Budget desktops might not be all that exciting, but the Gateway SX2870-UR10P slim tower shows you can still find a worthwhile day-to-day PC for under $500.
Samsung Chromebox Series 3
The attractive, fairly priced Samsung Chromebox desktop turns Google's Web-based Chrome OS into a not entirely unreasonable option for certain low-cost PC shoppers.
HP Omni 220-1125
HP's nontouch Omni 220-1080qd all-in-one boasts a strong, performance-oriented configuration that will satisfy anyone looking for a mainstream desktop.
Acer Revo 100 RL100-U1002
Not everyone wants a living-room computer, but the Acer Revo 100 is one of the better low-cost HTPCs we've seen thanks to a wisely chosen feature set, its attractive design, and a mostly well-conceived input device.
Acer Aspire X1920-UR20P
The Acer Aspire X1920-UR20P is a poorly configured, overpriced budget desktop with little to recommend it. Look instead to Acer's Gateway subsidiary for better slim-tower options.
Apple Mac Mini ( 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 160GB, Fall 2009)
The lower-cost Mac Mini offers respectable budget performance and Apple's usual compelling design, but a puny hard drive and a lack of HDMI hurt this system's value and overall potential. It's actually more versatile next to its budget-priced Windows competition than the higher-end Mac Mini, but this entry-level Mac is still best left to Apple loyalists.
Acer Aspire Revo AR1600-U910H
Acer's Aspire Revo 1600 might be the first Nettop we don't actively dislike. We'd rather have an Xbox 360 in the living room, but the Aspire Revo 1600 would be suitable as a PC for young kids or as a low-profile cloud kiosk. Thanks to its $199 price tag, you won't feel too much remorse if it breaks or you outgrow it.
HP Pavilion P6110y
HP's Pavilion p6110y isn't necessarily an offensive system, and its case might even entice you to give it a second look. We just wish HP had taken a more substantive approach to help this desktop stand out. Its FireWire port might sway you, but otherwise you can find more interesting features from other PCs on the shelf.
Apple Mac Pro ( Intel Xeon Quad-Core 2.66GHz, Winter 2009)
Apple's new eight-core Mac Pro demonstrates marked improvements over the older model in high-intensity digital media and multitasking scenarios. We also love the design tweaks that improve on Apple's already industry-leading sensibilities. Any Apple-bound design professional would welcome this new tool in his or her arsenal.
Apple iMac ( 24-inch, 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, Winter 2009)
A few other all-in-ones make this 20-inch iMac look expensive on a dollars-per-screen-inch basis, but none are as attractive or as capable juggling multiple programs. With a fast dual-core CPU and a strong array of features, Apple's updated all-in-one will slide seamlessly into a variety of roles at home or at work.