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The best all-in-one computers for 2021

A desktop computer is great, but perhaps you don’t want all the associated bulk on your desk or floor. Laptops are great, but they target work-on-the-go functionality rather than brain-melting performance. That’s where an all-in-one (AIO) PC comes in: It crams your desktop computer and monitor into one unit so you have more room to breathe and play.

Our favorite all-in-one PC is the HP Envy 32, with its fantastic hardware selection and premium styling. But there are plenty of other great models to choose from, from the Apple iMac to the Dell Inspiron 7000.

Here’s our list of the best all-in-one computers you can buy right now.

The best all-in-one computers

HP Envy 32

HP Envy 32 all-in-one PC on home desk.

Why you should buy this: It’s currently the best AIO desktop computer you can buy.

Who’s it for: The space-conscious PC user that wants power without a hefty tower.

Why we picked the HP Envy 32:

Designed as a true competitor to Apple’s iMac, the HP’s Envy 32-inch AIO PC features a 10th-gen Intel Core processor, starting at a six-core i5-10400 chip but upgradeable to a 10-core i9-10900 CPU if you need maximum performance. You also have an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 to manage graphics and base 16GB of memory that you can upgrade as you please. Storage options blend hard drives and SSDs for plenty of space while giving fast boot times and snappy Windows operation.

Its hardware configurations make the HP Envy 32 a solid system for both gaming and productivity, and the customization options make it an excellent pick if you want to choose specs for a certain task — plus the UHD display can handle the details if you work in design or editing.

This system has a comfortable, luxurious design with a great build quality, a fantastic display, and surprisingly capable speakers. We loved the HP Envy 32, and since HP continues to upgrade this line with the latest tech, it remains the best AIO on the market.

Microsoft Surface Studio 2

Microsoft Surface Studio 2 in the office.
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: It’s still powerful in 2021, and the rotating screen is a treat.

Who’s it for: Creatives or anyone who wants to heavily use the touchscreen with the Surface Pen.

Why we picked the Microsoft Surface Studio 2

Microsoft was a newcomer to the all-in-one market when it released the Surface Studio in December 2016. The current Surface Studio 2, launched in late 2018, maintains the same design and 28-inch touch-capable display. However, this second-generation model packs better options for graphics along with higher memory and storage amounts.

In our review of the Surface Studio 2, we lauded its exceptional design and build quality, graphics performance, and superfast SSD. Unfortunately, the hardware is a bit outdated in 2020, as it includes Intel’s seventh-generation Core i7-7820HQ CPU and options for a full-sized GTX 1060 or GTX 1070 graphics chip. Despite the aging technology, it’s still a great option for serious content creators, designers, and anyone who wants an all-in-one PC that packs a powerful punch.

Other goodies crammed into the Microsoft Surface Studio 2 include up to 32GB of system memory, up to 2TB on a speedy SSD, multiple connection options, Surface Dial compatibility, and the included Surface peripherals. It even ships with the Surface Pen!

Apple iMac M1 (2021)

Apple iMac 24 inch model in the office.

Why you should buy this: It’s the most powerful iMac that Apple has ever released, and the new color options are striking.

Who’s it for: Anyone that wants a simple AIO with enough power to handle most tasks.

Why we picked the Apple iMac M1

Apple’s 2021 update to the iMac brought us a colorful, 24-inch version of the popular all-in-one, now equipped with Apple’s own M1 processor chip. The new, extra-thin design comes with a variety of color options, but the real star here is the 4.5K, 4480 x 2520 resolution screen for incredibly distinct images (not to mention 100% in the sRGB ranges and 90% in the AdobeRGB range for color). As always, it’s an excellent option for artists and designers — as long as you don’t mind working with MacOS.

In addition to Apple’s powerful M1 chip (which is indeed an upgrade compared to past smaller iMacs), this iMac also has a seven-core GPU (upgradeable to eight cores), 8GB of RAM, and up to 512GB of storage. The base model comes with two Thunderbolt 4/USB4 ports, but upgraded models add USB-A and Gigabit Ethernet ports, too.

The downside is that the only option for theiMac M1 version is the smaller 24-inch model, which does cut down on display room. The larger 27-inch iMacs have Intel Core i9 chips that are powerful, but they’re not a patch on the newer Apple M1.

Apple iMac 5K 27-inch

Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display review full angle
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: It’s the most powerful 27-inch iMac you can buy.

Who’s it for: Apple fans that want a 27-inch AIO and can’t wait for a new model.

Why we picked the Apple iMac 5K 27-inch

Apple has moved to its own M1 silicon on the 24-inch iMac, but the 27-inch model with a 5K screen is still using Intel chips. Although hotter and more power-hungry than its M1 counterpart, the 27-inch iMac is still the best 27-inch all-in-one around — at least until Apple refreshes the model with its own chip.

You don’t have the same color options, but the iconic silver design of the iMac looks as good as ever. Under the hood, you’re looking at up to a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 processor with eight cores, up to 128GB of memory, 512GB of storage, and critically, an AMD Radeon Pro 5500 XT. The 27-inch iMac isn’t a gaming machine, but the dedicated GPU gives it some thin gaming legs to stand on.

If you’re worried about support, don’t — Apple has already said it’s dedicated to support Intel machines for many years to come, including the 27-inch iMac 5K. The Intel chip inside this model may run hotter, but it shreds through almost any task put before it. Compared to the previous generation, we found improvements of up to 48% in some tasks.

The iMac Pro is a more powerful machine, but it’s much more expensive, too. This machine comes with a Xeon CPU instead of the Intel Core i7 processor, and that change represents a big price increase. You’ll spend at least $3,800 for a refurbished iMac Pro, and as much a $7,200.

Dell Inspiron 27 7000

Dell Inspiron 7790 on a desk.

Why you should buy this: It’s a solid budget all-in-one that packs the latest hardware.

Who’s it for: Home office users that want the power of an ultrabook in the form of an all-in-one.

Why we picked the Dell Inspiron 27 7000

The Inspiron 27 7000 model from Dell is perfect if you need an AIO computer that the whole family can enjoy. It’s barely more than our budget options, but has a top-notch appearance, and it offers lots of up-to-date high-performance hardware for every family member.

Dell’s most recent Inspiron AIO PC showcases an HD 27-inch InfinityEdge screen that transitions to a more compact display and slender bezels. Behind this display is the most current Core i7-1165G7 processor by Intel, memory up to 12GB, and a PCIe NVMe SSD with a storage capacity of 512GB. The configurations also include Nvidia’s subtle GeForce MX330 GPU.

This computer is ideal for those who need lots of connectivity. It has four USB-A ports, one USB-C port, and HDMI output and inputs. It also features an SD card reader, wired Ethernet, Bluetooth version 5.1, a pop-up webcam, and Wi-Fi 6(2×2), making the Dell Inspiron 27 7000 an outstanding PC for your family.

HP Pavilion 24 All-in-One

The HP Pavilion 24 All-in-One with keyboard and mouse.

Why you should buy this: It’s one of the few all-in-ones available with an AMD Ryzen processor.

Who’s it for: Budget-minded buyers who don’t need a massive screen.

Why we chose the HP Pavilion 24 All-in-One: 

If you have your heart set on a Ryzen processor, HP has answered the call with the Pavilion 24 with a six-core AMD Ryzen 5 4600H processor and AMD Radeon GPU. HP offers models with 11th-gen Intel processors, too, but the HP Pavilion 24 is one of the few all-in-ones that offers Ryzen processors.

The Full HD computer also comes with 16GB of RAM, and like our top HP Envy pick, it offers a combination of 1TB HDD storage and a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD for faster performance when necessary (plus two memory slots for potential upgrades).

Connections for the all-in-one include USB-A, USB-C, and HDMI in/out. The model supports Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5, although note that the included mouse and keyboard are both wired models. The 24-inch screen is a touchscreen IP with a maximum brightness of 250 nits.

This Pavilion works on two levels: It gives users Ryzen processing power for those who prefer AMD whenever the brand is available, and it’s a very affordable alternative to pricier models like the Envy 32 — as long as you’re willing to compromise a little on display size.

Lenovo IdeaCentre AIO 3

The Lenovo IdeaCentre AIO 3 with keyboard and mouse.

Why you should buy this: It’s as cheap as all-in-one desktops come.

Who’s it for: Families and students who need solid computing power with a dedicated graphics card.

Why we chose the Lenovo IdeaCentre AIO 3:

Lenovo’s IdeaCentre line is a healthy mix of affordability and performance. The AMD Ryzen 4500U processor provides enough power for juggling both work and play, while the 24-inch FHD display saves on space while offering minimalistic cable management options in the back.

This particular model comes with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage space. Work-friendly features like the 720p webcam with a built-in privacy shutter make it a great choice for remote work situations at a lower cost than many all-in-ones.

Ports, however, are somewhat limited on the IdeaCentre AIO 3: There are two USB-A 3.0 and two USB-A 2.0 connections, but no USB-C options, and nothing like the advanced USB4 ports that the iMac M1 can offer. An HDMI port and a three-in-one card reader are also included.

HP Chromebase All-in-One

HP Chromebase All-in-One.

Why you should buy this: It’s a desktop Chrome computer with a unique, affordable design.

Who’s it for: Students, apartments, and homes that need a multipurpose, speedy desktop.

Why we chose the HP Chromebase All-in-One:

A Chrome-based desktop has several advantages: It’s affordable, speedy to start up, and offers an easy-to-learn experience for accomplishing tasks easily. HP’s 22-inch Chromebase also adds some interesting features that make this AIO especially versatile: The display is made to quickly flip to a tilted-back vertical position for easier video chatting and remote work/learning. It’s a good combination with the touchscreen capabilities as well, allowing you to quickly swipe through searches or use apps the way you are most comfortable with (a camera shutter and parental controls are included).

Inside this HP Chromebase All-in-One, you’ll find a 10th-gen, dual-core Intel Core i3-10110U processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD drive for storage. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 are both supported here, and there’s USB-C for power delivery, DisplayPort 1.2 for more complex monitor connections, and a SuperSpeed USB-A port. Communication is enabled with a 5-megapixel cam and mic array, along with dual 5W speakers.

Research and buying FAQ

What is an all-in-one computer?

These computers combine the PC “tower” — where the integral chips, cards, and drives of the computer reside — with the monitor display. The result looks a lot like a hefty monitor but does not require a PC tower to operate. This is great for saving on space and getting everything in one box, but you give up the ability to upgrade specific parts of the computer like the monitor or certain performance aspects. The iMac is a classic example, but as you can see from our list, many brands produce all-in-one models.

What are the advantages of all-in-one computers?

They are compact computers that help save on space, especially if you don’t really have the space for a PC tower. Since the tower and monitor are combined, there are also fewer cables to manage. If you are in a situation where you need to move your desktop computer around frequently, it’s much easier to move an all-in-one.

What are the disadvantages of all-in-one computers?

You’re generally stuck with the display that the computer comes with, and upgrading the display typically means buying a new computer entirely. A PC tower allows users to choose their own upgrades for specific components and is designed to make those upgrades as effortless as possible. But on an all-in-one, upgrading specific components may be difficult or impossible. There’s also no room for adding or improving cooling systems, another reason they aren’t common gaming computers.

Should I buy an all-in-one computer or a desktop PC?

All-in-one computers make great whole-household computers or workstation computers for straightforward tasks and larger displays for multitasking. They can also handle demanding software if you choose models with the appropriate specs. As you can see with picks like the Studio 2 or 5K iMac, they are popular options for artists and designers, too.

However, if you prefer to upgrade your computer components over time or want a more specialized display, pick a traditional desktop PC instead. That means all-in-ones aren’t for gamers, users who need true ultrawides, or those who want to keep their PCs for as long as possible. They also may not be the best choice for entertainment center PCs.

What should I look for in an all-in-one computer?

  • Look for a large, detailed display. This is one of the great advantages of all-in-ones, especially if you have specific visual requirements for your work/play, and you won’t be able to replace the display later like you can with other PCs. Look for around 24 to 27 inches to start with and 4K resolution if you have any interest in a higher resolution. Some are touchscreens, but this feature isn’t always important on an all-in-one.
  • It’s better to go big on specs. A powerful processor and extra RAM will help the all-in-one stay useful for a longer lifespan. If you’re doing any video editing or want your all-in-one to serve as a gaming PC, make sure you have a capable GPU as well. Remember, all these specs are hard or impossible to upgrade on an all-in-one, so you keep what you buy.
  • Don’t worry as much about storage: A good external hard drive makes a great accessory for an all-in-one for both backups and extra storage.
  • Choose the operating system you like. Apple’s iMacs are some of the best all-in-ones around, but you may need to shop for a different option if you prefer the Windows operating system, and vice versa.

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