An all-in-one PC as the name suggests is a PC which integrates all the usual components of a traditional PC into the chassis of a monitor. This minimalist design provides a number of advantages. It’s a great solution if you’re short of space and don’t need to move around from place to place. You get a PC, monitor, speakers (and sometimes wireless mouse and keyboard) in one single convenient package. Another advantage is there’s less cable clutter to mess up your desk as there are fewer physical devices that need to be plugged in and interconnected. This makes all-in-ones easier to set up as well; just plug the power lead in and switch on. Some all-in-ones come with touchscreen monitors and many are equipped with powerful components capable of rivalling most PCs in terms of performance levels.
If you’re thinking of buying an all-in-one computer, your consideration set will be similar to buying a conventional PC. Performance and capabilities will still be dictated by the combination of processor, RAM, graphics and storage (see our PC buying guide for a detailed explanation). There are also some things to weigh up that are specific to an all-in-one. Let’s look at these in more detail.
Arguably your most important consideration is the size and type of screen. All-in-one screen sizes vary from 19 inches up to 32 inches on high end models although most current models feature a 27 or 28 inch panel. The best all-in-ones will have 4K or even 5K resolution displays for the best picture quality available. If you’re planning to use the all-in-one for Photoshop or video editing, this will be a requirement but expect to pay more than a lower resolution, full HD all-in-one.
Do you need a touchscreen model? Some all-in-ones have touchscreens allowing you to tap, swipe or even sketch directly on the screen rather than using a mouse and keyboard but bear in mind that you’ll pay a premium for this functionality.
Ergonomics may also be important. All-in-ones come with a built-in stand that usually lets you adjust both the height and angle of the screen within certain parameters but manufacturers differ in the amount of adjustment control they provide. Check that any screen you have your eye on can be situated satisfactorily in your particular environment before you go ahead and purchase.
Chances are you will want to connect one or more peripherals and accessories to your all-in-one PC. Check the quantity, type and location of included ports to make sure you can plug in everything you need to conveniently. You’ll most likely need a few USB ports and USB-C ports are the fastest version for data transfers. Think about where the ports are in relation to where the devices you need to attach will be situated; ports that are difficult to reach are no good unless you reposition your entire setup.
Finally, a quick word about the drawbacks of buying an all-in-one PC. By design, you will have little scope to upgrade or expand the unit post purchase. They’re also more cumbersome to move around than a laptop of course but still more manoeuvrable than a traditional PC as there’s potentially just one cable to unplug and the chassis to lift and transport.