Affordable, compact, and full-featured, this basic mini-tower includes the essentials—plus some extras that its competitors lack. Packing a “true” desktop-strength 10th Generation Intel Core i3 processor with legitimately capable performance, a 512GB SSD, and support for USB Type-C, SD cards, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, this PC is missing nothing major and has a lot to like. (Some closely priced machines rely on lesser laptop-grade CPUs.) This combination of processing pep and feature set tops the competition in value, earning this Aspire our first 2021 Editors’ Choice award for budget desktops.
A NO-FUSS DESIGN
You can tell at a glance that this desktop is about the basics, and for this category and at this price, that’s perfectly OK. From its relatively compact size to its modest look, nothing about the design screams “powerhouse” or “flair.” The look is inoffensive, and unless an all-black device clashes with your décor, it will blend in fine with your office or bedroom setup.
It won’t take up much space on your desk or floor for a traditional tower, either, at 13.4 by 6.4 by 13.8 inches (HWD). The competing HP Slim Desktop (10.6 by 3.7 by 11.9 inches) and Lenovo IdeaCentre 3 (11.8 by 3.9 by 10.6 inches) are even more compact, but that’s fair enough when they’re even less expensive (and less powerful)—especially when one has “slim” right in the name. (These machines, as alluded to above, are based on lesser-powered laptop processors.)
Internal access is about as simple as the rest of the build. Removing two rear screws allows you to pull the left-side panel off the chassis, granting access to a basic interior. About one third is blocked off by a metal backplate, onto which you could mount additional hard drives. (A spare SATA power connector is hanging near, as are several SATA data connectors on the motherboard.)
Acer Aspire TC-895-UA91
PROS Top value we’ve tested in under-$500 desktops. 10th Generation Intel Core i3 CPU delivers solid performance for the price. Compact design with full complement of ports (USB-C, SD card slot). Optical drive, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth included.
CONS Integrated graphics make gaming and 3D apps nonstarters. Graphics upgrade options are limited. Nonstandard PSU. Fairly tight interior.
BOTTOM LINE The Aspire TC-895-UA91 is one of the best values around for under-$500 budget desktops, with snappy Core i3 performance and solid all-around feature support for the money.
The setup in our unit includes an Intel Core i3-10100 processor, 8GB of memory, and 512GB of storage. There’s a little room for expansion in terms of memory—ours is configured with a single 8GB stick, and there’s a free slot next to it. The board maxes out at 32GB of memory.
There isn’t a huge amount of expansion possible, but if you need to do maintenance or some upgrades, you’ll have plenty of space inside. Ultimately, aside from perhaps adding more RAM, this is meant to be an affordable plug-and-play solution, so DIY upgrades are not the priority.
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