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1555 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 208

Topic # 242688 9-Nov-2018 14:12
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I'm looking at replacing my old desktop PC (over 10 years old) and I've been debating over getting a small form-factor device (eg a NUC) versus a more traditional desktop.


I've already decided that I want to run Linux Mint on it. I won't be using it for gaming or anything that requires any real CPU grunt, but I do want to do web development on it and so am likely to have several programs running at once (eg a text editor with several files open, an image editing program, a web server and MySQL server running in the background, a web browser with a dozen or so tabs open, an email program open, etc). I'm thinking that to handle this workload it's more important that I get plenty of RAM (8GB?) and an SSD for storage. Built-in graphics should be more than enough; no fancy graphics card is needed.


I don't have a large budget, $1000 is probably the maximum, so I'll be reusing my old keyboard, mouse and screen.


Since I haven't bought any new hardware for over 10 years I'm now unfamiliar with Intel's naming/numbering system for their processors, but I've been studying up and I think I should be looking at either an i5 or i7 (I think i3, Celeron and Atom processors wouldn't be enough for what I want and i9 is too new so you're paying a premium for them). Maybe 8th or 9th generation, so i5-9xxx, i5-8xxx, i7-9xxx or i7-8xxx.


My big question: all things equal, would it be cheaper to buy a traditional desktop PC or a small form-factor (eg a NUC) PC? What I mean is, do you pay extra for the small form-factor size over a normal desktop size?


I like the idea of the small form-factor to save space on my desk, and once I've bought it I really don't plan on upgrading anything in it in the future (so having extra slots available or the ability to upgrade the graphics card isn't too important). But I don't want to pay an extra couple of hundred just for the small form-factor size. At one point I considered a Raspberry Pi (I use one as a media device) but they're just too slow and don't have enough memory for what I want to do.


If anyone has any comments on NUCs (eg gotchas to watch for), or on anything that I've mentioned above (especially processor choice and RAM size), I'd really like to hear your thoughts. I'm looking at buying locally, maybe PB Tech, as I'd like a warranty I can easily use if anything goes wrong, but I might consider buying from overseas if the price was a lot cheaper than locally.


Thanks guys!

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356 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 130

  Reply # 2122774 9-Nov-2018 14:36
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Value for performance wise building yourself will be better if you don't include time spent as a cost. The impressively small footprint that NUC's have certainly will have a premium attached unless you go for second hand. The same price should give you better hardware custom built.



There are quite a few good mini-itx boards if you'd like to go that route. Of course the more you restrict your requirements to smaller components the less available hardware will be.



The 9th gen Intel don't have hyperthreading except the new i9 whereas the i7 8700(k) does.



If you're doing multi-tasking/dev/media then I would look at a Ryzen 2700 (8core 16 thread) and pair it with something like the MSI b450i gaming plus ac and 16GB of decent speed ram(dual channel for Ryzen). Only thing you need over Intel is a spare gpu for monitor out, so if you have one still in your old desktop you can repurpose it.



Although you do mention not needing serious grunt, most of the processors mentioned are quite overkill depending on what you're doing with them. You would be fine with a cheaper 4 core(even 6xxx skylake cpus) if thats all you needed (or the even cheaper 6c/12t Ryzen 2600).



Of note too, the MSI motherboard and RAM mentioned are far cheaper on Amazon than anywhere in NZ. If you wanted to save a couple hundred then the mobo, ram, ssd can all be shipped from Amazon US under customs limit.

1555 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 208

  Reply # 2122781 9-Nov-2018 14:52
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Thanks @SpartanVXL, I hadn't considered AMD but I'll look into that side of things.

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