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Cheap replacement PC for my kids - Help Please!

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May 9, 2006 3:43:50 PM

Finally bought myself a Mac and now have very little left to replace our old Dell Pentium III which is either dying or I am just too tired to do one more @#$% XP SP2 tweak to figure out what's wrong (USB port problems, games run like snails w/maxed out RAM)...

Anyway, my kids are 6 and play a few games, which I'm sure will get more complicated and graphics-intense as time goes by. However, I can't afford much (was hoping for an inexpensive upgrade, but I think a replacement is necessary). I have never built a computer and don't know how to overclock -- not sure I've got the time to dedicate to learning how... I'd like to keep this under $400 (I've got XP Home, a SyncMaster 152N monitor). My current CD/DVD drive is questionable and the 3.5 floppy drive appears to be integrated into the Dell case.

I've seen some of the $500ish gaming rig posts, but when I check out the specs/reviews of the motherboards & other components (overheating, bios tweaking, etc.) I'm worried that I'm not experienced enough to take advantage of the increased performance -- (i.e. "ASrock 939dual-sata2" reviews on Newegg make it look intimidating...). I've taken PCs apart[/list], but have never built one from scratch...

So, I looked for cheap parts that looked easy to put together. Perhaps later I could install a video card. However, I'm not sure if I've remembered everything, or if these parts all work together well (do I need an extra power supply with this?). Could someone please take a look and let me know (or suggest something better)? Thanks very much. mcaren

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1685...
ASUS Vintage-PE1 Intel Socket T(LGA775) Intel Pentium 4/Celeron SiS 661FX Barebone - Retail
Model #: Vintage-PE1
$108.00

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...
Intel Pentium 4 511 Prescott 533MHz FSB LGA 775 EM64T Processor Model BX80547PE2800EN - Retail
Model #: BX80547PE2800EN
$106.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1682...
Kingston ValueRAM 1GB (2 x 512MB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Unbuffered Dual Channel Kit System Memory Model KVR400X64C3AK2/1G - Retail
Model #: KVR400X64C3AK2/1G
$85.65

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1682...
ASUS Black ATAPI DVD-ROM Drive Model DVD-E616AG - OEM
Model #: DVD-E616AG
$23.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1682...
SAMSUNG Black 1.44MB 3.5" Internal Floppy Drive Windows 98SE/ ME/ 2000/ XP - OEM
Model #: SFD321B/LBL1
$6.99

More about : cheap replacement kids

May 9, 2006 4:05:03 PM

My wife's sister had the same problem. The solution we came up with was an XPC like this. It may costs a bit more, but why buy a floppy drive when Burgerking gives out 128mb flash drives with a kids mean these days? You can use the old HDD & slap in some cheaper ram.

Her kids love it, its got some expandability, & is on a cheap AMB platform that has room for upgrades.

I also did my own XPC from scratch that is a mini power house that only costs 700, but the bear bones with the bare minimum should be more than enough for 6 year olds, plus its a space saver in my eyes.
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May 9, 2006 5:19:18 PM

Quote:
It may costs a bit more, but why buy a floppy drive when Burgerking gives out 128mb flash drives with a kids mean these days?

Gah, I can understand but utterly hate this position, especially since I've been asked sooo many times to get data offa floppies for people (both 3.5" and 5.25").

Anyway, to actually add something meaningful to this thread: mcaren, with 6 year olds, I would say stick to the safer side, don't worry about getting great overclocking parts and tweaking the system to squeeze every last drop of potential outta the thing. First, that kinda thing requires not only knowledge to do it in the first place, but also requires some level of sentience to make sure things aren't failing. Secondly, it will be abused. I repeat, they will install software that comes with spyware, they will be a little rough on it, etc. You know this already. Anything you can do to make the system more robust will help.

Further, considering that real gaming (at least what I've noticed) picks up around 10 years old if at all, you have some time before the requirements really start ramping up. if at that point there's a call for a better computer, tell them that you're completely satisfied with it and that they can do chores and save up to buy/build whatever they want :)  I don't mean to step on any parental toes here, just a suggestion. In any case, there are tons of helpful forums, including this one, where you can check the parts you look at and get some opinions, and if/when problems or questions arise, you can get a helping hand.

Cheers
May 9, 2006 5:29:47 PM

Go for a Celery and a good ASUS 775 board. Will let you upgrade and hold your build for awhile. Integrated gfx will do unless you want to game.
May 9, 2006 5:40:30 PM

If you're worried about scaleablity, the ASRock with AM2 riser could be a good bet?
May 9, 2006 5:41:19 PM

Quote:
Finally bought myself a Mac and now have very little left to replace our old Dell Pentium III which is either dying or I am just too tired to do one more @#$% XP SP2 tweak to figure out what's wrong (USB port problems, games run like snails w/maxed out RAM)...

Anyway, my kids are 6 and play a few games, which I'm sure will get more complicated and graphics-intense as time goes by. However, I can't afford much (was hoping for an inexpensive upgrade, but I think a replacement is necessary).


Ever consider AMD? The Athlon 64 doesn't consume as much electricity and doesn't get as hot as the Pentium. Considering that you are replacing a old Dell, you'll need a case to go along with your PC especially since Dell is notorious for using proprietary parts. But that's okay, I've included a case and a power supply in my suggested build that costs less than $400 excluding shipping. I assume you have speakers, mouse and keyboard.

Case & PSU:
Antec SLK1650B Black Steel ATX Mini Tower & 350W Power Supply
$63, but shipping is $19. You may want to see if www.Buy.com has this, and they usually do offer free shipping.

CPU:
AMD Athlon 64 3000+
$114

Motherboard with integrated graphics"
BIOSTAR GEFORCE 6100-M9 Micro ATX
$59

1GB RAM
Good 'ol Corsair
$80

80GB Hard Drive
Western Digital Caviar 80GB
$44.50

DVD Drive
SAMSUNG Combo Drive Black IDE
$25

Floppy Drive
SAMSUNG Black Internal Floppy
$7 - Personally I have not used my floppy drive in over 4 years.

There you go, an almost complete PC for about $393 before shipping.

Drop in a Geforce 7600GT or better GPU for games, and your kids may hate since you will most likely take this back and use the PC for your own "entertainment needs."
May 9, 2006 7:13:02 PM

Quote:
Go for a Celery and a good ASUS 775 board. Will let you upgrade and hold your build for awhile. Integrated gfx will do unless you want to game.


Unless your looking for a pet project, bmouring hit the nail right on the head. Most of the games a 6 year old will play, or atleast should be playing, are going to be games that come off the web, or in a Captain Crunch box. None of which will be healthy for a PC with any new value into it. Another suggestion is comb the streets a little, i got two P4 out of the bulk trash beucase some rich people wanted the latest and greatest. Both the things had a gig of ram and XP pro!

Whatever you need to do youll these guys will help out.
May 9, 2006 8:40:28 PM

Thank you for all of the responses (I'm learning a lot, but am still confused!). For what it's worth, the one game my children play that the Dell can't handle well is Zoo Tycoon. (I've read that this game has problems w/certain video cards -- as if our dinosaur of a machine wasn't enough to render it unplayable....) But, they like it and they're learning how to count in the thousands and can read most of the screen info, so I like it! I'm hoping that any onboard video in a new machine would be more than adequate for this game...

So... was there any sort of group consensus as to whether or not I should stick w/something like my original Pentium 4 configuration (or the other barebones suggestions), or something more like jaguarskx's AMD Athlon 64 3000 + BIOSTAR GEFORCE 6100-M9 Micro ATX combination? I don't know how to judge stability when it comes to combining that many components. The temperature and power supply concerns are confusing -- if there's a chance that I'll need a video card soon, do I need a bigger power supply and a fan now?

Thanks again.
May 9, 2006 8:56:45 PM

Quote:
Thank you for all of the responses (I'm learning a lot, but am still confused!). For what it's worth, the one game my children play that the Dell can't handle well is Zoo Tycoon. (I've read that this game has problems w/certain video cards -- as if our dinosaur of a machine wasn't enough to render it unplayable....) But, they like it and they're learning how to count in the thousands and can read most of the screen info, so I like it! I'm hoping that any onboard video in a new machine would be more than adequate for this game...

So... was there any sort of group consensus as to whether or not I should stick w/something like my original Pentium 4 configuration (or the other barebones suggestions), or something more like jaguarskx's AMD Athlon 64 3000 + BIOSTAR GEFORCE 6100-M9 Micro ATX combination? I don't know how to judge stability when it comes to combining that many components. The temperature and power supply concerns are confusing -- if there's a chance that I'll need a video card soon, do I need a bigger power supply and a fan now?

Thanks again.

A celery/3000 will take basically no power/heat draw. 350 watt should be enough to cover most video cards, unless you want an X1900XTX.
May 9, 2006 8:58:20 PM

If you go with that biostar board and athlon64 cpu, you will not have very high power requirements at all and you'll do pretty good with any games your kids are likely to play. If you want to move into the newest/latest/greatest games, it won't do, but I wouldn't worry about that till the time comes.
May 9, 2006 9:25:00 PM

Quote:

So... was there any sort of group consensus as to whether or not I should stick w/something like my original Pentium 4 configuration (or the other barebones suggestions), or something more like jaguarskx's AMD Athlon 64 3000 + BIOSTAR GEFORCE 6100-M9 Micro ATX combination? I don't know how to judge stability when it comes to combining that many components. The temperature and power supply concerns are confusing -- if there's a chance that I'll need a video card soon, do I need a bigger power supply and a fan now?

Thanks again.


The 350W Antec delivers 130w from the 3.3v and 5v rails according the PSU's sticker. That means the 12v rail (most important) can deliver 220w of power.

I estimate the power consumption for each component @ 100% load as follows:

Athlon 64 3000+..............................42w
BioStar MB w/ integrate video...........35w
2 Sticks of RAM................................10w
1 Hard Drive....................................15w
1 DVD Drive....................................15w
2 Case Fans.....................................10w

Total Power Consumption.................127w @ 100% load

If you use a PCI-e video then the motherboard will probably be using more like 15w - 20w since the integrated video is not being used at all. That would increase the total remaining wattage on the 12 volt rail to around 142w.

That is more than enough to power a GeForce 7900GT or the Radeon X1800XL (I'm pretty sure). Then again I don't think you need that much raw power to play Zoo Tycoon.

One thing I forgot to mention. The Antec case only comes with the rear 120mm fan. There is space for a 80mm intake fan, which will improve air flow which is important since the motherboard is passively cooled.
!