If you, like so many of us, spend most of your waking hours at your desk, then you deserve to own some of the best computer speakers your budget will allow. These portable audio receivers combat the tinny sound often found in some of the best laptops, combining full, balanced sonics with handy features like Bluetooth and headphone outputs. The right one for you will depend on your budget, design taste, and, ideally, how much space you have on your desk.
The market plays host to numerous models of different styles, which work great for any setup or computing device (e.g. desktop, laptop, smartphone) you have in mind. Key players worth mentioning that have cemented their legacy as top computer speaker manufacturers include Edifier, Creative, and Audioengine just to name a few. You’ll even find gems here from consumer electronics staples like Bose, Harman Kardon, and gaming accessory giant, Razer.
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Check out our top picks for the best computer speakers, based on hours of testing and research. Need something for private listening? Then make sure to also look at our roundup of the best noise-cancelling headphones, which includes everything from over-ear luxury cans to truly wireless buds.
What are the best computer speakers?
The Audioengine HD3 currently sits at No.1 on our best computer speakers list. These Bluetooth bookshelf speakers match the precise sound found on most wired computer speakers. Bass is tight and the midrange is emphasized for vocals to shine. Connectivity is spot-on too, so you won’t ever have to worry about dropout when streaming music. It’s also one of the better-looking models out there with a retro-inspired design that’s donned in a wooden veneer and mesh magnetic grille.
Our runner-up is Klipsch’s The Fives, retro-inspired sound blasters designed for high-end audiophiles. Dynamic bass equalization combined with numerous inputs and intuitive controls make this a killer sound system. The only thing better than the performance is the beautifully handcrafted cabinet made from real wood. Oh yeah, these are also the first powered monitors on the market that come with HDMI-ARC, allowing you to connect the system directly to any compatible TV for hi-res surround sound.
For bargain hunters, there is the Creative Pebble V3, which packs loud sound into a compact design that is perfect for small desks and most media formats (music, video games, movies). The Edifier R1280DB is a relatively affordable option with numerous connection options that balances smooth-sounding mids and highs superbly. PC gamers looking to spend little for big sound may want to put the Razer Nommo on their radar, as the dual-speaker system produces clear stereo imaging that enhances the gaming experience.
The best computer speakers you can buy today
Audioengine’s reputation for building premium speakers with accurate sound is flawless. The HD3 is proof of this, producing stellar audio that makes music and movies sound pristine. Wired speakers are known for offering the better audio experience, but these Bluetooth-only speakers exceed expectations. Mids are articulate and highs are compelling, giving vocals plenty of clarity and detail. Wireless range is stable as well with little to no dropout occurring. What’s more surprising is how well sound carries over to the headphone jack, as listening with over-ear cans maintains the HD3’s rich performance. Having a built-in DAC and amp also increases the HD3’s value.
Our only complaint is that Audioengine took it easy on the low end. You’ll still get to some nice oomph out of the drivers when listening to bass-dominating tracks, but don’t expect to blow a hole through your college dorm roof.
The Fives speaker system looks like something you would find in your great-grandfather’s study, but the only thing retro about these speakers is the design. Despite no subwoofer, these monitors blast powerful, balanced sound to create an immersive listening experience when enjoying music, movies, sports, and video games. The details in craftsmanship are remarkable as exhibited by the aluminum dials sitting atop the right channel to allow for seamless switching between the numerous connections. There is even an output to connect to turntables; we recommend checking out our best USB turntables roundup to find some worthy pairings.
All that firepower does come at the cost of size. As you can see by the dimensions, The Fives isn’t exactly a pair of computer speakers that rest steadily on any tiny desk, so you’ll definitely want to clear out some space before these arrive on your doorstep.
Our favorite tiny computer speakers have been upgraded with louder sound, more input options, and a new mode that doubles the audio intensity. The latter works great for music, movies, video games, and podcasts. Those with distinctive hearing may also notice how well the Pebble V3’s clear dialog audio processing performs when compared to what comes out of your MacBook’s built-in speakers; dialogue-heavy scenes in movies and games sound amazing. We do advise not to blast the speakers at max volume, as it can produce some crackling and minor distortion when jamming out to tunes.
Wireless playback is superb with Bluetooth 5.0 providing steady connectivity across all devices (e.g. laptops, desktops, smartphones). Then you have the super-compact design, which is perfect for small work environments or to pack with you on the road. For $40, it’s a no-brainer that you can also pass onto someone else once you’re ready to look at bigger, more powerful options.
Edifier knows all about making great-looking and sounding speakers, and the R1280DB is a fine addition to the brand’s long line of heritage receivers. Their penchant for build quality is certainly on display, with the speakers featuring a wood grain finish, vinyl wrap, and magnetic shields for protection from surrounding items. They’ll feel right at home on any bookshelf, while also blending nicely on any entertainment center. More enticing than the design is the sound quality, which is ideal for multiple media formats (e.g. music, movies, and games), thanks to its superb mids and highs. Bluetooth connection is another bonus, letting you pair the speakers with multiple computing devices.
You’ll just want to be mindful of listening at high volumes since that can create distortion. The low end won’t blow you away either, so bass lovers looking to shake their game room with explosions may want to look at other models on this list.
Razer’s gaming speakers come in different versions, though we’re most fond of the entry-level Nommo based on its overall performance and price. The design is sleek as hell, falling somewhere between a Dyson hairdryer and an ultramodern podium microphone. However, the beauty is in the details, and we tip our hat to Razer for its minimalistic approach; the black and gunmetal grey colorway with subtle branding allows the speakers to blend into any stationary desktop or office setup. The cylindrical shape also factors into the sound quality, allowing air into the bass ports for a more pronounced presence, and reducing distortion. Audio is faithful to gameplay and makes sonic details more immersive, from dialogue to explosions to footsteps.
The sad part is Razer reserved some of its more upscale features for the pricier models in the series. This includes the LED indicators, USB connection, and Chroma software compatibility.
Great desktop speakers that are also practical for home office use, the Z407 packs some serious sound into a desktop-friendly design. The speakers are engineered more for music listening, as exemplified by the powerful bass levels, though you can enjoy some crisp sound quality when indulging in Netflix content or podcasts. We would just recommend bringing down the volume and disconnecting the subwoofer, which is more useful for extending the low end and driving your roommates nuts with loud explosions during Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War online battles.
Logitech also includes one of the coolest controllers we have tested in the category; it resembles a hockey puck and lets you adjust audio from across the room via dial mechanism. We just wish the controller didn’t require batteries to function; in an age where almost all tech products are rechargeable, why not this one?
Forget the sleek aesthetics and size for one second. The real marvels are how Bluesound managed to integrate such a powerful soundstage and several features into such a compact design. This is a bass-forward speaker that doesn’t skimp on the low end, but also delivers accurate and spacious sound for full-bodied presentation. Its feature set is even more impressive, consisting of Airplay 2 compatibility, Alexa voice command, dual-band Wi-Fi, and a companion app that lets you program the five presets on the control panel to easily access music services, inputs or radio stations. There’s a handful of others to look into as well.
This type of performance would normally justify a $350 price tag, but it’s not an amount that many are willing to pay on small computer speakers. Not to mention you have to spend $100 extra on the battery pack to make the speaker “portable.”
The Xeo 10 is one of the most feature-laden and priciest sound systems out there. These active speakers boast some cool features, ranging from touch volume controls to different placement options (e.g., desk stand, wall mount). Its greatest attribute is without a doubt the ability to reconfigure sound, which can be done in the back by switching the speaker between left or right position, as well as the option to inform the speaker of its current position: Corner, Neutral, or Wall. Dynaudio’s algorithm then goes to work to deliver some of the best sound and voice reproduction we’ve heard on a set of computer speakers.
For the price, Dynaudio could have built the Zeo 10 a little better, as the overall changes to the cabinet and front of the speakers feel less premium than some of the brand’s other offerings. You may notice some occasional stuttering as well when streaming from mobile devices.
Bose isn't known for value, at least not in the PC market, but these compact desktop speakers are a bargain when you look at cost versus performance. With big bass and full vocals, the Companion 2 Series III sounds great and is worth the premium over the plethora of slightly less expensive models that you'll find. They are also extremely simple to use, with a single volume knob and just one 3.5 mm input. The headphone jack on the front makes it easy to switch to private listening and pair perfectly with any of the brand’s noise-cancelling headphones; we recommend plugging in the Bose 700 for an immersive, distraction-free listening session.
They don't have a flashy look, which could be a positive or a negative depending on your tastes. Unfortunately, with a low price comes compromises, and in the case of the Companion 2 Series III, its lack of extra inputs and wireless connectivity.
The Z606 is a standard plug-and-play solution for desktop and laptop users who want surround sound at a budget-friendly price. This unit can blast a max of 160 watts, feeding listeners loud, bass-heavy audio. Bluetooth connectivity is another major selling point and remembers up to 8 devices, though it can only connect to one audio source at a time. We also love the LED screen and ring of controls on the face of the unit to easily manage playback and volume.
There is one caveat with this system. In order to achieve true 5.1 surround sound, you need a receiver that supports five channels of analog audio over RCA. This makes it a little more complicated to hook up the Z606 to other devices (e.g., Blu-ray players, video game consoles, TVs). In addition, audio performance is better suited for gaming and video content than music; the mid-range lacks detail.
How to choose the best computer speakers for you
You’ll want to prioritize audio performance, connection type, extra features, and pricing when seeking out the best computer speakers.
Ask yourself what suits your setup best: wired or wireless. The former is known for guaranteeing better sound, yet requires dealing with more cables and ports, which can be overbearing for small setups. If you’re not looking to be tethered to your machine, then know that there are plenty of wireless models available that come with stereo or surround sound technology. Speaking of sound, also look for computer speakers that deliver clean vocals, deep bass, and rich treble, and with volume levels that aren’t too loud or distort sound.
Something else to keep in mind is codecs. SBC (Sub Band Codec) is the most common and is a great option for streaming music on popular services like Spotify. You can look into newer and more advanced codecs like AAC (Advanced Audio Coding), Qualcomm aptX, and Sony LDAC as well; each one processes information quickly and delivers superior audio output.
In terms of features, the most common tend to be bass and treble controls, allowing you to personalize sound to your liking. Multiple inputs are important too, especially if you’re looking to connect the speakers to other devices like smartphones or tablets. Make sure the speakers have an auxiliary input jack, USB slots, and extra ports for more versatility.
Top-tier performance usually comes at a premium, but not all of the best computer speakers carry a steep MSRP. Yes, the more expensive models will likely have more powerful sound and components underneath the hood, along with a more upscale appearance. That’s not to say you won’t get some great performance out of a less expensive pair. Look at reviews – both expert and consumer – then figure out what models offer everything you want for the most reasonable price.
How we test the best computer speakers
Similar to how we test all audio products, our reviewers evaluate several factors, including audio, battery life, design, and value. We also compare each model to similar ones in terms of features, pricing, and setup.
Computer speakers are tested over the course of a week for 2 hours at a time. During this process, we analyze Bluetooth performance, ease of use, and, most importantly, sound quality. Reviewers listen to numerous predetermined tracks across a variety of music genres: classical, EDM, hip-hop, jazz, rock, and R&B. Movies, podcasts, and video games are taken into serious consideration too. Overall, we evaluate clarity, fullness, and volume.
With more streaming services offering high-resolution audio, we advise reading this audio codec FAQ to learn more about FLAC files, MP3s and, everything in between. The streaming service you choose could enhance sound quality.
After testing is completed, we rate each model based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). Any product that is exemplary is awarded a Laptop Magazine Editor’s Choice badge.