The best computer speakers will bring booming sound to your desk, whether you want to hear conference calls better or simply want to enjoy great sound when listening to music or playing games. While a good pair of headphones will accomplish the same goal, speakers will let you share great music, movies, TV and video games with the rest of your household. They also never press down uncomfortably on your ears after a few hours, which is a plus.
There are a ton of different types of computer speakers and many different configurations, including two speakers, 2.1 units with a subwoofer and even 5.1 systems for surround sound. Some of the best computer speakers are subtle and compact for smaller setups, while others offer striking designs with RGB lighting for gamers and creators.
Some of the best computer speakers can be a great investment, particularly if you have a laptop. While laptop speakers may be convenient, they tend to be tinny and quiet at the best of times, and downright distorted at the worst. A solid pair of speakers can reveal instruments and harmonies that you've never heard in your favorite music, and new layers of depth for your favorite visual media. They don't have to cost a fortune, either, so check out the list for our favorites.
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What are the best computer speakers?
For most setups, the Bose Companion 2 Series III are the best computer speakers that you can buy. These speakers are small and lightweight, but they produce a lot of balanced nuanced sound. The speakers aren't cheap, by any means, but since you're paying for Bose quality, you'll get what you pay for. You don't get separate bass and treble controls, though, so audiophiles should be aware of that potential shortcoming.
Gamers (especially those with some money to spend) should consider the Logitech G560 Gaming Speakers, which comprise two desktop speakers and a subwoofer. You can customize elaborate lighting patterns, or let the speakers come up with lighting patterns themselves, based on the game that you're playing. The sound is rich and loud, and the bass is quite powerful.
At the other end of the price spectrum is the Logitech S120 2.0, which usually retails for $25 or less. These simple, no-nonsense speakers are small and basic, but they provide a significant boost over a built-in laptop speaker — or no speakers at all, if you've been using a desktop with headphones all this time. They're probably the best computer speakers for people who have limited audio needs, but still want the option to play music and other multimedia out loud.
The other speakers in this list run the gamut from expensive, complicated sound systems to relatively simple desktop speakers. Generally speaking, you should look to spend $50 or less for something straightforward, $100 to $150 for something robust and more than $150 for something with a lot of extra bells and whistles. It depends on how much of an audiophile you are.
The best computer speakers right now
Bose Companion 2 Series III
The best overall computer speakers
Type of system: 2.0 | Inputs: Two 3.5mm inputs | Size: 7.5 x 5.9 x 3.1 inches | Watts: N/A
The Companion 2 Series III is among the best computer speakers for most people. The 7.5 x 5.9 x 3.1-inch satellites don't take up much space on your desk, but they create a big, full sound. The price won't break the bank, and it's worth the premium over cheaper units. Remember, too, that you're also paying for the brand name, and Bose generally doesn't come cheap. It produces more bass than speakers twice the size, and with robust vocals and pleasing treble, it delivers very good sound overall.
The simple and elegant design features a single volume knob on the right speaker, along with a headphone jack so you don't have to disconnect the speakers to listen privately. These speakers don't give you any way to adjust the bass or treble, but with the well-balanced sound, you likely won't miss that feature.
Rich sound in a bold design
Type of system: 2.0 | Inputs: 3.5mm, RCA stereo, micro USB;RCA output | Size: 6 x 5.3 x 4 inches | Watts: 15 (per speaker)
If you've got an affinity for detailed audio, pick the A2+ for your desk. These compact 6 x 5.3 x 4 speakers deliver crisp treble, a wide sound field, and balanced bass and midrange without a subwoofer. Plus they crank, thanks to 15 watts of power per speaker (and they sound best when you turn them up). The simple and elegant design looks good on your desk too. You'll pay for the quality, but the reward is excellent overall sound.
This speaker system features a 3.5 mm audio hookup, making it compatible with just about every computer on the market. (You won't be able to hook it up to most modern smartphones, although you might have better luck with tablets, depending on the manufacturer.) The lack of a subwoofer is also helpful for desks with limited floor space, or those with bass-sensitive downstairs neighbors.
Big on bass
Type of system: 2.1 | Inputs: Optical digital audio, two 3.5mm, RCA | Size: Satellites | Watts: 35 (per satellite)
Bass lovers, this system is for you. The Z625 features a monster 11.9 x 11.1 x 10.4-inch subwoofer that produces a deep, rich low end. The 7.7 x 4.9 x 4.6-inch satellites create a very wide and full sound. You can connect via 3.5mm, RCA or optical inputs, the latter being a rarity for computer speakers. The right satellite features controls for volume and bass, if you want more (unlikely) or less boom from the system. If you like low end, these are some of the best computer speakers to buy now.
While the Z625 is more expensive than many of the speakers on this list, the subwoofer alone arguably makes it worth the premium. When you factor in the ability to control bass and treble, you're getting multiple features that simply aren't that common in cheaper models.
Harman Kardon SoundSticks III
Space-age looks with slick sound
Type of system: 2.1 | Inputs: 3.5mm | Size: Satellites | Watts: 10 (per satellite)
More than 15 years after the original SoundSticks hit the market, the design remains as space age as ever; no other desktop speakers can match the design aesthetic of these clear speakers. The sound quality is as solid as ever, too; the 10.8 x 9.2-inch, dome-shaped subwoofer delivers rich bass, and the 10 x 2-inch satellites, each with four 2-inch drivers, produce full vocals.
Despite the futuristic design, the system is very simple. You can adjust the volume via touch-sensitive buttons on the right speaker and the bass level through a knob on the back of the sub. You pay a premium for style, but you also get excellent overall sound. The SoundSticks III are a good fit for audiophiles who want their computer desks to look just as good as they sound. That's helpful for anyone who deals with audio in a professional or semi-professional capacity.
Logitech G560 Gaming Speakers
The best computer speakers for gaming
Type of system: 2.1 | Inputs: USB, Bluetooth, 3.5mm | Size: Satellites | Watts: n/a
The Logitech G560 are the best computer speakers for serious gamers. The G560 produces robust sound, whether you're playing a game or listening to music, and the subwoofer really adds to the experience. If you like to play loud, this system is a great fit for you. It also features a sophisticated lighting system comprising four distinct zones with bright, colorful LEDs, which are fun but can be distracting. The included software is integral; you use it to configure the lights, activate surround sound and even create profiles for specific games.
One helpful feature of the G560 is its Bluetooth compatibility, which lets you funnel in your own music from a smartphone. This means that you can play pretty much anything on these speakers, and you can hand off control from person to person easily. If you need something powerful for an impromptu dance party, the G560 will work in a pinch, and even provide its own light show to go along with the proceedings.
Read our full Logitech G560 review.
Home theater sound for your PC
Type of system: 5.1 | Inputs: Bluetooth, RCA, six-channel direct | Size: Satellites | Watts: 11 (per satellite)
For those whose computers double as their home theaters, the Z606 are among the best computer speakers out there. The system includes five 7.0 x 4.3 x 3.4-inch satellites and a 11.7 x 11.0 x 7.6-inch subwoofer to create an encompassing audio experience. The bass-heavy sound is a good match if you like low end, and you can adjust the level of each speaker to tweak the sound to your liking.
The satellites produce a full sound, with resonant vocals. This system is also very loud, cranking out 70 watts. In addition to an RCA input, you can connect wirelessly via Bluetooth. Unfortunately, the Z606 lacks the optical input you'd need to connect a game system or Blu-ray player for true Dolby 5.1 audio; instead, you'll need a player that supports six-channel direct output. The stereo sound is still quite good, though, if that helps.
Creative Labs GigaWorks T20 Series II
Good sound for a reasonable price
Type of system: 2.0 | Inputs: Two 3.5mm | Size: 9 x 5.6 x 3.5 inches | Watts: 14 (per speaker)
The T20s are solidly built and deliver good overall sound for the money. Tall and narrow, the 9 x 5.6 x 3.5-inch satellites produce a balanced mix of treble and bass, and you can adjust those levels. However, the speakers lack resonant vocals, keeping the T20s from providing an excellent audio experience. The system features two 3.5mm inputs and ships with an RCA-to-3.5mm adapter to connect stereo sources. With 14 watts of power per channel, the T20s also get louder than many speakers in their price range.
Creative Labs also has a great computer audio pedigree, having made discrete audio cards for PCs since 1989. This doesn't necessarily mean that it's better at channeling computer audio than its competitors, but it does mean that Creative Labs products tend to be made with computers in mind, first and foremost.
Edifier R980T Bookshelf Speakers
Affordable audio that blends with your bookshelf
Type of system: 2.0 | Inputs: Two RCA stereo (comes with RCA-to-3.5mm adapter) | Size: 8.9 x 7.8 x 5.5 inches | Watts: 12 (per speaker)
If you've got the space on your desk, these two-way speakers deliver solid sound for a reasonable price. The 8.9 x 7.8 x 5.5-inch speakers house a 4-inch woofer and a 0.5-inch tweeter, which together produce full, resonant bass and vocals; the treble lacks crispness, but that doesn't detract much from the overall good audio quality. The right speaker includes two RCA inputs; you can use the included wires to connect one input to your computer's headphone jack and the other to an additional source, such as a turntable (or turntable preamp). You can also adjust the bass level using a dial on the back of the right speaker.
The system is not terribly expensive, either, which makes it an attractive buy for users who would prefer to save their money for other computer accessories. The R980T is a decent speaker at an affordable price, and sometimes, that's all you need.
Cyber Acoustics CA 3090
Big sound on a budget
Type of system: 2.1 | Inputs: 3.5mm;additional 3.5mm input on control pod | Size: Satellites | Watts: 2 (per satellite)
You don't have to spend a lot to improve on the audio that your computer's internal speakers put out. For a little over $20, this 2.1 system generates a big sound without taking up much space. The satellites are 7 x 3 x 3 inches, and the subwoofer is just 8 x 7 x 6 inches. The system features bright treble, though the midrange and bass sound muffled. The CA 3090 includes a control pod, separate from the speakers, which lets you adjust the volume, connect headphones and add an additional audio source — handy if you want to put the speakers out of easy reach.
The control pod alone makes the CA 3090 worth considering, as it's a fairly rare feature in this price range. While these are not necessarily the best speakers you can get — even for the price — they're some of the most feature-rich. You'll have to decide whether you'd prefer better sound or easier access.
Logitech S120 2.0
Just the basics
Type of system: 2.0 | Inputs: 3.5mm, RCA | Size: 6.2 x 2.7 x 2.5 inches | Watts: 2.2 (per speaker)
If you're looking for a no-frills desktop speaker system, the S120 is one of the best computer speakers for the basics. These 6.2 x 2.7 x 2.5-inch speakers don't cost much, but they don't do much either. Simple to set up — just plug into the wall and then into your computer's headphone output — they produce a bigger sound than most internal speakers on a laptop or desktop, but that's about the only advantage. The S120s lack bass and resonance overall.
Still, it's worth rmeembering that the S120 comes from Logitech, and Logitech gear is built to last. While there's nothing special about the S120's feature set or sound quality, you can at least be sure that it'll serve your computer for a long time to come. In fact, it may outlive whichever computer you hook it up to.
How to choose the best computer speakers for you
There are three things to consider when choosing the best computer speaker for your setup: sound quality, extra features and price.
Sound quality is a moving target, but generally speaking: Cheaper, less elaborate systems offer decent sound quality, but the soundscape is not that nuanced, and the volume is sometimes not that loud. More expensive, more elaborate systems tend to offer richer treble, deeper bass and more substantial vocals. A great pair of speakers shouldn't make you choose among the three facets of sound; everything should be balanced.
Extra features tend to come standard in more expensive speakers, but even cheaper models can have them. The most common extra feature is discrete bass/treble controls, but you can also have remote controls, wireless functionality and RGB lighting. None of these things is strictly necessary, but they can make your life a lot easier, especially if you're looking to make your computer into an audio powerhouse.
Finally, price is pretty self-explanatory. Like most gadgets, more expensive speakers tend to use better components, and thus offer better quality. On the other hand, sometimes you're just paying for style over substance, to be sure to check reviews whenever possible before you commit to a purchase.