With all the lovely ultrabooks and super-powerful phones out there today, is is surprisingly hard to find diminutive-yet-powerful PCs at a reasonable price. We’re talking at least Core i3 and preferably i5, with the capability to have 8GB+ of memory, mSATA + 2.5″ SATA storage options, dual video out (at least Intel HD4000 or faster) and a small footprint. Ideally: under $500 and easily upgradeable with industry standard parts.
Here are the current candidates:
- Dell Alienware X51 ($600-$1200 with $600 being Dell outlet low end model, and $1200 being fairly high end)
- Upgradeable video card
- Up to i7 CPU
- Dell Inspiron 660s (the s stands for slim… the regular ’660′ is just a smallish tower computer)
- Only has Sandy Bridge (HD3000) at this point, not Ivy Bridge (HD4000)
- Thankfully, you CAN add a discrete video card! (full low profile pci-express slot)
- -Only up to i3 CPU
- the 660 tower goes up to i5, but again that case is not small enough for my purposes
- -Sales tax in most (if not all) states if you order from Dell
- NO SALES TAX in many states if you order it from Amazon!
- ASRock VISION HT ($500-$750 but with very poor availability)
- Very compact
- HD 4000
- Nice ports etc.
- Non-upgradeable video
- HP Pavilion Slimline s5
- Both AMD and Intel CPU offerings
- HP Compaq 8200 and 8200 Elite, Ultraslim
- Zino HD (no longer available)
- Atom based systems – much too slow
- Brazos/Trinity/Llano etc. – too slow if they are in the dual core 1.6GHz range, which is where most systems seem to be i.e. E-350 or E-450 systems… hopefully some more powerful dual core or quad core2 GHz+ systems will start to show up soon!
- Mac mini (not expandable enough [without resorting to pricey thunderbolt peripherals])
[to be updated as my research proceeds and feel free to comment if you have any suggestions]