2015 Gift Guide: All-in-One Desktops Worth Buying
I know what you’re thinking: all-in-one desktops?? LOL, wut? OK, it’s kind of funny. PC manufacturers are finding it increasingly more difficult to convince consumers to buy desktop computers in a sea of sleek, shiny and svelte laptops, tablets and smartphones. And those devices are great if you need a Mini Cooper. But all-in-one desktops are the Lincoln Navigators of the computer world — if you want some power, size, configurability and ability to block other people’s view (not that, really), the all-in-one (AIO) desktop is the best choice.
Actually, want to know what’s funny? Tower desktops. Now that’s really 1995 (apologies to gamers). Now on to our list of six favorite all-in-one desktops:
Buy This Gift to Out-Santa Old St. Nick: 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display
The Apple iMac is one of the finest consumer desktops on the market. Originally redesigned in 2012, the iMac is a triumph of form and function, a smooth, skinny slice of aluminum that is as thin as 5mm around the edges and boasts an incredibly bright, colorful and low-glare display and surprisingly good sound. The 2015 line of iMacs (21.5-inch and 27-inch sizes) has been updated with 6th-generation Intel Skylake processors, 8GB of RAM, 1TB hard drives and three choices of display resolution: 1080p, 4K and 5K.
MSRP: 5K starts at $1,799 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: Fantastic display, especially the 27-inch with 5120 x 2880 resolution. The best iteration of the long-running iMac design. Fast “fusion” drive with large-capacity SSD combined with hard drive. Can run Mac and Windows.
- Cons: Can get ridiculously expensive ($4,000+) as you find yourself in the higher-end configurations. No touchscreen, no optical drive, no Blu-ray. Limited user upgrade or repair options.
Buy This Gift If They Flee at the Sound of “Apple”: Dell XPS 27 Touch
The Dell XPS 27 Touch 27-inch All-in-One Desktop is the Windows answer to the 2013 / 2014 iMac. Taking design cues from Apple , the XPS 27 has a glass covered, high-resolution (2,560 x 1,440) display, Thunderbolt port and aluminum construction. Well, aluminum construction with a plastic backside (oops). With the dual-hinge articulating arm, the screen can be flipped up at an angle so you can peck at the touchscreen goodness of Windows 10.
MSRP: starts at $1,699 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $1,005
- Pros: Premium Quad-HD display. Powerful performance. Optical drive, even Blu-ray is available (gasp). Easy access to internal components for self-upgrades. Thunderbolt. Windows 10
- Cons: High-end configurations can get as high as $2,800. Adjustable stand could be more flexible.
Buy This Gift If They Love the Curve: LG 29″ Curved All-In-One
Taking a cue from the curved television trend, both Samsung and LG have jumped into the all-in-one game with curved models. We choose the LG model out of the two because it includes a NVIDIA GeForce 840M graphics card with 2GB memory, the resolution of the monitor is higher and it includes Intel’s 5th generation i7 processor. It’s also a stunning design, reminiscent of the Apple iMac in some respects.
MSRP: starts at $1,799 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: Powerful processor and graphics options, IPS Display: 21:9 ratio is better for watching movies & television,
- Cons: Build limited to 8GB of RAM, Doesn’t offer rapid booting, only offer two USB 3.0 ports.
Buy This Gift for the Master Chef: HP Slate 21 Pro
The HP Slate 21 Pro Android 21-inch Touchscreen All-in-One has a very singular purpose: as an secondary screen for rooms like the kitchen, bedroom or bathroom. It’s not your first computer or your second computer. Don’t even think of it as a computer. It’s an appliance in your kitchen that happens to be a computer. Running Android 4.3 on a Tegra quad-core processor, it’s kind of a kooky smartphone blown up to a 21-inch form factor. Cool.
MSRP: $379 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $216
- Pros: Cheap. Excellent display. Perfectly adequate for surfing the net, which is what most of us do on a computer anyway. Expandable storage via SD card slot or USB.
- Cons: Beyond storage, non-configurable. Totally under-powered for intensive tasks like running huge Excel files or playing Call of Duty. 2-point touchscreen.
Buy This Gift for the 24-Hour Party Person: Lenovo Horizon 2
This so-called “table” desktop gets extra credit because you can play air hockey on it. That’s right, you can purchase two air strikers (and two joysticks) for an additional $30 to use on the screen. The Lenovo Horizon 2 27-inch All-in-One Table PC is a fascinating hybrid of an all-in-one desktop with a touchscreen tablet. It can lie flat like a tablet and, with its internal battery, can even be used “portably.” Scare quotes because, well, it still weighs 15+ pounds. Hardly iPad territory. But can you play air hockey like this on an iPad?
MSRP: starts at $1,549 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $1,400
- Pros: Cool factor. Biggest tablet on the block. Huge 10-point 1080p 27-inch touchscreen takes full advantage of Windows 10. Fun game accessories. Well-built, attractive design.
- Cons: Definitely cheaper all-in-one options out there. Still uses Haswell processors. No optical drive. Let’s face it: it’s also kinda weird.
Buy This for the Terminally Hip: Dell XPS 18 Touch Portable
Not a Mac, you say? Eh, Apple’s too big and hasn’t innovated in years. The Dell XPS 18 Touch Portable All-in-One Desktop is the ultimate in hipsterism: it’s retro (a desktop), it’s chic (think skinny jeans) and it’s ironic (not Apple). You just won’t find it at a thrift shop.
If the Lenovo Horizon Table PC is too ginormous for your taste, the XPS 18 aims for a more sensible hybrid between the tablet and desktop with a super skinny 0.41-inch thickness—not much thicker than an iPad 4—and a weight of just 5.2 pounds. It features a built-in kickstand but you can buy an optional stand to make it look more like a traditional all-in-one.
MSRP: starts at $899 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $600
- Pros: Well-executed hybrid desktop/tablet. Very thin and relatively light. 1080p touchscreen is good, although not spectacular. Includes Windows 10 upgrade.
- Cons: Glare on the touchscreen. Air Hockey nowhere near the same level as the Lenovo Horizon (because that’s important).