Best computer 2019: the best PCs we've tested

best computer

The best computers are better now than they’ve ever been before. They’ve evolved to the point of utilizing eight-core processors and super high-end graphics cards have started to tackle real time ray tracing, among others cutting edge improvements – things that would have been impossible only a few years ago.

If you’re looking to stay on the cutting edge in 2019, you’ll want one of the best computers included on this list, even if most of what you’ll do is use Facebook and surf the internet.

Fortunately, the best computers are also more affordable than ever before. These days, you can pick up a solid PC or even an all-in-one desktop for around $500 (about £390, AU$715). Better yet, many of them will last you a lifetime – because the best computers are upgradeable, it’s easy to keep them current by fitting in new and improved PC components, like fast SSDs, more RAM and maybe even the best graphics card.

Still, with so many possibilities, choosing the best computer for you and your needs isn’t easy. So, we’ve gathered all the best computers out there, paying close attention to those that hit that sweet spot between price and performance. This way, you can just go through this list and pick out what you like depending on what you’ll need.

Here are our top picks for the best computers 2019 has to offer.

Dell XPS Tower Special Edition

Best PC: Dell XPS Tower Special Edition

This mainstream machine is a gaming PC at heart

CPU: Intel Core i5 – Core i9 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti – 1080 | RAM: 8GB –64GB

Compact, minimalist design
Full online customer support
Starting memory isn't ideal for VR
Lower graphical performance compared to rivals

The Dell XPS Tower is stealthy. That is, it resembles that PC your parents used to have tucked underneath the desk when you were a kid. But, its no-nonsense exterior hides an exciting array of components. One of the best computers available right now, the Dell XPS Tower boasts up to an RTX 2070 graphics card, a 9th-generation Intel Core processor, and a spacious hard drive and/or SSD. This excellent special edition PC configuration is only available in the US. However, UK and Australian readers can pick up the regular Dell XPS Tower and simply beef it up, though there are some limitations such as the graphics card options topping out with the GTX 1060.

Read the full review: Dell XPS Tower Special Edition

Microsoft Surface Studio 2

Best all-in-one PC: Microsoft Surface Studio 2

The art kid’s dream computer in a metallic nutshell

CPU: Intel Core i7-7820HQ | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 – 1070 | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Storage: 1TB-2TB SSD

Brighter display
Very expensive

The Microsoft Surface Studio rose to fame as one of the best computers for artists when it was first released, so it’s no surprise that its sequel has followed in its footsteps. In fact, packed with a Kaby Lake mobile processor and Nvidia Pascal graphics, the Surface Studio 2 has a lot more power than the original and should be able to handle anything you throw at it for the next couple of years, at the very least. Of course, it’s also inherited that gorgeous PixelSense display with Surface Pen support, allowing it to retain the privilege of being one of the best all-in-one – not to mention, the best computers on this list – for creatives.

Read the full review: Surface Studio 2

Intel Hades Canyon NUC

Best mini PC: Intel Hades Canyon NUC

Don’t let its size fool you

CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Radeon RX Vega M GL – GH | RAM: 4GB – 64GB | Storage: 128GB – 2TB SSD; up to 2TB secondary SSD

 Lots of ports 
 Easy to upgrade 

If you’re looking for an outstanding desktop experience, but you don’t have a ton of space on your desk, the Intel Hades Canyon NUC might just be the best computer for you. This tiny bare-bones PC has a ridiculously fast 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor and discrete-class AMD Radeon graphics. Throw some RAM and storage in there, and you should be able to conquer the best PC games without breaking a sweat. It won’t stand up against a full-sized desktop, but when you’re short on space – or you’d rather have a PC that looks like a set-top box – this is one of the best computers to consider.

Read the full review: Intel Hades Canyon NUC 

Alienware Aurora R7

Best gaming PC: Alienware Aurora R7

Lean, mean gaming machine

CPU: Intel Core i7 8700K | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti | RAM: 32GB | Storage: 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, 2TB HDD

Easy to upgrade
Distinct case design
Partially obstructed cooling

With the Aurora R7, Alienware continues its journey back to the top of the best computers, especially for gaming. The Alienware Aurora R7 isn’t just one of the greatest gaming PCs; it’s also among the best computers money can buy. It offers blazing fast performance with its 8th-generation Intel Core processor and GTX 10-series graphics and all that power is conveniently hidden away in its appealing and sleek chassis. It’s surprisingly affordable as well, considering the power under the hood. And, did we mention that this PC is easily upgradeable, despite the unique form-factor?

Read the full review: Alienware Aurora R7

Corsair One i160

Best living room PC: Corsair One i160

Absolute power, ridiculously small

CPU: Intel Core i7-9700K – i9-9900K | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 – 2080 Ti | RAM: 32GB DDR4 | Storage: 480GB SSD; 2TB HDD

 Enormously powerful 
 Small and aesthetic 
 Very expensive 

If you’re looking for a computer that will look just as good in your living room as your home office, then the Corsair One i160 is your new best friend. It has an absolutely unbelievable amount of power inside a sleek, compact design. Packed with a Coffee Lake Refresh processor and Nvidia Turing graphics – not to mention a whopping 32GB of RAM, this is an absolute monster, and will chew through any game you throw at it, even on that nice 4K TV you just bought. Just prepare yourself, as that high price tag might send you reeling.

Read the full review: Corsair One i160 

Apple Mac mini (Late 2018)

Best Mac: Apple Mac mini (Late 2018)

Mini is back again

CPU: Intel Core i3 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 8GB – 64GB | Storage: 128GB – 2TB SSD

Incredibly powerful
Can’t upgrade storage

It’s easy to think that Apple is overpriced. However, your piggy bank might be spared if you get on the Mac mini bandwagon. The Mac mini 2018 isn’t just an adorable small form-factor PC, but it’s also packed tight with high-end desktop parts, all for a much cheaper price than any other Mac. That makes it a solid investment for anyone who already has a slew of Mac-ready peripherals or a Mac fan who doesn’t want to spring for a Mac Pro. Plus, as opposed to Apple’s recent products, you can upgrade the Mac mini… well, at least the memory up to 64GB of RAM.

Read the full review: Apple Mac mini

HP Pavilion Wave

Best budget PC: HP Pavilion Wave

It's a prettier, if less-beefy, Mac Pro

CPU: Intel Core i3 – Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530 – AMD Radeon R9 M470 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 1TB HDD

Unique, stylish cylindrical form factor
Clever and effective audio solution
No optical audio port
Unflattering specs

Don’t confuse the HP Pavilion Wave for a fabric-woven Mac Pro wannabe, because it is something else entirely. This compact Windows machine has its 6th-generation Intel Core processors coupled with optional discrete AMD graphics and uniquely integrated Bang & Olufsen speakers. Wrapped in an urbane fabric exterior, this is definitely the most fetching of the best computers to have on your desk or even a bookshelf, and it radiates crisp sound as you browse the web or watch movies.

Read the first look: HP Pavilion Wave

Intel Compute Stick

Best stick PC: Intel Compute Stick

The tiny computer that can

CPU: Intel Atom – Intel Core m5 | Graphics: : Intel HD Graphics – Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 1GB – 4GB | Storage: 8GB-64GB eMMC

Wide CPU choices
Extremely portable design
Limited fan cooling
Limited RAM and storage

Some people have issues with desktop PCs, since they tend to be bulky. The Intel Core Compute Stick has really made that moot. Looking more like a thumb drive than an actual PC, this petite renegade can connect to any display with an HDMI input. It starts out with a lowly 1.33GHz Intel Atom processor running Linux, but you can configure it up to an Intel Core m5 processor, making this one of the best computers to literally slip in your pocket, whether you need to get some work done on the go or squeeze in some PC time while you’re away on vacation.

Specifications (as reviewed)

ProductDell XPS Tower Special EditionMicrosoft Surface Studio 2Intel Hades Canyon NUCAlienware Aurora R7Corsair One i160Apple Mac mini (Late 2018)HP Pavilion WaveIntel Compute Stick
CPUIntel Core i7-8700Intel Core i7-7820HQ Intel Core i7-8809GIntel Core i7-8700K Intel Core i9-9900KIntel Core i3-8100Intel Core i5-7400TIntel Atom x5-Z8500
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 1070Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070Radeon RX Vega M GH graphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 1080 TiNvidia GeForce RTX 2080 TiIntel UHD Graphics 630AMD Radeon R9 M470N/A
Storage 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD, 1TB HDD (7,200 rpm)1TB PCIe SSD118GB Intel Optane SSD 800P Series (NVMe), 512GB Intel SSD 545s Series (M.2 SATA) 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, 2TB HDD 480GB M.2 NVMe SSD, 2TB HDD128GB PCIe SSD1TB HDD32GB

Bill Thomas and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article

Image Credits: TechRadar