Big, beautiful 34" curved display. Super-fast boot up. Powerful enough for limited gaming.
Tiny keyboard is annoying to use. Fan runs noisy. USB ports can be difficult to access. Wireless mouse is not up to snuff for such a pricey machine.
Consistent performance for its specifications. Good-sized screen, without much glare. Very easy to set up.
Keyboard is just so-so. No HDMI or serial output port. DVD/CD unit rattles when in use.
Space-saving size and attractive build are big pluses for many users. Very easy to set up and run. Operates quietly, with no vibration.
Minor learning curve for those transitioning from a PC, or even from a Macbook. Keyboard is smaller than some like. Hard disk drive can run slowly.
Runs quietly and handles operations quickly. Streaming video is no problem for this all-in-one. Screen is good-sized with clear, crisp display.
An annoying amount of bloatware comes with this PC. Not enough USB ports for many users. DVD cart is difficult to access. Keyboard and mouse can suffer from spotty operation.
Easy setup, and relatively fast – about 1 hour – including Windows updates. Great processing speed for home and office tasks, along with a roomy hard drive.
Not good for gaming at just about any level. Cooling fan spins up like an aircraft engine and stays loud during use. Touchscreen is glitchy.
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Whether you’re looking for a new family computer, a standalone kiosk for your business, or a workstation that doesn’t clutter your desk with wires, an all-in-one computer, also known as an AIO computer, is a terrific solution.
When the very first Apple Macintosh computer was released in 1984, it was nothing short of a technical revolution – and with its built-in monitor and single-box design, it was also the world’s first widely popular all-in-one computer. In the years that followed, computers became essential components of our daily lives. They also became a clutter of wires, monitors, accessories, and peripherals that made messes of desks across the world.
Thankfully, the all-in-one computer is back. Ideal for people who prefer simplicity and minimalism, all-in-one computers now exist as powerhouse PCs.
At BestReviews, we pride ourselves on providing consumers with accurate, unbiased reviews of top products. Our mission is to help users make smart purchasing decisions, and as part of this mission, we never accept free manufacturer samples in exchange for a mention or review.
So if you’re ready for an all-in-one computer that will simplify your workspace faster than you can say “iMac,” please continue reading this shopping guide. Then, when you’re ready to buy, please check out our product recommendations at the top of this page.
Should you get an AIO with a traditional or ultra-wide monitor? The majority of AIO computers feature traditional widescreen monitors with the same 16x9 aspect ratio as a TV. That said, “ultra-wide” screens – single, elongated screens that deliver the desktop space of two 16x9 monitors side-by-side in one monitor – are becoming increasingly popular.
Ultra-wide screens are ideal for workers who need to see more of a spreadsheet all at once. They’re also helpful for people who prefer to view documents or browser tabs side-by-side.
Traditional 16x9 screens are significantly more affordable, so it’s worth it to spend some time considering which form factor is best for you.
Curved monitors are designed to match the curve of the human eye and, as a result, deliver a wider field of view.
Should you get a curved-screen AIO or a flat-screen AIO? The debate between which screen type is better will never die, because both are largely a matter of personal preference.
Curved screens mimic the curvature of the human eye, in theory delivering a more immersive visual experience by involving peripheral vision – as long as only one person is watching the screen, that is. Because screen curvature is built around a single user seated in the middle, anyone sitting on either side of the screen won’t be able to see everything, which can make collaboration tough.
Flat computer screens, in contrast, don’t involve peripheral vision and are easily seen from any angle.
Some all-in-one computers have touchscreens that add a new layer of interactivity (and also drive up the price). If you’re more at home with an iPad than a keyboard, this might be perfect for you. Just keep a screen-cleaning kit handy for dealing with fingerprints.
Picking the right size screen for your all-in-one computer is a big decision – one that you can’t go back on or leave for a later upgrade! All-in-one computer screen sizes range from 21” to 34”, although 24” is the most common. As you’re deciding what size to go with, think about your own space and your most typical computer tasks. Do you have enough room on your desk for a 34” screen? Will 24” be enough for your everyday applications?
Most all-in-one computers generate a lot of heat. Be certain to place your all-in-one computer somewhere with enough proper ventilation.
No computer-buying experience is complete without asking the age-old question, “Would you like a Mac or a PC?” Nowadays, the choice has more to do with your personal preference than it does with functionality. Macs and PCs can perform the same tasks, albeit in very different ways, so in this context, it makes more sense to consider your own circumstances and taste.
Give some thought to whether the apps you use most are available exclusively on either Windows or Mac. Also, consider whether your other devices, such as smart watches and gaming consoles, integrate better with one operating system or the other.
While the iMac is often cited as Apple’s first all-in-one computer, the original Apple Macintosh from 1984 was their first computer with a built-in monitor.
It’s easy to get sticker shock when shopping for all-in-one computers, especially when the prices can be double or triple the cost of a traditional desktop computer. But size comes at a premium. All-in-one computers are essentially laptop components built into a monitor, so pricing is better aligned with high-end laptops. When you consider everything that’s included (a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers), many all-in-one computers are an unexpected bargain.
Most all-in-one computers have webcams built into their monitors. If you’re concerned about privacy, webcam covers are an easy, inexpensive way to keep yourself safe.
Most all-in-one computers were not made to be upgraded or modified at all, so it’s important to pick one that’s adequate for both the present and the future. When it comes to future-proofing your machine, there are three main components worth investing in.
The CPU: Your computer’s Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the heart of it all, so be sure you have one that’s up to the task. When checking out specific models, look at what generation of CPU is inside (e.g., 7th-generation Intel i7), and determine if that generation is reasonably current. (Avoid CPU iterations that are more than two years old.)
RAM: Your computer’s Random Access Memory (RAM) strongly influences its ability to run multiple tasks simultaneously. Most all-in-one computers have models available with more RAM than the base model, and those are a worthy upgrade.
Most all-in-one computers cannot be upgraded, so be certain to invest in a model that has the right features to last you for at least three years. In particular, buy a model with as much RAM as you can afford.
When you’re comparing all-in-one computers, keep the following tips in mind.
You may not need a “cutting-edge” model. Your choice of computer should depend more upon how you’ll be using it than whether it has the latest, greatest technical specifications. If you plan to use the computer for processor- and RAM-intensive tasks like video editing, gaming, or graphic design, get the best computer you can afford. If you plan to use it mainly for web browsing, email, documents, and the occasional movie, a more basic model would likely suffice.
Make a plan for any mobile computer needs. All-in-one computers do a lot of things well, but traveling is not one of them. If you need access to your files when you’re away from your computer, consider signing up for a cloud hosting service. If you frequently need a change of scenery while you work, consider a laptop instead – because you can’t take an all-in-one computer to your local coffee shop.
Determine how many USB ports you’ll need. Tabulate the number of accessories and gadgets you’ll need to connect to your computer via USB; your printer, phone, smart watch, and even your portable flash drives will all need ports of their own. If your all-in-one computer doesn’t have enough available USB ports, consider buying a separate USB hub.
Q. Can I add a second monitor to an all-in-one computer?
A. Most, but not all, AIO computers have ports for connecting a second monitor. If you absolutely must have a two-monitor setup, make sure the all-in-one computer you buy has an HDMI or DisplayPort video port.
The type of hard drive inside an all-in-one computer has a significant impact on its performance. Solid state drives (SSDs) are significantly faster and more durable than traditional platter-based hard drives.
Q. Will I need to buy separate speakers?
A. Most all-in-one computers come with built-in speakers which are adequate for video conferencing and the occasional YouTube video. If you’re going to be doing any critical listening on a regular basis, you’ll want to opt for a separate set of speakers or headphones.
Q. Can I use an all-in-one computer for gaming?
A. Yes, but don’t expect miracles. Computers rely heavily on their video cards to render intense graphics with high motion, and most all-in-one computers come with video cards better-suited for casual use. Gaming is still a possibility on an all-in-one computer, but keep your expectations realistic; think more along the lines of Candy Crush than Call of Duty.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.