PC Recommendations


Kind of a fun month for PC recommendations because for once the underlying hardware is quiet. No big announcements of processors, video cards or motherboards, so instead of high, medium and low, let's focus on some "odd" machines that might be fun to have. Think of them as alternative PCs. Sort of like taking a break and driving a Prius or a Hummer around:
h2. Compact Performance PC
Shuttle's XPC SN25P mini-barebones system. I haven't recommended a Shuttle in a while because they have been underpowered in the power supply and overnoisy. The SN25P changes a lot of that. It is still loud at 45dBa (you can build a bigger system running at whisper quiet 25dBa right now), but it is compact. It is a hairs breadth away from being the fastest PC ever (that honor would go to a DFI LanParty Nf4 Ultra system). Here's what I would get given the new Shuttle has 350 watt power supply and much more room inside:
| Component | Price | Comment |
| Shuttle XPC SN25P | $420 | Coming Soon |
| Athlon 64 3200+ | $200 | 2GHz can get to 2.3 or so |
| nVidia 6800GT PCIe | $440 | Expensive right now |
| Western Digital WD740GD | $180 | Fastest on the planet |
| Maxtor DiamondMax 300 | $205 | Biggest ever |
| Benq DW1620 | $70 | DVD that does everything |
| Crucial 3200XL 2x512MB | $250 | Or any Samsung TCCD Ram set is fine |
| Total | $1695 | A screamer in a lunchbox |
All of this in a nice small form factor, if you want the same performance but whisper quiet, you'll have to go to an Ever Case 4252 case ($50), XP-120 fancooler ($50), Seasonic Silencer 400 ($100) power supply and DFI LanParty Nf4 Ultra motherboard ($140) to replace the Shuttle but it will be very quiet for a few bucks less than the Shuttle.
h2. Compact Silent PC
OK, here I would get something that is completely noiseless. I haven't tried the unit yet, but a good recommendation would come from "Logic Supply":http://logicsupply.com. Here are some small PCs that are just fine for running Office or watching a DVD:
"Sumicom S615":http://www.logicsupply.com/product_info.php/cPath/51/products_id/240. This is a Celeron 2GHz running at 1.33GHz. It is just 6"x10"x2" in size. Comes with just about everything and uses a very quiet 2.5" notebook drive. They come custom from Logic Supply, but a 256MB, 40GB drive with CD-RW/DVD is $781 plus shipping. This should run office well, although I don't know about Divx decoding. DVDs should be fine.
It is not as small as a Mac Mini (6"x4"x6"), but pretty darn close.
h2. Small but noiser and faster PC
If you want something that is small but has a fan and some power
Dell Optiplex "SX280":http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/optix_sx280?c=us&cs=555&l=en&s=biz&~page=3&~tab=specstab#tabtop is not a bad choice. It is ultra small at $934 would give you a 2.8GHz Pentium, 512MB DDR2 PC1066 memory, 80GB, DVD/CDRW. With the Prescott in there I'm sure it runs hot, but it is only 10"x10"x4"
Logic Supply gives you a similar "Sumicom S620":http://www.logicsupply.com/product_info.php/cPath/51/products_id/167 with Pentium 4 2.8GHz, 512MB PC3200 DDR Ram, 160GB 7200 drive, CDRW/DVD for $870. It is mainly much narrow at 6"x10"x3"
h2. Ultra small and quiet
If you are willing to sacrifice all for small and silent, then there is the
Mac Mini. Just 4"x6"x4" and super cute and hard to beat at $500, althought $600 would give you 80GB of disk.
If you want a PC-based system, then you can get a Epia M board now, but I'd wait until April when the Epia SP ships. This is much faster and supports MPEG4 decoding.
When you get it, you can fit it into one of two systems:
* "Logic Supply C134":http://www.logicsupply.com/product_info.php/cPath/29/products_id/72. This is the PC equivalent running the VIA Epic chipset. Fanless if you are not doing Divx and xvid decoding, it is just $510 with a 600Mhz ME6000, 256MB PC2100 memory, 2.5" 30GB disk, CDRW/DVD drive and is 7"x10"x2". You can also get one with a 25dBa fan with 1GHz which can run Divx and xvid decoding at full speed. These prices are assembled.
* C134 do-it-yourself. Alternatively if you want to go totally do-it-yourself, you can buy the C134 case ($144) and Via motherboard ($160) from Logic Supply and then go out into the merchant market for the rest of the components. For instance low profile DDR RAM, slim CD/DVD and 2.5" 60GB hard drives are available from Newegg.com. You can put together at ME10000, Valuemax 512MB memory, LG 10x24x24 CDRW/DVD and Fujitsu 60GB hard disk for about $550. This should be a very fast system for Office/Multimedia decoding.
* e-Otonashi. This is a little bit bigger, but completely fanless even with a 1.2GHz M or 1.33Ghz SP board because it uses a special heatsink.