If you’re looking for a space-saving, powerful PC, and you either don’t want to build or you’re buying for someone else, an all-in-one computer is a decent bet. They come with everything you need to get to work, are easy to set up, and can be just as good as traditional desktops. This week, we’re looking at five of the best, based on your nominations.
Earlier in the week we asked you to tell us which all-in-ones you thought were the best—either because of features, the quality of the included display, bang for your buck, ease of use and setup, or just sleek design and usability. You offered up tons of great nominations, but we only have room for your five favorites. Here they are, in no particular order:
When many people think of all-in-one PCs, they immediately think of Apple’s iMac line of computers. At the top of that line right now however is the iMac with Retina Display, starting at $ 2500 and packing a 27″ IPS display at 5120px x 2880px native resolution, your choice of an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, 8GB of RAM (upgradable to 16GB or 32GB), a 1TB “Fusion” Drive (Apple’s hybrid SSD/HDD, upgradable to larger capacities or a 1TB SSD), an AMD R9 290X/295X graphics card, and just about everything else you would expect in an iMac (built-in camera, included peripherals, USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 2 ports, wireless AC and Gigabit Ethernet, and more.) All of the hardware options are configurable and upgradeable (for more money, of course) so you can either buy off the shelf or build the model you want. The Retina iMac is stunning if you’ve seen one in person, and of course, comes with OS X Yosemite and Apple’s suite of productivity apps for work and home use.
Those of you who nominated the Retina iMac praised it for being a high-resolution, “5K” display that just “happens to have a computer attached,” since most displays with similar resolutions are close to this price on their own, no computer attached, or a desktop with the same specs will run you a similar price, no monitor attached. Some of you offered proof of the fact in the nominations thread, while others of you pointed out that the resolution is probably a bit excessive for most users at this stage. Either way, the thread is full of first-hand experiences and worth checking out. You can read the whole thread here.
Lenovo’s flagship All-In-One PC starts at $ 1600, has a 27″ TFT full HD multitouch display at 1920px x 1080px native resolution, an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB 5400 RPM HDD and an 8GB SSD, an NVIDIA GeForce GT840A graphics card, built-in webcam, audio, wireless AC, USB 3.0, and more. The hardware option are, like any custom system, upgradable and customizable, so you can add more memory or a different hard drive if you choose, for additional cost. The A740 ships with Windows 8.1, and because it has a touch screen, you can actually make use of Windows 8’s Modern UI features. The display arm is also jointed in multiple places, so you can stand it up like a traditional monitor and use the included keyboard and mouse, or you can angle it closer to you to use the touch screen, or you can bend it down like a tablet or a drawing tablet so you can interact with it up close or with a stylus.
The nomination thread for the A740 was a little contentious, with a few people saying they loved this system, especially once some of the base components (like RAM and storage) were upgraded to better, speedier parts, while others of you noted that while the system looks great on paper, you had some issues with reliability and customer service—one of you even had quite the horror story to tell. You can read more—and the details—in its nomination thread here.
The Dell XPS 27 Touch is Dell’s flagship all-in-one, starts at $ 1600, and is available in a number of different pre-configured builds. All of them feature a 27″ IPS touch screen display that runs at 2560px by 1440px natively. Each model comes with an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, between 8GB or 16GB of RAM depending on what you prefer, and your choice of a 1TB 7200 RPM HDD, or a 2TB 7200 RPM HDD and a 32GB SSD. Graphics-wise you get your choice of Intel HD graphics (in the bottom model) or an NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M. Like most PC all-in-ones, the XPS 27 ships with Windows 8.1, and can make use of the Modern UI thanks to its touch-sensitive display. Keyboard and mouse are included, as are wireless N and Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, and more. Like the Lenovo, the XPS 27’s monitor arm can be adjusted so you can use the computer in multiple positions, up close and hands-on with its multi touch display, bent down like a drawing tablet, or just standing up like a standard PC display.
The nomination thread for the XPS 27 remarked at the build quality of the system, noting that it’s at the top of the lineup for a reason, and that Dell put a lot of care and attention into making sure the PC is a solid build that’s still flexible for different types of users. As with almost every desktop PC in the roundup, you can start with any of Dell’s base models, then configure it to your tastes accordingly (for additional cost, of course.) You can read more in its nomination thread here.
System76 is a manufacturer of pre-built Ubuntu laptops and desktops, and the Sable Touch is their Ubuntu-powered multitouch all-in-one desktop. Starting at $ 1000, the Sable Touch is available in both 21.5″ and 23.6″ models, each TFT panels with a native resolution of 1920px x 1080px. You have your choice of Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, 4GB to 16GB of RAM, your choice of 250GB-750GB 7200RPM HDD or 128GB-1TB SSD, external displays, peripherals, and more. Unlike many AIOs in the roundup, you don’t get a keyboard, mouse, or other peripherals with the system—you have to add them at extra cost when you configure your build—but that also helps keep costs down. Almost every part of the build can be customized to some degree, including the version of Ubuntu you get pre-loaded on the system. The Sable Touch also comes with other things you’d expect from an all-in-one, like a built-in webcam, Wi-Fi (AC) and Gigabit Ethernet, and more. It’s a good-looking system to boot.
Those of you who nominated it praised the Sable Touch for being a true multitouch Linux desktop that brings all of the great looks to the party that any all-in-one PC can offer. It’s reasonably priced, looks great, is customizable in multiple sizes and with your choice of internal components. You even noted that System76’s customer service and support are both great, with regular updates via email when a new version of Ubuntu is available and tips on how to upgrade your computer. You can read more in the nomination thread here.
The Dell XPS 18 All-In-One is a bit of a combination of desktop and tablet, although it’s certainly more desktop. It starts at $ 700 and goes up to $ 1300 depending on whether you want a stand (or you want to make do with the built-in kickstand.) Each model packs an 18″ IPS touch screen at 1920px x 1080px resolution, your choice of Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processor, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, the option of 500GB or 1TB 5400 RPM HDDs or a 256GB SSD, all models come with Intel HD 4400 Graphics, Windows 8.1 pre-installed, and an included keyboard and mouse. Each model also includes wireless AC, USB 3.0, a built-in camera, speakers, and more. Perhaps best of all, the system doesn’t have to stay mounted on its stand, or even plugged in—you can take it with you and use it on the couch as long as the internal battery holds out, or pack it up and work on the go. It’s a remarkably versatile all-in-one that’s still running Windows 8.1, so you can work with it like a tablet, use it like a desktop, or switch on the fly depending on what you need to do.
Those of you who nominated it said it was a bit like an “iMac for the Windows crowd,” offering sleek design and good looks on your desk, but that also comes with the flexibility of a tablet or a hybrid tablet/laptop. Many of you also mentioned that it comes with a digitizer pen, so it’s even more flexible. As with every model in the roundup, you can start with any of the base systems, and then add or tweak the build to your heart’s content before it ships to you. Check out the full nomination thread here.
Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to put them to an all out vote to determine the community favorite:
This week’s honorable mention goes out to the Lenovo Horizon 2, which made a strong showing in the call for contenders thread despite being essentially a “table PC.” It’s still definitely an all-in-one, though, with room to put four people around the edges of the massive 27″ multi-user multitouch display, and tons of apps and media already on the system that allow multiple people to interact with it at the same time. It’ll set you back $ 1400 retail. That said, you could definitely stand this puppy up and use it as an all-in-one, although that’s definitely not its strength. You can read more—and some first hand experiences—in its nomination thread here.
We should also give a shoutout to the LG Chromebase, another all-in-one that made a good showing in the nominations round. The Chromebase, as the name implies, runs Google’s Chrome OS in a slim and trim package with a 21″ display, starting at a mere $ 350. It’s a simple system, but a great introduction to Chrome OS if you want something other than a Chromebook or a Chromebox, and you can install Linux on it if you’d prefer. You can read more in its nomination thread here.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at [email protected]!
Title photo by Kārlis Dambrāns.