All-in-one PCs let you expand your computing activities throughout the home
Compared to the hot-rod machines boutique manufacturers send us for review and the wicked-fast bruisers we build ourselves (this year’s Dream Machine being a prime example), the all-in-one PCs we examine in this story are 98-pound weaklings. And make no mistake about it: We’d never recommend that you—our hardcore, game-playing readers—purchase any of these machines to serve as your primary rig.
But since when has just one computer ever been enough to satisfy all the needs of the tech-enthusiast’s household? If it were up to us, we’d have a computer in every room: the kitchen, the den, the bedroom—heck, we’d even put one in the garage! Sure, you can carry a laptop from room to room, but that’s not nearly as convenient as entering a room and having the PC there, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
That’s where the latest generation of all-in-one PCs comes in. By integrating all the PC components into an LCD’s formfactor, these space-saving rigs boast very small footprints—as you’ll see, some can even be mounted on the wall. Any of these models would be a great addition to any room; they’re all whisper-quiet and include TV tuners, integrated Wi-Fi adapters, wireless mice and keyboards, and even Blu-ray drives.
According to stats compiled by market-research firm DisplaySearch, the all-in-one market grew by 57 percent between 2008 and 2009. Apple’s iMac leads the way here, but in the Windows universe, HP’s TouchSmart series has been the one to beat. HP’s latest offering features a Core i7 CPU—the only machine in this roundup with Intel’s top-shelf proc. Lenovo and Sony counter with speedy Core 2 Quads, and MSI uses the Mobile Core 2 Duo.
Since our benchmark suite is meant to put the squeeze on high-end rigs, a mantle no manufacturer would claim for its all-in-one offering, we pulled our 2007 suite out of retirement for this comparison. And since this class of machine isn’t designed for hardcore gaming, we didn’t run any games benchmarks on them. We based our verdicts on benchmark performance (versus our 2007 zero-point rig), component choices, feature set, usability, and price. HP enters the ring as the undisputed all-in-one PC champion, facing three very strong competitors. Will HP retain its crown, or will Lenovo, MSI, or Sony knock the company off the throne? Read on to find out!
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Many all-in-ones can be hung on the wall or mounted to an articulating arm
An all-in-one computer’s formfactor consumes about the same amount of space as the typical LCD monitor, but some manufacturers provide the option of mounting their machines on the wall or on an articulating arm. This not only reclaims desk space, but enables you to position the display for optimal viewing wherever you happen to be in the room—a real boon when you’re watching movies or slide shows or using the PC’s integrated TV tuner.
Sony’s VPCL117FX/B is the easiest to mount—it has a standard VESA mount built right into its back panel. HP’s TouchSmart 600-1055 requires HP’s VK554AA wall-mount adapter, $50, which includes inserts to replace the computer’s front feet. MSI’s Wind Top AE2220 needs an optional bracket, too, but this one costs only $15. Of the three machines we tested, Lenovo’s IdeaCentre B500-08873AU was the only one that can’t be mounted.
Each of the mount manufacturers we contacted offers a dizzying array of options; here’s a look at just four.
Atdec Telehook TH-1030-VFM Flat-screen Wall Mount
The strong, silent type
CAtdec’s Telehook TH-1030-VFM supports a surprising amount of weight for its size: a maximum of 44 pounds—more than enough to support any of the all-in-ones in this story—while requiring a single wall stud. The mount can pan 90 degrees left and right, tilt five degrees up from vertical to 20 degrees down, and extend up to 9.8-inches from the wall. ($79, www.atdec.com)
Peerless SA740P-S Articulating Wall Arm
Industrial strength; designer looks
This Peerless articulating arm is similar to Atdec’s Telehook, but it supports almost twice as much weight—a maximum of 80 pounds—and it has three pivot points, enabling it to swing out nearly two feet from the wall. It can swivel 90 degrees left and right and tilt five degrees up and 20 degrees down. The anodized aluminum finish is very attractive. ($258, www.peerlessmounts.com)
Peerless LCT-101 Articulating Arm
At your desk, but not on your desk
Clamp or bolt the Peerless LCT-101 to your desktop and you can lift, lower, tilt, and swivel your all-in-one. Peerless uses gas struts and ball joints, but its maximum weight capacity is 25 pounds. That’s sufficient to hold MSI’s Wind Top AE2220, but you’ll need something more substantial for heavier computers. ($258, www.peerlessmounts.com)
Premier Mounts LIFT1-L180H
Pull a disappearing act
Mount your all-in-one to Premier’s flat-panel motorized lift and you can hide it in a piece of furniture and amaze your friends by pushing a button to have the computer rise into position, pushing open a hinged lid in the process. This device comes with an integrated six-outlet surge suppressor and is capable of lifting a 180-pound load. ($2,500, www.premiermounts.com)