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Only what we needed....
by lokizone
Permalink:   (31 comments)
Description

This is our every day PC. Used for the internet, photos, videos, banking, skype, etc. As of now, I will leave the gaming to my console.

This is my first build. I've been visiting this site and saving various parts for builds since August. I started with a system based on the i5 3450 at around $900, and ended up with a system based on the i3 3225 for about $650. I have been researching and researching. I got to a point where I was ok with my choices, but I was wondering if I really needed that much of a computer. I posted my potential build and my computing requirements on r/buildapc. I had been contemplating getting what we needed, or splurging, and I got some great feedback that resulted in this system.

I paid $643.75 for the parts listed below. I will be re-using at least one 500gb hdd from my old computer, and a Dell 21 inch monitor. I splurged a little on the SSD, an item I probably didn't need. I was originally looking at a 128gb samsung 830, and then a deal on the intel 330 popped up so I jumped. That was the first part I purchased.

I really wanted to see some of the case options in person, but I chose the Arc Mini based on pictures and reviews, and I am very happy. Over all, the quality of the case is much greater than I had expected. Some of the thumb screws were a little tight at first, and the usb 3.0 slot on the front of the case is a little crooked, but for a first time build, I'm satisfied.

Assembling the parts didn't take very long, but the cable management took me about 4 hours. I'm a little anal, and the cables currently in the case seem a little cluttered to me, but I couldn't figure out any other ways of minimizing them from how they look in the photos.

I was a little confused about the case fan connectors. The mobo has two cpu fan connectors, 2 chassis fan connectors, and 1 pwr connector. The case has three fans. I finally just decided to use the fan controller that came with the case, which is what you see above the psu in the photos.

I had a great time picking parts, and a great time building. I realize this is far from the normal gaming builds you see on this site, but I felt like I had to share. I can't wait to build another one! Forgot to mention that I got a bigger psu than required to allow for the possible addition of a discrete video card in the future.

Update 071213: I removed the fan controller that came with the case, and plugged the case fans directly into the mobo. This allowed me to monitor the fan speeds and temperatures in the UEFI screen. I increased the rating of the SSD as I finally figured out how to set it up, and it has been working flawlessly for months. I would still like to get a samsung ssd, but everything is working, so I don't need to spend the extra money. Where I'm a little stuck, is how to keep everything backed up safely and to our satisfaction. It's so easy to put content on the computer, but you forget how important it is until you lose it, and I really don't want to experience that part.

Details
Intel Core i3-3225 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor
CPU Clock Rate3.3GHz
CPU Temperature While Idle33.5° C
CPU Temperature Under Load-
Comments
When commenting on a completed build please keep your feedback polite and constructive, particularly if commenting on part choices and possible alternatives.
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Spirafall [1 Build] 5 points 21 months ago

Sure it's different from all the other gaming builds, but it's built for your needs, so great job!

 
 
lokizone [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 21 months ago

Thanks. I debated sharing with this group as its not a gamer, but I was on this site constantly checking out other builds, so I figured maybe it could help someone else out.

 
 
revotivo44 2 points 21 months ago

if people get the conception that this website is strictly for gaming pc and power rigs is silly this sit is for help and best pricing, nice build.

 
 
yupkim 1 point 16 months ago

Yes, I, for one, have been checking including yours. Thanks for sharing with very good introduction! And I think you did a fine job for cable routing in my view. Q1: you did not include CPU cooler. Did you not need one? Q2: Did you have PSU left over from previous sys? Q3: WHy paid that much for Win-7 SP1?

I am still comparing, checking and trying to learn from others experiences, before plunging in. My budget is <$600

 
 
lokizone [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 14 months ago

Sorry I didn't see your questions sooner. I used the CPU cooler fan that came with the processor. For my usage, it is plenty good along with the three fans in the case. I did have a psu leftover from my Dell computer, but it was quite old and not as efficient as a newer psu. I think I paid $90 for Win-7. Not sure what you're asking?

 
 
saw1833 [1 Build] 2 points 21 months ago

Considering the size, that case seems pretty spacious and the cable management is fantastic.

 
 
lokizone [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 21 months ago

I only have a dell btx case to compare to, and this mini/micro case has way more room. The space behind the mobo tray doesn't seem deep enough as you are stashing the 24 and 8 pin cables back there, but the sides of the case are steel and very sturdy.

 
 
casey2161 1 point 21 months ago

The cable management is pretty good. While I personally don't know the performance difference between the two ssds you were looking you, I think that, for what you are using the pc for, an ssd is a part that was worth "splurging" on, but I believe that about most build :D

 
 
lokizone [Submitter] [1 Build] 2 points 21 months ago

Agreed. The ssds are much less expensive than they used to be, so I thought "why not?"

 
 
Teejers [2 Builds] 1 point 21 months ago

Great build for a non-gaming, everyday computer.

As far as the fan headers on the mobo are concerned:

The CPU_Fan1 & 2 are likely a 4pin and 3pin, respectively. Since you're using the stock cooler, just plug it into the 4pin header and let the motherboard automatically control the fan speed. Though, if the fan is too noisy for your liking then you can get into BIOS and set the fan speed dependent upon the audible noise you can live with.

CHA_FAN1 & 2 are likely 3pin fans. You can hook up the intake and exhaust fans and let the mobo set the fan speed automatically based on the chassis temperature or set the speed yourself again via the BIOS.

The PWR_FAN is an extra 3pin header to connect an additional fan but won't have any automation or BIOS control to it. It will run at full voltage (full fan speed) all the time.

Hopefully this clears things up if you decide you don't want to use the manual controls on the back of the case and let the mobo do the work.

 
 
lokizone [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 21 months ago

I have been reading online about using the second 3 pin CPU fan for the rear exhaust fan. That way the two CPU fans can change speed with each other. Obviously my system isn't going to get that hot, so I will just stick with the manual control for now. I did read one review that said the fan controller died, but I think that was probably for a gaming build. Thanks for your comments.

 
 
Xareh [4 Builds] 1 point 21 months ago

Well done, but I'd certainly suggest a 2TB or such HDD to save SSD performance.

 
 
lokizone [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 21 months ago

I will be installing two 500gb caviar blue drives for data storage. We have four external drives for backing up and redundant storage. I will definitely consider one bigger drive if that would be easier.

 
 
Xareh [4 Builds] 1 point 21 months ago

Will you be running in a RAID configuration?

 
 
lokizone [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 21 months ago

I'm thinking about it. Problem is, and maybe this is just me, but the drives are coming out of an XP machine, and my wife has made it clear that I can't lose anything. So I am still trying to figure out how to ensure all of the data is safe, and then I might RAID the drives. I have also started thinking about just getting a 1 or 2 TB drive as you mentioned. Then I will be stuck with two more drives in the closet that I am afraid to format and use. My old computer had two 160gb drives in a RAID 0 configuration. I swapped them out for two 500gb drives, but never set them up in RAID as I wasn't sure how to safely transfer the data. You've hit upon the dilemma I have; not quite sure how to migrate my data safely and set up the two drives in a RAID configuration.

 
 
Xareh [4 Builds] 1 point 21 months ago

Interesting predicament. RAID will wipe the drives which is unfortunate, but if you add them into the system and backup the files on them somewhere, then you can run a RAID 1/0 config, so I'd suggest seeing about maybe something as simple as a big external drive (1TB for everything on the disks)copying everything over to it, setup the RAID config and put everything on the external back in.

 
 
lokizone [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 21 months ago

Both of the drives are first gen sata, so I may just put them in as is and use them until they are full, then buy a bigger single drive. Honestly we haven't even come close to filling one of them. I originally bought two to replace the two 160gb drives, but as I mentioned, I couldn't figure out how to get them back in RAID configuration safely. So now I just sort or manually back up photos to the second drive, but I guess I could always set up an automatic backup for the new computer.

 
 
lutzee [4 Builds] 1 point 21 months ago

Really nice build, just one thing, the 4 pin CPU fan headers will accept 3pin fan connectors, i have a Define R3 case and it came with the same fan controller, i used it for a short period of time, before redoing my cable management and plugging the fans into the motherboard, it looked a lot neater. Also for storage, if you want security of data putting 2 drives in RAID1 will mirror the drives, so one can fail and you still have the data (at which point you turn off the machine, get another drive to replace the old one, put it in and let the rail array be "rebuilt" which would be all the data from one drive being mirrored onto the new second drive) Hope this helps :)

 
 
lokizone [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 21 months ago

As I recall, the stock CPU heat sink was a 4 pin connector. The mobo had two cpu fan controllers, a 3 and 4 pin, so I have a 3 pin connector free. If I plug a case fan into that one, it will be controlled in tandem with the cpu fan. Which fan would I want to work with the cpu fan, the rear exhaust or top exhaust? If I RAID the drives, I will probably go for RAID 1. With a new baby, my wife has been taking tons of photos, but not enough to even fill up the 500gb drive we are using. So I was thinking RAID 1 for now, and then either a larger single drive or two larger single drives in the future. Thanks for your input.

 
 
lutzee [4 Builds] 1 point 21 months ago

Hmm it shouldn't matter too much, generally the more case fans you have the slower you can afford to run them, so having them changing speed all the time shouldn't matter too much.

 
 
lokizone [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 21 months ago

I removed the manual fan controller and hooked all of the chassis fans up to the mobo. I put the rear chassis fan on the three pin CPU connector. It looks like only the four pin connectors have speed control, so all of the three pin connectors run at full rpms. Now I'm just trying to figure out how to cleanly connect four sata devices to my non-modular psu. I'm digging the cable management part.

 
 
slykrysis [3 Builds] 1 point 21 months ago

Why are Fractal cases so expensive? They don't impress me...

 
 
lokizone [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 21 months ago

I think I paid $100 exactly, and this case was just on sale recently for $64. Agreed that would have been a better price, but for a nice sturdy and well equipped case, I'm happy. Again, I really don't have much to compare to.

 
 
CheesyHotDogPuff 1 point 21 months ago

Would I have any trouble using that same mobo with a taller psu interfering with the pci-e slot?

 
 
Dollarchip7 [1 Build] 1 point 16 months ago

Hows the graphics power? Looking to get this processor for my first build.

 
 
ScottS 1 point 13 months ago

It's a beauty! you may want to look into setting up a raid for mirroring to protect your data.

 
 
lokizone [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 6 months ago

Thanks. I wish I could. The two mechanical drives already had data on them from a previous build. I really need help with data back up and protection right about now.

 
 
MrStig91 [1 Build] -1 points 21 months ago

A bit expensive for a web browser...

 
 
lokizone [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 21 months ago

Drop the ssd and, at the time the $100 case, add a ~$50 case and it would have been closer to $400. I also could have purchased a cheaper CPU, but I was upgrading from a six year old pentium d, and wanted something that was a little future proof with good integrated graphics. For the case, I was hoping to use it again in the future. But yes, perhaps a little expensive, but not just a web browser.....photo and video editing.

 
 
bdodds1985 -1 points 15 months ago

i would have had to get a cheap video card for this build. what a waste of money and you talk of future proofing lol.

smarter buy: smaller ssd and WD 1tb 7200rpm drives instead of an almost $1/GB ssd. samsung would have been the better option.

did you buy the cpu or was it an old chip? i hope you say old chip for that price.

 
 
lokizone [Submitter] [1 Build] 1 point 14 months ago

For future proofing, I was just talking about having room with PSU in case I want to get a video card, and a case that could handle it. I'll admit I splurged on the SSD. I missed the good deals on the samsung models, they were my top choice at the time.
I bought the cpu new. For my needs, the upgraded on board graphics weren't really necessary, but I chose to spend more for the graphics 4000. In the end, if I would have waited for the best possible prices, I could have done better. I got tired of waiting and wanted to buy parts. In doing so, I missed some better deals.
I just wanted to share my experience. Punch holes in it all you want. It is what it is, and there's always room for improvement next time.
Thanks for your comments.