Although a laptop is self-contained, a desktop PC requires a variety of peripherals to be useful. That’s why we’ve expanded our Readers’ Choice Award desktop PC survey this year beyond the computer itself to ask about the items that go along with it, like computer mice and keyboards. We skipped monitors—we already have a survey on those—but we did include one key component, graphics cards.
Desktop PCs aren’t nearly as popular as laptops these days. According to IDC(Opens in a new window), they only represented 17% of personal computing devices shipped in Q4 of 2021. Still, for many of us, especially enthusiasts, a desktop is the right solution. On the one hand, you get more bang for the buck: Because desktops don’t require the same level of miniaturization and power efficiency, they’re less expensive. They’re more expandable, powerful, and customizable, allowing you to choose exactly the right components you need for the job at hand, whether it’s calculating massive spreadsheets, editing super-high-resolution videos, or immersing yourself in the latest 3D games.
Are you ready for a new desktop computer? Looking to enhance your existing setup? Considering building your own PC? (A lot of our respondents do.) Read on to see which desktop PC, graphics card, keyboard, and input device/mouse brands deliver a rewarding experience, and which ones leave our survey respondents wanting.
Desktop PCs 2022
As is often the case, our Readers’ Choice Award winner, Apple, receives the highest satisfaction ratings on nearly every question in our survey. That’s impressive enough, but one rating really stands out: Apple earns a satisfaction with tech support rating of 9.4 on a scale from zero (extremely dissatisfied) to 10 (extremely satisfied). A rating of 9.4 on most satisfaction measures is excellent, but it’s nearly unheard of for technical support. Apple’s closest competitor in tech support, Dell, only receives a 7.8.
In addition to rating Apple’s support so highly, respondents left comments like, “I have had the best support experience…of ANY computer I’ve ever had.” “Phone support is outstanding. They’ll help you until your problem is resolved.” And “I love that you can always get tech support, which is something I could NEVER get with my PC and Windows.”
If that’s not enough to make you consider a Mac, look at Apple’s other satisfaction ratings: 9.6 for ease of use, 9.5 for reliability, 9.4 for likelihood to recommend, and 9.2 for overall satisfaction. All of these are substantially better than any other Windows-based PC brand. The one chink in Apple’s armor is its rating of 8.2 for satisfaction with cost/value. That’s the lowest of any brand except Alienware (7.8), but it isn’t far behind the best in this category, Asus and Dell, both of which receive an 8.4.
Despite Apple’s top-notch satisfaction ratings, plenty of people still prefer or need a Windows PC. If you’re in that group, then we recommend Asus, this year’s Readers’ Choice Award winner for Windows desktops. One respondent described his Asus desktop as “just wonderful,” while another simply said, “incredibly reliable.” Asus’ scores echo these comments. In addition to its top rating for satisfaction with value, Asus has the highest ratings among Windows brands for overall satisfaction (8.9), likelihood to recommend (8.9), and reliability (8.9). Asus receives its highest rating for satisfaction with ease of use (9.0), which trails only Apple and Alienware (9.1).
Alienware, a Dell subsidiary, is our Readers’ Choice Award winner for gaming PCs, just as it was in 2021. Alienware is no budget PC brand. Four out of five of our respondents said they spent at least $1,500 for their Alienware computers, and 41% told us their rig cost $2,500 or more. Alienware’s overall satisfaction rating of 8.7 is very good and the same rating it earned last year. All the company’s other ratings improve from 2021.
While you consider our various Readers’ Choice Award winners, you may also want to think about building your own PC, especially if you’re a gamer. Our readers are very happy with the computers they’re building for themselves. Take it from one of our respondents: “It’s super easy to do.” Survey respondents rate their DIY PCs 9.1 for overall satisfaction, just behind Apple and ahead of Asus and Alienware. Several other ratings are 9.0 or better, including 9.4 for satisfaction with reliability. Tempted to build your own? Consider the advice of another respondent who quoted Nike: “Just do it.”
For our specific product recommendations, read The Best Desktop Computers for 2022.
Graphics Cards and Chips 2022
We’ve been testing and reviewing graphics cards for a long time. This year, for the first time, we’ve added graphics card and GPU categories to our Readers’ Choice Award survey. For most of us, the integrated graphics in our PCs can handle our daily tasks: browsing, email, spreadsheets, watching videos, and so forth. However, if you’re a serious gamer or content creator, you want a graphics card with a dedicated GPU (graphics processing unit) from AMD or Nvidia to handle the heavy lifting.
EVGA is our inaugural PCMag Readers’ Choice Award survey winner in the graphics card category, amid the six companies that managed the requisite minimum number of responses to be included in our survey analysis. The company, which sells only Nvidia-based graphics cards, receives the highest satisfaction ratings on every question, except satisfaction with cost/value.
EVGA earns an overall satisfaction rating of 9.1. Asus (9.0) is the only other company to receive a 9.0 or higher on this measure. Interestingly, Asus does not fare as well on any of the other satisfaction measures, and its recommendation rating of 8.5 is barely ahead of the last-place company on this measure, MSI (8.4). By contrast, EVGA has a likelihood-to-recommend rating of 9.2. Nvidia is its closest competitor with 8.9. Many EVGA customers highlight the company’s responsiveness on technical support and RMA process as areas that particularly impress.
Respondents give all the brands excellent satisfaction ratings for ease of use, setup, and reliability. EVGA has the highest ratings in all three categories, but every company rates 9.0 or better, except for Asus, which barely misses on setup satisfaction (8.9). AMD’s own branded graphics cards have the lowest overall satisfaction ratings (8.7) but AMD leads all companies in satisfaction with cost/value at 8.7.
When we slice our survey results based on the chip on respondents’ graphics cards, the numbers—for AMD vs. Nvidia—are incredibly close. One respondent’s comment sums it up best. “My experiences with AMD and Nvidia are about the same…Kudos to both companies for making great products.” Still, our readers expect us to pick a winner, and we have to give our first Readers’ Choice Award for GPUs to AMD.
AMD-based cards receive an overall satisfaction rating of 9.0 to Nvidia’s 8.9, and AMD holds an edge in satisfaction with cost/value at 8.4 to 8.1. The two companies tie in satisfaction with ease of use (9.2) and reliability (9.2), while Nvidia comes out slightly ahead in satisfaction with setup (9.2 to 9.1) and likelihood to recommend (8.7 to 8.6). You’re probably going to be happy with a card based on either GPU, but AMD has the slight edge here.
For our specific product recommendations, read The Best Graphics Cards for 2022.
A large percentage of respondents indicate that they don’t care for the keyboard included with their PC. In fact, 70% purchased a new keyboard from a third-party vendor, and the majority are from Logitech. Apple, Corsair, and Logitech have identical overall satisfaction ratings of 9.0, ahead of Microsoft and Razer, but Logitech is the most likely to be recommended and our winner.
Logitech also came out ahead when we focused the analysis on gaming keyboards and wireless keyboards. However, if you spend all day tapping the keys, you may want to consider a mechanical keyboard, in which case, give Corsair a close look. The company’s overall satisfaction (9.3) and likelihood to recommend ratings (9.0) came out ahead of the competition.
For our specific product recommendations, read The Best Keyboards for 2022.
Computer Mice 2022
We didn’t receive a lot of contenders, but for third-party input devices, the contentment with purchases is high across the board. Again, the vast majority of people buying a mouse go with Logitech. Only two other brands receive enough responses to make our results—Microsoft and Razer—both of which had overall satisfaction ratings of 9.1. However, like with keyboards, Logitech is the most likely to be recommended with a rating of 9.0, ahead of Razer’s 8.9 and Microsoft’s 8.4.
Logitech is the clear leader when we look only at wireless mice. But if you’re a gamer, take a close look at Razer, whose gaming mice come out slightly ahead in overall satisfaction (9.2, to Logitech’s still-excellent 9.1).
For our specific product recommendations, read The Best Computer Mice for 2022.
The PCMag Readers’ Choice survey for Desktop PCs and Components was in the field from April 25, 2022, to May 16, 2022. For more information on how our surveys are conducted, read the survey methodology.
Get Our Best Stories!
Sign up for What’s New Now to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every morning.