Question Prebuilt or custom built for $500

Weathered

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At what price point does a prebuilt become the better option? Family member is looking into possibly getting a new one and he doesn't use it for anything demanding, just typical internet usage, email, programs like excel. If I built one, there are 2 requirements, good airflow and has to be less than 15 inches tall, 15 inches is the absolute max and no type of clear side panel. After looking at cases, it turned out harder than I thought to find a case that I thought would be good.
 

USAFRet

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At what price point does a prebuilt become the better option? Family member is looking into possibly getting a new one and he doesn't use it for anything demanding, just typical internet usage, email, programs like excel. If I built one, there are 2 requirements, good airflow and has to be less than 15 inches tall, 15 inches is the absolute max and no type of clear side panel. After looking at cases, it turned out harder than I thought to find a case that I thought would be good.
My personal build/buy line, barring any other considerations, is $500-$600.

One thing you DO have to factor in is the cost of the Windows license.
~$100 if on a build system, $0 in a prebuilt.

You also have to factor in 'warranty'.
A prebuilt...warranty is with the manufacturer.
Building it...it is all on you for labor.

Is the prospective user local to you?
 

Weathered

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I think the cost of windows is the biggest factor in this cost range.

He is about a mile up the road from me so that really isn't an issue.

His current pc is an HP pavilion 500 214.

Found a prebuilt that seems decent on amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09V1LKTPH/?coliid=I1CX8YL87ID343&colid=36NL8TM1HAVLK&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

Put together a build with the help of others. Not sure if a aftermarket cpu cooler is needed. I know windows is not in this build. Could take out the cpu cooler to cover the cost of windows

PCPartPicker Part List

Type|Item|Price
:----|:----|:----
CPU | AMD Ryzen 5 5600G 3.9 GHz 6-Core Processor | $128.99 @ Newegg
CPU Cooler | be quiet! Dark Rock TF 2 CPU Cooler | $85.90 @ Amazon
Motherboard | Gigabyte A520M S2H Micro ATX AM4 Motherboard | $69.99 @ Newegg
Memory | TEAMGROUP T-Create Expert 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16 Memory | $42.99 @ Amazon
Storage | Silicon Power A60 1 TB M.2-2280 PCIe 3.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive | $57.99 @ Amazon
Case | Fractal Design Core 1000 USB 3.0 MicroATX Mid Tower Case | $56.99 @ Walmart
Power Supply | Cooler Master MasterWatt 650 W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply | $40.98 @ Newegg
| Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts |
| Total (before mail-in rebates) | $523.83
| Mail-in rebates | -$40.00
| Total | $483.83
| Generated by PCPartPicker 2022-11-06 07:36 EST-0500 |

PCPartPicker Part List

Type|Item|Price
:----|:----|:----
CPU | \*Intel Core i3-12100 3.3 GHz Quad-Core Processor | $139.97 @ Amazon
Motherboard | ASRock B660M Pro RS Micro ATX LGA1700 Motherboard | $89.99 @ Newegg
Memory | \*Silicon Power SP016GBLFU320B22 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3200 CL22 Memory | $41.99 @ Amazon
Storage | TEAMGROUP MP33 512 GB M.2-2280 PCIe 3.0 X4 NVME Solid State Drive | $33.49 @ Newegg
Case | Apex DM-387 HTPC Case w/275 W Power Supply | $86.44 @ Amazon
Operating System | \*Microsoft Windows 10 Home Retail - Download 32/64-bit | $119.77 @ Walmart
| Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts |
| Total | $511.65
| \*Lowest price parts chosen from parametric criteria |
| Generated by PCPartPicker 2022-11-06 07:48 EST-0500 |
 
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DSzymborski

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I concur with the others in the desirability of a prebuilt in this use case. All those fancy custom PCs we build here are to do, well, fancy custom things. I'd build my PCs very differently if I wasn't playing Cyberpunk or doing non-parametric modeling!

My mom's in the same position as your family member, and I'd have gotten her a prebuilt too, if I didn't have a cornucopia of unused parts (she has a 3770K and a 1070 Ti, neither of which she remotely needs!)
 

Inthrutheoutdoor

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With prebuilts, especially those at or around $500, you must ask yourself: what corners did the mfgr have to cut to get there....

the most likely candidates are: EVERYTHING !

Alot of them are made with thin, no-name laptop mobos, soldered, single channel no-name ram (4Gb if you're lucky), bare minimum sized PSU with crappy, noisy fans, and flimsy, thin sheet metal cases held together with adhesive tape and maybe a few pop-rivets...

However, if you are set on getting a prebuilt, you should look for something in the $7-800 range, which usually gets you a few better parts, at least a couple with known brand names anyways.

But OTOH, this also is the lower end of what you could build a much better rig yourself, with parts that you know & trust... Granted it aint gonna be a super-duper gammin/CAD/AI beast, but it will definitely suffice for the uses listed...
 
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USAFRet

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With prebuilts, especially those at or around $500, you must ask yourself: what corners did the mfgr have to cut to get there....

the most likely candidates are: EVERYTHING !
Not necessarily.

Ryzen5 5600H
32GB DDR4
512GB NVMe
OS included
yadda yadda

Under $500
https://www.bee-link.com/catalog/product/index?id=362

I have a different Bee as my HTPC.
Rock solid little system.

If my computing needs were minimal, as appears to be the case here, I would not hesitate to use it as my main system.

Cruise through the whole selection:
 
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Weathered

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This price point seems ripe for a newer Dell/HP refurb.
I have looked at refurbished systems and they are 4+ years old. He is not keen on getting basically a used machine even though maybe practically like new. If he is buying one, he would rather go the new route.

Ty all for the replies.

Any issues with this acer? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09V1LKTPH/?coliid=I1CX8YL87ID343&colid=36NL8TM1HAVLK&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

According to questions and answers on amazon, it uses pcie 3 instead of 4 for storage controller. Not sure how big of a deal that is in his case.

What are the disadvantages of those mini desktops? In his situation, unless he puts it back in the enclosed space on his desk where he has his current computer, if he puts it in the open somewhere I can see it getting covered up being so small.
 

USAFRet

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What are the disadvantages of those mini desktops? In his situation, unless he puts it back in the enclosed space on his desk where he has his current computer, if he puts it in the open somewhere I can see it getting covered up being so small.
Non-upgradability.

But one of those that I linked, you can literally mount it on the back of the monitor.
 
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Weathered

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Non-upgradability.

But one of those that I linked, you can literally mount it on the back of the monitor.
In his situation, don't think that would be an issue. One issue I can see is not having an optical drive. Although I realize can get an usb optical drive. With him, trying to keep things as simple as possible.
 

USAFRet

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In his situation, don't think that would be an issue. One issue I can see is not having an optical drive. Although I realize can get an usb optical drive. With him, trying to keep things as simple as possible.
On mine, I have a $25 USB optical drive connected.
No difference than it it were in a bog case and an "internal" DVD drive.

But, that type of system was just presented as a viable option.
 

Inthrutheoutdoor

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Not necessarily.

Ryzen5 5600H
32GB DDR4
512GB NVMe
OS included
yadda yadda

Under $500
https://www.bee-link.com/catalog/product/index?id=362

I have a different Bee as my HTPC.
Rock solid little system.

If my computing needs were minimal, as appears to be the case here, I would not hesitate to use it as my main system.

Cruise through the whole selection:
I was primarily talking about those so-called "Desktop" ITX/mITX machines that can be found at places like wallyworld, bustbuy etc....which are mostly jackit-junkit slapped together with whatever parts they could findat the lowest possible prices IMHO :)

Those Bee mini-me machines are really nice, and are an unusual exception to the corner-cutting syndrome I spoke of. I know cause I use one of the i5-powered models for my everyday stuff nottaproblemo...

If interested in this form factor, then by all means the OP should look into them 4 sure :D
 

Weathered

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https://www.amazon.com/Beelink-i5-1035G1-Desktop-Computer-Support/dp/B0BDKJMM9H/ref=sr_1_3?c=ts&keywords=Mini+Computers&qid=1667828104&refinements=p_89:Beelink&rnid=2528832011&s=pc&sr=1-3&ts_id=13896591011&ufe=app_do:amzn1.fos.c3015c4a-46bb-44b9-81a4-dc28e6d374b3

How does that mini compare to the acer I posted earlier speed wise?

In general, do mini computers use the latest interfaces? For example storage on this mini, it has an nvme ssd, on the specs it shows a read speed of 2038MB/s. Seems like that should be faster if it was using the latest interface.

Looking at these minis, now I am going back and forth trying to decide what to get.
 
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USAFRet

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https://www.amazon.com/Beelink-i5-1035G1-Desktop-Computer-Support/dp/B0BDKJMM9H/ref=sr_1_3?c=ts&keywords=Mini+Computers&qid=1667828104&refinements=p_89:Beelink&rnid=2528832011&s=pc&sr=1-3&ts_id=13896591011&ufe=app_do:amzn1.fos.c3015c4a-46bb-44b9-81a4-dc28e6d374b3

In general, do mini computers use the latest interfaces? For example storage on this mini, it has an nvme ssd, on the specs it shows a read speed of 2038MB/s. Seems like that should be faster if it was using the latest interface.
My GTR-Pro has a similar speed for the NVMe drive.

But in reality, Any difference in that and a full PCIe 3.0 x4 (3400MB/s) is totally unnoticeable.
Especially in the stated use.

The main benefit of an SSD is the near zero access time.
The advertised number of "2038", or "3500" or "7000" (PCIe 4.0 x4) is for moving large blocks of sequential data.
In my main system I have a Samsung 980 Pro (PCIe 4.0) and an Intel 660p (PCIe 3.0 - 1600MB/s) and have a hard time telling what I'm using at any one time.

The jump from HDD to SSD was huge.
Between the various flavors of SSD, not so much.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YoRKQy-UO4

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DKLA7w9eeA

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ9LyNXpsOo
 

Inthrutheoutdoor

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In general, do mini computers use the latest interfaces? For example storage on this mini, it has an nvme ssd, on the specs it shows a read speed of 2038MB/s. Seems like that should be faster if it was using the latest interface.

Looking at these minis, now I am going back and forth trying to decide what to get.
Well, most of the lower priced machines have a small-ish gen 3 ssd, so that speed is not that bad, as higher-end Gen 3 drives generally hit around 2500-3500MB/s... and gen 4 drives are alot faster (and moar $$), but again, you have to make a few sacrifices to get under that $500 price point...

However, for average everyday uses (like those mentioned already), it won't really matter that much, as it is still 3.5x faster than a 2.5" SATA ssd :)
 

Inthrutheoutdoor

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BeeBox 4 me :)

moar ram, Gen 4 ssd and, if it's anything like my current BeeBox, most likely better build quality overall, for only $50 moar....

As far as lifespan goes, assuming you keep your machines clean & dust free, and don't do anything stupid like drop it onto the floor, I would think they would be similar...

Even though the acer may have a little moar interior volume & therefore a little moar room for an additional fan or 2 (maybe), the cooling system in the BeeBoxes is really well designed and keeps my machine averaging around 25-33C most of the time, even under heavy work loads...
 

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