We don’t often review the kit you might find at the checkout of your local brick-and-mortar retailer, but when ASUS offered the ExpertCenter E1 All-in-One (AiO) for review, we were curious.
This PC is designed to be used as a point-of-sale computer or simply to scan barcodes while shoppers browse items. So this PC doesn’t need to be super powerful, but we’ll be honest, it could use more power.
Part of the reason for this is due to the option to install Windows 11 out of the box and part is some divisive choices on ASUS’ part. Let’s explain.
Since this is a PC that’s seen entirely by the public, its specs are – understandably – on the low side. Inside you will find:
- Intel Celeron N4500 DuoCore @ 1.1GHz (2.8GHz boost),
- 4GB DDR4,
- 128GB NVMe SSD.
And that’s it. The GPU here is Intel UHD Graphics, but with the 15.6-inch display only reaching a maximum resolution of 1366×768, you won’t be watching UHD content.
Like we said, this PC is on the low end and considering it’s a steal, we totally understand why it doesn’t have an RTX 40 series GPU inside. However, we feel as if ASUS made a mistake with this PC by forcing it to run Windows 11.
The minimum required for Windows 11 includes a 1GHz processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage along with all TPM 2.0 and other requirements. The ExpertCenter E1 comes in at that spec but that’s the problem, it hits the bare minimum.
Starting the E1 took better than 15 minutes. We counted a full twenty seconds to launch Microsoft Edge and this gets worse the more demands you put on the PC.
In a silly move, we tried running the Cinebench R23 Multicore benchmark to get an idea of what the PC is capable of and we hit a score of 856 points. Celeron processor options then continue to be poor choices for business PCs and laptops. They may be low cost, but performance from Celeron CPUs is poor.
ASUS boasts that the E1 incorporates a fanless design but we feel like fans to manage heat could help this PC a lot when users demand more of the machine.
It just adds up to a very frustrating experience. ASUS South Africa contacted us about this PC during the review period to ask what we thought, in particular, about the RAM options. We told ASUS that the performance was terrible and that more RAM and a switch to Windows 10 was what this PC needed.
In retrospect, the inclusion of Celeron CPUs was another mistake.
A nice touch
Since this PC is intended for business use, ASUS made the decision to build an uninterruptible power supply into the E1. To be clear, this is not a battery like you might find in your smartphone but rather a fast-draining UPS. The idea here is that when the power from the mains is turned off and there is a switch to generator power, E1 will continue to flow along.
One misstep from ASUS is the lack of a battery charging indicator. Maybe we’re looking in the wrong place, but the only time we know the UPS charge percentage is when we unplug the power.
A display that has touch support is also nice.
As we continue to look for good points, the E1 has a nice selection of ports with two Comm ports for legacy hardware/connections. There are various USB options as well as a choice between WiFi, Bluetooth or LAN connectivity.
The ASUS is also nice enough to include a wired keyboard and mouse but it’s not exactly comfortable to use and is made of cheap plastic that doesn’t fit.
There are some gems to be found here but the main aspect of the PC, its performance, is very poor, good ones are harder to find.
We had high hopes for the E1, but those hopes were dashed on the rocks of Windows 11’s demanding requirements. However, laying the blame solely at Microsoft’s feet would be unfair as ASUS should have tested this machine more thoroughly in real-world scenarios before take it out.
Benchmarks only serve to tell you numerically how well the machine is performing, but in our experience, the E1 cannot be used in a fast-paced retail environment. Sure, some legacy software is very light on the resources they use but with Windows 11 using all the resources available in E1, there isn’t much left for anything else.
Even if your business uses web-based applications, the fact that Windows monopolizes resources means that performance frustrations will extend to those applications as well.
Doing something as simple as opening a Microsoft Edge window made us feel as if the machine was going to crash because nothing was happening on the screen.
ASUS South Africa was also unable to provide us with a recommended retail price for this machine so comparing it to other PC outlets is more complicated.
We’re not in retail so we can’t comment on how this machine performs in that situation. However, as a customer, if E1 acted while we were paying, it would be very disappointing and we would reconsider going back to that retailer.
Thankfully there are manufacturers like Zebra that specialize in this kind of technology and we’d recommend checking out offerings from other brands before giving the ASUS ExpertCenter E1 AiO a glance.