OEM or barebones HTPC

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OEM or barebones HTPC

Postposted on Wed Sep 02, 2009 11:19 am

One of my departments wants a couple conference-room computers. They want small, quiet, and able to play DVDs and possibly Blu-Rays (for future-proofing). The computers will be hooked into HDTVs (don't remember if they're 1080p or 720p units), and I'd prefer to just use HDMI cables for video and sound, to keep things neat. I don't think they have speakers yet, but they may add some at some point. It will only need to be fast enough to play video.

Can someone recommend an OEM computer that can be easily adapted to this use? Failing that, I'd consider a barebones unit that I can spec out myself. Don't worry about which OS an OEM comes with, because we've got a Windows site license.
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Re: OEM or barebones HTPC

Postposted on Wed Sep 02, 2009 11:57 am

Are they being installed in an existing shelf with small dimensions?

My first reaction involves maintenance instead of features. If something breaks with it, do you mind taking some heat, or do you want to be able to blame it on Dell/HP? Even if you are able to build it better and cheaper, will the users appreciate it?
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Re: OEM or barebones HTPC

Postposted on Wed Sep 02, 2009 12:26 pm

One computer would be stuck on the cart with the TV, so it would have to be fairly small, say about the size of a Dell Optiplex 760 SFF[1] or preferably a bit smaller; the other would be put into a cabinet that's got a good bit of room.

I don't mind fixing the computer, but I like having a nice warranty so I can just have Dell, etc. replace a bad part and get it within a couple days. A consumer-grade computer is fine, I don't think we'll need business kit for this.


[1] I considered this model, but we'd have to get a third-party video card for HDMI. Not a deal-breaker, but I do like Dell's warranty service.
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Re: OEM or barebones HTPC

Postposted on Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:06 pm

In that case, I have nothing to contribute since I have no experience with OEM SFFs. Now that the aliens thread has been locked, maybe your question will get more attention.

If the TV cart doesn't have a good platform for a keyboard and mouse, consider wireless. I don't know if different wireless models have better or worse distances.

Will it interact with any conference call equipment?
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Re: OEM or barebones HTPC

Postposted on Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:21 pm

They've got a wireless KB & mouse already, and they use a dedicated conference-call device when such things are needed.
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Re: OEM or barebones HTPC

Postposted on Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:09 am

bump
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Re: OEM or barebones HTPC

Postposted on Thu Sep 03, 2009 1:21 pm

It seems to me like a Dell Studio will fit your needs perfectly. An HTPC seems un-necessary for what work it will be doing. Small, lightweight with HDMI and a blu-ray option . . . .exactly what you're looking for. Linkage
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Re: OEM or barebones HTPC

Postposted on Thu Sep 03, 2009 1:30 pm

Anything that you can spec with hdmi out and a bluray drive should be sufficient. Modern video cards can accellerate playback anyway, so CPU isn't that vital for playing back blu rays.
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Re: OEM or barebones HTPC

Postposted on Thu Sep 03, 2009 2:25 pm

I can't get the Studio Hybrid on contract, but I can get the Vostro 220 slim tower with a Radeon 3450 for HDMI compatibility. It's bigger and uglier, but cheaper.

Price with Blu-Ray & 3-year warranty, to us, is $678.60. With a one-year warranty that drops to $545.
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Re: OEM or barebones HTPC

Postposted on Thu Sep 03, 2009 9:44 pm

I am going to say that OC'ing is out of the question, which makes some choices a bit easier. I'll list some parts, and many of you will be cautious about the mobo choice, but then again - this comp is NOT for enthusiasts, but for general work/performance.

Case = $70
Mobo = $88
Proc. = $66
Memory = $36
HDD = $45
Blu-Ray Reader = $60

For a grand total of $365. Just for comparison reasons. I know that Dell/HP would offer warranties, but you already have an OS and other software to put on the thing AND you're willing to service the machines - why not build them?
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Re: OEM or barebones HTPC

Postposted on Sun Oct 25, 2009 7:53 pm

I'd go with the Dell option. There is a reason why some many businesses use dell computers. They're simple, cheap, not that hard to work on, and come with a decent warranty. I would 100% go against building your own in this case, my experience is that you do not want to be on the hook for fixing things should they go wrong.
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Re: OEM or barebones HTPC

Postposted on Sun Oct 25, 2009 8:26 pm

We ended up going with the Dell Vostro 220 Slim. Seems to work well so far, and no compatibility issues with 64-bit Win7. Still bigger than I'd have liked, but not bad.
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Re: OEM or barebones HTPC

Postposted on Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:28 am

Are Shuttles out of the question? You'd build it yourself, and the cost may be a bit higher than going Dell, but they are neat as basic PC's. Check out Shuttle's SG31G2, for starters.
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Re: OEM or barebones HTPC

Postposted on Wed Nov 04, 2009 2:08 pm

Oops, didn't see your last post. :oops:
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