- A basic PC costing around £350 will be able to run everyday office, multimedia, and education software and will easily cope with surfing the internet. It might even be able to run some modern games. Many PCs can be sold either with or without a monitor. If you don’t like the display the manufacturer is offering, you can always use your current one, or buy another one separately.
- 2 If you want to play games, you’ll have to upgrade the graphics card. Budget cards such as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 will cope well with many 3D games, but to play the latest 3D games smoothly (and enjoy the best-quality graphics) it’s worth upgrading to a more powerful card such as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070.
- 03 All modern PCs come with at least a dual-core processor and are capable of most tasks. Anyone who regularly undertakes demanding tasks such as video editing and encoding should consider a hexa-core or even an octa-core processor.
- 04 There are plenty of good reasons to upgrade the PC’s memory or hard disk. If you’ll use your PC for gaming, video editing or other demanding tasks, you’ll need at least 8GB of RAM and a large hard disk; 1TB should suffice. Many new PCs have an SSD, which speeds up the time it takes for your PC to boot and for programs to load.
- 05 Having plenty of USB ports is always useful, as most computer peripherals attach to these ports. Most new PCs come with USB3 or the latest USB3.1 ports, which provide faster data transfers when used with supported devices than the older USB2 standard.
- 06 Most new PCs now come with Windows 10 pre-installed. Don’t be too easily swayed by the inclusion of other software, though, as it may be that you’ll never use it.
- 07 While most PCs come in cases of a similar size, some have a more compact mini-tower or mini PC cases. These smaller PCs will fit under your TV or on your desk more easily but bear in mind that they’re significantly harder to upgrade than full-size machines.
A faster processor, quicker networking and dual HDMI outputs make the Pi 4 a much better desktop computer than previous Pi models, and it hasn’t lost any appeal as a cheap hobbyist board, either. 4K video implementation could be better – we had issues getting smooth playback in Raspbian – but that’s the only noteworthy concern.
Acer Chromebox CXI3
An absolutely tiny Chrome OS system, the Chromebox CXI3 is compact enough to attach to the back of a monitor. Even better, it has more power than most Chromeboxes, thanks to its Core i5 processor, and is loaded with useful ports in spite of its minimal size. It’s cheap, too, although we’d recommend investing in a better mouse and keyboard than the bundled peripherals.
The Paladin is stuffed with AMD’s latest technology, including the excellent octa-core Ryzen 7 3700X CPU and a 4K-capable Radeon RX 5700 XT graphics card. Storage is another highlight: the SSD isn’t a PCI-E 4.0 model, which the motherboard is compatible with, but it’s still very fast and offers an enormous 1TB of space by itself.
PALICOMP AMD Abyss
At this price, you’d seriously struggle to find a more comprehensively capable desktop system than Palicomp’s AMD Abyss. It can multitask with serious applications just as well as it can run games, and with its large, fast NVMe SSD, it won’t be slowed down by storage. There’s a lot of room for future upgrades, too.