My goal was to create a budget build (under $500) to replace my grandmother's 12+ year old Compaq desktop. You could literally hear the hard drive grinding away on it's last leg. On her old computer, from POST to Firefox was close to 30 minutes due to the hard drive! Now, it's down to under 1 minute. Quite a difference for a frustrated user that doesn't quite understand technology, but still not as fast as an SSD. To my grandmother, it's a wonderful improvement!

This is my 3rd build ever (1st logged on this site) and I am quite happy with how it turned out. Almost all of the parts came from Newegg during their Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales. Price after rebates was around $450 for the whole build!

Challenges and Solutions: 1. I was tasked with building the best computer I could for under $500. I wanted to make a system that would last my grandmother forever and use as many name-brand parts as possible. In order to stay within my price range, I needed to go AMD and use the Asus M5A88-V EVO motherboard due to the built-in graphics card.

  1. The case, a Cooler Master Elite 431 Plus (which I selected simply due to price), has 1 fron USB 3.0 port, but the motherboard had no 19-pin USB3.0 connector! So, after much hunting online, I found the "Cooler Master USB 3.0 19pin to 2 external USB 3.0 Connectors". The case had grommets for water cooling, so I used that to route the adapter from the outside of the case to the inside. This was a MAJOR help, and I know that others have had problems finding external-to-header USB 3.0 conversions, so pick this up from the link below! I know it is not optimal to convert 2 USB 3.0 ports to 1 available port, but I would rather have all of the front pannel ports working than tell my grandmother that some work and some do not.

  2. I am horrible at cable management. My first build back in 2009 had nice areas of the case to allow extra cables to be tucked away. This case did not. I would love to get better at cable management! For now, the airflow through the case seems to work and it is incredibly quiet (each fan is 19 dB).

  3. When I installed the motherboard, I found that a part of the I/O shield was not bent 100% properly to allow the motherboard to slide into place. Specifically, the metal prongs around the DVI port were pushed forward as I mounted the motherboard, and now these prongs are covering the DVI port. I can certainly push them up, or break these prongs off, but all I needed was the VGA plug, so for the time being, I left the DVI port covered by the I/O shield prongs.

If you have any questions, please ask away! I hope to be building and posting a much more advanced computer this new year!


  • 84 months ago
  • 1 point

Now whats your grandma going to be doing that makes her need 8 GB of RAM

  • 82 months ago
  • 2 points

Oh, not very much at all. 8GB is certainly overkill, but at $25, I couldn't beat that price.

If you compare the RAM that I got her to a very similar 4GB, that is currently $31.99 as of 2/16/13. So, 8GB is overkill, but it cost less than 4GB, so why not go for it?