Windows-based all-in-one PCs once earned little respect. While most of today’s AIOs still lack the graphics horsepower for hard-core gaming (we’ll show you one exception), the best models are far removed from the 98-pound weaklings of yore.
Many AIOs use laptop parts, which minimize heat, power consumption, and the need for noisy cooling fans. If you crave more performance, pick a model that uses desktop components (the ones we’ve tested are still relatively quiet). Either way, everything—the CPU, memory, storage, and optical drive—is housed in the same unit as the display, so the computer’s footprint equals that of a monitor. And since most all-in-ones ship with a Wi-Fi adapter as well as a wireless mouse and keyboard, the only cable they require is a power cord.
All-in-one specifications are a blend of what you’ll find in conventional desktop systems and laptop PCs. The thinnest and most compact systems are almost completely built around the same power-efficient technology as laptops.
Here’s our checklist of specs to look for when you go shopping for your all-in-one, followed by some tips and recommendations: