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Building a Home PC for my Parents

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April 6, 2012 11:53:07 PM

I'm relatively experienced building my own gaming rigs, but when it's time to scale it back and build a simple home office PC used for nothing more than browsing the internet and e-mails, I have a hard time deciding what's enough power and how to look for longevity out of items vs. raw power.

I'd appreciate any critique on the parts list I have thrown together so far:

Case: (Not necessary, luxury item) COOLER MASTER HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case
MOBO: GIGABYTE GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68
PSU: Antec BP550 Plus 550W ATX12V V2.2
CPU: Intel Core i3-2120 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz LGA 1155 65W Dual-Core
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
Monitor: ASUS VH236H 23"LCD

Thanks for any advice. Much appreciated.

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April 7, 2012 12:13:53 AM

I would go with an A8-3870k instead of the i3-2120. Obviously you would have to switch to a Gigabyte FM1 motherboard instead.

It does better with graphics, it has more cores for things that use more than 2 cores, and costs about the same. Not that they need that stuff specifically, but if someone is not going to have a graphics card I like to suggest they get an A8 just in case they do at some point want to do something beyond the capability of HD2000 graphics.

You really don't lose very much by making the switch.

You could scale the PSU back to a Corsair CX 430w or an XFX 450w easily too. Without any video card they certainly don't need more than 400w.

I would, however, keep the case rather than getting a really sucky case instead. Good cases are worth their weight in gold, even to parents.

Otherwise, everything looks fine.
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April 7, 2012 12:40:29 AM

Thanks for the tips.

I had been wondering about an AMD chip, given their new APU architecture. But I wasn't sure how it stacked up vs intergrated Intel graphics. Most all of my gaming machines are Intel's, so while I'm not partial either way, it's what I know.

And I plan on getting the case, but what I meant by luxury is that they already have one. But, it's an old Cooler Master Centurion I think. Been so long ago that I built their last one, cant' hardly remember what's in it anymore.

Well, I suppose I just need to narrow it to the A8-3870k vs i3-2120 then. Greatly appreciate the help!
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April 7, 2012 1:32:07 AM

If it is the Cooler Master Centurion 5, I would certainly advise you to replace it.

The HAF 912 is so much better than that purely because the PSU is bottom mounted.

You basically double the wattage of your PSU and double the life of all your components by having a bottom PSU mount (like the HAF 912 has) instead of a top PSU mount (like the Centurion 5 has).

The Centurion is worth about what you can eBay it for. The HAF 912 is worth its weight in gold.

The A8 3870 integrated graphics blow away that of the 2120 with the same RAM. However, it is worth noting that both the 2120 and the A8-3870k use regular RAM as VRAM, which means that the performance scales up with RAM speed.

If you are using a dedicated graphics card, it already has really fast speed RAM built into it, but the default for regular RAM is slow, like 1333.

If you get RAM that is 1600, or 1866, or 2000 speed with either the 2120 or the A8-3870k, the graphics performance will be much better than if you don't.

The gap widens between the 2120 and the A8-3870k as the RAM speed increases (the latter gets farther ahead) every step up you go in RAM.

I am not sure if there is a practical limit to that or not, but I usually suggest people get G.Skill 1866 RAM if they are planning to use processor integrated graphics chips.
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April 7, 2012 3:27:35 PM

I ordered last night with the 1600 RAM. Shame I missed that last comment, as I certainly could've changed to 1866. At least that'll be an easy upgrade if they find it lacking. But for what they're using it for, I'm sure it'll be fine.

Thanks a bunch for your advice. I did end up going with the HAF 912 and the A8 with an ASUS board.
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April 7, 2012 3:31:30 PM

Best answer selected by jsbailey.
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April 8, 2012 3:03:33 AM

The thing I like most about the A8, especially for less technically savvy people is that it lets them do reasonable graphics stuff and it doesn't add the extra point of failure from having a graphics card.

There is no card to obstruct airflow or create additional heat or arrive DOA or cause problems with a bad motherboard slot, or any number of other graphics card related problems.
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