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Gonna attemt to build a pc for my parents- first timer

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January 10, 2008 1:59:41 PM

Hello-I have zero experience with building computers, but I'd like to build a solid computer for my parents. I'm familiar with the various components I need, but I don't really know where to start with which brands. etc. to buy.

The only thing that my Dad told me he wanted the computer to do is use Musicmatch Jukebox, but I'm sure they also want smooth internet, email, and word processing- the simple stuff. In short, they want a smooth computer-not the slow experience of the dell dimension 8250 that they currently use.

So does anyone have any advice or sites they could direct me to so I could find out where to start?
January 10, 2008 2:31:47 PM

I like to look at the reviews on newegg. The star rating does not always mean much, but reading the reviews can give you a quick idea if you want to buy an item or not. For an inexpensive home email, music, and internet system, I would go with an AMD X2 system with integrated nvidia or AMD graphics. The new Pentiums would also be good, like the E2200. They are about the same price as AMD, but you can save a lot on the motherboard with the AMD. You can get a nice integrated graphics AM2 board for around $60. The Intel boards with similar features and a current chipset will be more than $100.

I got a Gigabyte AM2 Motherboard recently, and I am very satisfied. I have also used MSI a lot in the past. They are very reliable and stable as well. However, MSI does not seem to allow for overclocking on their MATX boards anymore.
January 10, 2008 2:43:36 PM

^^^

What he said, then get 2x1GB of DDR2-800 ram, its on newegg for under $50 these days.

Throw in a hard drive and dvd drive, add a case and a GOOD 400-500 watt PSU and you'll be set.

I would suggest getting the Antec Earthwatts 450W psu.
Related resources
January 10, 2008 2:44:01 PM

1) whats the Budget? and does it include monitor/speakers/mouse/keyboard

2) exactly what all is the machine going to be used for?
January 10, 2008 2:51:30 PM

If all they do is internet,email etc. then all they need is a basic system. With Dell, their lower end systems are not very expensive. And seeing you have "zero" computer building experience, that is probably the best way to go. Check out the forums at slickdeals.net Lots of good deals on Dell listed there. Hell, there is a deal on the main page for a Intel quad core, 22" monitor, 250gb hd, 1g ram and more for <$600. Very good deal. More than enough for your parents.
January 10, 2008 3:06:46 PM

I'd start with the Antec Sonata case with Earthwatts 500W PSU, now on sale for a low $80AR.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I don't like the gloss black finish, but it is otherwise a great mid-range case, quiet, and one of the few with eSATA on the front.

To that I would add:

E4500 CPU - a good dual core option at a reasonable price - $125

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Gigabyte P35 DS3R mobo - $127 - you could save about $27 by going with the DS3L board but it only has 4 SATA connectors while the DS3R has 8

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ Gold 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 - $89
You could save about $40 if budget constrained by getting only 2x1GB memory- which would provide acceptable performance for their uses - but with prices cheap today I would try go for more memory

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

EVGA 512-P2-N757-TR GeForce 8600GT 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 - $120AR

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This card should handle the uses you described very well, but a video card upgrade is the place to spend more if budget allows and you want more power. Consider the THG list of cards:

http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/12/03/best_graphics_ca...

And if you want to review the performance of the different cards in real applications, the VGA charts:

http://www23.tomshardware.com/graphics_2007.html

To these key components, add Seagate 320 GB HD - $85, DVD Burner - $35, and Vista Home Premium OEM $110.

Total cost: $661 before OS and $771 with OS
You can shave $67 off this if needed as noted above.
If that is still too expensive, then you should consider going with a mobo with integrated graphics, saving the $120 for the video card.
Naturally you will also need monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers, which are not normally included in system specs listed on the forum.

This will give you a nice system - and if you chose to upgrade the video card it could be a very powerful system.
January 10, 2008 3:48:54 PM

No Doubt that Dell is a deal! 585$ on slickdeals.net just bring it home and slap another GIG of ram in there. Perfect for parents.

Intel Core 2 Q6600 Quad-Core (8MB L2 cache,2.4GHz,1066FSB)
Genuine Windows Vista Home Basic - English
1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz- 2DIMMs
Dell USB Keyboard and Dell Optical USB Mouse
22 inch Samsung 2220WM Widescreen Analog/Digital Black LCD Monitor
Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100
250GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache
Integrated 10/100 Ethernet
56K PCI Data Fax Modem
48X CDRW/DVD Combo Drive
Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
1Yr In-Home Service, Parts + Labor, 24x7 Phone Support
January 10, 2008 4:39:06 PM

I agree that a new Dell (or HP, emachine, etc.) may be a cheaper and easier approach, especially if you have no experience building systems.

If you feel comfortable building a system, it will cost a little more to build one yourself (and do it right), but you can customize it to fit you and you can upgrade / fix things easier in the future. Dell machines are great (we use them at work), but when a part breaks, you usually have to get the part from Dell at a premium. Things like memory and hard drives are no problem, but if the motherboard fries or a part on the motherboard, then you may be out of luck. The Dell cases are awesome, but very proprietary. I have one at home that even has a proprietary plug for the case fan, and the motherboard holdowns do not all use screws. Instead, they have these metal fins that lock the motherboard in place. The power supplies are also frequently inadequate if you ever want a high end (or even medium) gaming card. If all of that does not matter to you, then by all means get the Dell.

If you get a dell though, make sure to get one of the Optiplex machines (or any of the business machines). They have US or Canadian support. The others have the support from places like India.

If you build your own, make sure to get a good quality power supply like one of the others said. The PS provided with most cases are usually inadequate, low quality and noisy. It is one of the most important parts in the system. You may also consider buying quieter fans for the case. For a low end system, you really only need one besides what is in the PS.
January 10, 2008 4:45:45 PM

grieve said:
No Doubt that Dell is a deal! 585$ on slickdeals.net just bring it home and slap another GIG of ram in there. Perfect for parents.

Intel Core 2 Q6600 Quad-Core (8MB L2 cache,2.4GHz,1066FSB)
Genuine Windows Vista Home Basic - English
1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz- 2DIMMs
Dell USB Keyboard and Dell Optical USB Mouse
22 inch Samsung 2220WM Widescreen Analog/Digital Black LCD Monitor
Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100
250GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache
Integrated 10/100 Ethernet
56K PCI Data Fax Modem
48X CDRW/DVD Combo Drive
Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
1Yr In-Home Service, Parts + Labor, 24x7 Phone Support

you are better off with XP then with vista home Basic move up to Premium and get a real video card.
January 10, 2008 4:58:00 PM

If you interested in system building as a hobby/interest then do the necessary research and take your time. If you're just looking for a cheap way to get a computer a first time build is probably not the best idea. Chances are you'll end up having to spending extra $$ on something you didn't originally plan on or something else unexpected. If your really interested in building, then just ignore all the recommendations on what to buy. Go find some real good resources on how to build a system. Figure out the 'how' before the 'what'.
January 10, 2008 5:13:09 PM

Yes, definitely get Vista Premium Like Joe_the_Dragon says. I think that integrated video is fine for an internet / office system, as long as you have one that is Vista Premium ready. Be careful though, some of the Dell machines with the "Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100" are not upgradeable. I would NEVER want a system that did not at least have the option to upgrade - Especially with Vista. Make sure that it has a PCI Express X16 port (not just an X1).

If the budget allows though, it would be better to get a DirectX 10 video card.
a b B Homebuilt system
January 10, 2008 5:37:46 PM

Your self-built computer will last longer than the Dell. A few upgrades along the way will keep your computer lasting longer than the Dell.
January 10, 2008 5:54:22 PM

grieve said:
No Doubt that Dell is a deal! 585$ on slickdeals.net just bring it home and slap another GIG of ram in there. Perfect for parents.

Intel Core 2 Q6600 Quad-Core (8MB L2 cache,2.4GHz,1066FSB)
Genuine Windows Vista Home Basic - English
1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz- 2DIMMs
Dell USB Keyboard and Dell Optical USB Mouse
22 inch Samsung 2220WM Widescreen Analog/Digital Black LCD Monitor
Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100
250GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache
Integrated 10/100 Ethernet
56K PCI Data Fax Modem
48X CDRW/DVD Combo Drive
Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
1Yr In-Home Service, Parts + Labor, 24x7 Phone Support


I agree this is a very nice deal.
Unless your Parents are hard-core games, I don't see a home build as making much sense.

Unless they need a powerful GPU and need to OC to the hilt, get this system.
If you plan to build, I hope you have a much bigger budget.

January 10, 2008 6:12:41 PM

That Dell is a sweet deal. Just add another GB of RAM and it will be perfect.
January 10, 2008 8:18:32 PM

For mom and dad, get the qaulity Dell that is already built, they will be happy.
January 10, 2008 9:40:21 PM

The dell route does sound alot easier- I was under the impression that building your own computer would be more cost-effective.

My only qualm about Dell is the fact that the slow computer we have now is a Dell- I guess it's just old
January 11, 2008 9:33:38 PM

Has the Dell been checked for virus, spyware,ect? I have no idea what the specs of the Dell are so I don't know if it's old and slow (like me) or maybe just in need of some maintaince.
January 11, 2008 10:13:55 PM

I believe Dell 8250 is not that old - I have 8400 still in use.
I second what chuckm said. Also did you defrag the HD lately? What are the specs? Did you consider a simple CPU and/or graphics upgrade?
January 11, 2008 10:34:47 PM

Wow I would not do my very first build for my Mom and Dad, I would go out to Wallmart and buy a computer, then remove all the crap that is not needed for them to get email, surf the net and look at pics of the grandkids.
January 11, 2008 11:32:53 PM

Quote:
My only qualm about Dell is the fact that the slow computer we have now is a Dell- I guess it's just old
Not to be mean but if you can't speed up your parent's old PC, I wouldn't be too eager to jump into building a new one. However playing around with tweaking that one to see what you can get out of it would be a good start towards learning about system building.
January 12, 2008 12:12:59 AM

columbus said:
The dell route does sound alot easier- I was under the impression that building your own computer would be more cost-effective.

My only qualm about Dell is the fact that the slow computer we have now is a Dell- I guess it's just old


It depends on your needs.

For the majority of people, Pre-Built System from places like Dell are the cheapest.

If you are an Enthusiast who needs an high-end system, then building your own makes sense.

Example - For my Parents, Sister, Wife, etc... I always work on finding them pre-builts. For my needs, Custom builds generally work best. High-End Gaming tends to be the primary need for custom builds. Others might have other needs.
a b B Homebuilt system
January 12, 2008 12:17:53 AM

^Agreed
a b B Homebuilt system
January 12, 2008 12:43:17 AM

That Dell deal is fantastic. If you try to build a PC yourself for the same money, the monitor and CPU and mouse/keyboard will already consume all the cash, and Windows alone would cost $100 or more.

I guess the big question here is whether your parents play games or not. If they only play Solitaire or MineSweeper or other similar games then the Dell will be fine.
January 12, 2008 1:09:29 AM

columbus first of all good for you take that plung.

dell,gateway hp.compaq,acer,will never learn you about pc's.

they build pc for people that never want to learn about pc's.

start with case and ps. then go with mother bd.
ram .cpu ,and video.

sense video does not matter.

I suggest newegg on the build on all your parts.pepole on newegg will give good advice on parts.

the price your parents are willing to speed for pc will decide the pc you are going to build.

the advice the people have gave you are good advice.

but the pc you build for your parents is priceless.also tomshardware wil help on the the biuld.

do your homework on this build.dell,gateway compaq build pc for people who never want to build pc for them self.

they fear people with a brain to build there own pc

my first pc comadore 64.then 128,486,p1,p2.p3 then p4.it's in the game.build it and they will use it.

also monitor as far as seeing the picture go wide screen,the prices over the years favor the user? old peoples eye's

it's your call.

your build will always beat the prebuilt pc.father the sleeper has awaken.long live the builders! :bounce: 
a b B Homebuilt system
January 12, 2008 1:11:41 AM

columbus said:
Hello-I have zero experience with building computers, but I'd like to build a solid computer for my parents. I'm familiar with the various components I need, but I don't really know where to start with which brands. etc. to buy.

The only thing that my Dad told me he wanted the computer to do is use Musicmatch Jukebox, but I'm sure they also want smooth internet, email, and word processing- the simple stuff. In short, they want a smooth computer-not the slow experience of the dell dimension 8250 that they currently use.

So does anyone have any advice or sites they could direct me to so I could find out where to start?

For the tasks you mention, a newer machine would not be noticeably faster than what you have now. Others have suggested maintenance. I would also check the current free space on the hard drive. Once they get over half full, they slow down dramatically.

Perhaps all that is needed is a little more ram, and a second hard drive.
a b B Homebuilt system
January 12, 2008 1:12:53 AM

deuce271 said:
^^^

I would suggest getting the Antec Earthwatts 450W psu.

When did they come out with the 450w model? Could you provide a link.
a b B Homebuilt system
January 12, 2008 3:02:23 AM

I will disagree with everyone here. I suggest you do get a dedicated video card for this pc that way you know integrated will not be stealing a lot of memory. It might take some, but I think overall it would be a little quicker. Also, you can always upgrade the video later if needed. Here's an idea....

Memory...

Wintec AMPO DDR2 PC6400

2gb = $35.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ATI Radeon X1300 Video card = 19.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Biostar Board = $48.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD Athlon X2 4800+= 84.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Seagate 250 gb SATA hard drive=65.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Sony OEM DVD burner=23.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total Price so far is 279.94

Cooler Master Case 49.99 with free shipping, I personally have not used their cases, but some say they are good for airflow. You pick though.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec earthwatts 430 watt=59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total if selecting these components=379.92 Figure another 20 bucks for shipping, so total of 400 bucks. I like that board b/c I've had good experience with Biostar, and 2 gb of memory would really help, then you would have room for more memory later. I think the 4800 x2 would do very well, I have a 5200+ x2 and I am very very satisfied, very fast processor for the money.

Figure if you spend another 100 bucks for the operating system, then 500 even. If you build, just take your time, and read and reread. Personally, I like Vista, everyone says it's horrid and all....no, I like it. One thing I really liked, I first made the jump to SATA drives with vista. At least on my build I did NOT have to install any SATA drivers or anything, Windows setup picked everything up properly, all I had to do was tell it to format my drive and to install. Great experience.

Oh a tip, if you go with an IDE drive for a DVD burner, make sure that your jumpers on the back are set to the setting that says master. I know there is usually a cable select setting, but I've been playing with PC's for about 10 years, most drives I had until recently were IDE, and there just seems to be less problems out of things when you force it to be the master drive on that channel, and make sure you plug it into the top plug, and not the middle plug.
January 12, 2008 3:34:44 AM

I am a big fan of Dell "Stock Boxes".

The basic Dell with a decent CPU, case, PSU, MB, small HD and the OS. Of course it will come with RAM... that you will immediately upgrade with more/faster sticks. You add your own bigger faster HD and use the original HD for data backup. Add your own graphics card.

(Dell's basic price is next to impossible to beat, it is the options that they make their $).

You will end up with a pretty decent computer at a nice price. It won't scream through the latest games, but it will do office and mom & dad stuff quite well. And it comes with a warranty for the critical (expensive) parts.
January 12, 2008 3:36:07 AM

I own an X1300 and from day one I've been impressed with the performance it's given. For 20 all I was expecting was something to display video as opposed to integrated solutions.
May 17, 2008 4:03:58 PM

Joe_The_Dragon said:
you are better off with XP then with vista home Basic move up to Premium and get a real video card.

y get discrete video card?
its for his parents
who dont do jack other than basic everyday uses
would u get a 8800 ultra for ur grandma to surf the net?
i certainly wouldnt :) 
May 17, 2008 4:57:33 PM

A ati 3650, 3450 will be good fit some on board video setups don't even have a dvi port. A $50 or less video card is not for gameing.
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