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Building PC for my kids...Cheap!! Need some advice please

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August 24, 2006 5:41:20 AM

Okay, last time I built a system it was a Celeron 300 overclocked to 450...thought I was so cool at the time but now I feel so out of the loop. Anyhow, the used $100 dell pc I bought for the kids though work died.

I need to put together a machine for web browsing only and for some kids games. No 3D games or office apps. But, I want it to run Vista without hickups in the near future.

Here is what I put together;
Processor/MB:
Newegg has special on AMD 64 3400 processor. You basically have a choice of 3 free MB's. I chose the Gigabyte K8M800 Micro-ATX board for onboard video (for now). Figure this is a good start. Price $99
http://promotions.newegg.com/AMD/AMD_mobo/index.html

Case:
I want small form factor, so I looked at Micro-ATX mini-towers. too many choose from but wanted to keep below $50. In-Win mini tower (IW-Z583T.J350FU2AD) looks decent with mesh front panel. It has 350W power supply with 24 pin power connector. Price $45.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Video:
I'll use the onboard for the time being and upgrade to at lease 128 meg AGP card that can run full Vista visuals.

Memory:
512 megs should do for now. I looked for dual 2 x 256 meg PC3200 matched memory sticks. Lower price kits were out of stock, but I may get the Corsair value select (cas 3) kit. Price $54.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

GeIL Value select ram at cas 2.5 was $47.99 but not in stock.

Hard Drive:
Something small. I'm only installing OS, some spam and anti-virus stuff, few kids games and thats it. Cheapest SATA 1.5 drive is the 40 gig WD 7200rpm drive. Price $40.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

Cooling:
Arctic Silver Ceramique Compound. Price $4.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1683...

Not sure about heatsink and fan. I may get AMD OEM setup on eBay for like $10. Other option is to get something like Arctic Cooler Freezer 64 pro, but it may be too big for the micro-atx board and case. Price $24.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1683...

Input Device:
I have a mouse, but will add a basic Logitech keyboard. Price $10.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...


So far the total is $281.94

I have Win XP and CD writer etc....

I can save a few bucks by using a single 512meg PC3200 ram I have in my own machine and using AMD OEM cooler.

What do you guys think? will this get the job done?
August 24, 2006 7:00:08 AM

Looks good with one exception: stay away from Corsair's Value Select line. They contract it out to the lowest bidder, so you think you are getting a Lexus (or at least a Toyota) but you end up with a Yugo. Very high RMA rate.
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August 24, 2006 7:14:11 AM

Building a PC for you kids?

============
====DONT====
============

If theyre anyting like 99% of the ppl on this forum (me included) when we where kids... i f$#*&d every PC i could! :twisted: :twisted:

LOL JK
Sys looks ok. RAM could be an issue, no personal exp with that tho.
If its used to surf the net for porn... sorry, homework assgingmens and the like, its fine. As soon as games are involved they will want something faster.
For the price ure doing well.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 24, 2006 7:25:11 AM

I'd switch to the Biostar. The NF3 250 is a much better chipset.

Cases are a personal thing, but I wouldn't use that psu for long, if at all. I didn't see any markings that showed who made it, and it comes with a cheap case, so I can't imagine the quality is very high.

If your going to get a card, get a card. Unlike most other computer equipment, AGP cards aren't likely to get much cheaper. There will always be Radeon 7000/9250s out there, but getting a good one that can run Vista's DX9 visuals aren't going to be cheaper next year.

That might be the cheapest SATA drive, but if you can afford just a few more bucks, you can get much better/bigger. You didn't give a max budget, but as its already been pointed out, $13 now gets you a bigger drive.

It will get the job done, but if you have any extra $$$ to throw into it, do so. BTW, I didn't look at the motherboards that much. I just noticed that the biostar used a NF3, while the others used a Via chipset. The gigabyte one might have more features packed into it.
August 24, 2006 7:33:21 AM

Go for an 80gb HD since the price per gb is much lower, meaning you get much better value for money. 40gb HD's are a ripoff really.
August 24, 2006 8:07:52 PM

Thanks guys for the input...great information.

Good idea about HD, not much price up to double capacity. This is dumb question, but can I use SATA 3.0 with a board equipped with SATA 1.5? Other then stepping down transfer rates, are the connectors the same?

Good advice on memory too...I was swayed by the "brand"

The case is cheap, I figured the PSU is crap, but I just want to make sure it boots, not really looking to power many other components other than future video card. Other alternative is one of these small micro-atx desktop cases. I'm sure the kids will like the goofy look.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

The PSU is higher wattage but I can't say if the quality is any better.

The MB decision was based on on-board video. The Biostar needs card. If I go with Biostar any recommendations for a cheap 128 meg card that can run Vista in full visual? Also Biostar is ATX, not micro, which means larger case (not a deal breaker).

Thanks again for the advice, really appreciate it.

BTW...when I mean kids I mean 4 year old and a 6 year old. The 4 year old knows it all it seems :)  He beats me at LocoRoco on PSP.
August 24, 2006 10:06:45 PM

a decent low end card would prob be like any ati 9550 or up never used nvidia so i dont know about them. 8)
August 24, 2006 10:34:04 PM

Quote:

Hard Drive:
Something small. I'm only installing OS, some spam and anti-virus stuff, few kids games and thats it. Cheapest SATA 1.5 drive is the 40 gig WD 7200rpm drive. Price $40.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...


This one is $3 more and 80GB...
Running out of HDD space is such a pain, besides you can always reuse this for the next one. Its always better to have more, and if you want you can partition it and make a backup/dual boot for when the primary setup gets hosed by who knows what.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

EDIT: Remember that SATA 3Gbps drives are backwards compatible w/ SATA 1.5Gbps interfaces. :) 
a b B Homebuilt system
August 24, 2006 10:37:08 PM

Don't worry about the drive, it will work. My current drive is a SATAII drive hooked up to a SATAII port, but with the jumper enabled for SATA(I) use. The cables are all the same, so there are no worries. A single hard drive can't fill the bandwith provided by even ATA100/133, so limiting it to SATA's 150 isn't a problem.
The problem with no name PSU is that they are no name. If the unit doesn't work, the fly by night company doesn't care, they already have your money. You aren't looking to install any real power hungry components, so it will work, but I was worry about stability/reliability. If the PSU rails are off, or has a lot of spikes, then how long your parts will last is now a problem. Go ahead and use it, but use something like Speedfan every now and then to make sure you aren't having any issues with the rails.
The 9550 is the lowest card I would get. I'd look online and try to find someone dumping a 9700/9800 for better speed. (5700 and up for Nvidia.) The 5200/5500 does support DX9, but is so slow using those features that your better off with something faster.
August 25, 2006 12:02:32 AM

Thanks guys.....nice info. It should be fun system to build with the kids.

The PSU issue I understand. It seems that PSU's get good share of the system build discussion. I'm just trying to see what I can get by for a low-stress system.

Cheers.
August 25, 2006 4:51:42 AM

Check out this PSU. Iv'e had no probs with it, in fact it fixed part of a problem that i had with a cheap 400w psu that came with the case, ie artifacts on the screen everywhere. (the other part was overheating video card)

Thermaltake TR2 430w

EDIT: Yes its not the most efficient psu available and it has 2 80mm fans instead of 1 120mm but hey, it is cheap.
August 26, 2006 3:25:47 AM

$24.99 after rebate.....not bad. Thanks for the tip.

Since my last post I looked at couple of bare bones systems. Perticularly this Asus Pundit P1-AH1 unit with NVIDIA Gforce 6150 on board.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1685...

At $159, this could be a good start, although no option for future video upgrades...but this may not be a big deal for a cheap (disposable) system. I read a good review on this unit as HTPC.

...decisions...I need to keep reminding myself its for the kids, not me.

Also, I was bummed to find out Newegg charges tax for certain states (mine in perticular). Zip Zoom Fly doesn't but more expensive overall. Any other sources I should consider?
August 26, 2006 3:44:35 AM

TigerDirect.com is my second choice for hardware needs.
September 7, 2006 3:40:23 PM

Well, plans changed and I ended up buying off the shelf. I could not pass up the $299 CompUSA special last week. Athlon 64 3500, nForce Asus MB (not sure of model), 120 gig serial ATA (3.0), 512Meg PC3200 ram, Dual Layer DVD writer with lightscribe, firewire ports, memory card reader, Nvidia 6150LE built in graphics, open PCI Express slot. I was also impressed to find XP Pro installed.
September 7, 2006 4:00:21 PM

Quote:
Looks good with one exception: stay away from Corsair's Value Select line. They contract it out to the lowest bidder, so you think you are getting a Lexus (or at least a Toyota) but you end up with a Yugo. Very high RMA rate.


I'm living proof of what this guy says... however, the return process was fairly painless. I'm sure some of what they sell works on the first try, but damned if mine didn't.
September 7, 2006 8:12:50 PM

Yes, I found Corsair's RMA turnaround time to be very quick (one day I think!), unlike that of Crucial, which left me hanging for a couple of weeks because their RMA dept forgot to checkoff a box on a form. This continued even after I called Crucial to find out why the replacement was taking so long!
September 7, 2006 11:41:52 PM

Quote:
Well, plans changed and I ended up buying off the shelf. I could not pass up the $299 CompUSA special last week. Athlon 64 3500, nForce Asus MB (not sure of model), 120 gig serial ATA (3.0), 512Meg PC3200 ram, Dual Layer DVD writer with lightscribe, firewire ports, memory card reader, Nvidia 6150LE built in graphics, open PCI Express slot. I was also impressed to find XP Pro installed.


This is pretty decent. You can pick up a cheap PCI-E card in a year or two if your kids do go into a bit of gaming, nice open slot for an upgrade.
September 8, 2006 12:02:07 AM

My advice: screw building your own. Buy this instead:

E-machine PC bundle

If you can't swing the $360, you could cheap out and get the $300 package, but the extra $60 is well, well worth it.

cheaper E-machines deal


OR

Go the super cheap route, and repair your current Dell. Shouldn't be too hard.
!