Description

Since I can’t come up with a halfway decent introduction, I’ll just be blunt. My Grandmother needed a new computer when she found her old (ohhh so old) Dell Dimension Opteron becoming increasingly painful to work with. Supposedly Windows 10 killed it. :/ At any rate, after Christmas she asked if I could put together a list of new parts to put together so she can actually get something done on her PC rather than waiting over a minute just for it to turn on.

PCPartPicker to the rescue!

The list on the side is pretty much the end result of what I had come up with. MSI Eco H81M, Celeron G1830, Adata SP550, Seasonic PSU and a Rosewill Case. And, above all else, Windows 10 is the topping on the cake – this time on a system that can actually support it. Old computers pre-2002 seem to have massive issues working with Windows 10.

I planned on grabbing the Windows 10 key from Ebay or another website but the listings I was watching were sold out. I ended up reusing an old decommissioned Windows 7 key from one of my laptops. Good piece of advice for anyone who needs a key - Look around for an old Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 key on your old Laptops or devices and you can use it on any Windows 10 device.

The Build

Building the computer was a little different than I’m used to. Firstly, I’ve only built AMD systems in the past (go Team Red!), so this was my first time working under Team Blue [or Cyan?]. That means I wasn’t familiar with how nerve-racking the first time installing an Intel CPU was. I’m sorry, but when the CPU socket creaks when I push down the Retention Arm, I cringe. Always.

Anyhow, other than the new experience with the Intel CPU installation, I was challenged with how to work with a super tight case with absolutely no cable management, and no place for a 2.5” drive. I also didn’t use any extra twist-ties or any zip-ties, all used from the parts that came with them. Essentially, I had never worked with such a small space before; even a server rack I have had more space.

As you could probably tell by the photos (I’m sorry I didn’t take more), I used the Floppy Drive/3.5” Drive bay to uniquely mount the SSD. I wanted it to be accessible, but also mounted securely. I ended up using a 4mm fexible extention rod to make it possible. My Grandmother won’t be needing any upgrades, nor will anyone likely be modifying it, so it certainly almost really doesn’t matter. Shouldn’t.

The only major issue I encountered was cable management – It obviously will happen with a twenty dollar case, but it is still something to mention.

Overall, A successful build! Everything installed the way it was supposed to without problems, and I'm happy with how everything works out.

UPDATE

To Grandmother's House we go!

With Cheesiness aside, the tower was delivered to replace the Opteron as soon as the requirements were in place: Antivirus, Office Suite, and Firefox. Adobe Flash and Java. Windows 10 is a pain sometimes, but hey, whatever; Comes with the business.

With everything hooked up and the computer replaced, I am happy to say that the build was successful. She was so happy to have such an improvement, something like at least 500x better, that glee was written all over her face. Then of course compliments, and the usual.

Regardless, the whole build was a fun experience. I learned something new and I was able to help out the family. I hope this build would serve as a cheap solution for simple family members too - simple meaning low-intensity usage or light gaming.

Part Reviews

CPU

A decent Low-end Budget CPU. Seems to be unlocked, though haven’t tested overclocking it personally. Don’t expect any super performance out of this chip and use it for more than casual use and light gaming. It literally is a “Budget CPU.” Recommend going for a low-end Pentium in the LGA1151 lineup for a solid upgrade path. However, if you need something cheap and with integrated graphics, not a bad chip to go with. It can easily pull its own weight.

Motherboard

A solid motherboard with one of everything. It follows my major expectations and I plan to keep an eye on this series. The Eco mode is something I will likely use the most out of, as my recent build included (or rather lacked) PCI extensions and this board allows you to cut power to what you don’t need to use. With this in mind, it also is slightly oversized and while connecting the 24-pin connector, it bent a little off the side. Just be careful about that; it is easy to bend it.

Memory

It is fairly simple RAM. Nothing special, no heat spreader or nothing, and they work.

Storage

A surprisingly high quality SSD for being so cheap. I’ve bought over three of them and each have exceeded expectations over an HDD any day of the week. Enough to stay competitive even next to a Samsung Evo 850, apparently. Recommend going for a higher storage module though, unless you just need one for a boot drive.

Case

A basic case on a budget. No Cable Management options and no 2.5” drive bay. Also sharp edges so beware. All things considered, not bad overall, but I could use some touch-ups.

Power Supply

It works and it is low wattage. Fits for going where I need to be exactly. Just know that the model I picked does NOT have a power cable. You’ll have to source a power cable to connect to it. Very niche use but for low-wattage systems, it really is fine.

Optical Drive

Got it on sale on Newegg, and works as advertised. Couldn't be happier.

Comments

  • 28 months ago
  • 4 points

Way to take care of your grandmother. That said I hereby award you the honorary title of

"F-cable management" master!

Thumbs up regardless

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! Appreciate the title! :)

  • 28 months ago
  • 2 points

Hey no sweat. I respect taking care of family.

I am deciding whether or not to build a new pc for my wife's mother right now. If I could get to a Microcenter I'd have a little $340 i3 build put together for her.

  • 28 months ago
  • 2 points

I think you should get a +1 for having to work in that case!

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

Any case without Cable management really is a difficult one. IMO, these kinds of cases should have a Modular PSU if at possible. Budget limited me to a non-modular, but what are you gonna do? Thanks though!

  • 28 months ago
  • 2 points

Really nice budget build for light tasks. +1 for grandma.

  • 28 months ago
  • 2 points

I like the fact that you got your grandma back up and online with a new build but... if you dropped cookie crumbs on her floor you'd clean that up, right? Same with your cable "management"; here's an example of what I mean. In a case with few or no management provisions, spiral wrap & cable ties can be your best friends. I like the build although I do have a question: have you gotten upgrades planned just in case she gets a hankerin' for Minecraft? :)

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

Can't always be perfect with Cable Management, unfortunately. I spent something like an hour trying to make sure they all went where I wanted them to go and stay at least somewhat tidy. Spiral wrap wasn't something I had on-hand, though I intend to play with some day, and I intended to reuse everything I could from all the boxes everything shipped in - that means almost every twist-tie I could've gotten is there holding the cables. Believe me, I would've done more if I had more. There aren't any cable holes on the backside of the case, so that should be mentioned.

As far as upgrades, this is likely as far as it will go. She doesn't do much more than Flash games and really incredibly light-weight games she gets from Pogo.com. Oh, and the MS Word, can't forget that. Otherwise, not very heavy on a consumer level.

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

+1 for grandma, even though i've built pc's before and they know, yet they still don't let me build theirs... they still don't trust me doing it and rather buy an overpriced prebuilt system lol...

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

In my mind, it seems like they'd rather be sure of what they're buying - a fully-built PC - rather than letting someone with real hands-on experience building them from scratch, for less. It doesn't make sense.

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

Yep i'm still puzzled, worst thing is they buy a bad one, they recently bought one without an ssd, but with an i7... pretty much i cringed since they only look at pictures, send email and other stuff grandparents do... especially since the damn thing was way overpriced lol.. oh well, their mistake:D ill just build for other family

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

This isn't my build but I would do this: mount the ssd in a 3.5 slot with 2 screws on 1 side. It's an SSD, no moving parts, it's unlikely that it will make any vibration.

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

I know - that was my original plan in the first place, but then I had the idea of shoving it in a precarious position to test my abilities to adapt and modify the environment of the case to my advantage. Improvisation is a key skill sometimes in the Computing world.

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

I do some computer impro every week :D I'm just worried that somebody angrily kicks the case right where the ssd is vs the already easily available space in the 3.5 And I wouldn't even consider it ghetto lol

and +1 for granny rig

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

10/10 for purpose, 0/10 for cable management. BUT CAN IT RUN CRYSIS 3 SKYBOX AT 1440P ULTRA SETTINGS??????

  • 28 months ago
  • 2 points

At an amazing 3 FPS. 5 if you're lucky XD

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice budget box. My recommendation with the FBM cases is that you shove the loose cables into the drive bays. Kinda like this; sorry for the bad image quality. You have an actual CD drive installed, so there's less room to work with, but the basic principle holds.

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

Actually, I've seen worse Image quality. I attempted to do that the best I could, but between above the CD/DVD drive bay and the unused HDD space, I tried to use the most out of both. Air circulates good enough and for the most part I've seen worse cables from even OEM manufacturers.

Though, I forgot to add that I had also cleaned up the cables a little bit more after I had taken the pictures, so it wasn't quite as terrible. In the end I think I got a couple in the Upstairs and a few in the HDD bay.

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

Cool. Pics of the adjustments would be nice, if you have the time or whatever.

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

PC has already been delivered, unfortunately. Basically try and imagine it maybe 10% cleaner.

  • 28 months ago
  • 1 point

Gotcha. I do hope your grandmother is happy with it. :)

  • 22 months ago
  • 1 point

Great budget PC for your Grandma +1, I had assembled something very similar for my 5 year old son with some spare parts I got around. For basic office and internet use any Celeron from Ivy Bridge up are good value options imo, inexpensive and get the job done. Haswell platfom has plenty of upgrade room for couple years more so no worry in that front i guess

  • 22 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! I thought the parts fit the purpose more appropriately than any old Dell could. Replacing an old IDE single-cored PC with anything nowadays is a massive upgrade.

For most workloads, an old G1830 is plenty fine to work with. Wouldn't game or go video encoding with it, but needless to say it's great for almost everything else.

  • 28 months ago
  • -1 points

Intel Celeron G1830? Why not G1840, its higher availability means lower prices. Why not Kaby Lake Pentium (with Hyper-threading) G4560 (HD Graphics 610 GT1) or G4600 (HD Graphics 630 GT2), which are more capable?

There is ASRock DeskMini 110, which bundles motherboard, chassis, and power supply. STX form factor permits using Intel LGA CPUs. I view that a tower with zero installed and future expansions a waste of space.

Why even build a computer in the first place if this is it? There are: used complete systems with Intel Core i7-2600 and Xeon E3-1245 readily avaialble for 200-250 USD, new complete systems with Intel Core i5-6400 frequently on sale for 400 USD, and laptops with Intel Core i5-7200U ranging from 350-500 USD.

  • 28 months ago
  • 2 points

The purpose of this build is not to use the most up-to-date hardware, nor for it to be the smallest. Grandmother dearest required little more than a low-end PC, but still better than the Opteron (I'll fix that later) she had by a mile. That, and we had a budget of less than $300 USD, so going overboard was a no-go.

I've looked at the Celeron G1840 so many times and came to the same conclusion that unless I bought a higher-chipset Motherboard, the whole thing would be a waste of my time. The G1840 is a Haswell Refresh CPU, and the H81 Chipset needs a BIOS update to work right. I ran my research and wasn't paying an extra $20+ for a newer H91 chipset if there was no purpose for it. Check the Compatibility Settings.

As far as your suggestion of an ASRock DeskMini, I thank you for the suggestion, but when counting the price tags, even if I did skip out on the Motherboard, Chassis, and PSU, I would still need to purchase a CD/DVD unit (Grandmother is old-school) for USB, and somewhere along the lines I would have roughly the same price tag. Besides, overall weight and size wasn't an issue. The purpose outweighed the form factor here.

And no. Used and Refurbished PCs aren't my strong suit, and I'd rather have the experience of doing it myself - isn't that what this site is about, in a way? And again, no need for anything super powerful.

Thanks for the suggestions, but I spent two sleepless nights of research and I do this as a job. I do what I do because I spent so much time fact-checking and making sure 1 and 1 add up.

  • 28 months ago
  • -2 points

MSI H81M Eco supports Intel Haswell Refresh. Haswell Refresh has been released so long ago that there is an excellent chance that motherboards come with updated BIOS. All you got to do is contact retailer support.

This website is about computer building, but building a complete system with parts at full prices does not suit all situations.

  • 28 months ago
  • 2 points

I do not remember the OP stating anywhere what he paid for all the parts. And just because a PC does not suit YOUR situation, does not mean it shouldn't be built. Get off your high horse and go somewhere besides the OP's build page.

  • 28 months ago
  • -1 points

Sorry if you don't want to tolerate my negativity. Since when did I mention my situation?

[comment deleted by staff]