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Quality Budget Build For Grandma less than $300?

Last response: in Systems
December 11, 2010 4:32:32 PM


This will be my first build aside from a server that I put together.

Approximate Purchase Date: I'm looking to put this together within the next few weeks but could hold off until the end of January if that's helpful for after Holiday sales.

Budget Range: Around $300 (after rebates is fine)

System Usage:
My needs for my wife's mom are very basic: internet, picture management, light MS office, casual gaming (solitaire and Mahjong) and of course watching those cute puppy videos and sending them to everyone she knows.

Parts Not Required: Mouse, keyboard

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Tiger Direct and Fry's will be my hunting grounds.

Parts Preferences: I was biased towards Intel (Core 2 Duo or Core i3), but reading through the forums here, I am picking up on the love of AMD Phenom II for quality/price considerations and I am not opposed.

Choosing the MoBo is what I am finding overwhelming, everyone has a bias.
Would like the PSU to be efficient.
No need for crazy cases. As small as possible with good ventilation.

Overclocking: No / Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: No need for a monitor, unless there is great priced monitor anyone would recommend.

Additional Comments: I originally looked into some barerbones Atom based Nettops from Newegg but I'm not convinced that these have the best build quality, especially the PSU, and were a little pricey for what was being offered.

My hope is to build something like a Nettop, but with better components and some future proofing.

Would like to avoid Windows and make an honest effort to try Ubuntu, but I would like to be able to use either.

I look forward to your recommendations on what to consider and how to make this build happen.

Best solution

December 11, 2010 6:08:03 PM

Items off Egg $173AR

X4 640 + MSI 785GM-P45 $96
$269AR in total
December 11, 2010 7:38:04 PM

Why Build?
You can get a Dell for $299 that includes an automatic recovery disk and even 1 year on-site warranty.

Your build still needs a copy of Windows, Mouse, and Keyboard.

Once you build it, you will be responsible for every little issue.
Show her how to save her docs to a USB Stick and how to pop in the recovery CD.
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December 11, 2010 8:08:15 PM

Thank you batuchka-

Looks pretty reasonable to me. I looked at the Microcenter page you linked to and saw that a Phenom II combo was only $99 compared to the Athlon II you recommend.

I'm thinking the $5 extra dollars may be worth it for future proofing.

Never purchased through Microcenter. Do they have a good return policy?

Do you any recommendations for an Intel build?

Thank you very much for your input.

December 11, 2010 8:10:38 PM

Actually things will only get more multi core frenly so i would say, out of the box the AthlonII X4 is more 'future proof' whilst being cheaper hehe However seeing no render/encode/etc is on the table either would do
December 11, 2010 8:41:32 PM


I considered buying through Dell. But as I mentioned, I have the keyboard and mouse and would like to avoid Windows if possible.

Also, there is the desire to build my own, and after taxes your pushing closer to $400.

I appreciate your point on being responsible for every little issue and took that into consideration and the build you recommend is reasonable. But I am thinking that by building a quality budget, I can avoid major issues.

It's not like she's going to tweak anything. The most she'd do was update the OS or a program when prompted. So I won't have play IT guy.

Thanks for the input and I'll keep your build as a fall back.
December 17, 2010 1:47:00 PM

Best answer selected by Laser1.
December 17, 2010 2:06:26 PM

The latest releases of Ubuntu should be pretty easy to get into, and you can of course do most MS Office functions with Open Office.

If Ubuntu turns you off for some reason, you might also consider Mint Linux, I've heard that it's very new-user-friendly, though I haven't used it myself.
December 17, 2010 2:08:03 PM

Yep happy shopping/building and cheers ^^
December 18, 2010 4:17:46 AM

Thank you all.

Happy Holidays!
December 18, 2010 7:04:34 AM

This topic has been closed by Maziar