HotHardware's 2013 Back To School Shopping Guide

All-in-One PCs

HP Z1 27-inch AIO
The HP Z1 Workstation successfully juggles several balls. It provides solid performance for the price, offering serious power for well under $3,000. The system also scores well when it comes to access – in fact, it’s easier to get to the Z1’s internals than it is to access the guts of many ordinary desktops. You won’t need a flashlight to find your way around this system’s interior either; once that lid goes up, it’s wide open. The Z1 also has a polished, professional look, even from behind, so it's going to look nice on the desktop as well.

Given the Z1’s performance and accessibility, we recommend it to anyone looking for solid workstation in an space conscious environment or where aesthetics matter. There are other configuration options – if you don’t need quite as much power as our review unit provided, you can reduce that price tag significantly by choosing less-expensive parts. Our full review is here.

Dell XPS 18 Portable All-In-One
Compared to most other AIO rigs we've reviewed, the XPS 18 had enough vigor to not only keep up in most instances, but surpass some of last year's models. In PCMark 7, for example, the XPS 18 scored 4,318, nearly 2,000 points above the Asus ET2410, Lenovo IdeaCentre A720, and HP TouchSmart 520. The only system it trailed was Dell's burly XPS One 27. Similar situations played out in other tests, though the lack of a dedicated solid state drive and discrete graphics prevented the XPS 18 tearing through GPU and storage intensive benchmarks.

What's neat about the XPS 18 is that you can pick up the display and take it with you to the living room, bedroom, or even the bathroom if you've run out of shampoo bottles to read. Unfortunately, it's too big and heavy (around 5 pounds) to serve as a legitimate tablet replacement, and you'd look awfully silly lugging this sucker on the bus. It's also an expensive piece of equipment at $999 currently, and since it's somewhat unwieldy because of its size, there's a greater risk of dropping it than there is with a Nexus 7 or something of that nature. Our full review can be found here.

Dell XPS 27 Touch All-in-One
Hands down, the Dell XPS 27 Touch Touch is the most powerful all-in-one we’ve tested to date. It annihilated every other machine in our reference database in every test, including Dell's own last-generation model, the original XPS One 27. Some scores approached those of solid gaming rigs we’ve had in the lab previously, thanks to the system's fast processor and discrete NVIDIA graphics.

For such performance, as well as the attractive form factor and all that it offers, the XPS 27 Touch's as-configured price tag of $1699 (or less) is appealing, to boot. If you’re looking for a low-power AIO you can find cheaper options, but the Dell XPS 27 Touch is as close to a true “all-in-one” as you’ll get at this point in time  This new Dell AIO offers users--even gamers, up to a point--all of the amenities you’d want in a PC, from robust components to a nice array of ports and multimedia capabilities. The XPS 27 Touch is one of the best, no-compromise offerings we've ever seen in this class of products. Our full review can be found here.

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