All-in-One: Toshiba DX735

We haven't seen any of Gateway or Sony's systems in house yet, but between the three all-in-ones we've tested so far, Toshiba's DX735 has been my favorite. Toshiba's touchscreen experience may be about as rudimentary as it gets, but the DX735 isn't about frills and doesn't suffer from the kinds of schizophrenic configurations and design decisions that the competing all-in-one systems have. It's also the least expensive of the lot and the display isn't horrible (which is more than we can say for the Dell Inspiron One we looked at).

A lot of the problem with the other systems is that they're weird chimeras of desktop processors and mobile graphics, making the whole user experience feel a bit top heavy. You're paying more for a CPU that is likely going to be underused, and the graphics still feel like second-class citizens; I appreciated the DX735 for being a capable internet appliance and not having the kinds of perplexing configurations the competing all-in-ones had (not to mention the fact that it doesn't cook the hard drive the way the Dell Inspiron One does). You can certainly find cheaper All-in-One offerings, but only if you're willing to compromise on other elements (e.g. the display, performance, and/or build quality).

Recommended Configuration: DX735-D3201
Available in retail for $899


Budget Desktop: AVADirect Desktop PC Fusion FM1

This is the one category where I'm not able to make a recommendation based on personal experience with the hardware itself. While I feel like Llano's utility on the desktop is at least somewhat questionable, at the bottom end of the market it feels like the best deal. AMD's concept of a "balanced system" has some flaws, but at its core it's a fundamentally sensible one. I've seen too many people get hamstrung by a weak IGP in a low-end system; in the end you're going to wind up having to spend more money if you ever decide you want to game on a Sandy Bridge or AM3/AM3+ system, but if you absolutely must save money now and don't want to have to invest later, Llano is the way to go.

So why go with AVADirect in this instance? Of the boutiques I've worked with, they're among the best reviewed, and with their Llano-based desktop you get a $500 starting price for a decent system and a strong 3-year warranty along with better, more personalized customer service than you're apt to get going with a major vendor like HP or Dell. While I'm not a fan of the bottom rung HEC power supply, you're at least guaranteed three years of value and it should be enough to handle whatever minor upgrades you may want to pop into the system down the line. I'd just go with the baseline configuration and maybe make a minor tweak here or there; 4GB of DDR3 is cheap enough to upgrade to and you should be good to go.

Recommended Configuration: Baseline plus 4GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600
Available from AVADirect at ~$500

Introduction Midrange and High End Desktops
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  • Iketh - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    You didn't read the first page did you?
  • geofharries - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    If you're a Canadian, I really recommend shopping at <a href="">NCIX</a>. We've bought both fully customized and pre-built machines from them, and in all cases, get terrific customer service and buying assistance.

    In fact, if you go the custom PC route, just pick all of your desired parts and NCIX will follow up with recommendations or changes (if necessary) at no extra charge. Compared to the Dell, HP and Lenovo's of this world, NCIX, and others like it, are worth branching out to try something different.
  • Tigashark - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    I just checked "War Factory" out of curiosity as I built a similar system today for a friend...

    I dropped all the parts onto their website... and a similarly configured system, including windows cost ~ $400-450 more when Compared the one i just built from newegg (at regular prices)

    Admittedly I went with the 880g because he isnt a hardcore gamer and the built in HD4250 is ample for browsing and video playback.. and went with a PhenomX6 1090t becuase he intends to do photo editing, so for the budget it fit perfectly.

    But still... for 400 more I easily could throw in a GF 570 and turn it into a well performing gaming system and still have some change left over AND totally outperform the WF system in every way, with better quality parts too...

    Not dissing that particular vendor... but also not seeing the value for a 35% markup over newegg pricing..

    Then again ive had people ask me if "this is a good prebuilt" for gaming and took one quick look and seen GF520 so... very much a case of buyer beware ...

    Shopping around pays off too..
  • Penti - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    I have actually never really got why you would want a store/internetretailer built or boutique built machine built on retail components, it's not like they would give any sort of support that would be acceptable to ordinary home users. From a real systems vendor you can get better prices, less overhead and simply machines you can't build cheaper yourself, since they order their parts according to their specs from the contract manufacturers and ODM's. The only drawback is that it can be hard to get a machine configured properly for example for gaming. However when it comes to quality and formfactor you can hardly build a machine like HP's workstation lineup with z800, z600, z400 and z200. Chassis the boutique builders and other small system builders use don't compare.
  • Scannall - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    A couple years ago now I was about to build a gaming rig. And right as I was getting ready to buy parts, I saw a really good sale on a Cyberpower PC that was just about identical to what I was going to build. And it was just over $200 LESS than buying the parts and building it myself. So, I went the pre-built route instead.

    When Ivy Bridge comes out I'll look at building a replacement. Maybe I will see another sale? Only time will tell.
  • Penti - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Alienware is btw a bit on it's way out just like Voodoo PC was thrown out of HP, you'd be better off just buying/getting a XPS line PC. Most of the time. The Auroraline seems pointless. On another note at least the MAINGEAR Shift looks better when it's built with a custom chassi which other small vendor systems don't use most of the time. All still have stock retail components though.

    For 1200 you get a whole gaming machine with SSD when you build yourself yet you recommend a Puget system that starts at above 1200 USD without a graphics card. When you get an XPS 8300 with 560Ti/6870 for 1200 for example. They are only not options when you need faster graphics cards. (Preinstalled any way). But you can get the Alienware Aurora or HP H8XT with a better graphics card like GTX 580 for about 1500 dollars for the HP and about 1800 for a Aurora with 2x6870, so I fail to see the value of the Pugets systems here. Your recommended configure for the Deluge A2 is 2200. Maybe you should take a look at systems like HP h8xt when it's prebuilt machines we are talking about anyway. I see no reason to promote Puget and AVADirect really any way. Btw for ~900 you can at least get a PC with GTX 550Ti graphics. Yet you recommend a machine for 800 with way worse. Sentinel as suggested costs 1000 USD.
  • MrCrispy - Thursday, December 1, 2011 - link

    1. If you want a pc for normal usage, buy a Dell/HP. They go on sale all the time (Dell pretty much have a coupon always), there's the Factory Outlet etc. Just can't beat the price, esp if its refurb/used.

    2. For a more custom pc, pick Cyberpower/iBuypower, and pick your own parts. Both have an excellent selection and you pay maybe $50-$100 max premium over Newegg, which when you count the Windows license comes out to a wash. And these go on sale too. If you don't like something, you can always replace/fix/upgrade it since it is a custom build unlike the specialized cases/mobos used by option #1.
  • Toughbook - Thursday, December 1, 2011 - link

    I was recently in the market for a desktop, having never actually built one myself, I really wanted to try it. Being self employed did not help with the time factor too well, so I ended up going into my local MicroCenter and got a Lenovo K330 for $649.00. I feel the specs are pretty darn good, but I can't seem to figure out what segment this would fall into. Any help out there?

    Nvidia GTX 520
    1TB 6Gbps HDD
    Intel 82579 Lan
    USB 3.0 x2
    6GB Ram
    16N1 Card Reader

    I just can't seem to find a comparable unit at this price. I had an Intel 80Gb G2 SSD laying around that I wasn't using and made it the boot drive and geez this thing screams!
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, December 1, 2011 - link

    A 2300K would be an interesting bargain if it existed. I had to double check, because I was certain only the 2500K and 2600K were unlocked in the SB line.

    And they are.
  • LoneWolf15 - Saturday, December 3, 2011 - link

    I find that if you want solid, reliable, without being flashy, the Dell Vostro desktop line gets the job done. The 260 minitower can be had in no-frills configurations (sans monitor) for $300-400, the 460 for a bit more.

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