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There’s no denying the fact that laptops and desktops are arguably the two most popular form factors that you can get a personal computer (PC) in. While the former offers the convenience of being portable, the latter is often preferred by users who want a more powerful machine that can be used in a fixed home/office setting. But what if you want something of an “in-between”? Well in that case, you should go for an “All-In-One” PC.
Essentially, an All-In-One (AIO) is a personal computer that offers some benefits of a traditional desktop PC (e.g. large display, expandable hardware), while also including a few advantages (e.g. minimal overall footprint, minimal wire clutter, easy portability) that are typically associated with laptops.
As exciting as it is though, choosing an AIO is no cakewalk since there are dozens of them out there with all kinds of hardware/software configurations. To make things easier for you, we’ve rounded up some of the best all-in-one PCs currently available in the market.
Great overall performance
Amazing hardware-software integration
Windows users might not feel at home
Powerful and feature-loaded in equal measure, Apple’s newest iMac is definitely the best all-in-one PC you can buy today. It’s built around a gorgeous 21.5-inch 5K “Retina” display that sports a resolution of 5120x2880 pixels and supports a billion colors. Powering the machine is Intel’s ninth-generation Core i9 processor, paired with 32GB of DDR4 RAM.
Our recommended configuration also comes with a 1TB SSD, which should be more than enough for all your documents and other digital files. For handling games and other resource-intensive tasks, there’s AMD’s Radeon Pro 580X GPU with 8GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory. As far as connectivity and I/O options are concerned, the iMac includes four USB 3.0 (Type-A) ports, two Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C, with additional support for DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, and VGA via adapters) ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a 3.5mm audio port, and an SDXC card slot. Among other notable features are Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, stereo speakers, as well as an integrated “FaceTime” HD webcam.
Has dedicated GPU for gaming
Depth sensing camera and five-degree tilt
Some quality control issues
While Lenovo’s IdeaCentre 700 may be a great all-in-one computer, it’s an equally great gaming computer. There’s plenty of power to offer with a 6th generation intel Core i5 2.7GHz processor and the inclusion of a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950A GDDR5 graphic card. Throw in 8GB of RAM, 1TB of hard drive space plus an 8GB SSD drive and you’ve got a ready-made gaming machine that won’t break the bank. Not to mention, the 23.8-inch ultra-high definition 2840 x 3160 LED-backlit LCD allows for an immersive experience. At 19 pounds, Lenovo has crammed in outstanding gaming credentials for a price tag that’s likely to cause sticker shock (and in a good way).
Lenovo also purposefully built the 700 to be upgrade-friendly, with RAM expandable to 16GB (and you're also able to update the storage and graphics card down the road). The computer also features a depth-sensing RealSense camera, stereo speakers and a five-degree tilt forward or a 25-degree backward tilt. With a computer of these capabilities, you'll understand why the desktop PC isn't dead.
1080p edge-to-edge display
Includes HD camera for conferencing
Supports Google Android apps
Not much internal storage
While Windows 10 and Apple’s Mac certainly rule the roost, Google’s Chrome OS isn’t lying down and, with the addition of Android apps earlier this year, the platform is ramping up to be a true contender. Released in mid-2016, Acer’s Chromebase offers a change of pace from the software you’ve known for years with something that’s arguably far easier to learn and perfect for both new and older computer users. Based on Google’s Chrome browser, the Chromebase is powered by an Intel Celeron 3215U processor, 4GB of RAM and a 16GB SSD. Unlike Windows and Mac, the Chromebase strength is in the cloud, so the lack of hard drive memory is rarely a concern.
The 1920 x 1080 23.8-inch Full HD edge-to-edge display offers 10-point touch and a variety of ports on the rear, including USB 3.0. The included HD conferencing camera helps Acer position the Chromecase as perfect for the boardroom or the home with video options like Google+ and, ultimately, Skype through the inclusion of Google’s Android apps. The two stereo speakers provide more than enough volume to be heard on a conference call, as well as play movies or YouTube clips without missing a beat, while the four microphones make sure the other side hears you just as clearly. Ultimately, the Chromebase provides an interesting conundrum. Can you do your work or personal stuff in a browser? For some, the lack of dedicated apps like they’ve grown accustomed to on Windows or Apple’s hardware for years will be hard to give up, but for others, the simplistic approach with just a browser to rely on may be enough to do everything they need without spending a fortune.
IR camera with privacy protection
Low internal storage
Computers today are no longer just essential tools, they’ve become lifestyle accessories. As such, it’s only fitting that they look just as good as they perform, a case in point being Lenovo’s IdeaCentre A540. With its design inspired by the cypress tree, this stunning all-in-one PC features a 27-inch WQHD touch-screen display with a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The machine’s two-part construction involves the panel and the base (both having a mineral-gray finish), which are connected using a pipe-like stand (with a copper-gold finish) that further accentuates the overall aesthetic appeal.
Our recommended configuration comes with Intel’s ninth-generation Core i5 processor, coupled with 12GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256GB SSD. The base’s top doubles up as a Qi wireless charging mat, allowing you to conveniently juice up your (compatible) smartphone’s battery while you work. The IdeaCentre A540 is big on audio too, featuring two tweeters (each with a 3-watt power output) and a 5-watt subwoofer. There are Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 for wireless connectivity, and I/O options include four USB Type-A ports, a USB Type-C port, two HDMI ports (one In and one Out), an Ethernet port, a 3.5mm combo audio port, and a 3-in-1 SD card reader.
Slim, elegant design
Built-in wireless charging pad
Not powerful enough for intensive tasks
All-in-one PCs are expected to fulfill a wide variety of computing needs, both personal and professional, and the Acer Aspire S24 aims to meet these expectations with an everyday computer wrapped in an ultra-slim, elegant package. Running on an Intel Core i5-825OU, it contains 12 GB of RAM, UHD 620 graphics, full HD resolution, and a wireless keyboard and mouse. The built-in Qi wireless charging pad allows you to power up your devices with little effort.
The screen’s in-plan switching technology will reduce the glare of ambient light and offer wide viewing angles, though 4K and touchscreen options are not available. Instead, expect features including Flickerless, which cuts down on screen flicker, and the Bluelight Shield, which reduces blue light at night that can interfere with sleep. The stylish black-and-matte-gold display can be tilted between -5 and 25 degrees. Bear in mind that this is not the computer for someone seeking a powerhouse: the hard drive might be spacious, but it can be sluggish when running apps.
Immersive audio output
Somewhat pricey (considering the spec sheet)
If you’re looking for a solid all-in-one PC that you (and your business) can rely upon, we suggest checking out HP’s Pavilion 24. Featuring an elegant and no-nonsense design, it’s built around a 23.8-inch Full-HD touch-enabled display having a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. The machine is powered by AMD’s Ryzen 5 2600H processor, paired with 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 2TB SATA HDD. You also get an integrated Radeon Vega 8 GPU, which is more than capable of handling (some) resource-heavy tasks.
The machine’s built-in dual speakers (tuned by B&O) deliver a rich audio output, and there’s also a Full-HD pop-up webcam and dual-microphone setup included in the mix. Speaking of connectivity and I/O options, the Pavilion 24 includes two HDMI ports (one In and one Out), three USB Type-A ports, two USB Type-C ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a 3.5mm combo audio port, in addition to Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi 802.11ac. Running Windows 10 Home out of the box, the PC ships with a wireless keyboard and an optical mouse.
Ability to drive multiple high-res external displays
Apple’s products have never been known to be affordable, but the latest iMac Pro really takes things to the next level. If you simply want a powerhouse all-in-one PC and money is absolutely no object, we have no qualms recommending this one. Its 21.5-inch 5K “Retina” display is a sight to behold, boasting a resolution of 5120x2880 pixels and support for a billion colors (over the P3 color gamut).
The machine’s beastly spec sheet includes a server-grade ninth-generation Intel Xeon W CPU, 32GB of DDR4 ECC RAM, and a 1TB SSD. Also included in the package is AMD’s Radeon Pro Vega 56 GPU with 8GB of HBM2 memory, which allows the iMac Pro to make quick work of even the most-demanding of computing tasks with little effort.
There are a plethora of I/O options on offer, including four USB 3.0 (Type-A) ports, four Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C, with support for DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI, DVI, and VGA via adapters) ports, a 3.5mm audio port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and an SDXC card slot. You also get Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0, stereo speakers, a four-microphone array, and built-in 1080p “FaceTime” HD webcam. And of course, all this goodness comes packed in a gorgeous aluminum chassis that looks even better in its “Space Gray” finish.
All major connectivity options included
Somewhat dated hardware
If you're the kind of person who likes to watch a lot of movies and TV shows on their computer, Dell's XPS 27-7760 is the perfect All-In-One PC for you. It sports a gorgeous 27-inch 4K display with a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels and a 16:9 aspect ratio. The panel covers 100 percent of Adobe RGB color space, resulting in lifelike visuals and accurate colors at all times. However, the true star of the show is the machine's ten-speaker sound system, comprising two tweeters, four full-range drivers, two passive radiators, and two down-firing full-range speakers.
Designed in collaboration with Grammy-winning producer Jack Joseph Puig, it delivers a sound output that you have to hear to believe. The Dell XPS 27-7760 is powered by Intel's sixth-generation Core i7-6700 processor, paired with 16GB of RAM and a 2TB HDD. It also gets AMD's Radeon R9 M470X GPU with 4GB of DDR5 memory for handling games and resource-heavy tasks. There's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for wireless connectivity, while I/O ports include USB (Type-A and Type-C), HDMI, DisplayPort, 3.5mm audio, and Gigabit Ethernet.
When it comes to choosing an all-in-one PC (or anything other gadget, for that matter!), there really can’t be a “one size fits all” solution, since everyone has a different set of requirements. However, even though every single one of the above-detailed options is great in its own right, our vote goes to Apple’s iMac. Why? Simply because it offers a well-balanced and powerful computing experience out of the box, one that’s enhanced further with the excellent hardware-software cohesiveness. It’s true that it comes with macOS and not Windows, but that’s a minor issue (if it can even be called that!) that can be easily rectified using Apple’s own “Boot Camp” utility.
Our expert reviewers and editors evaluate AIO PCs based on design, performance, specs, functionality, and features. We test their real-life performance in actual use cases, including lightweight productivity like browsing and multitasking, to more computationally intense loads like high-resolution gaming or video editing/rendering. Our testers also consider each AIO as a value proposition—whether or not a product justifies its price tag, and how it compares to competitive products. All of the models we reviewed were purchased by Lifewire; none of the review units were furnished by the manufacturer or retailer.
Ajay Kumar is Tech Editor at Lifewire. With over seven years in the industry, he's previously been published on PCMag and Newsweek. He's reviewed thousands of products over the course of his career, including PCs, laptops, 2-in-1's, phones, and other devices. He likes the 5K iMac for its great high-resolution screen and uses for both productivity and video/photo editing.
Alice Newcome-Beill is Associate Commerce Editor at Lifewire. She's previously been published on PCMag, PC Gamer, and GamesRadar, so she's intimately familiar with desktop computers in all their iterations. She liked the Dell Inspiron for its affordable price and ability to use for desk check-in.
A technology journalist with over six years (and counting) of experience, Rajat Sharma has tested out numerous PCs and laptops having all kinds of hardware configurations. He also has quite a bit of experience in taking computers apart and putting them back together.
Screen size - With regular desktop PCs, you can just buy a new monitor if you need more screen real estate. The convenience of all-in-one PCs is a double edged sword, since you’re stuck with the size you choose. Make sure that the screen you get is big enough and has a high enough resolution.
Touch input - In addition to a mouse and keyboard, some all-in-one PCs also have touchscreens. This is a great option to look for if you prefer a touch interface, but it can also allow your PC to double as a drawing tablet if you’re a creative type. Some all-in-ones are even designed from the ground up for this purpose.
Connectivity - Since upgrading an all-in-one is usually difficult or impossible, it’s important to make sure that it has all of the ports and other connectivity you’ll ever need. Choose one with WiFi if connecting to your router via ethernet isn’t an option. Look for one with HDMI ports if you want to connect a second monitor, and don’t forget about USB ports, card readers, headphone jacks, or anything else you might want to connect to your all-in-one in the future.