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.