Jul 10 2013 - All-in-one PCs provide consumers with a single stop solution for those looking for a personal computer to be used in a home environment without the need of a separate case and display. This can reduce cable clutter and also enable the use of a computer in a much smaller space. Windows 8 has caused a major shift in the design of them as well. Here are my selections for the best all-in-one desktop personal computers for different applications and budgets based upon my research and experience.
With the introduction of Windows 8, all of the various companies are rushing to put out touchscreen based systems. The problem is that they now offer roughly the same level of features as one another. HP once dominated this segment but it lacks the software advantage it once had. Instead it gains an edge by offering just a bit more than others at its price point. This includes a faster quad core processor and dedicated graphics while most rely on integrated ones. Prices range from $1100 on up. A suitable alternative for those that don't necessarily want the dedicated graphics is the Dell Inspiron One 23 that has roughly the same price and features minus the graphics.
Prices in the past have gone down for all-in-ones but they are heading back up thanks to the release of Windows 8 and the push for touchscreen systems. One of the more affordable options of these is the Acer Aspire AZS600-UR308 at $900. There is a fair amount of competition but Acer edges them out in terms of a responsive touchscreen and having an HDMI input for use with external cable or satellite tuners, game consoles or Blu-ray players that its competition lacks. It does feature just 4GB of memory but this is simple and relatively inexpensive to upgrade. If you happen to want something a bit more affordable and don't need a touchscreen, the Avatar Apollo AIO i5 comes with a quad core processor and more RAM for just $800.
Most all-in-one systems use screens of roughly 24-inches but there are a number of larger screen models. Of these, the Dell XPS One 27 offers an exceptional value and some great performance. The 27-inch touchscreen display offers a very high 2560x1440 resolution and some amazing color. Performance is solid with a new 4th generation quad core Core i7 processor, 8GB of memory and even dedicated graphics processor. The only real downside is that the configuration is over $2000. Less performance oriented models are available as low as $1600 but still use the same amazing display. An alternative is the Apple iMac 27-inch which is a bit slimmer and more stylish and sacrifices a bit of general performance in the form of a Core i5 processor for better graphics. It starts under $2000 but can climb quickly with features like the Fusion drive.
Hybrid all-in-one PCs are a new class of system. They essentially are marketed as desktop systems but they have the ability to be unplugged and taken elsewhere in the house to run off of batteries. They sacrifice performance for portability but they appeal to those that might share a PC to play games, watch movies or just want to move it around the house. The Dell XPS 18 is the best option because it essentially is an 18.4-inch tablet system that measures just half an inch thick and weighs only five pounds. Performance wise, it is similar to many ultrabooks on the market which is sufficient for many users. Priced around $1350. An alternative for those that want a larger screen is the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon with its 27-inch display that makes it better for sharing with four people but it is quite heavy and more expensive.
With the release of Windows 8, most of the all-in-one market has shifted to being produced with touchscreens unless they are designed to be extremely affordable. The result is few Windows based all-in-ones with well rounded features that don't have a touchscreen. Apple's iMac is still a dominant all-in-one system that is only really hampered by its price of $1300. This is pretty high but Apple offers a good set of features including a quad core processor and one of the best displays in the class. It even features dedicated graphics that most fail to include. It runs the Mac OS X operating system which is actually easier for many people to learn than Windows 8. Apple even now offers the Fusion drive acceleration for an extra $250 which is failed to do at release.