Desktop computers can give you more computing-power bang for the buck than laptops and netbooks. The latest desktops generally have faster processors than portable models, with at least 4 to 8 gigabytes of memory and a terabyte or more of hard-disk storage, enough to hold thousands of photos or hundreds of movies.
All of the computers in our Select Ratings (available to subscribers) are recommended. Among the full-sized models tested, A1 HP was the top-scoring one, with very good or excellent marks for performance, ergonomics, and versatility. Several other HPs in that group did almost as well.
Compact computers have a slightly smaller footprint and lower prices. B1 Dell and B2 Gateway offer decent computing power for $500 and less.
You might also consider an all-in-one PC, which integrates the computer, speakers, and webcam into the same case as the display. Multitouch screens such as those on tablet computers and many smart phones are showing up on some all-in-ones, including C1 MSI, whose excellent performance put it at the top of the Ratings (available to subscribers). C2 and C3 Apple, iMacs with 27-inch and 21.5-inch screens, respectively, also performed well.
Though most models in the group are rather expensive, C6 Gateway is a CR Best Buy at $750. But don't expect great sound.