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A Windows7 Mac Mini Alternative?

Last response: in Systems
September 19, 2012 4:35:00 PM

I need a new home pc and would be grateful for some assistance.

I am interested in the Mac Mini as a concept and piece of hardware but an deeply turned-off by Apple and the cult of Mac (no offense intended, Mac people). I'm considering building my own system, along similar or better specs, to run Win7. I'm prioritizing low power consumption, low noise, low clutter, small footprint and reasonable speed. Essentially Mac Mini hardware but with more memory, Ivy Bridge or equivalent, and an SSD as the sole storage device.

Currently at home I have a Synology DS212j NAS server with 2Tb of storage acting as a torrent box and serving my media and documents. The NAS is connected by ethernet to a WDTV Live delivering video to a home theatre system.

I need a pc for getting content onto the NAS by wifi (eg. trans-coding video, uploading photos from SDHC), some work (eg. MSOffice), basic web browsing, and some light gaming (my children like Minecraft but my 12-year-old in particular is likely to want more). Will very seldom use this pc for watching media, streaming music or storing large files. Form answers:

Approximate Purchase Date: within a month

Budget Range: >$800

System Usage from Most to Least Important: office apps, web browsing, light gaming (eg. Minecraft) but headroom for more over next 3-4 years

Are you buying a monitor: Not now

Parts to Upgrade: n/a

Do you need to buy OS: Yes

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:, Canadian

Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Parts Preferences: by brand or type: generally favouring intel i5/i7 CPU

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Your Monitor Resolution: 1400x1050

Additional Comments:
Looking for this to be quiet, low watts, low storage capacity, but horsepower sufficient for light gaming, video and photo manipulation. Would like to have integrated wifi and bluetooth.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading:
Existing system is 6 years old, very noisy, USB ports are finicky, not completely compatible with Win7, getting too slow with video and photos, takes up too much space, cluttered with cords...

Thanks in advance for any and all assistance.


Best solution

September 19, 2012 5:43:49 PM

Newegg has a canadian site that I've used many times, I'm going to give you the links from there just because their website is easier to use, but you're free to get them from NCIX if you wish.

Intel Core i5-3470
Radeon 6670
Note that this 6670 has a single slot cooler, it will help with the space constraints a lot.
Crucial M4 128GB
8GB ram (2x4GB)
Lian LI mini-itx case
DVD drive
Asus Mini-ITX motherboard
Antec earthwatts 380w
USB WiFi adapter
Windows 7

total $778.40 before taxes and shipping

You can pick out your own mini-itx case if you don't like that one, just note that it has to support having a graphics card, a full size DVD drive, and a full size power supply.

EDIT: forgot bluetooth

brings the total up to $798.39 before taxes/shipping
September 19, 2012 6:21:34 PM

Notresto -- thanks for the detailed recommendation!
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October 1, 2012 12:45:26 PM

Best answer selected by dhutt.