Asus All-in-One PC ET2700INKS review: Asus All-in-One PC ET2700INKS

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The Good The Asus ET2700INKS is unique for its 27-inch display, a fast Core i7 GPU, and a discrete Nvidia graphics chip.

The Bad Like other 27-inch Windows all-in-ones, the Asus' 1080p resolution hurts its appeal next to the higher-resolution 27-inch iMac.

The Bottom Line The Asus ET2700INKS will meet the needs of anyone searching for a fast, large-screen all-in-one for mainstream home entertainment and general-purpose productivity.

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7.0 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 6
  • Support 6

Hewlett-Packard debuted the first 27-inch Windows all-in-one earlier this year. Now Asus follows suit with its ET2700I. Like HP, Asus charges a reasonable premium for its large display, asking $1,399 for a system that might otherwise cost around $1,000 with the same components and a 24-inch LCD. None of these 27-inchers has the same high resolution as Apple's large iMacs, making them a better fit as home entertainment PCs than productivity workstations. Should you choose the Asus system over the HP? If overall performance and budget gaming capability are important to you, yes.

Asus offers a few different versions of the 27-inch ET2700I. This one, the ET2700INKS, is the most expensive, thanks to its Core i7 CPU, a discrete Nvidia graphics card, a Blu-ray drive, and a standalone subwoofer unit that plugs into the side of the system.

I haven't seen an all-in-one with a breakout subwoofer before. It seems like a reasonable way to differentiate the system, but the effort is marred by underpowered hardware. Asus sends power and the audio signal to the sub via a single audio cable. The unit provides a slight boost to the bass output, but even at max volume and with all of the various software effects enabled, the audio isn't what you would call room-filling. At the higher volume levels, the output also lost some integrity.

Cheap subwoofer aside, the 27-inch screen is the highlight of the ET2700I. The resolution tops out at 1,920x1,080 pixels. That's plenty for most home users, and movies, games, and other media content will look great. You might be disappointed if you want a giant screen to cram full of open windows for multitasking. Professional digital-image editors and others will also likely prefer the 27-inch iMac's denser 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution.

Also note that the ET2700I does not have a touch screen. Multiple PC vendors have told me that getting touch on a 27-inch display is prohibitively expensive. That didn't stop Lenovo and others from exhibiting touch-enabled 27-inchers at this year's CES, but whether those systems will actually come to market here in the United States is another question.

It's worth noting that without touch-sceen technology, upgrading the ET2700I to Windows 8 later this year might feel rather pointless. How that might factor in to your present-day buying decision depends on what you think of Microsoft's ability to spur the development of compelling touch applications. For this system today, I expect most potential buyers won't find the lack of touch a deal killer.

Asus ET2700INKS HP Omni 27 Quad Lenovo IdeaCentre B520
Price $1,399 $1,249 $1,279
Display size/resolution 27-inch, 1,920x1,080 27-inch, 1,920x1,080 23-inch, 1,920x1,080
CPU 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-2600S 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2400S 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-2600
Graphics 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 540M 64MB Intel HD Graphics 1000 (embedded) 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 555M
Hard drives 1TB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive Blu-ray player/dual-layer DVD burner combo Blu-ray player/dual-layer DVD burner combo Blu-ray player/dual-layer DVD burner combo
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit)

Comparing the Asus ET2700I with the HP Omni 27 shows that while the HP system is less expensive, the Asus unit has more powerful components. The Core i7 chip in the Asus (second-generation Sandy Bridge Core i7, not the new, third-gen Ivy Bridge version) is a quad-core CPU with Hyper-Threading, which means in times of need you get four additional processing threads simulated on top of the four physical CPU cores. The Core i5 has no Hyper-Threading, making it only a pure quad-core CPU.

The bigger edge for the Asus system is its GeForce GT540M graphics chip. That budget graphics chip won't run every PC game out there at full 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution, but it will handle most of them reasonably well. The HP's embedded Intel HD 1000 chip most certainly won't.

Those two features alone justify the Asus' $150 price premium over the HP system, which argues for the ET2700INKS as a fair deal. Whether you need that extra performance depends on how you intend to use the system. If you're primarily interested in a large-screen all-in-one for non-gaming media consumption, the HP Omni 27 should be sufficiently powerful.

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