Ask most folks what an all-in-one (AIO) PC is and chances are their answer is the Apple iMac, the iconic desktop computer often associated with photo and video editing.
AIOs have a small footprint because their computing bits are installed inside a monitor chassis. Because of the limited chassis space, they typically use laptop-grade or custom components that cannot be easily replaced by users.
As a result, these computers are not favoured by gamers as they offer insufficient gaming performance and cannot be upgraded like a custom-built desktop PC.
This is no longer the case because Aftershock, which specialises in custom PCs, has sourced an AIO design that uses off-the-shelf PC components, thereby allowing tech-savvy users to change the internal PC parts themselves.
Dubbed the Aeon 34 curved AIO, it has an ultra-wide 34-inch display curved for greater immersion. More importantly, it can accommodate full-length desktop graphics cards, including the current king of consumer graphics, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.
The Aeon uses a standard mini-ITX motherboard that has fewer expansion options than a full-sized version. But the desktop Intel processor and the system memory are user-replaceable.
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i3-8100 (3.6GHz)
GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5X
RAM: 8GB DDR4
SCREEN SIZE: 34-inch, 3,440 x 1,440 pixels
CONNECTIVITY: HDMI, 3 x DisplayPort, DVI port, 8 x USB 3.1 Gen 1, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x PS/2 port, 2 x Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, audio jacks
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
Storage-wise, users can configure this AIO with a primary solid-state drive and a secondary mechanical hard drive.
These components are accessible when you unscrew and remove its back panel. Kudos to the engineers for squeezing all these components into a chassis that is just a tad thicker than a similar 34-inch standalone monitor.
Its design exudes an improvisational vibe. It is not as polished as a mainstream AIO from a big-name PC-maker. For instance, the use of an off-the-shelf graphics card means there is no custom internal connection between the graphics card and the AIO's screen. Instead, an external cable (hidden under the bottom bezel) connects the graphics card's HDMI output to the monitor's HDMI input. While it all seems a bit crude, it also means the Aeon can be used as a monitor - just hook it up to another source, such as a game console.
It does not have a built-in Web camera - but a rear USB port lets you connect an external USB Web camera, which can be mounted at the top of the AIO.
At the rear are two other USB ports, audio jacks and a memory card reader. But if you need to connect more USB devices, it can become a hassle. This is because the internal orientation of the components means the ports are located below the bottom bezel. They are fairly recessed and difficult to reach - I have to place the AIO, which is bulky and heavy, on its back to access these ports.
Speaking of which, the monitor lacks height adjustment, so you have to adapt to it instead. It has wide viewing angles and the colours look decent enough. However, its 60Hz refresh rate is not as good for gaming compared with the latest models with higher refresh rates.
My review unit comes with a high-end GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card that breezes through games without issues. In Doom, it scores 121 frames per second (fps) at maximum settings at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. Switching to its native 3,440 x 1,440-pixel resolution sees a slight dip in performance to 97fps, which is still impressive.
I find the Aeon's cooling fans to be rather noisy, despite putting them to silent mode in the Bios setting. Given that it is a gaming computer, the noise level is acceptable - I do not notice the noise once the game starts - but there is certainly room for improvement.
• Verdict: Its design may seem uncouth compared with mainstream AIOs, but nothing in the market allows as much flexibility.