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Help with my Mom's purchase of homebuilt system

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August 25, 2011 12:16:42 AM

My Mom is wanting to purchase a built computer from a guy who runs a small computer shop in town. Please advise if this is a good price and if you see any deficiencies.
She wants to primarily use this for getting on the web, (facebook, surfing general interest stuff, farmville), some scanning of photos-newspaper clippings, playing some internet radio. Basically, general purpose stuff that a 60 year old grandmother does with a computer. Is this too much system for her? Too expensive? I am wary due to it being a small town (8000 pop) and my mom has a tendency of buying without comparison shopping...

Here are the specs:
ITEMS IN QUOTE
Configured System 1 I370M
OPERATING SYSTEM 1 WINDOWS 7 PRO 32BIT SP1 OEM
including 1 NERO 10 ESSENTIAL
including 1 NOBILIS BASE DSK SYS OEM ACT BIOS-LOCK BUILD
including 1 WINDOWS 7 LOGO 0.69x0.69
OPTICAL1 1 LITEON 24X DVDRW SATA BLACK BULK NO SW #IHAS124-04
PROCESSOR 1 Core i5-2400 LGA1155 BOX Proce ssor BX80623I52400
CASE POWER SUPPLY 1 NOBLECASE TW082-B MATX BLACK/ SILVER/USB/HDAUDIO/300W RETAIL
GRAPHICS 1 INTEGRATED VIDEO FOR PARTNERLINK ONLY
PRIMARY HARD DRIVE 1 SG ST31000524AS 1TB SATA 6GB/S 7200RPM 32MB
MOTHERBOARD 1 INTEL BLKDH61CR LGA1155 MATX DDR3 10/100/1000
LAN CARD 1 INTEGRATED LAN FOR PARTNERLINK ONLY
MEMORY 1 4GB DDR3 1333 NON ECC NON REG 4GB DDR3 1333 NON ECC NON REG
AUDIO 1 INTEGRATED SOUND FOR PARTNERLINK ONLY
APPLICATION SOFTWARE 1 Microsoft Office 2010 Starter Edition
WARRANTY 1 Nobilis System Standard (1yr) Warranty
KEYBOARD 1 LOGITECH K120 USB BLACK BASIC KEYBOARD #920-002478
MOUSE 1 LOGITECH B100 OPTICAL USB BLACK MOUSE #910-001439

COMMENTS: [PO Number: Lynne c 01] *note this unit does not include monitor $175.00 for 21" flat screen with speakers Sub $757.85
Tax $0.00
Ship $40.00
Total $797.85

I am seeing some half decent DIY's over at newegg and am tempted purchasing one of those and putting her's together.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 25, 2011 12:51:27 AM

That looks ok for a prebuilt, i would be slightly wary on the quality of the RAM and PSU but she doesn't exactly sound like a power user so she should be fine there. Personally i think an i5 is a bit overkill too but i'm sure many would disagree.

However reasonable this is as far as prebuilts go, you will always get much better value building it yourself so that is what i would suggest. Additionally, you know that each part is good quality.

Try this:

i3-2100 - Even for a mid range gaming system this is a great CPU so it should be more than enough here, integrated graphics are easily good enough for HD movies and the like too.

8GB Corsair XMS3 1333Mhz - 8GB of RAM is nice and will make the system feel that bit snappier.

Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB - Fast and reliable drive.

ASRock H61M-VS - Cheap and fits everything you need.

Seasonic 300W - Plenty of power and probably the most reputable name in PSU's

Fractal Design Core 1000 - Should be really quiet and looks nice.

Lite On DVD Burner - Need it to install your OS, obviously.

ASUS 24'' LCD Monitor - Nice big monitor without the crappy monitor speakers.

Logitech Z-313 - Decent cheap speakers that will sound worlds better than monitor ones.

Logitech MK100 - Nice slim, cheap and basic mouse and keyboard.

Windows 7 Home Premium

Total - $753.89 before shipping (No rebates.)

This is the route i would go, that will probably have a better quality PSU, RAM, case, monitor and speakers. It should also give pretty much the same performance or more and cost less.

One more thing i would personally do though is trim some costs and get an SSD in there. It is so much more satisfying when your new system boots in 10 seconds and programs open 3x faster. I didnt include it in the build though because not everyone will agree with me. If you do decide to go the SSD route though i would recommend a Crucial M4. Not the cheapest SSD, not the fastest either but it is a good compromise and it is known for awesome reliability.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 25, 2011 1:16:11 AM

Honestly, there's no reason to spend that much on a system for what she's doing. Not when you can build an AMD triple-core system for about $400 and have most of the same specs except for the CPU. In fact, I really have no idea how that machine you're looking at is even supposed to cost $800.

Also, I would avoid 32-bit operating systems going forward. 64 is really starting to become the new standard, and there's no reason not to get it if you have the choice.

As others have said, beware of the all-in-one case and power supply combo. That usually means the power supply is dirt-cheap and about as reliable long-term as most things you'd find at the dollar store.
Related resources
August 25, 2011 1:53:36 AM

I would avoid the bloated software and most particularly the OEM Windows. OEM means that copy of windows is SPECIFICALLY FOR THAT COMPUTER AND ONLY that computer.

I prefer retail versions of windows so I can build, rebuild, repair reinstall at any time I like.
What is that stuff about bios lock. Sounds like bull to me.

Power is weak man.. 300 watts are you kidding me? That proc will take almost half off the bat.

I can go on..... but better stop while I am still ahead.

I believe a good SSD will provide so much satisfaction. At the cemetary down the road they have a Dell that requires 10 minutes to open a word doc. I know things are deadly slow in that business, but that is just too slow for me.

Sigh... climbs back onto my old soapbox.

Three separate instances of "Integrated." Long ago that means you could not afford a sound card, video card or anything. The poor motherboard will be bogged down with so much stuff fighting for the memory it will cheat you out of time to get things DONE.

Run as far away from "Integrated" as possible.

I have not bought a computer in over a decade. I build my own. And fix my own too.... with... ahem... upgrade.,..uh.. yes.. replacement parts. that's it, parts!
a b B Homebuilt system
August 25, 2011 2:35:00 AM

$450,
But I'd swap out the PSU which would add about $50 (True for almost all "budget" systems.)
MSI H67MS-E33 Core i3 Barebones Kit - MSI H67MS-E33 (B3) Board, Intel Core i3-2120, 8GB (2x 4GB) DDR3 RAM Kit, 2TB HDD, 24x DVDRW, Radeon HD 6770 1GB, Thermaltake V3 BE Mid Tower, DiabloTek 600W PSU
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/ite...

Took a 2nd look, didn't see operating system which would bump up price a $100

August 25, 2011 2:53:01 AM

Oh son no way tell him to keep it...... take your mom to wall mart or staples buy her a nice laptop for around 300.00 bucks it will do all that . No way does she need an over priced system with a 1TB drive and it does not have a video card. and with only the bare parts one drive,one cdrom and 300 watt psu is ok.
August 25, 2011 3:00:06 AM

Oh yeah if your going after windows 7 which is great get an AMD processor if possible and 64 bit system, much faster..
August 25, 2011 4:43:42 AM

Thank you! These are the things I need to hear. Ugh, moms...I mentioned that a 500 dollar machine would do more than what she needs,,,as far as the boot time specifically,,,my mom just upgraded from dial up....no kiddin',,,very rural...a chinese calculater would be faster dialing than what she was used too....keep them coming...
August 25, 2011 5:57:49 AM

dougorr2000 said:
Oh son no way tell him to keep it...... take your mom to wall mart or staples buy her a nice laptop for around 300.00 bucks it will do all that . No way does she need an over priced system with a 1TB drive and it does not have a video card. and with only the bare parts one drive,one cdrom and 300 watt psu is ok.


Walmart with a few hundred dollars will probably be best. Once Mum touches and feels those computers... who knows?

I hate to say it, but it is the one time I will even consider a retail computer purchase anywhere. Laptops are sooo cheap these days and basic built computers are too.

It's when we try to assemble a frankenbuild in our quest to meet a specific goal or many goals is when we are strangled by a web of errors and issues.

I have built quite a few systems for wife and myself and still cannot get past that pang of "Willitboot?" just prior to hitting the power button for the very first time.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 25, 2011 6:41:43 AM

Walmart, Bestbuy, Staples, or any other retailer is going to have good Laptops that will blow that build away for less money. I have a laptop on which I do exactly what you described, got it for about $560. It's far more powerful than what you would need. Pick up a decent laptop with a dual core CPU, around 500GB HDD and 4GB memory for about $300 - $500. Only thing I would be especially concerned about is just try to get one with a 15.6" or 17" screen. Stay away from netbooks because she's gonna have a hard time reading the text even with reading glasses on those.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 25, 2011 5:02:11 PM

northcountryinmt said:
Thank you! These are the things I need to hear. Ugh, moms...I mentioned that a 500 dollar machine would do more than what she needs,,,as far as the boot time specifically,,,my mom just upgraded from dial up....no kiddin',,,very rural...a chinese calculater would be faster dialing than what she was used too....keep them coming...


Actually these guys are right, no need to spend that much. I was just letting you know what you could get for that budget. I do think an i3 and a SSD are good ideas though. The integrated graphics on the CPU are pretty good, good enough for HD movies. Also like i said about SSD's, the PC will just feel so much faster.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 25, 2011 8:38:50 PM

That's exactly the reason i suggested the i3, more for movies than flash games though.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 25, 2011 8:53:08 PM

i3-xxxx and I5-2500 = HD2000 on die IGP
I2500k = HD3000
So comparing i3 IGP could probable google performance4 vs othe on IGPs.
August 25, 2011 11:38:42 PM

Thanks for the advice everyone, all the comments are really helpful. Have steered Mom away from this and are going to take peoples advice and look at some of these options.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 26, 2011 12:31:26 AM

I think maybe a good comprimise between price and performance would be:

i3-2100
4GB RAM
500GB HDD
~40GB SSD?
H61 Motherboard
Cheap Case
Seasonic 300W
DVD Burner
Cheap but reputable brand Monitor
Cheap but reputable brand KB, mouse and speakers

I just think the i3, good quality PSU and some cheap speakers would be a great idea. They will make for dramatically increased sound/video quality and reliability for not much more.

The SSD is up to you though, it's not for everyone but as said earlier it will make the system feel SO much faster. a 30-60GB one shouldn't cost much either.
September 7, 2011 11:04:44 PM

Wait until your Mom discovers DSL limits within 5 miles of the Telco building in your town.

Then show her Fiber Optic. You can string one of those up to 180 miles with repeaters along the way. Don't whatever you do... don't let her get onto satellite or cable. Those are sloppy seconds.
!