The 2021 iMac features a bigger 4.5K Retina screen, fun color options, and Apple’s powerful M1 chip.
The 2019 model, meanwhile, has a smaller 21.5-inch 1080p display and a slower Intel-based processor.
Apple has officially unveiled its new 24-inch iMac with prices starting at $1,299. The redesigned desktop boasts several major upgrades over the previous 21.5-inch model, which Apple currently lists with a $1,099 starting price.
The 2021 iMac is the first to feature Apple’s powerful M1 chip. It also comes in a variety of color options and boasts a higher resolution screen. Compared to the older model, the new iMac includes a redesigned keyboard with Apple’s Touch ID processor as well.
Apple says the improved specs should translate to up to 85% faster CPU performance compared to the 21.5-inch iMac, as well as twice the GPU performance. The new iMac’s base model costs $200 more than the 2019 starting model, but the added power and bigger screen could be well worth the higher price.
A full verdict will have to wait until we get our hands on the new iMac in the coming weeks, but we’ve been impressed by Apple’s M1 chip in the new MacBook Air. If the 2021 iMac offers a similar leap in performance, it could be a very worthy desktop upgrade.
Below, we’ve compared some of the key starting specifications for the new 24-inch iMac versus the 21.5-inch model.
24-inch iMac (2021) versus 21.5-inch iMac (2019)
24-inch 4.5K Retina display
21.5-inch 1920 x 1080 LED display
8-core Apple M1 chip
2.3GHz dual‑core Intel Core i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
8GB of RAM
8GB of RAM
1080p FaceTime HD camera with M1 image signal processor
Apple just announced a new version of the iMac with a refreshed design that runs on its M1 processor. It comes in a range of colors such as purple, yellow, and blue among others like the iPhone, which is reminiscent of the vintage colorful iMac G3 from the late 1990s. Apple is also highlighting the new iMac’s improved speakers, camera, and microphones as being ideal for working remotely.
Release and pricing information
The new iMac is available in four colors starting at $1,299.
It’s available in seven colors with additional features beginning at $1,499.
Orders start on April 30 and it launches in the second half of May.
What’s new about the 2021 iMac
Apple is highlighting the new iMac’s sleek build, which measures just 11.5 millimeters thin. There are only comes two fans, reducing the computer’s size and keeping it quiet even under high performance.
The screen is 24 inches with a 4.5K resolution, meaning the screen slightly larger than that of the previous model. The iMac will be available in green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, and silver.
The iMac should offer 85% faster CPU performance compared to the latest 21-inch iMac models and twice the GPU performance, the company claims. And iPhone and iPad apps also run on the new iMac since it uses the M1, much like the latest MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.
The iMac comes in two configurations: a $1,299 model with an 8-core GPU, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, two Thunderbolt ports, a Magic Keyboard, and a Magic Mouse. That model is available in green, pink, blue, and silver.
The $1,499 model comes with an 8-core GPU, 8-core CPU, 8GB of memory, 256GB of storage, two Thunderbolt ports, two USB 3 ports, the Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, the Magic Mouse, and Ethernet.
The iMac is also getting a redesigned keyboard and power adapter that attaches to the computer magnetically. The keyboard has Apple’s Touch ID processor, marking the first time Touch ID has come to the desktop.
This story is developing. Please check back for the latest.
How you plan to use your computer mouse will dictate which one you should buy.
At higher prices, you can find mice with programmable buttons and different speed settings.
Using a mouse for long hours can fatigue your wrist, so you may want an ergonomic choice.
The best computer mice do more than point and click; they offer accurate, quick cursor movement without creating wrist strain. Logitech, Razer, SteelSeries, and Anker produce some of the most recommended mice.
“The number one thing to consider when buying any computer hardware is ‘What will you be using the device for?'” says Tom Gilmore, the technology education coordinator at Free Geek, a nonprofit that refurbishes computer hardware. “This single question dictates exactly what you need and can help guide you to either cheaper or more premium options, and help you to narrow down the vast number of options to just a few.”
A poorly designed mouse can increase the strain on your wrist and hands. Weak connectivity can lead to slow performance (and losing that computer game). Some won’t roll over rugged surfaces.
As a freelance writer and photographer for nearly a decade, I’ve been working from home since before 2020 made it the norm. I consulted a certified ergonomics expert and spent hours digging through expert mouse reviews. I’ve rounded up nine of the most recommended computer mice, from budget options to fully-featured stand-out products.
The Logitech MX Master 3 is great for professionals who spend a lot of time mousing and need both comfort and superior performance.
With reviewer nods from Wirecutter to PC Mag, the Logitech MX Master 3 is lauded for its large but ergonomic shape. The mouse has a curve designed to fit your right hand, with a wheel and gesture pad near the thumb. A scroll wheel and forward and back buttons are also built into the mouse.
The control scheme offers app-specific shortcuts for programs from Zoom to Photoshop. Using controls built into the mouse may mean less back and forth between the mouse and keyboard.
That scroll wheel is capable of rolling through 1,000 lines per second, Logitech says. Slow the spin, and the wheel goes from line-to-line for more precision. The laser mouse offers 4,000 DPI for more sensitivity and is capable of tracking on difficult surfaces such as glass. (Higher DPI, like the Razer Pro Click‘s, make for a faster mouse.) The downside? It’s pricey. The $100 price tag makes the mouse best for power users that are using a mouse for several hours a day.
The best mouse for precision use
With a 16,000 DPI optical sensor, the Razer Pro Click is ideal for long-haul users that need the most precision for detailed mousing.
The Razer Pro Click has one of the best optical sensors for a mouse, with four times more dots per inch than the Logitech MX 3. That superior sensor combined with the optical design (that doesn’t fall victim to the occasional jitter of a laser) makes the mouse good for detailed work, such as precise adjustments in Photoshop.
The mouse is designed with a large curve that Razer says prevents your wrist from resting on the desk. TechRadar’s review says that the mouse is so well designed that “you’ll barely notice you’re using a mouse at all.” The curve does prevent left-handed use, however.
The mouse houses eight different buttons that you can customize to your liking. The mouse can connect to multiple devices through wireless. For twice the battery life at 400 hours, it also connects through Bluetooth. The charger isn’t the more modern USB-C, however.
The best ergonomic mouse
For power users that need to reduce wrist pain, the Logitech MX Ergo‘s trackball design means your hand rests comfortably in one spot.
The Logitech MX Ergo offers a custom tilt angle designed to better fit the shape of your hand, plus a lot of other features geared towards minimizing wrist strain. It’s a trackball mouse, which means you can keep your wrist in one position and use the trackball that sits near the thumb to navigate, instead. Trackball mice are not for everyone — using one requires reprogramming years of using a traditional mouse — but they can be more comfortable.
The MX Ergo’s plentiful buttons can also be programmed for different functions based on what app you are using. A mode button near the trackball allows you to switch between fast or more precise tracking. The mouse requires little power; Logitech says it lasts 70 days on a full charge, and plugging it in for just a minute will power another 24 hours of use.
Trackball mice are innately different, and not everyone will love this pricey option. The MX Ergo is also not made for lefties.
The best budget ergonomic mouse
The Logitech Ergo M575 is for everyday users who want a comfortable trackball mouse but don’t need the extra buttons and custom tilt of pricier models.
The Logitech Ergo M575 is a good compromise when the $100 Logitech MX Ergo is too much. While the M575 lacks the custom tilt, extra buttons, and precision mode switch of the MX Ergo, it still offers some of the same ergonomic features. Despite selling for about $50, the M575 still has a custom DPI from 400 to 2,000.
The Ergo M575 is a trackball mouse; you don’t move the mouse around the desk, you move a trackball with your thumb. That design will take some getting used to, but keeping your hand in a stationary position is much more friendly on the wrist. The mouse is curved to fit better in the right hand.
Besides the typical mouse buttons, scroll wheel, and trackball, the mouse also houses back and forward buttons that you can reprogram with Logitech’s software. Connecting with Bluetooth, the mouse can run up to twenty months on one AA battery, according to Logitech. Used as a wireless mouse with the USB dongle, the battery life bumps up to two years.
The best portable mouse
Logitech’s MX Anywhere 3 is geared towards on-the-go computer users that demand more from a mouse. It’s also good for those with smaller hands.
The Logitech MX Anywhere 3 takes some of the features in the flagship MX Master 3 and adapts them to mobile users. The Mac version can even be used on iPads. The mouse still offers customizable buttons but in a travel-friendly size.
Logitech says that the mouse has a quick, 1,000-lines-per-minute scroll wheel with the ability to get down to pixel-level details. It’s made to withstand the typical bumps from riding in a laptop bag. Despite the smaller size, there is a slight curve made for a better fit in your hand.
The fast scrolling and 200 to 4,000 DPI sensitivity range mean the MX Anywhere 3 isn’t a budget travel mouse. A full charge will last 70 days, which is good but not as good as the Microsoft Surface Mobile.
Designed specifically for laptops, the Microsoft Surface Mobile Mouse is made for portability. The mouse uses a slimmer design that’s easy to tuck into a laptop bag. The Bluetooth mouse lasts up to a year on one charge, so you shouldn’t need to bring the charger with you.
The Surface Mobile has a symmetrical shape that’s suitable for left or right-handed users. But besides being lefty friendly, the symmetrical shape means you can use either hand to reduce strain on a single wrist. The base isn’t smaller than a typical mouse, and PC Magazine’s review says it tends to be more comfortable than smaller travel mice.
The portable design doesn’t curve to the shape of your hands as well as with ergonomically-focused mice, however. At around $35, it also won’t deliver the extreme speed and precision of a high-end mouse.
The best gaming mouse
Gamers who prioritize comfort, as well as speed and accuracy, will appreciate what the Razer DeathAdder V2 has to offer.
The Razer DeathAdder V2 is a favorite among gamers because the computer mouse offers speed, precision, and a comfortable grip. With up to 20,000 DPI, the wired customizable gaming mouse has plenty of speed and accuracy.
Beyond just the high-precision hardware, the mouse has a large arched grip and a comfortable thumb rest, which earned it a recommendation from The Verge. The mouse is also outfitted with several different buttons. Both the buttons and DPI settings can be adjusted using Razer’s software. A switch on the bottom allows the mouse to store up to five different setting combinations, which is ideal for different games or moving from gaming to web browsing.
While the $70 mouse is fast, some of that speed comes from the fact that it’s wired. That’s preferred by many gamers but can still be an inconvenience.
The best customizable gaming mouse
The SteelSeries Rival 600 has two sensors and custom weights for gamers that want ultimate customization, all for an affordable price.
The SteelSeries Rival 600 has two optical sensors that create a mouse with excellent tracking, including detecting when you pick it up. While SteelSeries says the mouse is best for esports, Tom’s Guide calls it one of the best all-purpose gaming mice.
The 12,000-DPI mouse offers custom sensitivity settings as well as custom weights. Four weights can be configured into slots on both sides of the mouse to customize the feel and balance. The lift-off distance can also be configured between 0.5 and 2 mm.
The mouse is made from reinforced plastic and has seven buttons. The buttons use mechanical switches that have been tested to 60 million clicks. The downside is that the button placement isn’t quite perfect, according to PC Gamer.
The best budget gaming mouse
The Logitech G502 Hero is good for gamers that balk at the higher price points of most gaming mice.
Gaming mice tend to be higher in price, but the Logitech G502 Hero is around $50 and still offers the features most gamers look for.
The Logitech G502 allows gamers to customize the weights as well as the RGB lights. With DPI from 100 to 16,000, the mouse can easily be customized depending on if speed or accuracy is most important to the game. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Wirecutter’s biggest complaint is that the many buttons can limit where you place your hand.
Buying computer peripherals is seldom a one-size-fits-all scenario. Both the shape of your hand and your primary use will change your definition of a great mouse. When choosing a computer mouse, consider the following:
Optical or Laser? Optical and laser mice are quite similar, says Free Geek‘s Gilmore. Both use a camera-like sensor to look for changes in the surface to tell the computer how to move the cursor. A laser mouse uses a laser to light that sensor and tends to do a bit better on glossy surfaces. Some can even work on glass. But on a typical wood desk, most users won’t notice a difference.
DPI or CPI: The dots-per-inch (or counts-per-inch) specification on a mouse is similar to the resolution of the sensor. A higher DPI means a faster mouse, Gilmore says, which is even more important when using a high-resolution monitor. A lower DPI mouse can be more precise. Some high-end mice allow you to choose different DPI settings, so you can switch based on whether you want speed or precision.
Connectivity: A wireless mouse eliminates the cord but uses a USB dongle to connect to the computer. A Bluetooth mouse is similarly wireless but doesn’t need that dongle to connect with a Bluetooth-compatible device. You might want to consider that option if you have limited ports. Take a look at wireless and Bluetooth mice’s battery lives so you’ll get a sense of how often you’ll be charging them. Wired mice still have their place, particularly for gaming. Wireless and Bluetooth mice may introduce some lag that’s noticeable in fast-paced games.
Weight: Lighter mice are typically easier to move around. Fast-paced gamers tend to consider the weight of a mouse.
Comfort: How a computer mouse feels will depend on the size of your hand, says Kevin Weaver, a clinical assistant professor of physical therapy at New York University. He is also certified by the Board of Certified Professional Ergonomists and the Oxford Institute.
He suggests using both hands with an ambidextrous mouse to halve the time spent on a mouse. “As best as you can, centralize your mouse,” he said. “If you look at most laptops, the touchpad is built into the base, right under the space key, in a centralized position. That’s a best-case scenario because you can use your left or your right and have half the frequency.”
If using your non-dominant hand feels too odd, he suggests choosing a contoured mouse that fits with your dominant hand. “[I]t’s important to go test these out in a showroom or store. One size does not fit all, one rule does not fit all,” he said.
While the mice above come with excellent reviews from reputable publications, we’re testing all the mice to determine what’s the best for different applications. In addition to the mice above, we’re also testing two more.
The Logitech MX Vertical: This vertical mouse is recommended by several publications. Using a vertical mouse takes some getting used to. We’ll try it out to see if that learning curve may be worth the effort for users with wrist pain.
The Apple Magic Mouse 2: Apple’s mouse uses gesture controls on the surface, much like the trackpad on a MacBook. The mouse is slimmer, however, and doesn’t fit into your hand like a contoured mouse.
Working from home? Check out our other home office guides
So many jobs involve sitting at a desk for hours each day, and it can be hard to break away to incorporate more standing without sacrificing productivity. If you have a standing desk, you can convert your space to a much more active one, improving your health and energy levels. These are the best standing desks.
Active seating promotes movement, improves posture, and activates your core while sitting, and some models can work in tandem with a standing desk, so you can find the perfect combination of sitting and standing throughout the day. These are our top picks for the best active seating.
If you spend the majority of your day parked in your office chair, you owe it to your body to choose a chair that gets an A+ for ergonomics. Our top picks will help improve your posture and may even help relieve back pain.
If you have a home office, it’s important to have good lighting so you don’t strain your eyes while typing away on your computer or going over documents. There are dozens of different desk lamps to choose from in all kinds of styles. These are the best desk lamps you can buy to light up your workspace in style.
Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting all forms of computer technology from malicious attacks. It includes the preservation of computers, servers, mobile devices, networks, applications, and data in the event of damage, destruction, and unauthorized access. As an industry, cybersecurity is enormous and growing to help protect everyone from new and evolving threats.
RAM, or Random Access Memory, isn’t just a cool Daft Punk album. It’s an important part of any computer, phones included. Without it, even switching browser tabs could take ages.
Here’s everything to know about what RAM is and how it works, what the different types of RAM are, and how much memory your computer needs.
What is RAM?
RAM is the part of your device that functions like its short-term memory. It keeps track of what programs are running in the background and what they’re doing, so when you focus on them again, they can get right back to work.
This goes for browser tabs, too. You can switch between browser tabs quickly because your computer’s memory keeps them ready to use.
The benefit of RAM is that it keeps your computer fast, and makes multitasking convenient. Because of RAM, your computer doesn’t have to lean on its slower hard drive to perform basic functions. Without it, we’d be living in a less instantaneous world.
But RAM, much like our own short-term memory, is limited. If you’re making it keep track of more things than it can handle, it’ll start to “forget” whatever it deems low priority. And if you don’t have enough of it, your computer can slow to a crawl.
When talking about RAM, there are a few different terms you should know.
Common RAM terminology
DDR stands for “double data rate,” and in essence, refers to how fast your RAM is. DDR4 is the most common type of RAM sold today, but older computer models may have DDR3 or DDR2.
The higher number the better, and because each successive generation of RAM has undergone design changes, you can’t switch out one for another.
VRAM, or Video RAM, is another beast entirely. Rather than being part of your computer’s general memory, VRAM is an intermediary between the CPU and graphics card. Before you see an image on the screen, the data is read by the VRAM processor and converted from digital information to an analog image on the screen.
How much RAM do I need?
Most computers, tablets and phones have between 4GB and 32GB of RAM, although more advanced computers could have even more. On computers, 8GB to 16GB is standard. Some cheap tablets have around 2GB of RAM, which isn’t enough for your laptop.
8GB of RAM is more than enough to power a Windows or Mac computer, but won’t be able to handle too many intensive apps. 16GB RAM will handle advanced programs. 32GB of RAM and up is good for serious computer engineers, gamers, or audio and visual professionals.
Most modern phones have 8GB of RAM. And unlike computers, you can’t really upgrade the RAM in your phone.
The amount of RAM that you need depends on what you’re using your device for. Over-investing in RAM isn’t going to make your computer magically better or infinitely fast – even 100GB of RAM won’t mean anything if the rest of your computer is slow.
You can buy RAM in various combinations, or modules. For example, if you want to buy 16GB of RAM, you can get:
One 16 GB stick
Two 8 GB sticks
Four 4 GB sticks
The combination you get doesn’t matter. Just make sure it’s compatible with the rest of your computer, and fits in the case.
We’ve also identified top desktops for other uses, such as gaming, compact spaces, and for those on a budget.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
Laptops have gotten better and better over the years, but the fact remains that size matters when it comes to computers – and with the size afforded by desktop computers, you can get more power, better graphics, and more user upgradability.
When buying a desktop computer, you’ll need to consider all the usual things that you would consider for any other computer purchase. A solid processor (CPU) will keep everything you can throw at it running smoothly without stutters or crashes. Memory, also known as RAM, also plays a big role, especially if you plan on running several apps at the same time and gaming, where a computer needs to store and quickly access files associated with those apps. Last but not least is storage and if you want to keep lots of games or files on your computer, you’ll need plenty of it.
There are other considerations too. If you’re a gamer, you’ll need a solid graphics card to ensure that your games can run properly. And, you’ll want to make sure you have enough ports and a design that fits in with your style – all while staying within your budget.
No matter what you’re looking for from a solid desktop computer, there should be something on this list for you. Here are the best desktop computers money can buy right now.
The Dell XPS 8940 is relatively sleek and stylish, plus it offers solid performance at a pretty low price.
Pros: Inexpensive, lots of ports, sleek design
Cons: Not much graphics performance on low-end models
Looking for a solid all-a rounder? The Dell XPS 8940 desktop is sleek, powerful, and versatile — without breaking the bank. The computer doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles that you would expect from a gaming PC, but for everyone else, it’s more than enough.
The XPS 8940 is available in a series of different configurations, but the base model is still pretty powerful. You’ll get a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, coupled with 8GB of RAM and 1TB of storage — all for a relatively affordable $600. Upgrade it a little, and you get serious processing power, with up to an Intel Core i9 processor, 64GB of RAM, a 2TB solid-state drive, and a 2TB hard drive. In addition, you can get up to an AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT graphics card for the gamers out there.
There are plenty of ports on offer by the computer too. You’ll get a hefty seven USB 3.1 ports, along with a USB-C port. There’s also a DisplayPort, a HDMI port, two USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port, and so on. Safe to say, you should run out of ports, though most of them are on the back. And, you’ll get some additional ports if you get a graphics card, which may be helpful for your needs.
We’re not the only ones that love the Dell XPS 8940 desktop. The computer scored a very respectable 7.6/10 from PCGamer, while the extremely similar previous-generation 8930 scored 4/5 on Top Ten Reviews. The downsides? Well, there aren’t many at this price, except maybe that the graphics on the lower-end models is pretty limited.
The best gaming desktop computer
The Alienware Aurora R11 is well-designed and incredibly powerful — and as such it should be able to easily handle everything the average gamer can throw at it.
Pros: Cool design, very powerful, tons of ports
Cons: Can get expensive
Perhaps you’re looking for a workhorse, in which case it’s worth considering the Alienware Aurora R11. The computer, built by Dell, offers the top-end performance that you need to run all your favorite games, plus its design ensures that it should look pretty great on any gaming workstation.
As you would expect, the Aurora R11 offers high-end base specs. You’ll get a 10th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with 8GB of Ram and a 1TB hard drive, plus an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card. Upgrade it to the max, and you’ll get a 10th-gen Intel Core i9 with an absolutely huge 128GB of RAM and a 2TB solid-state drive with a 2TB hard drive too. All that, with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti graphics card.
The Aurora R11 expectedly offers a pretty gamer-friendly design, too. It looks like a big oval, with blue lighting at the front. There are plenty of ports too — including three USB 3.2 ports, a USB-C port, and audio ports on the front. On the back, you’ll get a massive six USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.2 ports, a USB-C 3.2 port, and more. That’s not to mention the ports you’ll get as part of your graphics card. Safe to say you should never run out of connectivity options.
The Aurora R11 has gotten excellent reviews since its release. Notably, LifeWire hailed it as the best gaming PC of 2020, while PCMag gave it an impressive 3.5/5. The main downsides noted in these reviews were that the rig can get pricey quickly.
The best Apple desktop computer
The Apple iMac offers a powerful all-in-one design for anyone who wants to remain in the Apple ecosystem.
Pros: All-in-one, relatively powerful, multiple configurations, solid port selection
Cons: Slightly aging design, most will want to upgrade
If you love Apple’s ecosystem, then you’re probably looking for a desktop computer that will work within that ecosystem. In that case, it’s worth buying the iMac, which has long been the go-to desktop for Apple users.
The iMac isn’t just a desktop — it’s an all-in-one. That means that it has a display built into it, too, so you don’t need to buy an external monitor to use with it. No hassle required.
The iMac is pretty high-powered too. The computer comes in two sizes — a 21.5-inch model, and a 27-inch model — and while the 21.5-inch model doesn’t have the exact same specs as the larger device, it’s still relatively powerful. The base model offers a 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive, while the highest end 27-inch iMac can be upgraded to offer a 10th-generation Intel Core i7, 128GB of RAM, and a whopping 8TB of solid-state storage. You’ll even get up to a Radeon Pro 5700 XT graphics card.
The iMac is beautifully designed too, like any Apple product. It’s got a stunning aluminum build that will look great on any desk. Around the back is where you’ll get ports, including four USB-A ports, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an SD card slot, and a gigabit ethernet port.
The iMac has long gotten great reviews. PCMag gave the 27-inch iMac an impressive 4/5, while Wired gave it an equivalent 8/10. The downsides? Well, notably that while the iMac looks great, it has had the same design for some time now, so it’s aging a little. Also, most will want to upgrade to at least 16GB of RAM, up from the 8GB in the base model.
The best compact desktop computer
The Apple Mac Mini boasts a sleek and stylish design, Apple’s new processor, and integration with the rest of Apple’s ecosystem.
Pros: Sleek design, powerful performance, works with all apps
Cons: More USB 4 ports would be nice
Unless you’re seriously against Apple’s MacOS operating system, the Mac Mini is the best compact desktop computer right now. It has a sleek and stylish design with enough ports for most, plus it runs on Apple’s all-new M1 processor, which is incredibly powerful and makes the transition seamless.
When Apple announced the transition to a new M1 processor architecture, many were concerned that apps built for Intel Macs wouldn’t work on M1 Macs, and wondered how difficult switching would be. The answer? It’s absolutely simple. Many apps now work with both classic Intel processors and Apple’s new processors, and even those that don’t can be translated in the background by Apple’s Rosetta 2 software. In other words, the worst you’ll experience is an app pausing for a second or two before opening, after which it’ll run as well as it always has. It’s actually kind of incredible.
The only other thing you might be wondering about is whether you should get 8GB of RAM or upgrade to 16GB. I’ve been using an 8GB model for a few weeks now, and find that even as a power user, it’s more than capable the majority of the time. With Mail, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Word, Podcasts, Safari, Reminders, and often both Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro open at the same time, the computer still feels responsive and quick. On the heaviest of heavy days, which included 4K video editing, the computer can sometimes skip a little, and as a result we recommend getting 16GB of RAM if you plan on using those pro-level apps. For most workflows, however, 8GB will be enough.
The only downside to this Mac Mini compared to the last generation is that it has slightly fewer ports. But you’ll still get two USB-A ports, two USB 4.0 ports (USB-C), an HDMI port, a headphone jack, and an ethernet port, which should be more than enough for most.
The best desktop computer under $500
The Acer Aspire TC is inexpensive, sure, but it still offers excellent performance for a computer in its price range.
Pros: Inexpensive, excellent port selection, solid performance for the price, customizable
Cons: Lackluster graphics performance
If you want a decent desktop on a budget, there are some great options. Namely, it’s worth considering the Acer Aspire TC, which offers excellent performance for the price, plus it can be upgraded down the line as needed.
Despite being low-cost, the Acer Aspire TC has a lot to offer. The base model of the computer comes with a 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive, but it can be upgraded to offer an Intel Core i7 chip, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 1TB hard drive – though of course, those specs will pass the $500 line.
There’s a great-selection of ports on offer too. There are two USB 2.0 ports, a hefty five USB 3.1 ports, a USB-C port, two HDMI ports, and more. Safe to say, you should never run out of connectivity options on this computer.
The Acer Aspire TC has made a name for itself for offering excellent value-for-money, and reviews reflect that. PCMag gave the computer a 4.5/5, which is a glowing score. The only real downsides to the computer are that the computer doesn’t offer great graphics performance, but that’s somewhat to be expected from a computer in this price range.
What to look for in a desktop computer
As with any computer, there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re browsing for your next desktop. For starters, you’ll want to think about the operating system (OS) that you prefer: Windows or macOS. Of course, the OS comes down to one’s personal preference. A good number of people happen to find that macOS is easier to use than Windows. However, Windows computers are on the cheaper side compared to Macs, and are widely more compatible with various programs and external devices.
You’ll also want to think about how powerful you need the computer to be. Most of the computers on this list feature Intel Core i processors (CPUs), which come in a range of models. At the most basic level, the entry-level CPU is the i3, the mid-range is between the i5 and i7, and the high-powered option is the i9. Additionally, gamers and visual media professionals need to consider the graphics card inside the computer, with the Nvidia GeForce RTX series being the highest-end graphics cards available today.
Apart from the processor, there’s memory, or RAM, which impacts the overall speed and day-to-day use as well as multitasking capability — we would recommend at least 8GB of RAM; and storage, which dictates how many files, including videos and music, can be stored on the desktop. For this, we’d recommend going for at least 256GB of space to start.
The Global Privacy Control (GPC) is a technology initiative being spearheaded by a group of publishers and technology companies to create a global setting in web browsers that allows users to control their privacy online. This means you should be able to set the GPC control in your browser to prevent websites from selling your personal data.
Why the Global Privacy Control feature is important
In recent years, there has been increasing scrutiny on privacy rights online. In 2018, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect, limiting the data websites can collect on EU citizens. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a similar legislative measure that went into effect in California in 2020.
While there is enhanced interest in online privacy and some governments are taking steps to limit what websites can do with user data, there is no global way for users to opt-out of having their personal information sold or used in ways they don’t approve of. Every website that needs to comply with legal mandates – or simply implement more progressive privacy policies – must implement an opt-out mechanism on its own.
The GPC is built to inform websites not to sell user data. This is different from other privacy tools that might limit tracking but might still allow user data to be sold (or to sell that data itself).
When fully implemented, the GPC may allow you to opt-out of having your personal data sold by the websites you visit.
Status of the Global Privacy Control feature
Buoyed by these new laws, the GPC is intended to be a single, global setting users can activate in their web browser that signals to all websites the user’s intention about their data privacy.
Currently, the specification is being written by an informal consortium of more than a dozen organizations including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the National Science Foundation, The New York Times, Mozilla, The Washington Post, and Consumer Reports.
The specification that will govern how the GPC will be implemented and behave is still in development, though in principle, it simply allows a website to read a value (such as Sec-GPC-field-value = “1”) to know that the user has chosen to opt-out of having their data sold.
A number of web browsers and browser extensions have implemented the GPC in its draft form. Moreover, adoption of the GPC privacy settings carries no legal weight. If you use a browser or extension with the GPC feature, at this time no websites are obligated to respect its setting – compliance with the GPC is voluntary.
Overclocking a component in your computer – usually the CPU, and occasionally the graphics card – makes your computer run faster than it was originally intended. This lets you improve your computer’s performance without spending money to upgrade or enhance your PC.
Not every computer can be overclocked, and there are some risks associated with overclocking as well. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is overclocking?
Different computer processor chips run at different speeds – this is known at their “clock speed.” A higher clock speed means a CPU can run more operations per second, and thus run your computer faster.
But even processors with different speeds are all made on the same assembly line. It’s only after the processors are built that companies test them for defects, take out the more defective ones, and manually “throttle down” those chips to make them run slower in a computer.
That means that in theory, even these slower chips can run at faster speeds if you want them to – that’s how they were built, after all. This is where overclocking comes in.
Overclocking lets you undo the throttling and run that slower chip at a faster speed, as if it were a less defective model.
To do this, you need to increase the processor’s “multiplier,” which can be found in your computer’s UEFI or BIOS menu, causing the chip’s clock speed to increase.
The pros and cons of overclocking
Overclocking is incredibly popular among computer enthusiasts, gamers, and anyone who regularly needs to run programs that take a lot of CPU power. This can include graphic design apps, 3D modeling programs, and more. Done right, it can increase your computer’s performance essentially for free.
When you join discussions about building computers or buying graphics cards, you’ll often find people talking about how easily their computers can be overclocked. Buying a less expensive graphics card that can be overclocked can save money, while still ensuring excellent performance.
In recent years, however, there’s been some evidence that overclocking isn’t as useful as it used to be. Modern CPUs already run so fast that overclocking can have little effect. And more important, improving your processor performance can be useless if the rest of your computer isn’t fast enough to keep up. This is called “bottlenecking.”
For example, if you have a slow hard disk drive (HDD), overclocking your CPU can’t make it run faster. Likewise, programs that use your graphics card more than the CPU won’t be helped by an overclocked CPU.
Overclocking comes with some inherent risks. Companies don’t throttle down processor chips for fun – they do it because the chip has defects, and running it too fast can cause your computer glitches.
Too much overclocking can lead to instability and crashing apps, as well as the occasional Blue Screen of Death. Frequent crashes can cause data loss and frustration. In some cases, overclocking can even damage your CPU or graphics card permanently.
You need to weigh the sometimes-marginal performance improvements that come from overclocking against these risks.
How to overclock your processor
If you want to overclock your computer, first assess if your processor supports overclocking – not all do.
Intel adds an “K” or an “X” to the model numbers of the Intel Core CPUs that can be overclocked. For example, the Intel Core i9-10900K can be overclocked; the Intel Core i9-10900F cannot.
If you have an AMD CPU, the news is better – any “Ryzen” CPU can be overclocked.
You should also ensure your computer has adequate cooling equipment. Your CPU should have a heavy duty heatsink and large cooling fans. You might even want to use a liquid cooling system to deal with the extra heat generated by your faster CPU.
Your CPU will need enhanced cooling if you plan to run it at a higher clock speed.
To overclock the CPU, restart your computer and enter the startup menu in the computer’s UEFI or BIOS. These startup screens vary dramatically from one manufacturer to another, so you’ll need to look for the overclocking controls.
It’s a good idea to increase the multiplier by a small amount, reboot the computer and test it. You can increase the clock speed in increments to get to the speed you are interested in.
Every time you increase the clock speed, spend a few hours “stress testing” the computer. You can use an app like Prime95 to temporarily run the CPU at 100% load to make sure there are no problems with the PC.
If your computer crashes, you get a Blue Screen of Death, or your programs won’t open, return to the UEFI or BIOS menu and revert to a slower clock speed.
It’s also possible to overclock your graphics card’s GPU, though you can’t do that from the UEFI or BIOS menu. To speed up your GPU, you’ll need to use an overclocking utility – one of the most common is MSI Afterburner.
Best Buy is running a huge sale on laptops that discounts select models by hundreds of dollars. Tons of different laptops are now discounted at Best Buy – from top-of-the-line Lenovo Yogas to midrange Microsoft Surface Laptops and even affordable Chromebooks. That means there’s a laptop available for every budget in this sale, which runs through March 14.
Among the most noteworthy of these deals is a $400 discount on the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3. This configuration boasts an AMD Ryzen 5 processor, a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD), 8GB of memory (RAM), and a 15-inch HD (2496 x 1664) display.
We called the Surface Laptop 3 the best Microsoft laptop and loved the AMD processor, the long battery life, and the excellent keyboard. We wished it had more ports and some top-firing speakers, and also found it to be a little on the pricey side. But this discount helps to address that latter concern. Overall, it’s a great pick for those looking to stream Netflix, attend online classes, and perform any other task that a general purpose computer should be equipped to handle.
Best Buy’s sale also includes compelling discounts on the HP Spectre x360, Lenovo Yoga 9i, and Chromebooks from HP and Asus among others.
Here are some more sweet laptop deals happening right now:
Surface Laptop 3 (medium)Spectre x360 Laptop (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)Yoga 9i (medium)Prestige 14EVO012 (medium)Yoga 7i (medium)Surface Pro 7 (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)x360 14c Chromebook (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)C433TA Chromebook (medium)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium, Preferred: Amazon)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium, Preferred: Lenovo)Chromebook Duet (medium, Preferred: Best Buy)
A laptop charger is essential to have on hand, and replacing one is a pain (and can be expensive.) There are a few simple tips to follow when it comes to extending your laptop charger’s life.
Laptop chargers have two parts: a transformer and a power cord. The transformer is the brick that converts the current from your power outlet from AC to DC, and the power cord connects the charger to the outlet.
Over time, transformers can overheat, which can cause internal damage. Simultaneously, any section of your power cord can wear away and expose the wires inside.
How to care for your laptop charger and power cord
Maintaining your laptop charger’s integrity will help ensure you can safely charge your laptop with it. Here are six ways to do it.
Avoid tightly wrapping your laptop power cord
While it may be tempting to wrap your laptop power cord in a tight pattern to keep it organized, doing so can shorten the life of your charger. This practice puts repetitive stress on the thin copper conductors inside power cords and can cause them to break.
To avoid this, loop your laptop power cord loosely to avoid crimping the wires and if you can wrap it a different way each time to avoid repetitive stress on the same section.
Use a power strip
But not just any power strip––make sure it has a built-in surge protector. In addition to offering convenience (allowing you to plug in multiple devices with only one outlet), power strips with surge protectors can protect your laptop, phone, and other electronic devices from power surges that can damage your device.
Ensure the transformer has room to breathe
The transformer can get hot during the charging process. To avoid overheating while your laptop is charging, make sure it’s placed somewhere with plenty of airflows (e.g., not wedged in a couch cushion), especially if you know you’ll be plugged in for an extended period.
Avoid contact with sharp edges
Exposed wires are a big no-no, and extended contact with sharp surfaces like table edges can wear away the rubber protecting the wires in your laptop power cord.
Whether you often move your power cord from one place to another or have a designated charging hub, ensure your setup doesn’t expose these delicate wires to sharp edges.
Keep your power cord away from water
Water and electronic devices don’t mix, so it’s essential to avoid situations where your laptop power cord could be accidentally exposed to water as this can cause electrocution, damage to your laptop, or both. This means not charging your laptop in or near your kitchen or bathroom.
If your laptop charger comes into contact with water, disconnect it from the outlet at once and move it away. Thoroughly dry the charger and make sure it is completely dry before deciding whether to use it again.
Use different cords to avoid overuse during transport or storage
Of course, this means you’ll have a backup when one breaks down. But opting to have two in your possession is about more than being proactive. It can help reduce the wear and tear of both — and will likely improve their life span.
Reserve a cord specifically for travel, and leave your other charger in your living room or bedroom. Only use the travel cord while you’re on-the-go and the living or bedroom cord while you’re working in the house and in those rooms.
This will help you avoid pulling, stretching, and wrapping your cords as frequently.