1. #1

    Completed build and comments: $375 budget general computing "The Parents PC"

    Thought I'd do a bit of a feedback on the build I just finished for my parents, in case others are in a similar position of building a general computing system for their grandparents, parents, etc. My goal was to have something moderately futureproofed for their general needs, while also being quick and responsive. (I'll post a picture of the internals in the morning, I'm tired atm)

    System Build @ ~$375:


    Fractal Design Core1000 case ($25 on sale from NCIX)
    ECS Elitegroup H77 miniATX mobo ($52 after MIR newegg)
    Core i3 3220 CPU ($120 from NCIX)
    4gb cas8 DDR3-1600 ($40 newegg)
    500W Silverstone bronze PSU ($40 after MIR newegg)
    120gb Samsung 840 SSD ($90 from Amazon)

    Comments and thoughts:

    The wattage on the PSU is overkill, but it was a good deal on a quality brand. Otherwise I probably would have gotten a 300W OEM from SeaSonic. Seeing that the average HDD is still $60-70 these days, I splurged the extra $20 for the SSD to make the system ultra responsive. The only thing they would save is pictures from their camera and such, so the size is still plenty. iGPU is adequate for desktop on 1 monitor. I read some good things about the ECS mobo, despite not being a major brand. I really like how it POSTs in 1 second, since its nofrills. (Still backed by a standard UEFI AmiBIOS) Recognized everything right off the bat, no driver issues, handled the RAM's XMP Profile just fine.

    Performance and conclusion:

    I'm honestly impressed at it, despite being a budget build. Cold boots into Windows8 login screen in 3 seconds flat. SATA3 SSD pulls a solid 500MB/sec on their 6gbps ports, which was one thing I was initially worried about from the ECS board. UI and general computing is fast and responsive. System is almost inaudible from a standard sitting distance. Also some advice to others: Set them up with a Dropbox account and mirror their pictures and/or email (if they don't use webmail) folders into Dropbox. That way if they ever decide to "download kitten screensavers" and nuke the system, their important files should be safely backed up.

    tl;dr: You don't have to compromise on performance to get a quality budget system that will last for many years these days.

  2. #2
    if they are not doing anything but general browsing then it is more than fine, if they wanted to have some games on there or encode the price will go up quite a bit, even then the core system is good and as you said it's upgradable.

  3. #3
    Moderator chazus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stellvia View Post
    I read some good things about the ECS mobo, despite not being a major brand
    ECS, unfortunately, is a terrible brand. There's a reason it's given away "free" at Fry's with purchase of CPU. You're lucky to get a board that doesn't die within it's warranty. Good reviews are often given of ECS (And Biostar) when the get a functional unit for the price.

    In this case, if it works, and it's just the parents computer... I guess.. that works? I've replaced more ECS boards than every other manufacturer combined.

    Also, where is the OS? Personally, if I wanted an ultra-cheap desktop for the parents, I'd just go with a $300 Dell or Microcenter system and call it a day.

    Otherwise it's a good deal. SSD's are getting large enough to be a single drive nowadays, especially with non-gaming people.

    EDIT: This would be a decent cheap build at $250 as well, no OS.
    Last edited by chazus; 2013-06-27 at 09:19 AM.
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  4. #4
    I admit I took a risk on the ECS board, so we'll see if it works out. Otherwise yes, there are Asus, Gigabyte, and Asrock boards in the $70-80 pricerange that are quite good as well. I got a copy of Win8 during their launch upgrade sale for next to nothing.

    I didn't want to go with a $300 dell, because I wanted something that was not only cheap, but I also knew wouldn't shit out in a year, or become a slow turd like their Mac Mini did. A $300 Dell would probably have like a Pentium or Celeron in it, and some Chinese 200W PSU... Whereas with this, assuming the mobo holds up; it's very fast, and should last them another 5-7 years without me having to be their tech support guy once a month.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by stellvia View Post
    I didn't want to go with a $300 dell, because I wanted something that was not only cheap, but I also knew wouldn't shit out in a year, or become a slow turd like their Mac Mini did.
    That depends on the amount of crapware you install from the internet, nothing else.

    Quote Originally Posted by stellvia View Post
    A $300 Dell would probably have like a Pentium or Celeron in it, and some Chinese 200W PSU...
    Which would be totally enough for parents net surfing. You aren't getting any better future proofing with cheap-ass ECS Z77 board because it's already obsoleted today by socket 1150. AMD with FM2 based A6 or A8 processor is probably best all-around deal on sub $500 category, would've went that way instead of i3.
    Never going to log into this garbage forum again as long as calling obvious troll obvious troll is the easiest way to get banned.
    Trolling should be.

  6. #6
    As I've stated in other threads: I fail to see how a motherboard has anything to do with futureproofing beyond a very minor amount if you planned to OC. I also fail to see how 7-series boards are "obsoleted" by socket 1150 when the benchmarks show at BEST a 10% increase in performance. And the i3 line hasn't been updated yet.

    I looked at the APUs, but their performance was so poor, I couldn't justify the $85-100 cost for something that was worse than my 5-year old Q9550. I was then considering an FX-series CPU with an old video card of mine, but there were no good microATX boards under $100 for it. I also looked at the diehard PhenomII 965, but the microATX boards that support it don't have SATA3.

    Worst case scenario here: Their important files will all be backed up into Dropbox, so I can just image the system in 15mins.

  7. #7
    I guess it is "future proofing" if you don't want to risk the motherboard breaking 18 months down the line
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Butler Log View Post
    I guess it is "future proofing" if you don't want to risk the motherboard breaking 18 months down the line
    Quiet you! I'm not gonna take that from some Sabertooth motherboard buyer! .... Although your taste in cases is excellent

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by stellvia View Post
    Quiet you! I'm not gonna take that from some Sabertooth motherboard buyer! .... Although your taste in cases is excellent
    *mumbles something about his 5 year warranty*
    Intel i5 2500K (4.5 GHz) | Asus Z77 Sabertooth | 8GB Corsair Vengeance LP 1600MHz | Gigabyte Windforcex3 HD 7950 | Crucial M4 128GB | Crucial M550 256GB | Asus Xonar DGX | Samson SR 850 | Zalman ZM-Mic1 | Western Digital Caviar Black 2000GB | Noctua NH-U12P SE2 | Fractal Design Arc Midi | Corsair HX650

    Tanking with the Blessing of Kings - The TankSpot Guide to the Protection Paladin - Updated for Patch 5.4!

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by stellvia View Post
    I fail to see how a motherboard has anything to do with futureproofing beyond a very minor amount if you planned to OC. I also fail to see how 7-series boards are "obsoleted" by socket 1150 when the benchmarks show at BEST a 10% increase in performance.
    It's really simple: there will never again be any new processors for socket 1155 which means it's obsoleted. All new releases are either for 2011 or 1150. So for future proofing point of view it's future is as long as the stores of 1155 processors last on major retailers.

    Quote Originally Posted by stellvia View Post
    I looked at the APUs, but their performance was so poor, I couldn't justify the $85-100 cost for something that was worse than my 5-year old Q9550.
    Yeah but a surfboard for parents dont need much raw CPU power so it's pointless to pay for it. While on the other hand APUs have loads more GPU power which will help with farmville and other facebook shit more than i3.
    Never going to log into this garbage forum again as long as calling obvious troll obvious troll is the easiest way to get banned.
    Trolling should be.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by stellvia View Post
    I looked at the APUs, but their performance was so poor, I couldn't justify the $85-100 cost for something that was worse than my 5-year old Q9550.
    When looking at
    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/676?vs=50

    They are pretty much equal, and this is the A8 5600k. Thing is, your parents dont need that much cpu power. If all they do is surf the web, do some office stuff etc.
    But the iGPU on the apu is a lot better, which will help with some minor gaming.

    But it doesnt really matter. The intel is also good, seeing as it is just surfing. But you could probably have saved some money going with AMD.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by vesseblah View Post
    It's really simple: there will never again be any new processors for socket 1155 which means it's obsoleted. All new releases are either for 2011 or 1150. So for future proofing point of view it's future is as long as the stores of 1155 processors last on major retailers.
    When have you ever been in a position when upgrading a system, where the socket to your motherboard was still supported? (At the 4+ year mark)
    Maybe in the past you could do some halfway decent upgrades with AMD, but even that nowadays seems to be gone, as AMD has FM1, FM2, and AM3.
    When I have to upgrade this, Skymont will probably be out, if not the thing after that...
    (Although I could technically slap like a 3570 or 3770 in there later on if I really wanted to)

  13. #13
    Moderator chazus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stellvia View Post
    I looked at the APUs, but their performance was so poor, I couldn't justify the $85-100 cost for something that was worse than my 5-year old Q9550. I was then considering an FX-series CPU with an old video card of mine,.
    Performance? What performance? Are there benchmarks for how fast cnn.com loads per cpu somewhere? >.>

    Seriously though. The absolute cheapest CPU is the best bet because their system demand is pretty close to 0. That's why a cheapie APU would be perfect. A Pentium 4 and a GeForce 6200 would be good. I mean, really, in this situation the only real requirement of reliability is brand, being new, and price. Performance is a non-concern.
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    "Three days on a tree. Hardly enough time for a prelude. When it came to visiting agony, the Romans were hobbyists." -Mab

  14. #14
    Chazus pretty much hits the nail on the head. When dealing with a machine that is just doing minor things, even an E-350 APU will handle the majority of tasks and you can pick one of those up with the MB for about $90 to $95. And lets face it, if your generally just going to browse and do some minor office work, maybe even stream or play videos, something like an E-350 is going to last for many years to come.

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