All-in-ones have more to offer than ever: effective touchscreens with the UI to back them up (Windows 10, Apple OS X), 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. 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 await below.
Additional contributions by Michael Finn
Best Overall All-in-One: The haters and naysayers want you to believe that the iMac, however pretty and shiny it may look, lacks fundamental computing power. They’re wrong. If you use a computer primarily for everyday tasks like checking email, surfing the internet, watching videos, running basic programs and so on, a base-level iMac has everything you need: 21.5-inch screen, 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB solid-state drive, wireless keyboard, mouse and the latest Apple OS — not to mention it looks great wherever it’s placed. If you need more power, for a few hundred extra bucks you can upgrade to a 27-inch, 5K resolution screen, 3.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, an additional TB of drive space and up to 32GB of RAM.
ASUS Zen AiO Pro
Best iMac Alternative: If you like the iMac’s clean design, but aren’t so charmed by its price tag or by OS X, consider the ASUS Zen AiO Pro. With a gold brushed-aluminum body and seamlessly integrated stand, it is unmistakably Apple-esque. As for its brains, there’s a 2.2GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 1TB solid-state drive, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950M graphics card and, like the iMac, the Zen Pro can also be upgraded for more speed and power. It’s not a total copycat, though: its 23.8-inch screen is touch-enabled, its front-facing camera can interpret hand gestures and scan 3D objects. Can your Mac do that?
Lenovo Yoga Home 900
Best for Families: A “home computer,” for most families, usually remains tied down by cords in one central location, and is usable by only one family member at a time — but not the Lenovo Yoga Home 900. Think of it as a giant, high-powered touchscreen tablet with a kickstand. Wirelessly pairable with speakers, a keyboard and a mouse, it’s right at home on a desk, like any other standard desktop computer; unplugged, it can be used for up to three hours anywhere in the house, and its enormous 27-inch screen means it can easily be shared by more than one person at time. So, it’s a great “family” computer, but that doesn’t mean it skimps on computing power: it boasts an Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA 940A 2 GB DDR3 graphics card, eight gigs of RAM and a 500GB solid-state drive.
ASUS Aspire AZ1
Best Budget-Friendly Option: It won’t be able to handle feature-level film editing or run a VR setup, but if your needs are basic (emails, light internet use, file storage) the Acer Aspire AZ1 could be all you need. It has a modest Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB drive and 21.5-inch screen. Nothing fancy, but still reliable for the simple stuff.
Maingear Alpha 34
Best for Gamers: The Maingear Alpha 34 shatters any notion that all hardcore gaming rigs should consist of a separate tower and monitor combos. Rivaling the performance of just about any serious gaming tower on the market, it’s able to fit multiple top-shelf graphics cards, comes standard with an overclock-ready Intel i7 processor, RAM can be maxed out to 32GB and, to play on every PC gamer’s fantasy, it utilizes water cooling. On top of all that, its whopping 34-inch screen comes damn close to 4K resolution. Unfortunately, hardcore gamers will have to wait a few months to get their hands on it: right now it’s only available for pre-order, and is set to release October 2016.