Many people have been working from home in recent times – and for those who still are, picking the best desktop computer for your needs should be a priority. But that’s no easy task, as there are hundreds of different models on the market in all sorts of different sizes and specifications. It’s so easy to become confused by all the options, so we’ve put together this feature which will cover all the important things you should consider before spending your cash on a desktop computer for working from home.
You probably already have a figure in mind with regards to your budget (and we’ll talk about that later). But the next thing to think about is: which type of computer meets your needs best? Let’s a take a look at the options…
PC Desktop or All-In-One Computer?
When looking for a computer, you’ll need to decide whether you want a desktop or an all-in-one. If you’re a computer novice, you might not even know what an All-in-One computer is, so let’s start with the basics:
What IS an All-in-One computer?
In the simplest terms, it’s a computer which combines all the desktop components in one enclosed unit. So, there’s no separate monitor linked to a computer tower. It functions in the same way as a traditional desktop computer, but is much more compact, so it takes up less space and is much tidier when it sits on your desk!
Desktop computers v All-in-One computers
As you would expect, each has its own set of pros and cons. To give you a better picture, we’ve put together a simple list:
What are the advantages of Desktop Computers?
Generally speaking, desktop PCs are more powerful. They are also able to regulate heat consumption more efficiently, so they can run faster for longer. But that’s not to say all-in-ones are inferior or will need to be switched-off in order to cool down. That’s not the case, it’s just one of the advantages to consider.
Desktop PCs are also customisable. For example, you can add a new graphics card or a more powerful processor. They are built so that you can upgrade when you need to.
As a rule, desktops are generally cheaper than all-in-one computers. If you already own a keyboard and mouse then you can use the ones you already have, which will make this option even more affordable. So, to be clear – a desktop PC is the ‘tower’ part. You’ll need to buy a monitor, keyboard and mouse to complete your setup. Remember that when looking at possible purchases.
Desktop PCs are also easier to repair, since many IT hardware components like CPU, RAM, Audio, Graphics cards etc are separate parts and can be detached for repair or replacement. It’s generally accepted that desktop computers often have more life than laptop computers.
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If you’re looking for a computer which you can use for work, but one that can also double-up as an entertainment centre for your children or for you or your partner, then desktops are the first (and best) option when it comes to gaming, since they offer higher power, higher expandability to allow running of rich-graphic games. More about that further down.
What are the disadvantages of Desktop PCs?
Yes, there are some disadvantages! Firstly, desktop PCs are heavy to carry and not easy to move around from room-to-room. Ideally, they are set-up and will stay in the same place, which is what was intended.
They also take up plenty of space on (or under) your desk, and there are cables needed to link-up everything: power, video, audio, etc. Desktop PCs are usually quite bulky, so make sure your desk is big enough to spread out your work documents on, too.
Desktop PCs must also be plugged into power outlet all the time to be used. And they also produce some noise. Ok, we’re not saying your lounge will be like living underneath the Heathrow flightpath… but there will be noise, as all that power needs fans to keep it cool.
As we’ve mentioned, you’ll also need a separate monitor, keyboard and mouse. And you’ll have to source these yourself. The cost of these needed to be added to your budget.
What are the advantages of All-In-One computers?
Firstly, all-in-ones are extremely easy to set and use, as there’s nothing to connect. The setup really is as simple as: 1. Place the computer on to your desk. 2. Plug in the cable. 3. Switch it on. If you’re intimidated by tech, then you really have nothing to be scared off with the all-in-one set up procedure.
One of the main advantages of an all-in-one computer is that it saves you space. You can have a nice cable-free environment, which means you’ll have more desk space and a tidier looking area to work in, which is important to many people – especially if your computer is set up in the living room or somewhere where it’s in view all the time. A de-cluttered workspace means that an all-in-one desktop is a good option for many.
What are disadvantages of All-In-One Computers?
All-in-ones tend to be more expensive as they tie in every feature into a single machine. Convenience usually comes at a price when buying tech.
They are also harder to upgrade than desktop computers. Without the option to upgrade you may experience slower performance as the years pass – but it also depends how hard you work it. And do you usually replace your computer every few years?
What’s your budget?
Let’s get the obvious bit out of the way first. The computer you decide to buy really depends on what you can afford. It’s always best to have a realistic budget in mind before you begin your search – and try and stick to it. But be realistic. Don’t expect to get an all-singing-and-dancing desktop PC for £200.
What sort of work do you need it for?
Obviously, every person has different task involved in their work. Some write, others edit videos and photographs, whilst others trawl through data. So, it’s important to get a computer which is most suitable for the type of work you do. For example, if you work editing video, you’d be better choosing a very powerful desktop PC and buying a decent sized full HD monitor to go with it.
How can you save money?
If you already have a screen, keyboard and mouse then you can save quite a bit of money by just buying a desktop tower. In many instances it’s more affordable and you can always upgrade as and when required.
Do you have much workspace available at home?
It would be great if we all had empty spare rooms just waiting to be turned into a luxurious home-office, but for most of us that’s a dream! Usually, space is limited so we have to use it wisely. This is one thing we tend to forget when buying a home office computer.
For those short of space, an all-in-one is a good option as it doesn’t have a large tower dominating your space – not to mention all the cables, plugs and possible extension leads.
Many people have no choice but to have their computer set up on the dinner table. If this is you, then an all-in-one is very convenient as you can easily move it when you need to make room.
If you’re considering a desktop computer, you need to think about the area in which you’ll store the tower. Will you store it under your desk, or on top of your desk? How much room do you have?
Electrical outlets are also an important consideration before you buy your computer. For a desktop, you need to plug in the monitor and the tower. If you have limited outlets, this is something to consider if you want to avoid tripping over extension cords on the floor or using several multi-plugs to make enough outlets.
How fast do you need your computer to be?
The processor and RAM are the two most important components to look at when accessing a computer’s speed. RAM is typically measured in gigabytes (GB) or terabytes (TB) while processing speed is measured in gigahertz (GHz).
The everyday tasks that most users perform are so basic (word processing docs, research browsing etc) that the lowest-end processors in newer computers will be fast enough. For example, 2-4 GB of RAM and a 1.3 GHz Intel Core i3 processor would be completely fine for the following tasks:
Most people use computers for internet-related things only, such as sending emails, browsing the web, checking social media networks, and streaming media content. While such tasks might be restricted by the speed of your internet connection, they aren’t limited by processing power.
Creating documents, editing spreadsheets, and putting together presentations for work (or school and college) fall under the category of productivity. Thanks to web-based tools like Google Docs and Word Online, you no longer need to run software to compose and edit documents.
Playing Videos and Audio
A lot of people use their computers for watching movies or listening to music that is stored either on physical media (CD or DVD) or locally as digital files (MP3 audio files, MPEG videos, etc.). Even with high-definition video, computer hardware (the CPU, HDD, and RAM) has been optimised to handle the various standards so that very little computing power is required to watch a 1080p HD video. If your computer has a Blu-ray drive, you’ll have no problem watching Blu-ray movies; however, the quality of the picture is limited by your screen resolution.
Why buy a ‘faster’ computer?
If you plan to use your computer for any of the purposes listed below, then speed should play a factor in your decision. Check the individual RAM and processor requirements for the programs you want to use before purchasing a PC. It’s not difficult to check out what each desktop PC offers by taking a look at the specifications. And all good retailers will have a helpline for more advice.
Video editing requires the computer to calculate all the various frames one by one and then stitch them together along with an audio track. This is something that a low-end computer simply cannot perform to a satisfactory speed. With a faster machine, you can see a live preview of the edits as you’re editing.
It takes a lot of computing power to build a 3D model out of polygons, but rendering those 3D models is even more taxing.
Computer-aided design (or CAD) is used to create blueprints for products and buildings. CAD is demanding because it has to do a variety of computing dealing with the physical and material aspects to ensure that the design will function when it’s finally assembled.
Yes, we know that this feature is all about selecting the right desktop for working from home, but your computer might be used by yourself or other family members for leisure-time things when work is finished.
During the day you might be using the basics, but if your computer is going to be used for gaming at the weekend, then you’ll need more power and speed! All of the 3D graphics, HD audio, and complex AI make PC gaming extremely hardware intensive. If you’re a hardcore gamer, you might want a PC built for gaming with multiple monitors, like UltraHD (4k) displays, to achieve more screen real estate. A system that has at least 8 GB of RAM and a 3.5 GHz processor is plenty for most video games. So, the question is – do you need a desktop for multiple uses?
What are Mini-PCs?
You might have heard of mini-PCs, but what exactly are they, and are they any good?
Mini-PCs are small-sized, inexpensive, low-power desktop computers designed for basic tasks such as web browsing, accessing web-based applications, document processing, and audio/video playback. So, if you’re not using tons of memory, or wanting to editing videos or photos, a mini-pc could be the perfect option.
Small size doesn’t necessarily equal small power. Indeed, many mini- PCs are mini only in form factor, and they possess more than enough power to get you through your day and handle most tasks with ease.
Gone are the days where you have to buy a huge computer tower to get huge computer power. It used to be that mini-PCs were relegated to the low-end, cheap computers with which you could only surf Facebook. Today’s mini-PCs can pack a lot into their tiny frames and they certainly take up little desk space. The huge advantage they have is that you can throw one into a backpack and set it up anywhere you have a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. You can even take the mouse and keyboard with you as well – they’re not heavy!
Remember that a desktop PC is not just about that device alone. You’ll need to connect other devices, so the ‘ports’ are important.
Computer ports are connecting points or interfaces with peripheral devices that work to communicate with your computer. This means, the connectors to add a keyboard, mouse, USB stick, laptop, or mobile phone etc…
Check how many and what type of external ports are available on the computer for use with future peripherals. There are a variety of high-speed peripheral connectors now available. It is best to get a PC with at least six USB ports. Other higher-speed connectors include eSATA and Thunderbolt, which can be especially useful for external storage. Many desktops also include SD card readers.
While there are all-in-one PCs with built-in monitors, you still need to consider the quality of the screen. Most monitors today are based on LCD technology, and the only major difference between them is size and cost. Some other factors, such as colour accuracy, may be important if you plan to use the desktop for graphics work. 24-inch LCDs are the most common, thanks to their affordability and support for full 1080p high-definition video. Larger screens, such as 27-inch LCDs and 4K displays, are also dropping in price.
What’s on the market?
Let’s take a look some excellent examples of desktop PCs which provide great value for money…
The Lenovo ThinkCentre
Looking for a desktop PC that doesn’t take up space-and also doesn’t sacrifice on functionality? The ThinkCentre M630e Tiny could be the choice for you. It’s compact-about 96% smaller than a full-sized desktop-and budget friendly, but it also packs a punch with 8th Gen Intel® Core™ processing, DDR4 memory, and high-speed SSD storage. And, it’s great value.
The MEDION E27401
The E27401 features a large 27″ Full HD AHVA Display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 allowing for sharp/crisp replication of colours on screen. It’s ideal for running office applications such as Microsoft Word or Excel, or for undertaking multimedia tasks such as watching videos or editing photos.
Under the hood is the innovative 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G1 Quad-Core processor delivering next level performance with up to 3.6 GHz with Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology with 6 MB cache ideal for running office applications such as Microsoft Word or multimedia applications.
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The 8 GB RAM built in allows for plenty of memory to run the latest games or applications while the 256 GB SSD drive provides speedy boot up times and is the ideal place to store your most regularly used applications for quick access. The E27401 is also equipped with a 1TB Hard drive to store plenty of large files such as videos, images etc.
ALPHASYNC ROG STRIX RTX 3060Ti AMD Ryzen 5 16GB
AlphaSync prebuilt gaming PCs (yes, we said ‘gaming PC’, but hold your horses!) are all hand built to order by a dedicated team of builders using the best branded components. An AlphaSync prebuilt PC comes with full warranties, arrives fully tuned and is ready to go right out of the box. But, just because this is called a gaming PC doesn’t mean it’s just for gaming. It’s perfect for all tasks from video editing to running all the office applications you can think of! A great all-rounder for work AND play!
So, what now?
It doesn’t matter how kitted-out a home office looks – without the right computer desktop, day-to-day work will feel like an uphill battle.
Before you choose the best desktop computer for home office, make sure you have a rough idea of what type you’re looking for. Define a budget. Check your desk has adequate space. Keep in mind the nature of your work. Then, decide if you want to buy a desktop computer or an All-in-One PC (or Mini-PC). Take a look at Ebuyer’s range here and you’ll find desktop PC for all budgets and workloads.
No matter the nature of your work, at some time or other you’ll probably need a printer. Take a look at our Ebuyer’s best home and office printers here.