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Engadget's summer gear guide 2012: desktops

Sharif Sakr
06.01.12
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In the interest of keeping cool this summer, we've put together a list of the hottest products out right now. From smartphones to e-readers and everything in between, there's no time like the present to re-up that post-spring-cleaning stash. So grab a popsicle or a cold one and dive in -- the water's just right.

Desktops are amazing. They deliver serious, expandable computing power to the places where you need it most, and with much better bang-for-the-buck than laptops. Moreover, they're constantly evolving: low-power PCs can now do more with fewer watts, regular gaming PCs can achieve 3D effects that would have required extreme setups just a year ago, and all-rounder desktops have become, well, even more rounded. Which brings us to the recommendations: three PCs that range from $799 to $1,199 and beyond, and that represent each of these three categories. If you're going cheaper, don't be afraid to build your own -- that way you'll only spend money on specs you actually need. Ready to see our selections? Head on past the break to read 'em.

Editors' Choice

27-inch iMac (2011 / 2012)

Engadget's summer gear guide 2012 desktops

Okay, we're justing fooling with ya. A 2012 model doesn't exist yet, but we're pretty certain it's just around the corner. The 2012 refresh should at least bring an Ivy Bridge processor and a more up-to-date graphics card, so it's worth holding out for. If you really can't wait, then try to get a discount on a 2011 iMac. It'll deliver everything you'd expect from an Apple all-in-one: seamless functionality right out of the box, a huge, LED-backlit display with great viewing angles and color rendition, and specs that will happily cope with media creation rather than just consumption. Don't be afraid to open it up and add more memory and an SSD -- it'll work out far cheaper than paying Apple to do it.

Price: from $1,799 at Apple

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Engadget's summer gear guide 2012 desktops

Tranquil PC ixLS

This little creature doesn't have to sit on a desk. It's perfectly happy beneath your TV or next to your stereo amp, where it can stream video and music without polluting your entertainment with the constant whir of a fan. You see, this PC is part of a wider trend towards fanless computers that stay switched on 24/7. Thanks to Intel and AMD pushing the boundaries of low-power chip design, you can do much more than play content -- you can run productivity software on your TV or through remote desktop apps, use the PC as a NAS, or even indulge in a spot of gaming. Pro tip: splurge on an SSD as your primary drive and you'll make the ixLS totally and blissfully silent, not to mention faster. Also check out the MMC-12 chassis from the same company if you want a wider and flatter profile.

Price: from $1,200 at Tranquil PC

Engadget's summer gear guide 2012 desktops

Digital Storm Marauder

Sure, it's three times the cost of a PlayStation 3, but it can do three times more, with up to three times the resolution. Added bonus: it looks like an ammo crate. We'd actually pick the $1,199 option that comes with a cutting-edge and overclockable Intel Core i5-3570K, a capable mid-range AMD Radeon HD 7850 graphics card and a 1TB hard drive. If your desk is big enough, save some cash for a triple-monitor setup too: it sounds crazy, but three 22-inch panels shouldn't set you back more than $400-$500 and they'll transform games, video editing and other tasks.

Price: from $800 at Digital Storm

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
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