Can you help me evaluate my grandson’s DIY desktop PC?

Dickanddianne M June 4, 2014
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My grandson (14 years old) wants to build his own computer using his own selection of new parts; which he wants me to buy. I would like comments on his selection and advice for better or compariable parts. His total is around $1,000 and did he leave anything out?

  • AMD FX-6350 – processor – $140
  • Noctua NH-U9B SE2 – air cooler – $50
  • Rosewill challenger Black Gaming ATX Mid tower case – $50
  • Gigabyte GA-990FXA GPU Motherboard – $128
  • Gigabyte GTX-660 2GB GPU – $190
  • G.SKILL Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) Desktop Memory – $160
  • WD Blue (WD10EZEX) 1-TB HDD – $60
  • or SAMSUNG 840 EVO 250 GB SSD – $140
  • Rosewill Green Series 630 is a 80+ bronze psu – $60

  1. Dickanddianne M
    June 4, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    This is all great feedback, thanks to everyone.

  2. FIDELIS
    June 4, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I would install two different HDDs, an SSD for operating system and the WD blue for storage. Also depending on the circumstances, 8 GBs for memory is enough.

    • Dickanddianne M
      June 4, 2014 at 10:36 pm

      8 GB's for which the SSD the HD or both. It doesn't sound like much especially if he starts downloading his music files.

    • Dalsan M
      June 4, 2014 at 11:51 pm

      He meant that 8GB RAM memory instead of 16GB RAM memory (which would be about half the price of the 16GB at around $70) would be sufficient for gaming and most other instances. If your grandson plans on using virtual operating systems loaded on top of the main operating system or extensive video and/or photo editing, 16GB would be a good idea. Otherwise, save the money and use 8GB total RAM memory.

      As far as an SSD, 120GB or so should be plenty, unless many, many games and other applications that would benefit from being installed on an SSD would be installed. You can save even more money going with 120GB over 250GB. Also, 7200RPM is good for speed for media files, but not necessary. 5400RPM would be sufficient and produce less heat, and possibly last longer. Another alternative would be going with a hybrid solid-state hard drive instead of a regular hard drive. These use 5400RPM spindles and an integrated flash memory (solid state) drive to give closer to SSD speed while having longer life expectancy and larger storage space.

      I'd also look into purchasing and installing vent filters in the case fan areas to reduce dust and possible build-up. It lessens the need for cleaning the interior of the computer case and parts as often. Dust build-up that clogs the CPU fan, power supply fan, and other fans will cause higher heat and possible damage to the CPU, motherboard, and other parts.

      I'm not sure if you factored in the operating system and cost, in which Windows 7 or 8 (64 bit is necessary for using more than 3.2GB of RAM memory), generally costs between $80 and $120, unless you go with Professional or higher editions.

      Along with the system and parts that have been mentioned, a good keyboard and mouse would be recommended, not just basic ones. Unless your grandson is a heavy gamer, a decent high resolution (DPI) laser mouse and mechanical keyboard would work fine. Decent computer speakers would also be suggested.

      I also recommend purchasing and using a cable management system for the internal cables (power supply wiring, hard drive wiring, etc.) as well as external cables (power supply, monitor cable, etc.) to make things neat and tidy. This will be helpful in instances that the computer case needs to be opened in order to look at the internal parts for any reason, especially when it concerns upgrading parts.

      Good luck!

  3. Hovsep A
    June 4, 2014 at 10:25 am

    if someday he wants to go for dual screen then perhaps to get a graphic card with 4GB

  4. Oron J
    June 4, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Kannon dealt extensively with the specification. I've nothing to add to that, but for completeness, the list should include:

    • Good quality thermal paste (he may already have some, if he's built PCs before, but if not, he simply needs it).
    • Anti static wrist strap. Only costs around 5$ and absolutely necessary when handling such components.
    • Optical drive. Not stricly necessary, but can make life a lot simpler, and there's plenty of space in his case for one (or two, or three...).
  5. Kannon Y
    June 4, 2014 at 5:44 am

    As a secondary line of discussion, I should mention that the solid state drive is a big improvement for gaming and most any activity over the regular hard drive. I included both in this particular build. Many builders nowadays use smaller, and cheaper, solid state drives as "boot" drives. It often includes only the operating system and the most essential of programs. Everything else, including video and music, is offloaded to a secondary, regular hard drive.

    • Dickanddianne M
      June 4, 2014 at 10:34 pm

      You mentioned if the app was for gaming possibly going with the Intel CPU, what model?

    • Kannon Y
      June 4, 2014 at 11:51 pm

      It depends on the game. Many games do not use the CPU so much as they do the GPU (graphics processor). Actually, that's understating things - games tax the GPU more than anything else. Most games use the CPU to some extent, but the emphasis is always on the GPU. If I was on a budget, I would always trim off other components to make room for a better GPU. Up to a point, of course.

      It's hard explaining, but some games use multiple CPU cores and others rely just on one or two. All are heavily reliant on the GPU. In games that use multiple cores, there tends to be little, if any, difference between Intel CPUs and the FX-8320/8350. In games that use just a few CPU cores, Intel games tend to perform marginally better - at around 10%. You can <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116896"see some benchmarks here. Most Intel builders favor the Core i5-4760K over the FX-8350. But the similarly performing FX-8320 is $80 cheaper than the Core i5-4670K. In terms of price, the FX-8320 is akin to Intel's dual-core Core i3-4130.

      In the Core i3 you get comparable performance in games, better single-threaded performance (many programs will run slightly faster) and markedly better power efficiency. In the FX-8320, you get better performance in video editing and a better multi-tabbed browsing experience. In my opinion, in terms of value, the FX-8320 is the best CPU on the market. But you do lose a bit of performance relative to the more expensive Core i5-4670K.

      In my opinion, the two key components are the GPU and getting an SSD. They both make the largest differences in performance. I think he chose well in those two areas, although he could always bump up the GPU. For example, the GTX-670 GPU is about $50 more than the 660.

      Here's a hierarchy of GPUs:

      http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-card-review,3107-7.html

      It's definitely a tough choice balancing out a gaming machine's budget.

    • Kannon Y
      June 4, 2014 at 11:56 pm

      Tom's Hardware keeps a great list of the best GPUs for the money. Right now, I'm looking at the GTX 760 or perhaps the Radeon R9 280X. If we trimmed off the additional hard drive, we can make room for a better GPU.

      http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-card-review,3107-4.html

    • Dalsan M
      June 5, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      I agree with the Radeon R9 280, 280X, or even the R9 270X or Asus R9 270 as it is very close to the R270X specifications. These cards would provide better gaming experience than the Nvidia GTX 660, though the video editing and rendering may not be quite as good (slightly noticeable difference, but not that big of one). If you act quickly, you can get the better graphics card for a decent price at Newegg. More information here: http://slickdeals.net/permadeal/121850/newegg---video-cards-powercolor-turboduo-radeon-r9-280-3gb-384-bit-gddr5-3-bonus-games.

  6. Kannon Y
    June 4, 2014 at 5:26 am

    This is one of my favorite questions yet asked on Answers. You are a very generous grandparent, by the way. He is very lucky!

    I would take this opportunity to teach him some fundamental safety tips for building custom computers. In particular, ask that he learn some basic computer component handling techniques. At the very least, he should use anti-static gloves when handling the motherboard of the computer.

    He shouldn't go with the Vishera CPU. Although it has a technically faster clock speed, it's slower than the FX-8320 CPU. Most benchmarks show it performing more poorly in video editing and gaming than the FX-8320. There are also a lot of parts that are overpriced. Using approximately the same components, you can build a cheaper system.

    I went ahead and created a list of parts, using PCPartPicker.com:

    PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/rjcZFT
    Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/rjcZFT/by_merchant/
    Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/rjcZFT/benchmarks/

    CPU: AMD FX-8320 3.5GHz 8-Core Processor ($139.99 @ Newegg)
    CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U9B SE2 37.9 CFM CPU Cooler ($46.98 @ OutletPC)
    Motherboard: Asus M5A99X EVO R2.0 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($114.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: Team Vulcan 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($129.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($199.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($56.98 @ OutletPC)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card ($169.99 @ Newegg)
    Case: Rosewill CHALLENGER ATX Mid Tower Case ($45.58 @ Amazon)
    Power Supply: Corsair CX 600W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($44.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $949.48
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-06-04 01:29 EDT-0400)

    The specific build should take into account his needs. If it's video editing (with Adobe), AMD is a great way to go. If it's gaming, Intel is a slightly better choice. Also, my part choices keep the build as true to the original as possible. I kept the CPU cooler and case. The rest could be replaced with better reviewed components that were cheaper than the originals. For example, the power supply added in is regarded as one of the best deals you can get - and it's cheaper.

    Here's some links that will help your grandson. For starters, here's our guide on building a computer:

    http://www.makeuseof.com/pages/the-guide-build-your-own-pc

    And here's an article I wrote on sites that help automatically plan out your computer build:

    http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/save-time-and-money-the-4-best-sites-for-automatically-building-a-pc/

    I hope to hear how the computer build turned out! Good luck!

    • Dickanddianne M
      June 4, 2014 at 6:10 am

      Wow, we really appreciate your feedback.
      Yes, he is lucky and I hope we can both learn more about the inner workings of the computer rather than just what it can do.
      Thanks again,
      Richard

    • Kannon Y
      June 5, 2014 at 12:04 am

      One more comment on this build, sorry for the scattered nature of my replies:

      The motherboard's PCIe port is 2.0 (3.0 is the latest standard), meaning it will bottleneck faster graphics cards. The bottlenecking occurs at fairly expensive cards, though. It may impact future upgrades.

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