Why we do and don’t like AIO Desktops
I’m sure by now that on the Apple side of things, everyone loves whatever mac desktops come out from its elegance down to the convenience and the performance they all provide. Meanwhile, on the Windows side of things, aesthetics has increased, but performance with the same typical aesthetic that Apple provides does not without paying the right pennies.
ALL-IN-ONE Desktops (or AIO we shall refer to for easing our hands) has left a bad taste in our mouths (but if any manufacture wants to make us rethink that, by all means contact us). From both a business and personal use, you need just the right amount of edge to make it work best, but in most cases if you buy for less than $1000, it’s probably a word processor system overall anyway and not meant to be confused with a Netflix watch party screen. In other words, it might handle the office work which is great if that is all you need, but if you want to use it for something like Zoom Chat or other streaming means, the milage may vary. If it does work overall, then as long as nothing changes from operating system to the software at hand, perhaps it will work long term.
Although we might take back our words depending on certain scenarios. For instance, Intel CPUs usually have a built-in Graphic Card unit which is normally an “Onboard GPU” and while in general, they aren’t the best graphic cards to have for things outside of watching youtube videos in 1080p format, they can still run with the best of them for more basic things. If that is what you’re looking for with 2021’s AIO PCs, then yes, they should work. But if you’re planning to do MORE with it in a productivity format and add in touch screen capabilities, this is where it will begin to break down. While Intel is upgrading their graphics performances, you already must pay a bit if you want their Intel Xe graphics and their upcoming graphics cards, I won’t expect to see them until late 2023 or early 2024 unless Intel pulls a fast one on their expectancy.
All that said, here are our Pros and Cons to AIO screens!
Pro: Touch Screen is a game changer!
If you have used smart phones or even tablets, you should know how the touch screens work. Even some laptops have them and can work to your needs. But having a typical station with the touch screen? With the right software, it absolutely increases your productivity!
Think about it. If the AIO has things to pull up, lets say for quick menu access in larger buttons, you don’t have to fumble with hotkeys or move a mouse. Just tap a button and move on.
Con: Touch Screen varies widely on Windows-based AIOs
Alas, unlike Apple’s consistency, not all AIOs are created equal when it comes to touch screens. Some could find your finger not hot enough, wants more pressing power, and some could have a totally fine screen, but a very weak base. You push the screen and the AIO moves. It shouldn’t really move unless you’re pushing too hard which we would be more concerned how long the screen would last.
Pro: Less cabling
For those that want little clutter, with an AIO, all you need is a keyboard and mouse and you should be good. If you wanted to go wireless with those components, even better. Very quick and to the point while keeping less clutter to your area for other things!
Con: Limited connections
If you need to connect a separate Keyboard, separate mouse, add in a USB printer, a convenience connection for your phone, and you may need to frequently put in a flash drive, you start to question if you have not only the right connections, but also the right amount of ports. Some AIOs come with 3 USB-A and 1 USB-C. It may have an Ethernet connection in many cases (but not true for all). The USB-C these days can be used for a USB-C based connection like a flash drive or a phone cable, but it can also work as a data connector for another screen. If you’re the type that wants 2 screens, that is what you’re looking for (but only if the AIO does not have a connector for another display). Problem is if you do that, and you also have 2 connections used for the Keyboard and Mouse, you only have 1 connection left. Also, sometimes those USB connections are tied up with the performance rating for your CPU. In other words, the more connections are used and how powerful they need to be can sometimes reduce the performance of what you would otherwise expect. This may be why you would find something like an i3 or worse, an AMD A-series CPU trying to clammer out your requests, then you have something doing high-speed data and your system seems to slog. Even more noticeable if you decide to use one of those USB Ports as a display.
Pro: Usually can be placed just about anywhere!
These things are conveniently slim which makes it easy to place anywhere! Who needs to figure out where to put both a monitor and a bulky desktop when you have this taking storage space as 1 object?
Con: Limited upgrade capability with more confusing setup
This is what we consider the biggest con about an AIO. You see, there has not been an AIO that we have observed that doesn’t do this particular element: All the components are set with Laptop type parts in mind. It is in fact what we call it a laptop without a battery. Many AIOs won’t even have simple ways to open sections for whatever you want. They have been better about that today compared to a few years ago, but it seems more like the manufactures either don’t want you to be able to upgrade them or that they would be easier if it wasn’t such a compromising situation to allow the slim and lite setup for the device. In many cases, whatever you choose for the Memory, may be the first and last choice before you’re even thinking of upgrading down the line. It isn’t saying “it can’t be done” but rather “is it possible to even do without breaking it?” This also leads to many parts that should be upgrade-able will now need to be considered from the start in cost. Want that workstation Graphics Card for your autotask needs? Add it in now. Want that Nvidia Graphics Card for your video editing? Throw that in from the beginning. Want your 32 GB of RAM? If they don’t solder the RAM directly to the board, you might be able to have that. But if they do solder those RAM bits, pay up for it now or look at buying a whole new desktop before too long. And while some, you might be able to get away with an external add-on, you may want to consider the reference to USB ports from earlier.
And that is the bulk of the list. As you saw, the pros are rather to the point, but the cons weren’t as easy to explain. Again, this is not saying that you shouldn’t get an AIO PC, but just understand without fully acknowledging these limits for the convenience, it can cost you more in the long run when physical repairs are needed.
But what about Macs? Well, given they mostly have presets, chances are you already paid for many of those conveniences without having to look around. But now we’re talking about understanding Macs and if your software works.