The AIO is a strange proposition for most people. In the business sphere, they make good sense given the space saving designs. At home, for those less technically inclined and even those that are technically proficient, the AIO design is a good workstation. It consolidates everything you could need into one usually nice package. They range from being cheap imitations of computing devices to high-end, gorgeous pieces of art. But what of the gaming crowd? What use would a machine with powerful components so close together, spewing heat in this mostly un-upgradable form? Does an AIO actually make sense for the gamer at all?

AIO Question

Th AIO is one option to consider, but not always

In some respects it doesn’t. You’re so limited in the amount of customization and upgradability, that sacred power that all gamers and enthusiasts seek out. We want to be able to tinker with our machines. Make them better as time goes on and swap things out. The typical, business-class AIO doesn’t allow you to do that. Gaming AIO’s have started to appear, but even then their tightly designed chassis only allow so much. Overclocking is an exercise in patience and can be like playing chicken with the amount of heat in close proximity. Like a laptop, the AIO might have their use.

Space constraints might be the number one reason, that and the convenience of having everything you need in one package. An all-in-one is a laptop-type bundled device, but stationary. I can already see people piping up and saying “Isn’t that a desktop,” and they’d be right, except this goes beyond that quite obviously for the screen. Does that mean they should be overlooked?

AIO Question

Absolutely not. In fact, they should probably be more prevalent in your search, albeit cautiously so and likely only if you appreciate consolidation. And not necessarily for the value, either. A good AIO tailored specifically for gaming will cost, perhaps, pennies less than a similar setup or maybe even a bit more. No, the combination of components is less about saving money but more about seeking a compact, long lasting package that can sustain your needs until major updates to CPU’s and their chipsets have found their release.

It’s the same debate, really, as with any prospective system you’ll want to build or buy. You’ll be whittling down what specifications you need and what you can afford, aligning those two usually opposing ideas. An AIO can be a space saver, among other things. And more than that, it can look good and be just as relevant for just as long as the setup you’re about to pull the trigger on anyway. The only difference is that in some circumstances you won’t have a case to continue upgrading into. Cases are changed often, for the most part, so that point might even be moot. A survey of over 200 PC gaming enthusiasts revealed that the majority, 64% tended to buy a new case for their next build anyway.

So why an AIO for gaming? And do they even do a good job? We’ve had the Lenovo IdeaCenter Y900 AIO in our hands for a few weeks and we’re convinced that they can be a good idea. They won’t be the answer for everyone, but they do have an argument. The primary one being consolidation for a cleaner desktop gaming experience. Component selection and cooling have come a long way. Good engineering have been able to stuff some fairly competent power into a small space, and without the compromises you might think there would be. This particular gaming machine isn’t fully upgradable, but it does let you change out some of the more important components. A new GPU can be installed, more storage and higher capacity RAM. While waiting for truly revolutionary changes to CPU architectures, that should be more than enough. Unless you really want to switch out the CPU, of which examples that are mini-ITX builds in a monitor do exist. But the Lenovo Y900 AIO is a good machine with a good screen on the front. It’s even quiet. Surprising with the Founders Edition GTX 1080. Being how power efficient Pascal has been, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see a future 1080 Ti, or even a Pascal Titan X work well in here. And of course there are others where a good screen becomes the case, and to pretty good effect.

AIO Gaming Machine

The utility is there, it’s just harder to see given how obsessed we enthusiasts might be with changing out components and having that minute control. But these do give a good argument for those looking for a simpler solution. There may not be any major, show-stopping reasons to want an AIO for your gaming machine, though for the beginning PC gamer it does make for a simpler option while you grow your own knowledge, and get more space.

Newer AIO machines aren’t like the sad alternatives from many moons ago. No, manufacturers, like Lenovo, have learned a lot from the successes of that one brand who started combining premium components to great effect. And the results are machines that are far and above more improved than ever. A great screen and a better engineered PC inside make for a much better argument. And we’ve got those now. Would I ever use one as a personal PC? Perhaps, it’s hard to ignore the infusion of good technology that make these things on par with decent to good gaming PCs. In the future I can see myself doing that, a small corner tucked away with one of these things specifically for gaming. A purpose-built machine with everything elegantly on on the desk.

It’s one dream out of many, and it shouldn’t be outright dismissed if you’re new to PC gaming. It can make sense under the right circumstances.