What's the BEST computer on the market right now?

Despite my best efforts – or perhaps because of them – my current system is on it’s last legs. Computers seem to fail every 5 years or so, and I’m back in the market for yet another one.

The current one is a Compaq Presario and it never worked as promised. It still was pretty good while it lasted, costing around $500 at the time.

So I’m looking for something in 400-700 dollar price range. My main computer use is for word processing, email, and watching various bits of crap on HULU. I know many computers have gee-whiz programs, but I’m not planning on building a house, flying to Mars or starting my own computer animation company. So I need a basic, workhorse computer, fully understanding that no matter what it will be more powerful than I really need.

Considering how poorly made many US computers are, I have to wonder what systems do the Germans use? Surely, no one in the EU would put up with the problems often found here, would they? We’re use to getting garbage, well trained in planned obsolesce, but that’s not true everywhere. Or is that a fantasy on my part?

Much thanks for any suggestions!

are you looking for a laptop or desktop? as far as laptops go macs, thinkpads and toughbooks are your best bet, but they’re kinda pricey. Most laptops are made really cheap and sold for cheap hence the “awesome build quality”. If you want something that lasts be prepared to pay for it.

This may be a good fit for you:

Cnet is a pretty reliable source for reviews. They don’t pull punches and seem to tell it like it is.

Well my power supply alone cost me 120 bucks so that doesn’t leave a lot out of your 500. I think that is the real issue here, not spending enough. I have seen a cheap computer with a no name motherboard that i needed drivers for. I finally tracked it down to Asus, a reputable mb maker. If they didn’t want to put their name on it something is wrong. I suggest you up your budget to 800 - 1200 dollars. at this price range you will get a decent PS, top tier ram, a good motherboard etc. This still would not be a top filght gaming machine but you dont seem to need that. Google desktop computer buying guide and do some research. FWIW i just upgraded to a Intel I7 and a nice Intel MB with 6 gigs of ram, that alone cost me 800.

You can try the Dell outlet as well, if you want something a little less expensive, or have to have a desktop. It’s been hit and miss for me, but they always either replaced or refunded when I had an issue.

However, I don’t think I would consider a Dell as being the ‘best’ computer; but i think for the money you are looking to spend, you can find what you want there.

Lenovo has a ‘outlet’ center that sells refurbed, returned and discountinued models at pretty good prices. My current T400 was about $700 and looked new to me. Works as expected and really a good machine.

Their customer service and ordering process leaves much to be desired, but the product is very good IMO; A nice sturdy, business grade machine.

The best computer on the market isn’t in the $400-700 range.

But, as a recent convert to Macs, I have to say that my iMac is by far the nicest computer I’ve ever had (and I compare it to PCs and Sun Sparcstations).

You can buy a Mac Mini in your price range, even after adding Mac keyboard and mouse (which work a little differently, so the whole thing plays together slightly more neatly with Apple input devices). You can add your own existing monitor or maybe squeeze a generic one in still within your budget.

The text editor in Mac OS X is a minimalist word processor with some features like rich text, graphics, fonts, and spell check. Or you can add their iWork package for $49 and get something like the Microsoft Works package, very nice, which writes MS Office compatible files.

Unless you find Mac’s Os compelling for some reason, I’d avoid them, unless you like to pay more for the same hardware.

Desktop are cheap and reliable now a days compared to 5+ years ago. you can get a really good workhorse non-gaming PC for under $500.
I always build my own PC’s so I can’t recommend a company off hand, but in terms of specs I’d suggest a dual or triple core AMD processor (Phenom II), a good 4 gigs of ram, 500 Gb of hard drive space, Windows 7. That could be had for a good $400 or so.

Crud. and a lot of you have said the same. Okay… to widen the scope, I guess I go up to $1000… maybe $1500 with the following in mind:

  1. NOT interested in gaming. Don’t care. I’d rather play… offline!
  2. However, I do watch online video feeds. Daily Show, etc.
  3. Need to be able to print various documents, do power point, etc – kids in high school, power point is mandatory, I have no clue how to do it.
  4. system does as advertised – it works without a lot of worry.

I have big, clumsy fingers and would rather use a desktop than a laptop. My wife has an acer laptop, and while it may not be true, it sure seems like the keyboard is tiny in comparison, making doing any work on it difficult for me.

the current monitor is fine. The printer is a close out piece of crap, so it can go.
I guess going for a laser printer is the thing to do. Had it with ink jets.

And thanks for link, Gagundathar!

For a laptop, the best are Asus and Toshiba (they lead the market in reliability over a three year window), check out this report: link

Note the abysmal failure rate of HP, which says a huge amount about the quality of HP computers not just in the laptop market but across the board.

For desktops I think the question is a bit more difficult for a lot of different reasons.

Desktop reliability at present tends to be dramatically better than notebook reliability.

Your price point puts you in what I would consider the “bargain” range for a PC. Because of that I’d suggest you order a system from someone like Tiger Direct.

Whatever you do, don’t buy from a brick and mortar store. Do not invest in any extended warranty options. Most major PC manufacturers will give you a 2 year manufacturers warranty as part of the system, anyone trying to sell you any sort of protection plan or extended warranty is offering you a form of insurance that overwhelmingly pays the company, not you (or they wouldn’t be offering it.) For almost everyone, it’s much better to avoid those extended warranties and protection plans. Buy a system that fits within your budget from Tiger Direct, four years down the road if it breaks take it to a local computer repair store and I would wager however much it costs to fix it will be less than what you would have paid for an extended warranty or protection plan.

In the desktop market Apple is a lot more reliable than HP/Dell, but I don’t think the $400-700 price range is one that gives you very much bang for your buck when it comes to Macs.

Come to think of it, I like and trust newegg, maybe look for a prebuilt system there?

If you keep your monitor, keyboard, mouse and all of your other peripherals you can get something cool pretty cheap. . . I got an ASUS Pentium Dual Core 6 Gig Ram, 640 G HD. . . with Windows Vista. . . refurbished. . . for $299. . . then added a Radeon 4850 graphics card ($116) and a new power supply (650W) ($80) . . . and it seems like a pretty killer system to me, blazes through the games I play, with my existing monitor and other stuff. . . but, you wouldn’t need to graphics card and the power supply I don’t think.

I wouldn’t be concerned that the “best computer” isn’t in the $400-700 range. (We’re talking consumer-level computers, here.)

The best of the consumer level computers are primarily built by gaming enthusiasts, anyone else who needs a very high powered computer probably is buying it for professional/business/educational reasons and that puts them in a slightly different market.

There’s really no reason for someone with your use case to buy a computer that costs more than $1000.

All you’d be paying for is:

-More graphics processing power (you don’t need this, even an integrated graphics card built into the motherboard can handle streaming video just fine)
-More memory (for your uses, anything over around 6 GB would be unnecessary)
-A bigger/more robust PSU to supply the big graphics card (since you don’t need a big graphics card, you don’t need this)
-Top-level CPU (again, for your uses, you don’t need this. Look in the dual core or low-end quad core range and you’ll have a CPU that will fit your uses fine for 4-5 years)
-Expensive case to handle cooling an overclocked CPU + big graphics card (again, more stuff that is only necessary for components you don’t need)

I’d honestly wager this Gateway PC from TigerDirect would exceed your needs dramatically and is within your original budget: link

In my experience with “bargain” PCs (and I consider Gateway in that camp), your biggest danger is receiving it with DOA (dead on arrival) components. This is an annoyance, but in a way it is a “good” annoyance that you learn about right away and can quickly get RMA’d by sending the system back to the manufacturer. Usually these systems have decent lifetimes as long as they are stable within the first few weeks of hooking them up.

I don’t get this statement at all. Mass market notebook and desktop PCs haven’t been “manufactured” in the US (or Europe for that matter) for at least at decade now and probably longer. What “US made” computers are you talking about? The vast majority of all PCs and PC components are made in Asia, and have been for a very long time.

Interesting, my experience with notebooks is 180 degrees different. I’ve owned (and purchased for others) at least 50+ notebooks and netbooks over the past 10 years. Multiple Toshiba failures and generally ruggedness and build quality on Toshiba’s is not all that great (IMO). HP’s notebooks are in general (again IMO) more solidly built and engineered and have given me far fewer problems than Toshibas. No experience with Asus units.

Since the OP is looking for advice, this is better suited for IMHO than GQ.

General Questions Moderator

The only computers made in the United States are usually boutique types such as Falcon-NW, and Alienware before it was bought out by Dell. Maybe IBUYPOWER and companies such as that put their computers together here, also.

However keep in mind even with those companies we’re only talking assembly, 100% of the actual components were manufactured in Asia (Taiwan and China would be the two biggest locations for this.)

However, assembly does matter a little bit, proper assembly will maximize the life and even performance of a computer’s components. Having well paid technicians that understand air flow and how to properly cable a system, and who actually test the finished system before sending it off to the customer adds a good bit of value to the raw components.

Companies like HP/Dell do not, to my knowledge, even assemble their computers here in the United States. I believe the assembly happens in countries like Malaysia and the systems are not usually tested much at all by the people who put them together.

Yeah, I was shocked to see Toshiba score so well myself. I’ve never owned a Toshiba laptop but I’ve handled some and they never struck me as being all that well put together, either.

HP ranking dead last didn’t surprise me at all, I had an HP laptop catch fire, and actually physically fall apart (screen actually disconnected from the housing, and this was a laptop that mostly sat on a table and was moved only a few feet a year.)

I totally agree with Martin Hyde – you don’t need anything that costs more than $400-$700. Just go to either Dell, Gateway, or, if you don’t want to deal with shipping stuff, your local computer store, and and buy a below-average price generic computer. If it doesn’t work, send/take it back until it does.

(But don’t blame the hardware for software glitches. Those will always happen on occasion, and it’s not the computer’s fault).

What Martin Hyde said. In fact, for your use, you’ll probably be perfectly fine with a Dell or Gateway or HP in the $500-700 range.

Jesus H. Christ, does anyone read the OPs in these computer threads? Here’s what they guy said:

I know that computer people love to brag about their hardware, but that shouldn’t prevent people from giving actual, responsible advice in threads like this. I also know that big box brands tend to use cheaper components, but the fact is that, for the sort of light home use that the OP wants, that will probably be fine.

An Intel Core i7 with 6GB of memory is going to be dramatic overkill for anything the OP is likely to do. Modern processors are orders of magnitude more powerful than what is required by most day-to-day computer uses. Processor speed is probably the single biggest area of overkill in computer systems. Hell, my Core 2 Quad Q8300 with 6GB of RAM has, so far, proven to be more powerful than just about anything i need it for, and that includes some fairly decent-sized batch processes in Photoshop, as well as a reasonable amount of video transcoding.

Sure, it’s nice to get a bit more performance than you need, if only to ensure that your computer doesn’t get left behind quite as quickly, but the level of overkill being recommended for someone who only does email, word processing, and internet video is just silly.

The Gateway box recommended by Martin Hyde will do the job, with power to spare. So would this one. Dell also has plenty of perfectly decent home desktops in the OP’s price range.

To the OP:

If you’re not in a rush, and are prepared to wait a little bit and do some legwork, you can get some reasonably good deals on Craigslist. My “new” computer is actually a second-hand one that i bought on Craigslist a few months ago. It’s an HP, and the specs when i bought it were:

Core 2 Quad Q8300 @ 2.5GHz
6GB of memory
DVD burner
Nvidia GeForce 9500 GS 512MB
Windows 7 Home Premium
Dell 23" widescreen monitor


I added a second hard drive after i bought it. It was only a few months old when i got it, and i’m very happy with it so far.

The only thing about buying used is that it’s best if you’re reasonably confident that you can spot a lemon, or a computer that is not as advertised. The guy who sold me my computer allowed me to turn it on and check it out, and also to then turn it off and open it up. I was able to check the specs, the configuration, and make sure that everything looked OK.

Also, don’t think that by buying something like a Gateway you’re buying something “bad.” I say this as a guy who would never buy a Gateway computer for my home.

Computers like that have an appeal because they are perfect for certain users, you seem to be one of these users.

It’s kind of like buying a cordless drill for a home project. How often are you going to use it? How long are you going to use it at any given time? For most home users, a $50 drill is all they need. I have a $50 cordless drill, it works fine the few times a year I need to use it.

They make drills that cost over $1000, why would I spend so much money on something like that? The price and performance are so vastly beyond the scope of how I use the thing, it’d be idiotic for me to buy a $1000 cordless drill.