After years of using my laptop, I switched to an All-in-One PC and I absolutely love it. It has a nice big display, touch scree, and is very easy to take with me. I like these computer tips from tomshardware.com. Everything they say is very accurate in my opinion. They do a nice job of explaining SSD drives vs. HDD hard drives as well as doing a great job at breaking down the comparisons of Windows vs. mac computers. After the Windows 10 fail, I have seen a lot of consumers switching to Mac and I can’t say that I blame them.
With all of the considerations of a regular PC plus the unique aspects of all-in-one designs, there’s a lot to keep in mind when hunting for the right all-in-one. Use our advice to make sure you get the one that’s right for you, whether you need powerful components or a big, beautiful display.
- Hardware: Look for a system that has an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 CPU and at least 8GB of RAM.
- Storage: A dual-drive combination of 256GB solid-state drive and 1TB hard drive delivers performance without sacrificing capacity or costing an arm and a leg.
- Display: If you can get 4K resolution, go for it, but 27- and 28-inch displays offer the best balance of panel size and affordable price.
- Touch Screen: You’ll pay more for a touch-enabled display, so only get it if touch is on your must-have list.
- Design: If ergonomics are a concern, pay attention to what sort of stand a model has, since most of them don’t offer any sort of height adjustment.
- Operating System: Windows or Mac are both good choices, but stick to Windows if you want touch.
- Ports: You don’t just want lots of ports, you want them to be easy to reach, so pay attention to port placement.
- Sound: If audio quality is important, look for speakers – and lots of them.
- Price: All-in-One PCs run more expensive than regular desktops, but you can still get premium features without breaking the bank. You just need to be clear about what features are most important to you.
Components: Which Specs Matter?
An all-in-one PC is, first and foremost, a computer, and the components inside determine what sort of performance the system will give you.
Marketing materials may lavish praise on any number of features, but there are four main specifications to pay attention to when buying any computer — all-in-one or otherwise.
- Processor: While you can find all-in-one systems that use Intel Core i3 or Pentium CPUs, these are much less capable processors, and you’ll feel the limits of that performance much sooner. For most people, we recommend a current Intel Core i5 processor, which will offer plenty of performance for all your everyday uses and will continue to offer good support over the life of the computer. If you want more horsepower, stepping up to a Core i7 will offer plenty of power.
- RAM: Also called memory, RAM serves as the computer’s short-term storage for applications that are currently in use. A smaller allotment of RAM will limit your ability to multitask, even with a powerful processor. We recommend getting as much RAM as you can, but 8GB of RAM is enough to support most users in all of their computing needs. The good news is that RAM is relatively inexpensive, and it’s often one of the only parts of an all-in-one that can be upgraded by the user.
- Graphics: All the pretty visuals you see in games and videos require graphics processing. Most users can get by with integrated graphics, the graphics processing hardware that comes with your computer’s processor. It’s sufficient for the web browsing, office work and media streaming that make up the bulk of general computer use. However, if you want to play games or do more demanding, graphics-intensive work, you’ll want a system with a discrete graphics card.
- Storage: Finally, you’ll want something with a good size storage drive for all of your programs, files and family photos. The two big concerns with storage are capacity and speed. A 500GB hard drive will offer plenty of room for documents and photos, but a 1TB drive offers more room to accommodate video files and larger programs. A solid-state drive (SSD) will be faster than any hard drive, and you’ll feel the difference in your day to day use of the machine, but SSDs are more expensive for the same sort of capacity.
Many PC manufacturers offer dual-drive configurations that give you the performance benefits of an SSD with the affordable capacity of a spindle-based hard drive. But if not, more storage is better.
It’s also worth remembering that, unlike a traditional desktop PC, there are very few upgrade options available for all-in-one systems after purchase.
The compact design that fits all the computing hardware in with the display generally doesn’t allow user access to the internals, and no room to accommodate additional hardware.
As a result, even simple upgrades like adding a discrete graphics card or switching out a storage drive aren’t viable options on an all-in-one.
The one exception is that an all-in-one’s RAM often is accessible, and adding memory is a relatively inexpensive way to get a 2- or 3-year-old PC feeling new again.
Display: Size and Resolution
Most all-in-one systems have displays ranging in size from 20 inches on the small end to 32-inch displays on premium systems.
We’d avoid anything smaller than 23 inches, unless you’re trying to fit the all-in-one into a cramped cubicle or tiny apartment.
High-end 30- to 32-inch systems are nice if you can afford them, but are often cost-prohibitive. For our money, the sweet spot between spacious displays and reasonable pricing sits right at 27 or 28 inches.
While most displays come in only two resolutions, full HD (1920 x 1080) or 4K (3840 x 2160), a few all-in-one systems offer displays that exceed 4K resolution.
If you want to use the PC to view and edit 4K media, then a monitor with 4K (or better) resolution is a must-have.
In general, 4K resolution is what we recommend; as 4K streaming through services like Netflix and YouTube becomes more common, you’ll definitely want a display that can handle the best picture available.
However, if you’re looking for an opportunity to get an all-in-one PC for less, opting for a lower resolution display is one of the easiest ways to save money without sacrificing overall performance.
If you’ve grown accustomed to the tapping and swiping you do on your phone or tablet, and want that same intuitive interaction with your PC, an all-in-one with touch support is a great way to go.
On the other hand, if you know you don’t want a touch screen or are unlikely to use it, then there’s no sense paying for a feature you won’t benefit from.
But there’s more to the equation than touch or no touch. While most touch-enabled PCs support simultaneous input from all 10 fingers, some budget models may offer multitouch, but only support two points of contact. Others may rely on different touch-input technologies.
While capacitive touch is most common, and the technology we recommend, you may still find AIO desktops on the market that use other methods of touch sensing, from infrared light or sound to resistive touch sensors.
If you’re considering an option other than capacitive touch, take the time to find the system in a local store to try it yourself before purchase.
Finally, some all-in-one systems go beyond fingertip input and offer a stylus or pen. If you want to use your all-in-one for digital sketching and other media creation, then pen support might be a feature to look for.
Learn more about picking the right design for form and function. As well as Mac Vs. PC, and more below.