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Published Aug. 19, 2021

PCs are called personal computers for a reason. PCs can be productivity machines, gaming devices, methods of connecting with customers and fans, and creative workstations. When setting up a PC, each person has some reason for choosing a desk-bound model over a more portable laptop, but more than likely one of the primary reasons is the customization possibilities. Audio is similarly personal, so it’s important to pick desktop computer speakers for your specific setup and sound preferences. While there are plenty of “good enough” computer speakers on the market, you might as well put that desk space to good use and expand your experience with the best desktop speakers. Here are some of our top picks. 

How we selected the products

The world of speakers is packed with obelisks, ovals, and what can sometimes feel like obstacles. There are all kinds of shapes, sizes, connections, and decoders. Portable wireless speakers, bookshelf speakers, high-end multichannel systems…the list goes on and on. But here we’re talking about small desktop speakers, ​​and we’ve done the research—from hands-on testing to consulting academic articles—to find standout models. We’ve narrowed down our recommendations to only the best desktop speakers—ones that hit the sweet spot between value and performance, sprinkled with some semi-pro aspirations. 

What to consider when shopping for the best desktop speakers

All of the PC speakers presented here are going to give you excellent sound, so the key is knowing what you want your system to do for you. Here are a few questions to ask as you chose.

What makes up the best desktop speakers?

If you want to know what literally makes up a great speaker, we’ve actually written an explainer on the physical build of these ubiquitous devices. If you were more thinking what are the qualities that make a speaker system best for me, the first step is to assess your particular situation. What connections does your PC have? Do you want to be able to uncouple your desktop PC speakers and use them as portable speakers for your laptop? Are you averse to wires or do you appreciate the improved sound they often bring? Do you want impressive bass via a subwoofer? What does your physical space best allow? Does your system have the capacity to push high-quality sound to speakers in the first place? 

The answers to these questions are extremely variable, but the speakers we suggest below are selected to bring compelling capabilities to relatively powerful PCs with a 3.5mm jack, USB 3.0 inputs, and Bluetooth capabilities. Also, keep in mind that these suggestions are based on the idea of a more compact workstation. The more space you have, and the less mobile you care for your gear to be, the larger, more involved an audio set-up can be. The “desk” in desktop is important in this list. 

How much bass is too much bass?

All of our choices offer excellent stereo sound, but small speakers have natural limitations when it comes to low end. With that in mind, some offer an additional subwoofer for more powerful bass. This can be a complication for those who live in apartments and share floors and walls with neighbors, as these sound waves can carry pretty strongly through the bones of a building. However, there are models below that also feature a headphone jack should time of day or reverberation become an issue (plus dedicated wireless gaming headsets, such as the Audeze Penrosereviewed here).

What if I want surround sound?

If you want true surround sound, you’re going to have to aim at a larger system, likely with more space and cost considerations. While there are gaming soundbars that offer virtual surround through formats such as Dolby Atmos systems, and excellent headphones that offer features such as head-tracking and simulate surround, most desktop systems are limited to two channels or two channels and a subwoofer. Some of the higher-end ones, however, do offer virtual surround.

The best desktop speakers: Reviews & recommendations

Skip staring frustratingly at boxes on a shelf and let us decipher what the best speakers for PC bring to the, well, desktop.

Best desktop speakers for quick, quality stereo sound: Bose Companion 2 Series III multimedia speakers

Good Company, Good Sound

Approachable price, solid sound, and portability come from a manufacturer that’s been synonymous with quality for decades. Bose

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Specs:

  • Two stereo minitower speakers
  • Auxiliary input 
  • Portable and compact
  • Headphone jack
  • Compatible with Mac or Windows

Why it made the cut: The Bose Companion 2 Series III offers great sound for its size, which is a portable package that does everything well enough that it fits “general-use speakers” to a tee.

ProsCons
  • Portable
  • No USB or Bluetooth
  • Easy setup
  • Lacks bass compared to larger options
  • Aux and headphone ports
  • Older model so runs the risk of a revision
  • Bose Companion 2 Series III multimedia speakers

    Sometimes, you have a PC with a purpose and sometimes you want a jack of all trades. The same can be true of your speakers. The Bose Companion 2 Series III isn’t the newest model on the market and it’s not built for a specific task. What these Bose computer speakers offer is sound that does good work in nearly any situation and can be easily moved from PC to laptop and even connected to an Amazon Echo or other auxiliary device via a wired connection. Set up on the Bose Companion 2 Series III is incredibly simple: it’s plug-and-play, using a 3.5mm aux cord from your headphone (or dedicated speaker) jack. Power is via DC adapter, and a cable between the left and right speaker is required so placement will be limited by cord length and outlet placement. Additionally, you can’t connect a subwoofer to the Companion 2. But these speakers still impress with how they present streaming media or games. Sound is extremely consistent in the Companion 2. There is very little distortion even at high volumes. Even without a subwoofer, the bass from the stereo speakers is pretty impressive. While these speakers can push max volume, you probably won’t need to be there. It’s likely best to set these at around 75 percent and then adjust the volume from the computer itself as you see fit.

    The mini-tower-shaped Companion 2 speakers measure 7.5 inches high by 3.1 inches wide by 5.9 inches deep and fit easily beside a monitor or stand about as tall as a laptop screen. And if one family member needs the communal computer and someone wants to watch YouTube or play games, etc., these speakers transport easily to any device with a compatible outlet. They’re also perfect for a college student’s desktop, now that many college projects can require multimedia including audio and video editing. Plus a headphone jack on the front panel lets you tune out/not disturb your roommate. If you’re looking for something entry-level, these small speakers are a bargain. But if you prefer something more spherical and striking while still compact, there’s always the Creative Pebble 2.0 USB-powered desktop speakers for the maximized minimalist.

    Best gaming speakers for livestreaming a dynamic mission: Logitech G560 gaming speaker system

    See the Sounds

    Fun and flashy with RGB lights, these immersive gaming speakers sync audio and visuals with gameplay. Logitech

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    Specs:

    • Two speakers and a subwoofer
    • LIGHTSYNC RGB dynamic lighting
    • Bluetooth, USB, and 3.5mm options
    • DTS:X Positional Audio
    • 240 watts peak power

    Why it made the cut: A great value for gaming speakers with a built-in light show and virtual 3D sound capabilities.

    ProsCons
  • LIGHTSYNC support
  • Lights only work with USB
  • Expressive bass
  • Software required for fine tuning
  • Multiple connection types
  • Volume may be more than comfortable in small spaces
  • Logitech G560 gaming speaker system

    Gaming is a feast for the senses and many set-ups now include RGB lights in monitors, keyboards, mice, and yes, even speakers. The best desktop speakers for gaming are here. With an aesthetic verging on cyberpunk, the Logitech G560 gaming speakers’ key selling point is pairing audio with visuals that enhance an in-game, out-of-this-world experience. While having a light show doesn’t really matter for an office workstation, it’s incredibly fun at home, especially if you’re streaming for your friends and/or fans. Connect the satellite speakers to your computer via USB and your in-game movements and attacks can be punctuated by blasts of red, green, and blue (and all the 16.8 million color combinations Logitech’s LIGHTSYNC systems afford). Setting up this feature is easy, and can even be applied to music played off the PC if you want to throw a mini-rave at your house.

    The included down-firing subwoofer means that low end, not just light is king in this system. The volume of these Logitech computer speakers may actually be too powerful for some players, so make sure to adjust your settings accordingly and be careful if you’re in an apartment, bedroom, or dorm room, etc., with thin walls. Logitech includes software that allows a greater degree of customizability in the sound output than simple 3.5mm-only connections would (though both 3.5mm and Bluetooth connections are supported). Plus, DTS:X compatibility renders positional audio in a virtual 7.1 3D environment.

    Best desktop speakers for cinema sound: Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX-certified computer speaker system

    Movie Sound at Home

    Designed with theater-quality sound in mind, the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 speaker system is THX certified to enhance any and all video content. Klipsch

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    Specs:

    • Two speakers and a subwoofer
    • THX Certified
    • 3.5mm to RCA connection
    • Headphone output
    • 260 watts peak power

    Why it made the cut: THX made its name as a leap forward in cinema sound and that impactful experience is now available in a smaller 2.1 stereo system for your desktop PC.

    ProsCons
  • Top-quality sound
  • 3.5mm input only
  • Solid construction
  • High sound output may never be used
  • Lower price point that many comparable models
  • Not expandable or upgradable
  • Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX-certified computer speaker system

    Once upon a time, seeing the THX soundcard before a movie meant something. Before there was Dolby Atmos in theaters, etc., seeing those three letters meant that you would be rattled when the tyrannosaurus rex in “Jurassic Park” ran across the screen. “The audience is listening” became a meme before memes were memes and was parodied in cartoon shows of the era. THX technology was amazing then, producing big, boisterous sound, and it’s still amazing now that it’s been shrunk down into smaller, personal speaker systems.

    Very reasonably priced compared to some of its more powerful cinephile siblings, the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 desktop speakers offer thick, warm sound that is perfect if your PC doubles as your TV. While tablets may offer more portability, and a TV may offer a larger screen, a PC can push higher-quality resolution at a cheaper price. Combine that with a set of ProMedia speakers and you can push cinema-quality sound at a cheaper price as well. This system is perfect for those who live in a smaller apartment or who simply prefer to fold their media options into one great set-up.

    At the high end, the 260W peak Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 system’s 3-inch drivers can produce intense volume and its 6.5-inch side-firing subwoofer offers booming bass, but controls for both sit on one of the stereo speakers (or can be adjusted from your computer). Being 3.5mm input-based, the whole system can be plugged into almost any device with audio out. The stereo speakers are quite large and weighty, with plastic stands that angle them slightly and keep them elevated off a chosen surface, so you can be assured of stable sound and gear that won’t tip over from an accidental bump. If cinema stereo is your goal, the ProMedia is a solid, cost-conscious choice, with an attractive black-all-over aesthetic that blends in with most workspaces. The ProMedia satellites look like miniature theater speakers, but the sound is anything but tiny.

    Best speakers for Twitch knob twiddlers: Pioneer DJ VM-50 studio monitor

    Enlivening Live Sets

    When you’re gearing up for playing not just play time, it’s time for professionally tuned components like Pioneer DJ VM-50 Studio Monitor. Pioneer

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    Specs:

    • Single monitor (must buy two for stereo sound)
    • 5.25-inch woofer
    • Internally powered
    • 60 watts peak power
    • Maximum sound pressure 107db
    • XLR, TRS, and RCA connections

    Why it made the cut: The next step beyond a “stereo system,” the Pioneer DJ VM-50s are the entry point into professional-level sound production monitors offering a lot of value in a smaller, desktop-friendly package.

    ProsCons
  • Pro-level sound
  • Flatter response may not satisfy bassheads
  • Complements sound-mixing equipment
  • Larger than most all-in-one system speakers
  • Sturdier than typical all-in-one systems
  • Must buy two
  • Pioneer DJ VM-50 studio monitor

    To this point, we’ve been profiling out-of-the-box stereo and stereo-plus-subwoofer systems that are meant to be a catch-all solution for personal playback. However, thanks to the rise of SoundCloud, social media, and affordable digital audio workstations, bedroom music production is very much a thing and a bedroom DJ needs a more accurate soundfield than an off-the-shelf all-in-one system can offer. A pair of Pioneer DJ VM-50s is a perfect home production compromise between price and quality. Twitch streaming channels include live DJs and these performances pull in tens of thousands of viewers. But crafting the perfect mix from home requires equipment that can produce a precise, yet punchy sound. The VM-50s feature 5.25-inch woofers and clean Class D amplification, driving a 40Hz to 36kHz frequency response. They connect via XLR, TRS, or RCA, and project whatever they are fed into a wide sweet spot that remains crisp, clean, and detailed. There’s excellent separation of frequencies and imaging, allowing you to pick out every beat you need to match (or every shot you need to avoid if you do decide to game through them). While they’re more specialized, a pair of VM-50s will help you thrill the anonymous crowd generating fire emojis as you pump out sick jams or quick shots. If your idea of gaming is seeing how you can get others to move, and a set at Coachella is your aspiration, the Pioneer VM-50s desktop speakers are an excellent starting point.

    Best for gamers wanting to be sound designers: PreSonus Eris E3.5 near-field studio monitors

    Sound Design, Sound Value

    If you want to make games on the same system where you play games, the PreSonus Eris E3.5 monitors offer excellent value and the convenience of Bluetooth connectivity. PreSonus

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    Specs:

    • Two monitors (one internally powered, one not)
    • 3.5-inch drivers
    • 1-inch frequency transducers
    • High- and low-frequency control
    • Headphone jack
    • Bluetooth 5.0, RCA, TRS, and Aux In connections
    • 50 watts peak power

    Why it made the cut: Not just another basic pair of speakers, these studio monitors come with sound production software to kickstart your sound design project.

    ProsCons
  • Great value-added software
  • Can pick up slight interference
  • Bluetooth adds versatility
  • May not be bassy enough for some
  • PreSonus Eris E3.5 near-field studio monitors

    The PreSonus Eris E3.5s (also available in the larger E4.5 model) are a compact set of Bluetooth-enabled studio monitors. As studio monitors go they are entry-level, but a step up from many desktop stereo speaker sets if you fancy sound design. Their 3.5-inch woofers and 1-inch silk-dome tweeters present an 80 Hz – 20 kHz frequency range. Beyond the smooth, consistent response, these are perfect as an entry point into production, as they come bundled with the Studio One Prime and Studio Magic Software Suite, giving you of the best music production software to edit or design sound for games, online video, and music. The Eris E3.5s are an excellent opportunity for someone to get a respectable pair of speakers while dipping their toe into sound creation. 

    Sound-wise, these desktop speakers may be the exception to the “you get what you pay for” rule. The sound quality is impressive for the price, and the wealth of connections (including TRS, RCA, a 3.5mm jack in, and a similarly-sized headphone jack out for private monitoring) add convenience. The speakers are even great without a wired connection (because you should always want to know what your banger will sound like to the average listener streaming it wirelessly, as many people now do). What’s more, they travel extremely well, setting up quickly with power cords and quick speaker wire between the two. The durability is impressive given the size and price point. Great with a PC, great with a turntable, and compatible with a wide variety of portable devices via Bluetooth, the Eris E3.5s are not nearly the compromise you’d expect given their price point. These speakers are great for creatives, occasional creatives, or even once-in-a-blue-moon creatives because the price package makes the creative aspect almost a free bonus.

    FAQs

    Q: Are wireless computer speakers any good?

    Good’s a relative term here. There are plenty of high-quality wireless speakers that give you the benefit of easier placement and set-up than wired speakers but, in general, you’re not going to get as good of a sound from a wireless connection as a wired connection. Part of that depends on the types of Bluetooth connections supported by your speakers and source (for instance, aptX HD and LDAC are noticeably higher quality than SBC). Though, honestly, not everyone can pick up on the differences. If your particular needs and setup benefit more from versatility and the hassle-free nature of wireless than they would for a perhaps-barely-perceptible-to-you increase in sound quality, wireless might be the way you want to go. Many higher-end models offer modal connections, with wireless, USB, and traditional wired options. They tend to improve in quality in that very order.

    Q: Are USB speakers better?

    USB has come a long way and there are many USB speakers using the latest protocols that are comparable to speakers using the speaker jack. If you’re looking at cheap USB speakers from a random Amazon vendor or even from your average big-box store, you’re probably going to be disappointed, but high-quality companies do produce high-quality USB speakers. However, as in most cases with electronics, you get what you pay for. For speakers with additional features that have to communicate with computer software to function (such as synchronized lighting effects), USB is a must though, as a 3.5mm connection simply can’t carry the necessary digital information.

    Q: How much do computer speakers cost?

    Dirt cheap, tinny computer speakers exist and can be had for less than $10 at office supply stores, big-box retailers, and discount stores. The lowest-quality models from reputable brands start around $20-30 at online sites. If you care about sound beyond “I care that I can hear it,” you’re probably going to be looking at models that start at a bare minimum of around $100 (and could top out in the multi-hundreds). There is value at every price point, but the sacrifice in quality for value at the lower end is not necessarily recommendable.

    Sounding off on the best desktop speakers

    While “a pair of speakers” seems a simple proposition, choices can get complicated when it comes to individual needs. All the options above represent good values for the money and feature quality above a no-name off-the-shelf brand. As always, assessing the most common paces and places you plan to put your speakers through will lead you to a sound system with little to no regrets. Don’t feel like you need every option. If you don’t like pumping bass, skip the systems with a subwoofer. If you hate seeing bunches of wires, go for Bluetooth. You don’t always need the best sound, you need the best sound for you.

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