A trio of excellent speakers from £50 to £250.
A good set of speakers can really make the music you listen to and games you play at your computer come alive. Here are our picks for the best computer speakers of 2020, including a range of powered options from £50 to £600 that require no additional equipment.
Each recommendation here is suitable for use with laptops and desktop PCs, and both the mid-range and high-end picks also include Bluetooth and optical inputs to work with games consoles, smartphones and tablets too.
For the purposes of this article, a budget speaker is under £50/$50, a mid-range speaker is around £100/$100 and a high-end speaker is sub-£250/$250. We’ve also picked a premium option at around £600/$600. Of course, it’s possible to spend hundreds or even thousands on all kinds of speakers and sound bars; these definitions are a shorthand for this article alone rather than an industry-wide standard. If you want to spend more, feel free to do your own research on the many options available and find the speaker that fits your needs!
Without further ado, let’s get into the recommendations.
Best budget computer speakers: Creative Pebble Plus
The best cheap computer speakers we’ve tried are the Creative Pebble Plus. These speakers can be had for less than £50, making them an affordable inclusion for any PC gaming setup, yet they provide surprisingly good audio with full bass thanks to their dedicated subwoofer. These aren’t the loudest speakers in the world, or even at this price range, but they make up for it by keeping distortion to a minimum and providing a good level of clarity. The speakers are small too, ensuring there’s more than enough desk space space left over for your favourite mouse pad and one of the best gaming keyboards. Spending a little more will get you a substantially better experience, but if you’re on a limited budget these are a great choice.
In the UK, the older Creative A250 is also a great shout at around £26, but we couldn’t find these (at a reasonable price) in the US.
Best mid-range computer speakers: Creative T100
The recently-released Creative T100 are our second pick, dominating the £100ish category thanks to their long feature list, great audio quality and convenient remote. Connectivity is a strong point here, with options for optical (S/PDIF), 3.5mm and Bluetooth (aided by NFC pairing). We tested them with a smartphone connected via Bluetooth, a PC via optical and a record player via 3.5mm, all of which worked flawlessly. A USB input is also provided, if you want to play music directly on the speakers without need for a source device.
In terms of sound quality, the lack of a subwoofer does mean you’re missing out on a bit of low-end oomph, even with the bass ports on the rear. However, this limited range is made up for by the excellent clarity provided by the T100s. Mids and highs are well reproduced with rich tones. Overall, a strong option at this price point if connectivity and convenience are important to you.
If you’d prefer something that fits a more overtly gamer aesthetic, then the Logitech G560 is a 2.1 system with RGB lighting at around the same price range.
Best high-end computer speakers: Edifier R2000DB
Next up we have a pair of powered bookshelf speakers that work very well as computer speakers too, although their larger stature (174×289×252mm) means they aren’t suitable for smaller desks. The Edifier R2000DB are distinguished by their clean looks, wide stereo imaging and uniformly excellent audio reproduction from lows to mids and highs. Bass is tight and controlled, while high end tones are nice and crisp.
The Edifier R2000DB include Bluetooth, optical and two 3.5mm inputs, providing plenty of interfaces to keep all of your devices connected at once, plus a (fiddly) remote control to make sense of it all.
Altogether, it’s a compelling package at a very reasonable price point. If you can’t stretch to the R2000DB, check out the slightly cheaper Presonus E4.5.
Best premium computer speakers: Edifier S3000PRO
If you’re looking to spend even more, another set of Edifier speakers could be a good choice. The Edifier S3000PRO are larger (232x356x268mm), relegating them to use on large desks, TV consoles or robust stands, but the increase to the amount of air these speakers can move is substantial. That particularly manifests itself in terms of bass, where the speakers provide thundering yet controlled low-frequency tones which makes cinematic moments in games (or indeed, in film) enrapturing. The use of a well-tuned planar tweeter ensures higher frequency notes also sound great, while mid-range tones are also well represented with good amounts of detail. Overall, these speakers deliver exceptional audio quality, which is what you’d hope given their £569 price point.
Despite the increase in (physical) volume, these active speakers retain the easy usability of the R2000DB, with convenient coaxial, balance, USB (up to 24/192kHz), Bluetooth 5.0 (w/ aptX) and optical inputs. All of these inputs can be selected using the provided remote control. Rather than being joined by a cable, the left speaker connects to the right one wirelessly, which makes it easy to position them – although both still need plugging into mains power. I didn’t run into any issues with the wireless connection, but it would have been nice to have this an option regardless.
Overall, we were incredible impressed with the S3000PRO in our testing. Given their sound and their versatility, that makes them very easy to recommend if your budget does stretch to that nearly £600 mark.
Frequently asked questions
What about more expensive speakers?
There are many resources online for speaker recommendations at all price ranges; we particularly recommend Head-Fi and BudgetAudiophile. Of course, we’re open to reviewing more expensive options too; stay tuned!
What are the best speakers for competitive gaming?
For competitive gaming, we recommend sticking with headphones as these provide better clarity, imaging and noise isolation. We have a selection of the best gaming headphones in 2020 right here.
What are the best RGB speakers?
Probably the Razer Nommo Pro, but RGB really isn’t necessary for audio equipment.
Why only three choices?
We’ve just started – stay tuned for new recommendations as we have time to test them!