Plenty of USB ports
All work, no fun
About the MSI Pro AP 241
Here are the specs on the model we tested:
- Processor: Intel Core i3-10105
- Memory: 8GB DDR4-2666MHz
- Storage: 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD
- Display: 24-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS
- Ports: 4x USB-A (USB 3.2 Gen 1), 2x USB-A 2.0, 3.5mm mic and headphone, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet
- Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630 (integrated)
- Wireless: Intel Wireless AX201 (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.2
- Weight: 10.21 pounds
- Dimensions: 8.97 x 21.34 x 16.79 inches
- Warranty: 1-year base warranty
MSI's all-in-one desktop comes in a variety of configurations. Ours was the basic desktop that you'll likely be able to find for around $700 at retail, but other, pricier versions of the Pro AP 241 can sport an upgraded processor (Intel's Core i5-11400 or Core i7-11700) and more (and faster) memory, up to 64GB in total.
We were only able to find one other variant: a $1,100 system that had Intel's Core i7-11700 and 16GB of memory—and that total is roughly $150 more than you'd probably pay for those upgrades piecemeal.
What we like
MSI's Pro AP 241 was a bit fussy when we were attaching its stand to the combined computer and display. We had no issues lining up the notches correctly, but twisting the stand into place felt surprisingly tight the first few times we took a whack at it. That's all the setup you have to do, though; plug in your included peripherals, and you're ready to work.
We think 23 inches is a great size for a display, and the desktop's IPS monitor looks a lot better than a typical (cheaper) TN panel. That said, the screen wasn't able to display nearly the fine detail on the darker or lighter ends of the spectrum as other desktops and laptops we've tested. Since this is a work-focused PC, the picture quality isn't all that important, though we would have preferred a better display for all those moments you'll be watching YouTube or staring at vacation pictures during your lunch hour.
The screen isn't a touch-screen, so don't waste your time jabbing at it. Two buttons for adjusting its brightness are located on the display's lower-rear corner, right next to the system's power button. While it's more accessible to have buttons on a display's front or bottom than its back, we love the look of the Pro AP 241's super-thin bezel, even if that means sacrificing two protruding buttons to get it.
While we doubt you'll be carrying this PC around to different locations, you absolutely could—at just over ten pounds, it's easy to pick it up and move it somewhere else. You will have to bring along the system's included webcam, as one isn't built into this PC's display by default. (Given its quality, you're better off buying something aftermarket anyway.) Ditch the protruding webcam, and you've got yourself a reasonably sized, tight-looking business desktop. It comes with built-in speakers, too, though their quality reminds us more of a cheap laptop than anything else. A headphone jack on the PC's rear solves that problem, especially if you don’t own wireless headphones.
Enough USB ports
You can typically expect to get a lot more connectivity on an AIO desktop than a conventional laptop, and MSI's Pro AP 241 doesn't disappoint. But the quality of the connections leaves us scratching our heads. Four USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports on the back of MSI's all-in-one join two USB 2.0 ports on its side.
That's a lot to play with, but we wish all of them were USB 3.2 Gen 1 at minimum, if not USB 3.2 Gen 2. And it's a bummer that the easier-to-access side ports are slower USB 2.0, as that's exactly where you'd want to connect a flash drive or other external storage. It's a bit of a pain to reach around the back to the AIO's four faster USB ports; we had to tilt the monitor up, spin it to one side, and stare at the ports to make sure we were on target.
Also, the number of free ports you get will be cut in half once you connect the MSI's included keyboard, mouse, and webcam. Three free ports is still a pretty good number for most peoples' needs, but this makes those convenient (and slower) USB 2.0 ports stand out even more.
The AIO also comes with a single HDMI 2.0a port for connecting an external display. That's an older version of the connection, but it'll be more than sufficient for connecting an HDR display or a display with a resolution up to 4K (running at 60fps). This system's GPU is integrated, which means it’s built into the processor instead of being a separate component, but it should be able to handle that much firepower for the few of you that need to supplement your AIO with an even wilder display.
On the networking side, we were pleased to see MSI's desktop come with a single Gigabit Ethernet port and built-in support for 802.11ax connectivity (via an Intel Wireless AX201 chip). That's lots of speed for your work, and having a Wi-Fi 6 PC that matches the specs of that shiny new router you probably bought during the pandemic is always a good thing.
What we don’t like
All work, no fun
MSI's all-in-one desktop performed average, at best, on our CPU-intensive benchmarks (Geekbench 5, Cinebench R23, and Speedometer). Its single-core performance was below-average compared to most laptops and desktops we've reviewed this year, and its multi-core performance was worse still.
We were a bit surprised by that, given that its 10th-gen Intel Core i3-10105 processor should be able to handle itself better, but it doesn't. At least, not if you're really looking to punish your desktop. Everyday work on this AIO shouldn't be an issue, but you'll want to look for a system like Apple's 24-inch iMac (which, admittedly, costs $600 more than MSI's). That extra headroom will nearly double the multi-core performance in the case of the iMac and will feel great when you're doing heavy crunching in Excel, lots of video editing or transcoding, or any other taxing activities that can't run overnight.
The Pro AP 241 might be on the slower side, but this performance tracks well against the system's price and size. What you lose in speed, you gain in cost and convenience, given that it's a lot easier to buy an AIO than hobble together a new desktop setup yourself.
A Mac Mini might appear cheaper and faster at first glance, for example, but you'll also have to buy the mouse, the keyboard, and a display, which will end up costing you quite a bit more than MSI's all-in-one. That's not to say that we don't wish MSI's desktop performed better, especially since competing AIOs can have better specs for not too much higher of a price, but it's hard to expect a lot for how much you're paying. The Pro AP 241 is a basic system for basic tasks.
Gaming, we note, is not one of these. This desktop's integrated graphics were unable to run any of our standard benchmarks at playable frame rates. We expected that from a business-themed system, but we really had to crank Overwatch's settings to their very lowest—and that's the least-taxing of our titles—to play the game effectively.
We give MSI credit that the system, as shipped, is compatible with Windows 11 for those looking to make the big software upgrade post-purchase. However, you won't be so lucky if you're looking to spruce up your system with extra memory or storage at some point in the future.
As shipped, MSI's all-in-one isn't upgradable. While we suppose you might be able to do something if you tried unscrewing the PC's paneling and looking around, MSI doesn't give you any instructions for upgrading any part of this PC in its support documentation. In fact, the company warns you not to try it. We suspect most people will follow that advice.
While it's true that there are a number of all-in-ones out there that simply can't be upgraded (including Apple's iMac), that means that you're stuck with your pre-built configuration forevermore. Worse, if your system has an issue, you can't fix it yourself without potentially damaging your PC even more. That's not very consumer-friendly; you should be able to repair or tweak that which you've purchased.
While the front-facing portion of the Pro AP 241 looks pretty, the rear is another matter. The all-in-one's connections are located on its back, toward the bottom, facing down. That makes plugging in your peripherals a bit of a pain, compared to ports that face straight out. That's a common setup we see on competing AIOs like the iMac around this sub-$1,500 price point, and it's so much easier to deal with.
The included keyboard and mouse feel incredibly cheap, and MSI's webcam isn't much better. The fuzzy, so-so picture makes us wish MSI didn't bother throwing one in at all, knocked $50 off the price of the AIO, and let people find a better solution themselves.
MSI's desktop is generally quiet for normal use, but it gets a little loud if you're really putting the PC through its paces—not as much as a jet-engine CPU or GPU fan might otherwise sound on a standard desktop PC, but still noticeable.
Though MSI's desktop is generally free of software bloat, the company pre-installs one of the ever-annoying Norton security suites, which feels completely unnecessary given good ol' Windows Defender comes baked right into the operating system. We'd stick with that.
Should you buy it?
Maybe, if you only need something basic
The $700 price feels right for MSI's Pro AP 241, but we still wish it could do more: better performance, more storage, a better design, or even better external accessories. We don't think there are enough amazing things about this system to make it a first-choice pick as a general-purpose, budget all-in-one, or even a business-oriented all-in-one desktop PC. It's only worth getting if you have very basic needs and a tight budget.
You can do better if you're looking for a convenient, semi-portable desktop for basic tasks and casual entertainment. Similarly priced PCs like HP's Pavilion 24, Asus' M241, and Acer's Aspire C27-series offer strong competition to MSI's Pro AP 241, and we think it's worth exploring these before making your final decision. Heck, even a mini-desktop like Apple's Mac Mini and its speedy M1 processor wouldn't cost that much more if you paired it with a cheap monitor. If you can pay a little extra (or the exact same) for a faster, better-designed PC, why not?
There's nothing we hated about MSI's Pro AP 241—there's just nothing that wowed us, either.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
David Murphy reviews a lot of things for a lot of places.
Checking our work.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.Shoot us an email