Can't decide on a (compact) APU system

Rik

Minimal Tinkerer
Original poster
Oct 12, 2017
3
1
Hi SFF community! I'm new here, have been lurking and learning for a while, but as I'm looking for some advice now, I registered and am now making this post. The motherboard on my last PC died , and with that PC being from 2010, I decided not to source a replacement part but rather go for a new system. My last PC was a fullsize ATX tower, but I have become interested in small form factors to replace my desktop.

The most demanding task I want to be able to do is edit 1080p video, preferably in Sony Vegas (without applying many effects). I'd like to get back into some light gaming with story rich point & click puzzle / mystery games, so superhigh framerates for fast-paced action are not really necessary. It would be a big plus if the system is as compact and power efficient as possible. I want to use the system together with a single 1920x1080 monitor that I already have. With these requirements and preferring a system without any unnecessary parts, I was planning to get a APU/iGPU system without a dedicated graphics card. (If you do think I need one, let me know however.)

Now when I currently work outside the house, I use my Toshiba Chromebook 2. I like this laptop, but it's 2.5 years old now, and it will eventually die. I am considering to get a system so compact that I can use it as a portable PC, also replacing my laptop. To do this, I consider buying an Asus Zenscreen monitor, so it would be nice if the new PC had support for DP alt mode over USB-C. (I expect to generally have power sockets available when working away from home so I don't think I'll miss a battery.) As far as budget goes, I want a system that meets all my needs as inexpensively as possible.

One system that seems to check all my boxes is the Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK. I am slightly put off however by the fact that it is already over a year old and still quite expensive (in Europe). There doesn't seem to be an equivalent successor on the planning; the announced Hades Canyon will have a dGPU, and I therefore expect it to be even more expensive and less power efficient. The Bean Canyon NUCs will be more powerful than current conventional NUCs but less powerful than the Skull Canyon. Also, I don't really want to wait that long for something new to come out, as I am already managing with only a Chromebook for almost a year.

I suppose I could go for a (Raven Ridge?) laptop that can (barely?) handle all my tasks, but I am afraid that it will have a shorter lifespan, be less repairable and think the setup at home where I'll mostly use it, with an external monitor, keyboard and mouse will be suboptimal.
I consider the Asrock Deskmini 110 and like the inexpensiveness of this option, but am put off by the restriction to weak graphics.
I consider building a mini-ITX system with Raven Ridge in a case like the In-Win BQ656, but that wil already be considerably larger and heavier, so I will probably end up buying another laptop due to the lack of portabiity. I'm also put off by having to wait a long time for Raven Ridge desktop to come out.

This post became longer than I thought, but if any of you made it through, I'd appreciate some advice! What would you do in my situation? Thanks in advance!
 
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ChainedHope

Airflow Optimizer
Jun 5, 2016
306
459
Okay so I see two options. Personally I would go with option 1, but as you care about portability I would go with option 2. This way you can also phase out your older chromebook as it becomes necessary or keep the chromebook as a backup.

1) Get the nuc.
The skullcanyon nuc is really decent and the games you described will play fine on it. It will also do "enough" when considering video editing as Im assuming your 5 year old system is probably 30-35% slower depending on what it had in it and im assuming that PC was enough for you for video editing. You want something portable enough to be comparable to a Laptop from what Im reading which mITX, mSTX, and uSTX aren't going to offer you. Its argueable you could get an S4 Mini and shove a system into it for portability but its still a bit larger than the NUC and its going to be the more costly option. The small size of this nuc can easily be shoved in a bag or in your pocket (depending on how big your pockets are) and the power adapter is quite portable as well, this would leave only finding a portable monitor (like a GeChic or Ipad mod) and something to hold everything for the "ultimate" portable PC setup you could get that would be close to a laptop.

2) Get a laptop
a) Get something standard
Aim for something in the $800-$1000 range for what your looking for (i7, no gpu or low cost gpu option). I can recommend the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 and Razer Blade Stealth as decent laptops that I have had no issues with.

b) Get something repairable
For an alternative I recommend the Eluktronics W650KK1. The Eluktronics laptop is a barebones that uses desktop components and has a 1050Ti. Its $500 but you need to get a CPU, Storage, and RAM to add into it. This makes it easy to replace parts if they break in the future but sadly its only avaliable with an H170 chipset (i7-7700 for example). It also doesnt allow for K processors and I'd really only use a T model processor if you go this route to save on battery life (i7-7700T for example).
 
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Rik

Minimal Tinkerer
Original poster
Oct 12, 2017
3
1
Thank you, that cleared stuff up! I think a laptop might after all be better suited to my medium-power and high-mobility demands. (And this forum might not be the place to be for me anymore, haha.) The complete NUC + peripherals system would probably end up being more expensive than a laptop with similar performance and at home I can always connect the laptop to an external monitor, mouse and keyboard for better ergonomics and larger screen. The laptops you suggested look nice but pricing seems to be different here in Europe (Netherlands). I like the Eluktronics W650KK1 but don't find anthing similar that's available here. Here it seems the Acer Aspire 7 would be a good offering for the price. But still it might be best to try and be patient because I expect the Raven Ridge machines that will come out next year to be better than current offerings with similar performance (lighter, thinner, better battery life and hopefully less expensive due to absence of dGPU).
 

ChainedHope

Airflow Optimizer
Jun 5, 2016
306
459
Yeah prices I gave were in USD, theres always ~9-15% markup when it goes over seas.

Make sure you look at reviews over any laptop you are looking for and also check sites like SlickDeals to see if anything is on sell that would be a better option.

I wouldn't put much hope in the raven ridge APUs. Sure you should wait since they should be released in the next 2-3 months to make sure.
 
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yensteel

Caliper Novice
Aug 10, 2017
30
28
I think this laptop is a good balance between price and performance. $600 usd, Mx 150 (GT 1030 equivalent), not too heavy either. Performs around the same as a Skull NUC but I need to double check.


If you care about gaming performance a $800 gaming laptop is more fps per buck with a 1050.