The best all-in-one computer
Those who like a clean look on a desk will appreciate the design of an all-in-one computer. Often shortened to AIO, the all-in-one PC has all of the computing components included inside the screen hardware.
Rather than having a separate tower case and display monitor, the AIO puts both units together. This saves desk space for you, while also reducing the clutter of wires.
Our favorite all-in-one computer is the HP Envy 34-Inch Curved model. Its large display screen is beyond impressive, making it ideal for video editors, photographers, and streaming-video users.
Considerations when choosing all-in-one computers
The display screen in the AIO is an important factor for customers. After all, the computing components are built into the display screen, so you need to be happy with the display you choose. You can't swap it out later like you can with a tower configuration, where the display screen has no computing components.
A basic 16:9 ratio screen that uses full HD or 4K resolution is the least-expensive option. However, you also can purchase ultra-wide displays that almost simulate two 16:9 screens side by side in one unit.
Specialty features in the AIO display screens include touch capabilities and curved formats. A curved screen delivers an immersive experience, but it's tough to see the edges unless you're seated directly in the middle. Touch screens are handy to use, but they will collect fingerprints.
Screen sizes for all-in-one computers are measured from one corner to the opposite diagonal corner. A common screen size is roughly 24 inches, but sizes can range from 20 to 34 inches.
AIOs have the same computing components that you'll find in traditional desktop tower computers. However, because the AIO is difficult to upgrade later (similar to a laptop), it's important to pick powerful components in your initial purchase.
CPU: The computer's central processing unit (CPU) is the primary processing chip in the computer. It also greatly affects the price of the AIO. Newer CPUs will deliver fast performance, allowing you to use processing-hungry software. Pick the highest quality CPU that you can afford in an AIO.
GPU: The GPU is the graphics-processing unit in the computer. An all-in-one computer is likely to have a graphics chip, rather than a powerful graphics card. This means an AIO's graphics performance usually cannot match a tower desktop computer with a graphics card.
RAM: Random access memory (RAM) is an area where the computer stores software and data it's currently using. Using RAM is more efficient than constantly accessing the data from the hard drive. A baseline amount for newer AIOs is 8GB of RAM. An AIO computer with 12GB or 16GB of RAM will have a high level of performance.
Hard drive: The hard drive is the primary storage area of the all-in-one computer. You'll store your photos, files, and other items here. A hard disk drive (HDD) is an older storage technology, but it is inexpensive per gigabyte. A solid state drive (SSD) performs fast for data storage, but it's pricey per gigabyte.
All-in-one computer prices
All-in-one computers have a higher cost than a tower desktop unit, but remember that you're receiving a display monitor with the AIO. Tower desktops rarely include a display monitor. Expect to pay anywhere from $350 to $2,500 for an all-in-one computer.
Q. What are some weaknesses of all-in-one computers?
A. When compared to tower desktop computers, an AIO won't be as powerful, which limits its ability as a gaming computer. The built-in speakers aren't of the highest quality, either.
Q. Is it easy to add a second or third monitor with an AIO?
A. The majority of all-in-ones can accept a second or third monitor through HDMI ports. However, if the AIO doesn't have an HDMI port, you're probably limited to one monitor.
All-in-one computers we recommend
Best of the best: HP Envy 34-b010 34-Inch Curved
Our take: The quality of the huge curved display with this AIO computer justifies its higher-than-average price point.
What we like: Extra power versus other all-in-one computers. Start-up time is one of the best on the market.
What we dislike: Keyboard and mouse that ship with the unit are below-average quality.
Best bang for your buck: Lenovo Ideacentre AIO 520-24AST 23.8-Inch
Our take: Reasonable price point for a full-HD display screen, touchscreen capabilities, and 8GB of system RAM.
What we like: Has a pop-up webcam, so it'll never be active without your knowledge. Good price for unit with a 1TB hard drive.
What we dislike: Graphics quality is only average, so it's not a great choice for gamers.
Choice 3: Apple 21.5-Inch iMac
Our take: A reasonably priced Macintosh AIO computer that will appeal to those wanting a no-fuss piece of tech.
What we like: Sharp-looking all-in-one computer with an impressive (but small) display screen.
What we dislike: Screen size of 21.5 inches is below average for AIOs. Included keyboard is too small.
Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.