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For many college and university students, their dorm room is their sanctuary. The place they can hang out, do homework or just relax. Actually, the same thing is true of teenagers and their bedrooms. Another thing both these “lairs” share in common is a lack of space. All-in-One computers are perfect for these situations. You get the PC power needed for school, along with a big screen. Choosing an AiO PC means one compact, stylish package can also replace a game console, DVD player, stereo and TV. That’s why I say All-in-One PCs are the ultimate dorm room and entertainment hubs.

I’ve always been a big fan of All-in-One PCs and their multipurpose flexibility. When it was time to upgrade my own kids’ rooms to something more befitting teenagers, an Apple iMac was the focal point. That gave them a capable PC for doing homework, a computer able to play video games, along with a stereo and home theatre system—all tied in to our iTunes library for content. The AiO PCs take up minimal desks space (less than a laptop in many cases) while offering a big, high resolution display. They look pretty cool, too …

There Are Plenty of Compelling Windows All-in-One PCs

When you think of AiO PCs, the model that tends to immediately come to mind is the iMac. Apple helped kick off the personal computer era with the All-in-One Macintosh and it’s been perfecting the form factor for years with the iMac. However, the iMac is far from the only All-in-One in town and PC manufacturers offer many compelling alternatives if Windows is your preferred platform.

Windows Advantages: Touchscreen Support and Software Library

When it comes to All-in-One PCs, there are two areas where Windows-based models offer a significant advantage over an iMac running OS X.

First there’s software compatibility. It’s a fact of life that there is more software made for Windows than for OS X. This is far from a deal killer for many people—most popular software like Microsoft Office is offered in a Mac version, and there are several workarounds that can let a Mac run Windows if you really want to. However, in some cases (gaming in particular), the native selection just may not be there if you choose an iMac.

The bigger issue is touchscreen support. Many Windows AiO PCs support touch input, and with Windows’ touch gestures and the handiness of a big display in front of you, the appeal of a touchscreen can be tough to resist. You can’t get this capability in an iMac as Apple only supports touch input on its iOS mobile devices. With standalone PC monitors offering touch support still relatively rare, touchscreen capability is also a compelling reason for choosing an AiO PC over a regular desktop PC.

A Few Examples of AiO PCs That Would Rock a Dorm Room

Now that we’re past the Mac vs Windows thing, it’s time to get to the good stuff: a few AiO computers that show off just how good the form factor can be. Here are a few choice candidates to be your ultimate dorm room entertainment hub.

HP White Touchscreen All-in-One PC

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With a 4th generation, quad-core intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a fast, 7200 RPM 1TB hard drive, this AiO computer will be capable of running pretty much any software a student might need and storing a massive multimedia library. The 10-point multitouch display lets users take full advantage of Windows touch input and at 23-inches and Full HD resolution, the widescreen IPS LED screen is ideal for watching video. Integrated stereo speakers are powered by B&O Audio for premium sound. With its built-in DVD burner, who needs a TV, DVD player or home theatre system when they have one of these computers on their desk?

Its slim white form factor doesn’t just save space, it looks great too.

HP Envy 27-inch All-in-One PC

HP Envy AiO goes horizontal for touch.jpgThis is an All-in-One computer that’s guaranteed to turn heads.

A massive 27-inch Full HD, edge-to-edge IPS LED display is suspended in place by an aluminum stand that offers incredible flexibility. As a touchscreen interface, it’s pretty inviting and that stand lets you use it in a near horizontal mode. As a TV replacement in a dorm room or bedroom, it offers a big, widescreen 1080p view. And as a stylish accessory, this Envy AiO has a super slim, minimalist appeal.

The HP Envy has a few more tricks up its sleeve that make it tough to top as an entertainment hub. A 2.7 GHz intel Core i7 CPU, 12 GB of RAM and a 1TB hybrid hard drive (for massive storage plus wicked fast system performance) means it can compete with the best when it comes to raw PC power. Sound is delivered via BeatsAudio with a built-in subwoofer, giving deep bass punch to music, movies and video games. 

Speaking of video games, with this rig you can crank up the settings. Instead of relying on built-in graphics, the HP Envy 27-inch All-in-One PC has a dedicated video card, NVIDIA’s GeForce 830A with 1GB of DDR3 memory. If you want, you can even hook up a game console like an Xbox through its HDMI input port and use this AiO PC as a display.

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The latest 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi and USB 3.0 ports ensure connectivity is just as fast as the rest of this computer.

Do You Need to Accessorize an All-in-One PC?

Another of the nice things about All-in-One computers, is that they usually have everything you need, right out of the box. With most AiO’s that includes a keyboard and mouse and webcam as well. About the only thing you might need is a printer. If you really want your sound to have punch, you could always add a set of external computer speakers or a Bluetooth speaker to the mix, but other than that I can’t think of anything you’d need to make an All-in-One PC the centrepiece of a dorm or bedroom entertainment hub that the computer doesn’t ship with.

With back to school shopping getting more expensive every year, knowing you don’t have to fork over even more cash for extras after buying your student a PC definitely helps that budget. So does not having to also buy a TV, DVD player, stereo and game console …

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. I have been writing about technology for several decades for a wide range of outlets including Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, MSN,, Kiplinger, and GeekDad. I’m in my 10th year as a senior contributor for Forbes with a focus on reviewing music-related tech, Apple gear, battery power stations and other consumer electronics. My day job is with the Malware Research Center at AI-native cybersecurity pioneer CrowdStrike.