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 Post subject: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:25 pm 
Little Foot
Little Foot

Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 1:22 pm
Posts: 190
I'm building a brand new computer for a relative. It needs to be cheap (I think the initial quote was 600-800) but I think the price is kind of flexible. This should be a pretty basic computer, with possibly one twist.
It will be used almost entirely for internet access (they will have dozens of tabs open, so I'm thinking ram might be a good place to invest) and office. It's also used for music and photo storage and some skyping, but not exactly video encoding and gaming.

It needs to last a while, though, because the chances of getting them to upgrade it any time soon is about zero.

Another huge consideration is the environment. The computer sits next to the family dog's bed area, so it is completely covered in fur. I haven't opened their current computer yet, but I'm guessing it looks like a horror movie in there. The chances of them opening the case to do any type of cleaning are probably zero, so this could pose a big problem. I don't think there is going to be any budget for water cooling, so I don't really know where to go with this.

Here is a preliminary build. I don't really know what I'm doing, as I usually only look int the higher end of things.

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/i4hn

It's a bit pricy (I forgot about the cost of the OS), and I know I could probably do without a videocard, but it feels wrong.

Feel free to rip that build to shreds! Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:30 pm 
8086
8086

Joined: Wed Jul 04, 2012 1:14 am
Posts: 74
looks pretty decent to me for the needs u suggested. i would put an ssd on the list also for the OS (ocz vertex 4 ). but that might be over kill, your kids prob wouldnt care. dont see that memory supported. maybe i missed it, maybe not a problem?

http://dlcdnet.asus.com/pub/ASUS/mb/LGA ... AM_QVL.pdf


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:47 pm 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5234
Somethings I'd do to help lower the cost:
  • Processor should be no more than a Core i3. You could get a 3240T, which is designed for low power use. Or a Pentium G2120/G2100T
  • 4GB of RAM is fine. You could also just get the 8GB Samsung kit for like $50
  • Assume they're not smart enough to muck with installs and stuff in case they do that. If you plan on getting an SSD, a 128GB should give enough space for this, and just move the user's directory on a hard drive.
  • Don't get them a video card if they're not gaming. If the little one does, then consider a regular Core i3

I think you can get down to like a $500 build with this.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:49 pm 
Klamath
Klamath

Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 6:24 pm
Posts: 286
trl288 wrote:
...Feel free to rip that build to shreds! Thanks!

You asked for it :twisted: But I'll be nice kinda sorta maybe :mrgreen:

- Swap that windowed gamer case for something more appropriate. I think your relative might not appreciate the light show from inside that case in which you allotted $100 of your $600 budget. So I am certain you can find something more conservative and cheaper. A lot of newer cases have washable dust filters of some sort in front - this obviously won't solve pet hair and massive dust build up, but it can help.

- I considered, but ultimately went against, a cheaper Core i3 CPU, because moving up to the i5 does a few cool things:
1) Intel HD 4000 on-board graphics that I read is actually useful and probably perfect for your build
2) With no need for a GPU, the extra cost of the i5 over the i3 makes financial sense
3) The i5 is at least 20% faster than the i3, so your family will get more out of it for a longer time

- While the ASUS mobo is a solid choice, I suggest considering saving $30 and getting the budget ASRock mobo because of limited budget

- For your purposes, RAM is RAM. Get cheap but decent RAM.

- A 2 TB HDD is only marginally more expensive than a 1 TB HDD. Spend the money where it counts.

- Your Power PC PSU is solid, but consider a smaller PSU (especially since there is no GPU) that is on sale!

- No monitor / kb / mouse / speakers / etc?

So here is the resulting build:
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/i4UT

So whoever is next, feel free to rip it to shreds :mrgreen:

EDIT: I forgot about an SSD. Imho don't give them one. That may sound cruel, but first, it's hard to justify allotting about $60-80 (at least 10% of your total budget) for a boot drive to save maybe 30 seconds a day for the casual user. Second, if you include an SSD, what will the consequences be? Will your relatives use it appropriately or will they end up needlessly filling it up and complaining to you about whatever resulting issues?


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:07 am 
Clawhammer
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Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2005 6:22 pm
Posts: 4406
Location: In the closet
CPU ~ Intel Core i3-2105, $122
MOBO ~ GIGABYTE GA-Z68AP-D3, $80
RAM1 ~ Samsung 8GB (2x4) 1600, $38
RAM2 ~ G.Skill 4GB (2x2) 1333, $20
GPU ~ Radeon HD 7750, $90
HDD ~ Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB, $70
ODD ~ Samsung 22x DVD sH-222, $14
PSU ~ Corsair CX430 V2 430W, $25
Case ~ Fractal Design Core 3000, $39

$478 total for 8GB
$388 total for 8GB and iGPU

$460 total for 4GB
$370 total for 4GB and iGPU


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:22 pm 
Coppermine
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Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:40 pm
Posts: 701
Kleinkinstein has the right idea, though I would go with an i5 (like the i5 2310). A little more flexibility when running multiple programs and the speed is decent.

And don't forget AMD - for a mid-performance build, their CPUs would be fine.

I would also pass on getting an SSD. There is too much headache for the average user to make sure they are consistently putting files and programs and the correct drive. I would bet money you would receive a phone call in about 6 months because they ran out of hard drive space.

I personally like having a discrete GPU, but you can go with an Ivy Bridge CPU and get the HD 4000 integrated. Just be sure the CPU has the HD 4000 (some Ivy Bridge still have the older integrated graphics). And again, an AMD CPU like the 3870k has an integrated GPU that will rival many mid-performance GPUs.

16GB of RAM is way too much - 8GB should be fine.

For a case, I would recommend the Antec Three Hundred Two. Cheaper than the one you selected and the fan grills do help catch some of the dog fur. You'll have to tell them they need to clean it off periodically; and you might as well prepare yourself for cleaning the insides when you see them over the holidays.

Hope this helps.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:05 pm 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5234
In the case of OP's requirements and projected usage patterns, a Core i5 would be actually be overkill in this case. In fact, I would put a Core i3 on borderline overkill. Why? Consider that a comparably pitiful Cortex A9-A15 is what powers tablets these days, which would more than satisfy OP's usage patterns (not saying he should get a tablet). With proper maintenance (telling them to run CCleaner every week), the computer will run just fine for years to come. "Everyday" software is almost a joke to run on modern processors.

So I would advise against a Core i5 just to keep costs down. A program's response time is more related to context switching... So smooth performance for light usage is more on RAM than CPU (most programs OP is expecting the family to run are IO bound). Though it did slip my mind to recommend AMD. An A8 APU would probably satisfy everything and then some.

And a discrete card is kind of also "meh" in this case, considering that nobody seems to be a PC gamer. Keep in mind that most PC titles released in the past 7 years have a console port, and the PC exclusives either require a $800 rig to run nicely or run just fine on iGPUs.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:37 am 
Little Foot
Little Foot

Joined: Sat Dec 02, 2006 4:58 am
Posts: 107
trl288 wrote:
Another huge consideration is the environment. The computer sits next to the family dog's bed area, so it is completely covered in fur. I haven't opened their current computer yet, but I'm guessing it looks like a horror movie in there. The chances of them opening the case to do any type of cleaning are probably zero, so this could pose a big problem. I don't think there is going to be any budget for water cooling, so I don't really know where to go with this.


Consider, thinking outside the box - or maybe getting rid of the box completely. This sounds like a good candidate to have an all-in-one solution and can be had relatively cheaply, something like this:

Lenovo outlet IdeaCentre B520

Model Highlights
Part number: 7745XB5
Condition
Refurbished
Processor
Intel® Core™ i5-2320 Processor (6M Cache, 3.00 GHz)( )
Operating system
Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium 64 - English
Graphics
NVIDIA® GeForce® 555M
Memory
8GB (2 X 4GB) PC3-10600 DDR3 1333MHz SDRAM SODIMM Memory
Display
23.0" Full HD (1920 x 1080) MultiTouch LED backlight w/ 0.3MP Camera"
Pointing device
Bluetooth full-size 6-row 104-key keyboard, Bluetooth Laser Wheel Mouse, MCE remote control (40-button)
Hard Drive
1TB, 7200RPM Serial ATA 3.5" Hard Drive
Optical Drive
Blu-ray Ultrabay Slim (Serial ATA)
Battery
No Battery Included - Desktop
Network Card
11b/g/n Wi-Fi wireless
Bluetooth
Bluetooth
WWAN
No WWAN Supported
Finger Print Reader
No Fingerprint Reader
Warranty
1 Year Standard Depot Warranty
Form Factor
All-in-one - Black and silver
-----
Outlet price:$1,040.01
Outlet sale price:$832.01
After eCoupon:
$624.01
You save:$416.00
After eCoupon:
OUTLETEMPLOYEEPRICE

Only 3 left!


Not to bad, under $625 23" display and all - the all-in-one keeps clutter down and away from the pets 8)


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:07 pm 
Thunderbird
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Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2007 6:17 pm
Posts: 848
Location: Phoenix, AZ
I had an list of items for a 3 month old build I did for a similar family, and the suggestions were uniformly darned good. But after seeing rico's suggestion there is nothing left. A complete refurb system for $416 with a 1 yr warranty from Lenovo! i5/8Gb/1Tb 7,200RPM HDD/discrete graphics/23" screen/BD player/wireless keyboard & mouse.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 1:46 am 
Klamath
Klamath

Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 6:24 pm
Posts: 286
^ It's $624.01 (you read the "You saved" number lol) and it is a refurb true, but it is a Lenovo woohoo. Yeah not a bad option at all. But there's nothing to build then! :mrgreen:
LatiosXT wrote:
In the case of OP's requirements and projected usage patterns, a Core i5 would be actually be overkill in this case. In fact, I would put a Core i3 on borderline overkill...

I may change my mind and agree with LatiosXT if the OP will answer my inquiry re the potential usage. Specifically, what is this build replacing? Or how old is the PC that just died? Or if the family never had a PC, how long will they conceivably use this future machine? My guess is that this new PC is going to be it until it literally dies. So why not spend an extra $150 or so and try to make it last as long as possible.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 9:40 am 
Boy in Black
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Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 1:40 pm
Posts: 24339
Location: South of heaven
I'll back Kleinkinstein's suggestion fully as well! It's everything they basically need. But with a twist of course...

They don't need more graphical power than the HD2000 the 2105 offers, but you can get an IB 3225 w/ HD4000 just to shore up that a bit for the same money basically (Ok, the price just rose to $144 since the last stocking. It [i]was[i] $132 when I picked up mine). I'm a big fan of iTX as well as most of these basic computers can be made really small and not give up performance. An Antec ISC300-150 is about $85 which pushes the price up just a tad from Kleink's, but you're not buying a PSU either as it comes with one. An Asus P8H61-I is about $85, but can be found open box for about $60 along with a P8H77-I I've seen a lot for $80 flat (and picked up).

Run the iGPU, stab in 8G of memory (it's cheap), and a little Momentus XT (pick your size), and it's really a killer build for such a small footprint and price. I'm stamping these things out and they're replacing many towers left and right. No complaints, but a lot of "wow's" being kicked back.

Fractal's Core 1000 is pretty small and only $35 (love the Fractals!), but still a giant when the Antec ISK300 is sat beside it. The Core 1000 is on par with the size of the Coolermaster Elite 360/361, and doesn't have the funky proprietary internal patch cable for power that does in fact randomly fail. The Core is also shorter in depth so it can fit in common counter shelves if that's a qualifying specification. I hide my 1000 in the garage shelves where the Elite 360 won't fit and has to sit on a counter; but an ISK-300 could go either way and wouldn't bother me a bit.

If I were building for your stated uses, I'd go iTX
LatiosXT wrote:
A program's response time is more related to context switching... So smooth performance for light usage is more on RAM than CPU (most programs OP is expecting the family to run are IO bound)
An SSD effects a program's response more than either the CPU or RAM.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:11 am 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5234
Chumly wrote:
An SSD effects a program's response more than either the CPU or RAM.

If response time is loading, then yes. However, laggy response time when the program is running only happens if the program needs to access secondary memory. Which in what OP's purpose for this build is, the only thing that will ping that to noticeable detriment is the internet browser.

And even then I'm not really sure loading times will be affected much, considering that Windows will just prefetch and cache everything they'd use anyway. Unless they run a bazillion programs.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 7:01 pm 
Little Foot
Little Foot

Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 1:22 pm
Posts: 190
OK, thanks for all the feedback so far!
I think I'm going to go with an i5 for longetivity sake and use the built in videocard. I think that probably gives me the best combination of price and longetivity. I'm hoping I can convince them to upgrade piecemeal every couple years instead of waiting 8 to completely rebuild and have a horrible computer for the last 4 years of the life, but that might be what I'm stuck with.

I don't have time to write a full reply tonight, but I'll go over some of my thought processes.
I have a desktop with 6 gigs of ram and a laptop with 8, and i also suffer from having a ton oftabs open, and ive found that neither of my computers have enough ram. That's why I initially thought of 16 gigs, because that's the most important part of their system, ram is cheap, and its already limiting on mine with 8 gigs. I think I will go with 8 because it's cheap, and if I have extra money I
lll upgrade. Or at the least I'll make sure I get a 2x4 gig so I can upgrade them to another 8 later on.
I think the SSD might be nice. Im not worried about them getting confused. They are currently running an ancient computer( I dont know the stats off the top of my head, but it has a pentium processor in it and a 4:3 screen) The HDD total space is 32 gigs. Total. So a 64 gig SSD and a 1 TB hdd would be fine for them (granted, they want to start putting their pictures on it, so I will need a nice sized hdd. I might get a 1.5 or 2 depending on the price)
I can do what I do on my current desktop, which is just "move target" on downloads, docs, pictures, videos, etc. Whenever they save a file, it will always default to one of these places (whether it is from the internet or a camera or whatever) unless they put it on the desktop, so all files not on the desktop will go right to the HDD and not to the SSD. It's what I use, its transparent and fool proof i think. They dont keep files on the desktop, so that should be ok.

So ya. The thing im most lost on are cases, since there are so many options at a cheap price and i dont know how to compare. Additional ideas there would be helpful, although there are plenty of good ideas here already.
Thats it for tonight- thanks for the info so far!


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:28 pm 
Klamath
Klamath

Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 6:24 pm
Posts: 286
trl288 wrote:
...I'm hoping I can convince them to upgrade piecemeal every couple years instead of waiting 8 to completely rebuild and have a horrible computer for the last 4 years of the life, but that might be what I'm stuck with...

No one knows what will happen in 4 or 8 years, but I'd wager that by that time, a replacement might be better than any significant upgrades. Sheesh technology is crazy fast. With an i5 CPU, 4 years should be no problem.

trl288 wrote:
...I have a desktop with 6 gigs of ram and a laptop with 8, and i also suffer from having a ton oftabs open, and ive found that neither of my computers have enough ram. That's why I initially thought of 16 gigs...

Different RAM on a different system. 3 sticks x 2 GB of DDR2 800 RAM on your desktop I'll guess? DDR3 is maybe double the speed or something like that. And that's just the RAM.

trl288 wrote:
...The thing im most lost on are cases, since there are so many options at a cheap price and i dont know how to compare...

The most important thing in purchasing a case is buying one that will accomodate your motherboard. The mobo should have the same "form factor" as the case. But it's not difficult, as most cases and mobos are ATX. Cases come in variations of ATX - full tower, mid tower, and others, that really denote size and ability to hold parts. For most consumers, a mid tower ATX case will work well.

The second most important aspect of a case is how it looks to you. At least imho :mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:55 pm 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5234
trl288 wrote:
I think I'm going to go with an i5 for longetivity sake and use the built in videocard. I think that probably gives me the best combination of price and longetivity. I'm hoping I can convince them to upgrade piecemeal every couple years instead of waiting 8 to completely rebuild and have a horrible computer for the last 4 years of the life, but that might be what I'm stuck with.

The problem though is Intel's has no upgrade path, and despite what it appears, AMD only has a slightly longer upgrade path (or rather... you can upgrade the motherboard and keep the processor, then upgrade the processor). So the whole "upgrade" thing is sort of a moot point either way. I find it more cost effective just to let the system last as long as it can. There's also the fact that once DDR4 comes out, I'm not hopeful that anyone will have a backwards compatible solution as DDR4 is an revolutionary change, not an evolutionary one like DDR through DDR3 have been.

Quote:
I have a desktop with 6 gigs of ram and a laptop with 8, and i also suffer from having a ton oftabs open, and ive found that neither of my computers have enough ram. That's why I initially thought of 16 gigs, because that's the most important part of their system, ram is cheap, and its already limiting on mine with 8 gigs. I think I will go with 8 because it's cheap, and if I have extra money I lll upgrade. Or at the least I'll make sure I get a 2x4 gig so I can upgrade them to another 8 later on.

How do you blow your memory on browsing the internet? I rarely spike over 800MB of use on Firefox.

Quote:
I can do what I do on my current desktop, which is just "move target" on downloads, docs, pictures, videos, etc. Whenever they save a file, it will always default to one of these places (whether it is from the internet or a camera or whatever) unless they put it on the desktop, so all files not on the desktop will go right to the HDD and not to the SSD. It's what I use, its transparent and fool proof i think. They dont keep files on the desktop, so that should be ok.

You can also make symlinks, fudge with the libraries, or just move the Users folder entirely.

Quote:
So ya. The thing im most lost on are cases, since there are so many options at a cheap price and i dont know how to compare. Additional ideas there would be helpful, although there are plenty of good ideas here already.

hindolio said the first two points, but I'll just reiterate them with one more:
  • Compatibility. Your motherboard has to fit inside you know. I guess other components as well.
  • Looks. You're going to be seeing this thing for a long time. I honestly don't like flashy cases anymore, they get gaudy after a year or so.
  • Airflow. I'm a strong advocate of positive air pressure airflow, because it means dust can only get in through the intakes (which you can filter). Otherwise, get something with good airflow, but not overkill (the Antec Lanboy is a perfect example of WTF).


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:25 pm 
Little Foot
Little Foot

Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 1:22 pm
Posts: 190
I realize that I need to get the right form factor motherboard- my issue is mostly with knowing that the case will be easy to work with and have good air flow. I hate cable management with a passion, and I'd like it to be as easy as possible. I think I should buy it in person or shop in person maybe.

I have 2x3 gigs of DDR 3 on my i7 920 system. And the issue is that each tab will take up a certain amount of memory per tab, and it goes up with each tab. I sometimes have 60 tabs open. I have a problem.

Do you have any specific case suggestions?


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 5:15 pm 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5234
I heard the Antec 300 is cheap and has cable management features. NZXT, Corsair, some Cooler Masters, and Fractal (if you can find a cheap one) as well. Silverstone is pretty good, but you'd probably spend 25% of your budget on a Silverstone.

Though this is just cable management in the manner of hiding your cables. I had an Antec 900 that I worked with to get the cables tidy. It wasn't a joy when I had to clean the filters, but it was clear enough. Hell, I had a Cooler Master Elite case with no cable management features for a small build. It was still empty inside by the time I was done.


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 Post subject: Re: Building a budget computer for the family
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:11 pm 
Klamath
Klamath

Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 6:24 pm
Posts: 286
Oops I got ahead of myself with calling DDR2 RAM lol. Sorry bout that! Sheesh you do have a problem though.

Cases can be the hardest to purchase because they are all kinda different and pictures don't depict all the beauty or ugly of the real thing. Go to the EGG online, select a few and google reviews. Case reviews aren't exactly abundant, but the newer and more reputable cases do get reviewed. The EGG has decent reviews too. And if you can look a case in-person, by all means. But this sounds like a lot of work for a budget every-day PC that will get neglected and trashed - that's the implication I got from you :mrgreen:

If cable management is a huge concern, too bad. It's always a concern. If it bothers you that much, then a modular PSU might help a little, but may cost a bit more.

Here are a couple of popular cases:

Antec Three Hundred Two $60
Fractal Design Core 3000 $70

You can definitely go cheaper, but then you start losing maybe USB 3.0, removable dust filters, perhaps a little quality, and so on. But I'm with LatiosXT - I like my cases clean and simple. Unfortunately, simple is more expensive than flash when it comes to cases.


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