When choosing the best desktop for a computer science, you’ll have a more powerful device than a laptop will be and at a more affordable price.
However, the downside of using a desktop for computer science is you will lose the portability of a laptop, but since desktops are in general more powerful and can be upgraded easier (especially the RAM, GPU, and SSD), they pose for a better budget choice than most other options.
To ensure you can handle both programming assignments and coding projects efficiently, these desktops offer the computational power and flexibility you’ll need for your computer science journey.
The suggested desktops on the list will cover both your academic and personal needs for the next productive years in front of you.
Top Picks – at a glance
- Acer Aspire TC – Best, affordable computer science desktop
- Dell Inspiron – 3471 model
- Dell G5 Premium – – Top Dell laptop for computer science students
- HP Z440 Business workstation
- Dell Inspiron 3671 – Best mid-tier desktop for computer science students
- Alienware Gaming Aurora R7 – – Most powerful option
- Mac Mini – – Most portable option
Recommended hardware for computer science students
The recommended hardware for computer science students is stated below:
CPU: Both Intel and AMD have created processors that can easily manipulate the computer software you will use at a low-cost. Intel’s i5 and i7 series are both powerful and reliable. As it concerns AMD, the corresponding Ryzen 7s and 5s will also do the job easily, and are in general cheaper. As the ‘’brain’’ of your new desktop, the CPU should be a priority.
RAM: As multitasking will be one of your daily habits, 8GB of RAM is the minimum size you should have on your desktop while 16GB would be more than enough. However, keep in mind that upgrading your memory in the future is both cheap and easy, especially on desktops.
GPU: The modern integrated graphics by both Intel and AMD CPUs have proven to cope with the computing software you use easily. Thus, if you don’t plan on playing high-end games like PUBG, there is no reason to spend more on a powerful dedicated graphics card.
Storage: An SSD drive has proven to be 100 times faster than a traditionally HDD and for computer science students, fast performance is a priority. Thankfully, most of the new desktops are equipped with SSDs. Even though the recommended size for you as a student is 500GB of storage, your needs could be covered with 256GB.
Brands and Reliability: All desktop brands on the list have proven to stand the test of time, which is important for you as a student, as this purchase will be an investment for the next few years.
For tackling complex programming tasks and coding projects, a desktop with a robust CPU and ample RAM is essential, making these hardware recommendations particularly relevant for computer science students.
Best Desktop for Computer Science Students
When evaluating the best desktops for computer science students, consider not just the hardware specifications but also how well the machine can handle intensive programming and coding activities, as these will be integral to your academic and personal projects.
So, what computer is best for computer science students? Let’s take a look at our list of the best desktops for computer science, their main benefits vs disadvantage, comparisons, as well as alternatives.
1. Acer Aspire TC- Best, affordable computer science desktop
As one of the best-selling desktops, The Acer Aspire TC offers a great performance and design package for you as a computer science student. The 8th gen i5-9400 processor has been upgraded and its UHD Graphics combined with 12GB RAM will easily handle your computing software while browsing at the same time. These specs differ based on the model.
Moreover, the CPU’s graphics meet the requirements for light gaming, meaning you could play games like League of Legends and Fortnite in medium or high graphics. The GPU could also be later upgraded with a powerful dedicated graphics card like the GTX 1650 or 1050ti that will fit into the small tower.
Acer includes a 512GB SSD, a very good offer in this price range, and will prove to be more than enough for you as a student. Another strong feature of the Aspire TC is the size of the tower as it prides to be only 13.78 x 6.42 x 13.39 inches and thus won’t occupy a lot of space under your dorm’s deck.
In my experience, the Acer Aspire TC has been more than capable of handling my programming and coding projects, making it a reliable choice for any computer science student.
- CPU: Intel i5 Six-Core up to 4.1GHz
- RAM: 12GB
- GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630
- Storage: 512GB SSD
Overall, Acer Aspire TC can promise a fluid, non-problematic environment that won’t cause any performance issues to your demanding software needs as a computer science student. Moreover, during your personal use, you will be more than pleased with your desktop that can handle anything except high-end games.
2. Dell Inspiron
Dell is an expert brand on the creation of small-sized, powerful desktops and Dell Inspiron 3471 is one of them. Compact design, powerful hardware components, and two separate hard-drives are the main reasons why Inspiron made it to our list.
Inspiron’s hardware contains the Intel i5 9400, UHD integrated Graphics 630, and 12GB RAM, like ACER’s Aspire TV, which is, as mentioned above, a solid build that will easily manipulate the computer software you use as a computer science student and you will allow you to multitask fluidly.
As mentioned above, the specific integrated graphics core will suffice for your computing software and everyday occupations and performance issues might appear only with demanding pc games.
Although the Inspiron 3471 desktop seems to be similar to the Aspire one, the big difference between the two can be found in the Hard Drives, as Dell chose to include a smaller SSD (128GB) and add a separate 1TB HDD.
That means that you could have all the computing software and the Windows installed in the SSD drive which is faster and keep the enormous 1TB of the HDD to save all your important files.
- CPU: Intel i5 Six-Core up to 4.1GHz
- RAM: 12GB
- GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630
- Storage: 128GB SSD+ 1TB HDD
The Dell Inspiron 3471 is likely not be the first choice for a compute science professional who is also a gamer, but it can easily cope with your everyday requirements. It provides a non-problematic experience and allows some light-gaming.
For my programming and coding needs, the Dell Inspiron 3471 has been a reliable workhorse, offering the added benefit of ample storage space thanks to its dual-drive configuration.
Thus, the Inspiron 3471 could be a better choice for a student that needs high-performance and a lot of space for photos, movies, etc.
3. Dell G5 Premium
The Dell T40 Premium also has the potential to meet your needs as a computer science student and has interesting features concerning its hard drive, RAM, and size. Alternately, the Dell G5 works as well.
Although the hardware build of T40 Premium with Intel Xeon E processor is probably a bit slower than the previous desktops, this specific 4-cores CPU has proven to be both reliable and quick and it will certainly meet the needs of a computer science student.
Because of the 16GB of RAM, you won’t have a problem in multitasking, and the UHD Graphics help for smooth browsing, streaming, and light-gaming.
One big difference between the Dell T40 is the installation of an enormous HDD of 2TB, from which you might lose on speed but gain a lot of space.
Don’t forget that you could add SSD for a faster environment, keeping the HDD for your files.
Another important element of the Dell T40 premium is that the tower is bigger than the previous desktops. Thus, if you are a gamer, you could purchase a dedicated graphics card and play high-end games like PUBG, as the given CPU and RAM are more than enough for that.
I’ve found that the Dell G5 Premium is exceptionally well-suited for my programming and coding needs, thanks to its robust CPU and generous RAM, not to mention the ample storage space for all my projects and data.
- CPU: Intel Xeon E Quad-Core up to 4.7GHz
- RAM: 16GB
- GPU: Intel UHD Graphics P630
- Storage: 2TB HDD
Overall, the Dell T40 Premium and the Dell G5 (alternative) is a great choice for you as a computer science student, if you want a desktop that has an enormous amount of space, could be later upgraded for you to play demanding games and you don’t have a problem with non-compact towers.
4. HP Z440 Business workstation
- CPU: Intel Xeon E Quad-Core up to 3.6GHz
- RAM: 32GB
- GPU: NVIDIA Quatro K2200
- Storage: 2x 256 GB SSD
The HP 440 is called a Business workstation for good reasons, as its high performance and its dedicated graphics card make it an ideal desktop for offices. That being said, let’s have a look at how this desktop could be also worthy as a computer science student’s workstation.
With a small compromise in CPU performance, HP has managed to reduce the cost and offers a higher RAM size and dedicated graphics card. This Z440 model has a still powerful Intel Xeon E5 processor that has the speed you need, and a 32GB RAM that is way more than the recommended size for a student and will provide fluid multitasking.
The two 256GB SSDs are fast and meet the recommended size requirements we have set.
As mentioned above, the Z440 also contains a dedicated Nvidia card that will help in multitasking and browsing and will allow you to play light games such as League of Legends and CS: GO.
Overall, if you consider yourself a person that multitasks a lot and thus needs the 32GB of RAM, the separate SSDs, and a dedicated graphics card then the HP Z440 is the desktop for you.
5. Dell Inspiron 3671
- CPU: Intel i7 Eight-Core up to 4.7GHz
- RAM: 16GB
- GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630
- Storage: 256 GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Although the Dell Inspiron 3671 uses the same tower case as the already reviewed Inspiron 3471, the performance difference between them is noticeable and also reflects the difference in their price.
The 9th gen i7 processor lifts off the performance of Inspiron and since it is accompanied by 16GB RAM, this build could be characterized as an investment for many years.
The CPU will handle easily everything you throw at it, no matter if it is computing and editing software, browsing, or streaming. Likewise, the fast 256GB SSD and the supportive 1TB HDD will be more than enough for your college, but also your personal needs.
View the Fastest Sd Cards for those utilizing Micro SD in any form.
On the other hand, only Inspiron’s downside is gaming. As mentioned above, although Intel integrated graphics are more than enough for computing software and occupations like Netflix or browsing, it is not the best choice for gamers, as you will be able to play games like Overwatch, but more demanding games will be a problem.
To sum up, the i7 processor, 16GB SDRAM, and the two hard drives will easily handle your heavy-performance usage as a computer science student. Thus, if you are not a heavy gamer, this might be one of the most expensive but also the most powerful desktop computers for computer science majors and professionals that is on this list.
6. Alienware Gaming Aurora R7
- CPU: Intel i7 Eight-Core up to 4.6GHz
- RAM: 16GB
- GPU: GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5
- Storage: 2TB HDD + 32GB Intel Optane
Keeping in mind that many students spend some time in gaming, it would be a deficiency if we didn’t include in this desktop list the new Alienware Gaming Aurora R7, one of the most versatile gaming desktops you can buy right now.
The Aurora R7 could be characterized as a gaming beast as it comes equipped with a powerful Intel Core i7 CPU and 16GB of RAM, an enormous 2TB HDD that does work faster due to the existence of the Intel Optane, and a dedicated Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 8GB GPU.
Thus, performance will not be a problem for you as a student, as this build can handle not only computing software but pretty much anything. The great difference with the rest of the reviewed laptops is that Aurora R7 contains a powerful dedicated GPU which will allow you to play every game on the market.
You won’t have any problem running demanding games like PUBG or Witcher III at 60fps, 1080p, and Ultra settings.
The Alienware Aurora R7 is designed for gamers and this is obvious only by looking at its beautiful tower design.
However, the dedicated GPU and the gaming design has its cost as it concerns the size, as the R7 is larger and heavier than the other desktops on the list. If you consider gaming more important than compact sizes and you can handle its price, then the Aurora R7 is by far the best laptop on the list for you.
7. Mac Mini
- CPU: Intel i3 Quad-Core up to 3.6GHz
- RAM: 8GB
- GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630
- Storage: 256GB SSD
If you are a fan of compact design and you prefer IOS operating system over Windows, then the new Mac mini is the compact desktop of Apple that will handle your needs as a computer science student at the lowest price of the brand’s desktops.
Although the intel i3 processor of the Mac Mini is the less powerful CPU of the list, Apple has managed to build a non-problematic environment that runs fluidly, mainly because of its Operation System.
Moreover, this reliable i3 CPU, 8GB RAM, and Intel UHD 630 integrated graphics will easily run every modern computing software, and you will not face any performance hiccups when using the Mac Mini for browsing, movie streaming, or editing with software like photoshop.
The 256GB SSD is super-fast and its size is enough for most computing science students. Mac mini is the most compact desktop on the list as it measures only 7.7 x 7.7 x 1.4 inches and its presence will be more than inconspicuous at your place. However, this also means it cannot be upgraded, which is frequent for Apple’s devices.
At the given price, the Mac Mini justifies its offering and can cope with every computing software. It might not be the most powerful desktop on the list, but it is equipped with an IOS operating system which is lighter and if you are a fan of Apple’s devices, this could be the best choice for you.
Buyer Tips – Best Desktop for Computer Science
The best desktop for computer science & computer science students & professionals will have 16Gb Ram, a CPU that is i-7 equivalent or higher, a moderately updated GPU, and of course many connectivity ports.
As a computer science professional, whether beginner or expert, you’ll need an above average laptop as you’ll be contributing most of your time to being in front of one.
The core of what you’ll need is based around what softwares and application you’ll be using for computer science.
If you want the laptop to last a while as a computer science student you’ll want to get a laptop with an adequate CPU that is i7 equivalent or better, a good gpu, 512GB storage, and a larger than average display (14 inches or larger is ideal).
Long Battery life, and having many ports, a USB-C or an external adapter for several ports also works.
How we tested & rated the best desktop for computer science
We rated those that were affordable, yet had all the required specs such as 16Gb RAM, fast CPU of i-5-7 equivalent or higher, 512GB storage, several ports such as usb-c for example, and a solid overall design higher.
Whether you’re a computer science professional or student, you’ll want to get a device that works without stutter, delays, lagging, and other common issues such as a failing battery. If the desktop computer had a SSD it was rated higher since these provide storage/speed benefits of almost up to 9x compared to the older technology, HDD.
Desktop vs Laptop for programming and coding
When it comes to programming and coding, desktops generally offer more power and upgradability, making them ideal for running resource-intensive IDEs and virtual machines. The larger screen real estate can also be a boon when you’re juggling multiple windows or diving deep into complex codebases.
On the flip side, laptops offer the unbeatable advantage of portability, allowing you to code on the go—be it in a café, library, or during travel. However, you may have to compromise on performance and screen size, unless you’re willing to invest in a high-end laptop that matches a desktop’s capabilities.
Other key takeaways
- Importance of CPU: Both the Acer Aspire TC and Dell Inspiron 3471 feature 8th gen i5-9400 processors, highlighting the critical role the CPU plays in performance. The CPU is the backbone of any computer system, especially for tasks that require high computational power like programming.
- GPU Isn’t Just for Gamers: While integrated graphics may suffice for light gaming and general tasks, the Alienware Aurora R7 showcases how a powerful GPU can elevate performance, not just in gaming but also in computation-heavy tasks.
- The Speed of SSDs: Acer’s Aspire TC offers a 512GB SSD, emphasizing the importance of fast storage for efficient programming. Dell Inspiron 3471 opts for a dual-drive configuration, blending speed and storage capacity.
- RAM Requirements: Most of the desktops listed come with at least 12GB of RAM, underlining the need for ample memory for multitasking and running complex applications. The HP Z440 even goes up to 32GB, offering fluid multitasking capabilities.
- Security Features: While not explicitly mentioned, the importance of security features shouldn’t be overlooked, especially for students who may be working on sensitive projects or data.
- Form Factor and Customizability: The compact design of the Dell Inspiron and the Mac Mini highlights the importance of form factor, especially for students who may have limited space. On the other hand, the larger form factors like that of the Alienware Aurora R7 offer more room for customization and upgrades.
- Budget-Friendly Options: The Acer Aspire TC and Mac Mini offer budget-friendly options without compromising on essential features. These models show that you don’t have to break the bank to get a desktop that meets your needs as a computer science student.
- Importance of Screen Size and Resolution: While desktops don’t come with built-in screens, the monitor you choose can significantly impact your experience. For tasks like coding, a larger screen with higher resolution can make it easier to see multiple windows at once, improving your productivity.
- Interconnectivity Between Laptops and Desktops: If you already own a laptop, consider how well it will integrate with your new desktop. Features like seamless file sharing or dual-monitor support can make a difference in your workflow.
- Upgradeability: Some desktops, like the Acer Aspire TC and Dell G5 Premium, offer the option to upgrade components like the GPU. This feature can extend the life of your machine, allowing you to adapt to more demanding tasks in the future.
- OS Updates and Security: Always consider the operating system’s update cycle and security features. For instance, Mac Mini runs on macOS, which has a different update and security protocol compared to Windows-based systems. Make sure the OS aligns with your needs and comfort level.
These takeaways offer a comprehensive look at what to consider when choosing a desktop computer for programming, from essential hardware components to specific models that cater to different needs and budgets.
When choosing the best desktop for computer science, you’ll get more RAM, better CPU, more storage, and far better tech specs all together compared to buying a laptop. The trade-off is of course the lack of portability and mobility of a desktop since you’ll only be able to use it in one location compared to other devices like a laptop or tablet which can be used anywhere.