The All-In-One PC has made a sly yet firm foothold in today’s PC market. Users are slowly bidding adieu to the rather unattractive and bulky cases they used to own, and are warmly welcome sleek AIO PCs that take up less space and are easier on the eyes. We’ve looked at a number of AIO PC’s here at tbreak, and the latest one to grace our labs is the ASUS ET2300, the smaller cousin of the ASUS ET27 that we looked at last month.
Build quality & design
At first glance, the ASUS ET2300 bears a striking resemblance to the Lenovo A720, albeit in a smaller frame. The ET2300 features a sturdy arm at the back of the screen which lets you position the screen at different levels, offering you the best viewing angle as well as the ability to fold down completely flat. While the hinge is very secure and of superior build quality, it’s quite stiff and requires a good deal of work to maneuver the screen back into position. At times you think you’re almost damaging the screen, but let it be said that this isn’t the case. The ET2300 is also a heavy piece of kit, but then again these units aren’t really designed with portability in mind. Overall the build quality of the ET2300 is quite sturdy, and no part of it felt flimsy or poorly made.
Certainly one thing that the ET2300 has going for it is the sheer abundance of ports that are available. On the left side of the unit you have two USB ports and audio jacks, which seem quite run-of-the-mill. But on the right side you have two more USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, memory card reader, two Thunderbolt ports, and a slot-loading DVD writer. At the back you have the power port, Ethernet, HDMI In and Out, and a subwoofer port. The HDMI In port means that you can use the ET2300 as a regular screen to connect equipment such as a Blu-ray player or gaming console even when the unit is switched off.
Benchmarks & Performance
The ET2300 was more than capable of running most of the apps that I downloaded from the Windows App store, smoothly changing and transitioning between each one. The Fresh Paint app was an excellent demonstration for the unit’s touchscreen, and overall most apps ran without any hiccups. However when I started to run slightly more taxing programs, the ET2300 began to bend just a little bit under pressure. Editing multiple layers in Photoshop eventually began to take its toll on the ET2300, with some otherwise simple effects taking much longer to render than expected.
Unlike other AIO PCs I’ve seen, the ET2300 doesn’t come with an SSD, so you’re left with using the 1TB HDD instead. The drive itself is partitioned rather awkwardly, with about 150GB being allocated to your ‘C’ drive, and the rest spills over into the ‘D’ partition. If you’re not careful you can eat away at your main partition’s free space, so ensure that you only keep essential data on the C drive, and move bulky programs and files to the D drive.
Screen & Audio
The 23” screen supports a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, and offers a 178-degree wide viewing angle. In all honesty, it’s actually a gorgeous display that showcased bright and vivid colors when watching video. Certain trailers that I watched which had a lot of black in them tended to show up a tiny bit murky on the display, but it’s not something you’ll notice very often. The display also supports 10-finger touch response, so you can have two people playing a game on the screen at the same time without running into issues. The touch response was also fairly quick, making the overall user experience with Windows 8 much more bearable. The fact that you can adjust the screen to lower angles means that you can use the touch display for longer periods with your elbows resting on the desk, so your arms won’t feel as fatigued.
Audio on the ET2300 was a mixed bag. The unit bundles with a desktop subwoofer that you plug into the back for added bass, but for some songs this hardly seemed to make much a difference. Yes, the unit can actually get quite loud if you crank up the volume, but the quality of the audio is debatable. Certain tracks I played back sounded great, while others were just too distorted to enjoy properly. The ET2300 can certainly fill a small room with sound, but the problem is that the quality of the sound depends heavily on what you’re listening to. Classical music for example sounded perfect, while other tracks with a heavy bass line weren’t reproduced quite as nicely or sounded a bit muffled.
Like most AIO PCs, the ET2300 bundles with a wireless keyboard and mouse. They connect seamlessly to the ET2300 via a small dongle, but this means that you’ll have to permanently sacrifice one of your precious USB ports. I can’t figure out why in this day and age we can’t just make these things operate via Bluetooth. Anyway, the included keyboard and mouse are fairly standard pieces of equipment – the keyboard is full-sized, but the keys themselves feel hollow when you type and wriggle far too much when you place your fingers on them. Likewise, the bundled mouse is compact and lightweight, but was a bit small for my freakishly large hands. But at the end of the day, they work as intended, so if you want better gear you’re going to have to plug in your own.
Heat and Noise levels
For the most part the ET2300 stays cool and quiet, but if you run something a bit more intense on it, the system fans to have a habit of kicking in quickly to cool down the system. Certainly during my gaming tests this was most evident, but running otherwise regular programs won’t cause the system to heat up too much or cause any noise.
The ASUS ET2300 is a fairly decent AIO PC, with a great sense of style and form. It’s more than capable of running most Windows 8 apps and games, thought firing up anything too challenging will quickly put the system in its place. If you’re looking for a mid-range AIO PC that can handle most of your applications with a spot of gaming, then you’ll be happy with the ET2300. Anything more powerful and you’ll have to look at the i7 models or other AIO brands.