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Torn between buying a prebuilt or building my own

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#1
I know, I know, it's crazy talk. But hear me out :laugh:

My mom is currently using a mid-2010 27" iMac with the 2c i5 in it, and a 5400rpm drive. It's so slow at this point that it's driving her (and me) insane. For an upgrade she would've loved to go Apple, but with how anti-repair the new iMacs are and the cheapest 'usable' spec being nearly $2k we can't justify going Apple again.
Now, I'm not crazy enough to try getting her on a Hackintosh (she isn't tech savvy) but I might have to go for a custom built PC because I can't find a prebuilt (AIO or tower) that fits her needs, isn't crazy expensive, and is very small.

Basically I'm trying to find this spec in a reasonably priced prebuilt that is either AIO or could fit in a pretty small cabinet behind a monitor. Smaller than 12" in all dimensions at least.
i5 8400, 16GB RAM, 1TB nvme SSD, ability to add a small dGPU later. If AIO about 25" screen with 1440p+ res. I might have to go for something like the zotac ZBOX.

If I build one for her I'd use this same spec, but I can't find a small case that isn't really ugly. She hates the look of stuff like the Corsair 250d (and it's a bit big anyway)
 
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#2
What about one of the Intel NUC's? Some (all?) have VESA mounting capability, mount it on the back of the monitor.
 

Aquinus

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#3
What is she going to be doing with it? Apple not too long ago refreshed the Mac Mini and it has a lot of flexibility when it comes to customizing it, with the exception of the GPU. So, if she's mainly browsing the internet, doing photos, and stuff like that. It should be more than enough and it should be considerably less than 2k USD.
 
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#4
I hadn't thought of the NUC, might be a good plan. I think I'd go with the new Vega integrated NUCs for it.

I have considered the mac Mini, and while the RAM is supposedly upgradable the storage is not and if I got the 1TB out of the box even with just the 8GB RAM it is $1,700 which is a bit steep for a pc with iGPU and just 8GB RAM.

Her use case is technically just web browsing and some mild photo editing, but she keeps 100s of tabs open (don't ask, it's easier to buy more ram than to convince her to not do that) and I plan for this PC to last for a while. That's why I figured a true 6 core with good single core burst speed, upgradable RAM, and a blazing fast SSD would be the major parts. She's also considering a 4k or 5k monitor and would watch high bitrate videos at 4k or maybe 5k HDR so I figured a possible dGPU upgrade for the future would be nice.
 
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#5
the RAM is supposedly upgradable the storage is not and if I got the 1TB out of the box even with just the 8GB RAM it is $1,700
That is a true bummer. Any chance a USB3/Thunderbolt External SSD?
 
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#6
It looks like you could use external storage but I don’t think she’d like managing her files on an external drive. Even with Apple’s ease of use tech isn’t her thing.
 

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#7
It looks like you could use external storage but I don’t think she’d like managing her files on an external drive. Even with Apple’s ease of use tech isn’t her thing.
If she's used to using Mac OS X, using external storage when it becomes necessary might be easier than getting used to an OS she hasn't been used to using though. Honestly, I tried this with my mother and father. I built them a decent tower and they used it for a year or two, but in the end they got a used Macbook Pro. My father is used to Windows, but my mother isn't and she didn't really like it all that much.

Oh, it doesn't help that a Windows 10 update bricked the tower either (surprise!) but that was after they already had the Macbook Pro.
 

eidairaman1

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#9
If she's used to using Mac OS X, using external storage when it becomes necessary might be easier than getting used to an OS she hasn't been used to using though. Honestly, I tried this with my mother and father. I built them a decent tower and they used it for a year or two, but in the end they got a used Macbook Pro. My father is used to Windows, but my mother isn't and she didn't really like it all that much.

Oh, it doesn't help that a Windows 10 update bricked the tower either (surprise!) but that was after they already had the Macbook Pro.
This might end up happening. But it's so hard to recommend an Apple PC right now, especially with the new iMacs being totally sealed. She has used windows in the past (when Windows 7 was new) but I guess she might end up with an Apple again.
Running device manager shows her cpu at nearly 100% usage all the time. Besides that upgrading the drive requires removing the screen which I wouldn't love doing.
 
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#10
You want a small desktop, right? A lot of prebuilt sellers charge a lot of premium for small yet powerful ones.

The advantage of buying prebuilt is really all about customer service (which most of them are bad). If you live with your mother and can provide support, then it is pointless to buy a prebuilt ones.


I say grab a case like Coolermaster Elite 110 (or its latest ver, 110A) and start build one. It's Mini-ITX case, can fit 120mm AIO and can fit actually a decent GPU too.
 
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#11
Is there a reason to have a dGPU in the future? If your mom isn't playing video games then I don't see the need for it. You could simply build a PC using the AMD Ryzen 2200 or 2400 and throw it in one of those real mini cases where it can fit the back of the monitor mount.
 
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#12
Looks like AIO more match since it's simple and i dunno, your mom maybe just want simple thing that just turn it on and less cable behind
 
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#13
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#14
Running device manager shows her cpu at nearly 100% usage all the time. Besides that upgrading the drive requires removing the screen which I wouldn't love doing.
That's NOT normal, there's something wrong with it. I think it has a Kaby Lake i5 7400.
I've been using a 2011 Imac i5 with HDD, and with a clean install it worked perfectly for web/media/office.

IMO, SSD + clean install is the way to go. They're NOT hard to open. Unplug some connectors, replace the drive, and put it all together again.
Even if you don't want to replace the drive yourself you can just pay some store to do it.

Add more RAM while you're at it. It seems like it can do 32 GB.
https://everymac.com/systems/apple/...1-inch-aluminum-retina-4k-mid-2017-specs.html

Just remember to prepare the macos installer USB drive before swapping if you don't have another Mac available.


Or, just figure out what's pushing it to 100 %.. maybe set a maximum number of tabs, if possible?
 
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#15
Is there a reason to have a dGPU in the future? If your mom isn't playing video games then I don't see the need for it. You could simply build a PC using the AMD Ryzen 2200 or 2400 and throw it in one of those real mini cases where it can fit the back of the monitor mount.
She’ll probably be doing a lot of media consumption at 4K+ resolutions in the next 5+ years she has this pc. Even if it isn’t gaming I figured being able to add a lower end gpu for high resolution acceleration might be helpful in a few years.
Looks like AIO more match since it's simple and i dunno, your mom maybe just want simple thing that just turn it on and less cable behind
I really might go the AIO route, they’re just so expensive.
That's NOT normal, there's something wrong with it. I think it has a Kaby Lake i5 7400.
I've been using a 2011 Imac i5 with HDD, and with a clean install it worked perfectly for web/media/office.

IMO, SSD + clean install is the way to go. They're NOT hard to open. Unplug some connectors, replace the drive, and put it all together again.
Even if you don't want to replace the drive yourself you can just pay some store to do it.

Add more RAM while you're at it. It seems like it can do 32 GB.
https://everymac.com/systems/apple/...1-inch-aluminum-retina-4k-mid-2017-specs.html

Just remember to prepare the macos installer USB drive before swapping if you don't have another Mac available.


Or, just figure out what's pushing it to 100 %.. maybe set a maximum number of tabs, if possible?
Not sure where you got the mid 2017 iMac, this one is mid 2010 haha. It’s the old 4c (not 2c like I thought) i5 760. Considering it’s a lynnfield with a max turbo of 3.33Ghz I’m not surprised it’s really showing it’s age now.
 
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#16
DIY ITX build with an M.2 SSD and either a 2200g/2400g or an i3/i5?
 
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#18
Try something like a VESA mount ITX case (mounts to back of monitor), AMD VEGA APU, 16GB DDR4 that fits your budget, ITX motherboard of your choice preferably something with WIFI, and a XPG SX8200 Pro SSD.
 

eidairaman1

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#19
Is there a reason to have a dGPU in the future? If your mom isn't playing video games then I don't see the need for it. You could simply build a PC using the AMD Ryzen 2200 or 2400 and throw it in one of those real mini cases where it can fit the back of the monitor mount.
Good part is the Vega apu are pretty good already so future upgrades can still be done, price is decent for performance without a GPU.
 
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#20
Here is a 2200G system, probably cost around $600 all said and done
https://pcpartpicker.com/list/jr2k3b

Not sure thats really that great a deal compared with some of the prebuilt office machine VESA and SFF that use Intel IGP such as Dell Optiplex micro 3050.
https://www.amazon.com/Dell-Optiplex-3050-Micro-Refurbished/dp/B07CSFV6S2/

Dell Optiplex 3050 Micro, Intel Core i5-6500T, 8GB DDR4 Ram, 256GB Solid State Drive SSD, Keyboard & Mouse, Windows 10 Pro (Certified Refurbished)
Price: $569.00 & FREE Shipping


even better: This dell 9020
Dell Optiplex 9020 Micro Desktop Computer Tiny PC (Intel Core i3-4160T, 8GB Ram, 256GB Solid State SSD, WIFI, Bluetooth, HDMI) Win 10 Pro With CD (Certified Refurbished)
Price: $358.75 & FREE Shipping
https://www.amazon.com/Dell-9020-Bluetooth-Certified-Refurbished/dp/B07B8V6Y7Q/


A few months ago I built my mom a machine to replace her aged dell laptop
I went a bit overboard, off the top of my head was the parts and cost:

I5 8400 $130 (microcenter open box)
GTX 1050 $105 (new, ebay with code)
Asrock Z370 Extreme4 $140 after rebate
970 Evo 512GB $170 microcenter
16GB Gskill RipjawsV 3000 CL16 $140 (ram price gouge period)
reused my old PHTC12DX CPU heatsink
Lian Li PCA05 Case ($40 ebay)
Seasonic 550 Focus Plus Gold $60 after rebate
WD Blue 1TB WD10EZEX (for her to dump backups onto) $50
TPLink wifi card (already had)
So total might have been $850 net all said and done

edit: and a 1080P Benq, that was around $110. So $960.
 
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#21
i trust more my self than others, putting it to gather, oem always takes something off.
 
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#22
I don't think I've ever bought a pre built PC.. I believe the first PC I bought was built for overclocking back in 2001 (I still have my invoice lol) Ever since then, I've been building them from scratch.. Best way to learn :) As long as that's what you like... :)
 
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#23
Yep
Add memory and an SSD watch it fly...
 
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#24
Good part is the Vega apu are pretty good already so future upgrades can still be done, price is decent for performance without a GPU.
Agreed comrade.

When Ryzen 3000 series comes out, I imagine they will have even better APU's that should work on existing mobos. So a bios update and away one goes.

She’ll probably be doing a lot of media consumption at 4K+ resolutions in the next 5+ years she has this pc. Even if it isn’t gaming I figured being able to add a lower end gpu for high resolution acceleration might be helpful in a few years.

I really might go the AIO route, they’re just so expensive.

Not sure where you got the mid 2017 iMac, this one is mid 2010 haha. It’s the old 4c (not 2c like I thought) i5 760. Considering it’s a lynnfield with a max turbo of 3.33Ghz I’m not surprised it’s really showing it’s age now.

She could get away with the built in Vega's in the APU's on latest. Heck, even replacing the CPU later on with a better APU (3000 series) would suffice. I don't know if the systems demand will be too much for 4K if its media browsing.
 

eidairaman1

The Exiled Airman
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#25
Agreed comrade.

When Ryzen 3000 series comes out, I imagine they will have even better APU's that should work on existing mobos. So a bios update and away one goes.




She could get away with the built in Vega's in the APU's on latest. Heck, even replacing the CPU later on with a better APU (3000 series) would suffice. I don't know if the systems demand will be too much for 4K if its media browsing.
Videos is 1 thing, gaming is another
 
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