In need of a Mac Mini like computer, but for Windows.
December 21, 2013 5:49 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a Mac Mini like computer, but for Windows 8.

I know we could buy a mini and just put windows on it, but that solution has been ruled unacceptable by the stakeholders.

This computer should:

1. Have a small form factor (be able to be hidden inside of a desk)
2. Come with Windows 8.
3. Drive 2 external monitors.
4. come with 4-8GB Ram
5. come with 1TB Hardrive
6. be preassembled (bring your own keyboard, mouse and monitors is assumed).
posted by Brent Parker to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One thing to avoid: anything with Intel's Atom CPU. Those will be slowwww.
posted by planetesimal at 6:31 PM on December 21, 2013

Maybe something from xi3?
posted by juv3nal at 6:38 PM on December 21, 2013

Acer's Revo line might fit the bill.
posted by planetesimal at 6:53 PM on December 21, 2013

The Dell OptiPlex 7010 comes in an "ultra-small" form factor that isn't much bigger than a hardcover book. The stock model comes with Intel Core i3, 4GB RAM and a 500GB HDD, but memory and disk can be upgraded. They also support dual monitors. Win7 is preinstalled, but they ship with a Win8 upgrade license and media.

We have been buying these as our current standard desktop in my office and really like the very small form factor.
posted by briank at 7:00 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your search term is "small form factor pc" and while many have Atom, there are also a number with AMD Athlons and Intel i3/i5/i7. I'd stick with i3, unless you want to use the machine as a space heater. Shuttle has carved out a decent niche in the portable desktop computing/SFF market.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:20 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Take a look at Intel's NUC. I haven't used one yet but they seem promising.
posted by beowulf573 at 7:46 PM on December 21, 2013

NUCs are tiny and fairly powerful. One downside for you is that they use mSATA SSDs, which are not widely available in 1TB sizes. Also, NUCs are typically sold without memory, drive, etc., but you can buy them preassembled in a few places: 1, 2. Be sure to select the model with dual HDMI ports for driving two displays.
posted by whatnotever at 7:51 PM on December 21, 2013

Your best bet is probably with the big manufacturers and specifically with their business lines, which is where you'll usually find small form factors. briank pointed out a Dell, here's a Lenovo, HP will have a few, etc.
posted by whatnotever at 8:03 PM on December 21, 2013

Thirding Intel NUCs. All the more so since you have "stakeholders" and aren't just building something for home.
posted by silentbicycle at 8:56 PM on December 21, 2013

Shuttle has been around a while, so I would suggest checking them. (I'm not sure why the people you're working with have vetoed getting a Mac Mini, because it fills the bill perfectly and at a very competitive price.)
posted by azpenguin at 10:18 PM on December 21, 2013

Look to get one with a 0% restocking fee or an external power supply, like a laptop. The non-Apple PCs tend to make incredible amounts of fan noise.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:46 PM on December 21, 2013

One solution is to convince the stakeholders otherwise. People ruling out solutions for specious reasons are often not worth having as clients, IME.

If you are the problem solver, solve the problem. The number of small form factor solutions out there is huge. Apple, of course, is one. In the matrix, it has pro-cons. How do they stack with the others? How do the others stack?

Asking for mefi advice on this is a good idea, because the peeps here are mostly techno smart, but in many cases, recommendations are exercises in bias and single-data point observations.

No kidding, though.... if you are young and this is a first experience for you solving a client problem, it's understandable that you may not recognize the mode. All experiences like this are chances to develop skills OTHER than hardware selection. Some of them include assessment and training of your clients, and the ability to discriminate folks who are going to be hard to please no matter what. What really puzzles me about this is that the mini is just another Wintel box? Might as well be an Acer. Once the OS is gone from consideration, it's just hardware. You are unlikely to pick the perfect solution from any of them, and the choice is either performance or economics. Luck plays a part, too. You are buying ONE unit. Like buying a watermelon, you might get a good one or a bad one.

It's also a $500 decision. Such decisions warrant a few minutes of shopping, not days. FWIW, I like Shuttles, Dells, Lenovo, Acer.... all good hardware. Apple, too. Except usually better.
posted by FauxScot at 4:28 AM on December 22, 2013

I'm currently doing the same thing (except to run linux). I think the Shuttle's look good as Sunburnt said.
posted by singingfish at 11:35 AM on December 22, 2013

I used to have a Shuttle, they are small and very quiet - but they aren't cheap, not quite Mac Mini sized and you'll have to assemble them.

Bear in mind that the two items I consider the biggest pain to install (the PSU and motherboard) are already done, so you just need to throw in the HDD, memory and optional DVD drive and graphics card.

Worth looking at what the big box manufacturers do. My parents have a (now discontinued, I think) Dell Zino HD and it's the closest to a Mac Mini I've seen.
posted by mr_silver at 3:23 PM on December 22, 2013

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