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Retail Off the Shelf

piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
17,183
60
91
What do you think of this offering from DELL? (Thru Best Buy)

I know best buy is like Yuck but this looks about the right price. By the time you buy Win 7 and everything it adds up. I am kind of surprised by some of best buys offerings online.

One of the things I dont like about retail computers is they never have enough RAM and to add more they want like $150? Still RAM is cheap and you can probably just add the RAM you want for like $40. So you think this will make a good streaming box? I imagine it on its side.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Dell+-+I...&skuId=5611438

Think this can be built for a similar price? I kind of doubt it. Feel free to show me some custom build parts for a computer that sits horizontal, but not too wide or too large.
 
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ecosmartpc

Member
Aug 15, 2012
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www.ecosmartpc.com
Generally, I am not a fan of off-the-shelf PCs. You don't know what you're going to get inside, come full of bloatware and when something goes wrong you've got to get on the phone or take it to some hippie-wannabe "genius" in the mall.

As far as specs go, it looks fine for streaming or really most any HTPC duty except 3D video. The Intel HD GPU in the SandyBridge Pentium G630 is great for 1080p video, Netflix, Hulu, etc. and has more than enough horsepower to handle any software decoding that's not handled in hardware.

I would take a look at building your own and compare the prices. For me, it's worth a little extra $$$ to know what I am getting and build it to my specification.
 

zon2020

Member
Aug 17, 2012
52
0
0
Probably noisy, limited expansion opportunities, full of bloatware, almost certainly a cheapo power supply, probably restricted BIOS, no SSD, etc.

I'm typically not a fan of trying to use a pre built generic PC for an htpc. I've seen way too many threads on AVS from people who did it and then were asking how to add capabilities or change things with the answer being 'you can't with that system.

The one big savings you get is theWindows license. I suggest reading Assassins hardware guide and think about building your own. You'll be glad you did.
 

zon2020

Member
Aug 17, 2012
52
0
0
By the way, 4gb is more than enough ram for an htpc. That's not the problem with that Dell.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,599
471
126
Bloatware isn't really an issue with an OEM machine. You can just download the Windows 7 SP1 ISO from Microsoft and reinstall Windows using the CD key on the Windows 7 OEM label.
 

Lonyo

Lifer
Aug 10, 2002
21,939
6
81
The main thing is working out what you want and what you MIGHT want from your HTPC, and getting something that can both work now, and will be able to do what you might want to do in the future.

Otherwise you might buy something now which is "cheaper" and have to start from scratch in a year or two to be able to do what you end up wanting to do.

Plus you can make a sufficient HTPC for ~$230 excluding the Windows license, and that includes a Bluray drive, but excludes a HDD. For a HDD but DVD drive instead, it would probably be about the same, maybe $20 more, and then $90 for a Windows license, meaning roughly $350 for an mATX computer which is roughly equivalent to the Dell, but you can do a lot more with it.

If you wanted an ITX size computer, it would cost more.

http://forums.anandtech.com/showpost.php?p=33825806&postcount=2
For ~$250 parts.

Or you can use Linux or do something else and save money on the OS.
 
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ecosmartpc

Member
Aug 15, 2012
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0
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www.ecosmartpc.com
I am always of a mind that you should never cheap out on the case and power supply. Those you can reuse as technology changes if you invest in something nice upfront.

Next, the motherboard is something you won't be changing so make sure you get something with the features you want from a good brand.

For HTPC, the CPU needs to be a balance between cooling and power. When it comes to movies, music, faster isn't always better. You need enough with some headroom for what might come next -- even though you can never predict this.

HDD/SSD, for me SSD is the way to go with the prices and the performance. The effect of SSD on the HTPC experience is dramatic. It is more than boot time -- it's everything from menus, guides, background art, launching viewers, etc.

RAM seems to be the component I've had the least problem with, no matter the brand -- GSkill, Kingston, Corsair, Muskin -- all have been good. 4GB is good enough for HTPC. There is little benefit to higher speed RAM and surprisingly, not much when it comes to 1 vs 2 sticks. I've gone to 1 x 4GB for mini-ITX builds so that there's an easy upgrade path there.
 

lakedude

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2009
2,063
57
91
If you need Windows 7 EDIT: a Dell, (not that slim) will make a fine HTPC for less money and less trouble than building you own. It will be fine.

I'd like to know exactly what "more" you can do with a prebuilt HTPC?

My suggestions:

1) If you need Windows and don't need something tiny get a Dell, it will be fine.

2) If you want to tinker you can run a HTPC without Windows and in such case you can save money by building your own. Check out MythTV and XBMC live...
 
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lakedude

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2009
2,063
57
91
Depending on what you need your HTPC to do a cheap laptop will work as well. Laptops are nice and small and they are portable if you need to go somewhere. They are not easily upgradable so you would only want a laptop if you were sure it could do what you want without much in the way of hardware changes.

What do you want the HTPC to do? Stream Netfilix? Pull TV from an antenna or cable? Function as a DVR?
 

zon2020

Member
Aug 17, 2012
52
0
0
If you need Windows 7 that Dell will make a fine HTPC for less money and less trouble than building you own.
Depending on what you need your HTPC to do a cheap laptop will work as well. Laptops are nice and small and they are portable if you need to go somewhere. They are not easily upgradable so you would only want a laptop if you were sure it could do what you want without much in the way of hardware changes.

What do you want the HTPC to do? Stream Netfilix? Pull TV from an antenna or cable? Function as a DVR?
If all you want to do is stream Netflix and Hulu, the Dell might work. If you want more out of your htpc, then it's going to be very limiting and an endless problem.

And having done the laptop thing before I built my first htpc, it's extremely limited in what it can do, it's a hassle and a mess to hook up cables every time you want to use it, and there is simply no comparison between a laptop and a dedicated htpc.
 

lakedude

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2009
2,063
57
91
If all you want to do is stream Netflix and Hulu, the Dell might work. If you want more out of your htpc, then it's going to be very limiting and an endless problem.
Exactly what do you think the Dell can't do? I bet it has drive bays, PCI slots, USB ports ect. What exactly is the limitation?

And having done the laptop thing before I built my first htpc, it's extremely limited in what it can do, it's a hassle and a mess to hook up cables every time you want to use it, and there is simply no comparison between a laptop and a dedicated htpc.
Yes a laptop will be limited but the OP has not responded as to what the actual use is going to be so as far as we know a laptop might work just fine.

Also I'm not sure how a laptop involves any more cables than any other computer, in fact since most laptops have wifi built in they could have less cables.

The only time cables would be an issue is if you are actually going to use the laptop as a laptop, which is an advantage of the laptop over a dedicated HTPC, not a disadvantage.
 

zon2020

Member
Aug 17, 2012
52
0
0
Exactly what do you think the Dell can't do? I bet it has drive bays, PCI slots, USB ports ect. What exactly is the limitation?


Yes a laptop will be limited but the OP has not responded as to what the actual use is going to be so as far as we know a laptop might work just fine.

Also I'm not sure how a laptop involves any more cables than any other computer, in fact since most laptops have wifi built in they could have less cables.

The only time cables would be an issue is if you are actually going to use the laptop as a laptop, which is an advantage of the laptop over a dedicated HTPC, not a disadvantage.

Did you check? ONE drive bay. El cheapo power supply. Inadequate noisy cooling, etc., etc., etc. You use a laptop and have never had a dedicated purpose built htpc, have you? I've used both, and I know there's no comparison. If you just want to plug in your all purpose laptop and watch Hulu, go for it, but if you want a serious htpc that will do all the things an htpc can do, then neither a laptop nor that Dell are going to cut it. But you can build a real htpc for $3-400.
 

assassin24

HTPC Moderator
Mar 27, 2005
394
0
0
Agreed. I would never use a laptop or Dell for a HTPC. To each his own. If you want to use a cheap Dell, off lease HP, PC from some kid off Craigslist then do so.

I would also never drive a Kia. Sure its a car and technically will do everything else a better car can do (in some regards) but I would still never own or drive one.
 

lakedude

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2009
2,063
57
91
Ok I didn't look at it that close, sorry. The problem is the "s" in the model number that makes it a slim, which will be small and hard to add into. I suggest avoiding the slim and purchasing a normal mini tower so you have room to add stuff.
 

assassin24

HTPC Moderator
Mar 27, 2005
394
0
0
Ok I didn't look at it that close, sorry. The problem is the "s" in the model number that makes it a slim, which will be small and hard to add into. I suggest avoiding the slim and purchasing a normal mini tower so you have room to add stuff.
Correct. But its precisely this type of thinking that leads to buyers' remorse and a poor HTPC experience. People just see a cheap Dell, HP, etc and think "Hey. That will work and its cheap. Let's get it" without really thinking about expansion, upgrades, quality of parts, bios that may have some function or settings locked or missing, etc.

And I would never have a tower in my home theater if it was in sight. Again, to each their own.

Go read the Dell Zino thread sometimes at AVS if you really want to cringe and feel sorry for people that bought one. There is a reason Dell doesn't even make it anymore.
 

lakedude

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2009
2,063
57
91
It is pointless to argue about an unknown based on what you would do. Might as well wait until piasabird gets back to the tread with a list of specific requirements.

How do you know if a laptop wouldn't be just perfect? Works fine for streaming Hulu, Netfilx or ripped movies from the home server. Works good in the back seat of the car on a trip too.

Of course without knowing the OP's needs a laptop could completely wrong for the job as well.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,599
471
126
Go read the Dell Zino thread sometimes at AVS if you really want to cringe and feel sorry for people that bought one. There is a reason Dell doesn't even make it anymore.
The Zino could have been good though. :p Dell screwed that up.
 

zon2020

Member
Aug 17, 2012
52
0
0
How do you know if a laptop wouldn't be just perfect? Works fine for streaming Hulu, Netfilx or ripped movies from the home server.
If that's all you want to do you don't need an HTPC at all, and a $79 Roku will do all that just fine. But if you want an HTPC then get an HTPC, not some general purpose laptop or econobox.
 

ecosmartpc

Member
Aug 15, 2012
67
0
66
www.ecosmartpc.com
I would also never drive a Kia. Sure its a car and technically will do everything else a better car can do (in some regards) but I would still never own or drive one.
You haven't driven a Sorrento, have you? Pretty sweet ride. We have the Hyundai Veracruz Limited and the Sorrento is the updated version of that. It's really nice in the SX version. I've owned BMW, Saab, Audi, Acura and our Hyundai has actually been better -- fit, finish, ride and reliability -- then all of them.

Now, if you're talking a Rio maybe that's a different story.

I'd say Dell is more like getting a Chrysler :).
 

assassin24

HTPC Moderator
Mar 27, 2005
394
0
0
It was an analogy. Substitute whatever cheap car you like.

Haven't driven the new ones.
 

lakedude

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2009
2,063
57
91
You haven't driven a Sorrento, have you? Pretty sweet ride. We have the Hyundai Veracruz Limited and the Sorrento is the updated version of that. It's really nice in the SX version. I've owned BMW, Saab, Audi, Acura and our Hyundai has actually been better -- fit, finish, ride and reliability -- then all of them.

Now, if you're talking a Rio maybe that's a different story.

I'd say Dell is more like getting a Chrysler :).
Funny I was thinking of Hyundai as well. Awesome cars for the money, yet some will never know...
 

truckerCLOCK

Senior member
Dec 13, 2011
217
0
71
It is pointless to argue about an unknown based on what you would do. Might as well wait until piasabird gets back to the tread with a list of specific requirements.

How do you know if a laptop wouldn't be just perfect? Works fine for streaming Hulu, Netfilx or ripped movies from the home server. Works good in the back seat of the car on a trip too.

Of course without knowing the OP's needs a laptop could completely wrong for the job as well.

Totally agree !!! What works for you might not work for the OP.
 

piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
17,183
60
91
Thanks for all the comments. I have not really decided anything yet. I have an ANTEC MATX case with a LGA 775 motherboard DG35EC and a E7200 CPU and I might just upgrade it with an H77 ASROCK Motherboard that was selling for about $70.00. This was a good MB in its day but the video was nowhere near as good as the Intel HD 3000 integrated video on the 2500k.

I would really like to see some Ivy i3 CPUs start to be released soon. I dont know it that would be worth it or not.
 
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