The next time someone tells you that the desktop computer is as dead as the dinosaur, point to the Lenovo IdeaCentre AIO 910. One of the most powerful and versatile all-in-one desktops around, the AIO 910 combines an Ultra-HD touch screen with a high-performance hybrid storage system and a top-notch graphics engine, making it a winner for everything from the classroom to the computer lab.
To start, at 18.9- by 25.6- by 8.8-inches, the AIO 910 is among the largest desktop computers around. I suggest devoting an entire desk or between 3- and 4-feet of counter space to each. Since everything is contained in the system, setting it up takes only a few minutes and requires a single power cord. Like the Apple iMac, the AIO 910 includes a matching keyboard and mouse. It also comes with a Lenovo external 8X DVD writer, but it is a generic black device that stands in contrast to the silver AIO 910.
The guts of the system are in its base that has connections for three USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, but does without the latest USB-C connections. The system has audio, a wired LAN connector and an SD card reader.
Unlike any other all-in-one system, the AIO 910 has a two-way HDMI port. There’s a button behind the port that changes the connector from an input (for showing a notebook or tablet’s screen) to an output (for showing the class what’s on the AIO 910’s display with a projector). On the downside, it’s awkward to reach your hand under the screen to swap the cables and reach the button. You can’t use input and output at once and there aren’t keyboard shortcuts or on-screen buttons to make the change between input and output.
The AIO 910’s stand allows it to be tilted from 45-degrees to just past vertical, but it can't rotate or be raised. The stand’s articulated arm allows the screen to slide into a horizontal position for art- or map-work; it sits 5-inches above the desk. The base has rubber feet, but neither it nor the screen have VESA screws for mounting the system on a wall.
With both Intel’s HD Graphics 350 and an Nvidia GTX 950A with 2GB of dedicated video RAM, the system automatically switches between them for peak performance when you need it, but really helps with gaming. The AIO 910’s screen is a gem with the ability to show 3,840 by 2,160 resolution that’s between the iMac’s HD model and the Retina 5K display. Its colors are vivid, but it tops out at a brightness of 215 candelas per square meter.
The bonus that the iMac doesn't offer is that the A910's display responds to 10 independent touch inputs, so is a good choice for collaborative work. It also has an Intel RealSense camera that can turn the AIO 910 into a 3-D camera for facial recognition or high-end STEM scanning.
Inside, the AIO 910 has a Core i5 6700T that runs between 2.8- and 3.6GHz. The processor not only has Intel’s vPro manageability extensions but the system includes a second-generation Trusted Platform Module.
Rather than 4- or 8GBs of RAM, the AIO 910 comes with 16GB of RAM and the one-two punch of a hybrid storage system. You can put regular old files on its 1TB hard drive as well as stash key quick access materials on its 256GB solid state storage.
Its Harmon/Kardon speakers point out the back of the display. Overall it sounds great with rich sound that can fill a small classroom. On the other hand, the system’s persistent fan makes a high-frequency whine that is more annoying than disruptive.
It all adds up to a top performer that has roughly twice the computing power of the typical notebook. It scored a 3,344 on Passmark’s Performance 9 series of tests. In fact, it will likely be one of the most powerful systems at school, perfect for everything from video editing and programming to visualizing math equations and using a 3-D printer.
This doesn’t mean that the AIO 910 is a power hog. The AIO 910 uses an economical 95-watts at full power and brightness, which is about 50-percent lower than the large iMac’s power draw. It uses 0.9-watts in sleep. All told, it should cost cost an economical $23.50 a year, if it’s on for 10 hours every school day, asleep the rest of the time and power costs the national average of 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Put it all together and the AIO 910 can provide top-notch computing for classrooms, STEM labs or even help get the office to work more efficiently. At $1,600, it costs about $500 less than the closest iMac 5K system, which lacks its touch-screen, dedicated high-end video processor and 3-D camera.
It may be a budget stretcher, but if you want the best of everything, the AIO 910 is worth every penny.
+ Top performance
+ Hybrid storage
+ Ultra-HD touchscreen
+ Adaptable stand
+ Excellent audio
+ Wireless keyboard and mouse
- No USB-C ports