Build It: Picking Parts For Your Kid's Entry-Level Gaming PC

The Case And Other Components

Choosing a Cheap (but Great) Case

Our case budget is between $45 and $50. We're looking for something with a front vent and, because kids like looking at hardware, a side window.

Because our budget is downright conservative, we went through a long list of options before settling on a good fit. We’re using Cooler Master's Elite 430 Black as a good compromise between price and performance. It doesn’t sting us with any ugly surprises, such as cheap, thin materials or sharp edges. This is about as good as you get for what we're spending. Fortunately, it's ample for our little project.

Cooler Master Elite 430 BlackCooler Master Elite 430 Black

We added a quiet fan to the back of the case for exhaust. This cost us a little less than $10, but it was worth the price considering how much noise cheaper fans tend to make.

Fans are easy to add, and should ideally run quietlyFans are easy to add, and should ideally run quietly

At this point, we need just two components in order to finish up the PC: a hard disk and optical drive. The disk's target capacity depends on how much space you need for applications and user data, plus the cash you're willing to spend on it.

Tool-free assembly makes life easierTool-free assembly makes life easier

Drive bays make it easier to add storageDrive bays make it easier to add storage

Component
Price
Case
$50
12 cm Fan
$10
               500 GB Hard Drive               $70
DVD Burner
$17
Total
$147


Bottom Line and Overall Budget

We’re able to keep our budget in the $350 range by picking components carefully. Here’s an overview of the basic build's cost before we start benchmarking it. Remember to add $100 if you need a Windows 7 Home Premium system builder license!


Intel Pentium G620Intel Celeron G530AMD A8-3850
AMD A6-3650
CPU/APU + Motherboard
$129
$115
$164
$149
CPU Cooler
$18
$18$18$18
4 GB RAM
$22 $22$34
$34
Case$50
$50$50$50
Case Fan
$10
$10$10$10
Hard Disk + Optical Drive
$87
$87$87$87
Power Supply
$40
$40
$40
$40
Total
$356
$342
$403
$388
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    Top Comments
  • velocityg4
    Interesting, but I'm assuming most parents that build there own computers, game and read toms hardware would be better suited just giving their kids their old gaming PC's. Since many this enthusiastic will already be replacing them every couple of years. Now they have another excuse to replace them and their kids get computers made from former high end and quality parts that are still very fast and more than capable of playing any kids games and edutacational/edutainment software.

    Although I say just give them an Apple IIe so they can learn on what we learned on in school.
    26
  • s3anister
    velocityg4Interesting, but I'm assuming most parents that build there own computers, game and read toms hardware would be better suited just giving their kids their old gaming PC's.

    I see the reasoning in this, however, for someone like myself I found this an interesting article; as I'm actually about to build a computer for my nieces and they do not need a fully featured gaming rig. It doesn't make sense to give them a machine that doesn't suit their needs and I'm sure many other parents/uncles/aunts are in the same boat.
    23
  • bliq00
    why didn't the author post the stock cooling solution temps. Personally I've always found that the stock intel cooling was both quiet and sufficient, even in mini itx cases. I'm curious how big the difference is. if the diff is just 10-15%, I don't think it's worth spending extra on a 3rd party cooler for a kids computer.
    22
  • Other Comments
  • velocityg4
    Interesting, but I'm assuming most parents that build there own computers, game and read toms hardware would be better suited just giving their kids their old gaming PC's. Since many this enthusiastic will already be replacing them every couple of years. Now they have another excuse to replace them and their kids get computers made from former high end and quality parts that are still very fast and more than capable of playing any kids games and edutacational/edutainment software.

    Although I say just give them an Apple IIe so they can learn on what we learned on in school.
    26
  • s3anister
    velocityg4Interesting, but I'm assuming most parents that build there own computers, game and read toms hardware would be better suited just giving their kids their old gaming PC's.

    I see the reasoning in this, however, for someone like myself I found this an interesting article; as I'm actually about to build a computer for my nieces and they do not need a fully featured gaming rig. It doesn't make sense to give them a machine that doesn't suit their needs and I'm sure many other parents/uncles/aunts are in the same boat.
    23
  • JOSHSKORN
    or at that age, you could just buy an Android tablet or an overpriced iCraplet. Both probably support AngryBirds or other games and you can take them along to trips, dinners, church and other events to shut them up.
    -22
  • belardo
    JOSHSKORNor at that age, you could just buy an Android tablet or an overpriced iCraplet. Both probably support AngryBirds or other games and you can take them along to trips, dinners, church and other events to shut them up.
    So show me a top of the line Android tablet that costs less than the "overpriced" iPad...
    -22
  • Maximus_Delta
    iCrap (something for the fashion victims & super creative types to show off whilst sipping their skinny lattes in starbucks whilst facebooking their friends about the fact that are in starbucks, having lattes, and got a new iPad / macbook)
    17
  • belardo
    What *YOU* do is hand your kid the OLD computer when you upgrade. But yeah, since about the age of 1 and a half, my son has had his own PC... keeps if off ours. He did damage his CRT monitor with paint - which was somewhat cleaned up. Fine. His first was a client's out-dated Pentium III-1Ghz which he paid $2500 when it was NEW. Then he got a compaq handme down from mom.

    Today, age 7: AMD X4 CPU, 4GB RAM, ATI 4670 card I built from various parts. I use it for background work since its so powerful. He does his educational and game software on it.

    When I was age 7, the Apple II was just released and most people didn't know what one was. It wasn't until 1980 that we started seeing these $1200~3000 computers... usually in the school library with 1 or 2 units. My 1985 PC: 1-2Mhz 128k RAM, 360k floppy drive system with a monitor was $900+. I still have it and it works. I forgot how to use it.

    Suggestions when building a PC for 3~8 year olds: buy a logitech notebook mouse ($15~20) as these are smaller but perfect for little hands. Use a cheap keyboard as kids tend to be messy and destroy them. if they are real young (1~3yrs old) try to get your hands on a CRT. Harder to knock over, costs $0~5 if you can find one.

    Also, a $200~250 netbook makes a good "notebook" for young kids (4~9 years old). Or give your kid your old notebook. My kid was given a 17" notebook a friend gave away when he upgraded.
    13
  • acerace
    Anonymous said:
    So show me a top of the line Android tablet that costs less than the "overpriced" iPad...


    You're feeding the troll, genius. :heink:
    14
  • JohnnyLucky
    Leave out the bling and dedicated video card for a basic pc for grandma and grandpa! I've already built a couple for senior citizens who are not gamers.

    BTW - there is an option to dedicate some of the memory to the integrated graphics. I installed inexpensive 8GB memory and dedicated 2GB to the graphics. What I don't know is if it makes a real difference. Would that help gamers?
    2
  • amdfangirl
    JohnnyLuckyLeave out the bling and dedicated video card for a basic pc for grandma and grandpa! I've already built a couple for senior citizens who are not gamers. BTW - there is an option to dedicate some of the memory to the integrated graphics. I installed inexpensive 8GB memory and dedicated 2GB to the graphics. What I don't know is if it makes a real difference. Would that help gamers?

    More or less dependant on the speed of the RAM.
    1
  • Proximon
    After all that build up a cheap PSU is used based entirely on claims written on the box. No reviews exist and apparently Cooler Master knows it's junk because they haven't bothered to get it certified by 80plus.
    2
  • bliq00
    why didn't the author post the stock cooling solution temps. Personally I've always found that the stock intel cooling was both quiet and sufficient, even in mini itx cases. I'm curious how big the difference is. if the diff is just 10-15%, I don't think it's worth spending extra on a 3rd party cooler for a kids computer.
    22
  • amdfangirl
    Anonymous said:
    After all that build up a cheap PSU is used based entirely on claims written on the box. No reviews exist and apparently Cooler Master knows it's junk because they haven't bothered to get it certified by 80plus.


    I'd just go with the Antec Earthwatts series.
    4
  • killeeeeer
    Its funny how its PC for kids and they benchmarked Gta IV, the 3850 seems the way to go better than buying and i3 or g someing and buying like GT520 as the 3850 beats the 520 in benchmarks
    3
  • FormatC
    The GT 520 is slower than A8-3850. Take a look at the Charts 2011 :)
    0
  • killeeeeer
    FormatCThe GT 520 is slower than A8-3850. Take a look at the Charts 2011
    "as the 3850 beats the 520 in benchmarks " read carefully
    4
  • FormatC
    At first: sorry
    English is for me nothing more than one foreign language and if I read over this posts quickly once...

    I found GTA (Vice City, San Andreas and/or GTA IV / EFLC) on each childs computer (boys, 10 years and older) and this old game is a good example for benchmarks, not more. Other older games are running on each toaster, if you oc'ed him from 110 to 230 Volt :D
    -7
  • de5_Roy
    nice read. :)
    interesting choice, benching gta iv for a kid's pc...lol i know it was to test platform strength.. i hope it wasn't in the pc when it was handed to him. 7750 was a very good choice.
    some people might argue why the amd apus were not overclocked so that they could outperform pentiums for gaming and the apus' higher performance in 3d rendering and pov ray tracing.. :D
    i am a bit skeptical about cm gx psu... overall good performance for money from both intel and amd builds.
    3
  • emad_ramlawi
    This is Cooler Master advertisement ...

    Tough Times huh Tom ...
    -5
  • FormatC
    Anonymous said:
    This is Cooler Master advertisement ...
    Tough Times huh Tom ...


    No, this is what I had on matching components in my lab here, because we have recently tested these parts. This is a so-called recycling :D
    9
  • daglesj
    Once finished building your 'kids' PC I'd recommend cloning the finished build to another HDD and putting it away on a shelf......for a week or two later when they have messed it all up.
    8