Credit: René Ramos; Angela Moscaritolo, Eric Zeman, Iyaz Akhtar, Jim Fisher, Joseph Maldonado, Michael Justin Allen Sexton
The stalwart army of analysts at PCMag create a lot of content, but their primary focus is testing and reviews, reviews, reviews. That means repeatedly unboxing, using, benchmarking, comparing, documenting, shipping, and painstakingly writing about as many products and services as we possibly can to help you find the right technology. You can trust that our top picks come from people who know an amazing product when they see it—because we see them all. This year we’ve published close to 2,000 reviews!
The products we test range from giant TVs and exercise machines down to the tiniest chips, wearables, and tracking tags, with a plethora of phones, PCs, and peripherals in between. Plus we have plenty of thorough evaluations of games, apps, programs, and services.
We’ve once again put our own feet to the fire to pick the most stellar products of 2023 across 15 important categories. That’s 100 products and services that deliver better than the competition this year.
All the picks in this list were reviewed on PCMag.com between November 2022 and November 2023. Of the 100 products picked, 91 of them earn our Editors’ Choice award. Of those, 9 manage a rare, but perfect score of five stars.
Now, if you’re ready to see the products that steal the show this year, check out our list of winners, which conveniently doubles as the ultimate holiday shopping guide.
The Zenbook 14X OLED (UX3404) from Asus is as close to ideal as an ultraportable gets in 2023. Its 13th Generation Intel Core i9 processor and discrete Nvidia GeForce GPU drive the Zenbook’s dazzling display from inside a frame just 0.66-inch thick, blending power and compact design to the utmost. While the 3.44-pound portable has enough muscle for demanding creative apps plus some gaming on the side, the real treat is the Zenbook’s 2,880-by-1,800-pixel OLED screen with its 120Hz refresh rate. Despite its petite size, the laptop has plenty of ports and almost 12 hours of battery life—and a base Core i5 configuration is just $799.99.
Starts at $799.99
Desktop Replacement Laptop
Dell XPS 15 (9530) (2023)
Dell takes the words “desktop replacement” seriously, and the 2023 edition of its perennial Editors’ Choice winner shows it. The XPS 15 model 9530 delivers near-workstation levels of power for the toughest productivity or content creation tasks, and its vivid 4K OLED display means you’ll never miss your desktop monitor. When the clock ticks past five, its Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU is ready for any game you might throw at it. The XPS 15 has only USB-C and Thunderbolt 4 ports (though it comes with a USB-A and HDMI mini dock), but it’s more than ready to be your only PC.
Starts at $1,299.00
With Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 3 growing out of the budget price range, 2023 has been a rough year for economy laptops (at least for Windows laptops). But Acer still carries the flag with its Aspire 3, an AMD Ryzen-powered 15.6-inch notebook that starts at $399. Sure, it sticks to the basics, but the Aspire marches through common tasks, schoolwork, and online access (Wi-Fi 6 is standard) without issue and its battery lasted nearly 17 hours in our tests. For your next “old faithful” laptop, it will be tough to beat this bargain from Acer.
Asus Chromebook Plus CX34
ChromeOS has been around for a dozen years, but Google surprised us in 2023 by raising the bar for affordable laptops with its AI-enhanced Chromebook Plus campaign, specifying increased computing power and a higher baseline with features like 1080p screens and webcams. Then the 14-inch Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 elbowed its way to the front of the pack, rocking a high-quality display, a full array of ports including HDMI, and MIL-SPEC 810 durable construction for $399. Suddenly, Windows has its work cut out for it.
Lenovo Legion Pro 7i Gen 8
This was the year of the 16-inch gaming laptop, and Lenovo’s Legion Pro 7i Gen 8 made the most of the trend with a sharp 2,560-by-1,600-pixel screen with a blazing 240Hz refresh rate. Add a screaming Intel Core i9 CPU and beefy Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 graphics, and you’ve got one of the quickest gaming rigs under $3,000—well under, if you’re considering Alienware or another of the super-premium brands. An exquisite keyboard and a slick design that doesn’t shout “I’m a gamer” help make this Legion our favorite of the year.
Base Configuration Price $2,299.00
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11
Lenovo’s reign as lord of business laptops continues with its 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11. We described 2022’s Gen 10 as “The world’s best laptop,” and the 2023 edition duplicates that model’s five-star rating and Editors’ Choice award without breaking a sweat. With a choice of 13th-gen Intel Core processors and handsome 16:10 screens in a meticulously crafted 2.48-pound chassis, not to mention a full set of ports and the legendary ThinkPad keyboard, this year’s revision is enough of an update to maintain its regal status.
Starts at $1,391.40
Dell’s Precision 5680 is a tiny bit less powerful and expandable than the biggest and heaviest laptop workstations, but considerably more, you know, portable. Under an inch thin and weighing just 4.46 pounds, this 16-inch Precision challenges the heavyweights in both performance (thanks to Nvidia’s latest “Ada Generation” professional GPUs) and battery life. Its gorgeous 4K OLED display screen tips the 5680 over the finish line to become our new favorite in the category.
Starts at $2,489.00
Apple MacBook Air 15-Inch
As the first of its kind, the 15.3-inch MacBook Air is something of a test, but Apple’s gamble that the Air experience could be enhanced and enlarged without losing its featherweight appeal was clearly correct. You can’t deny that this is a bigger and better MacBook Air—the 3.3-pound system has morphed from a handy ultraportable into a powerful all-purpose (even light gaming) laptop with speedy performance, impressive graphics, and epic battery life at a competitive price. Sometimes, bigger is indeed better.
Starts at $1,299.00
2-in-1 Laptop (Convertible or Detachable)
Driving class-leading performance and scads of useful features within a striking and functional convertible chassis, the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8 is our number-one 2-in-1 this year. Why? It’s the laptop’s superior 14-inch OLED touch screen, its impressive keyboard and soundbar audio, and its handy stylus (there’s no place to stash the pen inside the Yoga, but the system comes with a carrying sleeve with a pen holster). The flagship Yoga is a repeat Editors’ Choice award winner and adds to its bragging rights with inclusion in this list.
Base Configuration Price $1,700.00
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series is available in three sizes (11-, 12.4-, and 14.6-inch screens) and comes with a top processor, outstanding hardware, and customized productivity software. Samsung’s Dex user interface transforms the Tab S9 into a Windows-like powerhouse. Moreover, a luscious display means you can enjoy your favorite movies and TV shows on the go for hours at a time thanks to the generous battery life and excellent connectivity options.
Starts at $1,199.99
Apple iPad (10th Gen, 2022)
Apple’s basic tablet might be from late 2022, but it’s still the best option for most people. Apple didn’t introduce new slates in 2023, so that leaves the 10th-gen iPad at the top of our recommendation list thanks to its appealing design, swift performance, user-friendly video chat camera, and wide compatibility with third-party accessories. Toss in countless apps the iPad is a winner.
The Fire Max 11 is Amazon’s largest Fire tablet to date, which makes it perfect for consuming media. A fresh processor means upgraded performance compared with older Fire models, and microSD support means you can add lots of movies and music for offline consumption. The battery lasts plenty long to get you through a long car ride or flight, and the low cost makes it attainable for most people.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra is the ultimate Android phone. Not only is it one of the largest, but it’s also one of the fastest, brightest, and most powerful. It includes a large, pixel-rich display, the top mobile processor from Qualcomm, and a bevy of cameras that provide up to 10x optical zoom and 100x Space Zoom. Let’s not forget about the included S Pen stylus, which lets you take notes, edit photos, and sketch on Samsung’s great apps. It’s costly, but worth every penny.
Apple’s top phone for 2023 is the iPhone 15 Pro Max. This large smartphone packs a gorgeous screen, a speedy A17 Pro processor, tons of memory and storage options, and a triple-camera array that allows for 5x optical zoom and Pro Res video capture. New for 2023 is a strengthened titanium frame, a customizable action button, and a USB-C port with support for 10Gbps data speeds.
Google’s Pixel 8 is the smaller and more affordable of its latest range of smartphones, but it doesn’t skimp on features. The Pixel 8 features a comfortably sized display, a standout design, and a solid everyday performance. Google’s Tensor G3 processor gives the phone loads of on-device AI smarts to power advanced photo and video editing, as well as Google Assistant search tools. It’s the Google-iest of all Google phones.
Just because you’re shopping on a budget doesn’t mean you should settle for junk. Samsung’s affordable entry-level 5G smartphone gives you everything you need at a price that’s easy on your wallet. It’s got a generous 6.6-inch screen, a zippy MediaTek Dimensity processor, and a triple rear camera array for snapping photos. Toss in a microSD slot for expandable storage, a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired headphones, and solid 5G performance, and the Galaxy A14 5G is the budget phone to beat.
The Apple Watch Series 9 offers a broad suite of built-in lifestyle, fitness, health, and safety tools, plus the best selection of third-party apps for any smartwatch. The newest version features an impressively bright 2,000-nit display (up from 1,000 nits last generation) for improved outdoor visibility without an impact on battery life. Its new S9 SiC chip enables even more features, like on-device Siri processing, precise directional device finding with the iPhone 15 family, and a double-tap gesture for one-handed operation. With these upgrades, the Series 9 remains the best iPhone-compatible smartwatch for most buyers.
Digital Health & Fitness
The Fitbit Charge has long been among the most value-rich fitness trackers, and the sixth-generation model extends that legacy. It now offers 40 sport profiles (up from 20 last generation) and a new feature that lets you send your heart rate via Bluetooth to gym equipment. In addition, the Charge 6 has a color touch screen, a 5ATM water-resistance rating, multi-day battery life, a built-in GPS, sensors to monitor key overnight health metrics like skin temperature and SpO2, and support for on-demand ECG measurements. It features several Google lifestyle apps, including Google Maps, Google Wallet, and YouTube Music, and works with a revamped companion app you can customize to highlight metrics related to your goal. With ample tools for monitoring your activity and health, key lifestyle features, and a fantastic companion app, the Charge 6 is the best standalone fitness tracker for most people.
Strength Training Equipment
NordicTrack iSelect Voice-Controlled Dumbbells
The NordicTrack iSelect Dumbbells adjust from 5 to 50 pounds, replacing 10 sets of weights, and stand out from competitors because they work with Alexa voice commands. In testing, the Alexa integration worked as advertised with a paired Echo device, letting us easily adjust the weight by voice, and the dumbbells held up like new after a year of frequent use. Their bulky design is a drawback for some moves, but that is also true for non-connected competitors. If your Wi-Fi isn’t working or Alexa isn’t available, you can still adjust the weight with a rotating knob.
Not only is it one of the smoothest and quietest rowing machines on the market, the Peloton Row is also the smartest. It has a unique Form Assist feature that tracks your movements to determine whether you’re performing each stroke correctly and warns you when you’re not doing it right. Its 23.8-inch 1080p touch screen offers an immersive view for Peloton’s excellent workout classes, which provide plenty of variety including everything from rowing, strength, and floor cardio classes when you want to work up a sweat, to meditation, stretching, and yoga to support you on your rest days. The Row delivers the same excellent interactive features that Peloton Bike and Tread owners know and love, including live workouts, competitive leaderboards, social high fives, and flawless integration with Apple Music and Spotify.
A unique combination of two different device categories, the Eufy Video Smart Lock packages a video doorbell and a smart deadbolt into one clever gadget. The bundle makes sense, since both individual pieces belong on your front door, and Eufy’s two-for-one package doesn’t cut corners on either. The 2K camera boasts intelligent alerts and night vision while the lock opens with fingerprints, a touchpad, a mobile app, or a traditional key. It isn’t cheap, but it works well and costs less than buying the two devices separately.
TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Slim With Energy Monitoring (KP125M)
Like other smart plugs, the TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Slim With Energy Monitoring (KP125M) is a convenient way to smarten up any basic electronic device. One of the first Matter-compliant smart plugs to hit the market, the KP125M works with all of the major smart home platforms and reliably responds to voice commands. Moreover, its energy-monitoring capabilities put it a step ahead of many competitors. While on the pricey side, the KP125M is worth it as a versatile smart plug that nails the basics.
The affordable, Wi-Fi-enabled Roku Smart Bulb SE Color is a smart choice for adding a pop of color to your home. It’s easy to set up, doesn’t require a hub, and works well, delivering bright light in a variety of colors. It works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and quickly responds to both voice and app controls. It’s an excellent option and the best smart bulb we tested in 2023.
The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ is the first double-duty robotic floor cleaner with a fully retractable mop. When the pricey 2-in-1 detects carpet, it automatically lifts its mopping plate out of the way, rests it on top of the device where it has no risk of wetting carpets, and continues vacuuming. For comparison, Roborock’s similar VibraRise mop-lifting system only works well on low-pile carpets because it doesn’t lift high enough to avoid medium- and high-pile rugs. This Combo model otherwise offers all the perks of the vacuum-only Roomba j7+, including a self-emptying bin, AI-powered obstacle avoidance, and a poop-evasion guarantee.
The Dyson Gen5 Detect earned our first Editors’ Choice award in the cordless vacuum category for its triggerless design, long battery life, strong suction power, and deft maneuverability. We also appreciate its LCD interface, which shows when a surface is free of dust particles in real time to help you achieve a thorough cleaning. It comes with a fantastic assortment of attachments, including the standout Fluffy Optic cleaner head that reveals invisible dust on hard flooring, a hair screw tool that quickly eliminates pet hair from upholstery and stairs, and a combination tool for dusting. It’s one of the most technologically advanced cordless vacuums and an excellent option for both quick touch-ups and whole-home cleaning jobs.
Arlo Home Security System
If you’re looking to protect your dwelling, the Arlo Home Security System is worth a look, especially if you own other smart home gadgets from the same brand. This versatile DIY home security system seamlessly ties all of the company’s cameras and doorbells together, as well as tons of third-party devices via IFTTT. It’s easy to install, offers a professional monitoring option, and incorporates unique multifunction sensors that can detect anything from motion to water leaks to freezing temperatures and more. In the competitive smart home security category, Arlo’s system stands out as the best we’ve tested this year, but SimpliSafe’s Home Security System remains our Readers’ Choice and overall Editors’ Choice winner because it includes cellular and battery backup components at no extra cost, and its professional monitoring plan is cheaper.
Thanks to its solar charging panel, the EufyCam 3 S330 offers the flexibility of a battery-powered outdoor security camera without the hassle of monitoring and recharging those batteries. While pricey, the EufyCam 3 has plenty of features to justify the cost, even aside from its highly capable solar panels. That includes a built-in spotlight, color night vision, facial recognition, flexible storage options, and sharp 4K video. All of that makes the EufyCam 3 one of the best, most feature-rich security cameras on the market.
Our favorite video doorbell of the year one-ups competitors with a simple addition: A second camera. The S330 Video Doorbell offers the usual view of your front porch in 2K, while the second 1080p camera points directly at your doorstep to keep a close eye on your packages. It can play an automated message if it senses someone coming toward your recently delivered goods. The Eufy S330 makes a great choice if you’re willing to spend up to keep deliveries safe. If you don’t need 2K resolution or the extra cam, the Toucan Wireless Video Doorbell—still our overall Editors’ Choice in this category—will save you a chunk of change.
GE Profile Clearview PHNT10 Smart Air Conditioner
A smart, quiet window air conditioner that works well while staying out of the way, the GE Profile Clearview PHNT10 more than earns its keep. Unlike most window air conditioners, the PHNT10 features a split-housing design: The bulk of the unit sits below your window line, so you can continue to enjoy your view, while all the noisiest components remain outside. Besides its innovative design, the PHNT10 packs in plenty of features including voice and app controls, energy usage reports, and IFTTT support for third-party integrations. It makes for a great option to keep your place cool and your view clear.
GPS Dog Collar
Fi Smart Dog Collar Series 3
The Fi Smart Dog Collar makes it easy to track your dog’s location, activity, and sleep from your phone, and the third-generation model introduces major changes inside and out. It’s not only smaller and lighter to accommodate tiny dogs, but also stronger than ever to hold up against chewers and leash pullers. It now boasts an IP66K water resistance rating, which means it’s tested to protect against not only submersion but also high-pressure jets. Escape alerts took longer to arrive in testing than with the previous model, but the Series 3’s overhauled GPS and cellular radios deliver quicker location updates in the crucial Lost Dog Mode without killing the battery.
Per Month, Starts at $19.00
Amazon Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen, 2023)
Your voice isn’t the only way to interact with smart assistants. Smart displays add touch screens to the mix, letting you watch videos and tap to control compatible devices from a single hub. The Amazon Echo Show 8 is one of the best smart displays available, with an eight-inch screen that’s easy to read, powerful speakers for its size, and fast performance. This generation offers expanded smart home control capabilities with support for Matter, Thread, and Zigbee. Overall, it’s a useful addition to virtually any room in your home.
Apple HomePod (2nd Generation, 2023)
Apple’s largest smart speaker costs three times as much as the Amazon Echo and the Google Nest Audio, but its Dolby Atmos sound quality and volume output justify the price. If you want a centerpiece Siri speaker with room-filling sound, this is the HomePod to get. Sonically, it delivers impressively rich bass depth for its size and can be paired with a second speaker for true stereo audio. With support for Apple’s HomeKit platform and Matter, the HomePod lets you control compatible third-party smart home devices using Siri voice commands. Its excellent mic performance, seamless integration with the Apple TV 4K, and onboard temperature and humidity sensors round out the package.
TV & Home Theatre
If you demand the absolute best picture and you’re willing to splurge, an OLED TV is the way to go. Samsung’s S95C flagship OLED is slim and stylish in a way LED panels can’t be, with a flat screen that can be mounted practically flush against the wall using a single cable to connect to the separate OneConnect box that holds the TV’s ports and electronics. It’s one of the brightest OLED TVs we’ve tested, rivaling many high-end LED TVs while producing incredibly vivid and accurate color. It’s also loaded with features including Apple AirPlay, hands-free Alexa, and a 144Hz refresh rate.
The Hisense U8K is one of the most value-rich TVs, specifically at Hisense’s official “everyday” price of $1,099.99. It’s incredibly bright, has excellent color, sports a 144Hz refresh rate with extremely low input lag, and features Google TV with built-in hands-free Google Assistant voice control. It’s a complete package that doesn’t cost a lot.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2nd Gen, 2023)
The Fire TV platform is filled with features, and Amazon packs it into a $50 stick that’s one of the best ways to turn your basic TV into a smart one (or to simply change your smart TV’s streaming interface if you don’t like it). The Fire TV Stick 4K plugs into the back of your TV and provides a comprehensive streaming experience that covers all of the major services, with Bluetooth support for listening through wireless headphones and gaming with wireless controllers, and Amazon Alexa so you can search for content by voice through the included remote. The 2023 model adds Wi-Fi 6, a more powerful processor, and more memory than its predecessor, all for the same affordable price.
The JBL Bar 1300X soundbar delivers detailed spatial audio and huge bass with a clever twist. It features 11.1.4 channels including four upward-firing channels (two on the soundbar itself, and one on each rear satellite) for fully immersive Dolby Atmos sound, which you should expect from any high-end soundbar in this price range. The twist: Its rear satellites are battery-powered, so you can use them completely wirelessly. When they run low, simply attach them to the sides of the soundbar to recharge, and enjoy even more powerful stereo sound while you wait. Support for both Apple AirPlay and Google Cast is a nice touch, too.
A 4K projector bright enough for daytime binge-watching, the BenQ TK860i delivers a high-quality picture for spaces that must contend with ambient light, making it an excellent family room projector. BenQ’s HDR-PRO technology enhances shadow detail, contrast, and sense of three-dimensionality for both HDR and SDR input. A pair of 5-watt chamber speakers deliver adequate audio volume, and the TK860i also has reasonably short input lag, making it suitable for casual gaming as well as watching movies and TV.
If you’re building out an audio system for your home entertainment space, the Sonos Era 300 is a fine place to start. It delivers surprisingly loud sound with deep bass and sculpted highs, supports Dolby Atmos playback, and responds to both Alexa and Sonos voice commands. Moreover, the Sonos companion app makes it simple to dial in the ideal audio settings for your space and listening preferences. For a more immersive surround sound experience, you can even pair a second identical speaker or add a Sonos soundbar or subwoofer.
Sony’s high-end WF-1000XM5 earphones easily compete against the best from Apple and Bose. Highlights include high-quality tunable drivers, nearly best-in-class active noise cancellation, an exceptionally clear mic system, and support for the AAC, LC3, and LDAC codecs. Their companion app might be a little bloated, but it includes every feature you need to customize the experience to your preference. They also offer hands-free Alexa and Google Assistant.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC
For less than $100, the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC true wireless earphones pack serious value. They offer superb noise cancellation for the price, long battery life, very capable audio drivers, and a full-featured companion app with customizable EQ. And for Android users, they even support the hi-res-capable LDAC codec. A moderate IPX4 water-resistance rating and a wirelessly charging case further enhance the package.
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones
If you want the best over-ear noise cancellation money can buy, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are the benchmark. Thanks to their highly adaptive approach, they aggressively tackle emergent noises in your environment and can even react to shifts in your head position. Along with the Ultra Earbuds, they are the only Bose entry with both immersive (spatial) audio and AmbientAware (tamps down loud noises, while still letting you hear your surroundings) modes. Meanwhile, their Snapdragon Sound Technology Suite unlocks support for the AptX Adaptive codec. We also can’t overstate how comfortable they are.
The 24MP Canon EOS R6 Mark II puts the autofocus system from the high-end R3 into a smaller, more affordable body. Features like dual card slots, all-weather construction, and a stabilized sensor carry over, too. For action shots, the focus system keeps up with moving targets at a blistering 40fps and can pick out people, animals, airplanes, and motorbikes. For video, the R6 records 10-bit 4K60, as well as supports Log color and 6K output to an external recorder. Simply put, this is the best full-frame camera for most creators.
APS-C/Crop Sensor Camera
The Fujifilm X-S20 integrates many of the best features from the company’s flagship X-T and X-H lines into a lighter, lower-cost frame. The camera features a stabilized 26MP image sensor, packs the full array of Fuji’s Film Simulation looks, and uses a smart focus system that can lock onto people, animals, cars, and planes at up to 30fps with tracking. We’re fans of the image quality and the extensive Fuji X lens library. The only thing missing is weather sealing.
The Canon RF 28mm F2.8 is a low-cost lens that punches well above its weight. Its pancake design doesn’t add much heft to a full-frame or APS EOS R camera and its approachable focal length means younger, smartphone-first creators should feel right at home. We don’t have any complaints about picture quality or focus performance, either.
Most standard full-frame zooms start at 24mm, so the Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G’s significantly wider angle makes it more suitable for cityscapes, architecture, and other shots that require a broader view. The lens also offers stellar picture quality, a snappy autofocus system, and weather protection. Put it all together and you’ve got our favorite zoom of the year and arguably the most versatile standard zoom for any system.
GoPro updates its top-end action camera annually, so it always manages to stay ahead of the competition. The latest edition is as tough as earlier models, with a 33-foot depth rating and a very durable exterior. It’s a slow-motion machine too, pushing up to 240fps at 2.7K and 120fps at 4K. Other highlights include 10-bit capture with HDR processing for a broad color range and class-leading digital stabilization. Importantly, this is the first model in the series with both a traditional tripod socket and mounting clips for GoPro accessories.
DJI continues to dominate the consumer drone market and the Mini 4 Pro is its best lightweight model yet. The flier includes a 4K camera that twists to record in either a vertical or wide-screen aspect, a 34-minute battery, GPS with an automated return-to-home function, and a 360-degree obstacle avoidance system. The drone’s 249g weight means you don’t have to register it with the FAA before flying, so you can get up in the air without too much hassle. It’s the model to get if you want to grow your YouTube channel or to wow your TikTok audience.
This was an eventful year for all-in-one desktops, with winning debuts from Apple, HP, and more, but we’re naming Lenovo’s Yoga AIO 9i as our favorite. This elegant PC combines a simply stunning 31.5-inch screen with supersonic Intel Core i9 performance and drop-dead gorgeous styling (we love the chrome stand that looks like a big paper clip) at a surprisingly affordable price. If it had a few ports up front in addition to the less accessible ones around back, it’d be perfect.
Price as Tested $1,799.99
Budget or Mainstream Desktop
Acer Aspire TC-1760-UA92 (2022)
Like most years, 2023 has been rather barren when it comes to high-quality, low-cost desktops. That said, Acer continues as a champion of reliable, affordable PCs with the Aspire TC-1760-UA92, a budget tower that sports a 12th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU and a non-skimpy 12GB of memory and 512GB of storage. It’s nothing fancy, but it delivers quite a lot of power for the price, not to mention more room and capacity for upgrades than our 2022 pick.
Apple Mac mini (2023, M2 Pro)
When Apple keeps upgrading the Mac mini, it’s hard for Windows compact desktops to compete. The 2023 model not only brings immense power in the form of our M2 Pro review unit, but a surprisingly accessible on-ramp to macOS with a $599 entry-level option. It might look identical to the previous version, but Apple’s refinements elevate the Mac mini’s capabilities while expanding its reach to more potential buyers, making this Editors’ Choice award winner the space-saving desktop to beat.
Starts at $599.00
Lenovo Legion Tower 7i Gen 8
With its Legion Tower 7i Gen 8, Lenovo has produced another top-tier gaming desktop with lots of upgradability, dashing desk appeal, and plenty of power for fast 4K gaming. The fact that this sleek and discreet shell makes surprisingly little noise under load, while dazzling the eye with flashy but tasteful RGB lighting, pushes the Legion 7i into excellent territory, earning it an Editors’ Choice award and recognition as our favorite desktop gaming rig.
Not only one of the most powerful workstations you can buy, HP’s Z6 G5 is also one of the most convenient. Our test unit’s Intel Xeon processor and three—yes, three—Nvidia RTX professional graphics cards made mincemeat of the largest datasets and nastiest number-crunching and media-rendering jobs we could throw at it. HP completes the overall package with a formidable array of security features, helpful hot-swappable drive bays, and built-in carrying handles. If you’ve got arduous professional duties, the Z6 G5 is taking care of business every day.
Starts at $4,879.00
PC Components & Storage
High-End Graphics Card
AMD’s Radeon RX 7900 XTX delivers the best value among the many high-end graphics cards offered this year. Priced competitively against Nvidia’s steep GeForce RTX 4080, the RX 7900 XTX had the edge in testing across most of the games we benchmarked, even achieving enormous improvements in performance over AMD’s previous GPUs. When paired with a powerful processor, this Editors’ Choice honoree will drive your most intense gaming sessions while keeping cool.
Mainstream Graphics Card
With exceptional performance for a fair $299 price, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 4060 is the graphics card to beat for mainstream PC gamers this year. Significantly improving over its RTX 3060 predecessor, the “Ada Lovelace” architecture RTX 4060 boosts ray-tracing performance in a big way, and DLSS 3 frame generation is more pronounced than ever. With 8GB of GDDR6 video memory, the GeForce RTX 4060 is your best bet for fast, visually gorgeous gameplay at 1080p resolution.
With class-leading performance across the board, Intel’s 14th Generation “Raptor Lake Refresh” Core i7-14700K earns our vote as the best high-end processor of 2023. Four additional efficient cores lift the CPU’s overall core count to 20 (and its thread count to 28), surpassing the previous Core i7-13700K while adding a few megahertz of clock speed to boost single-threaded tasks. The price also undercuts Intel’s more costly Core i9 options and their AMD Ryzen 9 rivals while delivering performance close enough to satisfy all but a few fanatics and spendthrifts. The 14th Gen Core i7 is an easy Editors’ Choice award winner and the best chip of the year.
Sometimes a predecessor can do a better job than the successor. That’s the case with Intel’s Core i5-13600K, still driving powerful midrange performance for a better price than its 14th-generation follow-up. With six performance cores, eight efficient cores, and a 5.1GHz max clock speed, the Core i5-13600K kept pace with its replacement in most of our benchmarks, proving you can save some cash without sacrificing real-world performance. Smart shoppers take notice.
ASRock’s Taichi motherboards have long delighted desktop builders. This year we’re pleased to salute the company’s midrange B650E Taichi Lite (for AMD) and Z790 Taichi Lite (for Intel), which bring topmost components to more affordable price points. While the Lite motherboards lack the luxury look of ASRock’s flagship platforms, they definitely won’t bring your build down. The Taichi Lites prioritize useful features like USB4 and overclocking support rather than high fashion, making them easy Editors’ Choice award winners and honorees here.
Cooler Master Qube 500 Flatpack
Appealing to most PC users including gamers and packing an eminently affordable price tag, the Cooler Master Qube 500 Flatpack is our favorite desktop PC chassis of 2023. Why? For starters, it’s compact yet surprisingly spacious inside, accommodating ATX, MicroATX, and Mini ITX motherboards. It’s also surprisingly sturdy for its price and even available in several colors—including a macaron edition.
Designed for gamers, content creators, and professionals, the Crucial T700 is the fastest PCI Express 5.0 solid-state drive we’ve tested, setting a new PC Labs record in the PCMark 10 Overall and the gaming-centric 3DMark Storage benchmarks. The T700 is available with or without a heatsink in capacities up to 4TB, and its AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption is the gold standard in drive security. This future-proof drive won’t be worth its cost unless you have a new desktop or have upgraded your PC’s motherboard with support for the PCIe 5.0 standard, but it’ll keep you at the cutting edge in performance.
Starts at $179.99
External SSD or Hard Drive
Billed as a high-performance SSD for creators, the Samsung Portable SSD T9—available in capacities up to 4TB—is a great choice for Windows or Mac users who need to access or back up large files in a hurry. Its USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 interface is blazing fast if you have a laptop or desktop with a port that supports that recent standard, but it also proved surprisingly quick when tested with an Apple MacBook Pro with a Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.1 Gen 2 port. Secure AES 256-bit hardware encryption and Samsung’s upgraded Magician software suite sweeten the deal.
Starts at $139.00
Network Attached Storage
A four-bay network attached storage (NAS) device that checks all the boxes, QNAP’s TS-464 is the ultimate repository for small businesses and video-centric home enthusiasts. It offers multiple high-speed LAN and USB ports, quad-core processing, and HDMI output for 4K video streaming apps. The four drive bays are hot-swappable and their tool-free sleds accommodate both 2.5- and 3.5-inch drives (up to four 22TB drives for a storage ceiling of 88TB). Like virtually all NAS devices, the QNAP doesn’t come with drives, so you can install and configure the RAID array or personal cloud you desire.
This first-class Wi-Fi 6 router is a stand-up performer, with speedy throughput, strong signal transmissions, and multi-gig networking ports. At $219.99, it’s not the cheapest dual-band router, but it delivers a ton of value, not to mention some of the highest throughput scores we’ve seen from a mainstream Wi-Fi 6 device. Plus, the WRX560’s beveled edges and grillwork give it a futuristic, minimalist look and its six antennas are hidden inside, making it less obtrusive when placed out in the open instead of behind furniture. That makes it better able to spread wireless internet access throughout your small or midsize home.
Mesh Wi-Fi System
Wyze Wi-Fi 6E Mesh Router Pro
Got a large house and a lot of devices to connect? This reasonably priced ($273.99 for a two-pack) tri-band Wi-Fi 6E system has a lot going for it. The Wyze mesh kit delivers speedy 5GHz throughput, is easy to manage, and offers multi-gig and USB connectivity. As a Wi-Fi 6E router, it can use the 6GHz band for connections to cutting-edge clients like Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro and the latest laptops. If your home is smaller than the recommended 4,000 square feet, you can cover half that area with a single node for $179.98.
The Canon Maxify GX4020 all-in-one (AIO) pairs the low running cost of an ink-tank printer with reasonably high paper capacity (a 250-sheet front drawer plus 100-sheet top rear tray and single-sheet feeder for heavy stock) and impressive paper-handling flexibility (auto-duplexing, automatic document feeder). The Maxify supports Ethernet as well as Wi-Fi, USB, and mobile connections, making this multifunction machine a natural for a busy small office that needs both heavy-duty printing and moderate scanning, copying, and faxing.
The Canon imageClass MF455dw is a heavy-duty monochrome laser all-in-one for midsize offices or workgroups. It lets you print, scan, copy, and fax, cranking out pages at high speed (40ppm) with excellent output quality. Its paper capacity is 350 sheets, expandable to 900, and the MF455dw combines duplex printing with a single-pass duplexing ADF for faxing, copying, and scanning. With a choice of USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi Direct connectivity, it’ll keep everyone in your business productive.
Kodak Step Instant Mobile Photo Printer
The smartphone-oriented Kodak Step Instant Mobile Photo Printer connects to your mobile device via Bluetooth or NFC to produce business-card-size zero-ink (Zink) prints with adhesive backing at a relatively low cost per snapshot. The device holds 20 sheets of paper and produces a print in about a minute. Kodak’s iOS or Android Step app lets you touch up your images before printing. The Step is also available in assorted bundles that include not only paper refills but extras like carrying cases, markers, and crafting supplies.
Anker’s debut 3D printer is a perfect choice for newbies and experienced users alike. The speedy AnkerMake M5 produces top-quality prints and can even produce nifty time-lapse videos of your builds thanks to its built-in camera. Easy to assemble and use, the M5 offers a sizable print bed and competitive speed. If you’ve been thinking of getting into 3D printing, now is the time to take the plunge.
What would you call an upgraded version of the Epson Perfection V39? How about V39 II? This $119.99 flatbed scanner targets home users and creative types who need occasional high-quality photo and document scanning. A close match with its predecessor as far as hardware goes, the 4,800dpi (optical resolution) scanner’s updates are mostly on the software side, with streamlined task processes linked to the Perfection’s four control buttons and new settings to help you fine-tune your scans. The V39 II’s mix of features makes it the best budget flatbed photo scanner we’ve tested.
As essential as computer mice are, they aren’t always accessible for differently abled users. Microsoft hopes to change that with its $44.95 Adaptive Mouse, a modular, ambidextrous mouse with an inclusive design philosophy. At first glance, the square mini-mouse is unassuming in its simplicity, but its support for different accessories like tails, button toppers, and custom 3D printed extensions from Shapeways can transform it into something much more. The flexible Microsoft Adaptive Mouse is one of the most impressive peripherals of the year.
Razer’s gaming accessories are well known within the PC gaming community, so it’s no surprise the company makes great keyboards for just about any occasion. The BlackWidow V4 75% is a smaller, tenkeyless version of the famous BlackWidow V4, but its compact footprint maintains all of the full-size keyboard’s functionality. The main attraction aside from its size is its hot-swappable frame, allowing you to swap in the 3- or 5-pin mechanical key switches and keycaps of your choice. With great performance and comfort plus modularity, it’s hard not to recommend the BlackWidow V4 75% to everyone from hard-core gamers to keyboard enthusiasts eager to fine-tune and tinker.
HP E45c G5 DQHD Curved Monitor
Why buy two screens when one ultrawide one will do? HP’s 44.5-inch, 5,120-by-1,440-pixel E45c G5 is a productivity monitor for power users who want it all on one display. With a hub full of USB-A and USB-C ports and KVM functionality, the monitor can essentially become a docking station with dual USB-C ports that provide up to 100 watts of power delivery. The curved screen itself is nothing to scoff at, as the 165Hz refresh rate ensures smooth and color-accurate visuals whether you’re working or playing. If you’re growing weary of your two-monitor setup, the HP E45c G5 is worth breaking the four-figure price barrier.
Samsung’s ultrawide gaming monitors always impress with their massive size and dazzling resolutions, but the Odyssey OLED G9 made the most lasting impression on us this year. The colossal dual-quad-HD (5,120 by 1,440) OLED display supports a 240Hz refresh rate that’s ideal for esports and ultra-fast gameplay, while its 32:9 wingspan ensures the type of immersive experience that enhances both simulation and strategy games. It’s anything but cheap, but if you can afford it, the Odyssey OLED G9 is the screen of dreams.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless
The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is one of the pricier gaming headsets, but it’s absolutely packed with features. It’s wireless (with a transmitter that doubles as a volume control/chat mixer), supports two simultaneous USB connections, features active noise cancellation, and comes with two batteries so you don’t have to worry about downtime. It includes an excellent microphone and parametric EQs if you game on a PC. In short, the Arctic Nova Pro is the total package.
Looking for a top-tier VR headset? Check out the Meta Quest 3, which offers a comprehensive, wireless virtual reality experience. It has the fastest processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2) and the highest resolution (2,064 by 2,208 per eye) of any Meta VR headset to date, even beating out the $1,500 Quest Pro in some specs. It also has cool, full-color pass-through cameras that are much sharper than the Quest 2’s black-and-white lenses, so you can comfortably navigate your surroundings and use augmented reality (AR) software. It lacks the Quest Pro’s eye-tracking and face-tracking tech, but the Quest 3 is the best bang-for-your-buck VR headset.
Plan to game for hours? Get this chair. The Cooler Master Caliber X offers excellent comfort and build quality at a reasonable price. Its PU leather is supple and breathable, the foam is solid and dense, and the sliding lumbar support is cleverly designed. It’s simply a great chair that costs a bit less than similarly well-made alternatives.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 lets you play as either Peter Parker or Miles Morales, arachnid-powered heroes who swing across a lovingly recreated New York City to bust bad guys with webs and wit. The story makes dramatic twists, and the Venom symbiote amplifies the game’s overall aggression. In addition, the action delivers top-tier spider combat, amazing web-slinging, and spectacular web-gliding traversal abilities.
After a surprise early launch on Xbox Game Pass, Hi-Fi Rush instantly became one of 2023’s most exciting releases. Tango Gameworks tapped its action chops to make a rhythm game version of Devil May Cry. Enemies take more damage if you attack them on time with the beat. As you gain more combat options, Hi-Fi Rush feels more like a musical performance than a video game. The vibrant, cel-shaded world makes this a symphony for your eyes and ears.
Nintendo Switch Game
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Nintendo Switch owners never thought they’d get another game as good as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. They were wrong. Tears of the Kingdom builds on its predecessor’s foundation by delivering fun sky and underground exploration, and construction powers that let you break apart the toy box world and rebuild it as you see fit. Tears of the Kingdom is an irresistible, hypnotic adventure, and an absolute must-play title.
Baldur’s Gate 3 represents the gold standard for tabletop-inspired RPGs. Its extensive flexibility in the face of countless potential player choices makes it the most accurate adaptation of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign we’ve ever seen. The gorgeous presentation brings this beloved fantasy world to life. Even the game’s treatment of sexuality is refreshingly sophisticated. It’s a title you can put 60 hours into, beat, and then play again with a different character for an almost completely different experience.
Apps & Web Services
With Windows 11, Microsoft ushers in the age of generative AI on the desktop. Windows Copilot, the company’s new AI system, can assist you with all kinds of tasks, from summarizing documents to writing a cover letter. This AI update comes after Microsoft introduced a bold new look featuring a centered Taskbar, rounded window corners, and translucent textures. Both noticeable and under-the-hood changes continue to roll in, yet it still runs applications you’ve been using for years.
Mobile Operating System
If you own an iPhone, install iOS 17 as soon as possible. This year’s update is packed with fresh features, including showstoppers like the Standby mode bedside display, highly customizable Contact Posters, and AirDrop enhancements that let you transfer media by tapping iPhones or iPads together. All in all, iOS 17 added more interesting tools than Android 14, making it our top mobile OS of the year.
Graphic Design Software
Canva’s quest to democratize graphic design moved even further along in 2023 with the addition of new AI tools, called Magic Studio. The app continues to empower anyone, anywhere, at any artistic skill level to create a professional-looking graphic. Canva is a boon to small business owners in particular, who use it to make compelling graphics for social media and advertising. It’s a delight to use, too.
Starts at Free
Photo Editing Software
If you do any kind of professional graphic arts or photography, you use Photoshop, and you have probably spent months learning its intricacies. If you are an amateur or hobbyist…you probably also use Photoshop because it’s simply the best photo- and image-editing software there is. Photoshop has one-touch tools and new AI-powered editing options that make it as simple as can be to take an ordinary photo and make it extraordinary.
Per Month, Starts at $9.99
Video Editing Software
CyberLink PowerDirector 365
CyberLink’s PowerDirector 365 video editing software bridges the gap between professional editing and consumer friendliness. It’s often ahead of professional-grade software in terms of support for new formats and technologies, and it’s loaded with tools that help you put together compelling digital movies complete with transitions, effects, and titles. Best of all, it’s easy to work with and fast at rendering. It’s the video editing software we recommend most.
Video Streaming Service (On-Demand)
As Apple TV+, Netflix, and other streaming services ratchet up their subscription prices, Tubi reigns as the free video streaming service that doesn’t feel cheap. Sure, you must watch ads, but the service grants instant access to more than 50,000 movies and TV shows. The library includes popular and well-received programs thanks to licensing deals with major studios, as well as some fun underground schlock. The clean interface, watchlist support, and even parental control features help Tubi keep pace with its premium competitors.
Video Streaming Service (Live TV)
Simply put, YouTube TV is the best option for replacing cable. It combines online streaming’s conveniences with an excellent selection of news channels, live sports, and many popular entertainment options. Watching multiple exclusive football games via NFL Sunday Ticket feels like living in the future. It’s an expensive service, but worth the money if you watch a lot of television. It’s an Editors’ Choice and Readers’ Choice winner for live TV cable replacement.
Spotify might be the big player in the streaming music space, but YouTube Music’s recent strides make it our top pick this year. As an extension of Google’s entertainment arm and an offshoot of the enormous YouTube platform, YouTube Music is incredibly accessible. It offers robust free listening, community uploads, music videos, podcasts, scrolling lyrics, and a recently added Samples feature that aids in musical discovery. It lacks hi-res audio, but as far as recommendation-based listening, YouTube Music is hard to beat.
Asana is one of the absolute best collaborative tools for teams. It lets a group of people track work through a workflow and hand off tasks from one person to another. The real magic is in Asana’s flexibility. You can set it up to work however you want, so it doesn’t matter if the work you track is the creation and production of videos or chores for kids. Asana is one of the best apps for collaboration and productivity. It also won a PCMag 2023 Business Choice Award for project management.
With a generous free tier of service and excellent AI powering it, Otter is our favorite transcription app this year. It transcribes with better accuracy than any other AI transcription service we’ve seen, and it turns around audio files quickly. It can transcribe audio in real time, and it learns people’s voices and gets better at identifying speakers as it works. Otter is the transcription service we recommend most highly.
Video Conferencing Software
Despite fierce competition from rivals, Zoom has remained relevant by pivoting from a simple video meeting app to a more comprehensive business communications tool. Now known as Zoom One, the service features an AI-powered assistant and new collaboration tools (expanded team chat, whiteboards) that you use outside of meetings. Factor in its excellent transcription tech and many integrations that expand the app’s functionality, and Zoom One shines as a top-tier video conferencing service.
Per User, Per Year, Starts at $199.00
Wix has nearly everything you could want from a website builder, including an intuitive interface that lets you create beautiful pages from hundreds of available templates. Widgets and mobile-specific tools add flexibility and functionality, while robust e-commerce tools let businesses sell memberships and digital downloads. Best of all, you can sample much of what Wix has to offer in the generous free tier and then pay for premium features if you’re ready to upgrade.
Per Month, Starts at $16.00
Web Hosting Service
Many web hosting services vie for your dollar, but HostGator stands out from the pack by offering varied plans and top-notch uptime. In particular, its shared hosting packages have many features, low starting fees, and reasonable renewal rates, making it a great starting point for budding entrepreneurs. Of course, you can scale up to the company’s cloud, VPS, or dedicated server package should your site need more hosting muscle.
Per Month, Starts at $10.95
Meal Kit Delivery Service
CookUnity Meal Delivery Service
Balanced Bite, Fresh N Lean, and other prepared meal kits are great if you don’t want to do anything more than heat and eat, but CookUnity is for people who want a convenient and comprehensive prepared option that doesn’t sacrifice choice. It lets you choose between hundreds of tasty, fully prepared meals designed by its personalized chef collective. CookUnity has numerous delicious options, so you’ll find something that works regardless of food preferences or dietary needs. Flexible scheduling helps it fit perfectly into your life.
Per User, Per Month, Starts at $11.09
Tinder is still the hottest hookup app for young people, but it has morphed into an excellent, general-purpose dating app. Besides its vast audience and iconic swiping interface, Tinder features innovative video chat and safety tools. The company is so confident in its service that it offers an invite-only, $500-per-month Tinder Select tier that lets you DM people without matching and places a virtual badge on your profile to spotlight your elite status.
Per Month, Starts at $19.99
Bitdefender Total Security
Bitdefender Total Security builds on the impressive security protection found in the company’s other security products, starting with perfect scores from independent antivirus testing labs. With VPN, ransomware defense, banking protection, and more, its feature set outshines the competition. In Autopilot mode, it works in the background with minimal interaction, but if you want to take control, you can do so remotely through Bitdefender Central. Its protection extends to Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices.
Per Year, Starts at $99.99
With its decades of virus-fighting service, the Norton name is known worldwide. Cementing its reputation, Norton AntiVirus Plus takes stellar scores from the independent testing labs. It goes beyond basic antivirus protection with an intelligent firewall, effective ransomware protection, an online backup system, and more. It’s billed as an antivirus, but it includes so many features it could compete with some full-scale security suites.
Per Year, Starts at $59.99
First-time password manager users—or anyone looking for a free password manager—should consider Bitwarden. The password management app is open-source software, and its code undergoes regular audits by independent researchers, making it less vulnerable to hacks and breaches. Bitwarden’s password manager is easy to use and doesn’t limit the number of passwords you can store, nor does it prevent you from syncing your vault across devices, as many free password managers do. The Premium tier is inexpensive and includes excellent features, such as an actionable password health report, emergency access options, the ability to generate TOTP codes, and support for enhanced multi-factor authentication methods.
Per Month, Starts at Free
Premium VPN Service
NordVPN’s greatest strength is that it has something to offer for everyone. Privacy wonks will appreciate its set of rare tools. People looking to access an otherwise blocked streaming service will find themselves empowered by its large selection of servers and the ability to select server locations and even specific servers. And first-time users should have no trouble getting started, and might also be intrigued by NordVPN’s growing list of additional services—including storage protected by encryption and a password manager.
Per Month, Starts at $12.99
Free VPN Service
ProtonVPN does it all. It includes multi-hop connections and access to the Tor network via VPN, in addition to the usual VPN capabilities. It sports a reimagined app interface for a pleasant user experience. While the core paid VPN service has a dead-on average price, it has the best free VPN subscription we’ve seen. Longtime users will find the features they’re looking for, and first-timers will enjoy a straightforward experience.
Price as Tested $11.49