In this smartphone and tablet-powered era, the traditional desktop PC is looking rather antiquated. Moore’s Law continues to facilitate the development of smaller and smaller devices, and even laptops – historically the most functional of business tools – are becoming slimline and cool, with fully rotating screens that can also be detached as standalone devices.
Against this streamlined assault, the time-honoured desk-mounted black box is looking like an endangered species. To investigate whether rumours of the desktop’s demise have been exaggerated, Latest Gadgets has assembled a top five list of PCs that can be purchased for less than £500 – the price of a mid-level tablet – to see whether there’s life in the old warhorse yet.
Acer Aspire XC/TC series
Unveiled last week, Acer’s AMD-powered PCs come in desktop (XC) and micro-tower (TC) guises, with a stylish exterior far removed from the drab boxes of yore. TC models nod to progress by featuring a recess on top where tablets and smartphones can rest, although these computers still pack plenty of punch, with up to 16GB of memory and the ability to get users online in 2.5 seconds.
Price: between £279.99 and £599.99, from stockists including Amazon and John Lewis
Dell Inspiron 660
Let’s be honest, Dell is probably the first name that springs to mind in terms of black-box PC towers, and their Inspiron range of desktops has powered countless homes and offices over the years. The 660 is pretty uninspiring aesthetically, but it retaliates through the sheer brute force of its specifications, including a 1TB hard drive, the newest Intel Core i5 processor, and 4GB of RAM.
Price: £449 when bought from the Dell website
HP Pavilion p6
HP have been keeping pace with the industry trend-setters, and their Pavilion p6 incorporates some features that will attract knowing nods from cognoscenti. For one thing, Beats Audio is installed, with support for 7.1 surround sound, while the p6 can even be controlled remotely via an Android or iOS app from your tablet or smartphone. Two HD ports and 6GB of RAM reinforce its appeal.
Price: £449.99 from PC World (current discounted price)
With its brushed-steel-effect frontage and compact dimensions, Lenovo’s H520 series is probably the desktop to choose if you’re going to be looking at it all day, rather than hiding it out of sight. Price is another H520 strength, retailing at less than £430 despite a spec list that encompasses a 3 GHz clock speed, a terabyte hard drive, built-in wifi, and Lenovo’s proprietary content management software.
Price: £429.99 from Currys
Gamers may be spoiled for choice on tablets nowadays, but complex games require sophisticated hardware, and ADMI’s player-friendly tower fits the bill nicely. That striking red exterior houses a 4 GHz Intel processor, a 2GB graphics card and a 1TB hard drive, as well as full 1080p HDMI output. Uniquely among this round-up, it comes with Windows 7, but the price point is impressive nonetheless.
Price: £414.95 from Amazon (at time of writing)