There’s always a thin line between machines you use for work and play. When it comes to the former, the Acer Aspire TC-780-UR12   $719.99 at Amazon  suffices as an affordable tower desktop that can handle everything from spreadsheets to word documents, with ease. Although it isn’t the most powerful in the room, its close looks and enhanced performance over its predecessors propel it to the top in the category. While it doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card, it makes up with a strong Kaby Lake processor, generous storage, relatively good expandability, wireless connectivity, and a varied selection of I/0 ports.


Design

The Acer Aspire TC-780-UR12 maintains the same design and measurements as its predecessor the Acer Aspire AMZKi5. It is still small enough fit on an office desk with limited space. Its midtower chassis measures 15.67 by 6.89 by 17.4 inches (HWD), weighs 18.4 pounds; meaning it can literally fit anywhere. It inherits the black painted chassis with a hairline finish from its predecessor, with a top tray that comes handy when you need to charge or sync your smartphone from one of the USB 3.0 ports.

If you need to do a few upgrades here-and-there down the road, it has some real-estate that will allow for expansions. It has two memory slots, although they are occupied by the 16GB modules, so you can throw in an extra 16GB, but each takes a maximum of 16GB.

The system uses a 300-watt power supply, which is fine for a budget desktop. Other expansion options include a single optical drive and a single hard drive bay, so you’ll have to choose between the two, as you have only one SATA port to service an additional drive. Included in the package is a wired keyboard and mouse, you’ll have to buy a monitor separately, we tested it with our Editors’ Choice the Acer R240HY   $129.99 at Amazon  and the picture output was impressive.


Connectivity

Connectivity is excellent for a budget system. On the front upper-deck there’s a tray-loading DVD burner, which is integral in case you need to rip some CDs or install programs from DVDs, though most installations can be done online.  You’ll also find two USB 3.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks and an SD card reader on the top face of the system.

The backside has an audio line in/out port, an HDMI port, one USB 3.0 port and a VGA port for that old LCD you’ve always wanted to use. Internet connectivity comes via 802.11 ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, alongside a Gigabit Ethernet port. For connectivity dated peripherals such as keyboard, mouse and flash drives, you have four USB 2.0 ports, which adds up to the system’s impressive connectivity.

Thankfully, there’s a spacious 2TB (7200RPM SATA3) hard drive, so you’ll have tons of storage space out of the box for your movies, downloads, videos and other files. Recently, we’ve seen SSDs and hybrid drives trickle into the desktop category, but for a budget PC they’d only serve to bump the price, so we’re just safe with the traditional rotating hard drives.


Perfromance

Performance is a highlight here, thanks to the system’s seventh-generation (Kaby Lake micro-architecture) Intel Core i7-7700 processor, 16GB system memory and Intel HD 630 graphics. This is a notable bump from early this year’s iteration Acer Aspire TC (ATC-780-AMZki5 that was outfitted with an Intel Core i5-7400 processor and the same system memory. This processor clocks 3.6GHz, but can hit 4.2GHz in turbo mode, which is just enough muscle to do some basic-medium multitasking without stuttering.

The system comes with Windows 10 Home (64-bit), a stable CPU and enough RAM that make it ideal for day-to-day computing. Essentially, you will be fine using the Aspire for at least the next five years for day-to-day tasks like editing in office apps, video conferencing, and web browsing.

As expected, you won’t be doing much of gaming here, since the Intel HD 630 graphics card won’t deliver much. Its 3D gaming score is lackluster compared with dedicated gaming PCs but you should be able to play games like Minecraft smoothly at lower resolution. If you need more than that, you’ll have to look upwards for a real gaming rig with a discrete graphics card, presumably the budget CyberpowerPC Gamer Ultra GUA3400A  Check on Amazon at Amazon Gaming Desktop.


Worth the buck

The Acer Aspire TC-780-UR12 is a perfect choice for a budget desktop, especially if you want the option to upgrade in your PC in the future. It lacks a dedicated graphics card like the Lenovo Ideacentre 300, but the Acer model’s 2TB memory, 16 GB memory, Wi-Fi connectivity and seventh-generation Intel Core i7 processor makes up for that. On just about all the other factors, the newer iteration and its predecessor, they are effectively equals, and the Wi-Fi means that both can be used in any room in your home with a Wi-Fi signal. That flexibility, versatility and real-estate to grow into something bigger through upgrades make the Aspire UR12 an easy choice to recommend for anyone in the market for a work/office desktop PC that will remain relevant for a few more years.