Peripherals:

Best computer speakers of 2014

Updated

Nearly every PC includes some sort of default speakers, but they're invariably not very good. If you're looking to upgrade, there are plenty of alternatives available. We've shifted away from impractical 5.1, 6.1, and 7.1 surround setups to more straightforward 2.0 (stereo) or 2.1 (stereo with subwoofer) models. Our top choices below include plenty of options at $150 and below. Note that we also have a bias towards larger speakers, because they tend to deliver better, more full-bodied sound. Also, remember that all "PC speakers"--except for USB-powered models--can also be used to amplify the sound from anything with a headphone jack, including iPods and music phones. Conversely, any iPod speaker system with an auxiliary input can also double as a PC speaker.

Audioengine A5+

The Audioengine 5+ powered speakers deliver excellent sound quality and provide a clutter-free way to listen to smartphones, iPods, or any other audio source.

4 stars Excellent Audioengine A5+

Audioengine A2+ (white)

While they'll cost you $50 more, Audioengine A2+ multimedia speakers improve on an already great product (the A2) with slightly better sound when hooked up to your computer via a new USB connection.

4 stars Excellent

Audioengine 2

Though they're not cheap, the Audioengine 2 speakers are an ideal combination of compact size and good looks, delivering great sound for their size.

4 stars Excellent

Altec Lansing Expressionist Ultra MX6021 - speaker system - for PC

The Altec Lansing Expressionist Ultra MX6021 PC speaker system is a superior combination of design and performance available at a fairly affordable price.

4 stars Excellent

Harman/kardon SoundSticks III - speaker system - for PC

The $170 SoundSticks III speakers offer light cosmetic upgrades (and unfortunately retain a few irritations) from the previous model, but if you're a fan of the iridescent design, this speaker system won't disappoint.

3.5 stars Very good

B&W MM-1 multimedia speakers

We found a lot to like about the B&W MM-1 multimedia speakers, but their $500 price tag gives us pause.

3.5 stars Very good

Logitech Z-523 - speaker system - for PC

While it won't blow you away with its sound quality, if you're looking for an affordable PC speaker-plus-subwoofer system, the Z523 is one of the best speaker systems in its price class.

3.5 stars Very good

Logitech Bluetooth Speakers Z600

Logitech's well-designed Z600 wireless Bluetooth speakers deliver true stereo separation and good sound -- so long as you don't crank the volume too much.

Price: $170.00 - $198.00 Check prices

3.5 stars Very good