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How'd I do for Mommy?

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I figured I would keep the same thread name as the one requesting advice for this build, yep, it's trademarked now!
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This will be a FULL build log with plenty of notes along the way, so don't expect it to be short. I am looking for REP so I can sell on the marketplace, so if you find anything on this thread helpful, don't be afraid to hit that button!
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As the title suggests, this build was for my mother, to replace a 3 year old Lenovo that should have never been purchased in the first place. (Very low quality parts, multiple failures, but that's enough about that!) She already had peripherals like KB/Mouse/Monitor and I had an OS ready to go. Her primary activities involve internet browsing, Office Suites, Photo storage and minor editing, IPODs...you know...normal Mom stuff I guess, and nothing crazy. Predicting that she would one day want to also stream video from her computer to her living room TV, my build was focused on 5 components:
1. Build a quality computer with parts that will last.
2. "Future Proof" the build, allowing for upgrades in the future without a total system overhaul.
3. Build a machine that will give her a "snappy" desktop and browsing experience. We don't want Momma waiting on the computer, we want the computer waiting on her!
4. Budget of under $600.00.
5. Stay Classy.

Parts Ordered
I was able to find some good deals on NewEgg, and I was happy to buy all parts from one source. All parts listed with a price include tax, shipping, and instant rebates calculated, at the price at the time of ordering.

Case: NZXT Source 210 -$45.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811146076
This fits the classy focus of the build, and I really liked the airflow ability of this case. Allowing 7 fans is a little crazy for this particular build, but the wire management, the nice white paint inside and out, and the great price made this a top pick with little thought for me.

Power Supply: CORSAIR Builder Series CX500 -$59.99 minus 10.00 MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139027
I probably could have found a little bit better of a power supply, but small PSUs with high efficiency are a little hard to find. In all honesty, this build will probably use around 100W at any given time, so 500 should be enough for future upgrades like a graphics card, more HDDs, etc. I have good experience with Corsair support, and gave them my business to thank them for it.

Motherboard: ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 -$129.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157271
Probably the hardest component to pick of any build. Thanks to Socko1965 for recommending this board, it was a great suggestion. Plenty of power phases, high quality parts, ability to add 1 or 2 GPUs later, upgrade to an i7, and the UEFI is a fantastic experience. Everything was so easy to set up, and I know Mom ended up with an incredible board to drive her system. There WERE two Cons I will mention about this board. First, when I plugged an old monitor into the on board graphics into the VGA port, the port felt flimsy, like it wanted to push through and snap off the board. The DVI port was sturdy, and not many people use VGA anymore anyway. But having to support the port from inside the case to plug a monitor in seemed unacceptable to me. The other Con will actually be a Pro for most people on the forums. For my Mom though, I'm worried about the BIOS reset switch being located on the back panel. If there was a an option in the UEFI to disable this, it would make this better. If she hits this button and resets the settings, it will turn off AHCI and other settings I've made. Not really in love with that, would have been just as easy to use inside the case next to the power and reset switches.

Processor: Intel Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz OEM- $109.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115078
Not the best processor on the market, true, but keep in mind this is a budget build. With the usage habits mentioned above, going above a dual core would likely be wasted money as most programs would not utilize or max this CPU anyway. Being a big fan of AMD, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and try out an Intel, since from what I read they do better in real world applications. I'm glad I went the Intel route. OEM cannot be overclocked, but that's just the way we like it in this build. Stock, cheap, and pretty.

RAM: (2x) Crucial Ballistix 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 -$31.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148505
Not much to say here. I use Crucial Ballistix in my rig, and had great customer support (they replaced all RAM sticks in my rig for free when only one went bad, didn't care I purchased the computer used off of Craigslist!) So once again...this was an easy decision for me.

Hard Drive #1 (Operating System): Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 2.5" 64GB SATA III SSD -$104.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148441
Yeeeeeeeeeeah! You got a need for speed, get one of these! Plenty to say here, but no need. There is a crazy amount of reading that you can do on SSDs, and you're likely to come up with a list of 3 SSDs on the absolute top. Those 3 can switch places with each other with varying opinions, but this drive will ALWAYS be on the top 3. For me...this is number one. Best drive on the consumer level market. I did want to go with the 128GB version for a little more...but when building computers it's always easy to add 20 bucks here, 30 there, and end up hundreds over budget. This is just one of those things.

Hard Drive #2 (Storage): Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKX 500GB -$89.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136769
Bad time to buy a hard drive. That's why I went with a 500GB for now. She only has 150GB full on her Lenovo, so I figured this would give her some time to wait until prices come back down. When they do, we can easily add another TB or more. People seem to rave about these blue drives; never used them. But I've always used WD with flawless success. From the specs alone, it seems like it would perform much better than the Greens I have.

Extras:
Aftermarket CPU Cooler: Rosewill RCX-ZAIO-92 -$17.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835200056
Necessary? Absolutely not.
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however, I like keeping things cool, and I'm almost obsessed with it. I also read reviews that the stock cooler was too loud, and this one seems to be super quiet. I also idle this rig at 31C with this cooler, I will post load temps after the build has been completed entirely. Best case scenario, it increases the lifespan of components. Worst case, I spent an extra 18 bucks and made it look way cooler. I'm sold.
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Case Fans: (3x) KINGWIN CF-012LB 120mm -$14.37
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835124023
I got a couple opinions that 3 additional fans (for a total of 4 case fans plus the PSU built-in fan) was overkill for this build, and would add unwanted noise to the rig. I respectfully disagree. The fans I ordered are rated for low noise at a good price (19db and 4.79 each!) so we were never really going for a wind tunnel here. My concern was ensuring a positively ventilated case, (all 3 are intakes) and eliminating heat spots for reliability. I also just had a hard time building a case with spots for 7 case fans and only using 1.

Total Cost of build: 595.27 minus $34.50 promo code for a total cost of 560.77 shipped!

Waiting on parts....waiting on parts...waiting on parts....and...
ARRIVAL!
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Unpacking...
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^That's always a good feeling that will never get old.
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Parts arrived at around 9:00PM, so I got to it!

Dry run aligning motherboard for standoff installation:
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That motherboard is sexy...
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Standoffs installed
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Unpacking the CPU, with the stock cooler.
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The aftermarket cooler:
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Here the two coolers are shown together. What a difference!
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Installing the i3:
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Luckily I had some of this lying around, because I didn't order any. 15 bucks a tube with what...3-5 drops? LOL and we complain about gas prices...
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Here's how much you use. I do not spread the paste. A very small drop, and your ready to mount the cooler.
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After applying the paste, I realized that there was very little left in the tube. It was likely I only had one shot at the mount.

Success! Here is the mounted cooler, shown clearing the RAM heatsinks. I did have to take the fan assembly off of the heatsink to allow for installation of the RAM. No sweat.
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And here we go with a mess of wires. Kind of made me wish I went modular, but we are on a budget build.
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Here's a minor issue I ran into with this case. Installing an intake fan on the front, I removed the front guard. The wires on the top come zip tied to the case shipped, and the connectors were a pain to remove and made me think I was going to break them. Rather than take the time to undo the zip ties and mess up their nice wire routing, I decided to hoist the front panel up instead and just work the fan in there. Not much of a problem really.
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Storage Drive, 3 case fans, and assembled motherboard installed at this point. Threw the cables to the back and began some wire management.
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Idiot moment...my 8 pin connector would not fit through this hole! Any way I twisted it, it would not even come close. My only option was to run it across the entire motherboard from bottom to top, and I was thinking about taking a hacksaw to my Mom's new case when I realized...the connector splits into two parts!
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Success
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It was getting late at this point, and I had work in the morning. I decided to do what I could to pack it up so I could move it to its next destination. Here's the mess of wires in the back.
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The side panel wouldn't close with the wires this way, so I had to take it as it was. I also noticed at this point that I had ran into two problems:
1. I expected SOMEONE to have the mounting kit needed to install the SSD. But it didn't come with the case, nor the SSD, so I was out of luck only having 3.5" drive bays on this case.
2. I was also predicting using one of the 10 DVD drives I had laying around for the build until I could swap the SATA DVD-RW out of my Mom's old Lenovo. Well apparently new boards (or at least this one) doesn't support IDE connections, so I had no DVD drive to install my OS and programs with. I would have to overcome this tomorrow.

They ship it in this plastic holding case that's just about 3.5 inches...I mean who sits there and thinks of this stuff? "Hey uh....we got plastic holding the SSD in the box, do we just want to hold it in there with an adapter they could use in their case for this drive?" "No way Jim Bob. That would cost the customer an extra 20 cents. We don't want our price to go from 105 dollars for a 64GB drive to 106. That would hurt sales."
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Worked the sunlight away and once the moon rose, out came the builder of zee night!
Here's my solution to get the OS/software out of the way lol
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Used a USB bootable flash drive to install Windows 7, and bounced files back from my sig rig to the other, while staying plugged in at OCN (mainly to reference Sean's Guide)
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Once Windows was installed and updated, drivers up to date and all SSD optimizations and benchmarks complete, I plugged in the storage drive and partitioned 20GB for a system image to restore in case of a catastrophic failure. Since this was going to be used by my parents, I took a precaution against them accidentally messing up this partition, and used BitLocker to encrypt the drive with a password. If there is any drawback to doing this, such as not having access in the time I need to use it, someone please comment and let me know so I can remove the encryption.
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After about an hour more of wire management, I finally got the case side panel to close with my wires hidden. With the install complete, I packed it up to bring back home.
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I now await a 3.5" to 2.5" adapter, and SATA DVD drive to arrive, as well as my parents for final setup and pickup. Working on this machine has been a pleasure, and it is absolutely lightning when booting, browsing, and daily use activities. I promised my Mom that if she let me build her a computer, that it would not only be of much higher quality than any pre-built machine even closely in the same price range, but it would also be the fastest computer she has ever worked on. After working with this build, I know I have lived up to that promise.

Thanks for reading! Don't forget to REP if you found anything helpful!!
 

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no.1 overkill computer ever made on this website for a mom.... LOL

SSD? GEN3 board? heck even a i3 i soverkill...

my mother is using a hand-me-down... hahaha and she thinks its the best thing ever!
 
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