What is an all-in-one computer?

Laptop Computers

An all-in-one basically is a laptop with a large display dedicated for your desk and always plugged in.

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An affordable, modern, space-saving desktop

An all-in-one computer (AiO) is true to its name. Every component of the PC is compactly fitted into the monitor, which frees up desk space and ensures a sleek, minimalist design. AiO computers have been around since HP first released the 9830 in 1972. Computing has come a long way since then, but HP’s AiO computers still have an edge. If you’re looking for the best all-in-one PC, try out the HP Envy AiO PC.

All-in-ones are perfect office computers because of their compact sizes, affordability and look. If you need to purchase a fleet of computers for your business, AiOs provide the most cost-effective professional solution. It is much cheaper to buy individual parts and put the computers together yourself, but that’s not always an effective use of time, and you’d have PCs with monitors and towers that clutter up everything.

Besides being cheap and easy to look at, an AiO is a simple PC. Setup is a breeze—just connect the keyboard and plug in the monitor. For people who are more used to Macs than PCs, it’s extremely user-friendly. There’s nothing to put together and only a few wires.

All-in-one computer pros

An all-in-one basically is a laptop with a large display dedicated for your desk and always plugged in. Whether you’re taking care of some paperwork in your home office or your employees are working on a project together, AiO PCs maximize productivity. They aren’t very powerful because they’re so streamlined, with manufacturers having to make sacrifices to fit all the necessary components into the monitor.

However, that means there’s less temptation to play games or slack off during work hours. Besides that, AiOs tend to have stronger processors, meaning you’ll be able to take care of more tasks at once without your CPU slowing down. That reliability and focus on form and function is a great help on days when you have a lot to do. With the large wide-screen display and high-definition camera, it’s a great tool for video conferences.

If you have a family with young children, an AiO makes a lot of sense because it will be difficult to break while doing everything you need it to, such as storing photos, watching movies or listening to music. Plus, these screens normally range from 24 to 32 inches, making it possible to watch movies from the other side of the room. People living in a studio apartment without much space could make a lot of use out of that.

All-in-one computer cons

It’s a brilliant idea to save space by placing all of the computer’s components inside a slim monitor, but the design has its tradeoffs. To fit everything into an AiO, manufacturers leave out key components that provide performance in other PCs. AiOs also have an issue with heat, because everything is together in a tight space and air has a hard time circulating within the machine, which can impact how tasks are performed, or even make the machine crash if you’ve worked it too hard.

The physical size of the unit impedes your ability to upgrade it as well. The key advantage of owning a PC is that once you have it, it’s highly modular and easy to upgrade so it competes with other modern computers for years to come. That’s just not the case with an all-in-one. If you feel the computer doesn’t have enough hard-drive space or power, you will have to buy a new system instead of just the parts you need.

Best all-in-one computers

HP Envy All-in-One Desktop

HP Envy All-in-One Desktop

The Envy has a 31.5 -inch display, Intel i7 processor, 16 GB RAM and a TB of storage. As far as AiO machines go, this one is ahead of the pack. It runs a bit more expensive than most all-in-one computers, but it has the performance of a standard tower PC. It even has an Nvidia GeForce GP, which means you’ll even be able to play some graphics-intensive games.

Sold by Amazon and HP

Acer Aspire AiO Computer

Acer Aspire AiO Computer

The Aspire’s super-thin design is complemented by its crystal-clear display, making it look like a window into another world. It’s edge-to-edge backlit, meaning you’ll never have to worry about glare or blurry images. The PC has an Intel i5 processor and Nvidia GeForce graphics, so it has good power and versatility for an all-in-one.

Sold by Amazon

Dell Inspiron 7700

Dell Inspiron 7700

This strong AiO runs an Intel i7 processor and Intel Iris graphics, meaning you won’t use this for games as much as you will for work-related projects and media such as movies, video and music. What sets the Inspiron apart is its touch screen and built-in soundbar. The Inspiron offers the ease of convenience of touch-screen navigation, making it easy for children and adults to use.

Sold by Amazon

Lenovo IdeaCentre AIO

Lenovo IdeaCentre AIO

The IdeaCentre is an AIO that can do it all. It has an AMD processor and graphics card, meaning it’s capable of playing games. It balances on a super-thin yet stable stand with integrated cable management and has a sliding-shutter camera for added privacy.

Sold by Amazon


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Sam Bramlett writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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