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Desktop computers

Should you buy an all-in-one in place of a traditional desktop, laptop or hybrid?
 
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01 .One for all

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If you’re looking for a general-purpose desktop computer, an all-in-one could be just what you need. Although they lack the expandability of a traditional tower-case unit, they provide a space-saving and even stylish alternative that can be a multimedia focal point for all the family.

All-in-ones come with screens up to 27 inches, but are still relatively compact and easy to move around. Many now come with touchscreen capability as standard, or it can be ordered as an optional extra to take advantage of Windows 8 support for this feature. 

    We bought and tested 13 models to see how they compare for performance, ease of use and features.

    Models on test:

    • Apple iMac 27" (i7)
    • Apple iMac 27" (i5)
    • Apple iMac 21.5"
    • Dell XPS One 2710 Touch
    • HP Omni 27-1200a
    • Lenovo ThinkCentre Edge 92z
    • HP Envy TouchSmart 23-d110a
    • Acer Aspire 7600u
    • Asus ET2300INTI-B034K
    • Asus ET2701INTI-B039K
    • Lenovo ThinkCentre M92z
    • Dell XPS One 2710 Touch
    • Samsung Series 7

    The overall score is a combination of the following:

    • Performance (50%)
    • Ease of use (30%) 
    • Display performance (20%)

    CHOICE applies the following interpretation to the scores achieved in our tests. When we describe a result as "excellent", "poor" etc, it usually relates directly to a numerical score in that range.

    • 0 - 24 Very poor
    • 25 - 45 Poor
    • 46 - 54 Borderline
    • 55 - 69 OK
    • 70 - 79 Good
    • 80 - 89 Very good
    • 90 - 100 Excellent

    How we test

    Performance 

    We use a combination of tests that reflect everyday usage. The tests cover processor and graphics performance, memory and storage. Included in the testing are comparisons using cross-platform benchmarking software that allows us to compare desktops with different operating systems – in this case Windows 7, Windows 8 and Mac OS X.

    Ease of use 

    We assess supplied security hardware and software, if any; options for migrating settings; the format and comprehensiveness of any manuals; and the ease of system recovery. We also assess the monitor for brightness/contrast, glare/surface reflections, angles of view and video playback; and assess the keyboard and mouse, general design features, and the desktop’s overall style. We assess the ease of use of the touchscreen where applicable, but since not all desktops include a touchscreen, this figure doesn’t contribute to the overall score.

    Energy usage

    We measure each desktop’s power consumption in active use and on standby, calculating an annual cost based on an average use scenario of six hours per day in use, plus 18 hours per day on standby, costed at 26c per kilowatt hour.

     
     

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