This is a very simple little system for my Dad to use. His computer use is average Joe stuff - Facebook, YouTube, general web browsing and emails. A little photo editing here and there but that's pretty much it. After nagging him to upgrade the existing 2003 Pentium 2.53 with Windows XP (actually one of my old cast-offs) he came back with a modest budget and I think I've got him a nicely rounded system that should hopefully last a few years, but still has some upgrade-ability in mind as it is an Intel Haswell based system.
A few bits are pretty cheap I'll admit. The Antec case for example is very light feeling until it is populated with a few parts, but it does look of much higher quality than the price might suggest. There's roughly a centimeter behind the motherboard tray, only just enough to squeeze the cables behind to neaten the build up a bit (see the pics!) I was impressed that the cases front panel connectors and included exhaust fan use black cables - my cooler master case uses those old-fashioned multicoloured things that look rubbish... The main thing aside from cost that attracted to me to the case is it's a top-mount PSU design which is quite important when thinking about where the computer will live. This will be, like it or not, a zero maintenance machine. A top PSU and no front fan means hopefully any "detritus" drawn inside the case will settle in the bottom out of harms way. I will hopefully be able to check on the thing when I can, but it'll be very infrequently.
This brings us onto the PSU itself. If I were running a very expensive CPU and GPU in here then I wouldn't even consider a cheap no-brand PSU like the PowerCool model I have here. However it is 80+ bronze certified, and is modular which in this case is great as I'm having to use just one cable to power the two drives, keeping it neat and tidy. So far it's ben fine, and it isn't exactly heavily loaded with no dedicated GPU to power, just the Pentium and two drives. It doesn't even blow warm air out the back, and it is silent.
The Asrock board is a nice low end mATX board, with USB3 and a header for additional front USB3 ports, which though not used here is a nice touch. HDMI, DVI and VGA connectors on the back are a bonus too, you don't normally get all three on lower end boards. There are also headers for parallel and serial ports (retro!). The UEFI BIOS is nice and easy to use and has some overclock tweakers, though they're of little use with this Pentium CPU.
Everything else speaks for itself really - The Pentium has plenty enough grunt for normal everyday stuff, plays full HD videos just fine, runs cool and is very quiet with the stock Intel cooler. The RAM is just RAM, went with 4GB which is plenty, and a dual channel kit. The HDD is a standard 7200RPM 500GB Seagate unit. I've never had problems with Seagate stuff before, and it was cheap. Same deal with the DVDRW, it does what it does. I added an internal multi card reader I had laying about that I don't use, I'm sure Dad'll make use of it from his many cameras.
And that's about it, it scored a solid 5.8 in the useless Win7 WEI, it boots from cold to the desktop in around 40 seconds (better than the 3 minutes+ of his current machine!) When he picks it up tomorrow I'm sure he'll be pleased with it, I'm very impressed with it and question why I spent so much on my own new build recently! You really can get good bang for buck even at the lower end.
|CPU||Intel Pentium G3220 3.0GHz Dual-Core||$54.49||Directron|
|Motherboard||ASRock H81M-HDS Micro ATX LGA1150||$49.99||Micro Center|
|Memory||Crucial 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1333||$69.98||Amazon|
|Storage||Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM||$48.32||OutletPC|
|Optical Drive||Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE DVD/CD Writer||$14.98||OutletPC|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit)||$88.98||OutletPC|
|Custom||Antec VSK-4000E||£25.32 GBP|
|PowerCool X-Viper 450W Modular PSU||£27.99 GBP|
|Total (United Kingdom):||£53.31 GBP|
|Date Published||March 26, 2014|
|Date Built||March 18, 2014|