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"Apple Mini alternative" (sort of). Or: Media Mini PC, <£500, small and quiet? watch

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    Edit: Sorry for the confusing title. Obviously, the Apple Mini comparison doesn't make as much sense as I thought when I Had started writing this post...

    I've been having a good run with my Dell studioXPS 1645 from late 2009 (Clarksfield mobile i7, 4GB RAM, Windows 7). Although more intense media/gaming has been an issue in the last couple of years, overall it fares relatively well even five years after I bought it (around £950 back then. Incredible value for money compared with today's laptop prices in the 'high end consumer' segment!). An SSD I bought about 1.5 years ago helped, though.

    Anyway, I have not been using it as a laptop but basically as a desktop for years. So I was looking around and decided to go for a Mini PC instead of a 'high performance' laptop. Firstly, because it should be much cheaper, second because, well, I do not need it to be overly portable, and I do not need a screen or speakers or a trackpad. However, I do prefer a small size (i.e. a mini chassis if possible, at most a "small" midi one) and an overall quiet machine.

    I had no real idea what to look for, especially as I have not followed component developments closely in the last few years. Hopefully I can find a system for £500 or less. I am happy to buy components individually.

    What I mean with "media" PC? I do not need a 'gaming PC'. The occasional round of Dota 2 and similar games on decent visual settings should be possible (even now I can play it on 1280*720 with lowest graphics settings, except for the rare stutter), but what I really want is that it will cope with having one or two dozen 'media intensive' browser tabs open, and maybe watching a 1080p movie at the same time. Nothing outstanding, but some social media websites such as facebook with its video-intensive newsfeed are starting to be an issue for my current build in my normal work environment (plenty of programmes and tabs open; the bottleneck still seems to my the 4GB of RAM, not [always] the CPU/graphics card, though).

    I suppose a recent mid-range i5 CPU should therefore be fine. An SSD is definitely needed, although a 120GB one might do when combined with a bigger second HDD. 8GB of RAM should be the minimum - considering my activities, I might want to opt for 16GB or at least have space for further 8GB in the future.

    My question: do you have any suggestions on a complete system? If not, are there any components you can suggest to look for specifically? And/or do you know where I can find mini PC builds which should suit my needs to create a shopping list of what I need? Thanks
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    What capacity is the current SSD, because could you not just reuse that instead of getting a brand new one? SSD tech hasn't exactly moved on a great deal (bar the stack memory stuff which is probably better to avoid given the cost constraint)
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    (Original post by grt)
    Edit: Sorry for the confusing title. Obviously, the Apple Mini comparison doesn't make as much sense as I thought when I Had started writing this post...

    I've been having a good run with my Dell studioXPS 1645 from late 2009 (Clarksfield mobile i7, 4GB RAM, Windows 7). Although more intense media/gaming has been an issue in the last couple of years, overall it fares relatively well even five years after I bought it (around £950 back then. Incredible value for money compared with today's laptop prices in the 'high end consumer' segment!). An SSD I bought about 1.5 years ago helped, though.

    Anyway, I have not been using it as a laptop but basically as a desktop for years. So I was looking around and decided to go for a Mini PC instead of a 'high performance' laptop. Firstly, because it should be much cheaper, second because, well, I do not need it to be overly portable, and I do not need a screen or speakers or a trackpad. However, I do prefer a small size (i.e. a mini chassis if possible, at most a "small" midi one) and an overall quiet machine.

    I had no real idea what to look for, especially as I have not followed component developments closely in the last few years. Hopefully I can find a system for £500 or less. I am happy to buy components individually.

    What I mean with "media" PC? I do not need a 'gaming PC'. The occasional round of Dota 2 and similar games on decent visual settings should be possible (even now I can play it on 1280*720 with lowest graphics settings, except for the rare stutter), but what I really want is that it will cope with having one or two dozen 'media intensive' browser tabs open, and maybe watching a 1080p movie at the same time. Nothing outstanding, but some social media websites such as facebook with its video-intensive newsfeed are starting to be an issue for my current build in my normal work environment (plenty of programmes and tabs open; the bottleneck still seems to my the 4GB of RAM, not [always] the CPU/graphics card, though).

    I suppose a recent mid-range i5 CPU should therefore be fine. An SSD is definitely needed, although a 120GB one might do when combined with a bigger second HDD. 8GB of RAM should be the minimum - considering my activities, I might want to opt for 16GB or at least have space for further 8GB in the future.

    My question: do you have any suggestions on a complete system? If not, are there any components you can suggest to look for specifically? And/or do you know where I can find mini PC builds which should suit my needs to create a shopping list of what I need? Thanks
    Well you got two ways to go about it........mATX case style. etc

    Or buy those extremely small barebone systems.

    Problem with the latter is that these systems use laptop specs, problem with the former is that they are larger.
 
 
 
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