Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Take That, iMac?: Build Your Own All-In-One PC

Take That, iMac?: Build Your Own All-In-One PC
By
Build Your Own All-In-One

I still remember starting college back in 1998. The dorms were packed with smug social science students who showed up with iMac G3s. Meanwhile, all of my engineering buddies were rocking PCs, most of which we had built.

The relationship between Macs and PCs is much different today. If you find yourself attracted to the iMac aesthetic, but would rather save enough money for your first quarter’s books (and get your hands dirty with something new), follow along as we build an all-in-one system based on Intel’s Thin Mini-ITX standard from the ground up.

We’re starting with Loop’s LP-2150 chassis, available on Amazon for somewhere between $250 and $300 (ours was $264.60). Not only does this enclosure house all of our hardware, but it also features a 21.5” screen with a maximum resolution of 1920x1080.

See more See less
Display 93 Comments.
Top Comments
  • 23 Hide
    cangelini , September 20, 2012 4:35 AM
    baddassngno one tried to hackintosh this?

    And unleash the wrath of the Apple haters?
    Don't the guys who want Apples just buy iMacs? :p 
  • 20 Hide
    clownbaby , September 20, 2012 4:26 AM
    Nice build. Are there any similar chassis with a touch screen?
  • 13 Hide
    abhijitkalyane , September 20, 2012 4:47 AM
    Nice build for a second surfing/media machine. If a similar mobo is available for AMD APUs, it could make a decent low-end gaming machine too. All in all, it is good to know that there are options to build an all in one DIY style. Kudos to Loop for the nice chassis.
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    clownbaby , September 20, 2012 4:26 AM
    Nice build. Are there any similar chassis with a touch screen?
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , September 20, 2012 4:27 AM
    no one tried to hackintosh this?
  • 8 Hide
    cangelini , September 20, 2012 4:34 AM
    clownbabyNice build. Are there any similar chassis with a touch screen?


    Not that I've seen, but I'm waiting for Intel to get back to me on this prior to the Win 8 launch.
  • 23 Hide
    cangelini , September 20, 2012 4:35 AM
    baddassngno one tried to hackintosh this?

    And unleash the wrath of the Apple haters?
    Don't the guys who want Apples just buy iMacs? :p 
  • 13 Hide
    abhijitkalyane , September 20, 2012 4:47 AM
    Nice build for a second surfing/media machine. If a similar mobo is available for AMD APUs, it could make a decent low-end gaming machine too. All in all, it is good to know that there are options to build an all in one DIY style. Kudos to Loop for the nice chassis.
  • 9 Hide
    CaedenV , September 20, 2012 4:47 AM
    That looks great!
    Throw in an i3 Ivy bridge, 4GB of ram, and a small SSD and you would have the ultimate office machine. With the onboard video output exposed you can even hook up a 2nd monitor to this and have what would appear to be 2 tethered monitors without a PC...
  • 3 Hide
    razor512 , September 20, 2012 4:57 AM
    the stock intel boards are generally easier to hackintosh since the board in an actual imac is more or less a stock intel board with a custom PCB layout to fit their cases and a special DRM chip added. other than that, they have a few minor firmware changes which gives the board a more MAC style ID.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , September 20, 2012 5:00 AM
    A review of the screen quality would also be nice. I am betting at the price its TN.

    very nice to see Intel make that cooler to help anyone looking to go super low profile/all in one.

    caedenvThat looks great!Throw in an i3 Ivy bridge, 4GB of ram, and a small SSD and you would have the ultimate office machine. With the onboard video output exposed you can even hook up a 2nd monitor to this and have what would appear to be 2 tethered monitors without a PC...

    Now if you could get a second loop monitor only. That would look very different at the office :) 
  • 4 Hide
    Yargnit , September 20, 2012 5:17 AM
    I'd be curious if you could under volt a standard 77w Ivy bridge CPU enough to fit within the cooling capabilities of this unit? (Once the BIOS issues are solved anyways) Without being able to fit a discrete GPU, getting HD4000 in there vs 2000/3000 would at least open up some low end casual gaming if you could. And from what I recall the IB CPU'S under volt fairly well at stock frequencies.
  • 4 Hide
    cangelini , September 20, 2012 5:19 AM
    Now that 55 W i3s are available with HD Graphics 4000, you could go that route as well (like you said, once the firmware issues are rectified).
  • 6 Hide
    joytech22 , September 20, 2012 5:24 AM
    Interesting.. If I hadn't filled the house up with like 10 computers that I never use maybe I would try this out. lol.

    For now.. I'll enjoy those 10 computers gathering dust. :\
  • 2 Hide
    army_ant7 , September 20, 2012 5:31 AM
    I wasn't aware such a form factor existed and that consumers could directly buy parts like this. It's very nice that this is possible and it looks interesting to build! It's pretty similar to the internals of a laptop really... :) 
    Are some parts like the Wi-fi card OEM or are they really sold directly to the public?

    Some peculiar things I just happen to notice:
    1) Why does the first picture say "Casper" on it? The following pictures of the screen have "Loop" on them.
    2) On Picture 8, it was said that "Intel’s DH61AG features one half-length mini-PCIe slot and one full-length interface, both of which we populate during the process of our build. " Is the full-length one the normal looking PCI-E slot on the board which is perpendicular to it? How was it populated?
    3) How was the webcam plugged in? I'm guessing using some of the USB headers just like how I know MMC readers are plugged in.

    With some of those questions, I may have just missed something. Sorry about that if ever, and I'll be looking forward to a reply. :D 

    Thanks for the article Chris, and I have a feeling that you'll be doing either or both the FX-Piledriver and the possible Desktop Trinity remake article once they come out. So I'll be looking forward to those. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , September 20, 2012 5:59 AM
    This is something I've been waiting for, for about two years. Two questions, though.

    1. First of all, I missed the part about the graphics. Is it integrated?
    2. With whatever graphics card or integrated graphics that was used, how would the gaming performance be?

    I would LOVE for my next gaming machine to be something like this and just get rid of the desktop. The only problem I could foresee is limited USB ports. As it is, I personally need about 6-8. I don't own anything that uses USB 3.0 yet.
  • 6 Hide
    cangelini , September 20, 2012 6:04 AM
    JOSHSKORNThis is something I've been waiting for, for about two years. Two questions, though.1. First of all, I missed the part about the graphics. Is it integrated?2. With whatever graphics card or integrated graphics that was used, how would the gaming performance be?I would LOVE for my next gaming machine to be something like this and just get rid of the desktop. The only problem I could foresee is limited USB ports. As it is, I personally need about 6-8. I don't own anything that uses USB 3.0 yet.

    Graphics is integrated, yes. Supposedly, Gigabyte has a version able to take dual-slot graphics cards, but I don't have it yet. As of now, gaming performance is going to be lackluster with HD Graphics 3000 or, given improved firmware, support for HD Graphics 4000.
  • 2 Hide
    cangelini , September 20, 2012 6:06 AM
    army_ant7I wasn't aware such a form factor existed and that consumers could directly buy parts like this. It's very nice that this is possible and it looks interesting to build! It's pretty similar to the internals of a laptop really... Are some parts like the Wi-fi card OEM or are they really sold directly to the public?Some peculiar things I just happen to notice:1) Why does the first picture say "Casper" on it? The following pictures of the screen have "Loop" on them.2) On Picture 8, it was said that "Intel’s DH61AG features one half-length mini-PCIe slot and one full-length interface, both of which we populate during the process of our build. " Is the full-length one the normal looking PCI-E slot on the board which is perpendicular to it? How was it populated?3) How was the webcam plugged in? I'm guessing using some of the USB headers just like how I know MMC readers are plugged in.With some of those questions, I may have just missed something. Sorry about that if ever, and I'll be looking forward to a reply. Thanks for the article Chris, and I have a feeling that you'll be doing either or both the FX-Piledriver and the possible Desktop Trinity remake article once they come out. So I'll be looking forward to those.

    Very observant ;-)
    We built up two systems, hoping to get Ivy Bridge support working after a motherboard swap. The first one appears on page one, and the other one appears throughout the rest of the story.
    Both of the PCIe slots mentioned are mini--just different lengths. When you see the card-based SSD and wireless module, those both plug into the mini-PCIe slots. The standard slot remains unused.
    The webcam is attached via USB header, yes.
  • 0 Hide
    Vorador2 , September 20, 2012 8:11 AM
    Looking at the Intel catalog, it seems that there's no possibility of installing a discrete graphic card, not even a laptop card. Such a shame since it's the only glaring fault in this build.

    It would be interesting to make a similar build in the future based on the upcoming AMD Trinity architecture.
  • 5 Hide
    cangelini , September 20, 2012 8:17 AM
    Vorador2Looking at the Intel catalog, it seems that there's no possibility of installing a discrete graphic card, not even a laptop card. Such a shame since it's the only glaring fault in this build.It would be interesting to make a similar build in the future based on the upcoming AMD Trinity architecture.

    I've asked AMD if they have any plans to support this form factor. Company representatives seemed interested, but not particularly sure if AMD would ever pursue channel-enabled all-in-ones. We'll almost certainly see Trinity-based tier-one boxes first.
  • 1 Hide
    Menigmand , September 20, 2012 9:08 AM
    Would it be possible to build something like this with dedicated graphics? Are there alternatives with more space for a graphics card?

    Doesn't have to be top of the line, but better than integrated..
  • 5 Hide
    cangelini , September 20, 2012 9:24 AM
    Working on it :) 
Display more comments
React To This Article