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I’ve recently been considering a change in my desktop PC at home. My Dell Zino HD, I love for its compact size but, I have to say, it’s just a bit sluggish these days, mainly because of its mobile processor.

So I got thinking about the specification that I’d need. Again, I want something small that can go on the desk, rather a large tower that you shove under it. In fact, most of the specifications would need to be similar to what I have now, just with a faster processor.

In fact, I should add that I’m only after the base – I already have a very good 27″ Dell monitor.

I think the minimum would have to be…

  • Intel Core i5 processor
  • 6GB memory
  • Windows 7 64-bit OS
  • DVD writer
  • 1TB hard drive
  • USB 3.0

None of the above should be too taxing. However, it’s my requirement for something small and quiet that seriously restricts the possibilities. I like to have something on the desk, not under, and that’s why I really want something compact and, for this reason, something good looking too. However, it shouldn’t be a big deal – you can get all of the above specification in a laptop which is far smaller than my desktop footprint requirement.

There is something available – the Lenovo H520S. It’s not yet available in the UK 1 but a look at the product in the US shows it to be reasonable priced – unfortunately they only have it with a Core i3 processor (the UK site shows that it should be available with up to Core i7 so I suspect this is simply a stocking issue in the US).

When it comes to small desktops that look exeptionally nice then you’d have to go a lon way to find something better looking than the Lenovo Q180 (pictured above). Sadly, it’s only available with an Atom processor.

Otherwise, I’m struggling – small desktop PCs simply don’t appear to be popular, which is odd considering the populararity these days of laptops (so people want small and convenient but not when it comes to a desktop?). Indeed, those small footprint desktop that you do find appear to be intended as media machines – ASRock, for instance, produc e a number of good looking desktops of this type but are expensive because of their 3D media capabilities. In fact my Dell Zino HD is intended as a media PC too.

This got me thinking of what I’d want in my next laptop (not that I’m looking for one right now, I should add). Right now I’d want…

  • Intel Core i5 processor
  • 4GB memory
  • Windows 7 64-bit OS
  • Solid State drive
  • USB 3.0
  • 13-14″ screen
  • Built-in webcam and microphone
  • Good battery life (5 hours+)
  • Non-glossy screen (optional but nice to have)

I don’t mention the size of the SSD simply because I don’t need anything of any size – 64GB would be more than enough. On my laptop I store pretty much everything in Dropbox in just a few GB. All photo and music storage is on my phone, desktop PC or NAS.

I should also add that I’m also wanting a laptop that looks good too – no black slabs of plastic!

If I thought looking for the desktop was difficult, a reasonably prices laptop with the above specification is even harder!

The problem here is wanting that SSD (which I want for robustness – I throw my laptop in my bag regularly and always worry about that mechanical drive. However, the increase in speed is always welcome too) – most companies are only putting these in their top-of-the-range laptops. As I’m also specifying a sub-15″ screen that means I often end up in Ultrabook territory. And then it gets scarily priced. The thing is, I haven’t asked for ultimate thinness – the specification I mention is quite reasonable.

Looking at both the Dell and Samsung websites my only choice is an expensive Ultrabook (usually £1000+).

The Lenovo website is currently not selling their Edge range (the likely candidates) – I’m assuming because of a change in models. Looking at the US Lenovo site they do have them for sale but they simply don’t anything that matches the requirements of above (again with going to Ultrabook range).

My conclusion can only be that it’s a good job I’m not actively searching for a laptop right now as the only way I could get what I want is to ditch the idea of an SSD.

As for the desktop, I’m still awaiting Lenovo UK to get back to me with whether the H520s will ever be available in the UK. Meantime, if anybody else knows of something that fits my criteria please let me know.

I think I've found it!

It’s always the way – after weeks of searching you submit an article about what appears to be fruitless search. only to find what you were looking for days later!

My desktop of choice would be the Chillblast Fusion Dagger Ultimate. Set in a SilverStone small-form-factor case, it’s designed as a gaming PC. However, ChillBlast allow you to downgrade components as easily as upgrade them. In particular, if you go for the Ivy Bridge i5 3570K processor you’ll also get the built-in HD 4000 GPU. To put this into context, this GPU is much more powerful than the cheapest separate graphics card that Chillblast offer.

The laptop is not so definate but certainly appears to be the top contender. The Sony Vaio T series is an Ultrabook at a competitive price. Specifying the base model with an increase of memory to 6GB and a 128GB SSD came to under £770 at Sony (that’s including VAT). For an Ultrabook that’s a competitive price.

Quidco currently give 6% back from Sony (sadly, Chillblast isn’t on Quidco) which is about £46.

  1. I’ve tweeted to Lenovo UK asking them about a UK release but they haven’t responded[]