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Best PC Speakers for 2022

Looking for a pair of speakers for your desktop or laptop computer? Here are our picks for the top Windows and Mac speakers at various prices.

Whether you're rocking one of those high-end rigs for PC gaming, a tried-and-true desktop for your home office or you're a more casual laptop user, you're going to want the best PC speakers you can get your hands on to take your setup to the next level. While perhaps not as immersive as your noise-canceling headphones, they still provide clear, detailed audio, and that comes with its own perks. You'll still be able to pay attention to pets, kids, doorbells and any other chaos going on in your home, and if wearing headphones is uncomfortable to you, there's an added freedom to having your sound come through independent speakers. 

If you're looking to bypass your laptop speaker and take audio experience to the next level, you should consider investing in external speakers. I'm not talking about a major stereo system: A small or portable desktop speaker can pick up the slack. Even budget or small speakers can boost sound quality enough that you'll be shocked by your laptop speaker's comparative quality.

You can also pair your PC with a Bluetooth speaker to augment the sound, but this list highlights the best in powered external speakers. That means they'll need to be plugged in to power their built-in amplifiers.

Some of the desktop speakers on this list have analog connectivity, but most offer some kind of digital connection so you can plug them right into a computer with a USB cable. Others have Bluetooth, which lets you easily pair them with all your devices, including tablets and smartphones. As you might expect, better connectivity options add some cost to the speakers, but a few moderately priced speakers have excellent connectivity options too, in addition to more-than-decent sound quality with a surprisingly deep bass. Some of these computer speakers can even be positioned for surround sound.

Note that CNET hasn't fully reviewed many of the items on this list, but I have listened to all the selected models. If you're on the hunt for great sound from quality speakers, keep reading -- the right speaker for your computer is sure to be here. Also, we'll update this list of the best computer speakers periodically as new laptop and desktop computer speaker options hit the market.

Amazon

Creative's Pebble speakers have been around for a while and now come in a V2 version with a USB-C plug (a USB-A adapter is included) that powers the speaker, no extra power adapter required. They're $25, while the earlier V1 version (with USB-A) can be had for $20. Note that this V2 model does play a little louder and sounds better than the V1.

They don't deliver huge sound and they're light on the bass, but they're surprisingly decent for their low price.

A version with a subwoofer that delivers more bass is available for only $48 (see below).

Amazon

Edifier makes a ton of PC speakers, and they're generally very good. We like the R1280DB Bluetooth Bookshelf speaker because it has all the features you want, including an optical input and Bluetooth capabilities in a fairly compact package that delivers very good sound for a decent price.

Amazon

In terms of sound for the money, it's hard to beat Creative's Pebble Plus 2.1, which includes a sub for around $50 and sometimes $40. The 4-inch sub isn't exactly great looking, but it's a black box that you can hide in a corner of your desk or underneath it.

This model is also powered by USB (there's no power adapter), but you do have to connect it to your device with a standard 3.5mm aux-in cable (included). Don't expect huge volume (it is powered by USB after all), but it delivers better sound than you might think for the money.

David Carnoy/CNET

The Logitech Z407 is a compact system with a small subwoofer that doesn't exactly have a premium feel (it's an all-plastic affair and the satellite speakers are quite light), but it's attractive and has some nice features. For starters, it's simple to set up. You can use it in wired mode with an auxiliary 3.5mm cable or connect it to your computer via USB. But the majority of people will connect their devices to it via Bluetooth.

It comes with a hockey puck-sized controller (it's powered by two AAA batteries) that doubles as a Bluetooth transceiver between any Bluetooth-enabled audio device and the speaker system. You can skip tracks forward and back by tapping on the top of the puck and turning the dial to control volume. It's also worth noting that the speakers can be stood up vertically or horizontally. It's a nifty design. 

The sound is good at close range but the bass isn't exactly tight (you can only expect so much for the price). This would work fine as an audio system in a small room, but just doesn't have the juice to sound good in a larger room (it's touted as having 80W of power but power ratings don't mean all that much). 

David Carnoy/CNET

The most recent addition to the Audioengine family, the A1 speakers sound good for their compact size, particularly in terms of their clarity. Like the more expensive A2 Plus (see below), they're a little bass shy, but if you're using these at close range (as one tends to do if you're looking at a computer screen), the bass will seem ample. You can connect a subwoofer to them, but that would substantially raise the price for the package. In a small room, they could work as your main speaker system, but they just don't have enough power for a larger room.

The nice thing about them is that they're nice looking. They're also simple to set up and wireless, so you can connect your computer -- or another device -- via Bluetooth. You just have to hit the pair button on the back to engage pairing mode. A set of speaker wires connects the two speakers (the left speaker has the amplifier and all the connectivity options). You can also use the auxiliary-in port to connect your computer with an included cable.

Audioengine

If you can't afford Audioengine's $500 A5 Plus Wireless (see below) -- or don't like its somewhat large footprint -- the A2 Plus is a good alternative, albeit one that produces less bass and just isn't as loud or full sounding. Still, it sounds really good for a mini bookshelf-size speaker and has a glossy piano finish that gives it a premium look.

I reviewed an earlier version of the A2 Plus back in 2013. It now has Bluetooth connectivity with support for AptX streaming (for AptX-compatible devices), but it still uses a standard 3.5mm-to-3.5mm audio cable that you plug into your device's headphone jack or auxiliary output. 

For $269, it delivers excellent sound in a compact, attractively minimalist design, which is why it appears to be so popular at the moment. Some sites have it back-ordered or not available in certain color options (I personally like the white). 

David Carnoy/CNET

Canadian speaker company Fluance is known for delivering speakers with a lot of bang for your buck and its attractively designed Ai41 powered bookshelf speakers do just that for $300. While they don't weigh as much or have quite the build quality of Audioengine speakers, they do offer strong sound and good connectivity options, including an optical digital input and Bluetooth options. I tried the white and bamboo version but the speakers are also available in black.

They're about the same size as Audioengine's A5 Plus speakers (see below) but cost half the price. I can't say they sound quite as good as the A5 Plus speakers, but they do sound clear and well-balanced and have just enough bass to make you think they aren't bass shy (there is a subwoofer connection if you want to add a sub). You can get a little more bass by placing them near a wall. 

A remote is included for not only raising and lowering volume but tweaking the treble and bass settings. These will fill a small room with sound. Note that if you want a wired connection to your computer via the headphone port, you'll need an RCA to 3.5mm cable (less than $10 on Amazon) -- it's not included. 

The Ai41 have 5-inch drivers while the step-up Ai61 have 6.5-inch drivers. The Ai61 does offer more little bass and power for $50 more. However, the Ai41 is already fairly large for a set of computer speakers. They could also be connected to your TV via the optical connection. 

Amazon

Audioengine's powered A5 speakers have been around for several years and have received some technology upgrades over time. The wired-only version is $399, but if you want to add a Bluetooth option, the price goes up to $499. You can connect to your PC either with a cable or via Bluetooth, but having Bluetooth is nice if you want these speakers to double as standard bookshelf speakers.

As you might expect, they have significantly more bass than Audioengine's smaller A2 Plus, and they resemble traditional monitor speakers. With a built-in 150W amp, they deliver clean, dynamic sound with lots of volume, and will rock a medium-size room without a problem.

David Carnoy/CNET

Harman Kardon's SoundSticks have been around for 20 years and have always been a favorite of Mac users because, well, they -- and their transparent aesthetics -- were marketed from the get-go to owners of the early iMacs.

The SoundSticks 4 offers some design changes over earlier iterations, particularly to the subwoofer, which has a cleaner, sleeker look without the plastic funnel inside. The SoundSticks 4 are rated for 140 watts of power -- the SoundSticks 3 were rated for 40 watts. Also, Bluetooth connectivity now comes standard (with the SoundSticks 3, there was a step-up model you had to buy to get Bluetooth). The speaker comes in two color options -- one with white trim and one with black.

The system is a little more compact than you'd think seeing some of the pictures, and it does deliver strong sound with bass that will rattle a table at higher volumes if you leave the sub on your desk (the sub is actually slightly smaller at 5.25 inches compared to 6 inches for the SoundSticks 3). From what I remember of the SoundSticks 3, this new model does sound fuller.

The only fault I found with it was the lack of a wired digital connection. Like the previous version, there's an analog cable that you plug into the headphone jack or auxiliary output on your computer or another device. As a result, I tended to just use the Bluetooth, which gives you more flexibility with the placement of the sub (the power cord is a little short). That said, you do have to connect the elegant mini tower satellite speakers to the sub with cables that are color-labeled for easy hookup, so the sub has to stay pretty close to the satellites.

It's also worth noting that you don't have to be a Mac user to buy these speakers. They're compatible with any audio device that has Bluetooth or a 3.5mm audio-out port. 

Lori Grunin/CNET

Razer's second generation of its Leviathan gaming soundbar, aptly named the Leviathan V2, gets prettier -- and at $250 as opposed to $200, pricier. And while it gains Bluetooth wireless support, it loses some other useful connections; say bye-bye to analog and optical, for example. Still, it's a compact and solid alternative to headphones or a beefier surround setup that might be overkill or require too much space.