Powerful as today's notebooks and tablets are, they're still puny when compared to the might of a desktop. All-in-one PCs are popular for their space-saving designs that come at a cost: no easy upgrading. Maingear's is the next to offer an upgradeable all-on-one, one that looks like an iMac got together with a cyborg.
Maingear's freshly updated Solo 21 all-in-one PC swaps the closed box with an iMac-esque design, though here even its motherboard can be swapped out.
Shinier and sleeker than the company's previous Solo 21 all-in-one PC, the new Solo 21 still has a 21-inch display (not a touchscreen this time), but it's now padded out with Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) running on a 3.3GHz Intel Core i3 2125 processor (upgradeable to an i7 3770S) Intel DH61AG motherboard with USB 3.0 (up to four), 4GB of DDR3-1333 RAM (max 16GB DDR3-1600 RAM), 500GB hard drive (max 1TB SATA HDD), up to 256GB of Crucial solid state drive, DVD burner (upgradeable to Blu-ray), 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless adapter. As you'd expect from one of the last company's custom-building PCs, you've got some options.
Of particular interest is that swappable motherboard, which Maingear claims is the first to adhere to Intel's Thin Mini-ITX standards.
The starting cost: $899. That isn't too bad considering what you're getting. Of course, if you want all of the bells and whistles, you're going to have to pay more.
The new Solo 21 might not win any awards for original looks — it looks like an iMac that has fattened up a little — but it sure gives other customizable all-in-one PCs like the HP Z1 Workstation a good run in terms of a smaller screen size and much lower price. Whereas the Z1 is built for multimedia-producing professionals, the Solo 21 is targeted more for the average user who is handy inside a PC.
PC users who love being able to swap out parts can visit Maingear's website to look at the different build-to-order options offered. PC users who don't give a hoot about opening their all-in-one PCs should consider the 24-inch all-in-one Vizio PC — a machine that starts at the same $900 price but sports a svelter design.