A New Toy: HP EliteDesk 800 G4 Mini PC

I just bought a thing.

It has been a refresher lesson in Intel CPUs for me, as well as a revisitation of what my financial pain threshold is. Even this ($288) is a bit above what I wanted to comfortably pay, as I need to drop more RAM into it. I already have a spare SSD (don’t trust preinstalled OS machines!!!), and I may have a spare NVMe kicking around, as well.

I will be installing the virtual machine server, Proxmox, on here. I have an old Dell OptiPlex SFF box from my father that I wanted to use for this, but it is too under-powered (Core2Duo) for VMs. This one has an i5-8600T, which is 6 cores and threads, and runs up to 3.7GHz at 35 watts. I need to figure out if I want to go 16GB RAM or 32 (max).

I was targeting a 10th Gen i5, after seeing the insane costs of i7s, but the cost! Oh, the cost! So I started rolling back through the generations until I started to feel like I hit my sweet spot of features versus cost. I’d rather that this thing shipped with 16GB RAM already in there for the cost, but it was the cheapest i5-8600T available.

The first VM I am going to install will be Win10. I know, I know. But there is a network monitoring software that I want to try out (PRTG) that only runs on Windows. I’ll then load up Debian for kicking around in, and maybe some other “appliance” type stuff.

BTW, if you had not heard about how the chip shortage is impacting Raspberry Pi prices, go to Amazon and search for “Cana Kit Raspberry Pi 8GB”, which is the biggest mekka-mekka Pi that you can get. I don’t even have an 8GB. I have two 4GB and a 1GB. I’d like two more 4GB, but not until the prices come back down to Earth. I think the 4GB should be $55 for just the board, and the 8GB should be $75. So the cost of that Cana Kit is just insane. In fact, it is so bad out there that there is a web site set up to track availability (https://rpilocator.com). I have my Home Assistant subscribed to its RSS feed, so when they update the list, I get a notification on my phone! I need something to do, so this HP EliteDesk is it.

I am thinking about how one of these jobbers would be awesome for my hermit BiL. He lives in a tiny house, basically, in someone’s backyard in North Attleboro. The living room is also his bedroom. That kind of a deal. He also has the same PC that I built for him a long while back. I think it is a Core2Quad rig. And it is housed in a gigantic, albeit very nice, full-sized Antec case from the early Aughts. Even one of these older little jobs would be more powerful than what he has now, take up less space, and consume less electricity.

I was messing around (obviously, I am not having the most productive day at work ever) earlier with the seemingly useless Windows 10 feature of Project to Screen. I was shocked to see my Rokus both listed in there, so I clicked on the living room one. A few seconds later, Calin yelled in at me “Daddy? Why am I seeing your work laptop on the TV?” It finally works! I am not sure if BiL has a Roku, or even what is up with his TV these days. HDMI…maybe?

And that brought me back to the usual deal killer of the living room PC: the keyboard and mouse. Logitech seemed to make one that was really nice (K830 TV), but they discontinued it, of course.

If I were a bachelor hermit living in a tiny house, I’d have ditched the PC for a laptop a long time ago, but now I am thinking that one of these little business-class jobbers lashed to the TV is an even better idea. There seem to be a million different ways to roll these tiny PCs, including better integrated graphics. He’s not a gamer, but he does like to watch YouTube and movies on his PC, so he doesn’t need some big honking GPU. But, all of this combined might be too much change for him at once, I am afraid. Plus, it might involve allowing me into the Fortress of Solitude once or twice to get it dialed in. Be a hell of an improvement, though.

Anyway, back to reading the service manual. My model is shipping with a Serial adapter (yeah, a DB9 port) installed, but I found a source for the other adapters. VGA? HDMI? USB-C? Sure! Each is $17.95. I am thinking VGA, as that is the native type on the 8000 year old 4:3 LCD I use at the network rack, which is where this box will spend its days.

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