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Old 12-15-2007, 10:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Cheap, Reliable Computer for Parents

My parents are considering buying a new computer, and asked me to build it for them. They usually run fairly lightweight programs (no gaming, at most some photo editing) that run fairly well on their 6-year-old computer (P3 866mhz + Windows ME), but are worried about the age of their components.

They were hoping to use the hard drive (80gig IDE) and disc drives (a DVD and a CD burner) from their old computer.

What I was planning on:
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ Brisbane 2.1GHz
Motherboard: PC CHIPS A33G*
Memory: A-DATA Value Series 1GB
Case/PSU: Rosewill R805BS Black/Silver Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 300W connector Power Supply**

Although they like the specs (Dad wanted 1gb instead of 2gb RAM to cut price down), they were worried about the reliability of some components. All I could find on the reliability of the "PC Chips" motherboard was that the company which bought them is the 4th largest, which really doesn't help much. Also, I was somewhat wondering about the case/PSU. I've heard that sometimes combos aren't very good, but was wondering about Rosewill. I have a friend who bought a Rosewill 500W power supply and hasn't had a problem.

They're also getting Windows XP.

Something else, we don't have any thermal compound on hand. Does some come with the CPU, is it necessary for a computer like this, or what kind would you recommend?
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Old 12-15-2007, 10:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap, Reliable Computer for Parents

That will be fine for what they are doing. 1gig of ram sounds fine for what they are doing. Are you going to put in an extra hard drive just in case they need it? The dual core they don't really need but since the chip is cheap that's good.
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Old 12-15-2007, 10:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap, Reliable Computer for Parents

There's room for an extra drove if they need it, but it's really not in the budget right now. They're hoping to get everything for <$300, and this barely cuts it with shipping.

They still have about thirty gigs free on it now, and would still be using a 40gig drive if it hadn't died.
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Old 12-15-2007, 11:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap, Reliable Computer for Parents

PC Chips = no go. They are hit or miss, definitely not reliable.

Rosewill PSUs = no go. Same thing.

Put another $25 with it and go with these:
Newegg.com - GIGABYTE GA-M61SME-S2 AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 6100 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Newegg.com - COOLER MASTER Elite RC-330-KKR1 Black SECC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 350W Power Supply - Retail

At least those two shouldn't go up in a puff of smoke when you hit the power button.

Your folks do realize that they may have to reinstall Windows, don't they? They may get by with doing a repair installation, but there is no guarantee. They should back up their data before you try, and go ahead and dig out the installation diskd for their apps. Just in case.
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Old 12-15-2007, 11:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap, Reliable Computer for Parents

ugh, with Windows ME as a base, I would HIGHLY recommend backing up ALL of their data, and doing a clean format.... Windows ME is a HORRIBLE OS..... Computer at my part time job had Windows ME, and was NOT connected to the internet, and windows was giving message about virus detected, and random BSOD's every few days... blah.

Otherwise, good work.
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Old 12-15-2007, 11:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap, Reliable Computer for Parents

They already have all their data backed up, but thanks for checking.
The motherboard is nice, but one thing they wanted was to use both the disc drives and hard drives (3 IDE devices). The Gigabyte motherboard only supports two. I might be able to talk them out of using the CD burner though, I'll bring it up with them.

Alternatively, would a cheap IDE controller work straight out of the box to boot a hard drive?

EDIT: Did a bit more searching and found this motherboard: MSI K9VGM-V AM2 VIA K8M890 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard . Would this work also?
EDIT (AGAIN): Did a bit more searching on the MSI motherboard, and found out it only supports 2gb of memory. While not a big deal, I looked again and found a ASUS M2V-MX. Any problems with this? We've had good luck with ASUS so far (it's the mobo in my parent's current computer.)
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Old 12-16-2007, 12:38 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap, Reliable Computer for Parents

The MSI uses a VIA graphics chip. As long as they aren't doing anything besides using MS Office and minor surfing, they would be OK.

Word on the forums is avoid ASUS. Their customer service sucks big time, as in non-existent.
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Old 12-16-2007, 12:59 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap, Reliable Computer for Parents

Try this motherboard, 690G graphics should be somewhat better at the same price.
Newegg.com - Foxconn A690GM2MA-8KRS2H AM2 AMD 690G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
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Old 12-16-2007, 01:12 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap, Reliable Computer for Parents

Office and internet were pretty much all they were hoping to do, aside from light photo editing. Right now they're using Intel 810e integrated graphics, so it's almost certainly an improvement.

The Foxconn looks nice, but it only has one IDE connector, and my parents wanted two.

Just wondering, if we were to get the MSI motherboard, how well does Vista run on 2gb RAM? (IF we ever get vista, I'll convince my parents to get a graphics card too.)
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Old 12-17-2007, 08:41 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap, Reliable Computer for Parents

Vista runs well on 2gb of ram.

Quote:
Something else, we don't have any thermal compound on hand. Does some come with the CPU, is it necessary for a computer like this, or what kind would you recommend?
The processor has a fan and heatsink included so it should come with thermal paste.
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