A desktop computer is a personal computer (PC) in a form intended for regular use at a single location, as opposed to a mobile laptop or portable computer. Prior to the widespread use of microprocessors, a computer that could fit on a desk was considered remarkably small. Desktop computers come in a variety of types ranging from large vertical tower cases to small form factor models that can be tucked behind an LCD monitor.

Types of Desktops

Standard Desktop

A standard desktop computer's electronic components are housed in a plastic or metal casing, called a tower, while various peripherals (the monitor, mouse, keyboard, etc.) are plugged into the tower. Towers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Likewise, desktop computers come equipped with a wide variety of options and features: some contain older, slow processors, while others are much faster. Some desktops may have an older operating system installed; others have the newest operating system and software. The capacity of the hard drive and the size, shape and quality of the monitor can vary considerably. A wide assortment of desktop computers are available to suit every need and budget.



Made famous by Apple Computers, the all-in-one desktop computer combines the monitor and tower in a single unit that tends to require less space and is easier to assemble than the traditional tower desktop. Fewer wires are needed to connect the components. Purchasing an all-in-one desktop guarantees that you will have everything you need to begin working or playing. The all-in-one desktop market is no longer dominated by Apple's iMac; today, many computer manufacturers build and market all-in-one computers, including HP and Gateway. Some even offer monitors with touch-screens, allowing users to interact without needing a keyboard or mouse. For the convenience that these computers provide, prices are higher than traditional tower desktops, ranging from about $600 to $1,600 and more.



Many businesses provide standard desktop computer systems for employees' basic computing needs. However, particularly in the retail world, computers are needed on site where sales take place and standard desktop units may not be suitable as they are bulky and provide more features than are needed. Instead, "point-of-sale" systems may be used–they are small enough to fit on top of a cash register and specifically made for calculating and ringing up sales. These smaller systems are also more energy efficient, which is particularly important in businesses where systems operate for most of the day.