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Discussion in 'Alternatives to Mac Hardware' started by Scarpad, Nov 7, 2018.
In the windows 10 world that’s decent?
If you're tech savoy building your own PC will get you a really good Windows computer at a good price. On the laptop side there are plenty of good companies that make them.
A few models that come to mind if you are looking for an all-in-one design such as the iMac are
- Microsoft Surface Studio
- HP Pavilion All-in-One
- HP Envy All-in-One
- Dell XPS 27” All-in-One
- Asus Vivo AiO
I am sure that that there are others I am forgetting or unaware of. I don’t have personal experience with any of them aside from looking at the Surface Studio in store and owning a couple other surface devices. But it’s a beginning list.
i've looked at the asus and it looks nice
It really depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for an all-in-one, there are alternatives in the PC world, which are nice and good-looking. But comparable to an iMac is a different thing. There are basically two different sizes of an iMac, which is 21.5-inch, and 27-inch.
The 27-inch iMac, for instance, uses a beautiful retina IPS display, capable of a resolution of 5120x2880, and is super-bright at 500 nits. The screen is just gorgeous. Plus, it comes with a desktop-class processor (65W TDP), which is faster than a low-power or a laptop-class processor (the current processor of the iMac is still a 7th gen Core, but should be updated soon). Plus, it comes with an AMD Radeon Pro video card, which is a dedicated video card. These components usually produce a lot of heat, as they are designed for desktop towers, but Apple's great design allows adequate cooling inside the iMac for them. The iMac also comes with a Fusion Drive, which means it combines 128 GB of SSD (which is super-fast) with the amount of storage provided by the HDD. That comes at a price, and the cheapest 27-inch iMac costs USD 1,799.
The iMac is definitely an option as you can install Windows on it. Now, to the mentioned alternatives:
Microsoft Surface Studio
The Microsoft Surface Studio is also a gorgeous piece of hardware. The 2nd gen, just like the 1st gen, comes with a 28-inch screen, with a resolution of 4500x3000 (and an aspect ratio of 3:2), and is multi-touch. Plus, the display is foldable, which is absolutely amazing. It comes with 1 or 2 TB SSD, which is great. The processor is a Core i7-7820HQ, laptop-class, but a top-of-line one. It will also feature a powerful desktop-class NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or 1070 video card. But it is very expensive at USD 3,499 (the cheapest one). This is the one that really gives the iMac a run for its money, as it features impressive specs (the processor is slower, but it makes it up with more RAM, better storage, and better video cards), and the display is kind of equivalent.
HP Pavilion All-in-One
The 27-inch Pavilion is way cheaper, but also not in the same league. The most expensive one costs USD 1,449 and comes with a 2560x1440 display, which is not "retina" level. Cheaper models come with a 1920x1080 display, which is kind of low for a 27-inch. This particular model comes with a Core i7-8700T processor, which is fast, but low-power. The video card is an NVIDIA GeForce MX130, which is weak compared to the iMac and the Surface. The memory is decent at 16 GB, and the storage is good, with a 256 SSD and a 2 TB HDD. It has some beefed-up specs, although probably HP could not make a cooling system good enough for a 65W processor, let alone a desktop-class video card. The form factor is clearly inferior, with a worse display.
HP Envy All-in-One
The Envy is HP's attempt to go high-end. The 27-inch model starts with a 2560x1440 display in the cheapest model (USD 1,599), but go as high as a 3840x2160 (4K) one in the most expensive one (USD 1,849). This last one is closer to the quality of the screen in the iMac/Surface. There is also a line of 34-inch curved models, with a 3440x1440 (at least on the most expensive model, at USD 1,999). In these models, the screen is wider, but the resolution is no "retina"-class. All the models use 8th gen Core processors, but it is the low-power variant. The video card is the GTX 1050, which is desktop level and quite good, but still not up to the level of the ones in the Surface Studio. RAM and storage are decent like in the Pavillion, and the Bang & Olufsen sound should be good.
Dell XPS 27” All-in-One
The Dell XPS 27-inch begins at USD 1,499 and reaches up to USD 2,999. They all come with a 27-inch 3840x2160 (4K) touch display with 300 nits. Good, and comparable to the high-end Envy, but not in the same level of the iMac. The models all come with a 7th gen Core desktop-class (65W TDP) processor, which is last-gen just like the iMac, but packs more punch than a lower-power one. The cheapest models come with just the integrated video card, which is not really great for the 4K monitor; only the most expensive ones feature an AMD Radeon one. SSD storage is available in more expensive models.
Asus Vivo AiO
The Asus Vivo looks nice, but the 27-inch monitor features only a 1920x1080 (Full HD) resolution, which is low. The video card is an integrated one. The processor is a low-power, notebook-class, 8th gen Core i5, which tends to be less powerful than the others. Storage is just HDD, with no SSD option. It is the cheapest one at USD 999, but also the one that offers less. It is comparable to the low-end HP Pavillions.
If I were in the market for one of these, I would probably buy the high-end Envy, which sits at USD 1,849 with a good 4K IPS screen, SSD storage, an 8th gen Intel processor, and a decent video card. My second option would probably be the Dell XPS 27, in one of the most expensive versions with SSD storage and a dedicated video card. I would only buy the Surface Studio if I needed the great foldable screen, otherwise it would be too expensive. At the price of the Microsoft Studio, I could consider an iMac Pro, which starts at USD 4,999, but it is a whole other level of performance.
The ones I would not buy at all would be the Asus Vivo AiO and the low-end Pavilion. I simply cannot stand HDD performance, which is terrible, and a 1920x1080 resolution on a 27-inch monitor. They are the cheapest ones, but also the only thing that they have in common with the iMac is the form factor. They are far worse computers.
So, you may save money buying the Asus, but be sure that you see one in person before doing it. The product may be very different from what you are thinking. One of the reasons the iMac is so expensive is that the gorgeous screen costs a lot to make, and if you go cheaper the visual experience will be inferior.
You always have the option of not buying an all-in-one, and building your own desktop instead. If you wish to save money, this is by far the best alternative. You can put up a great computer for a better price, and then add a great monitor and accessories. It will not be as beautiful as an all-in-one, but your machine will be far better. If you really want an all-in-one, be prepared to spend, as those things are expensive.
You don't need to go to either the extreme of an AiO or a tower, you can build a mini-ITX desktop, and let the whole thing evolve as you need.
That is another option. But the mini-ITX is not an all-in-one and does not eliminate the need for additional cables. And, being a mini desktop, it does not support the best processors and video cards, which consume more energy and require a larger one. But it is a middle-term compromise.