PCWorld
By Alex Cocilova
September 5, 2012

Vizio is no stranger to our lab, but its first desktop PC entry—the Vizio CA27-A1 all-in-one—shines bright.

Priced at $1250 (as of August 24, 2012), the Vizio CA27-A1 comes stocked with an Intel Core i5-3210M processor that runs at a standard 2.5GHz but ramps up to 3.1GHz when using Intel’s Turbo Frequency technology. This is coupled with 4GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM to support a speedy, responsive machine.

The screen is a beautiful 27-inch display with a maximum resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels. It has a slight tilt to get a better viewing angle and to alleviate any glare that might catch the reflective screen. But it's not a touchscreen, which feels like a bit of an oversight with Windows 8 so close to release. While a touchscreen isn’t necessary, it could be useful with Microsoft's forthcoming operating system.

Performance

The system scored 122 on our strenuous WorldBench 7 benchmark suite, making it 22 percent faster than our baseline system, a fully equipped tower. The CA27-A1 manages to be faster, sleeker, and more functional than that baseline, a difficult combination of goals to achieve in any PC.

One goal for most all-in-one desktop PCs is to be as thin as possible. This often means sacrifing some of the bulkier, more powerful components. Vizio managed to squeeze in a discrete GPU, albeit a mobile one: Nvidia’s GeForce GT 640M LE graphics card with 1GB of memory. While the CA27-A1’s specs will let it run some less strenuous games well, it struggled a bit on our graphics/games test.

We ran DiRT 3 and Crysis 2 at the highest graphics setting at a maximum resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels. The system managed 35.7 frames per second on DiRT 3 and 16 fps on Crysis 2. Unfortunately this won’t make for an enjoyable gaming experience. The CA27 does manage to cross the coveted 60-fps mark when DiRT 3 is changed to low graphics settings (63.7 fps) or the resolution is lowered to 1024 by 768 pixels (66.2 fps). Crysis 2 doesn’t quite cross that threshold: When the graphics are set to low and the resolution to 1024 by 768 pixels, it reaches 55.9 fps. Of course, you can make it a little prettier, but acceptable performance is not guaranteed.

Ports and accessories

The ports are all located along the base of the unit, mostly in the rear, which can be a pain to get to regularly. Also, a lip on the base extends about an inch, which unfortunately hides the ports. While it gives the system a clean, sleek look, it makes the ports impossible to find without some serious maneuvering. The ports include one for eSATA, two for HDMI for multiple devices (such as a video-game console and a cable box), and four for USB 3.0. I was pleased that Vizio went straight to full-on USB 3.0, leaving out the older, slower USB 2.0 standard entirely.

The CA27-A1 offers all the connectivity an all-in-one needs, including 802.11n wireless, a gigabit ethernet port, and Bluetooth for other wireless accessories.

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