(Pocket-lint) – One of the things that laptops have going for them, alongside their portability, is simplicity – you get everything in one package, and don’t have to worry about buying a separate display or speakers.
Thankfully, though, there’s a wide range of desktop computers which manage the same trick, bringing the guts of their machine into one unit with their display and creating an all-in-one package that’s easy to use.
They’re perfect for homes, offices and home offices, and having a dedicated workspace for them can make all the difference in productivity.
To help you make the right decision, we’ve put a wide range of all-in-one computers through their paces, using them as our daily drivers to see how they are not just for working on but also for recreation and family use. This means testing their speed and reliability, ease of setup and how well they perform doing more complex tasks like photo and video editing.
We’ve gathered together the best of the best to form this list of highlights.
Our current Top Pick is the Apple iMac. Other contenders include the HP Envy 32, Dell Inspiron 27 7700, Microsoft Surface Studio 2, and HP 24-df0022na.
Our Top Pick
- Beautiful design
- Incredible speed with the M1 chip
- Apple ecosystem works like a dream
- Not the cheapest
- Some won’t like the colours
We know that it’s a bit of a cliché, and we’re not going to pretend that it represents the best value in the world, but most families and individuals that own one love Apple’s latest version of the iMac.
It’s got the trademark excellent design and build quality, with that superb display and specs that really leverage Apple’s own M1 chip.
You may need to get used to Apple’s macOS if you’re used to Windows, but, once you’re in the ecosystem, it’s a superb place to be.
All-in-one computers we also recommend
Here are four other all-in-one computers to consider.
Microsoft Surface Studio 2
- Astonishing to use
- Beautiful design
- Amazing for visual workers
- Ferocious price
- Not amazing for normal work
This is a seriously impressive bit of tech from Microsoft, creating an adaptable, hinged display that can become a touch surface at any angle or a traditional display as you need it.
Perfect for graphic designers or artists, it feels a little like the future of home computing when it’s on song, but it’s let down by what is an inescapably sky-high price tag.
Still, if you’re curious, this all-in-one won’t disappoint.
Inspiron 27 7700
- Fun modern design
- Great size and build
- Expensive for its specs
- Divisive design
Dell has been making sensible home computers for absolutely donkey’s years, and it’s no surprise that its current crop has come great machines.
The Inspiron 27 is great as a family computer, with a nice screen and a design that’s actually pretty funky.
It won’t power your professional or gaming needs too far, but for documents and emailing, or using the web, it’s perfect.
HP 24-inch All-in-One Desktop Computer
- Spritely design
- Nice price
- Solid screen
- Middling specs under the hood
Sometimes all the bells and whistles aren’t really necessary and can come at way too steep a price to be justifiable. For the cases when you need a simple and effective computer, the HP 24-inch All-in-One Desktop Computer could be just the ticket.
It’s got a great design and even comes with a keyboard and mouse. The 24-inch display is full HD too.
Now, it might now be the fastest computer around, which could be a deal-breaker for some, but at less than half some of the other options in this list, there are going to be some compromises. And at the end of the day, it is upgradeable to up to 16GB RAM.
HP Envy 32
- Attractive looks
- Great speakers
- Impressive specs
- Can get massively expensive
HP also has some great all-in-ones to consider, and our pick is this one from the Envy line, not least because of the tie-in it boasts with audio mavens Bang & Olufsen.
That means it’s got great sound, making it perfect not just for video calling but also media viewing. Solid specs all round, in fact, make it a great workstation as well.
Other products we considered
The Pocket-lint editorial team spends hours testing and researching hundreds of products before recommending our best picks for you. We consider a range of factors when it comes to putting together our best guides including physically testing the products ourselves, consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. Many of the devices we consider don’t make our final best guides.
These are the products we considered that ultimately didn’t make our top 5:
How to choose an all-in-one computer
If you’re looking for an all-in-one, chances are it’s going to be a machine you use a lot – here are some of the questions you should be sure to ask yourself before you take the plunge.
Do you want a Windows PC or a Mac?
Obviously, there are a few other options out there in niches, like Chrome OS computers and Linux, but, for most people, there will be a major choice between two operating systems for their all-in-one – Mac or PC. If you go the Windows route, you’ll be able to have confidence that almost every programme will work with your computer, and you’ll have a lot of freedom, but also a few downsides around security and ease of use.
On the Mac side, Apple’s ecosystem can be really user-friendly and easy to get used to, but it’s also very closed and fairly restrictive, so there are arguments on both sides. Whichever way you lean, you’ll have to pick eventually.
How big a display do you need?
Another key variable around any all-in-one computer is the size of its display – this is more important in many ways than just sheer real estate, as the bigger a display, the more hardware can be fit in behind it. This means bigger displays often make for more impressive specs.
Even without that consideration, you’ll probably have a desk space in mind for your computer, so it would be well worth doing some measurements to nail down what size of display would work for your space. Of course, it’s also a matter of how big you want it from a productivity point of view – more real estate means more multitasking!
Is sound important to you?
All-in-one doesn’t just mean an integrated display, though – it’s also a question of sound. There’s a surprising amount of variation in how these computers approach their sound, and you should pay attention to it. Some will have partnerships with speaker companies to ensure really superb performance from visible speakers, while others will instead opt for lower-powered integrated efforts that don’t get shouted about.
You might not be planning to watch whole movies on your AIO, but you’ll still want decent sound, so be sure to check out what your candidates are packing.
How much power is required?
Away from the display and sound, the other core component is obviously the computer itself, and this is the final, pretty sizeable area that you should focus on. How impressive does your spec-list need to be? This might come down to what you’re going to use the machine for.
If it’s a family computer that will mostly be limited to Google searches, online shopping and a bit of light YouTube, then you probably don’t have to worry about speccing yourself out with a supreme rig.
If it’s a productivity machine, though, that will drive your daily working routines and might have to power its way through video or image processing, then that changes things a little.
More about this story
Every product in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.
For all-in-one computers, that means checking out how they perform during a litany of regular tasks, from everyday work to more intensive options like video editing, and even playing some games to see how it holds up under pressure.
It’s not just about raw performance, though – we’ll check out how accurate and bright its display is, and judge the overall design of the computer that’ll be sitting in your home if you buy it. We’ll also test its sound performance and how easy it is to set up.
Finally, the key variable of value will be weighed up, since the price is a huge part of any purchasing decision for all but the very luckiest among us.
We aren’t interested in pointless number crunching or extraneous details – we just want to provide an easy to understand review that gives you an idea of what it’s going to be like to use. And don’t for a second think that the products aren’t tested fully because the reviews are concise.
We’ve been covering tech since 2003, and, in many cases, have not only reviewed the product in question, but the previous generations, too – right back to the first model on the market. There is also plenty of models we’ve considered that didn’t make the cut in each of our buyer’s guides.
Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Editing by Conor Allison. Originally published on .