Staredit Network > Forums > Technology & Computers > Topic: Building a desktop for someone
Building a desktop for someone
Dec 28 2012, 3:00 am
By: Azrael  

Dec 28 2012, 3:00 am Azrael Post #1



I'm looking to build a desktop for someone else, give it to them, and have it simply work as well as possible, for as long as possible. I'd like to avoid any potential overheating, or anything which is at a decent risk of failing over the next few years. Basically, a casual computer user should have no issues using it for any number of years without any issues, without any kind of maintenance on their part. It may be left on for significant periods of time.

There will potentially be some light gaming done, nothing incredibly intensive though. The main uses will be internet browsing and photo editing.

The system should be as fast and responsive as possible, although the focus should be longevity without maintenance. No SSD, please.

When deciding what components would be best, consider that I have both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7 to choose from. Please recommend one of these to go along with your build.

I'd like as much RAM as the system can make use of, so I can fully upgrade it before giving it to the recipient.

No monitor necessary, just the tower.

I guess I'm expecting something around $500, but it can be however much it needs to be to meet these conditions effectively. I'll be shipping the parts to the US.

Any help that can be offered will be greatly appreciated ^^

Post has been edited 2 time(s), last time on Dec 28 2012, 3:25 am by Azrael.




Dec 28 2012, 4:49 am Excalibur Post #2

The sword and the faith

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A8-3870K 3.0GHz Quad-Core Processor ($79.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock A75 PRO4/MVP ATX FM1 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Mushkin Silverline 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($32.98 @ Outlet PC)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($80.98 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 650 1GB Video Card ($84.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: XFX 550W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($53.99 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Lite-On IHAS324-98 DVD/CD Writer ($24.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $527.89
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-12-27 23:46 EST-0500)

I did this pretty quick so here's a few notes:
Originally I went with 1TB storage and 16GB RAM. But the 'light gaming' had me a bit iffy. I really don't like the sub 100$ video card market right now, there just isn't a lot of value that low in the scale. But I thought about it and you didn't say anything about storage requirements, and 16GB of RAM is in my opinion overkill for most people. I have 12GB and I'm running an i7 920 @ 4GHz and doing maxed out 1080p gaming. So I figured 8 will definitely do. Its also one module so you can always just get another one. 500GB of storage is fine for most applications but I believe there is a 2TB WD Caviar Green on PCPartPicker for like ~80$ if you want to drop some money on storage. If you don't need the optical drive you could remove it and save some money.




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The sword and the faith.

:ex:
Sector 12
My stream, live PC building and tech discussion.

Dec 28 2012, 4:55 am rockz Post #3

ᴄʜᴇᴇsᴇ ɪᴛ!



Sorry, my heart's not really in this one. Don't use the fan that comes with the hyper 212+.

If you get amd, make sure you get a fanless graphics card like: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161390 for hybrid crossfire.

Post has been edited 1 time(s), last time on Dec 28 2012, 5:03 am by rockz.



"Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Chairman - do we have to call the Gentleman a gentleman if he's not one?"

Dec 28 2012, 5:08 am Azrael Post #4



Thanks for the effort and quick response :)

I'm curious, what are your thoughts on the other person's build? I'm wondering if either of you would change any part of your build after seeing the other person's.

@Ex, should I consider some sort of cooling, and if so, what would you recommend? I noticed there's a CPU cooler at the bottom of rockz's build, does that have potential benefit in prolonging the lifespan of the system?




Dec 28 2012, 5:23 am Excalibur Post #5

The sword and the faith

The stock CPU fan is fine unless you are overclocking. The case I chose has good airflow and overheating should not be a problem. If you want extra cooling there are spaces for more fans in the case.

Rockz's build is closer to what mine was before I said '16GB just isnt necessary.' I also prefer the AMD quad core in mine over the Intel dual core in his build. I'm good with my build, and I stand by it.




SEN Global Moderator and Resident Zealot
-------------------------
The sword and the faith.

:ex:
Sector 12
My stream, live PC building and tech discussion.

Dec 28 2012, 5:33 am Lanthanide Post #6



Why avoid SSD? Is it just because juggling a smaller system drive is annoying, or do you believe they have bad failure rates or something? Or just price?



None.

Dec 28 2012, 5:40 am rockz Post #7

ᴄʜᴇᴇsᴇ ɪᴛ!

I built with a completely different set of rules than Ex.

My goal was fanless, thus the low power dual core (which is fine for anything including light gaming). The seasonic PSU is overkill unfortunately, but they just don't make good fanless power supplies for cheap. You can easily drop the fanless for a modular gold rosewill. or something. And yeah, the SSD part didn't make sense to me either.



"Parliamentary inquiry, Mr. Chairman - do we have to call the Gentleman a gentleman if he's not one?"

Dec 28 2012, 5:49 am Azrael Post #8



I wanted to avoid the SSD because I have no experience with them, they come in smaller sizes and are much more expensive, they can degrade over time (I guess you can fix this with some trim thing), and most importantly, I didn't think it would be a significant enough of a difference for the user to notice. Basically, it seems like a lot of extra trouble/money/inconvenience for something that's not going to have a really perceivable benefit. I could be mistaken on that though, since I haven't actually used one before.

I'm going to wait a couple days in case there's any more input, or if anyone rethinks any of their picks, but I think it looks good :)

As a sidenote, should I go with the 32 or 64 bit version of Win7?

Edit: Answered by Roy below :P

Post has been edited 2 time(s), last time on Dec 28 2012, 5:57 am by Azrael.




Dec 28 2012, 5:51 am Roy Post #9

An artist's depiction of an Extended Unit Death

32-bit Windows can only handle 4GB of RAM, if that answers your concern on which architecture to use.

I'll put down two similar options, because I don't know how much you're willing to skimp.
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A4-5300 3.4GHz Dual-Core Processor ($49.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75 Pro4 ATX FM2 Motherboard ($85.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: Kingston Black 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($28.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($59.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 6670 1GB Video Card ($50.60 @ NCIX US)
Case: Raidmax ATX-298WBP ATX Mid Tower Case w/500W Power Supply ($69.98 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.89 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $363.42
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-12-28 00:18 EST-0500)


The CPU only has two cores, but it's clocked at 3.4GHz, which is actually pretty good. It will kick the crap out of internet browsing and photo editing, and.

The socket on the motherboard doesn't give you very many CPU options. The motherboard has all the right features (it even has USB 3.0, but the case I picked out doesn't have USB3 ports on its front panel), but don't plan on this machine being very upgradable.

Speaking of the case, it's not actually a $70 case in terms of quality, but it comes with a PSU that will easily power the rig, so overall it's a good deal.

The GPU is only $50 on NCIX and can run some relatively newer games on high settings. It should do you very well for light gaming.



PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A10-5800K 3.8GHz Quad-Core Processor ($119.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75 Pro4 ATX FM2 Motherboard ($85.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: Kingston Black 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($28.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($59.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 650 1GB Video Card ($84.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 450W 80 PLUS Gold Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($79.64 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.89 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $527.46
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-12-28 00:40 EST-0500)


Double the cores for double the cost. Also a higher clock speed on the CPU. This is about as high-end as I can find for the socket type.

Same mobo, same RAM, same storage, same optical drive.

NVidia graphics card. The GTX 650 is a pretty good mid-end card and will easily play even some of the newest games out there on high settings. These cards are usually more expensive than their AMD counterparts, but I think the prices on the 650 and 660 are really good.

The case is much better quality here, and the PSU kicks the other one's ass. Obviously there's more cost going into them here, but there's a notable quality difference that goes along with it.



I was making these before I saw any replies on the thread. I'm slow, man.




Dec 28 2012, 5:55 am Lanthanide Post #10



Quote from Azrael
they can degrade over time (I guess you can fix this with some trim thing),
The performance degradation that occurs without using TRIM command just means it isn't as fast as it was when you first bought it. Like maybe 50% as fast. But it's still dozens of times faster than a standard HD, even without being TRIMmed.

TRIM is a non-issue though, because pretty much all SSDs have supported it for the past 18-24 months. Part of the problem was needing an OS that supported it, Windows 7 does. I think maybe Vista didn't.

Quote
I didn't think it would be a significant enough of a difference for the user to notice.
With today's components available, an SSD makes the single biggest difference in system speed and responsiveness of any component. Dollar for dollar it's the best speedup you can do, even on budget-end systems.



None.

Dec 28 2012, 6:08 am Azrael Post #11



Thanks for the input Roy ^^ And for making the OS choice easy lol.

@Lanth, what would be a recommendation for an SSD, assuming I was going to put Win7 on it? I assume all I need to put on it for the speed benefit is the OS itself? I guess it doesn't hurt to consider all my options, even if they seem unlikely.

Edit: I noticed the motherboard in Roy and Ex's builds are almost the same, even in price, but one is FM1 and the other FM2? Is one of these preferable?

Post has been edited 1 time(s), last time on Dec 28 2012, 6:19 am by Azrael.




Dec 28 2012, 6:23 am Lanthanide Post #12



Putting the OS on it will give you the biggest speed improvement, but any other data-heavy programs that you want to speed up, such as games, are worth installing on it too. Media such as movies and music are perfectly fine stored on regular HDs, because the data access pattern for these is linear and therefore predictable and they don't have a high data rate anyway so any mechanical HD can easily keep up with the required reads.

By now, the minimum size you're going to want to consider is 120gb - the Windows folder on my computer is currently at 22gb . In terms of actual brands, no idea, since what is available in US is quite different from what is available in NZ so I don't bother to keep up with what is around. Anandtech and Toms Hardware both do good SSD reviews and roundups though + obviously the others on this forum.



None.

Dec 28 2012, 6:29 am Roy Post #13

An artist's depiction of an Extended Unit Death

The crappy thing about SSDs (and hey, it actually applies to HDDs as well, I guess; they each have a sweet-spot) is that the smaller capacity ones are not very good deals in terms of $/GB. Take this 64GB SSD, which is still $60 AR, whereas this 250GB SSD is $160. That's a difference of $0.30/GB saved on the larger drive.

The best deal I could find on a smaller drive is this, but it's sold out.

Quote from Azrael
Edit: I noticed the motherboard in Roy and Ex's builds are almost the same, even in price, but one is FM1 and the other FM2? Is one of these preferable?
They are different socket types. There isn't really anything preferable for one over the other; there seems to be a few more CPU choices for the FM1 socket, but it all comes down to which CPU you want to use. If you want a quad-core processor, you should go with Ex's chosen mobo if you want to save money or mine if you want a higher stock clock speed.

Edit: But I'm not a socket expert; there could be a performance advantage for the socket or something like that for all I know.

Post has been edited 2 time(s), last time on Dec 28 2012, 6:42 am by Roy.




Dec 28 2012, 10:25 am Lanthanide Post #14



Quote from Roy
The crappy thing about SSDs (and hey, it actually applies to HDDs as well, I guess; they each have a sweet-spot) is that the smaller capacity ones are not very good deals in terms of $/GB. Take this 64GB SSD, which is still $60 AR, whereas this 250GB SSD is $160. That's a difference of $0.30/GB saved on the larger drive.

The best deal I could find on a smaller drive is this, but it's sold out.
A large part of that is simply that the 64gb is older stock, so it was made when flash memory cost more and hence the price to buy it is still more expensive - economies of scale and all that. Many of the newer ranges have 120gb as their smallest available size.



None.

Dec 28 2012, 8:02 pm NudeRaider Post #15

We can't explain the universe, just describe it; and we don't know whether our theories are true, we just know they're not wrong. >Harald Lesch

Quote from Azrael
The system should be as fast and responsive as possible. No SSD, please.
This contradicts itself.

Quote from Azrael
I wanted to avoid the SSD because I have no experience with them, they come in smaller sizes and are much more expensive, they can degrade over time (I guess you can fix this with some trim thing), and most importantly, I didn't think it would be a significant enough of a difference for the user to notice. Basically, it seems like a lot of extra trouble/money/inconvenience for something that's not going to have a really perceivable benefit. I could be mistaken on that though, since I haven't actually used one before.
SSDs are the single most important component to increase loading times and responsiveness. Their effect is very noticable and well worth the price.
They were problematic when they were new tech, but nowadays they are (almost) as easy to handle as HDDs due to the reasons already explained. Life expectancy should be considerable higher than of HDDs because there's no moving parts.
Regarding size I'd go for a 120-160 GB one. You don't need more and it's supposed to be a budget system. 64GB is barely enough for your system drive and no games. So while it's viable to choose 64 GB the space restrictions would probably feel uncomfortable in a year or two.

A word on the graphics cards mentioned:
Since it's going to be light gaming anything mentioned except the 6670 is overkill. A friend of mine -- being a light gamer -- has it and he's quite happy with it. It's not even much worse than the 6870 I have and still like, despite being a heavy gamer.
Also I'd recommend ATi over nVidia since their cards run more silent and cooler (in general) which usually translates in longer lifespan.

The same is true for processors, as Intel is more efficient, but I guess the better bang for the buck AMD offers is to be considered, so I have no clear recommendation there.




Dec 28 2012, 8:21 pm Roy Post #16

An artist's depiction of an Extended Unit Death

Here's a combination of my two builds that still hits around your $500 price mark and includes an SSD (and I switched to Ex's mobo/CPU so you could keep the quad-core without breaking the budget):
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A8-3870K 3.0GHz Quad-Core Processor ($79.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock A75 PRO4/MVP ATX FM1 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Kingston Black 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($28.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($59.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($91.78 @ eCost)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 6670 1GB Video Card ($50.60 @ NCIX US)
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 450W 80 PLUS Gold Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($79.64 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $548.96
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-12-28 15:25 EST-0500)

You can use the motherboard and dual-core CPU I mentioned earlier if you want to save another $30 on this build, but the above looks pretty solid to me.

Also, I changed the optical drive because the Samsung is now cheaper. Probably the worst deal in this build is the PSU; there doesn't seem to be any decent ones on sale right now.

Post has been edited 1 time(s), last time on Dec 28 2012, 8:27 pm by Roy.




Dec 28 2012, 8:34 pm NudeRaider Post #17

We can't explain the universe, just describe it; and we don't know whether our theories are true, we just know they're not wrong. >Harald Lesch

I like Roy's build best. For every component he made the optimal choice while maintaining a well-matched build.




Dec 28 2012, 9:04 pm Azrael Post #18



I mixed the builds together a bit and am wondering how this looks.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A4-5300 3.4GHz Dual-Core Processor ($49.99 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75 Pro4 ATX FM2 Motherboard ($85.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: Samsung 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Samsung 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($89.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 650 1GB Video Card ($84.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: XFX 550W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($22.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $553.87
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-12-28 15:51 EST-0500)

I basically started with Ex's build and then swapped in things that other people suggested based mostly on ratings, reviews, and comments. Also, I need the parts delivered next week, so I didn't include items which would take longer than that to ship.

I "upgraded" the HDD, although I'm not sure if there's an issue with that (it's twice the size and the same brand as the one recommended, but costs about the same).

Is there any obvious issues, apparent oversights, or easy improvements here? The site said that these parts are all compatible, so I guess that's a good start.

Edit: Been compiling this since before your updated build, Roy :P I'll take a look at that SSD, though. If you see any problems with the above build, let me know ^^




Dec 28 2012, 9:17 pm NudeRaider Post #19

We can't explain the universe, just describe it; and we don't know whether our theories are true, we just know they're not wrong. >Harald Lesch

I think you consciously decided against it, but I will mention it just in case: You got no SSD therefore desktop performance will suffer.

Also starting off with 4 RAM modules is a bad idea as you have no room for upgrades. Go for 2x8 if you want 16 GB RAM.

Generally your build is more geared towards gaming performance than everyday tasks.




Dec 28 2012, 9:19 pm Roy Post #20

An artist's depiction of an Extended Unit Death

I don't think you need an aftermarket cooler unless you're planning to overclock the CPU. If you're gonna get the CM Hyper, you'll need some thermal paste to put it on the CPU, because it doesn't come with paste.

Looks like you're getting 16GB of RAM, which is overkill for this build. You should save the $40 and only get 8GB; you can always easily upgrade RAM later (and possibly find an amazing deal on it given enough time), but chances are you won't even need to do that with what this computer is going to be used for.

I'm not sure on XFX for the PSU, but if Ex is fine with suggesting it, it's most likely fine (he knows more than I do).

Quote from NudeRaider
Also starting off with 4 RAM modules is a bad idea as you have no room for upgrades. Go for 2x8 if you want 16 GB RAM.
Upgrading from 16GB? This computer will be long dead before it would need more memory than that.




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