So my mother's HD died (without losing anything important, thanks to backups), and she's due for a new machine anyway. The room where she keeps her computer is small, and she hates having the mini-tower on the floor when she's vacuuming, so I want to get her some kind of small form factor machine. She's strictly in the email/browser/light office camp; the most strenuous gaming her box sees is Freecell. She just got a digital camera, but beyond "automatic" color correction and the like she's not going to be doing much more than sucking in shots, emailing a few, and printing the odd one, and that's easily the most compute-intensive task this machine will see (but an internal card reader would be nice). She probably will never play a movie on this thing (other than the occasional YouTube clip or something that people email her) so she doesn't need Blueray, HDCP, or even fancy audio (she mostly leaves her speakers off) but she has an LCD (with a nice fat dot pitch for her elderly eyes) so DVI-out is a requirement.
Now, the Dell Studio Hybrid is looking awfully tempting. It's expensive for what you get, no doubt; but it looks good, it's very compact, it has DVI-out, and the low power usage and recycling offer that Dell includes for your old machine would score points with her. Plus it's available in colors other than deadly black or blingy silver. Yes, looks are important (and horsepower is not). Small size is important (and horsepower is not). Quiet is important (and horsepower is not). Did I mention horsepower is not important?
Of course, building an econo-box would be much more cost-effective, but I haven't found an mATX case that is very appealing (or even especially compact). The Antec Minuet looks ugly to me, and Lian Li's compact stuff has serious brutalism aesthetic going on. And all the ITX stuff I've seen has various problems. I really want a breadbox / toaster sort of machine. So on to the Usual Suspects...
The shuttle K45 bare-bones would be ideal -- it's available in colors and you can stick a picture behind the front panel. She'd dig that. But:
- no optical drive. Not a killer, but I have to include the cost of an external optical because she'll need it at some point
- no DVI out. There's your deal killer.
The K48 has the optical drive bay, but still no DVI. The X27 is ITX and compact but just one DIMM slot makes the baby panda cry. And it doesn't have DVI either. (WTF is wrong with Shuttle? Do they know what decade we're in?)
Moving on: I'm not a big fan of "vertical" slimline cases because (for this user) they require a slot-load optical drive, but I can live with that. Of those, this MSI barebones
has the virtue of offering DVI (thanks to the AMD mobo, albeit a 690), but I'd be a little concerned about the reliability of the PSU (plus the other complaints on the NewEgg site, grain of salt notwithstanding).
I have considered getting her a budget laptop with DVI out and just plugging that into her keyboard/mouse/display -- but now we're getting back into the same ~$700 price range as the Studio Hybrid, and she has zero need for the portability of a laptop. And fixing/upgrading them is a bitch.
So, any other suggestions? I know there's a world of cases and SFF vendors out there I'm not familiar with, so fire away. Are there any Intel barebones kits with DVI? Any AMD using the 780g?