Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: The performance of this Asus all-in-one PC wasn't terribly impressive. But, just because this is no benchmark monster, doesn't mean it's not a capable machine for what it was designed to do. In fact, for a $500 PC, its performance in every day tasks was laudatory. Average users will have no issues composing documents, firing up a few Internet Explorer tabs, keeping up with their e-mail, and handling those basic computing tasks that the target market of this machine will need to accomplish. There is plenty of power here to handle high definition digital video content playback, as well as multitasking with applications that aren't serious number crunchers or applications that otherwise put a huge strain on the graphics chip.The bottom line is this: Asus has managed to package a delicate mix of parts into an AIO machine that performs better than expected given the price. For $500, which includes the cost of a 20-inch display, you have to set your expectations accordingly and Asus in general has delivered. The overall form factor and design is one that we applaud. Having an all-in-one PC that is less than 1 inch thick is impressive, regardless of price point. Sure, the included mouse and keyboard are not spectacular peripherals, but they do serve the purpose and are more than adequate for the target market.
The inclusion of a DVD burner is also worth pointing out. For a machine this inexpensive and slim, Asus could have easily left that off and maintained the $500 price point without taking too much flack. But instead, you are left with the machine that is far more flexible from a content creation and a content playback standpoint. It is somewhat disappointing that there is no HDMI or DVI output, but being able to attach a secondary VGA monitor is a plus in what is essentially a budget machine. Would we have preferred to see USB 3.0 ports and perhaps some more I/O around back? Of course, but that is just the performance junkie inside of us longing for something that is probably not necessary for the target customer base and mainstream market that this system appeals to.
So long as you don't expect this to be a gaming machine on the side, or one that processes video with any level of serious speed, your expectations and this machine's ability to deliver should be well aligned. If you are curious about touch, we never once found ourselves missing it here. We suspect that touch will become a far more integral part of the computing experience once the next version of Windows hits the market. For now, even the best Windows 7 overlays aren't enough to encourage us to give up the traditional keyboard and mouse as a primary interface. Therefore, we don't quite see the value in paying extra for a touchscreen computer in a situation such as this, where cost concerns are clearly paramount.
When it comes to basic computational chores and general web browsing or multitasking, this machine manages to handle that quite well. We felt a minimal amount of lag when the machine was under load or a multitude of applications were open simultaneously, but we frankly expected more sluggishness than we perceived. And that spacious 1 TB hard drive is also a luxury to have on board. If you need a new bargain machine for your studio apartment, dorm room, or bedroom, and have a hard budget limit of $500, this Asus all-in-one machine is well worth considering.