Question Cheap Office Desktop Build(s)

crizzah

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Hey all,

I'm a small business owner, and I've been told by our tech support that we'll have to update at least 1/2 of our desktop "fleet" (about 10x machines) so that we can get everything upgraded to Win10 by the end of the year. The last time we ordered PC's from this tech support company, my forebears overpaid a substantial amount, and I'd like to see if I can personally do better. I'm out of the hardware "loop" recently, so I don't really know what's a good deal vs. bad. I've had some really great advice here in the past when building my own personal gaming rigs, and I'm sure someone may hopefully come up with something that can get me started.

We are also changing some operational software - going with cloud-based online accounting/inventory/purchasing/invoicing, so all I'll really need is an internet surfing desktop that can push Win10 for a few years. We already have all peripheral elements (keyboards, mice, monitors, etc.). We also currently have all Intel CPU's, so I'd like to maintain the Intel chipset, with these minimum specs:

CPU: at least i5 +3.50Ghz
RAM: at least 8GB
Storage: at least 500GB HDD
Optics: I don't know - does anyone even use CD/DVD anymore? Can probably nix with a couple USB ports.
GPU: not standard, but I will have a couple of workstations with dual-monitors, so I think I'll need something cheap here simply for multiple output ports?
PSU: I'm open to spending a little more here if an argument can be made against future electrical usage expense
Case: We don't need anything fancy, but these desktops will likely get shoved under a desk & occasionally kicked with a steel-toe boot or something - and probably never cleaned out (I know, I know) - so I would prefer something more durable.

Hopefully that's enough info to get someone started - or if you know of a prebuilt that you want to recommend, I'm all ears there too. Thanks in advance for your kind help & support!
 

WildCard999

Titan
Herald
I know you said you'd prefer Intel but...

Something like the Asrock A300 Deskmini may be something worth looking into.

It's a Case, PSU & Motherboard for $150 and supports HDMI, Displayport & VGA.
https://www.asrock.com/nettop/AMD/DeskMini A300 Series/

The rest of the parts...

PCPartPicker Part List

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2400G 3.6 GHz Quad-Core Processor ($118.88 @ Amazon)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3000 Memory ($84.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Intel 660p Series 512 GB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive ($59.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $263.86
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2019-09-17 13:21 EDT-0400


You could go a bit cheaper as well with the 2200G.



My work uses HP Elitedesk systems that use 8gb of memory with a 8400/8500T paired with a HDD. Not sure about there actual cost but looking online there about double this AMD build would be.
 
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crizzah

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lease is probably the way to go. from a Dell or HP that is.
I have a few local small-business peers that have shared some of their IT leasing costs with me, and I'd dismissed the lease option due to the expenses that they've claimed. I appreciate the advice though Mandark, maybe I'll have to give that another look.
 
Reactions: Mandark
I know you said you'd prefer Intel but...

Something like the Asrock A300 Deskmini may be something worth looking into.

It's a Case, PSU & Motherboard for $150 and supports HDMI, Displayport & VGA.
https://www.asrock.com/nettop/AMD/DeskMini A300 Series/

The rest of the parts...

PCPartPicker Part List

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2400G 3.6 GHz Quad-Core Processor ($118.88 @ Amazon)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3000 Memory ($84.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Intel 660p Series 512 GB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive ($59.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $263.86
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2019-09-17 13:21 EDT-0400


You could go a bit cheaper as well with the 2200G.



My work uses HP Elitedesk systems that use 8gb of memory with a 8400/8500T paired with a HDD. Not sure about there actual cost but looking online there about double this AMD build would be.
I concur with this, and, as you'll see in my sig, I have one of these, but with less storage, RAM, and the lowest end CPU it could take, though I'm running Linux on it.

NewEgg currently has the A300W for $149.99 both in the regular NewEgg site, and on their NewEgg Business site, the latter of which specifies to call if you want more than 4 of them.

I don't know if more than 8GB of RAM would be required, and I'd suggest that dropping down to the Ryzen 3 2200G would probably be workable as well. Also, a few sites I've read state that the Wraith Stealth cooler will work in the small case, rather than the included compact cooler, and probably be a little quieter.

Still, I've never personally used Windows 10 on one of these - but I had a less capable system that ran acceptably (Haswell Pentium, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD) , but I wouldn't open too many browser windows on that Haswell Pentium system at once.

The ASRock A300W comes with an HDMI port, a DP port, and, oddly, a VGA port. USB ports are limited, but the two extra USB port attachment (internal, for ports on the case) goes for $7.99 on both the main NewEgg site, as well as NewEgg Business, though, frankly, at that price something like the Anker 4 port USB hub might be a better idea.


NOTE: the A300W uses laptop RAM. Also, no PCIe slot, so you must use a Ryzen that has integrated graphics.


EDIT: If you're anywhere near a MicroCenter, they've currently got the Ryzen 3 2200G going for $59.99, which is REALLY hard to beat. I would guess that, using mostly cloud-based services rather than locally installed software, the demands on the system's CPU and RAM aren't going to be enormous.

EDIT 2: If it's going to be cloud based, is everything going to happen via the browser? Is a Windows license even necessary anymore? Would a Linux install plus just an obvious icon to fire up the browser be sufficient? Or is there still other software that you need (say, Windows, plus Outlook, etc)? I realize at this point that I'm deviating from the strictly-hardware question, though.
 
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crizzah

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That's a good idea, I just have zero experience with AMD. I'm guessing the AMD chip comes with it's own onboard graphics processor then?

Personally, when I thinking about AMD (from what I've known in the past), initial economy is definitely there (low cost), but so is inefficiency and high temperatures - especially in a miniATX . I'd really rather not limit my employees' productivity at all --- or am I just being prejudicially paranoid with your suggestion?
 

WildCard999

Titan
Herald
Only certain AMD's have a iGPU some are the 2200G, 2400G, 3200G & 3400G. There are also cheaper ones such as the 200GE but you'd probably want something better then a dual core with hyperthreading. The stock coolers are quite good and I would think office work wouldn't cause them to run hot or at a high RPM but I suppose it could happen especially if it's a high ambient temp. Performance wise though the price cannot be beat as those HP Elitedesk ones only have 8gb of memory when you could have 16gb and a HDD instead of SSD although maybe there cheaper in bulk.


That being said what are the actual specs of the systems your currently using?

Could be dropping in a SSD into each system (with a clean install) be a cheap and fast upgrade for the company systems?
 
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logainofhades

Titan
Moderator
This would be plenty, for your system needs.

PCPartPicker Part List

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2400G 3.6 GHz Quad-Core Processor ($118.78 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty B450 Gaming-ITX/ac Mini ITX AM4 Motherboard ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory ($72.89 @ OutletPC)
Storage: Intel 660p Series 1.02 TB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive ($94.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Cooler Master Elite 110 Mini ITX Tower Case ($49.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA GM 450 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular SFX Power Supply ($75.98 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro OEM 64-bit ($139.00 @ Amazon)
Total: $651.61
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2019-09-17 16:09 EDT-0400


A bit more money, but a slimmer tower.

PCPartPicker Part List

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2400G 3.6 GHz Quad-Core Processor ($118.78 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty B450 Gaming-ITX/ac Mini ITX AM4 Motherboard ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws V Series 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory ($72.89 @ OutletPC)
Storage: Intel 660p Series 1.02 TB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive ($94.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Fractal Design Node 202 HTPC Case ($71.00 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA GM 450 W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular SFX Power Supply ($75.98 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro OEM 64-bit ($139.00 @ Amazon)
Total: $672.63
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2019-09-17 16:11 EDT-0400
 

crizzah

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lease is probably the way to go. from a Dell or HP that is.
Well Mandark - I just did some quick checking, and it wasn't long before 3 HUGE negatives killed that option for me:

1: the costs were definitely going to be higher for me in the long run - with all the extra expenses they're throwing in & nickel/diming for this/that - I could probably go out & buy 10x new machines right now for $1000/ea. & be money ahead after only 24 months - even with my very good credit. I'll take those odds.

2: I couldn't even speak to a primarily English-speaking rep. to get an estimate. Outsourced customer support is a big no-go for me.

3: Long-term contracts really suck. I'd rather have the flexibility to sell off or redistribute the hardware during a business change down the road than get stuck paying for something I don't need.

Thanks but no thanks.
 

crizzah

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Only certain AMD's have a iGPU some are the 2200G, 2400G, 3200G & 3400G. There are also cheaper ones such as the 200GE but you'd probably want something better then a dual core with hyperthreading. The stock coolers are quite good and I would think office work wouldn't cause them to run hot or at a high RPM but I suppose it could happen especially if it's a high ambient temp. Performance wise though the price cannot be beat as those HP Elitedesk ones only have 8gb of memory when you could have 16gb and a HDD instead of SSD although maybe there cheaper in bulk.


That being said what are the actual specs of the systems your currently using?

Could be dropping in a SSD into each system (with a clean install) be a cheap and fast upgrade for the company systems?
Before I came onboard, our company hardware was very much a smorgasbord of PC's - basically purchased 1 or 2 at a time when dictated by necessity. Now that I'm in charge, I'm pushing more towards standardizing the gamut. It was recommended that I replace all of my i3 machines with newer i5's to prep for Win10 Pro, but after reviewing Microsoft's website, I'm simply going to upgrade some extra RAM sticks, which I'm hoping will suffice. I'm currently using this slew of desktops as my cutoff for upgrades (which will just get an extra 4GB stick of RAM - to 8GB total):

CPU: i3-3220 @ 3.30 Ghz
MEMORY: single 4GB Kingston DDR3 1333 RAM sticks
MOBO: unknown
PSU: unknown
STORAGE: unknown 500GB HDD
OS: Windows 7 Pro x32
CASE: cheap stock
COOLING: cheap stock heatsink/fan

Everything older will be replaced.

@logainofhades @King_V @WildCard999 - I just spoke with my tech support, and they're strongly recommending Intel now as well (it's just what they prefer to work with?), so I'm afraid I'm going to have to nix the AMD recs. Anything comparable on the Intel side?
 

crizzah

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Could be dropping in a SSD into each system (with a clean install) be a cheap and fast upgrade for the company systems?
It would definitely be an upgrade to some of our newer i3-4150's, but they will already install/run Win10 Pro just fine, so I don't think I'll look at the additional SSD expense. The rest of our upgrades will need more than a simple SSD addition I'm afraid, so I'm looking at new builds for them,... other than the other i3's that will just get an extra RAM upgrade.
 
That's a good idea, I just have zero experience with AMD. I'm guessing the AMD chip comes with it's own onboard graphics processor then?

Personally, when I thinking about AMD (from what I've known in the past), initial economy is definitely there (low cost), but so is inefficiency and high temperatures - especially in a miniATX . I'd really rather not limit my employees' productivity at all --- or am I just being prejudicially paranoid with your suggestion?
That was in the old days, when AMD was pushing their older AM3+ architecture hard. Inefficient was an understatement. Pre 2017. With the AM4 platform and new Ryzen-based CPUs, that's a thing of the past. In fact, now it's Intel that's relying on pushing the existing architecture harder, running hotter, and trying to cover for it by determining their TDP numbers in a different way that does not account for the real heat and power draw that users are likely to see.


@logainofhades @King_V @WildCard999 - I just spoke with my tech support, and they're strongly recommending Intel now as well (it's just what they prefer to work with?), so I'm afraid I'm going to have to nix the AMD recs. Anything comparable on the Intel side?
Possibly, but I'm personally not familiar with any way to do that via Intel - my only experience with low-cost systems has been the A300W based machine I have. Still, I know that small form factor machines are available on the Intel platform as well. Not sure if they're as low-priced, though.

Honestly, those techs had better have a rock-solid reason WHY they're straightjacketing you like this, including justifying the extra costs. This sounds like a mentality from the ancient days when it was said "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM." Or possibly just afraid of anything unfamiliar - don't want to deal with anything new. At least, that's the impression I'm getting - though I readily admit that I could be misjudging them. Still, I'm at a loss to come up with a valid reason as to WHY their forcing this limitation.


It would definitely be an upgrade to some of our newer i3-4150's, but they will already install/run Win10 Pro just fine, so I don't think I'll look at the additional SSD expense. The rest of our upgrades will need more than a simple SSD addition I'm afraid, so I'm looking at new builds for them,... other than the other i3's that will just get an extra RAM upgrade.
If the newest of your systems that are potentially slated to be replaced is an i3-4150 (2 core, 4 thread), then the Ryzen 2200G is definitely going to outperform it.


SSDs are a good idea, even for some of the older stuff, though. Visiting my parents a couple of weeks ago, my dad's PC is a Haswell-era i3, running a single 4GB of RAM, using a 1TB HDD. While his usage is light enough that he NEVER maxed out the RAM, updates and other tasks Windows would do in the background would sometime keep the disk utilization pegged at 100%, and he complained a little about the slowness. If he left the machine alone for a few minutes, until it was done doing whatever it was doing, then it was reasonably responsive.

Swapped in a 1TB SSD to replace his drive, and he says it's like night and day. He's particularly enthused about boot up and shutdown times, and how when he logs in, the machine is ready to go instantly.
 

crizzah

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Honestly, those techs had better have a rock-solid reason WHY they're straightjacketing you like this, including justifying the extra costs. This sounds like a mentality from the ancient days when it was said "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM." Or possibly just afraid of anything unfamiliar - don't want to deal with anything new. At least, that's the impression I'm getting - though I readily admit that I could be misjudging them. Still, I'm at a loss to come up with a valid reason as to WHY their forcing this limitation.
It wasn't a terribly rigorous "must do", it's simply their recommendation, & what they said they feel comfortable with. I will push them a bit more on it tomorrow though & see what more I can discern from their answer. It may simply be that they know I'll go out & build my own rigs rather than shop from them again, and they simply want to point me in the more expensive direction, so their quote won't seem as high?

SSDs are a good idea...
I'll definitely give it some more thought. I know that I definitely appreciate my personal SSD. And this is another market that I know has changed quite a bit over the past year or so, and I'm probably still stuck in the old way of thinking: that an OS SSD is an expensive luxury. 1TB definitely seems like too much though,.. the most we have on any company PC is 500GB HDD, and they aren't even 1/2 full. Any recs on a good, but economical 500GB SSD?
 
It wasn't a terribly rigorous "must do", it's simply their recommendation, & what they said they feel comfortable with. I will push them a bit more on it tomorrow though & see what more I can discern from their answer. It may simply be that they know I'll go out & build my own rigs rather than shop from them again, and they simply want to point me in the more expensive direction, so their quote won't seem as high?
Well, hopefully there's no shenanigans and/or "don't feel like thinking outside of the box" going on there, but, yeah, getting a solid reason, if there is one, would be nice. I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt and say they might have a legitimate concern, but, it doesn't "feel" like it (to me) at this point.

I'll definitely give it some more thought. I know that I definitely appreciate my personal SSD. And this is another market that I know has changed quite a bit over the past year or so, and I'm probably still stuck in the old way of thinking: that an OS SSD is an expensive luxury. 1TB definitely seems like too much though,.. the most we have on any company PC is 500GB HDD, and they aren't even 1/2 full. Any recs on a good, but economical 500GB SSD?
Oh, yeah, it's changed a lot. And, the "sweet spot" of price/storage has moved upward. This is simultaneously a good and bad thing. The good thing is getting way more for your money. The bad thing is that smaller capacities are cheaper, but they feel kind of like a bad deal relative to the larger capacities. ie: why get the 250GB drive for $49 when the 500GB is $65? Currently, the sweet spot seems to be at the 1TB mark.

Quick rundown:
There are 2.5" SATA drives, that are roughly like oversized credit cards, need an adapter to put in a standard 3.5" bay - I used an adapter that allowed you to stack 2 of them in a single 3.5" drive bay... or, honestly, can be stuck to the inside of the case with velcro, which I did for my dad's PC (Dell Inspiron Small Desktop). They are connected with a SATA cable and SATA power connector like a normal HDD.

Also, there are the M.2 drives. They look a little like undersized RAM sticks, and go into an M.2 slot. They can either be SATA protocol, or NVMe protocol. The latter is faster, but in normal day to day use, you can't really tell the difference. Some motherboards have SATA-only M.2 slots, some have NVMe-only M.2 slots, and some have M.2 slots that support both protocols. If you were to go with M.2, I'd get an NVMe drive.


BUT.... given that these machines are older, if they have M.2 slots, they might support NVMe at only PCIe 2.0 instead of 3.0, or at x1 or x2 instead of x4. Some (such as my dad's Dell) don't even have an M.2 slot at all.

So, I'd say the easiest thing to do is use the 2.5" SATA drives for these older machines.

I'd personally stick with Samsung's 860 EVO (not the QVO), or Crucial's MX500 (not the MX300, BX500, or others). Typically, the Samsung is a bit more expensive.

A quick search on PCPartPicker.com reveals pricing to be:
250GB​
500GB​
1TB​
Crucial MX500
$48.99​
$64.50​
$107.89​
Samsung 860 EVO
$54.99​
$74.99​
$129.99​

Two weeks ago, there was a sale on the 1TB Crucial MX500, and I picked the one up for my dad at just under $100.


Now, if you were to go with those ASRock A300W units, Intel's 660p (M.2, NVMe) is holding the crown with their 500GB unit going for $59.99, and their 1TB unit going for $94.99.

I'm personally using a 128GB Patriot Scorch M.2 NVMe SSD in my A300W, but I was looking to very strictly keep the price under $300 total at the time, and my total usage is about 1/4 of that capacity. At the time I bought it, the 256GB version was only $10 more ($31 vs $41), but that would have just barely crossed the $300 line I drew for myself, and it would've been capacity I would never use.

It can well be worth going with smaller drives if you're having to buy a bunch of them and KNOW for certain that the capacity won't ever be a problem. It just gives you a lesser GB-per-dollar.

That's about all I can think of at the moment.
 
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I have a simple question: Do you want to run your business, or you want to build and maintain PCs? All the posts up to now suggest the later.

Go to Dell/HP/Lenovo/Costco/BestBuy/Fry's, get 10 PCs in bulk, get one or two extra. If something breaks (I hope you at least maintain backups), ship it to be repaired. The only think I'd consider is replacing HDDs with SDDs, and adding a GPU on machine or two for your power users.

Or deal with half-a-dozen vendors of parts, each with different warranty (if any).
 
I have a simple question: Do you want to run your business, or you want to build and maintain PCs? All the posts up to now suggest the later.

Go to Dell/HP/Lenovo/Costco/BestBuy/Fry's, get 10 PCs in bulk, get one or two extra. If something breaks (I hope you at least maintain backups), ship it to be repaired. The only think I'd consider is replacing HDDs with SDDs, and adding a GPU on machine or two for your power users.

Or deal with half-a-dozen vendors of parts, each with different warranty (if any).
^^^ This ^^^ You are going to be wasting precious time on building and maintaining pcs.
 

crizzah

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I have a simple question: Do you want to run your business, or you want to build and maintain PCs? All the posts up to now suggest the later.

Go to Dell/HP/Lenovo/Costco/BestBuy/Fry's, get 10 PCs in bulk, get one or two extra. If something breaks (I hope you at least maintain backups), ship it to be repaired. The only think I'd consider is replacing HDDs with SDDs, and adding a GPU on machine or two for your power users.

Or deal with half-a-dozen vendors of parts, each with different warranty (if any).
Your sentiment is not lost on me - I was simply looking at this as an opportunity to use my skillset to help save this company some expense. My business is a well-oiled machine that honestly doesn't require 12 hours a day from me. I do have extra time - or at least putting in a little extra overtime is never a problem for me - especially when I can spend an hour or so troubleshooting a problem, & save a couple hundred $ on tech support charges (which is actually very cheap for my area). I'm not a big fan of simply chucking bucks at Dell/HP/BestBuy; and there are not Fry's near me. I may definitely give Costco a shot though, they're absolutely great to work with.

...plus, this is something I can really get into. But I understand what you're saying, and it's a fair point.
 
@King_V great stuff, thanks for your insight - this has opened my eyes a bit & will definitely be something for me to chew on for a bit.
You're welcome - given that my introduction to SSDs has been relatively recent, I sort of gave myself a crash course on the various details of SSDs (mostly frenzied searching, trying to find the quirks I had to avoid in mine, my brother's, my dad's and my son's differing PCs, etc) - so it's all still pretty fresh in my mind.
 
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