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A multimedia computer delivers media such as movies, music, photos, media editing and web browsing. Because of the multiple uses of this class of computer, it can be tough to decide on the best desktop for multimedia uses.

Define Your Needs

You need to have a clear picture of the intended use of the computer. Will it serve as an extra television? Is the primary use going to be streaming video off the internet? Will you also use it for a gaming center, or other heavy-duty uses like video or music editing? Is a CD or DVD going to be advanced enough, or will you need a Blu-Ray player?

The computer is going to need a certain amount of processing power, storage space, memory and video display capabilities to do a satisfactory job. You need a central processing unit (CPU) design that is less than a couple of years old, about 4 GB of random access memory (RAM). For good video capability, the current standard is 512 megabytes of memory on a modern video processor. These are the minimum requirements when looking for the best desktop for multimedia.

It will also need one or more large hard drives to store the media, two 1 terabyte hard drives at least. A fast internet connection such as a cable modem or a 4G is necessary for streaming movies and video. Most other USB modems are incapable of offering the ability to move the large amounts of data required for multimedia needs, so a cable modem is highly recommended for the internet connection. Finally, you will need a large display monitor for the computer to make it easy on the eyes. There is no single brand of display monitor that is better suited than any other. A 19-inch or larger size of display is recommended.

Explore your options

Some operating systems will only work on certain computers like iOS on Apple devices, unlike the Windows which runs on almost any compatible hardware. For a Windows computer, the best CPU is also the newest and most expensive one, the Intel Core i7 processor. AMD brand CPUs are used most often by serious gamers, engineering professionals and for supercomputing. While advertised heavily in computer stores, these processors are specialized for those needs and are not generally well suited for multimedia applications.

The only graphics processor that will meet multimedia needs is the Nvidia brand with 512 megabytes of memory or more. There are other brands of video processors, but currently Nvidia is well-supported by every software maker and most other brands are not.

All Windows operating systems are designed specifically to run multimedia, so buy the latest Windows version available at the time of purchase.

Form Factor

Some computers have a "tower" configuration. This refers to a separate, vertically shaped box-like case with the power supply, storage and processing equipment for the computer. Similar to this is the horizontal or flat desktop computer, which is like a tower in design, but with a horizontally oriented rectangular case. In this design, the display monitor will sit on top of the case.

One of the latest ideas is the all-in-one design, which may have slightly less power for the same price as a box-style computer but consolidates all of the components with the display unit to reduce clutter and create free space. The reason this type of machine is slightly less powerful than the others is because it uses technology from laptop and tablet computers to save space and reduce heat.

On summarizing, our list of best desktops is limited to those desktops which support 4GB of internal memory, hard drive capacity of at least 500GB and an Intel Core i5 processor and above configurations, and check out our list of best desktops which is based on these specifications.

Check out our list of best multimedia PCs, top rated by some of the best desktop reviewers around the web.

Browse All Top Multimedia Desktops »

Apple iMac

Apple iMac 27-inch 3.2 GHz Core i5 Desktop


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Apple iMac 27-inch (2013)
Vizio CA27T-B1
Dell XPS 27 Touch 2720
Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27
Vizio CA24T-B0
Apple iMac 27-inch 3.2 GHz Core i5 Desktop
Vizio CA27T-B1 All-in-One Touchscreen Desktop
Dell XPS 27 Touch All-In-One
Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27 All-in-One Touchscreen Desktop
Vizio CA24T-B0 Desktop
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Release Date
Sep 2013
May 2013
May 2013
Apr 2013
Jul 2013
Processor Speed
3.2 GHz
2.4 GHz
3.1 GHz
2.0 GHz
2.3 GHz
Installed RAM
8192.0 MB
8192.0 MB
8192.0 MB
8192.0 MB
8192.0 MB
Size
27.0 in.
27.0 in.
27.0 in.
27.0 in.
24.0 in.
Display
27-inch LED-backlit display with IPS technology
27 in. Full HD touchscreen
27
27 in. LED multitouch panel
24 in. Full HD LED touchscreen
Form Factor
All-in-one
All-in-one
All-in-one
All-in-one
HDD Size
1024.0 GB
1024.0 GB
2032.0 GB
1024.0 GB
1024.0 GB
Installed Memory
8 GB (DDR3-SDRAM)
8 GB (DDR3-SDRAM)
8GB
8 GB (DDR3-SDRAM)
8 GB (DDR3-SDRAM)
Operating System
OS X Mountain Lion
Windows 8
Microsoft Windows 8
Windows 8
Windows 8
Processor
Intel Core i5
i7-3630QM Quad-core 2.4GHz
Intel Core i7
Core i7-3537U (2GHz
AMD A10-4600M Quad-core 2.30 GHz
Recommended Use
Business
Business

  • Anyone who bought last year's redesigned iMac doesn't need to upgrade, but for owners of older models or anyone looking to switch, the latest 27-inch Apple iMac offers a wide-ranging set of internal upgrades.


  • Though it's mainly a speed bump, the inclusion of the latest 4th-generation Intel Core i5 quad-core processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 775M Kepler graphics bump the Apple iMac 27-inch (Intel Core i5-4670) back to the top spot on our high-end all-in-one desktop list.

  • Rating Unavailable

    You'll buy the iMac for its beautiful display and robust performance, not the thickness of the bezel.


  • Vizio's top-of-the-line 27-inch touch all-in-one gets a modest update but stays traditional compared with detachable, convertible alternatives.


  • With its great feature set and lots of performance, the Vizio 27-inch All-in-One Touch PC (CA27T-B1) is a system that can deliver on the promises made by its futuristic design.


  • Vizio's latest all-in-one looks good and performs well, but Vizio needs to up its peripherals game.


  • The Dell XPS 27 Touch All-in-One (2720) all-in-one desktop updates the best Windows 8 PC around with Intel's latest hardware, and comes up a winner.


  • While we have a few minor quibbles with the Dell XPS 27 Touch's design, we think this is the best all-in-one on the market today.


  • With fresh components, a touch layer, and a much-improved stand, Dell's XPS 27 is the best Windows-based AiO we've seen. With a starting price less than Appleâ??s competing offering, it may gain some iMac converts.


  • Tabletop PCs may not be fully ready for the mainstream, but this coffee-table-size version from Lenovo is fun to use, and doubles as a solid all-in-one desktop.


  • The Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon is a huge 27-inch all-in-one desktop that you can carry around the house. Aside from the novelty, however, there are few reasons to recommend this system over a traditional all-in-one desktop.


  • This cart is a very handy accessory for Lenovo's IdeaCentre Horizon, but you'll want to be aware of a couple design shortcomings before buying one.


  • The Vizio 24-inch Touch All-in-One (CA24T-B0) PC looks great, and doubles as a pretty good HDTV.


  • Price is the biggest bugaboo with the CA24T. As with most all-in-ones, you pay a lot extra for the style and the space-saving design. But unlike much of the competition, the CA24T actually delivers on both counts. An AIO should have more than looks, though. For this price, Vizio could provide a better keyboard, plus mouse and SSD options. (It should also have a discrete GPU option for its Intel-based model.)


Top 5 multimedia desktop:

  1. Apple iMac 27-inch 3.2 GHz Core i5 Desktop
  2. Vizio CA27T-B1 All-in-One Touchscreen Desktop
  3. Dell XPS 27 Touch All-In-One
  4. Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27 All-in-One Touchscreen Desktop
  5. Vizio CA24T-B0 Desktop