Question Could anyone suggest a desktop PC for Adobe Creative Suite use and some gaming?

Oct 25, 2019
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I'm shopping for a different machine and I'm wondering what models might be best to look into. I'm looking more into older PCs, both for affordability and OS, but if I can find something slightly nicer than my old computer (Lenovo Thinkcentre), that would be awesome. I'd like something basically a little better than an office computer - something that will run Adobe art programs (CS3 is the version I have), but that would also be able to handle some light gaming because my last computer had problems running most 3D games even at the lowest settings. For the record, I don't need a hardcore gaming machine, but just something that would run Bendy and the Ink Machine without a 5-second lag. My Thinkcentre didn't have any issues with Adobe and a vast majority of my games, which are sprite-based.

I've got my eye on a Dell Optiplex 7010 right now or possibly another Thinkcentre, and I'm also considering Alienware if I can find a reasonably priced refurbished one. I have no brand preference aside from being a Windows PC.

Edited to add: Specs on former computer as a basis

Model: Lenovo Thinkcentre A70Z All-In-One
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 @ 2.93GHz
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit
RAM: 4GB
Graphics: Intel integrated
Hard Drive: 320GB
 
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Please provide the exact model of your Lenovo Thinkcentre and/or the system specs (CPU/RAM/GPU) first. That way we can determine what's an actual upgrade.

Also, what's your budget?
What country are you shopping in?
 

ohio_buckeye

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Jan 5, 2015
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Without knowing what your current build, maybe something like this would be what you want.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-Optiplex-980-MT-Desktop-Intel-i7-8GB-500GB-DVDRW-Win-10-Pro-WiFi-Free-Ship/174144234833?hash=item288bce2551:g:PqwAAOSw4dxeDqbS&LH_BIN=1

Upgrade to 16gb of ram. Pop in an SSD for boot drive and at least say a 1tb drive for storage/games. Pop in a card like a 1650 Super or 1660 perhaps, and a new PSU.

But honestly, with that at 150, you might as well look at a Ryzen 1600, board, 16gb of ram, and a case and PSU. Sure that will run a bit more and you'll have to find a license for windows, but on the other hand, you get a system that's going to be more upgradeable and has more life in it.
 
Oct 25, 2019
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Please provide the exact model of your Lenovo Thinkcentre and/or the system specs (CPU/RAM/GPU) first. That way we can determine what's an actual upgrade.

Also, what's your budget?
What country are you shopping in?
Sorry, my bad! I had a Lenovo Thinkcentre A70Z All-In-One. Here are the specs for my system:
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 @ 2.93GHz.
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit
RAM: 4GB
Graphics: Intel integrated
Hard Drive: 320GB
Sound and disk drive were factory.

I live in the US and I would ideally like to spend no more than $200. Since I'm looking for an older machine, I figure this shouldn't be too hard.
 
Oct 25, 2019
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Without knowing what your current build, maybe something like this would be what you want.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-Optiplex-980-MT-Desktop-Intel-i7-8GB-500GB-DVDRW-Win-10-Pro-WiFi-Free-Ship/174144234833?hash=item288bce2551:g:pqwAAOSw4dxeDqbS&LH_BIN=1

Upgrade to 16gb of ram. Pop in an SSD for boot drive and at least say a 1tb drive for storage/games. Pop in a card like a 1650 Super or 1660 perhaps, and a new PSU.

But honestly, with that at 150, you might as well look at a Ryzen 1600, board, 16gb of ram, and a case and PSU. Sure that will run a bit more and you'll have to find a license for windows, but on the other hand, you get a system that's going to be more upgradeable and has more life in it.
Posted the specs on my last machine up top, but here's what I had to work with as far as my last computer:
Model: Lenovo Thinkcentre A70Z All-In-One
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 @ 2.93GHz
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit
RAM: 4GB
Graphics: Intel integrated
Hard Drive: 320GB
Sound and disk drive were factory.

I'm not interested in trying to build my own machine, only because I don't have the experience necessary to build one (and I don't want to pay hundreds upon hundreds for dollars for someone to make a custom rig for me ) and someone would need to spoon-feed me through the whole process. I'd rather get something pre-built and replace anything I think needs replacing from there.

The Optiplex 980 looks like it would be fine. I'm not sure if there are any huge differences between the Optiplex models. But the price is definitely great - I'm seeing them go for anywhere between $75 and $200 with a few in the $300+ range. Depending on whether or not I could run 3D games on this machine, I might need a bigger hard drive than the 250GB ones they all seem to have, but that's about it.

While I wouldn't mind 16GB of RAM, I don't think I need quite that much. I also still had a VAST majority of my hard drive space left when it died on me, so definitely don't need a ton of really anything. I think at most, I'd like something with a better graphics card or at least a dedicated card so I don't have to buy a whole new board if the graphics card goes bad, but everything else can be the same, more or less.
 
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$200 budget is very restrictive. Have you looked on your local classifieds? (ie Craigslist)

Any graphics card worth buying for gaming is going to cost at least $100. So you can probably find a $200 tower that's capable of accepting a graphics card used for gaming, but don't expect to have it INCLUDE a gaming-tier graphics card within your $200 budget. Adding a graphics card to pretty much anything in your $200 budget will require a new power supply also.

The $160 Optiplex 980 that Ohio linked is little older than I'd recommend (it's pre-Sandy Bridge). The Optiplex 790 or 990 MT and newer is decent to work with. Avoid SFF (small form factor) machines if you hope to install a graphics card. Look for the "standard" size "MT" or similar moniker models. If you find something, run it by us before buying so we can help you avoid purchases you'll end up regretting later.
 
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ohio_buckeye

Honorable
Jan 5, 2015
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Oops. Did I link the wrong one? Either way, I saw another that is 145.99 with free shipping. It had an i7 3770. As far as 16gb of ram, ram is currently very cheap. Why would you not go that much? The one I was looking at is an optiplex 9010. I'm currently on my phone and if I go to eBay.com and search, they keep kicking me into the eBay app.

But either way, op, you had good luck with your old one, but your still talking about systems that are 6-7 years old already. But if you could get something like that, upgrade ram to 16gb so it's semi modern, and go to something like an rx 570, that system might work a while needing a gpu upgrade in a couple of years or so. I would also recommend upgrading the stock power supply.

I get the idea of 200, and you can get some systems for that, but realistically, you should consider upping your budget if you want a halfway decent graphics card for your system.

I would suggest to, look at a solid state drive as a boot drive. Believe me, the system will feel like brand new.
 
Oct 25, 2019
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$200 budget is very restrictive. Have you looked on your local classifieds? (ie Craigslist)

Any graphics card worth buying for gaming is going to cost at least $100. So you can probably find a $200 tower that's capable of accepting a graphics card used for gaming, but don't expect to have it INCLUDE a gaming-tier graphics card within your $200 budget. Adding a graphics card to pretty much anything in your $200 budget will require a new power supply also.

The $160 Optiplex 980 that Ohio linked is little older than I'd recommend (it's pre-Sandy Bridge). The Optiplex 790 or 990 MT and newer is decent to work with. Avoid SFF (small form factor) machines if you hope to install a graphics card. Look for the "standard" size "MT" or similar moniker models. If you find something, run it by us before buying so we can help you avoid purchases you'll end up regretting later.
No, but I've actually found several possibilities on eBay that fit my budget.

I don't necessarily want a super-fancy graphics card that can handle hardcore graphics. The little integrated card in my last machine ran about 95% of my games, but this is also why I was looking at Alienware. I know those are more for light gaming and would likely have a card that would work well for what I want and I managed to find some that fit my budget, surprisingly.

The one I'm looking at most at the moment is the Optiplex 7010 and the Alienware X51 or X51 R2 is my second choice. I'm hoping to get something that is as close to what I want as-is so I don't have to fuss with it unless something breaks.

But thank you for the info! I'm guessing SFF is like all-in-ones and mini/compact computers? That was actually a selling factor for me. I do know you generally can't put dedicated graphics cards in those, but small systems are a plus for me.
 
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ohio_buckeye

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Jan 5, 2015
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Your choice. I would say that I don't have a lot of experience with Alienware systems, even though I know they are basically dells. I would recommend the optiplex. We use a lot of optiplex systems at work. We have a few that are a few years old. They usually are only pulled when they are too obsolete or are getting replaced. Most of them are still working when pulled.
 
Oct 25, 2019
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Oops. Did I link the wrong one? Either way, I saw another that is 145.99 with free shipping. It had an i7 3770. As far as 16gb of ram, ram is currently very cheap. Why would you not go that much? The one I was looking at is an optiplex 9010. I'm currently on my phone and if I go to eBay.com and search, they keep kicking me into the eBay app.

But either way, op, you had good luck with your old one, but your still talking about systems that are 6-7 years old already. But if you could get something like that, upgrade ram to 16gb so it's semi modern, and go to something like an rx 570, that system might work a while needing a gpu upgrade in a couple of years or so. I would also recommend upgrading the stock power supply.

I get the idea of 200, and you can get some systems for that, but realistically, you should consider upping your budget if you want a halfway decent graphics card for your system.

I would suggest to, look at a solid state drive as a boot drive. Believe me, the system will feel like brand new.
The one you linked to was the Optiplex 980, which looked like it would have also worked for what I needed. I can't tell the difference between the Optiplex models on a basic level because they all seem pretty similar to me, so I could probably pick any of them.

Also, my budget is my initial budget, as in how much I'd like to spend on a machine right now. I would be okay with spending more on upgrades later (especially with tax return season approaching in a couple months), but something that I can more or less run as-is until further notice is ideal. I'm starting to lean more toward Alienware since I did find a couple that looked like they're in good shape, fit my budget, and might be better for the gaming aspect.

The 9010s look like they'd work fine too and I did see a handful with Windows 7, so I'll definitely consider one of those too. Also, I have no clue what a solid state drive is, so I'll be doing homework to learn more about that too.

Thank you for the suggestions!
 

ohio_buckeye

Honorable
Jan 5, 2015
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Solid state drive is essentially a hard drive made of the same materials as USB flash drives. No moving parts. Compared to a typical hard drive, incredibly fast.

You can now get a 500gb in the range of 5p dollars. What a lot of guys do is to install Windows on one of those and use as their system drive, then use a secondary say 1 or 2tb drive as general storage for their games etc etc.
 
The downside of slim OEM machines is that they require low profile GPUs (which carry a price premium and limited choices). But worse, many SFF OEM machines have mobos that can't supply the standard 75W from the PCIe x16 slot. That's a huge limitation.

Of course there are SFF case options in the DIY market that allow standard/ full size GPUs. But OEMs generally aren't catering to the gaming crowd.

You found an Alienware for under $200?
 
Oct 25, 2019
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Your choice. I would say that I don't have a lot of experience with Alienware systems, even though I know they are basically dells. I would recommend the optiplex. We use a lot of optiplex systems at work. We have a few that are a few years old. They usually are only pulled when they are too obsolete or are getting replaced. Most of them are still working when pulled.
I think Dell makes Alienware and I admit I don't have experience with them, but I don't mind trying a new system and I think they might be a good choice for light gaming while the usual new four-figure price tag is just for the name. Opinions on the brand seem divided - people either sing its praises or absolutely hate it. Which probably also applies to almost any brand.

Meanwhile, I know the Optiplexes are work horses, and between gaming and durability, I will always pick the latter. I think the aesthetic part of me is admiring the sexy case of the Alienware systems, but the practical side of me is saying Optiplex. Do you by chance know if these machines can handle Photoshop and Illustrator? My old Thinkcentre ran them just fine, but I haven't used a Dell in over ten years.
 
Oct 25, 2019
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Solid state drive is essentially a hard drive made of the same materials as USB flash drives. No moving parts. Compared to a typical hard drive, incredibly fast.

You can now get a 500gb in the range of 5p dollars. What a lot of guys do is to install Windows on one of those and use as their system drive, then use a secondary say 1 or 2tb drive as general storage for their games etc etc.
Yep, looked into it and it seems that they are the digital equivalent of hard drives and are more reliable than the standard HDD. Thanks for letting me know about them, I didn't even know they were a thing. They don't seem too expensive either. It's definitely something I'll check out once I figure out what kind of a computer I'm getting.
 
Oct 25, 2019
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The downside of slim OEM machines is that they require low profile GPUs (which carry a price premium and limited choices). But worse, many SFF OEM machines have mobos that can't supply the standard 75W from the PCIe x16 slot. That's a huge limitation.

Of course there are SFF case options in the DIY market that allow standard/ full size GPUs. But OEMs generally aren't catering to the gaming crowd.

You found an Alienware for under $200?
My old computer was a slim all-in -one model and I don't doubt it had its limitations, but it did all right for a 10-year-old office machine pulled out of a dumpster and refurbished. And yep, I found a handful of X51s on eBay. I was looking at this one the most, but I'm a little iffy about buying from someone with no feedback who doesn't do returns. This is another one I liked, but it's bid only and I don't know if I want to fight with two dozen buyers at the last minute for it.

I also found this Optiplex 9010 MT that looks like it's in good shape, fits my budget, and has the OS I'm looking for along with lots of RAM and space. Looks like it has an integrated graphics card too.
 
Definitely go with that optiplex 9010. i7-3770 and 8GB RAM for $160. Clear winner.

Steer clear of those Alienware PCs you linked with their external (laptop style) power bricks. That's going to be very restrictive when adding a GPU.
 
Oct 25, 2019
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Definitely go with that optiplex 9010. i7-3770 and 8GB RAM for $160. Clear winner.

Steer clear of those Alienware PCs you linked with their external (laptop style) power bricks. That's going to be very restrictive when adding a GPU.
I leaned back toward the Optiplexes after all. I think it was kinda like ogling a Corvette and realizing I need something more practical.

However, I found this Optiplex 7010 that I'm really liking the look of because it allows for customization (including an SSD), it's a mini tower, I can get it with the OS I want and with the space/RAM I want, and it comes from a professional Microsoft refurbisher and they offer a warranty and it comes out to about $190 with the things I want plus free shipping. I think this one might be the one! That seller has 9010s, but only SFF versions.

I found a Dell page with side-by-side comparisons of the 7010 and 9010 and they seem to basically be the same machine except the 9010 can handle 32 GB of RAM and the 7010 can only go up to 16 GB, and I don't need more than 16 GB of space. Plus, both can handle a dedicated Radeon graphics card, which from what I'm seeing, would make it relatively decent with gaming. I think I'm going with the 7010 after all!
 

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