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Build Advice Budget Office PC Advice

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by james-milligan, 22 Aug 2019.

  1. james-milligan

    james-milligan Member

    21 Sep 2010
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    I'm looking for a desktop PC to be used in a home office, with the following requirements:

    Budget: ~£300
    Main uses of intended build: Web browsing, Microsoft Office, watching YouTube videos up to 1080p
    Parts required: Everything except monitor, keyboard and mouse
    Previous build information (list details of parts): N/A (replacing a ~14 y/o Dell desktop)
    Monitor resolution: 1920 x 1080
    Storage requirements: ~500GB. Could be SSD and/or HDD
    Will you be overclocking: no
    Any motherboard requirements (no. of USB, Xfire/SLI, fan headers): N/A
    Extra information about desired system: Long lifetime, and the smaller the better, however low cost is more important.

    I haven't built a PC in many years, so am a bit out of the loop with hardware, but I've seen PC Part Picker suggest a PC in this budget which seems pretty decent?: https://uk.pcpartpicker.com/guide/HFLrxr/budget-homeoffice-build

    I don't mind whether it's a custom build or a pre-built system, I'm just aiming to keep the cost as low as possible.

    I've noticed a ton of 'renewed' systems on amazon with reasonable sounding hardware at around the £100-£200 mark, such as this, however I'm concerned that this dated hardware is going to have a much more limited life than new hardware. Am I right to be concerned about this? I don't want to have to replace it again a couple of years down the line...

    Another thing I've seen are really small desktop PCs like this ACEPC unit. They are compact, include windows 10, are really cheap... Would something like this be any good for my application once I stick some storage in, or are they going to struggle?

    Thanks in advance :grin:
  2. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

    4 Dec 2007
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    How's this for timing: I'm currently doing a group test of entry-level to mid-range PCs!

    Unfortunately, most are above your budget. The only one I've got 'ere that comes in under budget is a Palicomp Graphite COF8, which is an Intel Pentium Gold G5400 with 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive. If you could throw another £100 at it, you'd get a PC Specialist... something, I need to get in touch with them to get the product name, but it's got a considerably more powerful Ryzen 3 3200G and a 240GB SSD on top of a 1TB hard drive.

    What difference does that actually make? The PC Specialist boots in around 41 seconds and scores 4,077 in PCMark 10 while getting 22.72 frames per second in Unigine Superposition at 720p Low settings (which ain't great, but in the machine's defence it's a fairly demanding benchmark for all it's a few years old now); the Palicomp takes 74 seconds to boot, score 2,799 in PCMark 10 and just 13.22 frames per second in Unigine Superposition.

    If you're building your own, the budget ain't going to go far: the only way you're going to beat either of the above is if you're not paying the full £100 for a Windows 10 licence somehow. Putting together a system to match the PC Specialist one hits £320 without an OS - though I did take the liberty of using slightly faster RAM - and you don't get the benefit of having it built for you and the one-stop warranty.

    If you want more bang for your buck, go refurb. £290 will get you an admittedly old Core i7 3770 (4C8T, 3.4/3.9GHz) with 8GB of ram and a 128GB SSD, Windows 10 Pro, and a one-year warranty - but you'd need to add more storage to reach your 500GB target. If you want something a little newer, this at £230 has a Ryzen 3 2200G and a 1TB hard drive, but the warranty is only three months and you'd want to boost the 4GB to 8GB (which, to be fair, you'd have the budgetary wiggle-room to do.)

    I would definitely, definitely consider a small boot SSD and a larger mechanical storage drive, though: as you can see from the boot times between the PC Specialist and the Palicomp, it really makes a difference. Think about the loading times of all your apps getting slashed in half...

    As mentioned: the only way that's in budget is 'cos they haven't added the cost of the operating system. Once you've added on £110 for a legit Windows 10 licence it's a different story. (Yes, you can get it cheaper elsewhere. No, those £9 keys on FleaBay aren't legal. Yes, they may work for a bit. No, you won't get your £9 back when Microsoft blacklists the stolen volume keys.)
    That's a pretty good deal, for the specs. It is old, though - that's a 2012-era CPU - but it certainly wouldn't have any difficulty running office stuff.
  3. javaman

    javaman May irritate Eyes

    10 May 2009
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    Amazon renewed would be ok tho building new may provide longer life (less ware on components and better PSU etc).
    The down side to building would be spending a bit more to get a smaller case as itx has a small premium and even small mATX cases can slowly creep the price up.

    The build you linked on pcpartpicker is pretty good. Sticking with AMD a few changes can be made, for example
    • Athlon 200GE would be fine for your requirements at £41 or alternatively Ryzen 3 1200 can be had for £48.57 tho would require a gpu if you had a spare lying around.
    • Is there any need for the DVD drive?
    • Is 500GB storage required? A 240GB SSD should be enough for windows and home office use and would only cost £24.99. If the extra storage is required 500GB spinning rust disk could be added for £22.88 or 1TB for £29.09 for larger storage needs.
    • Alternatively for the case the Antec VSK2000-U3 can be had for £37. I would have to dig but it might only support 1 SSD/HDD but would be smaller than the deepcool case.
    • You should be able to drop down to a 300W PSU tho from memory you won't save much over a 400W one anyway
    • Amazon are selling windows 10 pro Keys for £7. I've used one myself without issue but it seems suspicious to me. I took the position Amazon would be more likely be legit than Ebay
    Made a few changes as above. Also swapped out the ram and motherboard but it only saves a few quid so it's hardly worth it compared to what you previously selected but the option is there to save every penny.
    The PSU is also swapped out which would possibly be worth it. I've had good experience with the BeQuiet brand and CustomPC use to recommend them going back a few years.

    Last edited: 23 Aug 2019
  4. BeauchN

    BeauchN Active Member

    5 Apr 2011
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    With that budget I’d be looking 2nd hand. Either an option like this from ‘a well known auction site’ or building my own from used bits.

    That EliteDesk is a few years old, but HP’s business-oriented stuff is pretty solid and the spec will be fine for office work and YouTube. I’ve a couple of older gen bits doing exactly the same, and I don’t foresee any need to upgrade them, apart from the upgrade itch :)
  5. james-milligan

    james-milligan Member

    21 Sep 2010
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    Thanks for the detailed responses.

    As tempting as a £7 key from Amazon seems, I don't think it's worth the risk of Microsoft potentially shutting it down. Surely it can't be legit when it retails at so much more!?

    I'll have to check the actual budget (it's actually for my parents), and whether the windows 10 licence is transferable from the old PC. If the budget is ~£300 without OS, then it sounds like I'd be better off buying new.

    Is this just going through the home office configuration and selecting the mentioned hardware? As much as I like the idea of building the PC myself, it sounds like I'll save myself a lot of time and pay nothing more (and gain the one-stop warranty) by going through PC Specialist.

    Glad to hear second hand would also be a viable option, given the relatively undemanding application. There's a lot of reasonably priced stuff out there!
  6. Osgeld

    Osgeld Active Member

    9 Jul 2019
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    I got a i3 hp as an office pc had the windows 8 logo so I installed that and it auto activated then I used the media creation tool to upgrade that to 10 which also had no issues activating

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