Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

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DVMResident
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by DVMResident »

madbrain wrote:
DVMResident wrote:These days the functional and price difference between laptops and desktops is small and shrinking. The desktop's major advantage is not price anymore, but rather heat control, which is important for protracted heavy load actives like games and graphic renders.

You can always buy a laptop, hook up peripherals, and treat it like a desktop. The price spread is so small.
You would lose a lot in the process in terms of expandability - a huge point of a desktop is that you can upgrade it so much in ways that are not usually feasible with a laptop.
For example, among the things I have done with desktops over the years :
- upgrading to a better/faster GPU or to accommodate more displays. I use a triple monitor setup and this is not possible with most laptops. Or using multiple GPUs for gamers
- upgrading to RAID
- adding new technologies - eg. going from USB 2.0 to 3.0, or from 3.0 to 3.1
- having significantly faster devices - internal SATA3 SSD vs external USB3 ; internal PCIe video capture vs USB, etc.
- having all your drives inside one case vs a bunch of external drives . One of my desktops has up to 10 drives currently
- adding more RAM - the upgrade possibilities are usually more limited on a laptop
- using properly sized input devices like a full size keyboard and full size trackball - the ones built in to laptops are very frustrating

Desktops have options for much faster CPUs also, with far more cores and higher clock speed than a laptop can. If you do any type of video editing, this is crucial. Even for photography, it can be quite helpful.
Yes, desktops will use more energy, but you do get a benefit out of them.
Sure, you can do those things with a desktop to a much greater extent than a laptop. I remember the days of watching the Fry's pages (in newspapers!) for the next video card and upgrading on a regular basis. These days...meh' and I still game on black boxed 4 year old Y series brick with no need to upgrade until it blows up. That old thing may as well be a desktop. The OP doesn't game and does at most some photo editing. Think the OP's really going to notice a RAID or SATA3 vs SATA2? Probably not.
spammagnet
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by spammagnet »

kjvmartin wrote:What's a NUC?
Intel's brand of an extremely small desktop computer. Mine is half the size of a small cigar box, and that's one of their bigger ones because it supports a 2.5" hard drive.
cookiez
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by cookiez »

If you can live with desktop, get an Intel NUC. An i5 based system will run you $300 (plus ssd/ram for $150). It should be powerful enough for most things you need. Heck, you can even install osx on it if you really want. If you can live with i3, the price is lower. Use the saved money for a decent 4k monitor (for maybe $300?). $800 will get you the best experience with Windows.
cookiez
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by cookiez »

spammagnet wrote:
kjvmartin wrote:What's a NUC?
Intel's brand of an extremely small desktop computer. Mine is half the size of a small cigar box, and that's one of their bigger ones because it supports a 2.5" hard drive.
Something like this - https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product. ... -_-Product
The combo is ~$450.
madbrain
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by madbrain »

DVMResident wrote:Sure, you can do those things with a desktop to a much greater extent than a laptop. I remember the days of watching the Fry's pages (in newspapers!) for the next video card and upgrading on a regular basis. These days...meh' and I still game on black boxed 4 year old Y series brick with no need to upgrade until it blows up. That old thing may as well be a desktop. The OP doesn't game and does at most some photo editing. Think the OP's really going to notice a RAID or SATA3 vs SATA2? Probably not.
Even though the OP doesn't game (I don't either), performance increase is quite noticeable for some upgrades. Another is going from HDD to SDD which is also easier to do with a desktop than laptop . OP said he wanted a serviceable / upgradable machine, so I think the desktop makes sense.
madbrain
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by madbrain »

ether161 wrote:Fun fact: if you keep a desktop computer for more than 4 years you'll spend more on electricity than on buying it!
This is not really a fact. This really depends how much you spend on your computer, and how long you use it.
Let's take a $1000 desktop computer with 200W average power consumption including the display. 12 cents/kWh average nationwide electricity rate.
You would have to keep the computer on for 41666 hours before the cost of the electricity would reach that of the computer.
This would be the equivalent of 4.75 years running 24/7 . Most people don't keep their computer running 24/7.
If you use the computer 40 hours a week, it will actually take 20 years for the cost of the electricity to reach the cost of the computer.
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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by Earl Lemongrab »

misterno wrote:I bought a Dell OptiPlex used
What was your source?
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gasdoc
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by gasdoc »

I like working at my iMAC much better than any laptop. And my iPAD seems to work for ALMOST anything else. The only time I regret not having some type of laptop is when I occasionally go to an out-of-town photography workshop and would like to review the day's photos before going to the workshop the next day. Can't take the desktop with me, and the iPAD and iPhone are not suitable.

gasdoc
rgs92
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by rgs92 »

What I like to do at home is to have a powerful quiet desktop and put it about 8-to-10 feet away from me and just have a keyboard and monitor on my desk. The only cables needed are for the monitor (HDMI) and one USB cable to a hub on my desk and one dedicated USB cable to a good audio DAC.
Maybe an ethernet cable too.
Nowizard
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by Nowizard »

Though older and slower to change than younger folks, I love a desktop, the faster response, a large keyboard and a large screen. Boglehead approach says focus on simplicity and cost. Desktop does that for me though IPhone works well when away from the computer. Personal preference the issue.

Tim
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oneleaf
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by oneleaf »

madbrain wrote:
ether161 wrote:Fun fact: if you keep a desktop computer for more than 4 years you'll spend more on electricity than on buying it!
This is not really a fact. This really depends how much you spend on your computer, and how long you use it.
Let's take a $1000 desktop computer with 200W average power consumption including the display. 12 cents/kWh average nationwide electricity rate.
You would have to keep the computer on for 41666 hours before the cost of the electricity would reach that of the computer.
This would be the equivalent of 4.75 years running 24/7 . Most people don't keep their computer running 24/7.
If you use the computer 40 hours a week, it will actually take 20 years for the cost of the electricity to reach the cost of the computer.
My Core i5 Skylake desktop PC with monitor is consuming 30W right now with some light applications running. I also just ran Handbrake (an application that maxes out the cores doing video encoding) and it barely broke 90W. At night when the monitor goes to sleep and everything is idling, it goes into the teens. I am using integrated graphics which is good enough for everyday tasks, including 4k video playback.

Modern CPU's, even desktop variants, are very energy efficient. The only times that a PC will consume a significant amount is if you are running serious graphics cards for workstation or gaming purposes, and in these cases, a desktop PC is necessary and so power consumption is not a matter of concern.
madbrain
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by madbrain »

oneleaf wrote:
madbrain wrote:
ether161 wrote:Fun fact: if you keep a desktop computer for more than 4 years you'll spend more on electricity than on buying it!
This is not really a fact. This really depends how much you spend on your computer, and how long you use it.
Let's take a $1000 desktop computer with 200W average power consumption including the display. 12 cents/kWh average nationwide electricity rate.
You would have to keep the computer on for 41666 hours before the cost of the electricity would reach that of the computer.
This would be the equivalent of 4.75 years running 24/7 . Most people don't keep their computer running 24/7.
If you use the computer 40 hours a week, it will actually take 20 years for the cost of the electricity to reach the cost of the computer.
My Core i5 Skylake desktop PC with monitor is consuming 30W right now with some light applications running. I also just ran Handbrake (an application that maxes out the cores doing video encoding) and it barely broke 90W. At night when the monitor goes to sleep and everything is idling, it goes into the teens. I am using integrated graphics which is good enough for everyday tasks, including 4k video playback.

Modern CPU's, even desktop variants, are very energy efficient. The only times that a PC will consume a significant amount is if you are running serious graphics cards for workstation or gaming purposes, and in these cases, a desktop PC is necessary and so power consumption is not a matter of concern.
I'm afraid my desktop PC(s) are consuming far more energy than that. Each of the 2 30" S-IPS monitors use over 150W alone, the third one is A-IPS and uses about 30W. The 10-drive, 6-core overclocked i7-5820k machine with 32GB RAM and large number of devices uses about 150W idle, up to 300W peak. The audio system is easily another 100W between receiver and the multiple audio interfaces. Of course, this is not a $1000 PC, the parts cost many thousands - each S-IPS monitor alone was $1000, and it's not in use 24/7, so the electricity cost will never come close to the hardware. Everything goes to sleep mode when not in use. I have had a net $0 electric bill also due to solar system the past 6 years. I just added a second plug-in car so that may no longer be the case this year. I may need to expand the solar PV system again - just when my 9.5 kW PV system was about to be fully amortized.
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JDCarpenter
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by JDCarpenter »

Haven't seen this perspective, so FWIW...

We have recently re-upped with desktops. Not so much a performance issue, but a quality of life issue. When we are at home, the computers are on the computer table, not at kitchen table, in the library, or out on the deck when we are watching wildlife.... Forces us to keep our attention on real life.

Of course, we are old (50s), and also have our pixels on hip and an HP spectre floating around to tempt us toward the dark side!
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Angelus359
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by Angelus359 »

madbrain wrote:
oneleaf wrote:
madbrain wrote:
ether161 wrote:Fun fact: if you keep a desktop computer for more than 4 years you'll spend more on electricity than on buying it!
This is not really a fact. This really depends how much you spend on your computer, and how long you use it.
Let's take a $1000 desktop computer with 200W average power consumption including the display. 12 cents/kWh average nationwide electricity rate.
You would have to keep the computer on for 41666 hours before the cost of the electricity would reach that of the computer.
This would be the equivalent of 4.75 years running 24/7 . Most people don't keep their computer running 24/7.
If you use the computer 40 hours a week, it will actually take 20 years for the cost of the electricity to reach the cost of the computer.
My Core i5 Skylake desktop PC with monitor is consuming 30W right now with some light applications running. I also just ran Handbrake (an application that maxes out the cores doing video encoding) and it barely broke 90W. At night when the monitor goes to sleep and everything is idling, it goes into the teens. I am using integrated graphics which is good enough for everyday tasks, including 4k video playback.

Modern CPU's, even desktop variants, are very energy efficient. The only times that a PC will consume a significant amount is if you are running serious graphics cards for workstation or gaming purposes, and in these cases, a desktop PC is necessary and so power consumption is not a matter of concern.
I'm afraid my desktop PC(s) are consuming far more energy than that. Each of the 2 30" S-IPS monitors use over 150W alone, the third one is A-IPS and uses about 30W. The 10-drive, 6-core overclocked i7-5820k machine with 32GB RAM and large number of devices uses about 150W idle, up to 300W peak. The audio system is easily another 100W between receiver and the multiple audio interfaces. Of course, this is not a $1000 PC, the parts cost many thousands - each S-IPS monitor alone was $1000, and it's not in use 24/7, so the electricity cost will never come close to the hardware. Everything goes to sleep mode when not in use. I have had a net $0 electric bill also due to solar system the past 6 years. I just added a second plug-in car so that may no longer be the case this year. I may need to expand the solar PV system again - just when my 9.5 kW PV system was about to be fully amortized.
My ups claims my desktop and monitor idle together at 54w while on, and it sleeps after a half hour of idle.

Sleep mode is reading at 0w. Not sure how accurate that is.

At 54w, active maybe 4 hours per day, that's 0.054x4x365... 78 kilowatt hours per year assuming idle power. Browsing the internet will race back to idle quickly, especially considering I run ublock origin and privacy badger, and flash is disabled.

78kwh at .12 is under 10$.
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misterno
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by misterno »

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
misterno wrote:I bought a Dell OptiPlex used
What was your source?
It was on Ebay

This is what I got

Dell Optiplex Small Form Factor Desktop PC Tower Computer Core 2 Duo 80GB HDD
Windows: Windows 10
Optiplex: 755
RAM: 8GB

Search ebay, you should find something similar

Quietest fastest computer I ever had
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LadyGeek
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (computer).
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chuckb84
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by chuckb84 »

Everyone will have different opinions based on their usage, but I'd go for a top end laptop and a docking setup. That way you can have keyboard, mouse, trackpad, external storage device, a really big monitor, and then still pick up the laptop and take it with you. I can't stand a computer I can only use in one location.

But, if you go that route, get a good graphics card, lots of memory, etc, and really max out the laptop.

I used that approach for my last ten years at work, and it was wonderful.
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Youngblood
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by Youngblood »

Desktop is my first choice. I wouldn't give up my Surface Pro 4 either as a full back up computer. At current prices, most everyone can afford both desktop and laptop unless they just don't want to.

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dougp29
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by dougp29 »

I'm still using an iMac and will be buying a new one with the biggest screen available. It's my primary computer. Love seeing things on a larger screen than a laptop affords.
bondsr4me
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by bondsr4me »

Youngblood wrote:Desktop is my first choice. I wouldn't give up my Surface Pro 4 either as a full back up computer. At current prices, most everyone can afford both desktop and laptop unless they just don't want too.

YB
+1 on the Surface Pro 4.
I have been a confirmed MBP/iPad user since 2006, but my SP4 is one fantastic machine.
I really like the adjustable kickstand and I have no complaints with W10.
The SP4 is very lightweight on my lap while watching TV.
I love Apple products but they are pricing themselves outta my market.
SP4 is a fantastic product IMHO.

Don
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Midpack
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by Midpack »

Like more and more people, I probably own my last desktop PC. When it dies, I'll get a laptop if anything.

https://www.wired.com/2015/07/death-pc- ... aggerated/

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lightheir
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by lightheir »

I do think the answer depends (of course) on what your favorite use is.

For sure though, the performance gap between desktops, laptops, tablets, and even phones, have dramatically decreased for common web surfing and office productivity apps to the point that I'd happily use my phone my 'home computer' so long as I could easily connect it with a large monitor (surprisingly not easy to do) and external keyboard/mouse (easy with BT).

If you prefer doing all/most of your computer stuff in one place at home, the desktop is great.

If you value the portability factor and like to move around, tablets/laptops are great.

I myself use a laptop that's docked at home to external 22" monitor and keyboard/mouse so it's in effect a desktop, and that works great too, although to be honest, I don't think there's anything special about this setup - I'd actually wager that a pure desktop setup + tablet or phone is just as good and same cost unless you really are a work-on-the-road warrior.

I've bought my wife her own laptop, let her use my desktop and tablet whenever, but as a non-PC type person, she uses her phone for everything at least 98% of the time. I swear she types faster on the phone than on a keyboard!

I however, def wouldn't call a desktop a particularly good 'investment' compared to the other computer devices out there. I'd say it's equal, and is better/worse depending on your use situations. Unless you're a 3-D gamer, your desktop will be hugely overpowered for typical web browsing and office work, so you will have no need to upgrade it, so forget about the idea of saving money by swapping stuff in/out of the desktop. Do that only if you enjoy the process of swapping/building computers - else it's a complete waste of time and energy given how cheap it is to buy and replace hardware.
Chip
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by Chip »

Angelus359 wrote:This is not really a fact. This really depends how much you spend on your computer, and how long you use it.
Agreed, it's not even close to a fact. My Kill o watt meter rates my entire desktop system at 90W when doing heavy processing, 75W for light processing. I have it set to sleep after 15 minutes of idle time. Kill o watt says 0W during sleep, but I bet it's really 2 or 3W.

At 85W for 8 hr/day and $.12/kwh that's $112 for 4 years. And I don't use it for nearly 8 hours/day. And I certainly spent more than $112 for the computer.
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telemark
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by telemark »

letsgobobby wrote:my 6 year old Gateway desktop is slowing down. I use it primarily for accessing financial websites and doing some really light Excel stuff that I don't want stored on a cloud.

I have run malwarebytes, CC cleaner, and all the Windows 7 security stuff and it is still slow. Is there anything else I can do to speed it up? Or should I just get a new desktop? I like the desktop for the larger keyboard and of course I already have a screen.
The obvious next step is to replace the hard drive with a solid state drive (SSD). The prices on those have really come down. I've also noticed that the Web in general is getting slower and slower as sites keep loading up their pages with more and more CPU-clogging Javascript. This trend seems likely to continue.
spammagnet
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by spammagnet »

letsgobobby wrote:The obvious next step is to replace the hard drive with a solid state drive (SSD). The prices on those have really come down.
An SSD results in a huge performance boost vs a HDD in an older desktop. It definitely extends the usable life of the computer. If you store a lot of pictures and videos, keep the HDD as a separate data storage drive in the same computer. Those types of files consume a lot of space and don't benefit as much from the faster performance of the SSD.

A bit of extra RAM helps, if the motherboard permits, but not as dramatically as an SSD. If replacing RAM, get matched sets. Having different types at the same time is not ideal. Kinda like unmatched tires on a car.
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Alexa9
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Re: Desktop Computer - Still relevant? Good investment?

Post by Alexa9 »

I like computing in bed on a large TV hooked up to a desktop with HDMI. TV prices have come way down. Sold my laptop and tablet. Currently contemplating a computer for the living room TV but Apple is slow to update their desktops. Mac Mini is 870 days old. Mac Pro is 1171 days old.
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