Home desktop recommendation
October 24, 2010 10:28 AM   Subscribe

Can you recommend me a good desktop for home usage (ideally one that I can buy online)? Ideally within $1500 ...

Our Dell Inspiron is falling apart. My home usage needs are primarily around media management - viewing, managing, editing photographs, listening to music, watching movies, storing back ups of stuff from my work laptop - with some writing activities and video editing activities thrown in (Home video editing is something that is near impossible on my current home laptop).I am thinking that a desktop will be better from usability and future-proofing perspectives; although the answers to this question tend to suggest that (if you leave out upgrades) laptops may make sense too ..

This laptop is largely what I am looking for (but in a desktop) - 4 to 6 GB RAM, i5 or i7, good audio and video presentation. Would love to get some ideas.
posted by justlooking to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This doesn't really answer your question, but keep in mind that with a docking station, monitor, keyboard, and mouse, a laptop can be used in exactly the same way as a desktop.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 10:36 AM on October 24, 2010

You could get a Core i5 iMac (21.5 inch screen) for 1699. For what you want, that's the direction I'd go.

There are going to be 100's of different PC options that you can get for the price you're looking to spend. *Any* of the major manufacturers will be able to spec out a system like what you want for far less than 1.5K. You could go the Alienware direction (i7, dual ATI 5670's, 6GB) for less than 1500.
posted by jz at 10:42 AM on October 24, 2010

I just bought a 27" quad core i5 iMac. It's a refurb but came with full warranty. $1500.
posted by dobbs at 10:57 AM on October 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

$1500? Holy crap, that'll get you a lot of computer. My roommate's gaming rig didn't even cost that, and he's got the best sound and video cards on the market today in it (since he's also an electronic musician).

Shoot, I just got a refurb HP off new egg for $550. 1TB hard drive, core i3 processor, and 6gb of ram. All I had to do was pop in my old video card and I've been happily blasting my way across the Mojave wasteland for days with the graphics and settings punched up almost as high as they'll go. ('almost' only because I'm still using an nvidia 6800GT. With a better video card I could easily play any game on the market at the highest settings.)

So... um, you can get a computer in those specs basically anywhere. And for far less than you're saying. You might save even more if you buy your own sound and video cards and install them yourself.
posted by Kellydamnit at 11:30 AM on October 24, 2010

I'd get an iMac as well. It's really one of the strongest desktops out there for media management and general use, and if you don't upgrade your memory through Apple, you can save yourself beaucoup bucks by getting yourself to 8-16 gigs of RAM via MacSales (OWC), or Data Memory Systems. Here's what I'd build using Apple.com at least as a baseline:

# 3.60GHz Intel Core i5
# 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x2GB
# 1TB Serial ATA Drive
# ATI Radeon HD 5670 512MB GDDR3 SDRAM
# 8x double-layer SuperDrive
# Apple Wireless Keyboard (English) & User's Guide
# Magic Mouse
# AppleCare Protection Plan for iMac - Auto-enroll

Then, since Apple gouges for memory, head to OWC and look for Lifetime Warranty memory chips for that exact iMac:


Hope that helps!
posted by patronuscharms at 1:22 PM on October 24, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you everyone!

I was not thinking iMac originally, but the idea seems very tempting. I'll definitely check them out at the Apple store (I feel a little ambivalent when I think about the learning curve involved - but from all that I hear, every one who moved to an Apple desktop/laptop have been pretty happy)

Didn't realize Wintel boxes of this configuration can be had at a lower price point; makes this hard to decide.

Thank you very much for the pointers ...I hope to figure this one out by thanksgiving.
posted by justlooking at 4:08 PM on October 25, 2010

Response by poster: I actually ended up ordering a 21" 3.2GHz Intel Core i3 iMac! Rest of the specs are really along the lines of what Patronuscharms suggested above.

Once I added up the software I needed and Applecare, I was hitting $2000+ with an i5. Online research and Apple retail store employees suggested that for what I plan to do with my laptop, i3 should be more than sufficient.

This will be my first non-Wintel purchase :-) ...hopefully it'll work out alright.
posted by justlooking at 11:49 AM on November 28, 2010

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