Are All-In-One Computers Good for Gaming?

New, more advanced games with stellar graphics, massive file sizes, and many other details come out every day. However, you don’t necessarily need a fancy gaming rig to be a gamer, and all-in-one computers can keep up with most of your gaming needs. 

While All-in-one computers are gaming capable, it isn’t recommended. They can usually handle advanced games but will have some limitations. They are also harder to fix when something goes wrong, and upgrading parts is not simple. Plus, the smaller screen can diminish the experience. 

I like to think of all-in-one computers almost as laptop hardware built into the back of a screen. But of course, the CPU in an all-in-one will usually be more powerful than a laptop’s CPU.

Some models can be reasonably powerful but cannot compete with the power and freedom compared to that of a desktop computer.

This article explains what an all-in-one computer is and the benefits and disadvantages of using them for gaming. 

Then, I’ll discuss some comparisons between them and gaming with desktop computers. 

an all-in-one computer

What is an all-in-one computer?

An all-in-one computer is a desktop computer condensed into a single piece of hardware. Usually, your computer’s processing parts are behind the screen, and there’s no tower. 

All-in-one computers come with everything in one solid piece. 

Your monitor will usually include all of the computer’s parts, including the power supply, motherboard, cooling system, CPU, graphics card, WiFi and Bluetooth, RAM, and memory.

You’ll only need a mouse and a keyboard to boot. 

All-in-one computers are similar to laptops since everything is in one computer. 

However, unlike laptops, the keyboard and mouse are still separate in an all-in-one computer, and they are large enough that they usually need to sit on a desktop, so they are not quite as portable.

If you want to learn more about all-in-one computers before we discuss how they work for gaming, check out this Youtube video from The Boomer Consumer, which explains how all-in-one computers differ from traditional desktop computers:

Benefits of all-in-one computers for gaming

All-in-one computers have a lot of benefits for gaming which I will explain in this section. 

These benefits include their space-saving size, touchscreen features, and reduced energy use. So, let’s talk about it. 

Fewer parts save space

closeup of an all-in-one computer's mainboard

One of the most significant benefits of using an all-in-one computer for gaming is that it saves space. 

You primarily pay for the smallest possible form factor when you get an all-in-one. 

Since the actual computer is part of the screen and there is no extra tower you have to use, you will have more space on your desk.

An all-in-one computer also has fewer cords since your monitor is connected to your PSU inside. So you just have one external plug. 

Having fewer cords also keeps your gaming space looking nice, and it is one less thing to worry about!

Because all-in-ones save so much space and reduce clutter, they are especially popular among minimalists who want to keep their desktops looking clear and roomy. 

Having fewer parts of your computer and cords is not only necessary if you want to keep a clean space, but it is also easier to move it if you like to rearrange your gaming space often. 

Otherwise, it is better if you want to move your computer around so you can play games in different places. 

Finally, since there are fewer parts to your all-in-one computer, taking care of them is easier. 

You can clean them better since there is less to clean, and it is all in one piece that sits on your desktop. 

Touchscreen features

a woman using a touchscreen on an all-in-one computer

Another advantage of all-in-one computers is that they sometimes come with touchscreens

Many all-in-one computers have touchscreens which are hard to find on traditional desktop computer monitors

Having a touchscreen when you game makes it easier for you to reach certain screen areas faster by using your hands instead of relying solely on a mouse. 

Even if your mouse stops working, you can have the touchscreen to fall back on.

While not all games are compatible with touchscreens, many people prefer touchscreens for gaming, especially if your game is compatible with one. 

Also, if you get tired of using the touchscreen or switch to a game that does not work with a touchscreen, you can always use the mouse. 

Reduced energy use

The final advantage that all-in-one computers have is that they use significantly less energy than tower desktop computers. 

Part of the reason for this is because there are fewer parts to plug in, but an all-in-one can also manage part usage and optimize it for your setup and processing needs more intuitively. 

Tower desktop computers and gaming computers generally use more power, making them louder in most cases. 

You will have to deal with the sound while gaming as the computer continues to run and heats up over time. 

Finally, the most intense gamers will be gaming for multiple hours per day, and in addition to keeping their computer cool, they will want to limit the energy they are using during their gaming.

Since all-in-one computers use less power, you do not have to worry about your gaming significantly increasing your electric bill. 

Your cost of gaming will be less, and so will your impact on the environment.

However, the reduced power usage is mainly due to the fact that the hardware isn’t as powerful compared with desktop machines.

Disadvantages of all-in-one computers for gaming

There are also disadvantages to using all-in-one computers for gaming. 

Some drawbacks could make or break your gaming experience, so most gamers don’t opt for all-in-ones. 

All-in-one computers are not as efficient

One disadvantage of all-in-one computers over gaming computers is that they may not be as efficient or fast. 

Since all parts in an all-in-one computer need to be within the same unit, they are often smaller, like the pieces used in laptop computers. 

Given the limited internal space, some components don’t make it into the case. 

The first things to go are usually advanced graphics and larger cooling systems. 

Gaming requires fast speeds and high performance since games move fast and players want good reaction times. 

While many games will work fine on all-in-one computers, some games that require a lot of memory, storage, or high performance will not perform as well on all-in-one computers as they would on a desktop made for gaming.

In addition, if you are a gamer who has a lot of games installed on your computer or uses your computer for many other things that take up memory, you will notice that your all-in-one computer will start to slow down over time. 

You will have to delete some of your memory and storage and play fewer games on the computer to speed it back up.

All-in-one computers have a smaller screen size

Another disadvantage of all-in-one computers for gaming is that they have small screen sizes. 

With gaming, especially the newest of games, you want to see all of the details and words and statistics on the screen while you play. 

If you do not have a large enough screen, it can be challenging to see the game and read what you need to during the game, which will make your gameplay experience less pleasurable.

The screens on all-in-one computers usually range from twenty-three to thirty-four inches. 

These are pretty small compared to some desktop computers, so if you want something good for gaming, you want to go with the biggest screen you can find.

Upgrading and all-in-one is difficult or impossible

Last but not least, it can be hard to upgrade an all-in-one unless you’re well-versed in computer building. 

Using a tower PC can screw off the side panel and easily replace parts. 

This ease allows you to replace outdated or broken computer parts with new ones quickly.

However, all-in-ones are sealed tight, and you may have to take your computer to a manufacturer’s store or computer specialist to make any improvements. 

In addition, due to the small form factor, some upgrades are frankly impossible to make. 

So, you’re stuck with what you’ve got when you get an all-in-one computer for the most part.

All-in-one computers are more expensive than comparable desktops

While not all all-in-one computers are pricey, they generally offer less value than gaming PCs, especially if you choose to build your own computer. 

All-in-one computers offer excellent performance at a tiny form factor, which requires careful research and assembly. 

Because of their advanced and compacted computing power, they can cost quite a lot. 

On the other hand, desktop PCs with the same specs as an all-in-one cost less, usually by around $500 to $1,000. 

So, you’d be paying quite a lot just to have a more miniature, less customizable computer – which is where gamers usually draw the line and opt for a tower PC.

However, if the size is significant to you, an all-in-one might be worth the extra money. 

How do gaming computers and all-in-one computers differ?

a desktop pc next to an all-in-one computer

Gaming computers are a common choice for gamers, and most serious gamers avoid all-in-one computers. 

So, let’s look at how gaming computers compare to all-in-one computers for gaming and see what all the hype is about. 

Gaming computers are also desktop computers, but they have separate parts for the computer, screen, and memory. In addition, gaming computers offer more storage and room for upgrades, making them bigger. 

Gaming computers are larger than all-in-one computers

Unlike all-in-one computers, gaming computers are more like traditional desktop computers in that all the parts are separate. 

There is still an individual mouse and keyboard, but the actual computer is separate from the screen.

Another way gaming computers and all-in-one computers differ is that gaming computers are larger. 

Gaming computers are usually about twice the size of an all-in-one, and that size does not include the monitor. 

However, that space means more airflow and room for upgrades, so it might be worth it, depending on your personal preferences. 

Gaming computers have room for superior cooling

Finally, gaming computers can stay cool longer compared to all-in-one computers. 

It’s difficult to get air circulation into an all-in-one computer, especially considering the smaller form factor. 

However, towers usually have room for cooling systems like fans and liquid coolers and plenty of additional space for air to circulate.

Gaming computers are easier to upgrade, repair, and customize

Many gamers like to customize and tinker with their computers to make them work better for their games. 

In addition, adding cutting-edge graphics, additional SSDs, and RAM can go a long way in improving your gaming experience. 

However, this is difficult with all-in-one computers since all the parts are together. 

With a gaming tower, you can choose every part, from the monitor to the fans to the storage space. 

So, you can get everything you want from your computer and continue upgrading it as newer games and your budget improve. 

And when something goes wrong, you can easily repair it by replacing the faulty component like the motherboard, monitor, or power supply for example.

Gaming computers usually have more processing power

Another reason to choose a gaming computer over an all-in-one computer is that they offer high performance without sacrificing any storage or memory, which is crucial for gaming.

Gaming takes up a lot of storage and memory, so if you use a gaming computer over an all-in-one, you will likely be able to play more games without slowing the system down

However, you will also have to sacrifice space on your desk or gaming area for the larger computer to fit. 

In addition, gaming computers are for gaming, so they prioritize the features gamers want, like speed, ample storage, and fast reaction times. 

With their customizability, you can also upgrade your memory and customize your CPU operating conditions (and even overclock). 

With these options, you have the opportunity to optimize your speed for the highest FPS, most rapid download speeds, and lowest loading times.  

If you are playing games, you want to make sure you are playing without lag time. 

Otherwise, you will get frustrated quickly, especially when playing online. 

Final Thoughts

My recommendation is always the same: If you need a general computer for everyday tasks like emails, browsing, and maybe some gaming while needing every bit of space you can spare, an all-in-one is a reasonable choice.

All-in-one computers are great for gaming if you are looking for something that is condensed, you want a touchscreen, or you are trying to limit your energy use. 

However, all-in-one computers tend to have small screens, and they do not have as high performance. 

They are also harder to fix and upgrade since all the pieces are in one part, which many gamers consider a dealbreaker. 

So, when it comes down to it, gaming computers perform better and take up more space, while all-in-ones don’t perform as well but take up significantly less room.

But in my honest opinion, the difficulty of repair upgradeability is a dealbreaker.