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Build a Super Cheap Internet machine?


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#1
lamboe80

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I've done lots of computer component upgrades, but have never built one from scratch. A coworker of mine wants me to build him 2 super cheap computers for his kids to have for internet browsing and internet game playing (barbie.com, PBS.com, noggin.com, hotwheels.com, etc). The kids are young enough that they will not be installing any graphic intensive games on these computers yet, but will probably within the next year or so. These will basically be starter computers for them.

Will the following list of parts work and be reliable?

Case: APEX TX-346 Black/Silver Steel ATX Mini Tower Computer Case ATX12V 300W Intel & AMD Listed Power Supply - Retail $39.99
CPU/MOBO combo: ECS Goal3+(1.1C) AMD Sempron 3000+ 754 SiS 761 GX Micro ATX Motherboard/CPU Combo - Retail $49.99
RAM: PNY OPTIMA 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model MD2048KD1-400 - Retail $43.99
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar SE WD800AAJS 80GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $35.99
DVD Burner: LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE Model DH-20A4P-04 - OEM $21.99

Grand total is only $191.95! He wants to keep it under $200 apiece if possible. What do you guys think? Will this work? Will the integrated video and sound on the MOBO be sufficient? What about the power supply? I do not need a monitor, keyboard, or mouse.

Thanks!
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#2
Samm

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Welcome to G2G

Hope you don't mind if I pick that little lot apart a minute...

My main concern is the motherboard for the following reasons (some of which are down to personal preference admittedly!):

1) ECS are not one my favourite brands. This IS a personal preference I know but it's also based on experience
2) The CPU socket is 754 which is pretty much obsolete now
3) It uses DDR memory which also pretty much obsolete and is also quite a lot more expensive than DDR2
4) It has an SIS chipset. Again, personal preference but I'm really not a fan
5) It only has 2 memory slots (not the end of the world) but not ideal
6) It only supports SATA 150 which means your SATA 300 hard drive won't be supported at full speed.

For a few bucks more you could get an AMD 64X2 3800+ AM2 socket ($35.99) rather than a sempron.
64X2 3800

If you want a decent motherboard on a tight budget, I'd recommend an Asrock such as the one below:
Asrock Alive NF6P

or an MSI for example. Don't be tempted by a Jetway...

Although this will be more expensive you'll save some money be being able to buy DDR2 memory, rather than DDR.
I'd recommend Crucial, Kingston, Corsair, OCZ etc

Next MAJOR issue - I really won't advise you get that case with the 300W PSU. To start with, it's likely to be severely underpowered at 300W, secondly you really want a non-generic PSU.

Newegg do a range of cases that come without a PSU for under $25. I'd recommend you get one of those and buy a seperate PSU. The cheapest one that I'd recommend is this Antec 350W. At only 350W it's pushing it but if you're not planning on adding any extra hardware to the system then it should be fine:
Antec

Failing that, for $30 you could get a Silverstone 400W PSU:
Silverstone

The hard drive is fine but for an extra $6 you could get this Seagate which is the same speed but twice the size and comes with a 5 year warranty:
Seagate

Hope this helps some :)
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#3
Troy

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For all the "personal preference" comments Samm has made, I fully agree. The changes she has made sound spot-on in my experience also. :)

Don't forget, you can follow our guide to build it, if you like.

Cheers

Troy
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#4
lamboe80

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Thanks very much for the suggestions! Knowing which brands are the best would be my weakness at this point.

I have updated the parts list and have saved them to a public wish list at Newegg.

http://secure.newegg...Number=12260947

How does it look now? Will I need any additional fans or cables?
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#5
Troy

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A few more points:

You will be needing a heatsink/fan for the CPU, as that one is OEM.

You have two IDE devices, but only one IDE channel. I strongly suggest you "upgrade" the hard drive to the cheapest decent SATA you can find.

And I don't see an OS in that list, you already got one?

Troy
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#6
RjBass

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If he is looking for cheap starter machines for young kids, he should go with Linux. When they are older and need more, then the Windows investment can be made when it matters more.
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#7
Troy

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It's a good point, as linux does have the cost advantage over Microsoft.

That being said, if linux is decided, one would need to do a little extra research about the parts. Often you'll find a component that hasn't really worked well for a lot of people, while a different components work great every time.

Ubuntu is a popular choice, I use it a bit myself.

Troy
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#8
Samm

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List is looking good! I second Troy's point though about the hard drive - try and get a SATA one instead.
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#9
lamboe80

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Thanks to all of you very much for helping me out! It's getting time that I need to make a final decision, as Christmas is rapidly approaching.

I have added the SATA hard drive (found one for the same price as the IDE) and I added a cooler for the CPU. Rosewill RCX-Z80-AL 80mm Sleeve CPU Cooler - Retail. Is it a decent choice? Will I need thermal paste?

Is this a complete list? Is it ready to go?
http://secure.newegg...Number=12260947
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#10
Jonesey

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Ignore.......

Edited by Jonesey, 09 December 2008 - 09:01 AM.

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#11
Troy

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I'm not a fan of Rosewill CPU coolers (or any of Rosewill's products, really). That being said, for a most basic unit to fit in with the "Super Cheap" build, it should do the trick. You would be lucky to find anything cheaper, that's for sure!

Troy
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#12
Samm

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The cooler should come with thermal paste supplied. However, I don't know how good it will be. As this is a budget system and not intended for heavy use under load, I suggest you use the paste that's provided but keep an eye on the temps. If they seem high, it may be worth investing in some better thermal paste such as Arctic Silver or similar. (Or a better cooler....)
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#13
lamboe80

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All three computers are now assembled! But I have a problem. Two are working great, with XP loaded and ready to go. The third isn't working though and I'm not quite sure what is wrong. I checked the "new build computer problems" thread for help. There is nothing on the screen and there are no beeps. I went through the first seven steps and still no go. Went through the next set of steps and still nothing. Does that mean the CPU is bad? DOA?

I really hate this because this was going to be the big Christmas gifts for my friends' three kids.
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#14
james_8970

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You're going to have to swap components out of your working PCs into the non working one. DOA CPUs are VERY rare and I would look at all other possibilities before blaming the CPU. As far as you hearing no beeps, this is likely because you have not hooked an internal speaker. Without this, you'll never hear any diagnostic beeps.
Start with swapping out the RAM, then move onto other parts. HDD isn't required for POST, so that's not the issue.
Another common mistake is putting the "power-button" wires in the motherboard in the reverse order.
James

Edited by james_8970, 23 December 2008 - 10:21 PM.

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