It wasn’t so long ago that 10-key calculators and instant messenger were the most exciting things happening to technology. But nowadays, tech moves fast — new computer segments are born and buried quicker with each passing year. Don’t let that scare you away from the good ole desktop, though. All-in-ones have more to offer than ever: effective touchscreens with the UI to back them up (Windows 8), high-def displays that can easily double as TV screens (thanks to HDMI and built-in TV tuners), and slimmer profiles for fitting just about anywhere.
Sure, it’s tough explaining to grandma where to put the floppy disc, but we’ll leave that to you. Before choosing which one is right for you, though, figure out just what it is you need. Whether that means sexy looks, entertainment nirvana or a gamer’s sweaty-palmed fantasy, our five picks for the best all-in-one desktops are awaiting below to help out.
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Best Turnkey All-In-One Desktop: Ah yes, we start here. The ubiquitous Apple needs little introduction. Don’t be fooled by its beautiful, 5mm-thin tapered edges and mind-bending looks, though. There’s still plenty of power available to pay for. An available 2560 x 1440 panel in the 27-inch version is matched only by the Dell XPS ONE 27 in the PC space and also drastically cuts glare; up to a 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 means serious workhorse performance — as does an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. A 3TB “Fusion Drive” combines the speed of an SSD with the space of a traditional platter, and there’s even a whopping 32GB of RAM if you’re really looking to fly. It’s not optimized for touch; then again, Apple’s desktop OS isn’t currently either. The bottom line: this beauty is the beast.
Dell XPZ One 27-inch
Best Windows 8 All-In-One Desktop: Dell does a lot of things right with their XPZ One 27-inch. Its gorgeous 2560 x 1440 display is easily the best of the PC bunch, packing the highest resolution of any Windows 8 machine on the market while also boasting great touch sensitivity. Re-positioning the stand to suit typing or swiping moods is also remarkably easy. Thanks to HDMI in and out ports, buyers can take advantage of the screen as a television for gaming or movies (a Blu-ray drive comes standard) as well, granted you’re willing to let this aircraft carrier outside of your home office.
Power-wise, options like 3.90 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, up to 16GB of Ram, a 2TB 7200RPM HD with 30GB of solid state cache and GeForce GT 640M graphics will handle everything save the most epic FPSs, while the little things like privacy shutter on the webcam and flush ports show just how much Dell’s upped their design. If you’ve got money to burn and still say “I’m a PC”, look no further.
Sony Vaio L
Best All-in-One Desktop for the Entertainment Junkie: Considering who makes it, we’re not surprised that the Sony Vaio L excels in the home entertainment realm — particularly in smaller rooms. A 1080p, 24-inch display isn’t the best of brightest of the bunch, but options like a 3D touch panel and Blu-ray burner will be appealing upgrades to some.
Of course, specs like a 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M graphics a 5400 RPM 3TB HD and 16GB of RAM won’t break speed records. Microsoft office, Chrome and
Minesweeper Angry Birds Space should run just dandy, though. Strangely, there’s also a FireWire 400 port, apparently included solely for dwindling diehards.
Vizio All-In-One For Windows 8
Best All-In-One Desktop for the Design Conscious: Nope, it’s not made by Apple. But that won’t stop the Vizio All-In-One for Windows 8 from turning heads like the best Cupertino stallion. This familiar yet stunning design is complemented by a 1080p display that’ll handle HD in stride, though it’s more than a few pixels short of a party compared to other 27-inch offerings (if you go with the big boy option). You’ll still likely mistake it for a TV from time to time, especially since it ships with a handy remote.
Like every rose, however, the thorns on the Vizio poke through in the form of a clunky keyboard and a touchpad that might be better replaced with third party options. The entry-level 24-inch model is priced as a steal — we recommend it as a great starter PC — but for anyone interested in performance, we’d strongly advise shelling out for the 2.4GHz Core i7-3630QM CPU, 8GB of memory, 1TB of storage, a 32GB solid state cache, and Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE graphics, which is still a bargain given other price points in this list.
Lenovo Ideacentre A720
Best All-in-One for the Down-to-Business Type: The pictures for the Lenovo Ideacentre A720 would have you believe that you’ll be flicking and swiping away at this thing like Valery Gergiev conducting the Vienna Philharmonic through Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. We beg to differ. We’ll praise Lenovo for their solid aluminum construction, which is certainly best in this segment outside of the iMac. However, the Ideacentre’s tune falls flat with unresponsive touch screen issues and annoying color temperatures that are always on the “cool” side of things. Her saving grace is a flexible arm that allows the PC to fold in a variety of directions even flat; it also runs cool and quiet in almost any computing scenario. Entertainment-oriented goodies — like a built-in TV-tuner, HDMI in and out, a Blu-ray combo drive and integrated stereo speakers supporting Dolby Home Theater v4 — don’t hurt, either.
Bonus: HP Z1 Workstation
Best All-In-One Desktop for Enterprising Futurists: Bringing up the rear is HP’s Z1 Workstation. HP loses points for nearly everything, including the big-black-box aesthetics and a lack of touchscreen. Yet what this relative dinosaur lacks in poise is made up for in power through an innovative design that lets users easily crack open the chassis to make upgrades at will. You won’t find that kind of foresight from any other company in the business of selling new computers to costumers every 24 months. To be fair, this machine is also really aimed at the enterprise market still clinging on to Windows
XP 7 like a fast-dripping snow cone in hell; in that area it shines far brighter than its Vader-like looks let on. But if you’re looking for a family-friendly rig that’ll play just as hard as it punches, look elsewhere.