Thursday, January 20, 2005

Windows mini Build Challenge Update

In my first Build Challenge I set forth a challenge to build a x86 PC to compete with the Mac mini. I didn't get any great systems listed but we did have a good laugh about how sexy Macs are.

I've posted on other sites including The Tech Report and most of the responses tried to compare full sized x86 PC to the mini. I've said how this is crazy. I just want to compare the mini with SFF x86 systems.

That begs the question just what is a SFF system? I can't find a good definition on the web so I'll set my own.

SFF acronym for Small Form Factor: Computer system that is smaller than 925 cubic inches.

SFF system range greatly in size from the Shuttle SB59P at 915 cubic inches to the Cappuccino EZ3 at 63 cubic inches. The Mac mini is on the smaller side at 84.5 cubic inches. The price range also varies greatly as do performance and style. Lets leave out performance since it isn't really an issue for most people in our post megahertz era.

To narrow the challenge follow these criteria:
Size: Must be under 925 cubic inches
Price: Must be under $1200
Style: Must not be ugly

I guess we could argue that last one but I'll accept anything that at least tries to be attractive. Also it has to be ordered built and tested with Windows. Most people don't want to build their own systems and since you can't with the Mac mini it wouldn't be fair to compare it to bare bones systems. Also the systems should match the mini's configuration: 256MB RAM/40GB Hard Drive/Combo Drive.

No single SFF x86 PC meets the mini on all the factors so I'll compare it to three:

Cappuccino EZ3
Size: 63 cubic inches
Price: $823
Style: 5 out 10

Even smaller than the mini. But more expensive and close to ugly.

Shuttle L 5600h
Size: 680 cubic inches
Price: $515
Style: 7 out of 10

Much bigger than the mini. But larger hard drive by default.

Hush Mini ITX
Size: 452 cubic inches
Price: $1159
Style: 9 out of 10

Great looks. But still bigger and way more expensive.

Compare these to the:

Mac mini
Size: 84.5 cubic inches
Price $499
Styles 9 out of 10

I hope you can see why the Mac mini is the best system overall and the only one that is more than the sum of it's parts. Now for some the fact that it doesn't run Windows means they would never choose it. For others the fact that these systems run Windows means they would never choose them. Let's not have any flame wars over the OS. And I'm leaving out the bundled software that comes with the mini as a factor in the price. But it is a nice plus that you get iLife, iWorks, and Appleworks.

Please post any systems that are better than the three I've listed that meet my criteria.


At 1/22/2005 12:03:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

iWorks doesn't come with the Mini.

At 1/22/2005 12:37:00 AM, Blogger Jason Sares said...

My bad. Could swear Steve said it would in the Mac World Keynote. Well as a plus it comes with Quicken and some kids games.

At 1/22/2005 12:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think iWork will come on it once iWork is released. That's a common Macworld curse: new software, new OS, or whatever, but no free upgrade for those who bought the new machine too early.

At 1/25/2005 10:09:00 AM, Blogger Jason Sares said...

I found this model is better than the Cappuccino I have listed. But they don't have them in stock which is why I didn't put it on the list. Now I have found they are in stock at other stores. I'll do some checking and if they are available I'll update my article.


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