In the market for computers, there is a wide variety of options for people to choose from. Do you want to get a laptop? Or a desktop PC? Or even an All-in-One computer? It is also easy to get confused with the terms thrown around, especially if you’re not familiar with the tech market. Even so, there is a good chance that you know what a laptop does and whether that suits your needs. If not, you can check out our article about it here. in this article, we will explore the differences between the desktop PC and All-in-One computer so you are better-informed when shopping for your next computer.
What is a desktop PC?
According to HP, a desktop PC is the ‘traditional version of a stationary computer’. Basically, it’s the tower system that we are all familiar with (see image below).
Image taken from Volta PC website.
What is an All-in-One computer?
Once again, according to HP, an All-in-One computer is a machine that ‘combines a desktop computer, including the processor, memory, graphics, and storage, with a monitor and speakers into a single piece of equipment.’ This makes it similar to a laptop, for you can’t separate the display from the other components. It also greatly reduces the customizability of the computer, like a laptop. This is unlike desktop PCs.
Now that we are all acquainted with both desktop PCs and All-in-One computers, it’s time to explore the differences between both options. In this article, we will be comparing both machines according to this list:
Desktop PCs are very popular for their customizability. You can customize any parts of the PC to your liking. For example, if you decide that the GPU (graphics card) is too old to run the games or programs that you use, then you can always just pop it open and replace it. If you decide that you might want to have a larger storage system, then just pop it open and replace the storages with larger ones. Not enough RAM? Just pop it open and replace it. The most unique thing about desktop PCs is that you can always pop them open and replace the parts.
This is not something that you can do with an All-in-One computer. As mentioned earlier, All-in-One computers contain all the components, together with the display screen, into one package. So it goes that the latter lacks customizability as compared to the former. You cannot just pop it open and replace any component that you want. Instead, if components spoil or become outdated, you’ll have little choice but to completely replace the machine.
We would say that this fares worse than laptops. On laptops, you are able to access the storage and RAM and replace them as you see fit. However, for All-in-One computers, they are ‘not designed with modification in mind’, according to CDW. It is not easy to get access into the components for these computers, unlike desktop PCs and laptops. Even if you managed to pry open the entire computer, you might also find that most parts are soldered onto the motherboard, once again defying your wish to replace those parts.
Hence, when it comes to customizability, All-in-One computers greatly fall short of desktop PCs. So, when thinking about both options, think about whether you are the type to customize your computer or have little care for that. If you belong to the former category, then the desktop PC would be a much better option for you. If not, then you can still continue considering the All-in-One computers.
Unlike All-in-One computers, there is a huge market for gaming desktop PCs. Many pro gamers such as Faker, Ninja etc. use gaming desktop PCs that contain the latest components to bring them the highest gaming performances. Gaming Youtubers such as Pewdiepie, Markiplier etc. also use desktop PCs to handle their games and allow even the most demanding AAA game to run smoothly. This relies heavily on the desktop PCs having great customizability options, which the All-in-One computers simply do not have.
Other than gaming, desktop PCs can be used for productivity as well. Towers such as the Dell OptiPlex 5090 Tower, Apple Mac Mini and more are primarily used for productivity. We’ll throw in Volta PC’s very own Model A into the mix as well; this tower does productivity work very well due to its impeccable components inside, aside from gaming. All 3 models can be found below.
Images taken from PC Mag.
Lastly, desktop PCs can be used for creative work as well. We defined ‘creative work’ as multimedia work such as video and photo production, editing etc. As mentioned before, the high customizability of desktop PCs allows you to place specific components in it to serve whichever purpose you want. So, if you dabble in creative work quite a bit, having the option to choose the best components for that purpose is very beneficial. For example, if you are a video editor that uses Adobe’s Premiere Pro and After-Effects quite a bit, or if you use Photoshop and Illustrator, then CPUs such as AMD’s Ryzen 7 and 9 series would greatly benefit you. GPUs such as Nvidia’s RTX 30 series (or even 40 series if you have the budget) would be amazing as well. Basically, depending on your needs, you can customize desktop PCs to fit them.
But All-in-One computers have their clear purposes too; productivity and creative work. Maybe not so much of gaming. Popular ones such as Apple’s iMac series and HP’s Envy 34 (see below) can often be found in offices and creative studios everywhere around the world.
Images taken from PC Mag.
It is not uncommon to see All-in-One computers occupying many offices as compared to desktop PCs. It takes up lesser space than the latter, so you don’t have to worry about the lack of space on your desk. For desktop PCs, you would need to have an external display to serve as the monitor in addition to the PC itself. However, for All-in-One computers, since the external display is already attached to the power components, there is no tower to take up additional space in your office.
Again, you can choose the model that best fits your purpose. Should you be dabbling in creative work, then picking a computer like the iMac can greatly benefit you. It has good components that support processing of videos and photos in creative apps such as Premiere Pro, Photoshop and the Apple-exclusive Final Cut Pro.
Furthermore, the specifications for All-in-One computers tend to be productivity-focused rather than gaming. Most computers have a max. 75 Hz refresh rate, and not 144 Hz and above, which is the case for most gaming monitors. Some All-in-One computers have a wide screen as well (See HP Envy 34 above). This allows workers to view large datasheets or have split-screen capabilities so that they can multitask to improve productivity.
So it really depends on what you want your computer to do. Are you looking to game on it, or to use it as a mere productivity tool? Do you do creative work? All these are important questions to have when looking at a suitable computer for your needs.
There are 2 types of desktop PCs; custom-built and pre-built. Prices differ significantly for them, and you can check out our article here for more information on the difference in price and more for both types. Basically, custom PCs are significantly cheaper than pre-built ones for a similar configuration. This is because of additional costs such as manpower etc. taken into account for pre-built desktop PCs. This is not a concern for custom PCs because most of the time, you are the one building your own PC. Here at Volta PC though, we do offer custom-building PCs services. If you happen to be a beginner at building PCs, you can check out our services here.
Most All-in-One computers are not super expensive, given that the components tend to not be super expensive themselves. Since productivity work require minimal processing speeds, the technical requirements are not high. For creative work, some All-in-One computers such as Apple’s iMac might be a little bit more on the pricey side. This is because of the more-expensive components that are housed inside to process the creative work. But generally, All-in-One computers are on the cheaper side as compared to desktop PCs because of the lower technical requirements of productivity work as compared to gaming, which are main purposes of both types respectively.
Which to get?
Desktop PCs and All-in-One computers have stark differences that mostly lie in customizability and purposes. Generally, if you’re looking for a gaming computer, you should be looking at desktop PCs more so than All-in-One computers. The former has a way higher level of customizability than All-in-One computers (which is practically non-existent). That allows you to choose the right components needed to improve the overall gaming experience.
Whereas if you are looking for a productivity machine, you would consider All-in-One computers as well as they are mostly made for productivity purposes. If you work in an office, you would need to take into consideration space constraints as well. The All-in-One computers take up lesser space so they might be more suitable in offices than desktop PCs.
Finally, if you’re looking at creative work, then both are fair game. Desktop PCs, as mentioned earlier, have customizability options. So you can choose the right components to efficiently process your creative work. All-in-One computers offer good options for creative work as well, but you lose out on customizability.
All in all, there are sacrifices that you have to make when picking either option. It just depends on what your priorities are. If you have settled on picking a desktop PC, Volta PC has both custom-built and pre-built options; Models V, T and A. Don’t worry about the latter, our prices are very reasonable.
For other articles about gaming PCs, laptops and more, check them out here.