While the HP EliteOne 1000’s gorgeous 27-inch 4K display and thin bezels are visually impressive, they aren’t necessarily unique. But this business-oriented machine does have one killer feature that is very rare among all-in-ones: easy upgradeability. In fact, it’s so easy to access the components in the EliteOne 1000 (starts at $1,279; $1,519 as tested)—and even to remove the display—that IT departments and consumers alike might even consider buying it instead of a traditional desktop. It also happens to include many of the internal components of the same-price Apple iMac 21.5-inch, which makes it an excellent value and our new Editors’ Choice for midrange AIOs.
All About That Base
Instead of housing the Intel Core i5 processor, 256GB M.2 SSD, and 8GB of RAM inside the display enclosure, HP has placed these and the rest of the components into the EliteOne 1000’s base. That’s the secret to the computer’s easy upgradability, but it also means the base is much bigger than the ones on the iMac or the Dell Optiplex 7450 All-in-One. It’s wedge-shaped, sloping from back to front, and it measures 1.5 by 15.7 by 7.5 inches (HWD). Along the front of the base you get a physical power button and a few virtual buttons designed to work with Skype for Business (like ending a call and muting the microphone) as well as a virtual slider to control the system volume. All of the buttons are LED-backlit.
Above the button row is a massive speaker grille that runs the entire width of the base, complete with the Bang & Olufsen logo that is present on most of HP’s other premium PCs, including its consumer ultraportables. Unfortunately, the size of the speaker grille and its branding are a bit misleading, since all you get are two small stereo speakers occupying the left and right corners of the base. They’re fine for videoconferencing, but they don’t deliver robust bass, certainly nowhere near as astonishing as the output from the 10-speaker setup on the much more expensive Dell Precision 5720. Still, the size and placement of the speakers make sense when you consider that in return for so-so audio quality, you get a gorgeously thin display enclosure.
Not only does the display look sleek, but it measures just 14.4 by 32.1 by 2.9 inches, which is very petite for a 27-inch screen. That’s thanks to narrow bezels, as well as a unique webcam module that pops up from behind the screen and then retracts again when not in use. There are actually two 2MP webcams on this module, one forward-facing and one rear-facing, which could come in handy if you plan to use the EliteOne 1000 at a conference registration table in order to take ID photos of attendees, for instance. The HD video the cams offer is perfectly adequate for videoconferencing, too, although it’s not quite as sharp as the 1080p HD webcam on the Apple iMac Pro.
The screen itself is a WLED panel with a matte finish to guard against reflections, and it’s very bright. It’s so luminous, in fact, that I set its brightness level to 40 percent even while I was testing it in the harsh fluorescent light of PC Labs (you can’t adjust brightness using Windows; all the screen adjustments are accomplished using four dedicated physical buttons on the bottom edge of the display and an OSD interface). The display also has in-plane switching (IPS) technology to prevent the colors from washing out as you move your head.
I was initially worried that the integrated Intel HD Graphics 630 in the EliteOne 1000 would be too anemic to power such a large 4K screen. Indeed, most other midrange all-in-ones include a discrete GPU, such as the iMac’s AMD Radeon Pro 560. I was proved wrong over several days of testing, however. As long as you stick to basic productivity apps, web browsing, and videoconferencing, you’ll have a very smooth and enjoyable 4K experience.
When you add everything up, the entire system (base and screen) measures 18 by 24.2 by 7.5 inches and weighs 22.8 pounds. That’s slightly slimmer but a bit heavier than the 27-inch iMac, which is 20.3 by 25.6 by 8 inches and 20.8 pounds. It’s much lighter than the 37-pound Precision 5720, which is laden down by its array of speakers and articulating stand.
HP also offers a 23.8-inch version of the EliteOne 1000, with the same configuration, but without a 4K display for $1,279.
Like the speakers, the EliteOne 1000’s relatively inflexible stand (it can only tilt the display a few degrees) is another limitation of the upgradable design. But for many, that upgradeability factor is this all-in-one’s best feature. Here’s why.
The most iconic all-in-one, the iMac, is designed to be impossible to upgrade yourself, save for simple memory swaps. The iMac Pro even eliminates access to the memory modules, and while the OptiPlex 7450 and Precision 5720 both have user-accessible components, they’re not exactly easy to access. Enter the EliteOne 1000, which has a cover that comes apart with no tools required. Just press the two release buttons on the rear of the base unit to lift away the rear portion of the cover, and then press the release buttons on the front cover and lift it straight up to remove it. Voila: you can now see and access virtually any system component.
Memory can be added with no further tools required, and so can a 2.5-inch hard drive or SSD. Our review unit has the 2.5-inch bay at the left of the PC vacant, relying exclusively on an M.2 SSD located on the motherboard.
Once you’re ready to retire the EliteOne 1000, you can even remove the display and just dispose of the base. It takes roughly eight steps and no tools to do so. Some upgrades will need tools, of course, and some may necessitate removing one or both of the cooling fans to access the components beneath them. But on the whole, this is a very well-thought-out and accessible case, rivaling many traditional small form factor business desktops.
HP, of course, hopes that the EliteOne 1000’s easy upgradability will drive more sales from IT departments who have previously been wary of all-in-ones. It’s a marketing tactic, to be sure, but a useful one. Add in the system’s eye-catching design and 4K screen, and the machine will be a pleasure to use as well, whether it’s in a cubicle or on your kitchen counter at home.
I do have a few minor design quibbles. The wireless keyboard and mouse HP includes with the system are ho-hum. Their plasticky feel and uninspired design make the peripherals look downright ugly compared with the rest of the system. The peripherals that Dell and Apple include with their all-in-ones are of higher quality and they match the design of the systems they’re paired with better. You can of course buy a better keyboard and mouse on your own.
Most of the ports are at the rear of the base, making them a bit further away and harder to access than the ports of the iMac, which are located on the lower left edge of the display. Fortunately HP has added a few of the most-used ports in a more easily accessible location at the base’s right edge. These include a USB 3.1 port, a USB-C port, and a headphone jack. Around back, you get four more USB 3.1 ports, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs, a DisplayPort input, a gigabit Ethernet port, and the power connector. Wireless connectivity includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1.
The EliteOne 1000 has a generous warranty that offers three years of coverage for parts and labor as well as on-site repairs.
Solid Processing Power
To add a top-notch Ryzen 7 or Core i7 processor and a discrete GPU to the already-excellent and reasonably priced EliteOne 1000 would be a tall order, and it’s no surprise that HP doesn’t do this. If the company had tried, it probably would have had to sacrifice on design and ended up with something like the Acer Aspire Z3, which has more powerful components but looks tired and feels cheap.
Still, the Intel Core i5-7500 running at 3.4GHz is no slouch. It’s the same CPU that you’ll find in the 21.5-inch iMac, which costs almost exactly the same. It’s a bit slower in the HP than it is in the Apple on our Handbrake video-encoding test (a minute and four seconds vs. 1:14) and our collection of Photoshop image-editing tasks (3:08 vs. 3:19). But you shouldn’t buy this computer for heavy image or photo editing anyway; leave that to the much more expensive iMac Pro or Dell Precision 5720. The EliteOne 1000’s score of 2,937 on the all-encompassing PCMark 8 benchmark indicates that it’s a solid performer for the more basic tasks that its users are likely to perform every day, like word processing, Skype sessions, web browsing, and the like. It’s worth noting, too, that even when performing more intense tasks, there was little to no fan noise.
Perhaps the biggest area in which HP skimps in order to be able to sell this PC for less than $1,500 is graphics horsepower. It’s the only system among the peers we tested to include an integrated GPU, which shares resources with the main processor. The result is a machine that can’t reliably be used for gaming, even at medium quality settings and lower screen resolutions. We look for frame rates of above 30fps (frames per second) on the Heaven and Valley benchmarks, and the only comparable systems to post these numbers were the iMac and the Optiplex 7450, thanks to their AMD Radeon GPUs. To compound the problem, an off-the-shelf GPU is perhaps the most important component that you can’t add to the EliteOne 1000, since there aren’t any PCI slots.
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Still, the Intel HD Graphics 630 chip is fine for everyday tasks. In testing, I experienced no lag while resizing app windows, one of the most difficult tasks for an integrated GPU to perform at 4K resolution.
More Value for the Money
Sure the iMac is a beautiful feat of engineering, and yes, it’s the yardstick by which all other premium all-in-one PCs are typically measured. But the venerable Apple design hasn’t changed much for more than five years, and I’d argue that the thin-bezel revolution of which the HP EliteOne 1000 is a part looks as good or better as any all-in-one to be dreamt up in the hallowed halls of Cupertino. However you feel about the design, though, you can’t argue that the HP is better value for money than the iMac. The same price gets you a bigger display and upgradeability, keeps the same processor and 4K resolution, and even offers cutting-edge features like dual webcams and thin bezels. If you or your business can do without a discrete GPU, the HP is the clear winner. If not, take a closer look at the iMac or competing Dell AIOs like the Precision 5720 and Optiplex 7450.
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