Which all-in-one computer is best?
All-in-one computers, or AIO computers, are a great alternative to the conventional desktop tower and all its accessories. Aside from a mouse and keyboard, all-in-one computers have all their components inside the monitor. This makes them useful for those who need to reduce the space used and eliminate extra wires.
If you want to create a professional workspace, or even if you simply want a nice family computer designed to meet your needs, check out the HP Envy All-in-One PC. It has a fast processor, superior graphics and crisp resolution.
What to know before you buy an all-in-one computer
Monitor screen size and type
When considering screen size, most all-in-one computers either have a traditional monitor or an ultra wide monitor. Traditional monitors offer the same 16:9 aspect ratio as a modern TV. They are ideal for casual users or those with a smaller budget.
Ultra wide monitors offer an elongated screen. They are roughly double the size of their traditional counterparts. These monitors are best for more serious users or those who need to view multiple internet tabs or documents at the same time.
There are also curved or flat screens. Curved screens provide a more immersive experience by matching the natural curvature of the human eye. However, the curved nature of these screens makes it difficult to see the screen when viewing it from an angle. For this reason, many people prefer flat screens.
Resolution and refresh rate
Most modern machines have a resolution of 1080p (1920×1080). However, 4K is common in higher-end computers. These computers also come with their own refresh rate, which is how fast the screen itself updates when displaying anything. This is especially important if you intend to use the computer primarily for videos or fast-paced gaming. The average all-in-one computer has a refresh rate of 60Hz.
Windows vs. Mac
The two most popular operating systems are Windows and Mac. Just like with traditional desktops and laptops, most all-in-one computers use either a Mac or Windows operating system.
Ultimately, both operating systems perform the same functions. They may, however, function in different ways. Before choosing an operating system, consider your own preference. If, for example, you already use Apple products like an iPhone, a Mac may be the best option for you. With that, consider if you plan to connect other devices like gaming consoles or smart devices to the AIO. If you do, choose the operating system that matches your other devices.
Like desktops, all-in-one computers need a few accessories to function properly. The most common accessories are a keyboard and a mouse. Some AIO computers are touch-screen enabled and may include software for a digital keyboard. Even then, if you prefer to physically type, you’ll still need a separate keyboard.
Some keyboards and mice are wireless, while others are wired. Wireless options are ideal if you have a large desk or prefer some distance or freedom from the main monitor. However, wired options are better if you’re operating more intensive software or playing computer games with heavy graphics.
You may also need things like an external webcam, a keyboard tray or external computer speakers. The speakers are especially useful if you want to play audio, since most all-in-one computers don’t come with high-quality speakers.
What to look for in a quality all-in-one computer
The central processing unit (CPU) is one of the most important aspects of any computer. This is what allows you to do various tasks, such as video editing, online research, recording and playing games. The two major brands to consider are AMD and Intel. As technology changes and companies adapt, the CPU changes regularly, which is why there are multiple generations, like the i7 or AMD Ryzen 9 5950X. In general, the newer the CPU, the better the computer’s performance.
There are two main types of graphics cards: dedicated and integrated.
Integrated graphics cards: These graphics cards are built directly into the processor or CPU. They use the system’s memory to display images on the screen. Most modern integrated graphics cards are sufficient if you want to play casual games.
Dedicated graphics cards: These are separate from the CPU and offer optimal performance. This makes them ideal for gaming and intensive software like AutoCAD or other digital modeling programs. These are usually more expensive, but they provide higher performance on average than integrated graphics cards.
If you plan on storing a lot of pictures, documents, videos or games on the computer, you need enough storage space. Most all-in-one computers come with a hard disk drive or a solid state drive. Some machines come with both.
HDDs usually cost less and come with more space (up to 2TB) than SDDs. However, computers that have an SSD often have faster load and save times. Many all-in-ones come with 128GB or 256GB of SSD.
For dedicated gamers or those who need a program to run ultra smoothly, an SSD is a must. But those who save bulk items like Word documents or images usually do just fine with an HDD.
Some computers come with both options or have the choice for future upgrades. All-in-one computers, however, may be difficult to upgrade, so make sure you get a machine with enough storage space for your needs. If necessary, you may also be able to get an external HDD or SSD that plugs into the computer through a USB port.
RAM, or random access memory, primarily works with the CPU. Simply put, RAM is the ability to perform various tasks at the same time efficiently. In general, the more RAM you have, the better the computer’s overall performance.
Most computers come with 8GB or 16GB of RAM. Keep in mind, however, that you need a strong CPU to go along with the higher amount of RAM for optimal performance. The best computers have a good processor and at least 8GB of RAM.
All-in-one computers usually come with a couple of USB ports, which you need for connecting the computer to other smart devices or equipment. Consider how many ports you need and make sure the AIO has enough. If it doesn’t have enough, you may need to get a USB hub.
How much you can expect to spend on an all-in-one computer
For entry-level models without a strong graphics card, expect to spend between $700 and $800. If you plan on doing graphically intense tasks and need a strong CPU, you may spend between $1,500 to $2,000.
All-in-one computer FAQ
Can I upgrade an all-in-one computer after purchase?
A. In short, no. Just like laptops, most AIO computers are built in a very specific fashion and don’t offer additional slots or ways to upgrade them later. You may be able to get external storage for an AIO, but if you want something upgradable, consider a desktop instead.
How is gaming on an all-in-one computer?
A. Most AIO computers don’t come with a dedicated graphics card. This can severely limit its gaming capability, especially if you want to play graphically intense games. If you only want to play casual games, however, the integrated graphics card in most AIOs should be enough.
What’s the best all-in-one computer to buy?
Top all-in-one computer
What you need to know: The all-in-one computer is ideal for gamers or those who run high-end, intensive programs.
What you’ll love: This 31.5-inch AIO comes with a 4K screen and dedicated NVIDIA GTA 1650, meaning it’s capable of playing high-intense games and software. It also has plenty of storage space with a 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD and 16GB of RAM. Plus, it has a 10th generation Intel Core i7-10700, which offers high performance and power.
What you should consider: The computer is heavy, which makes it tricky to transport. Plus, it’s on the pricier side. Some gaming laptops or desktops are more affordable for what they offer.
Where to buy: Sold by HP
Top all-in-one for the money
What you need to know: If you want a powerful workstation that comes with a wireless mouse and keyboard combo, then consider this highly capable all-in-one computer.
What you’ll love: With a powerful Intel i5 processor and 12GB of RAM, this computer is fast and efficient enough to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. The screen is full HD and is large enough for most users at 27 inches. This system also comes with Windows 10.
What you should consider: It’s not a touch-screen computer and doesn’t come with a built-in USB-C or Thunderbolt port.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This all-in-one computer is the perfect entry-level option with a strong processor that works well for work or general tasks.
What you’ll love: With a lot of storage space, 16GB of RAM and an AMD Ryzen 5 processor, you can easily perform any work-based task on this machine.
What you should consider: The base of this machine is not as stable as some other options.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.