Build me a PC compairable to mini or eMac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by ebook, Jan 17, 2005.

  1. ebook macrumors 6502

    Jun 10, 2004
    Sprint Car Capital of the World
    Okay, I'm working on my father-in-law trying to show him why he should by an eMac or mini rather than a PC and I would like to show him a cost comparison between the two when you add in the software to the PC to make it like what you get with the Apple. Basically he will be using it for the internet, photos from a digi cam, making some videos (at least he said that once), burning cds, and simple word processing...also, he would probably want to do some Quicken type stuff on it.

    The thing is I don't really know how to go about building that type of system on a website because I don't really know much about the PC world. I would love it if someone could take a couple of minutes to build me one or point me to a link or something. Thanks a ton MacRumors world!!!
  2. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    Well, depends if you were going to hand build it or get a BTO machine from Dell or something. For a custom/home built machine, checkout from component pricing, and for a commercial BTO, take a look at

    THe trouble with this is that all of the Dell machines that are even close to comparible in CPU speed are limited to onboard video with shared ram, no seperate VRAM. That's a pretty big distinction, imo. If you move up to a machine that you can get a seperate video card, even a cheapo one, you have the trouble of the CPU being way faster than the mini, and also the cheapest video cards you can buy are significantly better than the 9200 in the mini.

    Does he already have a monitor, keyb, and mouse? If so, you should just compare whatever the cheapest Dell base model is available, and then start adding in software. For $500 you can get a Dell that has a 17" CRT, keyb, mouse, speakers, has a faster CPU but weaker video card, and the same RAM and HD (although both of those are faster in the Dell).

    If he has a 17" CRT and a keyb and crappy mouse (the standard Dell mouse is a POS) already then it's not a bad comparisson, since you don't really need 2 of all those things.

    Building one from scratch is hard to compare too, as you can get such better components for that price currently. You CAN'T however get that form factor. Another option you should discuss with him is a refurbed base model iMac. They're $1100, BUT you get a 17" LCD. If he's interested in getting a new LCD monitor, that may be the best deal around. Take him in to a store and show him some of the machines, they really sellt themselves!

    Good luck,
  3. RoadKill macrumors member

    Dec 4, 2003
    The Beeb has an article on just such a topic

    I have to admit I only scan read the pc parts as am not interested in returning to the world of pain I left behind in 2003 when my iBook turned up. :)
  4. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    This thread covers a few articles that have done it

    I do think tho that you do need to take the software/OS separately from pure price thoughts. The time that you save not having to run Adaware alone adds up.
  5. Timelessblur macrumors 65816


    Jun 26, 2004

    Oh good greif that aritcle from that tread is so loaded with BS and the guy who wrote it does not know what he is talking about it. Other wise that artical is a worthless and it facts it based on are false. the hardware can be gotten for about 250-280 and most of the software you would need would be around 250-300. (XP home OEM and most of the other stuff can be gotten OEM from newegg)
  6. Toreador93 macrumors regular

    Sep 14, 2003
    New Egg:

    Shuttle XPC Barebone System for Socket 754 AMD Athlon 64 CPU, Model SK83G

    AMD Athlon 64 3000+, 512KB L2 Cache (2GHz)

    SAMSUNG 120GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive

    Pioneer Black DVD+RW/-RW Drive (Dual Layer), Model DVR-108, OEM

    Kingston 184 Pin 512MB DDR PC-3200

    SAPPHIRE ATI RADEON 9600XT Video Card, 128MB DDR
    Total: $728

    Mac Mini:
    512mb Ram
    80GB HD
    ATI 9200 32mb
    Total: $774 plus tax

    Of course, adding software will add to the expense (at least if it says "Microsoft" on it), but this PC is much more capable than a mini (hardware-wise). I already have WinXP and Office free from my college, so I'm a bit biased.
  7. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004

    A G4 1.25 or 1.42ghz is not in the same league at all as an A64 3000+. The A64 3000+ is comparible to a G5 2ghz.

    The HD in a mini is a 4200rpm one, nowhere near as fast as a 7200rpm SATA drive, and the 9600xt is faster than the card in even the iMac by a lot, let alone the mini.

    I know that you were comparing what you can get for the same PRICE, but you didn't leave any room for software. You have to tack on $100 for XP Home edition (OEM), plus some sort of allowance for either MSWorks or something similar to AppleWorks, then you need to TRY and get something comparible to iLife, or at least the parts that he would use (iPhoto for sure, probably iMovie, adn the DVD drive MIGHT come with something that approximates iDVD, but HIGHLY doubtfull). Also, I'm not 100% sure, but does the mini come with Quicken? The iMac does, I THINK the mini might. That was specifically mentioned as a desired application, so you need to add that into cost, too.

    Realistically, you would have to build a PC that was somewhere around $450-500 to have enough left over for software to compare well with a "maxed out" mini. $100 for Windows, $45 for Works, $35 for Quicken, leaving about $100-150 to get some basic video editing, photo management/basic editing, and likely some DVD authoring package as well.

    So yes, you can get a much better piece of hardware for the same money as a mini, but if you are trying to equip it wil usefull software, the comparrison begins to lean towards the Mac somewhat

  8. velocityg4 macrumors 68040


    Dec 19, 2004
    PC components: through

    CPU: Pentium 4 2.8Ghz Socket 478 Retail Box $185
    Hard Drive: Maxtor 160GB ATA 133 $79
    RAM: 512mb PC3200 $45
    Video: Radeon 9600 Pro 128mb $104
    Motherboard: AS Rock P4VT8+ $40
    Has AGP 8x, 5 PCI, USB 2.0, 5.1 Audio, 4 ATA-133
    Power Supply: Logysis Power Lab 450W $20
    12Volt(V)@25Amp(A), 5V@50A, 3.3V@30A
    Case: Cheapest piece of crap mid tower $20
    Mouse/Keyboard: Cheapest $25
    CD/DVD: Lite On Combo Drive $34
    Software: Win XP (OEM) $85
    Everything else (legal) freeware off
    If your a dishonest S.O.B. everything free off bearshare or kazaa :D

    Total= $552-$637

    Mac Mini
    G4 @ 1.42hz
    256mb Ram
    80 GB Hard Drive
    Radeon 9200 32mb
    Combo Drive

    $599 :(
  9. Yvan256 macrumors 601


    Jul 5, 2004
    You didn't count the software AT ALL. We're saying that commercial software can barely equal iLife, and you send people at freeware websites? :rolleyes:

    As for the OEM licence, I'm not even sure it's legal (only manufacturers are supposed to have that, I think). And I suppose that was Windows XP Home Edition, too?

    That's like saying that your Acura has a bigger engine than my Nissan. But I'll take the comfort of my car over your bumpy-ride car any day.

    We're in 2005 now, MHz don't make that much difference, and the GPU in the mini is good enough if you stay away from recent 3D games.

    Software is what makes or break a computer, these days.

    Edit: forgot about the ports, add what lalcan said to my list. :D
  10. lalcan macrumors regular

    Sep 8, 2003
    Left of the center

    I don't know or want to know about PC Motherboards, but i think if you're trying to make a comparison you should do it at least in some sort of impartial way, so...

    Add to your PC:
    Firewire Port
    DVI output
    A nice, unobtrusive speaker
    A Case that you are not actually ashamed of showing to your friends
    A Real Operating System (if you find any that work in a PC... OS/2 perhaps)
    iLife equivalent apps (if you find anything close)
    2 extra hours a week for maintenance
    And a great community of Mac users (priceless ;) )

    And you might end up with a MiniMac comparable PC...

    eBook: listen to Mr Green, and take him to a store, this puppies really sell themselves...
  11. Timelessblur macrumors 65816


    Jun 26, 2004
    I dont think DIY system is in the same area here since first niether the guy who is asking nor the uncle know jack about computers or building them. I say look at dell simple because when you build a computer of your own there normal some minor things that have to be work out but if you know how to do it all the joy of knowing exaclty what is in the computer and have a PC that works extmely well. plus getting to laugh at people knowing you computer is more powerful their and not having to pay as much is priceless.

    Plus no extra bloat that get installed on the computer that I will not use or dont want is nice
  12. Mantat macrumors 6502a

    Sep 19, 2003
    Montréal (Canada)
    mini mac wins hand down if he has KMS, else the eMac is the winner. The software package supplied with a mac is about 300$ on PC and is not integrated, as compatible and work well. For exemple:
    - the iMovie equiv from MS hsa about 10% of the feature and is much harder to use
    - the picture management software from Canon totaly sucks and since iPhoto 05 can manage RAW there is no need for additional software
    - Windows cost 100+, you arent supposed to install OEM softare on a personal computer, OEM means: ORIGINAL ENTERPRISE MANUFACTURER. You arent a manufacturer so you arent supposed to have access to it.
    - power consumsion, at the end of the year the mac will save you a few $ on electricity alone.
    - no firewall software to buy, or any other protection crap

    When it all add up you can see where this is going. But I think the mini mac is a bit over priced with you have to buy additionnal peripheral, but the premium gives you are very slick computer and I am the kind of person who would pay for it :).
  13. velocityg4 macrumors 68040


    Dec 19, 2004
    In my defenses I only use a mac and have done so for the last 10 years. The only iLife product I use is iTunes which is available for the PC for all other iLife Apps I do not touch them. For photos I use Adobe Photoshop CS, for writing and spreadsheets I use MS Office 2004, and for video I use Final Cut Pro all on my Mac. Now I was comparing PC freeware since I personally do not like Appleworks and iMovie so any PC freeware would be comparable in my opinion. If you speak of buying software than you must spend the same amount on useful Mac Apps as you would for the PC. For antivirus use Avast and for a firewall use sygate personal firewall.

    Now as for the Windows XP (OEM). It is the home edition, since unless you are a PC pro Win XP Pro is useless for its additional features. However, Mac OS X is far superior to Windows (by light years), but I would go with a Used PowerMac G4 off of ebay before I bought a Mac Mini since it is not expandable.

    The motherboard I spoke of also has 10/100 ethernet, and PS/2 ports. If you need the DVI on the mini then you bought a very high quality LCD that is overkill for the mini.

    To re iterate buy a used PowerMac G4 over the mini.
  14. Timelessblur macrumors 65816


    Jun 26, 2004

    IF YOU BUILD YOUR OWN YOU ARE THE OEM there for it ok to put OEM software your own computer. Some how people refuse to understand this
  15. AndrewTosh macrumors newbie

    Jan 12, 2005
    This is totally incorrect. OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. OEM editions of software are only licensed to be sold with complete systems or substantial hardware components. For example, it is legal to buy your motherboard and Windows/Office XP OEM from the same vendor. You just can't buy the OEM copy alone. When building a system from scratch or doing a significant hardware upgrade, buying OEM software is 100% legitimate.

    From what I've seen, a faster PC is able to be built or bought for less than what Apple offers. I'm sure there's models that aren't, or you can pick and choose components to make your argument, but it's besides the point. I like the attention to detail. I never play 3D games and don't do anything more complex than some light programming. Apple provides a good product that doesn't need to be tinkered with constantly. Decide what that's worth to you and then compare.

  16. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    Freeware for windows is stuff like MyDoom.F, Blaster, Poza, and the like. :)
    There are some exceptions, but those are pretty rare. Unlike how Apple has an entire webpage devoted to Mac free/demo ware.

    But see, OS X gives you all those features. To get them in windows, you need to shell out an extra $100 or so. I've told people that Apple gives you, for $129, all the features of XP Pro and a lot more. Microsoft makes you pay $200 or more for those features that are of lesser quality.

    DVI is a great thing, because in 4 years when those Minis are still working, a DVI monitor is great. And I know people who have dual input monitors, or they have a DVI monitor already but are otherwise perfect candidates for a Mini. And the Mini also gives you a DVI->VGA adaptor.
  17. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    From Newegg - (price breakdown isn't perfect, I just copied from my shopping cart for total and shipping)

    Pentium 4/ 2.4A GHz 533MHz FSB/Prescott/1MB L2 - $139

    ECS "648FX-A" SiS648FX Chipset Motherboard for Intel Socket 478 CPU - $42

    Crucial 184 Pin 256MB DDR PC-2700 - $42

    Western Digital 80GB 7200RPM IDE Hard Drive - $95

    RADEON 9200SE Video Card, 64MB DDR, 64-bit, DVI/TV-Out, 8X AGP - $36

    Sony 52x32x52x16 Combo Drive - $40

    El Cheapo ATX case (there are hundreds) - ~$20

    Microsoft Windows XP HOME Edition With Service Pack $93


    $497.96 + $36.71 shipping = $534.67

    Bear in mind this is with no software except the OS, and there is no software package on the Wintel market that approximates what you recieve with a new Mac (iLife+Appleworks).

    This spec is close to that of the Mac mini (without BTO options) in terms of PC hardware, and as you can see the Mac prices up decently with its PC counterpart. The Video card on this PC has more VRAM, but it also has a much cheesier case (for those that care). If you went with a Shuttle case you'd increase cost substantially.

    Edit: the mobo I chose doesn't have Firewire, so bump the price a bit for that, and then some if you want a fancier case. I just didn't do any feature creeping...
  18. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    You hit it right on the head. If you buy all/most of the parts for a computer from a vendor and get the OEM Windows discs as well, you are 100%. It is quasi legal to sell you the OEM copy of Windows with ANY piece of hardware (a keyboard, for example). Quasi legal as in you can do it, and won't have any problems down the line (if anything the vendor selling you the OEM disc would, but even that is extremely unlikely), but I am not sure it's 100% on the up and up.

    Being a PC user, and a PC tech, and feel like I can safely say that there are no freeware applications that even compare to iLife. Yes, Photoshop is better for editing pictures, but for managing your library of photo's, nothing is like iPhoto. FCP is of course a better editing package (at $1000 it better be!), but comparing iMovie to ANYTHING else out there that is under $100 is laughable. iDVD is pretty damn good, and only the premium DVD burning software packages, like Nero Ultra or whatever they call it now, can even try to compete, and that's also a $100 package.

    Good catch on the firewire ports... anyone intereted in doing ANY miniDV work or using an iPod will want to have at least one. A few other interesting things to figure in to this is going to be:

    1) Longevity. How long do you think that a Mac mini will
    (a)PHYSCIALLY last compared to something on a PC going bad? (remember you are building with bargin bin parts here... that's a lot of cheap fans to go bad... last PC I built went into a crappy case and the fans started going after about 6 months... ifnot caught this can destroy a system pretty quickly) and
    (b) be USEFUL compared to the PC? Tiger will likely improve performance on the mini, whereas Longhorn will probably not run well on this PC, without some upgrades.

    2) Noise. Cheap cases and PSUs for PCs mean chea[ fans (see above). A normal p4 system is likely to have at least 5 fans (1 cpu, 1 gpu, 1 psu, 2 case). Sure, a machine with 5 GOOD fans won't be too loud, but this one will. I haven't seen a mini in person, so I can't say how many fans or how loud it is, but I will bet it is QUIET. It's built on the iBooks platform, which are virtually silent 'till you start to really work them hard, and even then they're quieter than my TiVo. If this machine is going to go into a bedroom or other non-computer only room, it's a consideration.

    3) Electricty. Sounds like a piddly thing, but I've read that the average P4 w/ LCD screen uses something like $45 a year in power. The mini is going to draw next to nothing, so, for sake of argument, halfing the cost of electricity of three years (reasonable upgrade timeline for a home user) you could save about $70. That's not ALOT, but it is significant when you consider it is about 10% of the cost of systems we're looking at.

    Just some more 'fuel fore the fire'. Like I said, take him to an Apple store or a CompUSA and play with them for a little. Show him a mini (when they hit the shelves), an iMac and an eMac. Tell him all of the things that have been discussed here as well and let him mull it over.

    Oh, also, in my above comment, where I left about $150 for iLife type software, I forgot to include $60+ dollars for firewall, virus, and spyware tools. You're up to $210 just in OS, security, and office applications.

  19. Toreador93 macrumors regular

    Sep 14, 2003
    The PC I built has: Firewire, ethernet, DVI. No modem, ok.
    Mini doesn't have a speaker either.
    I love my aluminum Shuttle case, everyone compliments it, usually with "That's your computer!?!? WOW!" The Shuttle above is nice enough looking (even if a Mini would get more attention).
    And I don't spend that much time with maintenance. However, I do spend that much time tweaking and fooling around with the OS and various programs I find, be it a pro or con.

    Granted, software-wise, Mac wins. But I doubt I could live with just a Mac, especially just a Mini (not saying others can't). To me, a Mini is more like a test drive; capable, but still limited.
  20. Mantat macrumors 6502a

    Sep 19, 2003
    Montréal (Canada)
    I was wrong for OEM, thats what happen when you type stuff from work, you mix sentences from both paper... Let say I got confuse and I hope there is no 'mini mac' on my budget repport.. :-S

    Anyways, seems like the requirement for OEM windows disk have changed since I switched because in the good old days, only real manufacturers were allowed to use them, I know because my friend had a pc shop at the time and he had to buy regular windows box. But this was a long time ago...

    Also, you have to add in the cost the intangible such as:
    - less noise
    - look better
    - better OS
    - no virus

    etc.. to me, it seem that mac are the best solution for low end user. In fact, the only place where pc are supperior are in application specific field (some 3D apps, rendering), gaming (gap closing every month now) and for people who like to have problems with there computer so they can fix it (HW Geeks). If you simply have to use a computer to make something productive, the mac is the platform of choice. Its just so hard to destroy the designer only myth that surround mac!
  21. ebook thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 10, 2004
    Sprint Car Capital of the World
    Thanks a lot guys for all the advice. I showed it to my father-in-law when he was down today...well, he didn't understand much, but I translated a few things! Well, I think the best thing I did was take his new digital camera and hook it up to my iMac and let iPhoto do the rest. He about freaked because I didn't load the software, in fact he even made my look at the bold face type in the manuel that said you MUST install the software! Well, I just hooked it up and turned it on, then I just let iPhoto pop up and hit import. As soon as we were done importing 7 pictures he was convinced!

    We took off to the Apple store and walked in and picked up a base eMac and a printer for $799.99 plus tax (printer rebate deal). We walked out of the store and the mother-in-law says..."is that it? That's the whole thing?" Ahhh...what a great day!
  22. lalcan macrumors regular

    Sep 8, 2003
    Left of the center
    Congratulations! That's the kind of story you'll never ever hear in the dark side! if you father-in-law would have picked a PC you'd be looking for drivers or anti-virus updates after "only" your second low-level hard disk format jejeje

    It would also make a great switcher story!

  23. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    Where do you people get this idea? I've seen heaps of people around here complain that the Mini doesn't have a speaker, when it does. Where do you get the idea that it doesn't? :confused:

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