Mini PC

LunarMist

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I need a simple and small computer to replace one that is offsite and has died this week. :cry:
I'm leaning towards Intel NUC or maybe the smallest version of Lenovo ThinkCenter, Dell Orptiplex, etc..
The use case is rather limited currently, but I want something that should be useable for 3-5 years.
I will need to buy, set up and ship it next week.
I'm thinking that i5 8th gen, 8GB RAM, 250/256GB SSD is fine.
I my add an old 2.5" drive as a backup. Thanks.
 

Stereodude

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About as helpful as can be expected given the lack of details in your first point. Why do you want such a tiny PC?
 

LunarMist

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For portability and reduced shipping costs. Are the small ones less reliable?
 

LunarMist

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Yes. I'm reading complaints about the poor Lenovo quality, lack of support and issues with Windows updates. Maybe a clean Windows on the NUC would be better in the long run for updates. I just don't know about Dell. The small towers have relatively higher power CPUs, but mostly are stocked with 1TB HDDs.
 

Stereodude

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I wouldn't want to be responsible for the warranty, but maybe you feel differently or are already the IT person.
 

Chewy509

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My only recommendation would be either the Dell Optiplex 3070 mini with 5yr onsite warranty, or the HP EliteDesk 800 with 3yr onsite warranty... Note, both Dell and HP offer all-in-one variants, and small form factor variants of the above as well.

The reason I point these models out, is the companies offer next day onsite warranty support, so let them handle replacement of hardware onsite.

The Intel NUC's will most likely do, providing you're happy dealing with warranty issues yourself.

But without specifics, can't be more helpful.

eg OS environment? cloud infrastructure being used? Windows AD environment? Boot from LAN or OS deployment from LAN setup? RDP, Citrix or other remote desktop? Typically applications used? MS Office, LibreOffice, SAP, Oracle ERP, etc?
 

LunarMist

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I was joking about the cameras. It seems like every other movie on cable there was one back in the 80s-90s. LOL
 

LunarMist

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No, I meant in the bathroom. Somehow this thread is about the PC. Later on that...
 

LunarMist

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My only recommendation would be either the Dell Optiplex 3070 mini with 5yr onsite warranty, or the HP EliteDesk 800 with 3yr onsite warranty... Note, both Dell and HP offer all-in-one variants, and small form factor variants of the above as well.

The reason I point these models out, is the companies offer next day onsite warranty support, so let them handle replacement of hardware onsite.

The Intel NUC's will most likely do, providing you're happy dealing with warranty issues yourself.

But without specifics, can't be more helpful.

eg OS environment? cloud infrastructure being used? Windows AD environment? Boot from LAN or OS deployment from LAN setup? RDP, Citrix or other remote desktop? Typically applications used? MS Office, LibreOffice, SAP, Oracle ERP, etc?

I have no idea what most of that means. Imagine you have an 85 year old "uncle" or someone that like role model 1200 miles away.
I drove a fair distance to buy the mini Dells as time is essential with my July schedule. Dell offers an inexpensive onsite warranty, but I don't think that would be a good idea with the dogs.
Anyway, most all issues will be human error and lack of understanding. The OptiPlex seems to be fairly well made. Even under full CPU loads it only reaches the mid 60s°C on the six cores and is not too loud. There is space for one M.2 and one 2.5" drive. The latter is in a little tray with rubber isolators.
 

LunarMist

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The mini Dell Optoplex lasted less a little over 2 years. It developed an intermittent issue with not outputting any videos from boot. :mad:
For a while it was left on 24/7, but Windows 10 updates create automatic reboots and then both videos (DP and HDMI) again die 80+% of the time. I would not recommend Dell POS OptoPlex.
 
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Mercutio

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I've been a big fan of the Lenovo m-Series Nano desktops. I have probably ~100 of them spread across various clients, and they're pretty easy to get as lease returned units as well. They're solid machines, but I do wish they had two more USB ports than they typically have.
 

Mercutio

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There are m90 models as well, which I think are called Tiny rather than Nano. The m75 is Ryzen-based and the 90s are Intel. They're available with i9s and up to 64GB RAM, which is a pretty serious PC so long as you don't need a GPU, and they support 2xnVME and a 2.5" drive.

Everything with Think branding and an AMD CPU from Lenovo is half-assed.
 

LunarMist

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I'm probably not configured correctly. Anyways, it's unlikely that we'll ever need one again. After using the last experince with the NUC, I'd just get another one like that.

I'm hoping Intel can reduce the powers in the next generation.
 

Mercutio

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I'm hoping Intel can reduce the powers in the next generation.

Supposedly that's the big thing we get out of Adler Lake, with the Efficiency cores and all. I feel like I like AMD's full-fat "Cores are Cores" approach. If I were concerned about efficient cores I'd be entertaining Apple's M-series, but as it stands, I can use a Chromebook with a mediocre MediaTek SOC to remote in to a big-boy PC if that's what I'm worried about. Battery life is almost a non-issue on those guys.

Unfortunately, I've been doing enough video work that now I'd like to make sure whatever laptop PC I buy next can run Resolve at some reasonable fraction of what my desktop can handle. My current Thinkpad does not do that, even though it has a discrete GPU and an 8 thread CPU.
 

LunarMist

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The few Intel 13th generation NUCs are all huge!
Is there any indication when we will see 13th generation "NUC 13" in the traditional small form factor?
 

Mercutio

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The current Core CPUs night be too hot for the little VESA box form factor. The little NUCs don't have a whole lot of cooling built in at all.
 

sedrosken

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I don't think the main constraint is explicitly wattage for these newer chips, I think it's thermal density. It's a lot more difficult to wick heat away from something when the die's so small it can only barely make contact with a heatpipe. It's the main reason why there was a minor stink about Zen3 and how much warmer it idled than Zen2 and Zen1/+.
 

LunarMist

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It seems that the lower powered Ryzen mobiles are Zen 3+, not yet Zen 4.
 

ddrueding

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I did just order one of these for a new project. If there is any testing or questions ya'll have, let me know. For me I'm interested in how transparently I can expose the GPIO pins to an x86 custom program running on a Win11 instance running inside Proxmox.

 

sedrosken

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Is the GPIO pinout RPi compatible? If not, what's stopping them? Does the RPi foundation or whoever have a patent on that pinout? That's my biggest question. As huge as the support has been for the Pi, anything x86_64 immediately has a huge leg up in compatibility. Do you mind giving a bare-metal Linux distro a look, like Debian? I'm wondering what special kerfuffles I'm going to run into with needing to grab firmware and such. Setting up my old Chromebook I was surprised I needed firmware for my freaking HD Audio Device of all things. Is that just where everything's headed now?

Unfortunately looking at the video I have to concur with the general synopsis in the comments -- it doesn't meet the price target or even come close to a normal Pi in price, meaning for most peoples uses it's just not worth the money. The Dual LAN is nice but I don't really see anyone buying one of these just for a router.

Speaking of routers, I'm starting to think about doing a pfSense+Ubiquiti AP setup for my home network, and I was wondering what the meta option was for a small router box. Only two interfaces are really needed, I'm going to be hooking into and running everything off of a switch, but both interfaces should ideally be above 1GbE. My switch isn't, yet, but that's something I can work on once those get cheaper.

Edit: pruned off-topic thoughts
 
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ddrueding

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If you're looking for a more powerful pi this is certainly not the thing. For our project we were looking at a legit x86 computer that is connected to an Arduino for GPIO things. This just puts both of those on the same board. I can throw Debian on it when it shows up and see what doesn't work.
The basic Ubiquiti router is good and cheap enough these days that it is my recommendation, unless you have some special needs or want to play.
 

Handruin

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Speaking of routers, I'm starting to think about doing a pfSense+Ubiquiti AP setup for my home network, and I was wondering what the meta option was for a small router box. Only two interfaces are really needed, I'm going to be hooking into and running everything off of a switch, but both interfaces should ideally be above 1GbE. My switch isn't, yet, but that's something I can work on once those get cheaper.

Edit: pruned off-topic thoughts

pfSense can run on many of those cheap chinese-made boxes I've seen floating around various sites like ServeTheHome. If you don't want to go that route, I can also recommend something a little different like the GL.iNet GL-MT3000 (Beryl AX) (runs OpenWrt). I have one for travel and it's a solid piece of kit for a tiny router with a bunch of features including WiFi 6 built in. They go on sale every once in a while and you can also get through Amazon if you want an easy return in case you don't like it.

Regardless, I'd definitely recommend finding a switch that can even do PoE+ and consider that to power your APs. I've moved on from Ubiquiti and now use Aruba Instant On APs via PoE+. They've been rock solid and minimal fuss, which only happens if you end up using more than one because you'll want to tune the radio power levels for optimal handoff based on your living environment and deployment location. I use the AP25 as my main AP for most everything and an AP22 in my basement ceiling on lower power to on connect to my devices when I'm down there.

Another option are the TP-link Business grade APs like the EAP670. I don't have one but they're pretty decent from things I've read.
 

sedrosken

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I've got to be honest, I just like Ubiquiti because I manage them for work and even if they're not the bang-for-buck option I haven't had an issue with them that wasn't my own dumb fault. I have a 48-port gigabit switch I got from a decommissioned project from work, and I'd honestly trade half the ports for some PoE capability and a couple 2.5 or 5Gb ports.
 

Handruin

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Sure, I get that. I was just getting tired of the annoying update of the required ubiquiti management controller along with the AP updates. Plus, my UAP AC pros would occasionally get hung probably because of a lackluster firmware release from time to time, so I moved on.

I did add to my mix the Ubiquiti Enterprise 8 switch which gave me 8 x 2.5Gb with PoE+ and 2 x 10Gb SFP+ that I link up to my core switch Brocade ICX7250-48P. The Enterprise 8 has been surprisingly solid. I got it at a corporate discount through B&H which is what swayed me. I use it to power my Aruba APs since one of them also has a 2.5Gb port.
 

sedrosken

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What does the landscape for unmanaged 2.5/5Gb switches look like? I don't need the whole thing to be 5Gb across the board, just a couple of ports would be perfect.
 

Handruin

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Can't say I've seen many 5Gb switches or even nics in any quantity. Maybe this one might be interesting?


Or this one...
 

Mercutio

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I found 4x2.5" 5.25" Icydock enclosure in my car that suddenly made a BitFenix Prodigy with an Asrock X570 and a 6xSATA to m.2 adapter a pretty sweet tiny NAS setup. It doesn't help me with my 1U NAS needs, but it DOES have 5x3.5", 4x2.5" and 1x m.2 drives and it has an open 16xPCIe slot if I want to connect it to Infiniband or 10GbE. I don't have an Infiniband NIC or any extra cables right now but now I'm thinking it might be worth ordering them. It's not like I'm going to run out of retired 6TB SMR drives or ~1TB SATA SSDs any time soon.

Just to put in a good word for Infiniband: An 8 port 40Gbps Switch runs about $100 on Ebay (down side: they are loud). 40Gbps PCIe 4x NICs cost about $50 each. Cabling kind of depends on what your needs are between twinax and optical, but my 10m single mode cable was about $75. Windows has a hard time doing anything with a 40Gbps connection unless you've shelled out for Windows Workstation edition or Windows Server. I might be alone on this since I'm advocating for used datacenter gear instead of new but well understood ethernet, but I like getting m.2-ish SSD speeds over my LAN, even with SMB overhead.
 

sedrosken

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BitFenix -- it's been a minute since I heard their name. I think before I had my N400 I had one of their Neos cases back when I actually wanted a vaguely flashy rig. I remember it being very cheap and nasty, thin pot metal everywhere, lots of sharp edges. That said I probably ought not be too hard on it, I think it went for 49.99 in 2017 or thereabouts when I would have bought it.
 

Mercutio

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If I remember right, I bought it for a build I never made. I Just opened the box after after I got an RMA'd ITX board back and realized i finally had something to do with it. It's a nicer chassis but it does have less than ideal cable management, but that's going to happen in any ITX case with 11 total drives in it.
 

ddrueding

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5Gb is a rare thing, especially compared to 2.5Gb. I'd consider bonding 2x 2.5 to get the better switch selection if you can.
 
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