10 Cool Desktop Computers

Hewlett-Packard's TouchSmart IQ504 packs in everything a user could need into a single unit. This touch-enabled PC is an all-in-one that includes a 22-inch high-definition widescreen display. It is based on an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and features 4096 MB of RAM and a 320GB SATA hard drive. It also includes a Web cam, media card reader and premium speakers, all for $1,299.

For SMB customers with an eye on the environment, Dell recently introduced the Energy Smart Vostro 410, a desktop that promises to save users up to 47 percent in annual energy costs. It is available with Intel's Core 2 Duo or Quad Core processors and includes a 512-MB graphics card. It's available with up to 4 GB of memory and up to a 500 GB Serial ATA hard drive, with prices starting at $599.

For gamers, there's no such thing as a PC that's too cool. Enter Alienware's Area-51 ALX desktop, which the company bills as an elite, ultra-high-performance system. At its heart beats a 3.2GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 processor, overclocked to 4.0GHz. And it's not just cool-looking, it's actually cool temperature-wise too, because it features Alienware's ALX High-Performance Liquid Cooling system. Users get their choice of an NVIDIA Quad SLI featuring dual GeForce 9800 X2 graphics cards or an ATI CrossFireX configuration with dual ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 cards. It also features up to 4GB of Corsair Dominator DDR3 1600MHz memory. Perfect for killing, well, aliens, or whatever other shoot-em-up game strikes your fancy. It is priced at $4,599.

If a super high-end gaming system isn't in the budget, perhaps this baby will do the trick. Gateway's FX7026 is billed by the company as a heavy-loading media machine that can blaze through power-hungry apps. It also boasts dedicated graphics and high-definition rendering for immersive visual effects, as well as hi-fidelity sound. It is built on Intel's Core 2 Quad Processor and features 4096 MB 667Mhz SDRAM, as well as 640 GB of hard drive storage. It is priced at $1,099.99.

Isn't this one a cutie? Apple's Mac mini is small and stylish, and it comes with Apple's iLife suite of multimedia applications. It measures 6.5-inches square and 2-inches deep, but it packs in plenty of performance with its Intel Core 2 Duo processor, up a 120 GB hard drive and up to 2 GB of memory. It's also now available with Apple's Mac OS X Leopard operating system. Pricing starts at $599.

Lenovo built its ThinkStation D10 workstation to meet the high-performance needs of professionals. It features up to two Intel Xeon Quad Core X5460 processors, up to 32 GB of total memory and up to a 300-GB SAS hard drive or 750-GB SATA hard drive. Pricing starts at $1,081.50.

This one's not as a much a PC as it is a PC-in-waiting. AOpen's G326 MicroATX PC chassis is ready for a system builder to pop in some components and bring it to life. It's built to house a Micro-ATX motherboard and supports both internal and external drives. It also offers four interface expansion slots and supports a back-mounted power supply. It features slick styling and is available in red, black or silver.

It's a sad fact that many PCs out there never live up to their full potential. After all, surfing the Internet or working in a spreadsheet application just doesn't require that much oomph. That's why NComputing came up with virtualization software and hardware to tap that unused capacity and let multiple users share it. So the NComputing L230 is a virtual desktop, an access device, really, that ties each user's keyboard, mouse and monitor back to the shared PC over standard Ethernet cables through a router or switch. An entry-level computer can comfortably support up to 10 users, the company says, while an entry-level server supports approximately 30 users. For larger needs, an enterprise-class server can be configured to support more than 100 users. The L230 is priced at approximately $220.

Sony brings new meaning to "theater in the round" with its VAIO TP Home Theater PC. Its premium model features and Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 processor, supports the Blu-ray Disc high-definition DVD format and includes TV tuner and DVR capabilities with 500 GB of storage. It also includes built-in 802.11b/g wireless capabilities and promises whisper-quiet, cool performance, so you can plop it right there in the living room. It is priced at $1,599.99.

Acer's itty-bitty Veriton L410 promises to take up little space and make little noise. It measures approximately 2.5-inches wide x 10-inches deep x 8-inches high, taking up the physical volume of just over three quarts. Translation: You'll hardly know it's there. The system runs on an AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core processor, 1 GB of memory and a 160-GB SATA hard drive. It also features ATI Radeon X1250 graphics and 802.11b/g wireless LAN capabilities. It is priced at approximately $500.