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Post by Willaim McGill with
San Jose IT Professionals and Builders, LLC
What is an All-in-one PC?
The earliest form of computer
displays were large cathode ray tubes. Due to the size of the displays, computer systems were comprised of three key components:
the monitor, the computer case and the input devices. As the size of the monitors decreased, computer companies started to
integrate the computer case into the monitor to create an all-in-one. These first all-in-one computer systems were still quite
large and generally cost a fair amount compared to a standard computer setup.
The most successful of the all-in-one personal computers was
the Apple iMac. The original design used the cathode ray monitor with the computer boards and components integrated below
the tube. Many similar designed were developed by PC manufacturers, but they didn't catch on. With the advent of LCD monitors
for displays, the size of the all-in-one computer system has decreased dramatically. Now the computer components can be easily
integrated behind the LCD panel or in the base of the display.
vs. Desktop PCs
All-in-one PC computers are really just a style
of desktop computer system. They still have the same requirements in terms of features and function. The only difference is
the number of components. All-in-ones have a single box that is the display and computer versus the desktop that is comprised
of the computer case plus a separate monitor. This gives the all-in-one computer system a smaller overall profile than a desktop
might counter by bringing up the latest small form factor computers such as the Apple Mac Mini or AOpen MiniPC. Both of these
feature extremely small computers that can easily sit beneath or behind a standard desktop display. The all-in-one PC still
has an advantage over these systems in the number of required cables. Since the monitor is integrated into the system, there
isn't a need for a monitor cable or separate display power cord. This reduces the clutter on, underneath or behind a desk.
have some distinct advantages over the all-in-one PCs though. Due to their small sizes and need for lower power and less heat
generating components, most all-in-one PCs feature notebook designed components including processors, memory and drives. All
of these help make the all-in-one small but they also hinder the overall performance of the system. Typically these notebook
components will not perform as well as a traditional desktop.
Another issue that all-in-one computers have is their upgradability. While
most desktop computer cases can be easily opened by the consumer to install replacements or upgrades all-in-one systems tend
to restrict access to the components due to their small nature. This typically only limits the systems to having their memory
One of the primary
reasons for the all-in-one PC is to conserve space over a desktop computer, but notebooks have advanced tremendously over
the past couple of years. They have advanced so much that comparing them to an all-in-one is almost one sided.
PCs use all the same components as a notebook computer, the performance levels are pretty much identical between the two types
of computers. The only really compelling advantage that a all-in-one PC might hold is the size of the screen, but even this
is less than it was. While all-in-one PCs generally come with screen sizes between 17 and 20 inches, most desktop replacements
also are available with the same size screens.
The all-in-one is smaller than the desktop system, but it still is tethered to a desktop
space. Notebooks have the ability to be moved between locations and even used away from any power on their battery packs.
This makes them much more flexible than the all-in-one.
There is really only one area that an all-in-one has the advantage over
a notebook computer, price. Because the all-in-one does not need to be portable, the engineering of the components does not
have to be as stringent on space, shock or power. This helps reduce the cost of building an all-in-one over a comparable notebook
All-in-one PCs are still a very niche
product. They don't offer the performance or flexibility of a desktop computer and don't have the portability of a notebook
computer. For some who have limited space for a computer and don't need to move it around, it may be the answer but for the
majority of consumers they would be better served by either a desktop or notebook. The one area that all-in-one PCs will likely
succeed is with them being integrated with TVs, but these are highly specialized and extremely expensive.