April 1, 2023

While we’ve fallen in love with sleek, slimline laptops, all-in-one PCs can be a smarter choice. Sure, you’re tethered to one desk and you’ll need a bit more space but you’ll get all the benefits of a bigger screen, a full-sized keyboard, improved sound and a wider range of connections and the best all-in-one marry this with a super stylish appearance, as well.

That means a lot when you work from home or want a computer for homework, entertainment and casual browsing that’s kept permanently in a quiet corner. And although a traditional desktop PC can give you more performance, an all-in-one will take up less space and run quieter.

All-in-ones do tend to come with a price premium, often costing more than the equivalent desktop PC and monitor combo. And performance can be limited as they tend to use repurposed laptop parts. All the same, the best all-in-ones are faster and more versatile than ever before and ready to take on almost any home or office role.

How to choose the best all-in-one PC for you

All-in-ones tend to follow the same basic design, with the system resembling a standard flat-screen monitor, with the system components either situated in the casing behind the display or crammed into the stand below. They’re usually supplied with a matching mouse and keyboard and, bar a power cable or external PSU, that’s all you need to plug in. Everything should work out of the box, making all-in-ones extremely easy to set up and use.

READ NEXT: The best gaming monitors you can buy

Perhaps the biggest advantage of the format is the bigger screen. Where laptops stop at 17.3in displays, all-in-ones come with screens of between 20in and 27in in size, with a few going even larger to 34in. This makes them much easier to work on, especially if you’re multitasking. Resolution and quality, as ever, does vary. Cheaper models typically come with fairly bog standard 1080p Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) screens, while premium models will push that upwards to 1440p (2,560 x 1,440) or even 4K (3,840 x 2,160). Make sure you get the screen you want as, while you can usually add a second screen, you can’t upgrade the built-in display.

What kind of spec do you need?

After the screen, the key thing is the specification. Here, you’re looking for much the same sort of thing you would look for in any desktop or laptop: a fast CPU, an SSD for storage and plenty of RAM, with 8GB the minimum and 16GB recommended. It’s often wiser to spend more on 16GB and 1TB when you buy, as you may not always be able to upgrade later.

As we’ve already touched on, all-in-one systems tend to use laptop rather than desktop components, so it’s worth checking the specifications to make sure they’ll cope with your workload. While there’s greater parity between Intel’s 12th Gen desktop and mobile CPUs, you’ll still find some using mobile CPUs that have fewer cores than you’d expect from the desktop version.

Mobile graphics processors may also have fewer cores or run at lower clock speeds than their desktop equivalents so don’t expect equivalent performance.

If you’re after an iMac, Apple’s current version uses the same mighty M1 processor as the Mac Mini, and the last-generation MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. This is still powerful enough for most applications and even lightweight gaming. If you’re buying a Windows machine, it’s wise to go for a model with an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor (11th Gen or later) or the AMD Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 equivalent (4000 series or later).

While you’ll find some machines with low-end CPUs from Intel’s Celeron and Pentium ranges, you might find that these lack the performance your all-in-one needs to run the applications you want them to. Similarly, if you want to play games or run more intensive creative apps such as Photoshop, then a dedicated graphics processor (for example, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050) is a must. Go without, and you’ll be limited to older games at low to medium graphics settings and you’ll lose out on the speed optimisations you’ll get in some applications.

READ NEXT: The best PC speakers for gaming, streaming and music

Is there anything else worth looking out for?

You might be surprised how few USB ports some AIOs ship with, and how quickly these can fill up, so connectivity is crucial. USB-A ports come in handy for connecting legacy peripherals – wired keyboards and mice, for instance – while fast USB-C, Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 ports are a must for hooking up external storage should the internal SSD fill up.

An RJ45 port can come in handy for Ethernet or Powerline networking, while HDMI ports let you connect a second monitor. Some all-in-ones even let you use the screen as a display for a games console or streaming stick.

Most new AIOs support the newer Wi-Fi 6 standard and Bluetooth 5.0 or 5.2 but this is worth double checking as you want a machine that’s as future-proof as possible and that will play well with the latest peripherals and headsets.

Finally, don’t forget about audio. One of the joys of a good AIO is having decent speakers built-in; but if you get one with tinny or underpowered speakers, you’re not going to feel like using them.

READ NEXT: The best Windows, Apple and Chrome OS laptops

The best all-in-one PCs you can buy in 2022

1. HP Envy 34-c0005na: The best big-screen AIO

Price: £2,300 | Buy now from HP

HP’s luxury all-in-one has it all: a massive 34in ultrawide 4K screen, a powerful Intel Core i7 CPU and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, giving you all the performance you need to run demanding creative applications or play today’s blockbuster games. The screen is height adjustable for comfort and extremely bright, with excellent colour reproduction, and the sound is almost as impressive with a wider soundstage and more bass than most rivals can muster.

You won’t struggle for connectivity, with Wi-Fi 6, Thunderbolt 4, USB 3.2 Gen 2 and Bluetooth 5.2 all onboard and there’s even scope to upgrade the RAM and add an extra SSD. We also like the built-in QI wireless charger in the stand and the bundled magnetic webcam. In fact, the only serious issue with the Envy 34 is that it costs a bomb; if you want the best Windows option, though, this is it.

Read our full HP Envy 34-c0005na review for more details

Key specsDisplay size: 34in; Resolution: 5,120 x 2,160; Type: IPS; CPU: Intel Core i7-11700 (2.5GHz to 4.9GHz, 8C/16T); Graphics: NVIDIA RTX 3060 6GB; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD; Dimensions: 817 x 368 x 223mm (WDH); Weight: 11kg

Buy now from HP

2. Apple M1 iMac 24in: The best AIO for work and entertainment

Price: £1,249 | Buy now from John Lewis

Apple’s latest iMac combines an update of its iconic design with the power of the Apple M1 chip, giving you a system that copes with even the most challenging video and image-editing jobs, and looks fantastic while it’s doing it.

The slimmed-down chassis now comes in a wider range of colours, while the 24in 4.5K IPS screen is a thing of beauty, with superb colour handling and high levels of brightness and contrast. The redesigned magic keyboard now has an integrated Touch ID fingerprint scanner and even the audio is good.

Any quibbles are minor. Connectivity might be too minimalist, with no USB-A ports, just two (or four depending on the model you choose) USB Type-C/Thunderbolt 4, although you still have an Ethernet port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. You get more from the £550 cheaper M1 Mac Mini, which has a near-identical spec. Still, Apple’s AIO remains a class-leader for a reason, and it’s still the all in one to beat.

Key specsDisplay size: 24in; Resolution: 4,480 x 2,520; Type: IPS True Tone; CPU: Apple M1 (2.06 to 3.4GHz, 8C); Graphics: Apple M1; RAM: 8GB; Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD; Dimensions: 547 x 461 x 147mm (WDH); Weight: 4.48kg

Buy now from John Lewis

3. Lenovo Yoga AIO 7 (27in AMD): The best AIO for games

Price: £1,699 | Buy now from Currys 

If you want an all in one for entertainment and gaming, the Lenovo Yoga AIO 7 is the best of the more affordable options. Lenovo has updated the spec since we reviewed it so now, as well as an octa-core Ryzen 7 processor, it comes with 16GB of RAM and a discrete AMD RX 6600M graphics chip.

This combo will happily run the most demanding games at 1080p resolutions, although you’ll have to take a hit on the graphics settings to use the screen’s 4K native resolution or, where it’s supported, make use of AMD’s FSR upscaling tech.

Outside games, this is still a fantastic all in one, with good all-round performance, a smart design and the impressive 4K screen. There’s no height or tilt adjustment but you can pivot it through 90 degrees. The bundled 1080p webcam slots into a connector at the top of the screen, and Lenovo hasn’t stinted on connectivity or on a good wireless mouse and keyboard. It doesn’t come cheap, but this is an excellent all in one.

Key specsDisplay size: 27in; Resolution: 3840 x 2160; Type: IPS; CPU: Ryzen 7 5800H (3.2 to 4.4GHz, 8C/16T); Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 6600M 8GB; RAM: 16GB; Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD; Dimensions: 614 x 460 x 108mm (WDH); Weight: 11.64kg

Buy now from Currys

4. Acer Aspire C24-1651: The best value all in one

Price when reviewed: £899 | Buy now from Currys

The Acer Aspire C24-1651 isn’t the most affordable all in one but it gives you a few things you won’t find on the cheapest options, including an Intel Core i5 CPU and a dedicated graphics chip. Admittedly, the Core i5 is the quad-core, eight-thread 1135G7 rather than the six-core, twelve-thread 11500H, while the GPU is the relatively underpowered Nvidia GeForce MX450 but it still has enough performance to run most applications or even less demanding games if you steer clear of high detail settings.

It’s a fine-looking machine, too, with a decent array of connections. You can even connect an external source, like a games console, through HDMI and use the built-in display for a screen. It’s a shame, then, that the screen itself can’t reach the high brightness or contrast levels of the more expensive all in ones, while the sound lacks scale and volume.

We’re also not completely keen on the bundled wireless keyboard and mouse supplied. Still, it’s a versatile and useful all in one that doesn’t take up much space or cost the Earth.

Key specsDisplay size: 23.8in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Type: IPS; CPU: Intel Core i5-1135G7 (2.4 to 4.2GHz, 4C/8T); Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX450 2GB; RAM: 8GB; Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD, 1TB HDD; Dimensions: 489 x 379 x 371mm (WDH); Weight: 5Kg

Buy now from Currys

5. HP Chromebase 22: The best low-cost AIO

Price: £680 | Buy now from HP

While the traffic cone design is somewhat offbeat, the HP Chromebase 22 is a brilliant low-cost all in one. It has a bright 21.5in screen with good overall levels of colour accuracy, although sRGB coverage falls slightly short at 86.5%.

The screen tilts upwards and downwards and even swivels through 90° into portrait mode, which can be useful if you’re working in Google Docs or Microsoft Word Online, or if you use the Chromebase 22 in conjunction with a second screen.

You’ll find a good range of connections at the rear of the cone, including two USB-C with DisplayPort 1.2 support, and a pair of 10Gbits/sec USB-A ports. There’s also Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 onboard.

The built-in sound is impressive and has more range and depth than most rivals. Even the built-in 5MP webcam passes muster. Of course, the Chromebase only works if you’re happy using Chrome OS and its web-based apps but this is nowhere near as restrictive as it was even five years ago, and you can now find software to do most anything, either through the browser or via Android and Linux apps. What’s more, the Intel Core i3 CPU and 8GB of RAM have enough power to make them fly. This isn’t just the best Chrome OS all in one we’ve tested but it’s arguably the best budget all in one around as well.

Key specsDisplay size: 21.5in; Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080; Type: IPS touchscreen; CPU: Intel Core i3-10110U (2.1 to 4.1GHz, 2C/4T); Graphics: Intel UHD; RAM: 8GB; Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD; Dimensions: 507 x 454 x 174mm (WDH); Weight: 6.98kg

Buy now from HP

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