We select the best systems—desktops, laptops, and hybrid portables—of 2012.
A number of high-powered computers made it onto our Top 100 list this year, but what surprised us even more was that an all-in-one PC had become our overall favorite in the desktops category. And while you'll see plenty of the usual suspects on our list, you'll also encounter a newcomer that wowed us with its first efforts at building both an all-in-one desktop and a laptop.
Maingear Alpha All-in-One (desktop)
Our number three pick overall, the Maingear Alpha'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.
Vizio CT14-A2 (laptop)
Vizio's rookie laptop effort was good enough to land at number four on our Top 100 list. The CT14-A2 has a sleek, minimalist design, with big keys that deliver great tactile feedback. Vizio also managed to pack a fabulous 14-inch, 1600-by-900-pixel LCD in a package that weighs just 3.4 pounds. This is a very capable Ultrabook.
Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 (laptop)
Coming in at number 10 overall, Lenovo's affordable workhorse of a laptop does it all. Packing a quad-core processor, a Geforce GTX 660M GPU, and a 15.6-inch, 1080p LCD into a 6.2-pound chassis, this well-balanced system is great for both digital media editing and playing PC games.
Falcon Northwest Tiki (small desktop PC)
This diminutive, quiet, and extremely fast desktop PC landed at number 15 on our overall list. This is no budget box; rather, its 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 this the fastest system of its size.
Raspberry Pi (micro Linux PC)
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 computer helped it land in the number 18 position on our complete list. We dig the noble goal, but we also like tech toys, and this one is hard to beat.
Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display (laptop)
The stunning performance and effortless portability that Apples flagship laptop delivers helped it come in at number 24 on our master list. It's the fastest Mac we've ever tested, but it boasts a spectacular IPS screen with 2880 by 1800 pixel resolution.
Lenevo IdeaCentre A720 (all-in-one PC)
Coming in at number 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 display completely flat and you can use the computer as if it were an oversize, stationary tablet.
MicroExpress MicroFlex 37B (desktop PC)
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 number 32 on our complete Top 100 list.
Alienware M17x-R4 (gaming laptop)
This luggable laptop (it weighs more than 11 pounds) landed smack dab in the middle of this year's list, proudly holding court at number 50. This machine is perfect for LAN parties and dorm rooms. An Ultrabook it's not, but it does pack the fastest mobile GPU available, a gorgeous 17-inch display, and a great keyboard.
Maingear Shift Super Stock (desktop PC)
Maingear pulled out all the stops to build this super-powered PC, which tore through our benchmarks to generate a Worldbench 7 score of 205105% 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 number 68 in our Top 100 list.
This story, "Best of 2012: PCs, Ultrabooks, and Hybrids" was originally published by PCWorld.
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