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Some people would be concerned with choosing between desktop and laptop. They can’t seem to find the right desktop or laptop that meets their needs. More often than not, there’s a third option: All-in-one (AIO) desktops. The third type of computer is a middle ground between portability and performance. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what the best all-in-one computers consist of.
These PCs offer the powerhorse of a traditional PC with the unique integrated design. Here’s our advice on what to keep in mind when hunting for the best all-in-one computers:
You will be stuck with one screen, so choose wisely. AIO computers’ screens are generally bigger than laptops’ screens.
Size & resolution
Displays on AIO systems vary in size from 20 inches on the small end to 32 inches on the higher end. You should avoid going for anything smaller than 24 inches as there won’t be enough screen estate to work with. Systems with 30-32 inches are fantastic but obvious their cost may be the biggest problem. The sweet spot is 27 inches which offers enough space and is compact at the same time.
As for resolution, most displays are in either Full HD or 4K. We recommended the latter, especially for editing and graphic design work. Check out this New Apple iMac which boasts a 5K retina display. You could still choose Full HD display if you want to save your money.
Some AIOs feature touchscreens. This feature is handy for creative professionals like content creator, artists, illustrators, etc. if you are using the touch interface for more than just on-screen navigation, go for pen or stylus touch. Pen or stylus support is a feature worth considering for digital sketching and media creation activities. Lenovo Ideacentre A540 is worth checking out if you’re looking for touch support.
Simplicity is the selling point of All-in-ones. Just like their look, setup is relatively easy as you just have one cable to work with, the power cord. You plug it in and boot the machine up, wait about 30 seconds, now you’re ready to work!
Since all AIOs have integrated the computer parts into the machine itself, there’s not much different between models in terms of design. The only feature that makes them distinct from each other is the stand. Some like ASUS Zen AiO lack height adjustment capability while others like Dell OptiPlex 27 7770 allow for more flexible stand adjusting.
Here are the components you need to take into consideration when choosing an AIO computer:
CPU: There are models with Intel Core i3 or Ryzen 3, don’t go for these as they won’t last you for another five years. You should choose one with the latest generation Intel Core i7 and Ryzen 7 for future-proofing. If your budget is tight, go for AIO PCs with Core i5 or Ryzen 5 like Acer Aspire C27 or Lenovo IdeaCentre AIO 3.
RAM: 8GB is adequate for an average user at the moment. But I recommend getting at least 16GB so that your computer will last several years. HP Envy 32 has 16GB and 32GB options, whichever you choose you won’t have to worry about RAM upgrading for a while.
Storage: In terms of capacity, get at least 1TB of disk space. 500GB is enough to store documents and photos, but you need 1TB+ to have enough room for videos, large projects and programs. As for speed, always opt for SSD. It’ll cost you more but trust me, it’ll make a difference. Your best bet is going for a hybrid storage like on HP 27 Pavilion, 512GB SSD and 1 TB HDD.
GPU: AIO computers are not really the most optimal route for serious gaming. It’s mainly because of the fixed 60HZ display and the components are mostly mobile options. However, it doesn’t mean that you have no choice, some AIO PCs like HP Envy 32 still have a powerful discrete GPU.
Another factor you should look for in AIOs are the variety of ports. Check to see whether it has USB-C, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, headphone and mic combo jacks, memory card reader, etc. This Lenovo IdeaCentre AIO 3 has plenty of ports and should satisfy all your connecting needs.
Beside availability, accessibility of ports is also important. This is determined by how these ports are placed on the AIO body itself. You don’t want to reposition your whole systems just to reach those ports located at the back. Consider a system with ports placed at easy-to-reach places like on the rear or on the side.
See Also >>> Best Desktop Computers
1. What are the advantages of an AIO PCs over traditional PCs?
As mentioned above, AIO computers are the perfect blend of performance and portability. To elaborate more on this, here’s the major advantages of AIO desktops:
Easy to set up: AIO PCs are designed for non tech-savvy users. Just plug the power in and you’re good to go. It’s a good choice for those who don’t want to open the system, tinker with stuff, learn all about PCs, etc.
Space-saving: As the computer is built into the monitor, the whole machine takes up less space. You also don’t have to worry about cable management as AIO PCs typically only have one power cord.
Everything included: As the name implies, AIO PCs have everything you need in one single unit. You don’t have to purchase a monitor, keyboard and mouse separately. You don’t have to worry about the compatibility between accessories and your computer.
Portability: If you are moving around a lot, AIO PCs are fairly easy to carry around. In the event of transporting an AIO computer, all you have to deal with is a single unit with a cable.
2. Who are AIO desktops for?
AIO desktops are designed for productivity, media consumption and web browsing. Therefore, they tend to be more suitable for creative professionals. The same applies to those who want a nice-looking computer that doesn’t take too much space and have to deal with wires. For other people it’s more cost-effective to just buy a laptop or tower desktop and a monitor.
If you are someone who values the space-saving thing then you could go with a mini PC and a monitor. It’s the next best thing after AIO computers. It’s maybe a little cluster with all the wires and separate peripherals but it will cost you a lot less significantly.
3. Can I use my AIO desktops for gaming?
Yes, you can. However, they can only run some light games such as Among us or Overwatch since gaming isn’t their intended use. Some AIO PCs have impressive specs and can run triple A games at high settings. However, these will cost you a lot more than an average AIO PC.
As for why AIO PCs are not ideal for gaming, it’s because the majority of users are not gamers. They are light users who just want a space-saving computer for productivity or office work.
Another reason is their compact design. Most powerful graphic cards are huge and it is challenging to put them into the AIO chassis. Due to limited cooling and space capability, AIO PCs are unable to handle high-end dedicated GPU and CPU.
4. Can I upgrade my AIO PCs?
Similar to laptops, AIO PCs are typically harder to upgrade than traditional desktops. You are unlikely to be able to upgrade CPU or GPU. However, some models allow you to swap out RAM and storages.
Not all AIOs are the same, some models make it easier to upgrade than others. Be sure to check your specs or models to see which parts you can upgrade. An alternative way is buying a whole new system, it’s more convenient that way.
5. Should I choose Mac or Windows for my AIO computer?
It all boils down to your personal preferences and using experience. There’s no best OS that is suitable for everyone, just go with the one you’re comfortable with.
Having said that, there’s one feature you can only find on Windows – Touch screen. There is touchscreen support for both Windows laptops and desktops. On the other hand, there is no iMac with touch support available at the moment. If this feature is important to you, choose Windows-based AIO systems.
The ultimate choice for an AIO computer is none other than Apple iMac. This beloved AIO PC features a 27 inches 5K Retina display, offering extra crisp image quality. It comes with a magic mouse and keyboard. The 10th generation Core i5, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD and Radeon 5300 graphics should provide enough power for most people. These specs will last you for three to five years.
If you prefer Windows over Mac OS, then Microsoft Surface Studio 2 is a no-brainer. This newest version of Microsoft’s top-of-the-line AOI is truly one of a kind. It features a 28 inches touchscreen with 3.5 million pixels. The computer is powered by an Intel Core i7, up to 32GB RAM and 2TB SSD. Surface Studio 2 is the best AIO computer for designers, artists and media creators.
And that’s all you need to know to choose the best all-in-one computers. No less compact than laptops and powerful like any desktops, the AIO PCs bring us the best of both worlds. These unique systems pack everything you need into one single unit. Whatever the model of your choice is, these AIOs are more than capable of getting your job done, in style.