The best all-in-one computers elegantly combine a desktop monitor and the components of a desktop PC into a single device. It's a great option for anyone that wants plenty of power, but without the tangle of cables.
All-in-one desktops are great whether you need a high-powered system for professional use or a basic desktop for your kid's classes and homework — they take up less room than traditional towers, and offer more screen space than even the largest laptops. These unique systems pack their components, ports and monitors into a single unit, allowing you to easily put one on your desk, plug in and get to work (or play).
But you have to choose wisely: the trade-off for the compact design of an all-in-one is the loss of freedom you have to crack open the case and start swapping components out.
To help guide you in the right direction, we've tested several all-in-one desktops (both Windows machines and Apple iMacs) to find the best PC and monitor combinations you can buy.
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The best all-in-one computers we've reviewed are often well-suited to specific uses, like photo and video editing or other professionally demanding tasks.
But the more affordable units can be great all-around performers, providing value for every member of the family, whether it's kids doing schoolwork or parents trying to get some work done or organize the family photo album. Whatever you want out of a desktop PC, there's a good chance one of the best all-in-one computers is up to the task.
What are the best all-in-one computers?
The best all-in-one computer we've tested is the 2020 Apple iMac with 5K Retina Display (27-inch). It's still the best all-in-one computer for photo and video editing, and a fantastic system all around, thanks to the classic iMac design and new hardware that bumps up the CPU and GPU to deliver excellent power for all of your tasks. It's especially well-suited to photo and video editing, but the Apple iMac will fit just as well in any home or office.
For the very best all-in-one computer for artists, however, there's no beating the Microsoft Surface Studio 2, which gives users a spacious touchscreen with best-in-class pen support, all positioned for optimal comfort. The hinged display drops down to a a low angle, mimicking the slant of an artist's drafting table, and pairing it with superb processing and graphics hardware.
And for unparalleled power, look no further than the Apple iMac Pro, which is easily the best all-in-one computer workstation for pros. High-end processing and ISV-certified graphics are paired with speedy storage and up to 128GB of memory for an unstoppable combination of power and capability.
Finally, our favorite office desktop is both an all-in-one and a compact mini PC, the Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra. With an innovative design that slots a powerful mini PC into the stand of a Dell monitor, you get the clean desktop of an all-in-one computer with a modular system that can be easily updated year after year. It's an impressive merging of two disparate designs, and the result is impressive.
The best all-in-ones for going back to school
If you or a student you know needs a new all-in-one PC to go back to school, the Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra is a great choice because it's relatively affordable, takes up a small amount of space on your desk, and has enough power to handle most schoolwork.
If you have a bit more money to spend and like using macOS, the 24-inch iMac (2021) is a great choice for students because it has plenty of power to handle homework, a beautiful screen, and a nice 1080p webcam that helps you look your best on video calls.
Students who expect to do a lot of art and design work should consider the Microsoft Surface Studio 2. It's comparatively expensive, but if you can swing it you'll have a hard time finding a better PC for digital art and design work.
The best all-in-one computers you can buy today
The Apple iMac 27-inch (2020) is the latest iMac and may be the last Intel-powered all-in-one from Apple, but it couldn't have come at a better time. The new iMac boasts Intel 10th-generation processors, AMD Radeon Pro 5000 series graphics, and perhaps most importantly, a 1080p webcam – a big step up from the 720p cameras used in older iMacs. But the 2020 iMac can be had with even more great features, such as the optional nano-texture glass and enhanced speakers.
The iMac design remains unchanged, complete with thick bezels around the screen and a prominent aluminum chin below the display, but the screen in question is a Retina 5K display, which has 5120 x 2880 pixels of colorful detail, as well as P3 wide color gamut support. It also has TrueTone color temperature adjustment, which automatically shifts the color on screen to look best for the ambient light in the room. It's so good it won a recommendation for best all-in-one PC in our Tom's Guide Awards 2021.
Read our full Apple iMac 27-inch (2020) review.
The Apple iMac 2021 (24-inch) is a breath of fresh air for the aging iMac line, arriving with a beautiful display, an excellent webcam and an array of bright new color schemes. This is also the first iMac to incorporate Apple’s M1 chip, a custom bit of silicon that’s already proven itself to be powerful and efficient in the M1 MacBook Air, the M1 MacBook Pro, and the Mac mini with M1.
Here it gives this 24-inch all-in-one enough power to handily run all your favorite apps with power to spare, though if you want to play the latest games you're probably better off with the 27-inch iMac and its discrete Radeon graphics card. But if you just want a powerful, beautiful machine for getting things done, this M1-powered iMac is more than capable of handling whatever tasks a family or student might throw at it. We like it so much we gave it the award for best all-in-one PC in our Tom's Guide Awards 2021.
Read our full Apple iMac 24-inch review.
The Microsoft Surface Studio 2 is the best thing around for anyone who does digital art, thanks to a gorgeous touchscreen that drops down low for comfortable touch and pen use. The better-than-4K display looks amazing, the touch screen supports both the Surface Pen and Surface Dial and the design is top-notch. The design alone would make this the best touchscreen all-in-one for drawing, but the addition of best-in-class pen support takes it upo another level.
The updated Surface Studio 2 gets beefier processing and graphics hardware, switches to all-solid-state drives for storage, and gets an even better version of the PixelSense display that offers enhanced brightness and contrast. It's one of the best all-in-one computers we've seen, and our top pick for media creators and artists.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Studio 2 review.
Our new favorite office desktop does a cool disappearing trick, with a funky design that hides a powerful mini PC inside a specially designed monitor stand that turns it into a low-profile all-in-one PC. Packing plenty of capability into its tiny size and offering a modular solution for offices that want to upgrade often, the Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra is a cool twist on the mini PC in the workplace.
The mini PC itself is so slim it might get mistaken for a laptop battery pack or a desktop dock, but inside it boasts an Intel Core processor, up to 64GB of RAM and as much as 1TB of storage. It has plenty of ports and performance that puts it squarely among the best productivity-focused PCs you can buy – in any form factor.
Read our full Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra review.
Editor's Note: (March 2021) Apple has confirmed that it is discontinuing the Apple iMac Pro, and will no longer be selling the system once current stock sells out.
When it comes to all-in-one computers, they just don’t come more powerful than this. The Apple iMac Pro reclaims the Pro title with way more processing and graphics power than any consumer will ever need, making it the perfect addition to the professional video studio, the audio engineering booth or the architect’s office.
Equipped with a 10-core Intel Xeon processor, workstation grade graphics and a mind-bending 128GB of RAM, this machine is pure power. Plus, the iMac design gets a stylish upgrade with the iMac Pro's cool space gray anodized finish. You can even get the Apple Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse or Touchpad to match. It's the best all-in-one computer for anyone that wants to keep the sleek iMac design, but needs serious power in a workstation.
Read our full Apple iMac Pro review.
How to choose the best all-in-one computer for you
When shopping for a new desktop like one of the best all-in-one computers listed above, it helps to have a clear idea of what your intended uses are for the new system. If you're after a basic machine for web browsing, there are plenty of budget systems that will fit the bill, but more demanding uses like editing photo and video or even creating new artistic content will demand a more powerful system.
For most users, we recommend looking for something with a Core i5 processor or better, with at least 8GB of memory, but more demanding users will want to opt for something more powerful, like an Intel Core i7, and more RAM will translate into faster, smoother operations. You may also want a discrete graphics card if you want to do any sort of gaming or media work.
Storage is also a major consideration. While many of the systems on our list offer 1TB or more of storage, we find that the best option is a dual drive system that offers a larger hard drive for file storage and a faster SSD for storing the operating system and programs.
Touch capability is common on many all-in-one computers, but not on Apple's iMac. If you want touch or stylus support, you'll definitely want to get a Windows machine.
And don't forget about the display. Larger screens are great, but you may get better bang for your buck by focusing on resolution, with 4K displays becoming more common, and some high-end all-in-ones offering even higher resolution options.
All-in-one computers run the gamut from affordable to premium pricing. Budget-friendly systems can be found for less than $1000, but will generally be limited to full HD resolution displays and low-powered Celeron and Pentium processors. The best all-in-one desktops can cost $2,000 or more, and boast 4K displays, the latest Intel Core i7 processors and discrete graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD.
Since these units are always plugged in, you might want to also invest in a good surge protector to make sure your all-in-one stays in good shape.
How we test all-in-one PCs
Every all-in-one we review goes through a variety of benchmark tests in our lab as well as long hours of real-world use. As with our laptop reviews, we use a colorimeter to measure the brightness, color accuracy and color gamut of each all-in-one's display.
For performance, we use the Geekbench 4 test to measure a system's overall processing abilities. We also run a custom spreadsheet test to see how long a PC takes to match thousands of names to addresses. To evaluate each system's hard drive speed, we measure how long it takes to copy 4.97 worth of files.
If an all-in-one has discrete graphics, we run it through many of the same benchmarks we use for gaming PCs. That includes 3DMark Fire Strike, as well as the built-in benchmark tools of games like Rise of the Tomb Raider, Hitman and Grand Theft Auto V. If an all-in-one is made to support virtual reality, we'll also run the SteamVR Performance Test.
Most importantly, we spend a ton of time simply using each all-in-one desktop for everyday activities. We watch movies, do work, play games, and blast music on the speakers, all to get a better sense of which ones are worth your money.
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