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In Pictures: The 6 best desktop PCs of 2012

Some of the features that set these PCs apart are speed, upgrade flexibility, and performance

  • Best desktop PCs of 2012 The competition was fierce, but PCWorld's editors narrowed down the year’s hardware, software, gadgets, and devices to the Best 100 Products of 2012. The following collection is a subset of that list and represents the best desktop PCs to come through the lab in 2012.

  • Maingear Alpha 24 The Maingear Alpha 24 came in third on our Top 100 list. The machine's massive chassis accommodates a GeForce GTX 680 video card, a Core i7-3770K CPU, and up to 32GB of memory. You can play today's triple-A game titles and upgrade every major component to play tomorrow's attractions, too. Simply put, the Alpha offers unprecedented performance and upgrade flexibility for an all-in-one PC.

  • Falcon Northwest Tiki This diminutive, quiet, and extremely fast desktop PC landed at No. 15 on our overall list. This is no budget box; rather, it's a polished, purpose-built tiny gaming system. The heavily overclocked Ivy Bridge processor, a fast SSD, and a GeForce GTX 680 video card combine to make the Falcon Northwest Tiki the fastest system of its size.

  • Raspberry Pi This computer's inventors see it as a means to an end: encouraging students to teach themselves how to program before they enter college. But the incredibly low price on this tiny and surprisingly powerful Linux-powered computer helped it land in the No. 18 position on our complete list. The perfect platform for hobbyists interested in building experimental projects, Raspberry Pi is like a digital blank slate. We dig the noble goal, but we also like tech toys, and this one is hard to beat.

  • Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 Coming in at No. 30 on our Top 100 list, the A720 squeezes into a base the size of a small pizza box. That allowed Lenovo to flatten its 27-inch, 10-point multitouch display to less than one inch thick. Lay the articulated display completely flat, and you can use the computer as if it were an oversized, stationary tablet.

  • MicroExpress MicroFlex 37B Given the choice between beauty and a beast, we'll almost always take the beast (at least when it comes to PCs). This affordable, high-performance PC is a strong general-purpose system and a decent gaming rig. Credit the fast Ivy Bridge CPU, Radeon HD 7850 GPU, SSD, Blu-ray drive, and 16GB of RAM for that. The MicroFlex 37B is No. 32 on our complete Top 100 list.

  • Maingear Shift Super Stock Maingear pulled out all the stops to build this super-powered PC, which tore through our benchmarks to generate a Worldbench 7 score of 205. That's 105 percent faster than our baseline. The top-shelf components in this rig should keep any gamer satisfied for at least a couple of years. We placed it at No. 68 in our Top 100 list.

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