buying a desktop computer

How to choose the best desktop computer

With all the new tech jargon and specs being spat around these days, buying a PC can seem as complex as decrypting code. Don’t worry, we’ll cover the basics of what you need to know in this section, so that you can make an informed decision on your next purchase.

  • Your budget: That’s going to dictate the brand, PC model and features you can afford. Have a price range in mind and a clear cut-off figure. Our survey found Aussies spend on average $1,518 on a new computer. It may seem like a lot, but luckily most electronics stores like The Good Guys and Harvey Norman have Price Beat Guarantee policies, where the retailer will beat an identically-stocked item from a competitor by a certain percentage. Get ready to bargain!
  • Processor: Also called a central processing unit (CPU), this is the brain of the computer which handles all basic system instructions and enables your computer, mouse and keyboard to interact with all applications and programs installed. Most desktop computers have a CPU developed by either Intel or AMD. Both use the x86-64 processor architecture.
  • RAM (computer memory): RAM short for Random Access Memory (not to be confused with storage), is where the active data from your applications and system processes are stored. What it means is that the more RAM you have, the more browsers and applications you can have open at the same time. If you’re buying a PC for work, you will need a computer that has enough RAM to support your emails, web pages etc.
  • Storage: There are typically only two computer storage types: HDD (hard disk drive) and SSD (solid state drive), similar to what you’d find in smartphones and tablets. Computers with SSDs are more expensive to buy because they read and write much faster than PCs with conventional HDDs. If we’re talking gigabytes (GB), you may only need 250 to 320GB of storage for a home computer.
  • Operating system/software: That’s the perennial question: PC or Mac? Both operating systems have their benefits and disadvantages. PCs running on Windows are often much cheaper, and that’s typically the common option in many workplaces and homes. On the other hand, creative professionals like graphic designers and videographers tend to prefer Mac computers that support programs they regularly use like Final Cut Pro etc.
  • Special features: There are also other specs to consider such as screen size, graphics quality, display type, the desktop monitor, frame and colour, keyboard, mouse and the rest of it.

How often should you buy a new computer?

Desktop computers and laptops should last at least three years, with desktop systems often surviving five years when well taken care of. This includes ensuring you’ve downloaded the latest software updates and always switching your computer off at the end of the day (rather than leaving it on permanently) to prevent it from overheating and getting worn out sooner.

The majority of consumers in our survey said they purchased a new desktop system because they wanted an upgrade (44%) or because their previous model broke (36%).

What do you need for a desktop computer?

Desktop computers can come as an all-in-one, with all the parts you need, or you can customise your own desktop tower. But the essentials you’ll need to build your desktop system include a desktop monitor, central processing unit (CPU), motherboard, storage drive, memory drive and power supply.

Which desktop computer should I buy?

What is the best desktop?

Once you’ve figured out what to look for, settling on a particular PC or Mac to take home is the next step. Our survey respondents found the biggest factors influencing their purchase decision were:

  • Specifications (i.e. hard drive size, RAM): 30%
  • Price: 27%
  • Brand name: 12%
  • Ease of use: 12%
  • Special features: 8%
  • Size and appearance: 7%
  • Compatibility with other devices: 3%

It’s also definitely worth making sure you know what you want before you head in-store or checkout your online trolley. Nearly half of those we surveyed (49%) made sure to do their research before buying, and nearly one in five bought a desktop computer recommended by family or friends (19%). And, if ever in doubt, keep our review in mind.

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.

Compare Laptop Computers

*Prices taken from respective retailers, and correct as of September 2021.

Picture credits: Fizkes, Shutterstock.com/ TZIDO SUN, Shutterstock.com/Sdecoret, Shutterstock.com/Anton Marchenkov, Shutterstock.com/Gorodenkoff, Shutterstock.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

Canstar Blue surveyed more than 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased a new computer (desktop) in the last three years (note: this does not include tablets) – in this case, 242 people.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.

Here is last year’s winner of Canstar Blue’s desktop computer ratings:

  • 2020: Lenovo

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