Recommended desktop computers

Last reviewed: January 2009
Desktop computer
Sony Vaio VGC-LT28E

Desktop computers have become just another appliance. Fully loaded desktops selling for less than $600 are common, even among established brands. For help in choosing a desktop computer, see our free computer buying guide for more information.

These two budget models performed well in our tests. They had very good ergonomics and features, and a DVD burner, but were only fair for 3D gaming. Both brands' reliability has been undistinguished. HP has had disappointing tech support, while Dell support has been above average for problem-solving. Still, both computers are good values.

  • Dell Studio Slim, $640

With excellent performance, this was the best of the new budget models tested. It has a Core 2 Duo processor, 3GB of memory, and six free USB ports.

  • HP Pavilion A6600f, $500

With very good performance, this has a Pentium Dual Core processor, 3GB of memory, a 320GB hard drive, and 128MB of video memory. It uses the 64-bit version of Windows, so make sure your peripherals and software are compatible.

These previously tested models are also worth considering:

  • Compaq Presario SR 5550F, $500
  • Dell Inspiron 530, $400, CR Best Buy
  • Dell Inspiron 530s, $430
  • HP Pavilion a6560t, $760
  • Dell Inspiron 530, $650
  • Dell XPS 420, $1,900
  • HP Pavilion Elite d5000t ATX, $1,400, CR Best Buy
  • Sony Vaio VGC-LT28E, (shown), $2,000 (Discontinued but replaced by the similar VGC-LT35E, $1,800.)
  • Apple iMac 24-inch, $1,80
  • HP TouchSmart IQ506t, $1,500

You’ll find other top choices in our list of Recommended computers, pulled from our complete Ratings of desktop computers. (Both available to subscribers.)

Posted: December 2008 — Consumer Reports Magazine issue: January 2009