While some students may need the portability of a laptop, a reliable desktop PC with good base specs or room for expansion is often the best computer for college. They can often provide a welcome balance of price, features, and options to customize.
Fortunately for niche shoppers, there are more and more unique styles and configurations to choose from these days, whether it’s a budget-minded, streamlined option or a performance powerhouse at a higher price point. Whatever you need, this variety makes it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for.
To help you get familiar with the best HP computers for college students, we’ll cover five of the standout desktop PCs:
- HP Pavilion desktop computer
- HP OMEN Obelisk desktop computer
- HP Z2 Mini G4 workstation
- HP ENVY 34 curved all-in-one computer
- HP Z4/Z6 workstation
Finding the best match for you
Some students may need better graphics and memory for editing video or graphic design classes, while others will want a more basic build for lighter workloads. Or maybe you’re looking for something that falls in between but can also let you play the latest video games.
However you approach your shopping search, HP’s desktop range features substantial variety, from ultra-compact and powerful designs to affordable options for students shopping on a tighter budget.
A few things to keep in mind
Of course, picking the right model for you means knowing at least little about how you plan to use your PC, how long you imagine keeping it, and how your needs could change over time.
If you know your routine and don’t plan to game or use more resource-heavy software, you may not have to spend extra on upgrades or performance models. However, if you do, you will want to make sure you pair your computer with a good display
and graphics card.
1. HP Pavilion desktop computer
With its accessible starting price, variety of configuration options, and updated design, the HP Pavilion desktop line
is a great place to start your search for the best computers for students. It allows you to choose from the latest 8th Generation Intel® and AMD® processor options, alongside your choice of advanced Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA® graphics cards.
Reduced footprint and improved design
The crux of the HP Pavilion’s new design is an updated exterior and tower chassis that provides a sleeker look and dramatically reduced footprint in terms of how much space it occupies. The computer measures only 6.69 x 10.9 x 13.3 inches, which is much smaller than the traditional behemoths that can eat up legroom or desk space.
When it comes to managing overall impact, the other big concern is power consumption and efficiency. You’ll be glad to know that the HP Pavilion desktop models can be configured to feature both ENERGY STAR® certification and an EPEAT® Silver rating.
With a new design comes new expectations, and the HP Pavilion certainly delivers while being backed by extensive testing for environmental stresses and user experience.
You can customize your HP Pavilion desktop extensively, with the most affordable base configuration offering an 8th Generation Intel Core™ with integrated UHD Graphics 630, 8GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and 16GB Intel Optane™ memory
for storage acceleration. If you need more performance, just configure yours with a discrete graphics card
or upgrade your memory capacity to 32GB.
2. HP OMEN Obelisk desktop computer
Although you may not always see gaming PCs on a list of good computers for college, the increasingly competitive prices and robust hardware suite make them viable for just about anyone. If you need a powerful computer for your work and studying, and also want the specs for high-quality gaming, consider the HP OMEN Obelisk
Great specs for any task
The HP OMEN Obelisk’s specs may seem comparable to the HP Pavilion, but you’ll find a few big advantages. There’s deeper maximum storage at 2TB HDD, plus an optional hybrid configuration with SSD and Intel Optane memory
For memory and graphics, you’ll find as much as 32GB of RAM and graphics card options that run up to the powerful NVIDIA GeForce® RTX 2080. That’s enough to handle your toughest classes and the latest video games.
Easy upgrades and deep customization
To make home upgrades easier, the HP OMEN Obelisk is designed for tool-free access through its side panel, plus strict adherence to micro-ATX standards. You’ll also find great built-in ventilation, room for a dedicated liquid cooling system
, and even customizable RGB lighting.
There’s an optional transparent side-panel variant, too, which allows you to show off your personalized lighting or simply helps you visualize your computer’s interior. For a truly tailored gaming computer that can keep up with your school and entertainment needs, the HP OMEN Obelisk is definitely worth a look.
3. HP Z2 Mini G4 workstation
Drawn from the design-centric HP Z series, the HP Z2 Mini G4 workstation
features specs similar to many tower configurations - but in a much smaller frame. Despite the smaller design, it’s a full-featured computer with great BIOS security, an efficient ventilation layout for extremely quiet operating even with heavy workloads, and the advantage of Windows 10 Pro 64.
For specs, you can configure yours with up to an 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, NVIDIA Quadro® P600 graphics, and your choice between HDD and efficient SSD storage
Slim design to save space and increase portability
The HP Z’s compact form factor measures in at 8.5 x 8.5 x 2.28 inches and 4.5 lbs, making it a real space saver at home. Those dimensions also make it easy to mount behind a display or even underneath your desk to save even more space.
Plus, if you need mobility and easy access to your files and applications, it’s portable enough to carry with you. Just slip it in your bag and go.
Windows 10 Pro 64
One of the many advantages of the HP Z line is Windows 10 Pro 64, which offers a boosted version of the standard Windows 10 OS right out of the box. You’ll find improved security and access to features including BitLocker and Remote Access.
Opt for the Z2 tower configuration
If you want the same base specs with extra room for expansion down the line, the HP Z2 Tower
configuration offers a similar price point with the extra interior room of a traditional vertical layout. That’s space that you can use later on to mount upgrades like extra memory or storage.
4. HP ENVY 34 curved all-in-one computer
In addition to the HP OMEN Obelisk of HP’s signature gaming line, there are more options to consider for anyone whose priorities are entertainment and visual media. If you want one of the most immersive streaming and gaming platforms available, the HP ENVY 34 curved all-in-one
is tailored specifically to your needs.
The heart of this design is the 34-inch diagonal ultrawide Quad High Definition (QHD) display, with a native resolution of 3440 x 1440 and all the advantages of a curved monitor
. Prices have gradually declined with the arrival of newer curved displays, but the visual benefits for the user remain essentially the same: a much-improved field of view with better access to ports. For competitive gamers and cinephiles, this is a great way to get the most value from your experience.
You’ll have some options to consider while shopping, but the premium hardware features include an 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, up to 16GB of memory, and more than 2TB of hybrid HDD-SSD storage. However you configure your HP ENVY, it will be powered by a robust NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card.
It also boasts premium Bang & Olufsen audio, another advantage for those who enjoy immersive audio while streaming and playing video games.
Of course, the other key advantage of this HP ENVY 34 is the combination design, which cuts out the traditional tower by integrating everything into a compact system. The entire device is less than 8 inches deep, so the display’s size is all you really need to consider.
The integrated design means you save a lot of room in your workspace, as well as the trouble of purchasing separate components for your setup. However, opting for a non-tower design also means you’ll lose out on some of your options for DIY upgrades down the line. It’s worth noting, though, that even the standard HP ENVY desktop
is smaller than most of the competing designs, measuring only 6.06 x 14.79 x 14.37 inches.
5. HP Z4/Z6 workstation
Though the HP Z4 and Z6 workstations
share a similar appearance and structural design, each offers its own unique suite of specs and configuration options. Their similar design means they share a number of convenient customization and usability features, like a clearly laid out interior so that you aren’t bogged down making upgrades later on.
Good specs and an accessible range of prices make them great options for anyone out to find the best PC computers for college students. Let’s take a closer look.
Both the HP Z4 and Z6 workstations start you out with a performance multi-core Intel Xeon®
processor, a strong bedrock for the most demanding tasks and routines. That’s where the two diverge though. The HP Z4 offers more accessible checkout prices, while the HP Z6 loads you up with extra processor cores, RAM, storage, and graphics capacity.
With the HP Z4, you’ll find a maximum of 18 processor cores, 128GB of RAM, and 12TB of storage. If that’s not enough, the HP Z6 more than doubles your capacity with 48 cores, 384GB of RAM, and 24TB of storage. While both feature an NVIDIA Quadro GP100 graphics card, the HP Z6 can also be configured with a second dedicated GP100 graphics card if you need a little extra oomph.
That’s more than enough to handle design or data-related tasks, and even VR applications
. Both are nearly top-of-the-line models from the HP Z family, too, meaning they’re designed by designers for designers. Either would be a major advantage for schoolwork or if you plan to segue into a career as a designer, animator, or engineer, to name just a few.
Upgrade with ease
Accessibility is another feature shared by both, with tool-free access for easy upgrading in addition to the clear interior layout. Buying a streamlined configuration now and adding extra RAM or storage later
is a great way to save money at checkout, particularly if you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty. It also guarantees that you’re getting a device you know you can use for a long time to come.
The HP Z8 workstation: most powerful HP workstation available
It costs a little bit more than the HP Z4 or Z6 and may offer more than most students need, but some users may want a model they won’t have to even think about upgrading after graduation. If that sounds like you, there’s the high-powered HP Z8 workstation
With room for two Intel Xeon processors, 40TB of storage, and a whopping 1.5TB of maximum memory, the HP Z8 is an undeniable best-in-class for anyone expecting a demanding workload. With serious capacity and convenient design, any HP Z workstation is a great tool for your education and work career.
The perfect desktop for you
A lot goes into anyone’s search for a new PC, so it can be challenging to find the best desktop computers
for college students. Between budget limitations and specific needs tailored toward your classes and major, finding the right balance can be tricky.
However, with a little research, you can find the right computer for you. Whether you want a great affordable design like the HP Pavilion, a more compact model like the HP Z2 Mini, or a dedicated gaming rig like the HP OMEN Obelisk desktop computer, HP desktops computers offer plenty of options for the college student.
About the Author: Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.
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