Gaming on an all in one: How to get the most out of them

Recent miniaturization of components has seen gaming become a really feasible option on all in one computers. But what are some tips to help you get the most out of your machine, and avoid dangers specific to this form factor?

Before we start, allow me for a moment to dip back in to a spot of nostalgia. Back in the day, gamers would cart their monolithic ‘desktop computers’ (inevitably shoved to live below the desk) around to each others’ houses for ‘LAN battles’. This rarely happens now – wireless internet has made immense gains since then – but were it to, the advent of the gaming all-in-one would have been a LAN battler’s dream. Although, that said, lugging a gaming PC around was the primary form of exercise back then.

First up, let’s chat about overclocking. This has been around for years – speeding up bits of your computer (traditionally the CPU (processor), GPU (graphics card), and RAM (memory)) to eke out greater performance that the manufacturer stated. The drawbacks? Overclocking forces your equipment to places it simply wasn’t built for, and that usually means reduced lifespans and greater heat generation. In an all-in-one, where cooling has been carefully worked out to the nearest centigrade and there isn’t much space for hot air to chill out, excess heat generation is not what you want. It’s more likely to degrade the performance of other parts in the machine, too, simply due to proximity and airflow issues. So tread carefully.

That said, overclocking shouldn’t be ruled out completely. If you can hunt down a machine that runs on a ‘mobile’ variant of the GPU (such as in most all in one computers), you can happily tune it a bit without worrying about excess heat. They’re designed to sit in laptops, after all, which are even more constrained room-wise than even the tiniest all-in-one. If you’re really prudent, you could think about choosing an all-in-one equipped with a mobile GPU that is really a stripped-down version of its desktop counterpart, and hunt down instructions for removing those manufacturer-imposed blocks. It’ll likely violate your warranty, so act with caution. All in one computers also tend to carry non component-specific warranties, so invalidating one part may well invalidate the whole machine.

The second thing we’re going to chat about is cooling. It’s a related topic, and there’s a reason why we keep coming back to all in one computers’ temperatures (hint: it’s in the paragraph above). Play somewhere cool: not above a radiator, and with a good airflow over the machine. Ensure that the fan ports are kept clear. This is even more important than in a desktop gaming machine.

So, there we have it – two sets of tips to avoid dangers specific to gaming on all in ones. Got any more? Drop them in the comments section below.

Learn more the author of this post:

Daniel Moeller
I was born in Berlin, Germany, studied Engineering in London and wrote my thesis on emergent computer technology. I now work as an engineer and freelance writer for London-based firms. My interests include blogging about technology, computer science, social media and design in my spare time.