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 Post subject: Looking for help: Small, stylish home PC for parents
PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 5:03 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2003 1:17 am
Posts: 35
Location: USA
Hi All

I'm looking to purchase a pre-built system for my parents. It's a gift as part of their first trip to visit me in the US. (First and probably the last time.)

While their computing needs are very, very basic I'd like to get a system that at least has a little pizazz. Consequently, I've been looking at the Shuttle systems which are small and will be easy to transport as hand luggage.

There is however a price premium to be paid for Shuttle so, are there any other similar systems that you'd recommend with similar power?

Thanks

PS I'm looking at a simple Intel Core2 Duo system with 4 Gigs of RAM.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 6:33 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2005 1:53 pm
Posts: 1201
Location: Plymouth, MI
Maybe one of those little Dell's? I know their a little noisy for us on here, but something I have to remind myself about my parents is: they can't hear for beans anymore :D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 7:24 am 
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Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2008 12:33 pm
Posts: 259
Location: Nowhere, Nebraska USA
Budget goals?

What are they doing with it?

There are some nice m-itx boards out there. Find one with good onboard video, pair that with 2 gigs of ram, an e2200/e5200 intel processor and a WD 640 gig blue drive and call it done unless they need a DVD drive.

I have a pair of K45 shuttles. One is running OSX 10.5.2 with an e2200 processor, 2 gigs of crucial DDR2-667 and WD 640 gig blue drive. Quite except for the PS fan. Overall I am impressed with it.

I built this cheap quiet machine for my office and it is quieter than than the fluorescent lights in the office:
$72 - e5200
$20 -2 gigs of ddr2-800
$60 -GIGABYTE GA-G31M-ES2L LGA 775 Intel G31 Micro ATX Intel
$45 -SeaSonic SS-350ES 350W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Cert Act PFC PS
Leftover HD and old ugly case...

You can do AMD cheaper...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:18 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2003 1:17 am
Posts: 35
Location: USA
My budget goal is to keep the build price under $800.

They are running email and MS Office applications. Don't even think about me trying to push them to any OS other than Windows. I have tried and failed.

Basic web browsing is also required.

That's pretty much it. This machine is probably going to be used for 8 years.


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 Post subject: Asus EEE Box
PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:28 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 04, 2006 8:18 am
Posts: 39
Location: Tucson Arizona
For a very compact and QUIET PC, you can hardly beat the Asus EEE Box 202: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6883220006

Mount it to the rear of a 19in LCD and you have a total system for about $400.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 4:34 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:04 pm
Posts: 3
Location: Australia
How about a Mac Mini with Apple care, sort of expensive for what it is, but unless they can take care of their computer themselves, the mac would do nicely, as they have global support. You could get base set and upgrade ram yourself for them.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 4:55 am 
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Location: Maynard, MA, Eaarth
Hi,

I'll second the Mac Mini suggestion!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 5:22 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2007 3:17 am
Posts: 780
Location: Croatia
Kaizen wrote:
They are running email and MS Office applications.

My parents are perfectly happy with an old Tualatin with 512 MB of RAM. What do you need 4 gigs for?!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:12 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2003 1:17 am
Posts: 35
Location: USA
Hi

Sadly the Mac isn't an option as it would just confuse the bejesus out of my parents.

This machine is probably going to be my parent's last and will need to operate for about 8 years. So I'm loading it to the gills with RAM to keep it zippy and allow it to run Windows 7.

Having done a little looking I'll probably go for Dell's Studio Slim or Studio Hybrid.

PS This needs to travel back home (30 hours of flying) and my folks already have a monitor so I'm just looking at the heart of the system.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:57 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 04, 2006 8:18 am
Posts: 39
Location: Tucson Arizona
Studio Hybrid would be an excellent choice. It is a little more expensive than the Asus EEE Box I first recommended. But the Studio has faster components and a built in DVD. I have always liked Dell products for their value. And the Studio has good looks, too! They are also available for a couple hundred less on their outlet site.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:52 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:37 am
Posts: 20
Location: NJ, US
Get the Mac Mini anyway, upgrade the RAM (apple overcharges) and possibly the HD (same thing). Install whatever version of Windows you want (keeping the dual boot or just wiping OSX).

They will love the small size - particularly when travelling - and the fact that it makes almost no noise (my understanding is that the Dell Studio is noisy).

I have a 20" iMac for my music system (much simpler setup than Windows) and I love the fact that such a powerful box is completely silent. But I hate OSX and write this on my Dell laptop.

The Core-2 Duo processor (though a slightly slower mobile part) and the 9400 graphics will make it do most things really well. The low power consumption may also be a significant advantage financially depending on where your parents live.

Just make sure that you get a cable that can connect it to the monitor they already have.

Many people will complain about the price of Macs. The low end Mini is $599 compared to $569 for the Hybrid with the similar CPU (the base has only 1Mb cache, the Mini has 3Mb). The Dell has slightly bigger HD but on the other hand the pathetic Intel 3100 graphics. I think the $30 difference is worth it though you may have to buy a Windows license as well (Windows 7RC is probably not a good choice).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 10:35 am 
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Location: Monterey Bay, CA
I think mozartrules is spot on. Set it up as a dual boot and they can decide which OS they like better.
- it's tiny
- it will completely meet their needs (my Mom loves her Mac Mini)
- it's very unlikely something will come loose/fail due to their trip home with it
- if something does fail, they can stick it in the mail for $10 and ship it back to you for repair.
- it's way less likely to need your tech time than a WIN system.

I'd opt to keep the existing HDD. Then, the warranty is still in effect. Either spend $50 to increase it to 2GB (enough for their needs) or install yourself to get it to 4GB.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:10 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2007 2:40 pm
Posts: 140
Location: Seattle
Not to argue, since it looks like you've made up your mind, but just to comment on the questions raised:

-- I have considerable experience setting up parents and other aging and capacities-declining relatives with computers. For this purpose Macs are infinitely preferable to PCs. They are much simpler and more intuitive. They are stabler and safer. Any internet-connected Windows system is in a constant process of updating, patching, and upgrading, and in ongoing need of protection from mischief. Every single relative of mine with a PC gets massive spyware infestations. Doesn't matter how many times I clean it up and put on protection and tell them what to do. They have no concept. I use PCs myself, but those of us who post in a place like this are savvy enough to look out for ourselves and fix problems when they arise.

-- For purpose of hand baggage and overall simplicity, why not a little laptop?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 2:33 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2003 1:17 am
Posts: 35
Location: USA
Hi All

Thank you so much for the excellent feedback. The Dell Outlet suggestion is brilliant.

In answer to some of the questions and recommendations:

- My parents live in South Africa so you can forget about any form of broadband access at a reasonable price. $40 per month is going to buy you a 384/128 kbps DSL link with a 1gig monthly cap. Guys, we're dealing with the third world here. The machine will use dial up for my parents to check email and that's about it.

- The MAC OS is going to be too much to handle for my parents. If they'd never seen anything else, yes, it would be perfect. Moving from Windows 2000 to Vista is going to be enough of a challenge. (I tried to get my father to move from Office 2000 to OpenOffice and that ended in tears.) As beautiful as MACs are we don't have the proximity and South Africa doesn't have the infrastructure to support it where they live.

- I have offered a laptop and it was flatly rejected despite a good sales job on my part.

The Dell is a good compromise in my opinion.

Thank you again to everyone for their help.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 4:01 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:48 am
Posts: 400
Location: Orlando, FL
Lol, why was a laptop rejected? They are pretty cheap now and could be useful on third world power grids. If they don't want to 'use' the laptop they just plug it a monitor, keyboard and mouse.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:31 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2003 1:17 am
Posts: 35
Location: USA
Ch0z3n wrote:
Lol, why was a laptop rejected? They are pretty cheap now and could be useful on third world power grids. If they don't want to 'use' the laptop they just plug it a monitor, keyboard and mouse.


:D I may never know the real reason as my parents are not exactly open with their information. Suffice to say that after a detailed explanation I reached the I DON'T WANT A LAPTOP point.

Oh well, such is life.


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