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Author Topic: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices  (Read 10201 times)

Rizzo

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Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« on: 15 Mar 2009, 14:15 »

I'm looking to downsize my current desktop because it's old and not particularly powerful.
The options I'm currently going for are mini desktops because I don't really need an especially powerful computer, I'd be mostly using it for browsing, watching movies and word processing/coding. Harddrive space isn't a huge issue as I can easily get a terrabyte external.

My current options are the Asus Eee Box, the new Mac mini and the Dell studio hybrid. The Asus is probably too low spec to run decent res videos on my 22" monitor. The mac mini and dell are looking like the best options.
In terms of raw power and value for money, the mac mini looks like the best option. If I were to run boot camp and install XP or vista on it I think I'd be best off.

Any insights or information people can provide me with?
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Reed

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #1 on: 15 Mar 2009, 15:16 »

Have you considered putting together your own computer? You could probably throw something together for about $500 that would be a lot more powerful than either of those.
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Catfish_Man

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #2 on: 15 Mar 2009, 17:04 »

We used a mini running XP for the conference room at Jive. Worked great afaik.
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Rizzo

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #4 on: 15 Mar 2009, 19:28 »

In terms of building my own can anyone recommend specific parts? The reason I'd prefer to buy a complete is warranty and the fact that I imagine they would tend to be smaller than custom built PCs.
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Reed

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #5 on: 15 Mar 2009, 19:44 »

Are you in a country that gets newegg? I was bored so I put together a small form factor PC for you (prices are USD):

Antec HTPC case w/ 380W PSU - $119.99
Foxconn m-ATX AM2+ motherboard (780g), can be ugraded to AM3 for futureproofing - $79.99
Athlon X2 2.7GHz - $59.99
2Gb G. skill DDR2 1066 $39.99 - $8.00 instant rebate
1Tb WD Greenpower drive - $104.99
Sapphire HD4830 - $99.99
LG DVD+R OEM - $24.99

Total: $521.93

If you're just looking to play DVD's you could probably even get away with the IGP of the 780g board (I actually have this one, it's quite good; when I was trading up my 9800GT to the GTX260 I used the IGP for my 24" monitor and I could watch DVD's and play CS:S on medium settings without a problem)

You'll need to throw in a SATA cable because the OEM drives don't come with them, and the motherboard only includes one. Try looking around if you don't like the case, but make sure to get a quality PSU and one that has good ventillation. You probably won't be able to use a CPU cooler other than the stock, so a cool case is important.
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Rizzo

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #6 on: 15 Mar 2009, 19:56 »

Nah, I'm in New Zealand so we don't get New Egg. We have pricespy though, www.pricespy.co.nz.

Similar sort of thing.

Thanks heaps for that, I shall keep investigating.

Any reason you choose AMD? I was under the impression that Intel was the preferable option these days?
« Last Edit: 15 Mar 2009, 20:18 by Rizzo »
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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #7 on: 15 Mar 2009, 20:15 »

Why include a 4830 when he's already said that movies is the most video-intensive thing he'll be running? You can save $100 by sticking with onboard video.
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Rizzo

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #8 on: 15 Mar 2009, 20:19 »

Having the ability to play games would be nice.
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Reed

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #9 on: 15 Mar 2009, 20:37 »

That's why I pointed out that he could probably get away with the 780g's IGP, but I thought he might like the option in case he does want to play games
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clockworkjames

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #10 on: 16 Mar 2009, 04:00 »

I would suggest a MATX over a MITX in all honesty, and an intel chip would make sense, like a e2140 if you can get one or whatever that dual comre in disguise celeron they made is. Is cheap as hell and can be oc'd to hell on stock cooler even in a smallform case.
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Reed

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #11 on: 16 Mar 2009, 08:58 »

I chose AMD because LGA 775 is a dying platform and that board can take an AM3 processor in case he wants to upgrade without much fuss in the future.
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[22:49] Quietus: I'm personally imagining a white supremacist locked in his basement, furtively listening to Parliament on headphones
[22:49] Quietus: "Oh, lawd, why must them coons rock me so"

clockworkjames

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #12 on: 17 Mar 2009, 06:07 »

Uh, no?
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est

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #13 on: 17 Mar 2009, 06:58 »

Riz, the mac mini has just refreshed and if it weren't for it being really fucking expensive here I'd be recommending that.  The Dell Studio Hybrid is kind of underpowered in the graphics dept if you're wanting to play games.  I am not familiar with your level of pc bits knowledge, but if you are not ofay with the whole shebang and want something with a warranty check out local computer stores that don't look shitty.  Most pc stores will put a pc together for you using the bits you specify, and so long as they put it together in the shop they will give a warranty (usually through some third party support line).

And yeah, I really wouldn't go with AMD cpus at the moment either.  Intel have their shit sorted right now.  LGA775 isn't going anywhere for the short-medium term, the i7 stuff is top line premium shit, and the i5 stuff isn't out properly yet.
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Reed

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #14 on: 17 Mar 2009, 07:46 »

Uh, yes?

as Est said, no new processors are going to be coming out for LGA775, but AMD will stick with AM3 for the next few years, and that motherboard is AM3 capable.
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[22:49] Quietus: "Oh, lawd, why must them coons rock me so"

Stupid Human

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #15 on: 17 Mar 2009, 09:25 »

Uh, yes?

as Est said, no new processors are going to be coming out for LGA775, but AMD will stick with AM3 for the next few years, and that motherboard is AM3 capable.

If you're going with Pentium I'd pick up a cheap 1366 socket (the new i7 line).  I don't know your budget but you can get one in the low $200 range and you can replace it with the new chips easily.

Mini ATX cases are getting a lot better, you can pick 'em up for cheap and you should be able to fit anything you'd need in there, unless you're a cooling freak, which shouldn't be a problem for you.
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Reed

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #16 on: 17 Mar 2009, 09:42 »

He selected two ~$600 computers, so I was using that as a guideline for building a computer. It's a little difficult to build an i7 rig for that little. I chose a board that had adequate performance for now, has a clear upgrade path, and fit his budget.
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[22:49] Quietus: I'm personally imagining a white supremacist locked in his basement, furtively listening to Parliament on headphones
[22:49] Quietus: "Oh, lawd, why must them coons rock me so"

Stupid Human

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #17 on: 17 Mar 2009, 10:49 »

He selected two ~$600 computers, so I was using that as a guideline for building a computer. It's a little difficult to build an i7 rig for that little. I chose a board that had adequate performance for now, has a clear upgrade path, and fit his budget.

Yeah for the $600 range I would be inclined to agree with you.
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Rizzo

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #18 on: 17 Mar 2009, 12:19 »

Thanks a bunch yo!
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Reed

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #19 on: 17 Mar 2009, 13:23 »

No problem!
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[22:49] Quietus: "Oh, lawd, why must them coons rock me so"

clockworkjames

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #20 on: 17 Mar 2009, 17:04 »

For budget builds and small pc's there is no reason not to take a cheap 775 socket and OC it, the AM2 socket is not the brilliant breakthrough the 754 socket was and I don't see amd taking the balll off intel for awesome low cost chips any time soon. There is not alot of point in buying amd, intel is still bang for buck on the core2 duo and quad.
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Reed

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #21 on: 17 Mar 2009, 18:25 »

1) If the guy is looking for a cheap computer to mainly watch DVDs, and maybe play games, I really doubt he's interested in OCing his CPU.
2) 775 is absolutely dead, it is no longer on Intel's roadmap, there will be no future processors coming out for it.
3) AMD will be releasing new AM3 processors for the next few years
4) The AM3 phenom II's are actually quite competitive with C2Ds
5) If he goes for this cheap build, in a year or two from now if he wants to upgrade he can just buy the latest generation phenom and drop it into this board, no problem. If he wanted to upgrade from Intel he'd have to scrap the entire motherboard and buy an i5 or i7
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[22:49] Quietus: I'm personally imagining a white supremacist locked in his basement, furtively listening to Parliament on headphones
[22:49] Quietus: "Oh, lawd, why must them coons rock me so"

clockworkjames

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #22 on: 18 Mar 2009, 14:01 »

Or he could get more for his money NOW with a 775 taking advantage of how it is no longer flagship instead of paying through the nose for some new shit that is kinda pointless considering the value it will give... you are comparing an old standard with a new one and saying it is slightly better, OH REALLY? YOU MEAN THE XBOX360 IS MOAR POWERFUL THAN THE PS2?

No shit, but core2's are still available and cheap. Buy it for cheap, great performance for years. Job done.
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Reed

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #23 on: 18 Mar 2009, 15:24 »

Look, he really doesn't need anything more than what I suggested to watch DVDs and maybe play some games. My way when he decides he has a little money and wants to put something nicer in he will be able to with little trouble. If he got an LGA775 then he would need to replace the CPU, RAM, and motherboard. I pointed out the phenom II to show that he will be able to put something better than anything available on LGA775 in a year or two without having to change his platform. I wasn't trying to say that AMD is better because it's latest generation of products is equal to Intel's last generation.
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[22:49] Quietus: I'm personally imagining a white supremacist locked in his basement, furtively listening to Parliament on headphones
[22:49] Quietus: "Oh, lawd, why must them coons rock me so"

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #24 on: 18 Mar 2009, 15:34 »

There's nothing wrong with comparing a new standard to an old standard when both are available for competitive prices and are used to run the same software.



For what it's worth though, I am rather partial to LGA 775. My ol' E6600 still performs rather admirably; it's my damned decrepit GPU that's a problem (a theory that was tested out when I took a friend's GPU for a spin for a week after his own PC's hard drive failed.)
« Last Edit: 18 Mar 2009, 18:52 by Alex C »
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est

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #25 on: 19 Mar 2009, 04:19 »

Man, you totally took my words and turned them around.  I wouldn't touch AMD shit right now.  775 form-factor and the chipsets that support it is/are superior in basically every way right now.  "775 isn't going anywhere" means that it will be around for a while yet, not that it is dead.  They are still releasing both dual and quad core cpus for it.
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clockworkjames

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #26 on: 19 Mar 2009, 06:22 »

+1 to that,

AMD ain't done squat worth buying since the architecture of the 754 athlon chips which was all groundbreaking and shit, then intel shat all over it with multiple core processors which continue to drop bombs on anything AMD have made in a similar price range.
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Reed

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #27 on: 19 Mar 2009, 10:35 »

Intel is pretty much done releasing new C2Q and C2D's. The new CPUs that are coming out now are just overclocked or reduced TDP versions of existing chips. They are getting ready to release the i5, which is intended to replace the entire mid range market. While AMD certainly has a lot of catching up to do, the Phenom II is actually a very compelling product for its price bracket.

The point I've been trying to make is stop telling this guy to build what you would want to build and think about what will suit him best. He was considering getting a studio hybrid or a mac mini, so while he's probably computer literate and capable of building his own pc he's probably not an enthusiast, and he most likely doesn't have interest in OCing his computer (please correct me if I'm wrong). When I gave him the example build I built him a computer that's cheap right now, powerful enough for his needs, and will not be legacy tech in the next couple years. AMD is sticking with AM3 for the next few years. Once Intel releases i5 they are more or less done with the C2 line. He also wanted something smaller than a standard ATX desktop, and I really prefer the available AMD mATX motherboards to Intel's.
« Last Edit: 19 Mar 2009, 10:41 by Dire bacterium »
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[22:49] Quietus: I'm personally imagining a white supremacist locked in his basement, furtively listening to Parliament on headphones
[22:49] Quietus: "Oh, lawd, why must them coons rock me so"

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #28 on: 19 Mar 2009, 13:24 »

Mild OCing is dead easy with modern BIOSes and Core 2s are easily cool and robust enough to take some modest overclocking in stride, so I wouldn't go dismissing the idea out of hand. Honestly though, I would just look around and make my decision based largely on rebates and warranties available. The problem with paying for a clear upgrade path is sometimes you find out that things have changed enough to warrant taking a different route down the road regardless of prior investments. I had a clear AMD upgrade path available when the Core 2 hit the market... and I ended up buying a Core 2 anyway, a decision I haven't had much reason to regret. Early '07 was not a good time for AMD, after all. Times change so quickly that I would really only bank on the Phenom II if you don't have to pay much of a premium for it to begin with.
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clockworkjames

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #29 on: 19 Mar 2009, 18:42 »

Even at stock, last time I checked intel's lga775 chips were kicking the snot out of similarly priced am2 chips.
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Reed

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #30 on: 19 Mar 2009, 19:28 »

Well, I built what I thought was the best computer for him. We all have different opinions on what is best, so if you disagree just give him an example of what you think is the optimal build and let him choose for himself.

The AM3 phenom II's are actually quite competitive with the C2 counterparts. The board I suggested is AM3 capable. I think this is a great breakdown of the available mainstream processors (even if they leave out the Intel lines below E/Q8xxx).

I really like techreport, for many reasons including their system guides are usually a great starting point for building a computer.
« Last Edit: 19 Mar 2009, 19:33 by Dire bacterium »
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[22:49] Quietus: I'm personally imagining a white supremacist locked in his basement, furtively listening to Parliament on headphones
[22:49] Quietus: "Oh, lawd, why must them coons rock me so"

Rizzo

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #31 on: 23 Mar 2009, 18:42 »

What I'm really looking for is a computer that just goes. I don't need to fuck around with drivers, conflicts, all that kind of crap that I put up with on my current desktop.
AMD sounds ok but Intel will probably get me more bang for my buck, at least in the short term.
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Sometimes I feel like everyone around me is some sort of statistical/mathematical genuis and I'm hitting a gazelle in the head with a rock and screaming at the sky when there's a storm.

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #32 on: 23 Mar 2009, 18:54 »

Check out the system guide I put up in my last post. As far as I'm concerned tech report is the best all around computer site, and they have a bunch of builds in different price brackets that will give you a really good basis for building your computer.
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[22:49] Quietus: I'm personally imagining a white supremacist locked in his basement, furtively listening to Parliament on headphones
[22:49] Quietus: "Oh, lawd, why must them coons rock me so"

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Re: Mini desktops / Tiny computer choices
« Reply #33 on: 23 Mar 2009, 18:56 »

You know what the coolest thing about an AM2+ board is?

It's frontward compatible with AM3.

That blows my mind.

(I don't care what kind of processor you get, it's not going to be important to you.)
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