Q & A Desktop or All-in-One?

This week's blog is answering a question from Simone regarding desktop computers versus all-in-one systems.

Hi Doc, what do you recommend, a desktop computer or an all-in-one? I see a lot of all-in-ones advertised and they seem like they might be a good option, would appreciate your thoughts!

Thanks for the question Simone, I often get asked this one. All-in-one systems do offer some benefits such as taking up considerably less room than a desktop, simplified setup and easier transport should you need to move it. That said, these systems also have a number of drawbacks. One of the biggest is you are limited in upgrade options, aside from being able to replace the hard drive or RAM, you really don't have any other upgrade paths. Not only that, even these upgrades can be fiddly and require the PC be disassembled to do this. Another big issue faced by these AiO setups is heat and the ability to effectively dissipate it. These are essentially built in a similar way to laptops, cramming all the bits into a small area and relying on a dinky little fan to get rid of the heat which quickly builds up inside. Not ideal particularly in a hotter climate I can assure you.

The problem with a computer that runs hot is that this can affect performance. If the CPU gets too hot it will be throttled in an attempt to cool it down which in turn will impact the performance of the computer. 

A desktop PC gives you pretty much endless upgrade options, you can add multiple hard drives, upgrade the video card, add a beefier power supply and you can use whatever monitor you want. Plus a desktop PC has far better cooling options available from air coolers through to water cooling. 

From a technician's persepective desktops are far easier to work on and usually involve a lot less swearing. They're designed to be opened up and tinkered with, unlike the AiO which is usually shrouded in secrecy and requires a blood sacrifice to get into.

The biggest question though is what the intended use of the computer is. If you're doing anything other than just basic things such as web browsing or some word processing then my recommendation would be a desktop without question. Things like gaming, video editing or graphic design will most certainly benefit from the extra power and cooling capabilities of a desktop.

So at the end of the day while an AiO can save you some space, the limitations far outweigh any benefits in my humble opinion.

Closing Rant

Personally I think all-in-ones should be relegated to the scrapheap, it's a flawed technology in that they overheat way too easily and if one thing goes wrong with them it usually means you have to replace the whole thing. Oh sure in theory the spare parts are there but they're either unavailable or prohibitively expensive so if anything other than the hard drive needs replacing, you're plain out of luck. And don't get me started on getting into these things, I'm convinced the designers have a meeting to discuss how to make it the most frustrating and nonsensical experience ever. Macs are just as bad, if not worse. Form over function, what a load of rubbish.

For the little bit of extra space the trusty old desktop might need, it's well and truly worth it every day of the week.


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