5 Budget All-in-One PCs for College Students
Laptops are awesome. They're convenient, portable, and relatively powerful: the perfect combination for college. But sometimes you just want the comfort of a display, a full-sized keyboard and mouse, and speakers that don't make every singer sound like a screaming banshee.
Fri, August 30, 2013
PC World — Laptops are awesome. They're convenient, portable, and relatively powerful: the perfect combination for college. But sometimes you just want the comfort of a display, a full-sized keyboard and mouse, and speakers that don't make every singer sound like a screaming banshee.
Well, you have two choices: You can get a traditional desktop computer and a stand-alone display and speakers, or you can buy an all-in-one that integrates the computer, display, and speakers into a single chassis. A desktop might cost a little less (don't forget to factor in the price of a display and speakers), but it won't move well. All those internal components can be jarred loose in transit, creating major troubleshooting headaches every time you set it up in your next domicile. And if you're a typical college kid, you'll be moving--again and again--for the next several years.
Fortunately, all-in-ones have become more powerful and dropped in price over the past several years. The five all-in-ones we've gathered here are perfect for college students: They have large touchscreens, good speakers, solid media editing and encoding capabilities, and big hard drives. Those are features you'll be thankful for when finals--and parties--come around.
Each of these computers can easily handle productivity tasks--word processing, number crunching, and Web surfing--without breaking a sweat, but they can also deliver excellent audio and video experiences when you're ready to relax. Yes, there are more powerful AIOs on the market, and the ones we've picked might not be the best choice for graphic design or media-production majors, but any one of them will help you manage your school work and watch Netflix.
CPU, memory, and storage specs
I used several criteria to evaluate these all-in-ones, including benchmark performance, multimedia experience, storage capacity, touchscreen quality, overall attractiveness, and price. Each model is based on a third-generation Intel Core processor, but no two have the same CPU. PCWorld uses a Core i5-powered Acer Aspire A5600U-UB13 as its desktop PC performance baseline.
It's true that the cloud offers almost limitless storage, but wouldn't you feel more comfortable keeping your school projects, photos, and videos close at hand, just in case? Keep a backup in the cloud, by all means, but all of these machines provide plenty of local storage. Each of the computers I evaluated came with a 1TB, 7200 rpm hard drive. An SSD--or at least an SSD cache--would deliver even better performance, but that's a feature you won't find in this price range.