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A Tough, Cheap System for a Charity

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November 30, 2011 3:11:25 AM

------Here be jibber jabber so skip ahead matey to the relevant----
Well, after reading countless articles on Tom's I finally got an account. I'm happy to be here.
Quick Background: I am semi-new to PC Building. I understand the components, their differences (this doesn't apply to CPUs, I still don't quite understand the difference between AMD and Intel, why AMD's multi-core's are cheaper...CPUs...CPUs I'm still learning about), their similarities etc. I've made many a newegg wishlist for prospective builds with prices ranging from pennies to solid gold toilets for all kinds of reasons.

But I've only built 1 PC...A micro-itx. Long story short, that build was where I learned all the parts to a pc (at first I only bought a case, a motherboard, and a CPU. When I had done what I...did I realized something was missing. I would make a new trip every day or so to grab a part I had just heard I needed). When it was finally built...well...I learned that the most important part of a PC build is the cheapest: Anti-static straps and mats. The thing was fried.

But now I am here and I am here to share with you a PC Build I'm planning.

-----ACTUALLY RELEVANT INFO HERE...argh!-------

You see, every year for three weeks or so in January, for the last three years, I go to Guatemala. 2/3 of the trip is sightseeing, relaxing in Antigua while I learn some spanish, eating Pollo Campero (the best fried chicken in the world). But that third week is when I make use of those spanish lessons and I help the kids of Safe Passage.

Safe Passage takes kids from the Guatemala Dump (which is massive, there is literally a mountain of garbage) who must recylce so they can earn a few pennies. Safe Passage takes these kids (and adults) and educates them. Because you can send all the food you want to the impoverished and their nations, you can have all the donation drives in the world, but what these people need is education.

This is my last (likely) year and I wanted to give something special. I was going to give them the gift of computers! But more than that! We could teach the adults/teachers to put them together! But...and here's the fun part...these little tykes can customize their own cases. Go to town on them with sharpies and what not. Make it their own.

So, we need something that's fairly simple. Nothing major here. But these are kids we're dealing with. And allthough I love these kids (once, I didn't give this on kid a candy and he didn't mope around all day! He just went to the swings!...when have you seen that happen?) they don't...they don't really know how to not screw up the more complex stuff. They just aren't nearly as familiar with it. They're not dumb. Usually, after the first two months they learn the internal rules of the PC. But it does need to be tough.

And of course, we don't have much cash. So we have an EXTREMELY low budget.

Approximate Purchase Date: Late December/Very Early January

Budget Range: $100-$400 (yikes)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: The Basics (Documents and Internet(if these are indeed connected to the internet)), kiddie games, movies (these last two are unlikely and very unimportant).

Parts Not Required: We got plenty of love and care! What? Oh that's not THAT cheesey!

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg, Amazon

Country: America/Guatemala
The parts may be purchased here in America, but we will build in Guatemala. (Test builds and build downs will occur before the trip)

Parts Preferences: CHEAP!

Overclocking: NO

SLI or Crossfire: NO

Monitor Resolution: Unknown

Additional Comments: Tough!

WEATHER: The building is fairly structurally sound, so water won't be a problem. However it get HOT in Guatemala.

CPU
Intel Pentium D 820 Smithfield 2.8GHz LGA 775 Dual-Core
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$22
We're looking for cheap. This is cheap.

MOBO (2 main LGA 775 choices)

MSI G31TM-P21 LGA 775 Intel G31 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$50

ASRock G31M-S R2.0 LGA 775 Intel G31 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Third Option
As I was saying, we need tough. So any motherboards that specialize in beating would be great.
However, Asus has that "tuf" line.
Asus Sabertooth P67
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$200

Now, that's expensive. But maybe we can cutdown on the number made to still fill it if we need that board and the compatible chips.

Power Supply
Unknown at this time

GPU
If YES, something cheap. Something that they can watch movies on.

Hard Drive
This brings up questions. If it's supposed to be "tough" will an HDD be its achilles heel? Would an SSD be worth it?
Lets assume they aren't downloading anything. That only Linux, documents, and some small programs are stored on the drive? In this case, should we just get a 30 GB SSD for $50 or so? Is it worth it?

Case
Good question. As we said, something tough. But the kids need to be able to draw/paint on it and the art needs to stay.

Cooling
At first I didn't think it'd be a problem. But with a climate like guate's... This brings new questions to light.

OS
Linux


Thank you. Hope you didn't mind the rambling! I am excited to hear back!




November 30, 2011 3:26:38 AM

Get this G620 + Motherboard + Case/PSU + RAM combo. $182 w/ REBATES lol
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?I...

Now you only need to find a cheapo HDD.

A recertified Caviar Blue $65
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$247

Oh yeah, I forgot about the DVD drive. any DVD drive $20

No need for GPU since the onboard will be enough for them. It can even watch HD moveis lol. Although, giving them computers isn't very good idea personally. But it is your money.
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November 30, 2011 3:49:02 AM

CuteBeans Combo looks excellent. You could just spray paint the case with a matte white paint so the kids can color and paint on it.
Good luck!
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November 30, 2011 4:07:15 AM

cutebeans said:


$247
.


Hmmm...

That Hard Drive? It's going in my next build I think. I'm making a very low level computer and that may be perfect.

Great suggestion. I don't know about that mobo (I like the A8880G+ I referenced above. HDMI and everything there). But I'll consider it...Actually I'm considering ordering that set myself.
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November 30, 2011 4:44:52 AM

What are you talking about. It's just a motherboard. It's like a parking station for the PC parts. It's your choice.

You're getting a $200 P67 motherboard for a $400 build? Good luck. those kids won't even use 80% of the features of the p67 and you're going to need to buy a video card because on board won't work.

Most enthusiast builds here buy a $130 board. You want to buy a $200 one for MS PAINT. It makes no sense.
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November 30, 2011 7:49:59 AM

cutebeans said:
What are you talking about. It's just a motherboard. It's like a parking station for the PC parts. It's your choice.

You're getting a $200 P67 motherboard for a $400 build? Good luck. those kids won't even use 80% of the features of the p67 and you're going to need to buy a video card because on board won't work.

Most enthusiast builds here buy a $130 board. You want to buy a $200 one for MS PAINT. It makes no sense.

Okay yeah, yeah. My original plan was pretty dumb.

I just had a friend walk in with a Handful (4) Pentium Ds though. Maybe we can make those work....do they still make...they must make pentium d boards still.
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November 30, 2011 10:33:59 AM

Tablet's/Cell phones have really been the only successful way to bring the internet to the impoverished. Local grid would be hell on a PSU, and it'll be a lot easier to get internet connection from a 3g source then from an ISP.
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November 30, 2011 10:43:01 AM

o__o. Pentium Ds? I doubt, the parts for those are more expensive than the parts of the combo.
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November 30, 2011 2:27:20 PM

You can save time and money by purchasing the SuperCombos at Newegg:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?I...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?I...
(no DVD-RW ($16 on Newegg) or Hard Drive...not necessary - read below)

I would not recommend letting people put together actual, functional computers. You would be surprised & terrified what little things can ruin a system. Go to your local PC shop & ask for their fried parts (tower/cases, motherboards, CPU's, heatsinks, RAM, HDD's, DVD drives, etc). You can have a dummy/practice system for hands-on workshops. Anti-static wristbands & mats will not save your components. Please.

For your operating system, you could do a LIVE CD of Linux (Knoppix, for example). It can be on a DVD or thumb drive that is set to boot at startup. The good things about Live CDs: no need for a hard drive, fresh install on reboot, full featured operating system, etc. All of the documents, pics, etc that the users create, could easily be saved on thumb drives (now cheaper than ever - $5 for 4GB, $8 for 8GB, $18 for 16GB, and so forth).
If you go with Windows, I highly recommend using an application that "resets" your disk to a "clean state" at startup (Deep Freeze, Shadow Defender, etc). The natives will definitely test the security features/flaws of Windows.

Putting the system on a backup power supply (UPS) will go a LONG way toward normalizing current to your system. You can get them for $30 to $70.

I grew up in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, for what it's worth.
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November 30, 2011 3:20:08 PM



"This is my last (likely) year and I wanted to give something special. I was going to give them the gift of computers! But more than that! We could teach the adults/teachers to put them together! But...and here's the fun part...these little tykes can customize their own cases. Go to town on them with sharpies and what not. Make it their own."
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November 30, 2011 3:22:23 PM

I would just give them smething else, though. They are already so poor there and might not have the money for electricity to power the computer up.

I would just give them something else.

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November 30, 2011 3:49:43 PM

JuniperSprouts said:
"This is my last (likely) year and I wanted to give something special. I was going to give them the gift of computers! But more than that! We could teach the adults/teachers to put them together! But...and here's the fun part...these little tykes can customize their own cases. Go to town on them with sharpies and what not. Make it their own."


Not sure what you are trying to say here. They can't mark on the things built specifically for just these kinds of people with sharpies?

It is nice to want to teach them how to stick a video card in a slot and all, but is it a skill they can do anything with? Can they learn with the desktop PC while they are driving down a dirt road in a cart full of hay being pulled by a tractor?

I think mobility would be more valuable to them than teaching them how to plug in a 24 pin motherboard connector.

Being able to fit 2x in the total budget is also nice. Twice the learning potential as 1x desktop in the budget.
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December 1, 2011 3:17:11 AM

Raiddinn said:
Not sure what you are trying to say here. They can't mark on the things built specifically for just these kinds of people with sharpies?

It is nice to want to teach them how to stick a video card in a slot and all, but is it a skill they can do anything with? Can they learn with the desktop PC while they are driving down a dirt road in a cart full of hay being pulled by a tractor?

I think mobility would be more valuable to them than teaching them how to plug in a 24 pin motherboard connector.

Being able to fit 2x in the total budget is also nice. Twice the learning potential as 1x desktop in the budget.


+100.
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December 5, 2011 7:06:35 AM

Raiddinn said:
Not sure what you are trying to say here. They can't mark on the things built specifically for just these kinds of people with sharpies?

It is nice to want to teach them how to stick a video card in a slot and all, but is it a skill they can do anything with? Can they learn with the desktop PC while they are driving down a dirt road in a cart full of hay being pulled by a tractor?

I think mobility would be more valuable to them than teaching them how to plug in a 24 pin motherboard connector.

Being able to fit 2x in the total budget is also nice. Twice the learning potential as 1x desktop in the budget.



Excellent idea.

However, do note that being pulled in a cart would be awesome for these kids:

That is where they live. Actually, funny story. When we visited we were only shown this area as it is the nicest and is deemed "the visitor's center".

Hm. Very interesting idea. Unfortunately the higher ups have said no. They tried a mobile program and..,uh....it ended poorly, to say the least.
The teaching idea has been tossed though, they don't really see a major point in it (I just thought it might be cool. No biggie, just a case of me being stupidly overenthusiastic).

The plan has now changed drastically. They're asking for a media center now. They're willing to pay even! $500 they've given us.

Great answer though. You get a cookie!
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December 5, 2011 7:10:11 AM

cutebeans said:
I would just give them smething else, though. They are already so poor there and might not have the money for electricity to power the computer up.

I would just give them something else.


They don't NEED anything else. Also, this is for use at the school. Not the homes. I could have elaborated on that.
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December 5, 2011 7:12:13 AM

JuniperSprouts said:
Raiddin,

I agree with your proposal.


For the OP:
http://www.whenhelpinghurts.org/


When has giving education every hurt? I understand what you're trying to say. But we're alleviating poverty through education. I don't see how that qualifies.
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December 5, 2011 1:29:55 PM

http://ayiti.globalkids.org/game/

I have 9 degrees as my best score on that game.

Play it, though, it gives a good idea of the problems and opportunities from a 3rd world family's point of view.

One thing you will note is that the main goal of the game is to get education so you can get a better job so you can get more income. You perform worse in the game if you get education but don't apply it to getting a better job.

In this case, it would be nice if you gave them education about building computers, but it is important that they be able to translate new education to a better job. It isn't at all clear that it will work like this if you educate them about how to build computers out of computer parts.
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December 5, 2011 10:15:42 PM

Raiddinn said:
http://ayiti.globalkids.org/game/

I have 9 degrees as my best score on that game.

Play it, though, it gives a good idea of the problems and opportunities from a 3rd world family's point of view.

One thing you will note is that the main goal of the game is to get education so you can get a better job so you can get more income. You perform worse in the game if you get education but don't apply it to getting a better job.

In this case, it would be nice if you gave them education about building computers, but it is important that they be able to translate new education to a better job. It isn't at all clear that it will work like this if you educate them about how to build computers out of computer parts.


Wow. I rarely admit this, but that really opened my mind to some things it wouldn't have been open to before. Thank you.

I've sent the link to the charity admininstrators. Really, this means alot.
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December 5, 2011 10:20:00 PM

Okay. I've taken it all into consideration and approached the board and Xavier, one of the students who is really into building. Xavier says that there are a few kids who are interested in building but can't really get started. We may get some barbones systems for them to work with.

But, we've thrown out the idea. Instead, we're goint to totally renovate their basketball court. New concrete, nets, posts. The works.
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December 6, 2011 1:07:57 PM

datakeeper said:
Wow. I rarely admit this, but that really opened my mind to some things it wouldn't have been open to before. Thank you.

I've sent the link to the charity admininstrators. Really, this means alot.


Glad to enlighten.

I think playing the game through a couple dozen times would be good for anyone who is actively aiding 3rd world countries.
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