A home office set up with a full-sized desktop computer.

Q. Is there a downside to buying a full-sized desktop instead of an all-in-one model?

A. A full-sized desktop computer, though bulkier than a sleek all-in-one model, can offer similar performance for less money—especially if you already own a monitor.

Even if you do need to buy a new monitor (adding a few hundred dollars to your outlay), your total cost for both the full-sized desktop and monitor may still be lower than for an equivalent all-in-one computer. 

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Compare, say, the cost of the HP Pavilion 595-p0084 full-sized desktop ($750) with the HP 34B010 all-in-one model ($2,000). For more details about what to consider and look for when shopping for a new monitor, check our Computer Monitor Buying Guide.

"Just look for a resolution of at least 1920x1080—regardless of what screen size or brand you prefer," advises Antonette Asedillo, CR's lead computer tester. Full-sized desktops are also easier to upgrade and repair than all-in-one models. Still, for compactness and convenience, an all-in-one is hard to beat.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the December 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.