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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking to build 3-4 office pcs sub $400 each. I want to get 2-3 life out of them. Heres what I got so far. I would really enjoy an MINI-ITX Case,

Main Components (CPU + Motherboard + RAM)
Intel Pentium G3220 Dual Core 3.0GHZ Processor LGA1150 Haswell 3MB Cache Retail Haswell ASUS H81M-A uATX LGA1150 H81 DDR3 1PCI-E16 2PCI-E1 SATA3 USB3.0 HDMI Motherboard*
Kingston HyperX Black KHX16C9B1B/4 4GB DDR3-1600 CL9 DIMM Single Memory Module x2 for 8GB DDR3

Cases
Antec VSK-3000E MINI-TOWER mATX Case Black 2X5.25 1X3.5 EXT 2X3.5 USB3.0 Rear 92MM Fan No PSU + Seasonic SS-350ET 350W ATX12V 20/24PIN ATX Power Supply Active PFC 80PLUS 120mm Fan OEM*
or
Thermaltake V2 Plus ATX Mid Tower Case Black 3X5.25 6X3.5INT USB3.0 w/ 450W Power Supply

SSD
Crucial M500 CT120M500SSD1 2.5in 120GB SATA3 6BPS 7MM Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

What do you guys suggest, is the Intel Haswell cpu a good choice, or should I look amd? Also i'd like an MINI-ITX case to use an MINI-ITX board and no need for 5.25 or 3.25 spaces. I would use an SSD or an ssd on the systemboard. Im cheap and need really cheap builds.

For my ITX Selection
ASUS H81I-PLUS/CSM LGA1150 Mini ITX 2XSATA 6GB/S 2XSATA 3GB/S 1xPCIe16 Dual Channel Motherboard
Intel Pentium G3220 Dual Core 3.0GHZ Processor LGA1150 Haswell 3MB Cache Retail Haswell
8GB DDR3
Crucial M500 CT120M500SSD1 2.5in 120GB SATA3 6BPS 7MM Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
Cant find a good case/PSU for this?
 

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I've personally had the experience that buying on-sale pre-built machines has lead to the lowest prices in that at budget. Your mileage, of course, will vary.
 

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Yeah for that budget getting prebuilt on sale is probably the best bang for your buck, some even come with peripherals, and monitors. And that will add up if you just budget $300-400 for system alone.

So generally for low budget the best bet is prebuilt, for higher end it's more cost effective to build your own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
you saying to go after hp/Lenovo/Dell prebuild. I cant get those under $500 with these kind of specs.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by elec999 View Post

you saying to go after hp/Lenovo/Dell prebuild. I cant get those under $500 with these kind of specs.
Check third party sites (newegg) for Lenovo on sale. I've seen similar specs in your price range, or similar enough to make the upgrade (like SSD) worth the money to buy separately.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I just confirmed my part selection: please let me know

Apex MI-008 mITX Case Glossy Black 1X5.25 1X3.5 1X3.5INT Sfx 250W Front Audio USB
ASRock H81M-ITX LGA1150 1XPCIE2.0X16 DDR3 1600 2XSATA3 1xeSATA 2XUSB3.0 6XUSB2.0 Motherboard
Intel Pentium G3220 Dual Core 3.0GHZ Processor LGA1150 Haswell 3MB Cache Retail
ADATA Xpg V1.0 8GB DDR3-1600 CL9-9-9-24 2 X 4GB Dual Channel Memory Kit Black
PNY XLR8 SSD9SC120GMDF-RB 2.5" 120GB SATA III Internal SSD Drive 500MB/S Read 450MB/S Write

What you guys think?
 

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I stick these: http://www.mini-box.com/M350-enclosure-with-picoPSU-80-and-60W-adapter

Where we can run things offline; mostly around CNC mills and lathes.

They survive quite well in a dirty environment, despite not having proper filtering. I usually mount them on DIN rails vertically. The 80W PicoPSU/60W Adapter is plenty for what you are looking at. The case was initially envisioned to be used with Intel Atoms and lower-power CPUs but works well enough with more powerful components.

The last one I built had something like this:

ASRock H81M-ITX
Intel Pentium G3220
Crucial 2x4GB 1333
Crucial M500 120GB
Mini-Box M350 with 80W PicoPSU and 60W Adapter

The whole system was around $350.

P.S. Make sure you get the 4-pin power cable too: http://www.mini-box.com/4-Pin-P4-Mini-Power-Cable
The USB header and front panel connectors on the H81M-ITX are close enough to the front of the case that you do not need extensions. I use this (cheap) CPU cooler by default to better clear the SSD and/or HDD. Not sure if it was necessary with the H81M-ITX. Some motherboards may need the stock Intel cooler trimmed a bit to fit the SSD.

Another path: Intel NUC

We have a single first-Gen Ivy-Bridge i3 NUC here with a 120GB mSATA Crucial M500 and 8GB of ram. I has been a pretty good system for the past year or so. Generic office work, spreadsheets, SAP, you know. That i3 (3217U) is about as powerful as a high-end laptop Core 2 Duo (like the T9500).

Looks like you can find the i3 3217U Thunderbolt model for "cheap" now at ~$200:

Newegg - currently out of stock.
Amazon

Or a Gigabyte BRIX with a somewhat comparably clocked Ivy-Bridge Celeron for ~$170:

Newegg - currently out of stock.

Still needs at least $140 in RAM and SSD to make a system, however. And a C5 "Clover-leaf" power cord for the Intel. Wireless is optional.

A new system would also be around $350.

-Note that you would need HDMI or Display-port capable monitors or adapters to convert to DVI/VGA.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by elec999 View Post

Apex MI-008 mITX Case Glossy Black 1X5.25 1X3.5 1X3.5INT Sfx 250W Front Audio USB
The PSU included with that case is not very good quality.

What about cost of operating system? Keyboard/mouse? Monitor?

Who provides the support for these systems? Is warranty important to the business?

What actual software will be used? What tasks?

Custom built can work for some businesses, but it is not always the best answer.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zap View Post

Who provides the support for these systems? Is warranty important to the business?
Custom built can work for some businesses, but it is not always the best answer.
Exactly the right thing to ask. Is this an office you are going to be at five days a week, available for tech support? Or is there a person there responsible for systems administration/maintenance? I would not sell a bunch of these systems to a third party asking for a <10 PC office setup. Your best bet in this case would be with one of the big names like Dell, HP or Lenovo. You don't want to get stuck with a helpless customer who wants constant system support for next to nothing.

If you are adding to an existing network or replacing a few systems in a larger network, I see little problem with custom built as long as you have a maintenance plan and, if the systems themselves are going to be on a corporate network, that they are compatible with corporate images, meet corporate standards for your domain/Active Directory, and are capable of running all software required to be on the network.

A 2-3 year service life is not exactly ambitious.
biggrin.gif
We have a few systems pushing 8 years going strong with the only change being an SSD when the HDD dies. Core 2 Duos are still "good enough" for most generic office work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by M125 View Post

Exactly the right thing to ask. Is this an office you are going to be at five days a week, available for tech support? Or is there a person there responsible for systems administration/maintenance? I would not sell a bunch of these systems to a third party asking for a <10 PC office setup. Your best bet in this case would be with one of the big names like Dell, HP or Lenovo. You don't want to get stuck with a helpless customer who wants constant system support for next to nothing.

If you are adding to an existing network or replacing a few systems in a larger network, I see little problem with custom built as long as you have a maintenance plan and, if the systems themselves are going to be on a corporate network, that they are compatible with corporate images, meet corporate standards for your domain/Active Directory, and are capable of running all software required to be on the network.

A 2-3 year service life is not exactly ambitious.
biggrin.gif
We have a few systems pushing 8 years going strong with the only change being an SSD when the HDD dies. Core 2 Duos are still "good enough" for most generic office work.
Its actually my business, so I support also. Or at least I am part owner.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by elec999 View Post

Its actually my business, so I support also. Or at least I am part owner.
Well then, that broadens your selections. I would stay away from that "Apex" case if you plan on using it's included power supply. You will have less headaches down the road if you use a quality power supply.

The rest of your component selection is excellent for a moderate-use office system.

I like to stick to a "as small as possible" approach when building an office PC that uses Intel's on-die graphics. These two cases stick out to me because of the efficiency of the included power supply and their diminutive size:

ISK 110 VESA: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129185

Mini-Box M350 with PicoPSU: http://www.mini-box.com/M350-enclosure-with-picoPSU-80-and-60W-adapter

If you really want small, go for an Intel NUC (or Gigabyte Brix):

Cheaper Ivy Bridge NUC:

DC3217BY NUC
SSD
RAM
C5/C6 Clover-leaf Power Cord

^^^~$350

Expensive Haswell NUC:

D34010WYK NUC
SSD
RAM
C5/C6 Clover-leaf Power Cord

^^^~$430

An Optional Wireless Card can be installed in either system, if needed.
 

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Why not the Silverstone Sugo SG05 case? You can get the 'LITE' version that doesn't have a psu and then get your own. It's the one I'm leaning towards. I haven't bought it yet but I'm still considering how I will build in it since it can be tight and cramped once the components get in there. It's only around $50.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by noobee View Post

Why not the Silverstone Sugo SG05 case? You can get the 'LITE' version that doesn't have a psu and then get your own. It's the one I'm leaning towards. I haven't bought it yet but I'm still considering how I will build in it since it can be tight and cramped once the components get in there. It's only around $50.
If you want tight and cramped, the two cases I listed above for normal mini-ITX boards (not thin mini-ITX) are about as small as you can get. The SG05 is awesome if you want room for a decent GPU or other type of PCI-e device. Integrated graphics, even as they come on the Pentium G3220 (half that of HD4600 (only 10/20 EU, clocked lower) you would find on a 4770K) are plenty powerful for almost every office task, even CAD if you aren't opening huge assemblies. Additionally, disk drives are rarely used in a modern office, even for loading software or maintenance (assuming you don't still use software from the XP era
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). The SG05 would be mostly empty if it were used for a simple office PC.

The other thing with the SG05 is that you need to use a SFX-form factor PSU. Silverstone is currently the only manufacturer with an 80 Plus Gold rated unit in the SFX form factor: the ST45SF-G. They are not cheap. The Antec ISK 110 VESA's included power supply is rated to 92% efficiency, which means a minimum of a 80 Plus Gold rating. The picoPSU is ridiculously efficient: over 95%, corresponding to 80 Plus Platinum. To keep it cheap, you would have to go with something like a SeaSonic (good brand!) SS-350SFE that would still bring the case/PSU cost over $90. Even with that, you do not get the same efficiency your would get with the Antec or picoPSU.

Finally, the extra wattage given by the SFX in the SG05 would mostly go unused in a simple dual/quad core Haswell office PC; the SFX PSU would likely run outside of it's efficiency band, where an 80W picoPSU or the 90W Antec would be most efficient with a moderate CPU load. I would not pair a 77W or 84W TDP quad core with either the Antec ISK 110 or the 80W picoPSU, rather sticking to 65W -S and -R model CPUs like the i5-4570S or i7-4770S. I would go with the beefier 120W picoPSU/Adapter anyway if I was going to use a quad core in the M350; the i3-4330 has been more than enough for even demanding office work. The G3220 is nearly as good.

All this just to save a few watts, I know. It adds up when you are running more than 100 of them.
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The size/form factor is where you start making them more flexible. VESA mounting is a must in my office unless you are an engineer. Laptops are replacing desktops for most salaried people. And not even big desktop replacement laptops. Thin 13.3" ultrabooks. The desktop needs to evolve to stay relevant in the modern office.

I still like the NUC now that SSDs are cheaper and the units themselves (especially first gen Ivy Bridge) have dropped in cost what with age and competition from Gigabyte. I'm just not too sure about their hardiness in a rugged/dirty environment or longevity. Time will tell.

P.S. I studied the SG05 top-to bottom when I was looking to build as small of a system as possible with a heavy-duty GPU, but found that a GTX Titan-length card requires that a hole be cut out on the front panel and for the front fan to be re-positioned. The requirement for a SFX PSU when there are nearly zero options turned me off a bit, as did the slot for the ancient disk drive. This is why I settled on the appreciably larger Node 304. I still might build with it in the future with shorter GPUs.
 

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Sorry if I suggested a case that isn't applicable or fitting for what the OP wants to do. You made good points, that I didn't take into consideration.

I always figure video cards will eventually get shorter. I can't believe there are massive behemoths around still. Well, the high performance ones are. I think the MSI Gaming 760 card would be pretty good but maybe that's not sufficient for some gamers. At the moment, I'll be fine with a GTX 750 Ti so that's why cases that are good for 9.5/10" cards are sufficient for me. I figure the total of the build will be cost prohibitive so I plan to get the video card a bit later. Maybe Maxwell will have something really good or the GTX 750Ti will be cheaper by then.
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I like different things about various cases, the SG05, SG08 and RVZ01 but the htpc type of rectangular boxes seem a bit old school.
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I guess it depends on how the internal layout is.

". Laptops are replacing desktops for most salaried people. And not even big desktop replacement laptops. Thin 13.3" ultrabooks. The desktop needs to evolve to stay relevant in the modern office."

I agree, 100%! That's why I'm looking at SFF right now. I wanted a laptop but there's not too many that I think I'd be satisfied with. Maybe a Samsung or Acer Ultrabook. But, I really like the new MacBook Pro and Air and these are over $1300. I can build a SFF desktop for under $800 and sell my current parts for close to $300. That won't get me a decent Ultrabook. But, it should fund a decent SFF system.

It should be portable and although not as ideal or convenient as a laptop, it's the next best thing, for me.

It is my perception that electronic and computerized gadgets/devices are becoming smaller or at lest, more efficient. I perceive video cards and computer cases (and components therein - like motherboards) becoming smaller and more efficient design wise, as technology and engineering allows. Or maybe I'm wrong... 'been before.
smile.gif
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Guys believe I still get a pleasure out of building a system. Thats why I always prefer to make my own.

{Please also dont laugh, these guys love to leave 20 words windows open at once, 10 excels, outlook. What would really increase their performance on this side, CPU, RAM, SSD?}
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by elec999 View Post

Guys believe I still get a pleasure out of building a system. Thats why I always prefer to make my own.

{Please also dont laugh, these guys love to leave 20 words windows open at once, 10 excels, outlook. What would really increase their performance on this side, CPU, RAM, SSD?}
Word is mostly a childs toy, and rarely is demanding, where Excel can be a bear. What you describe is a RAM-heavy workload, but many users seem to just forget they have things open that they really do not need. Dual/triple monitors or 4K displays/screen management software should be assigned to those who constantly tab between multiple windows, this would increase their "performance" more than any other piece of computer hardware. Tried and tested with multiple employees.
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We have quite a few "Excel" pros, mostly accountants, and even one employee who seems to just make Pareto charts all day.
rolleyessmileyanim.gif
They mostly work in 64-bit Office with 64-bit compatible spreadsheets and macros. After a good week of use, one accountant is paging 10GB of their 16GB of RAM (newer Latitude E6540, billed as "Accountant's Laptop" on our Dell Premier portal). He seems to get about as much done as another accountant using an Ultrabook with 4GB of RAM. In other words, it really depends on how efficiently your user multitasks.

On the CPU side of things, I'd run some of your hard coded routines or macros in Excel and see if they max out a core for a few seconds on import/export or data arrangement. Some Excel spreadsheets are designed to update on opening, monitor CPU usage then. Excel, even 64-bit 2013, is mostly single/dual threaded still. Calculations rarely seem to take full advantage of extra cores, just higher core strength. Therefore, just look for the newest architecture available (Haswell), and something that either has a high static clock rate (Pentium 3220, i3-4340, etc.), or something that has a high single-thread turbo (i5-4670, i7-4770). This single-threadedness is why most business laptops, outside engineering, are dual core i5s and i7s with high single-core turbo clocks. For all but the most demanding user, a Pentium G3220 would suffice.

With RAM, as said above, it really depends on how efficiently your user multitasks. More RAM always helps, but with most new PCs having SSDs as the location of the page file now (can be a bit hard on an SSD), you don't notice a huge slowdown when your system RAM gets mostly assigned and memory management has to expand the page file. Page faults are much more forgiving with an SSD than a HDD, due to the difference in access times. 4GB is the minimum realistically, and with the page file on SSD would still work for 90% of office people, 8GB makes a great general-use system, and 16GB makes a good all-round workstation.

SSDs. Do not build a new system without one. End of Discussion.

But seriously, don't even consider cheaping out for a 500GB platter drive these days. You have network attached storage that people are supposed to use to store everything, right? Make them use it! It is redundant and backed up for a reason, right? A 120GB-Class SSD from the likes of Crucial, Intel, or Samsung should be your default choice, with a 240GB-class SSD the choice for laptops/those who travel. Any SSD is better than any HDD; there I said it. It would be difficult for a user to feel the difference from a lowly 120GB Crucial M500 to a high-end 512GB Samsung 840 Pro. SSDs really have brought about a new "era" of computing, much like the Core 2 Duo did for processors.

Recap, for a MS Office-centric PC:

Pentium G3220 -> Good enough.
4GB RAM with Page File on SSD -> Good enough.
120GB SSD -> Good enough.

i3 4340 -> Great; anything more, diminishing returns.
8GB RAM -> Great; anything more, diminishing returns.
240GB SSD -> Great; anything more, diminishing returns.

Get a SSD(1), then put more RAM(2) in it, then, if the budget allows, bump up the CPU(3) a notch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Heres what I put together

ADATA Xpg V1.0 16GB DDR3-1600 CL9-9-9-24 2 X 8GB Dual Channel Memory Kit Black
Intel Pentium G3220 Dual Core 3.0GHZ Processor LGA1150 Haswell 3MB Cache Retail
Gigabyte GA-H81M-S2PV mATX LGA1150 H81 DDR3 PCI-E16 DVI VGA GBLAN SATA3 USB3 Motherboard
Samsung 840 Evo Series MZ-7TE120BW 120GB 2.5in SATA III Internal SSD Single Unit Version
Fractal Design Core 1000 mATX Computer Case 2X3.5IN 3X2.5IN USB3.0 *No PSU*
Antec Basiq VP450 450W Power Supply ATX12V V2.3 Dual +12V Rail 120MM Fan 80% Efficiency

I would love to find an MINI-ITX Case and motherboard.
 
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