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If you're after a computer, there are three basic options. You can go for a laptop, which gives you the convenience of portability, but your maximum screen size will likely be 19in, and upgrade potential is very limited. You can go for a traditional desktop, which gives you lots of flexibility yet leaves you with a relatively messy separate monitor and main unit setup. Or you can go the all-in-one route, which like the laptop is a more restrictive option, but you get the convenience of a single relatively slim and stylish device with larger screen sizes. Today we're looking at one of MSI's biggest all-in-one (AIO) PCs, the 23.6in Wind Top AE2400.
The AE2400 is the oldest series in the company's 23.6in range, which is why it eschews Intel's newer Core i CPUs. However, it comes in several different configurations. At the high end you'll get an Intel quad core Q9400s CPU and AMD Radeon HD5730 graphics. Our AE2400-020UK model is somewhat less impressive though, with a dual core, 2.7GHz Pentium E5400 taking care of processing and a Radeon HD565v (albeit still with 1GB of dedicated memory) for pushing around those polygons.
Other specifications remain identical, with 4GB of DDR3 RAM, a generous 1TB hard drive, and a 64-bit version of Windows Home Premium. Undoubted highlights are this AIO's large, Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) screen with multi-touch support and an inbuilt subwoofer to add proper bass to its audio – which, if it's anything like that found on the Wind Top AE2220, should be pretty spectacular. Unfortunately, while our test sample has a Blu-ray drive, most models available with this configuration sport a DVD-rewriter, so don't expect high definition disc support unless you opt for the quad-core version. However, you do still get a Windows Media Center remote and wireless peripherals.
At just under 12kg this is by no means a light machine (the 27in Apple iMac weighs only 14kg), but then once it's on your desk you're unlikely to want to move it around much. It's also very far from slim, at over 7cm deep, and comes with one of the largest power bricks we've ever seen.
Build quality is quite good, with only the slightest bit of creak when you press the body panels. Generally plastics are solid, and adjusting the PC's angle is easy to do by simply pushing back and forth the hinged leg at the back. It's not quite the elegant one-finger operation of an iMac but once set it stays pretty solid.
So far the AE2400 shares many characteristics with the smaller AE2220, but in terms of design we feel it's a slight step up – though it's certainly no iMac. The majority is still taken up by a slightly cheap-looking piano black bezel surrounding an equally glossy screen, but the speaker section below it (which was the ugliest element on the AE2220) is a single strip of brushed black aluminium. The MSI logo is also far more discrete, and the transparent plastic outer bezel is now gone, with classy chromed feet replacing it as support. The entire back of the machine, including the stand, is a semi-matte gunmetal grey.
The AE2400 is incredibly noisy at start-up, when all its fans run at full blast for half a minute. It's generally quiet in normal use but does get audible under load. However, for material like HD video playback it remains inaudible.