PC Building Assistance

By evilsmith ยท 49 replies
Jun 18, 2013
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  1. Hi TechSpot community, so I'm doing another build and I'm in need of in some assistance with regards to which parts to purchase for this computer I'm building. I'm helping my uncle build a efficient computer for his budget.

    What are you going to use the PC for?
    More of a general use, browsing, watching videos / TV series, news. My uncle is also a big fan a music so he's inquired about a possibly upgrading the soundcard from integrated ones from motherboards. Also he wants to burn CD's for music. It is to be noted that while he understand how a computer works he's not the most tech savy.
    • How much is your budget?
    Preferably $400 including tax & shipping
    • Where are you located and what sort of system do you currently have, if any? (I.e. fill out your profile)
    Currently located in California. My system is relatively outdated and somewhat irrelevant in this situation
    • Are you going to buy online or from a retail store? (be sure to think about shipping costs in this case)
    I think buying online is the only option. Retails I have used are TigerDirect and Newegg. Personally I use Newegg the most but TigerDirect I believe has no tax in California.
    • Are you going to re-use anything from your current rig?
    My Uncle has provided a case for me to build into, I believe its a small tower case, It also has some seemingly old CD/DVD drives.
    • Do you need peripherals like a monitor, keyboard and mouse, amongst others?
    Monitors, keyboards, mouse are unnecessary
    • Have you already bought any components?
    • Do you already have an Operating System (OS) or will you be buying one? (this may add a significant amount of cost to a low-budget system)
    I have spare OS Windows 7 to give him but he wants the OS in a different language and after some research I found out that all you need is Windows 7 Ultimate to use language packs.

    Also, I do not believe a GPU is necessary as my uncle has no intention to game, at most he'll be watching videos in HD which integrated GPU should be enough. The budget box at on the TechSpot guide is actually pretty good for his needs but I just wanted to acquire other opinions before I made the purchase. Thanks in advance TechSpot community and hope to hear your responses. Please feel free to ask for more information as I'll be glad to provide more.

    Summary: $400 (including S&H) Budget-Box for General Use(Videos/Music/Browsing) Have a small-case with peripherals; dedicated graphics card is unnecessary, but would like a soundcard and disc drives to burn music CDs.
    hellokitty[hk] likes this.
  2. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,922   +630

    Well, props to you for actually making a useful post. :) I'm gonna let other people post tips for specific parts, but here are some thoughts:

    - Is this case decent? No rust? For $40 you can get a brand new one with new fans and everything. I'd recommend this.

    - Need to know if the DVD drive is salvageable. Is it SATA? (Google images can tell you)

    - Unless he has $300+ speaker/headphone setup, onboard audio will do him fine. Give us more details on his 'music taste' if you like, but FYI a decent soundcard is $200+ itself.

    - Win Ultimate supports multiple language packs at once, if I understand correctly. Home Premium in another language is fine (if it stays in that language), but I'll let someone else confirm this.

    - You are correct, no GPU required. Also, no SSD required in my opinion.
    misor, Jad Chaar and evilsmith like this.
  3. evilsmith

    evilsmith TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 84

    Thank you for the quick response. The case according to him is relatively new but in my opinion is kinda dusty and a bit old. I'll talk to him about considering buying a new case. It's 2:30 AM at the moment so I can't open up the DVD drive but I'll get back to you as soon as I can with regards to SATA. [But I believe he's willing to buy new ones anyways] Yea on board audio I felt should have done him fine, but what difference does the lower sound cards do, like the 20-40$ ones? I don't think the language is a major issue at the moment. But thanks again for the quick response.
  4. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    Onboard audio is improving rapidly. Sound cards in the $40-60 range are the best. But you need a good sound system to complement it, or it isnt worth it.
  5. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    evilsmith likes this.
  6. hellokitty[hk]

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

    You will need Windows ultimate to install language packs. Otherwise you will only have the default language.
    SSD always required, IMO.
  7. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,728   +3,701

    Looks like these guys have you covered. :)

    IMO, SSD is not required but highly recommended.
  8. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,922   +630

    Onboard audio: it depends on the listener. Some people can't tell the difference between 96kbps MP3 and a 320kbps. Sound cards <$40 are pretty much equivalent to onboard these days IMO, and only exist for when people blow up their onboard or something similar.

    Considering you gave a budget estimate of $400, I'm gonna assume that your uncle doesn't have $200 headphones or $300 sound system floating around, purely to connect to PC. In the case he does, he's still going to want to spend upwards of $100 for a quality soundcard to match his quality speakers. You don't go half-way with this. By the way, it's an easy future upgrade, so I wouldn't worry about it at all in this stage.

    SSD: We've talked about it in tons of threads. Fact of the matter is, it's more than a quarter of the cost, since a 120GB is required, which is $100+. This size is required, because as OP says, his uncle is not too tech savvy (not knowing system partitions, drives, etc).
  9. evilsmith

    evilsmith TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 84

    So I just found out that the Disc Drives are not SATA so would it be possible to integrate a disc drive where he could burn disc for music and still keep it right at 400 or under? Also thanks for all the post so far it has been really helpful. I don't think an SSD is necessary for my uncle either. JC713 I think what you posted is great but just a tad over budget with regards to tax even with my ShopRunner free shipping. Thanks again everyone
  10. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,922   +630

    Disc drive is $20.

    You can get away with 4GB RAM too, for the moment. Not recommended really, but it'll still work fine.

    The hard drive JC posted is required, you need 1TB.

    The PSU could be cut down maybe, 500W could be gotten cheaper, but I'll let him reply to that...
  11. hellokitty[hk]

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

    A SATA burning cd/dvd drive is about $20, shouldn't be too tough I'd think. Though I am curious as to why a PATA drive wouldn't work?

    JC713 might have something to say about it (especially RAM) but AFAIK this is fine:

    Maybe it's not necessary to get an SSD, but if this computer were for me I certainly would.

    I have a $500 laptop and it has an IPS and an SSD. I also have a now nearly worthless desktop and I've also upped it with an SSD. Things were a little cheaper back then though; I got my power supply for about $20 or $30. Especially HDDs were cheaper too.
    I am very please with my SSD :)
    evilsmith likes this.
  12. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    That RAM is great also. As for the motherboard, it is a micro ATX, so it matter son what his case can take. That PSU is hideous! lol. I guess the performance matters not looks.

    As for my build being over budget, I can get it cheaper, but performance will suffer :(.
  13. hellokitty[hk]

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

    Performance will not really suffer, after all, the RAM should be on par or similar, as long as you concur, I forgot what you told me last time.
    The motherboard doesn't effect performance very much. Yes it's a micro ATX but I have a feeling that is going to be fine in this case. Really the bigger problems with the mATX form is lack of PCI expansions and less room for cooling but I doubt that will be an issue here.
    Oh yeah you'll have to check if your case supports mATX but I'd think it supports mATX over ATX if anything.
  14. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    The RAM is fine, I was just saying the performance will suffer if I recommend weaker components to fit his budget. evilsmith I got the build to about $400 without the case. Is the tax bringing the price >$400?
  15. evilsmith

    evilsmith TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 84

    It's just a bit over 400. I think my uncle was aiming for under 400,especially if he wasn't buying a case. Swapping the stuff hellokitty recommended brings it down a decent amount ~360. But I'm not entirely sure how it would effect the computer performance wise, I'm also assuming those three parts are compatible with the components JC713 recommended. Thanks again everyone

    Edit: I'll also discuss with him it being around ~420 + possibly another 20 for a disc drive; that you recommended JC713
  16. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    Best of luck. I think you should keep the board I provided you with since it provides more expansion, but go with hellokitty[hk]'s PSU. That should bring you to ~$390.
  17. evilsmith

    evilsmith TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 84

    Thanks for the advice. This is what I have in the cart so far, I apologize for the size and poor quality. It's basically everything that was recommended but with the PSU swapped out. I'm about to pull the trigger, but just waiting for uncle to confirm. But any further suggestion will also be gladly appreciated. [​IMG]

    Edit: Better quality http://I.imgur.com/GzuG9mQ.png
  18. hellokitty[hk]

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

    Indeed it does give you a bit more room for expansion; now I'm not familiar exactly with your situation or your uncle but I'm pretty confident you won't need the extra expansion.

    I think that most people do not upgrade their PCs much at all. The only upgrade I have done in the past 5-6 years is an SSD.

    To give you a little more info to decide (both boards are good) the mATX just means it's going to be a little smaller. This usually is only a problem when you start using hefty or multiple graphics cards/PCI slots. For example with my board, if you added in a sound card, and a graphics card, and a PCI USB controller, you wouldn't have room for a PCI wireless adapter or something like that. That's already a lot though IMO.

    So if you do decide to go with a discreet card in the future, you might have to replace the power supply and you won't have room for SLi or CF. I think that is not a big deal in this case.

    I sort of doubt that you're going regret getting an mATX.
    Performance wise the difference is moot, probably even so if you're overclocking.
  19. evilsmith

    evilsmith TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 84

    Personally I agree, that he probably won't be expanding at all. At most he'll try to insert a sound card and maybe some disc drives? (Maybe blue ray?) but all those slots should be available even on the cheaper mobo.
  20. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,922   +630

    ^-- Correct.

    Enjoy your free SimCity too! :D
  21. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    I would keep the full ATX board since it is just $20 more. You never know, maybe your uncle becomes a gamer xD.
  22. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

  23. hellokitty[hk]

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

    There is nothing wrong with the mATX factor even for a solid gaming computer; you can run a GTX780 on it.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  24. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    Yeah, but I personally like ATX boards. I never complained about mATX boards, I just prefer the full size.
  25. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,728   +3,701

    If you are only going to use one graphics card, there is very little reason to have an ATX board. I thought I was gonna try out SLI for a while, so I purchased an ATX board with 2 PCIe x16 slots. Since then I lost the desire for SLI. As it turned out, mATX would have been fine for my needs.

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