writes "Like many of you I get asked for recommendations on what computer to buy fairly often. These days though it's generally always a laptop, and as I've had a few and am constantly recommending them I'm up with the trends and have my stock recommendations sorted out pretty quickly depending on the circumstances. But recently a guy asked what he should get as a desktop. I haven't owned one for so long or been involved in buying one so I've really got no idea. And they're so commodified and cheap the question is does anything set them apart? Do you just go to Dell and find the right one for the budget? Or the local guy? Are the real differences in quality? I don't want to custom spec one up though — I don't want to spend hours on it — but what are the pertinent factors these days? Anything where the minimum available actually isn't sufficient for normal use? (i.e. not games, not graphic design, not video editing) Any favourites?"