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Advice on $1,000 build, please?

By Dawn1113 · 26 replies
Jan 3, 2013
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  1. A friend of mine has asked me build her a desktop PC -- with a new Windows OS -- for US$ 1,000 or less. Can you guys give me some advice and suggestions as to the parts for a suitable Intel build, given her budget?

    My friend is a freelance writer and journalist. She will be using the machine for research and MS Office documents. She is neither a gamer nor a PC enthusiast. Simply put, she needs a desktop PC that is reasonably fast and won't BSOD on her while she's surfing the net or working on a story with MS Word.

    Her C2D desktop -- which had been a much-abused yet uncomplaining workhorse for longer than I can remember -- finally gave out a few days ago. It seems only her monitor, mouse and keyboard are still working reliably. I have not seen her old machine as of late and have no idea what other parts I can salvage from it.

    Given her budget, though, I'm guessing I have room to assume that everything else from her old machine is toast, and that we will have to buy all brand new parts. I'm thinking I should even assume that she'll need a new chassis.

    I'm not too familiar with AMD yet, and would prefer to build something within my comfort zone -- so it's going to be an Intel desktop.My friend insists on a Windows 7 OS as she is unfamiliar with W8.

    I'll be staying over at her apartment this weekend to work on the project. First time building a PC for anyone -- on my own, that is. :)

    I have to admit, I'm kinda excited about this first adventure.

    As always, your advice will be greatly appreciated.
  2. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,920   +629

    To go some online stores, find their pre-built systems. Get some from $800 to $1200 and modify the parts to suit.

    This way you have a number of 'quotes'. If you can't decide on parts, post back.

    Also, some stores have free assembly when you purchase a whole system. Do this if you feel like it.

    Importantly though, have a look at her old monitor. Check to see if it's got HDMI, VGA, DVI, as you may need some adaptors. I wouldn't recommend running off VGA if she's a writer.
  3. Dawn1113

    Dawn1113 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 322   +65

    Thanks, St1ckM4n.

    If I get my friend an i3 or i5 CPU, or decide to modify along a pre-built P67 system, can I assume that the Intel stock fans will be good enough to keep the heat down? The CPU will run on stock clock speeds. No OC.

    I ask because I remember the stock fans that came with the earlier i5 750, for instance, were absolutely useless for me. The temps on my old i5 750 kicked up to the throttling point after only a few minutes of gameplay. On warm days, my CPU temps would go up to 55 degrees Celsius just browsing the internet. I'm hoping the new generation i5 and i3 CPUs have better cooling systems. My friend does work extended hours and likes to have multiple documents and webpages up at the same time.

    I'll have a look at her old monitor as per your suggestion.

    Again, thanks for your help.:)
  4. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    That's strange AFAIK the stock fans work fine for stock speeds.
  5. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    $1000 is overkill for the box alone, an i5 3570, H77 motherboard, 8-16GB RAM, SSD + HDD and case should leave enough for a nice mechanical keyboard, new mouse and maybe even an IPS monitor.

    I did an i3 2120 build and the stock fan was totally fine, couldn't hear it during normal browsing, etc. But that's only a dual core and if you're going for a quad core then it will probably be worth spending $30 on a Hyper 212.
  6. Dawn1113

    Dawn1113 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 322   +65

    That's good to hear. I didn't install the CPU myself. I couldn't have -- even if I had wanted to, at the time. Looking back now, it may well be that the guy I paid to assemble the rig had bungled the application of thermal paste. I can't be sure. Nevertheless, that particular LGA 1156 system did leave a lasting impression on me. I've never relied on stock Intel fans since. :oops:

    This time, however, I guess it won't hurt to give them a try -- maybe a quick load test just to check the temps once I get the machine up and running. If the stock cooling systems don't work out, then it would very easy to walk a few blocks to get a Hyper 212. :) Thanks, HK. Much appreciated.

    OK, I'll probably go for the i5 3570, H77 motherboard, and 8gb RAM. I'll ask my friend about the SSD. I suspect she'd rather save the money and go for a conventional HDD. Thanks, slh28.

    Man, I'm starting to wish this rig were mine.:D

    Again, thanks, guys. I really appreciate your inputs.
  7. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    I really wouldn't recommend skimping on the SSD, it's going to be the single most noticeable performance gain in this new PC. A decent 128GB SSD costs $110 and should easily fit in the $1000 budget.
  8. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    Yeah if it were ME, I would prioritize the korean IPS and an SSD.
    I've seen nice SSDs like the samsung 830 128GB at $80 on newegg ... IMO that crucial M4 could be cheaper. It's up to waiting for sales though.
  9. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,920   +629

    SSD is required. Word, browser, photoshop - everything opens in a snap. Time is money.
  10. Dawn1113

    Dawn1113 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 322   +65

    Got it. I've convinced my friend about the SSD. I'm pretty sure now that she'll be glad I did once this build is up and running. So it's going to be either the Samsung 830 128gb or the Crucial M4. I've checked her PC and she has a working 500gb WD Caviar Blue in there. I'll configure that as a secondary drive.

    My friend's 1080p Dell monitor is still working, as well. (I couldn't tempt her with an IPS monitor -- she loves that Dell as it was a gift from her boyfriend.) The PSU is a generic make -- and it's toast. Right now, I'm inclined to get a 520W Antec Neo Eco for the build -- or maybe a Corsair CX500W. Both good?

    I showed my friend some reviews on the i5 3570, and she likes it. I was quite impressed, too. I'm sure those things would kick some butt on a gaming rig. I'm now almost certain I'll be getting this for my friend's build, unless -- in the end -- the total cost changes her mind. In that case I'll go for a dual core ix-xxxx with hyperthreading.

    What would be a good, inexpensive Asus mobo and Nvidia GPU combo for this non-gaming build? (Yeah, I've specified the brands that are within my comfort zone.:D) Would something like the Asus P8H77-M LE suffice? Just need the basic stuff and maybe USB 3.0.

    Also, she apparently upgraded her case not too long ago, getting something from the Silverstone Redline series -- which I'm assuming she'll also want to keep. It's tiny and I'm not sure as to the kind of airflow it permits. I'm unfamiliar with Silverstone cases.

    I can't thank you guys enough for helping me out. I really appreciate your inputs.
  11. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,920   +629

    Wait, i5 3570?

    I'm in Australia (price premium) and I'm sketching up a parts list for a HTPC using 3570K CPU.

    With no GPU (don't need one for the K, or even the non-K if she's not going to game at all) and getting rid of the TV tuner card, the price is dead on $700. This is using a premium case and PSU, too.

    I'll put up a screenshot of relevant, but there's really not much to customise. i5 3570 (or K version), 8GB RAM, PSU, SSD, mobo. Done! :)

    Dawn1113 likes this.
  12. Dawn1113

    Dawn1113 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 322   +65

    Thanks, St1ckM4n. The list is going to be very useful.

    Hopefully, I can get everything ready soon. My friend is anxious to get her home workstation up and running. She's got a deadline coming up.

    Again, thanks! :)(y)
  13. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,247   +448

    Silverstone cases are typically great btw (though the Redline series is as budget as it comes for them) and as St1ckM4n said I'd shoot for IGP usage as there is no gaming in her immediate future. I'd also spend for the K model since she'll be able to get a boost if the machine ever starts to feel slow. Just make sure the mobo you get will fit fine in her case and the HSF you choose fits as well. It should be pretty easy to fit into that budget with those reductions even with the addition of a smallish (128-256GB) SSD.

    I ran my wife's computer with a 2500K on IGP for a few months and she was happy with it except when it came to gaming... and the 3570K's video capabilities are much better.
  14. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    A 3570K itself doesn't cost much more than a non-K 3570 but when you add in the cost of a Z77 mobo over a H77 one and an aftermarket cooler, it does add up for someone who doesn't sound like they have any interest in overclocking and probably won't need the extra speed anyway. As it is a regular 3570 is already overkill for a MS office and general usage PC.

    You should invest those savings on a larger 256GB SSD or mechanical keyboard seeing as your friend probably types a lot.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  15. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,920   +629

    A good point, but I have another idea. 128GB SSD is plenty, because what is she installing? Office suite, browsers, Adobe.. all easily fits on 128GB.

    Mechanical keyboard is a good option indeed. Just make sure to get your friend to try them out first, as personal preference matters!
  16. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    I would also say that for a "normal" user there is no need for a K version or a Z77.

    But going with a platinum power supply? That's nice but the price premium for a nice platinum power supplies is huge, and firstly will not do anything that the user will notice, and isn't a very big difference in power compared to a bronze or gold.
    IMO if you really really want a high efficiency power supply, the rosewill capstone series does a pretty good job for the price. The 450w can be had for less than $70 and is a decent power supply.

    If the user will not be doing gaming, a discreet GPU will not be necessary. In fact I would for writing, surfing, videos... etc. I would actually consider an AMD APU which would save a few hundred dollars.
  17. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,920   +629


    The platinum power supply was only included in my component list because it's for a HTPC. I'm not recommending it for this build.

    AMD APU - not sure how this will help anything. Less grunt, more power consumption, not much savings.
  18. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    Well with the AMD you could save a solid $100 or more and get much superior integrated graphics, and I think in this case the lack of CPU power is not relevant.
  19. Dawn1113

    Dawn1113 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 322   +65

    Taking my cue from the advice you guys offered, the desktop PC I built for my friend consisted of the following components:

    64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium (full product)
    Intel Core i5 3570
    ASRock H77 M motherboard
    128gb Samsung 830 SSD
    8gb 1600 GSkill Ares RAM
    EVGA GT630 1gb DDR5 GPU
    Rosewill Capstone M-Series 80+Gold 550W PSU

    My friend understandably preferred to keep her expenditures below the $1,000 ceiling. I was disappointed about it, but I had to settle for her budget Silverstone Redline case even as I had to forego buying her a new monitor. As she was in a hurry, we had to hop around town and buy from retail shops.

    I used the optical drive from her old machine. I likewise installed the 500gb WD Caviar Blue from her old desktop as a secondary drive. Also left over from her previous setup were her Das Professional KB and Logitech mouse -- both of which were relatively new and working fine.

    The total cost of the "upgrade" was well below the $1,000 mark. (Around $750++ I think, after sundry shop and credit card discounts.)

    The GT630 was a bad call on my part. An IT buddy of mine was pretty much in agreement with you guys, telling me Intel's IGP would have been just as good for my friend's purposes -- if not better. (The 550W PSU may be a bit of an overkill, too, looking at it now.) Lessons learned.

    As expected, the i5 3570 was just amazing. And, yes, the stock cooler worked fine. I bought two extra 120mm CoolerMaster fans for the exhaust vents in the rear and top of the case. I felt comfortable with the temps I saw: in the low thirties at idle, never went past 43°C throughout. Didn't feel the need to do a full load test.

    The Samsung 830 SSD was fantastic, as well. I was able to install the OS and all the necessary drivers in no time. My friend was very pleased. So was I. Everything was a breeze -- and quite snappy. I think it was a worthy purchase.

    I was equally impressed by the ASRock H77 M. I've not had any previous experience with ASRock, but the H77 M is a wonderful little spitfire of a mobo: easy to use and a looker, too. No trouble getting it to recognize the RAM and it fit snugly inside the case. A good bang for your budget buck investment.

    It took me a few hours to get the machine finally up and running. In fee for my labors, and apropos to the theme of our little project, my friend treated me to potato chips and the most inexpensive beer she could could buy. :D

    Again, thanks to all of you for your help. Really very grateful for the time you took to reply to this thread. Learned a few things and had fun with the build. My friend is quite happy with her new PC.
  20. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,247   +448

    PBR for the win! Glad it all went well.
    Dawn1113 likes this.
  21. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    Yeah the GT 630 is a bit of a waste considering its price but anyway it seems everything was well under budget so good work!

    Do we get potato chips and beer too...?
    Dawn1113 likes this.
  22. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,920   +629

    Grats on your first build!
    Dawn1113 likes this.
  23. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    ASRock started off as a pretty low end and 'junk' motherboard maker. But about 5 or 6 years ago they started turning out some pretty solid and inexpensive motherboards. I wouldn't hesitate to buy an ASRock board for my next build.
  24. Dawn1113

    Dawn1113 TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 322   +65

    Same here. The H77M won me over. :) The layout was simple and straightforward -- just the way I like it. I barely had to consult the manual -- and I'm a noob! Good features, too, considering the price.

    Been taking a look at ASRock website and they do have some great, competitive offerings out there .
  25. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,920   +629

    I ordered my HTPC and I went with ASRock. However, I realised last minute that the H77M was a mATX form factor, so I upgraded to the ATX-sized Pro version, or whatever. Great price, and tons of features!

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