Best Dell Desktop Computers

Updated August 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

12 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
238 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best Dell desktop computers

Last Updated August 2020

With so many powerful mobile computing options available now, desktop computers aren’t as prominent as they once were. Still, if you really need the greatest level of performance for your dollar, a desktop computer is the answer, and you can’t go wrong with a Dell desktop computer.

From its start in the mid-1980s, Dell is now one of the world’s biggest brand names in computing. Though the company has undergone significant operational changes over the past decade, desktop computers remain important to Dell’s success. Dell desktop computers are available in multiple configurations aimed at basic home use, business use, and gaming. If you haven’t purchased a desktop computer in a while, you’re going to be impressed by the level of performance and value you get with a Dell model.

If you’re in the market for a new Dell desktop computer, we’ve put together this buying guide that can help you figure out the components you need. Take a look at our favorites, too.

Bluetooth is a newer feature found on some Dell desktop computers. It’s a great way to gain wireless connectivity for headphones, keyboard, and other items.

Key considerations

Finding the right desktop computer for your needs starts with understanding the computer’s key components and knowing which ones offer the power and working speed you need.

CPU

The central processing unit (CPU) is the primary processing chip in a Dell desktop computer. Intel and AMD are the two largest manufacturers of CPUs. The majority of Dell desktop computers use Intel CPUs.

CPU power is measured in the number of cores, which determines the computer’s ability to multitask. CPU speed is measured in clock speed in gigahertz (GHz). Look for larger numbers for both of these measurements. Buy the most powerful CPU you can afford up front, because this is the hardest component to upgrade later; in fact, it’s nearly impossible.

RAM

Random access memory (RAM) is the temporary storage area where computers hold the data they’re currently using. Holding software instructions and data in RAM allows the computer to work faster versus constantly pulling this data from a hard drive. You can upgrade RAM or add more RAM to most Dell desktop computers relatively easily.

RAM is measured in gigabytes (GB), such as 4 GB or 8 GB. RAM is also measured in clock speed in megahertz (MHz). A larger number means better performance in both of these measurements.

Storage

Dell computers use either a hard disk drive (HDD) or a solid-state drive (SSD) as the permanent storage option. Some Dell desktop computers use both technologies, taking advantage of the best features of each.

HDD: A hard disk drive, a traditional storage medium for desktop computers, uses spinning platters to store data. They are less expensive to build than solid-state drives, but they are also quite a bit slower.

SSD: The solid-state drive is a newer storage technology that delivers excellent data retrieval speed. It doesn’t use moving parts, so it’s less susceptible to breakage than a hard disk drive.

Workhorse gaming desktop

It’s expensive, but gamers will appreciate the power provided by this machine’s high-end i7 Intel processor. The machine has a whopping 15 USB ports, so you can connect all kinds of gaming hardware. It’s also handy to have a CD/DVD drive built into the computer for gaming.

 

Features

Here are some other features to consider when purchasing a Dell desktop computer. Depending on the way you use your computer, these components may be important features for you.

GPU: The integrated graphics processing unit (GPU) is a chip on the motherboard. An integrated GPU isn’t as powerful as a graphics card, but if you aren’t a gamer, you can probably save money by opting for an integrated GPU.

Graphics card: A Dell desktop computer may have a graphics card with a GPU on it. The graphics card is a separate card that plugs into the motherboard. It’s more versatile than the integrated GPU, providing the power gamers need.

Form factor: The form factor refers to the size and shape of the Dell desktop computer case. A full-size tower case is common. It is a large, rectangular box that leaves plenty of room to add components and upgrades in the future. Slim, micro, and mini towers are also available from Dell. These are quite a bit smaller than the full-size tower case.

Ports: Dell desktop computers offer quite a few ports, such as USB, HDMI, and Ethernet, allowing you to plug in various devices. Gamers need quite a few ports to plug in gaming controllers and other items. Non-gamers can survive with fewer ports.

The Dell desktop computer case can be placed on a desk or on the floor, as long as you have free space for airflow around it.

Dell desktop computer prices

Inexpensive: The least expensive new Dell desktop computers cost between $150 and $400. These are basic machines that are adequate for web surfing, word processing, and social networking. If you want to save even more money, some refurbished Dell desktops cost as little as $100.

Mid-range: You can find fast and powerful Dell desktops for $400 to $800. These machines allow you to run almost any business software and have quite a bit of storage space, which is nice for photographers.

Expensive: Gamers who need the ultimate in speed and performance can expect to spend anywhere from $800 to $2,000 for a Dell desktop computer. These computers have the newest and fastest processors, RAM, and graphics cards. They also have fast-performing SSDs for storage or a combination of SSDs and HDDs.

DID YOU KNOW?

One advantage of a Dell desktop computer versus a laptop is that you can more easily upgrade the components inside the desktop.

DID YOU KNOW?

Dell started as a custom computer supplier in the mid-1980s and quickly became the largest computer seller in the United States.

Tips

  • Protect your computer with a surge protector. Should your home experience some sort of electrical surge, a desktop computer plugged into a wall outlet could be damaged. Plug a surge protector into the outlet and then plug the computer into the surge protector.
  • Make sure the fan is running. All Dell desktop computers have at least one fan inside that encourages airflow inside the computer case and helps to cool the components. Overheated components eventually lead to computer failure. Periodically check that the fan is running.
  • Leave free space around the case. You’ll notice some vents built into the Dell desktop computer case. These vents allow the fans to pull room-temperature air into the case and expel heated air. Don’t block the vents by tucking the case into a tight space with no room for air to move around it.
  • Organize the cables. Desktop computers always have quite a few cables plugged into them. Make sure the cables are organized so that no one will trip over them and possibly damage the computer.

Simple, upgradeable design

You’ll save some money with this desktop computer, but you’ll still be able to run most of the software you want to use. This desktop runs more quietly than similarly sized models. Should you want to upgrade down the road, the case is easy to open and free space is abundant.

Other products we considered

We anticipate that most people can find a high-quality Dell desktop computer in our matrix, but if you need a model with different features, we considered a few others. For those looking to save a bit of money, the Dell Inspiron i3740-3903BLK-PUS is a good choice. It doesn’t have the fastest Intel processor, but it delivers a nice level of performance for those who don’t run demanding software.

A slightly more expensive model is the Dell Inspiron High-Performance i3-9100. It has the latest generation of Intel processor, which should give it good longevity.

For those who need a high level of computing performance for business software, the Dell OptiPlex 3060 SFF works nicely. It has an i5 Intel processor and fast RAM clock speeds.

Gamers will appreciate the Dell Inspiron Gaming i5676-A696Blu model. It includes 16 GB of RAM for the performance that gaming software requires.

Many Dell desktops have a large number of USB ports, which simplifies the process of adding items like an external CD/DVD drive and external hard drive.

FAQ

Q. Why are some Dell desktop computers better for gaming than others?
A.
Gaming computers require a high-powered graphics card and GPU to meet the needs of gaming software. If the computer lags because of poor graphics rendering, your gameplay will suffer. Having plenty of RAM with a fast clock speed is also helpful in a desktop computer aimed at gamers.
 

Q. Are there hidden costs with Dell desktop computers?
A.
Oftentimes, you’ll need to spend some extra money beyond the cost of the desktop computer itself. If you buy the case alone, you’ll need to purchase a display monitor, speakers, and perhaps a keyboard and mouse separately. The majority of Dell desktops ship with an operating system preinstalled, but you might have to buy other software separately.
 

Q. What operating systems can I purchase with a Dell desktop?
A.
The vast majority of Dell desktop computers ship with the Windows operating system preinstalled. However, you can occasionally find a Dell computer with ChromeOS or Linux preinstalled instead, although this is more common with laptops than desktops.
 

Q. What other computing hardware does Dell sell?
A.
Beyond selling desktop computers, Dell also sells laptops, all-in-ones, workstations, and servers. In the computer accessory market, Dell offers display monitors, audio speakers, docks, keyboards, mice, and various cables and adapters.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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