Snappy PC for Parents under $500

Heyo, first time caller here. :hello:

I think I should begin by saying that I aim to build a PC for my parents to replace their old, el-cheapo Dell. My #1 goal is speed over time. I want build a computer that will still be fast 6 years from now with only a minor upgrade or two (at which point I would upgrade the processor, vid card, fans). I want the OS to load very quickly, and for applications to start with a snap. They only ever use the computer for the internet, so the most processor-intensive situation would involve streaming video and the virus scanner (AVG), maybe even at the same time! I will load it up with Win7 RC and buy it about 9 months from now.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: hopefully within the next 30 days

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: general internet usage, streaming videos

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: PS2 keyboard, mouse, speakers, DVD player (hopefully), OS (will use Win7 RC until it can be bought)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Tiger Direct, New Egg, Amazon


$58 Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

$10 Patriot Dual Channel 2048MB PC6400 DDR2 800MHz Memory (2 x 1024MB)

$65 ECS A780GM-A Motherboard - AMD 780G, Socket AM2+, ATX, Audio, Video, HDMI, PCI Express 2.0, Gigabit LAN, USB 2.0, eSATA, RAID

$65 AMD Athlon X2 7750 Black Edition Processor AD775ZWCGHBOX - 2.70GHz, 1MB L2 Cache, 2MB L3 Cache, 1800MHz (3600 MT/s) FSB, Kuma, Dual-Core, Unlocked Multiplier, Retail, Socket AM2+, Processor

Power Supply: I haven't decided what I want/need, but something dependable around $25 would be keen.

$120 Acer X193W+BD Black 19" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 2000:1 (ACM)

DVD drive: I will try to use their old DVD player, otherwise, will buy a $25 LG ( )

$129 OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX30G 2.5" 30GB SATA II MLC Internal SSD

SECOND HARD DRIVE: I will use their old, existing HD for storing photos and performing auto backups.


MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1280x1024 probably

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: If the old DVD drive works, this whole build, including monitor, should cost around $472 dollars. Price is important, I want to keep it under $500 to compete with Dell.

What I would really like from you fine people, is to know if you foresee any immediate problems with this build. Thank you very much for reading all of this, I greatly appreciate your thoughts.
15 answers Last reply
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  1. Number 1, I think your spending too much on the SSD drive. I mean it's nice, but for 50 bucks, grab a standard sata drive with a large cache, and you should be ok there. For PSU, a cheaper corsair is more than you want to spend, but may consider one of those as the build quality is supposed to be excellent.

    With some of the money you save on the SSD drive, grab a 22 inch monitor. I've seen those for 150, I have a 22 inch hanns g monitor myself, and it's awesome. They will probably like that a lot.

    For a cheap build, that may be too much case. How about something like this for 25?

    Or this for 30? And has a similar look to the Antec.

    Also, dump that processor. Consider maybe Phenom 2 x3 710 or 720. 710 is a little easier on the budget.

    Or here's an older Phenom x4 for 120.

    Some of the other guys could give you more info, but since they are not gaming or anything like that. If you went that route, check mobo compatibility.

    Awesome deal for memory, but at this point, go with at least 4 gb if possible, and a 64 bit OS. Although 2 gb is certainly usable.

    Last thing I just saw, dump the ECS mobo. ECS is known as cheap, my personal preference is Gigabyte, or Biostar. I've had very good luck with biostar in the past, but I'm running my first gigabyte board, and so far it's been great.
  2. ohiou_grad_06

    Thanks for the comments!

    In regards to the HDs, is it not true that boot-up time, and program load time (IE explorer) are considerably less when done from a SSD as opposed to a platter? From what I have read, this is the case, so I figured I'd get one just big enough to hold an OS for several years...

    Assuming I go with the Phenom 2 x3 710, I'd be interested to know if anyone has a good recommendation for a specific ATX MoBo that is around $50. Built in graphics would be nice, though a cheap card I might consider is this 256mb ASUS:
  3. On SSD I mean you can do what you want, but like me, I'm running vista on my desktop, and within a minute or so of turning it on, it's usually up and running. Load times aren't bad for me. You can always upgrade the HD later on. But for memory and processor, get the fastest you can I think. Keep in mind I'm running an SLI board, with an Athlon x2 5200+ processor.

    I have not used this board, but you may consider it.

    it's about 48 I think. It also appears to have onboard video/audio. You may want to ask others about this board though, but one review said it's not great with more than a 95 watt processor. The one time I did use an ASROCK board it seemed ok. I think on that board though it will likely want ddr2 1066 memory. Though a lot of guys say that pc 1066 is only overclocked ddr2 800 memory, so you may be able to get away with using that, not sure. I've not gone this far yet. So some other guys may be of more assistance in these areas. You may have to search around on pricewatch for the ddr2 1066 memory if you do go this route, as newegg seems to be limiting a lot of their options there, which stinks as they used to have a lot more great deals.
  4. Ya under $500 possible to hit at least a P2X3 710 ^^ My suggestion:

    That mobo runs 125W TDP Phenom 2s and actually has a BIOS for 955BE ^^ Suggest you hit an AM2+ chipset and give AM2 a miss as even at the entry level u get PCIex16 2.0, HT 3.0, far superior IGP, etc
  5. Thank you both for your comments, based on them I have revised the build a bit:

    TOTAL: $508

    [$25] Rosewill R101-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case
    (I would also add a $8 front fan)

    [$25] DiabloTek PHD350 350-Watt Power Supply - ATX, SATA Ready, PCIe Ready, 20+4 Pin

    [$72] ASRock A780GMH/128M AM2+/AM3 AMD 780G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

    [$119] AMD Phenom II X3 710 2.6GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Processor

    [$22] OCZ Value Series 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory

    [$128] OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX30G 2.5" 30GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Disk
    This is for the OS only (indexing off)
    READ: Up to 230 MB/s
    WRITE: Up to 135MB/s (80 sustained)

    [$109] Acer X193Wb Black 19" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 2000:1 ACM

    And I will reuse a DVD and IDE hard drive (for photos, browser, virus scanner).
  6. Ive used ASRock on my last 3 builds, had only one arrive DOA, but I'm pretty sure thats because the UPS guy was playing soccer with the box :X
  7. That PSU may hold up. Not sure though. If you HAVE to cheap on a PSU, maybe consider something more like this.

    Again, don't know how much I'd trust that PSU, but I think I'd trust it more than the diablotek you listed, but for 20-30 bucks on a PSU, don't expect.
  8. Seriously, ditch the SSD. A WD hard drive with 32Mb of cache will be plenty fast for opening programs. Spend the savings on a better PSU and more faster RAM.
  9. OK, how about this HD and case/PS combo?

    [$60] HEC 6K28BBX585 Black 0.8mm SECC Steel MicroATX Mini Tower Computer Case 585W Power Supply

    [$70] Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
  10. To the OP, do what you want man, but dump that SSD. Waste of money, it will come down in price eventually, then grab it. For a 500 dollar budget though, spend the money somewhere else, like a good PSU.

    For example, here's the PSU I've got

    This PSU is not the greatest, but the PSU you picked(the diablo tech) has 18 amps on the 12v+ rail, the one above has 38 amps. Which is better?

    Example, look at this one

    You pay 50 bucks, but it's nearly as powerful as the 650 watt PSU I have. That is quality. You get that 400 watt corsair, yeah, it's more than you want to spend, but you'll probably never have to worry about it burning up. The main thing you want to look at on a PSU is not the wattage, look at the amperage one the 12v+ rail.

    What's not fun is when a cheap power supply goes out and burns up the mobo. And if you are building this pc, you will end up being tech support.

    Edit: Just saw your newest post. That box and PSU is like the minimum I would go with. Another thing to think about, look at least for a midtower case, if you ever want to upgrade the mobo or anything else, you aren't limited to a Micro ATX board and have a little more room to work.
  11. OK, here is my revised parts list:

    [$75] ASUS M3A78-CM AM2+/AM2 AMD 780V Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

    [$70] AMD Athlon X2 7850 Black Edition Kuma 2.8GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache 2MB L3 Cache Socket AM2+ 95W Dual-Core Processor

    [$59] Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

    [$40] CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply

    [$70] Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive

    [$37] OCZ Blade Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory

    [$109] ASUS VW192T+ 19" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 ASCR 4000:1(1000:1)

    TOTAL: $460
  12. Looks great to me! The only suggestion I can give you is if you feel like you can spend a few more dollars, I would swap out for this CPU and mobo
    What you have now is good, but a triple core processor will definitely be much better than a dual especially if you are needing this PC to last a long time.
  13. The faster WD6401AALS HD is currently on sale for the same price as the 500GB drive.

    Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM $69.99

    Edit: Be sure to check for combos on all your hardware. You can get a free SATA cable with the 640GB drive. You can also get a set of DDR2 1066 RAM. The integrated RAM controller on the AMD CPU's benefit from the extra bandwidth of DDR2 1066 RAM.
  14. I agree on the combo, for the little extra, you'd get a better chip, the thing is, in a few years if you want to get a better chip you may have a harder time finding it, or have to pay more, However, I think what you have would make a good build, and for 500, that should be a nice system.
  15. Very nice build - +1 for the 640 gig drive.

    Only thing I'd change besides the hdd is the memory - from my own experience (and the reviews I've seen) G. Skill has nearly flawless quality control, while OCZ is not quite as consistent. I'm sure I saw a 2x2GB kit of G. Skill for ~$45 on newegg, so it won't change your final cost much.
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