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Building mother a new PC

Hi, I hope it’s OK just to tag onto this thread, rather than starting a new one!

I’ve intended for many years to have a go at PC building, but I guess always a little intimidated by it all. Understandable enough, I guess, especially if it’s a high-spec PC, given the cost of failure! Anyway, it’s just occurred to me that my mum, who can’t move around very freely, would benefit from having a PC connected to her big TV, rather than having to use the ancient thing that she still uses in a poky little room upstairs. I’ll admit that there’s a selfish side to this, of course, because it would be a good opportunity for me to practise on a low-spec unambitious PC.

I’m just writing on this thread to see if there are any significant advances on what was written above. It was only 20 months ago, so I suppose things won’t have changed all that much. But then again, you never know. If there’s any revolutionary change, please let me know. The only non-negotiable prerequisite here is of course that it’s going to be sitting in my mum’s living room, so she’s of course not going to tolerate an ugly black box. Is there a place somewhere that you can find attractive but flexible cases? I’m in the UK, by the way (hence mum and not mom).

The only other things I can think of are just that:

  • of course it needs to be able to connect to the TV, but I assume that there’s no such thing as a PC without HDMI.

  • although of course it’s primarily for my mum, I would like to be able to use it myself whenever I’m at her place, so would want to do a dual boot Ubuntu/Windows install (with Windows as default of course, so as not to confuse her). I’m fairly used to doing that stuff by now, so think I don’t need too much advice about that. It’s just about making sure that I’ve got UEFI to make the dual boot install much easier, isn’t it?

  • I’d want it to have a wireless keyboard and mouse (preferably ergonomic in both cases) that she could use comfortably from the sofa.

Ha! She’s actually accusing me of wanting to turn her into a complete couch potato, but it’d definitely be better than what she’s got now :~)

Thanks in hopeful anitcipation :smiley:

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I am going to be honest with you but don’t take it to harsh. I don’t think your mom would benefit from this. Myself has worked with building pc’s for others including some lesser able-ed people for years now. Building the PC would be fun and learning for you but she’d be better off with a tabled for as far as I can see. Maybe you could name a specific task she does on the PC that needed to be done on a PC?

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@heatopher, we have a 9 month necro rule so I gave you your own thread and linked back to the original one in your OP for you.

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  • What is she doing that would be best served by a PC compared to something like a Roku or Chromecast or some Android box?
  • Budget?

For a “Roku-type” box capable of doing some light browsing and play emulation games, I would say, go with a small mini-ITX box and a 3200G or 3400G. You have two decent options.

External brick, get an ASRock A300 Deskmini, 8 or 16 GB SO-DIMM RAM, a 3400G and an NVMe or 2.5" SSD. Done!

Internal PSU is a bit more interesting. I’d like to recommend the J-Hack Pure Mk 2 as a base. Then, I also recommend something like the following:

PSU: Meanwell internal 200W kit
CPU: Ryzen 3 3200G
Motherboard: B550I Aorus Pro AX B450I Aorus Pro WIFI
Cooler: Noctua NH-L9A-AM4
Memory: 2x8GB 3000 MHz+
Storage: 500GB NVMe

This is more expensive but a very much better build. Good luck! :slight_smile:

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Why not a Raspberry Pi if its just an internet appliance?

If you really need an x86 platform try a cheap Intel NUC or UDOO Bolt if you want Ryzen-NUC like computer.

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Chromebook replaced with ubuntu - just sayin.

It’s cheap because it is subsidized by your SOUL!!!

I guess because the building process is part of plan, specifically with standard PC components.

But I would agree that some sort of small barebone like a NUC makes a lot of sense as a TV-computer. A pi is probably not optimal since it sounds like the “mom” is using windows.


@heatopher I would suggest first to hook up the old PC to the TV for a test drive. Doesn’t have to be perfect but both of you might get a feel of things and potentially discover fundamental flaws in that idea. After that it would be good to know the use case for the new system and what the old machine has inside of it.

Hey Guys, thank you all very much for your replies. I’ve been a bit busy doing other stuff, but will contemplate all these suggestions over the next week or so.

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Remember to post the pic of the final build!

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I just realised that the 3200G and the B550 are incompatible since the 3200G and 3400G are Zen+, not Zen2. B550 only supports Zen2 and above. I have updated the post to reflect the current situation.

So either go with the Aorus B450I Pro or wait until the 4400G is out later this month. I don’t think going with the more expensive X570 ITX boards is worth it. I would most probably wait for the 4400G.

Keep us posted on what you do choose to put together in the end, and give a few pics ya? :slight_smile:

Hi, thanks for this one. I think you got the spirit of what I want to do. Some of the suggestions have gone off a bit into fantasy-worlds. Honestly I was only very dimly aware of raspberry pis, for instance, before reading here, and heaven knows how my mum would deal with that. For her purposes there just needs to be familiar old Windows. And I certainly can’t be asking her to learn to use Ubuntu :rofl: I want to provide something useful for my mum, while learning a bit for myself (and having the bits and pieces that I want on the PC, whenever I’m at her place). Still, I have learned rather a lot from reading these replies!!!

I’m the first to admit that there’s a selfish element to this, because I do want to have a go at building a relatively modest PC. I’ve never been scared of opening them up to install storage, memory or peripherals, but of course starting from case, motherboard, CPU, PSU, cooler and fans… that’s a very different matter.

Now, specifically about this J-Hack box that you’ve suggested… Is it a horizontal box, like something from back in the 80s? I hadn’t thought about that, and of course it could presumably sit inconspicuously in the cabinet underneath her TV, which would get around all the aesthetic issues. The only problem is that I’m not sure that I can get this particular case in the UK :roll_eyes: No sign of it on the UK Amazon anyway. Is this one equivalent?

  • Silverstone Milo Series ML06B-E Mini-ITX Chassis

(I would have put a link, but it’s not allowed :~)

Anyway, there’s no rush for now. I’m the one who’s keen to do this project, but slowly in my free time. My mum is as technophobic as you expect most people to be by her age. But she does use that ancient computer sometimes (today for instance she was writing an email about something) , so I’m pretty sure that she would benefit from something that she could use without having to move from the comfort of the living room.

I would like to argue that whats the difference between Windows and Ubuntu if all she would do is to click the Firefox or Chrome icon and browse the web?

Ah, from the UK. The Milo case is around 2x the volume of the J-Hack (7 vs 3.1 liters). Yes, the case is horizontal. J-Hack does ship to the UK, but there will most probably be added customs and shipping fees. This is the cost of low volume case manufacturers. For a more local supplier, check out Lazer3D that custom 3D prints every case by hand. I would revise the build like this in that case:

Case (£141.66): Lazer3D LZ7
PSU (£86.34): SilverStone SST SX500 Gold (SFX-L)
CPU (£132.72): Ryzen 5 3400G
Motherboard (£119.99): B450I Aorus Pro AX
Cooler (£46.77): Noctua NH-L12S
Memory (£67.96): Corsair Vengeance LPX 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4 3200 MHz C16
Storage (£59.99): Kingston A2000 (SA2000M8/500G) SSD NVMe

Total cost: £655,43

Do note price fluctuations will occur, and the 3400G / B450 should be upgraded to a 4700G / B550 if you will be waiting a few months.

This will be a great entry-level gaming system capable of [email protected] gaming without much slowdowns if you run at medium settings. It will truly shine in emulation though, where it will be capable to play PS2, Xbox (original) and Wii U titles. Just install RetroArch on a separate SSD and you’re good to go!

Good luck mate!

Hi, and thanks again of course. Needless to say that my mum isn’t interested in gaming (well, maybe there are a few mums who are, but presumably not many). To be honest I know very little about all that stuff myself, and hence I had to look up RetroArch. But anyway, I suppose that it goes without saying that a PC which is good for gaming at any particular moment is one which will last a good long time. And I like the look of this customisable case., albeit that the choices about the design are a little bit overwhelming if anything.

And having said that, if the J-Hack guys do indeed deliver elsewhere in the world as you say, I may well go with that choice if the shipping cost is not too exhorbitant. Let’s see. I’ve had a look at a few videos about building, so should be feeling pretty confident by the time I get around to this. I crossed a threshold the other day when I opened up my laptop to replace the wifi card. That was a bit hairier and scarier than anything I’ve ever done inside a PC :grimacing:

What about getting an $€£350 Dell 3070 and adding ram/ssd?

Update on this, J-Hack do normally deliver worldwide, but (a) they’ve had too many orders, and (b) they’re not shipping outside the US (and Canada, I suppose) while the Covid crap is on. I got an email back saying that they’ll be taking new orders from December :man_shrugging: But that’s OK - as I said before, no rush.

By that time I suppose I’ll be wanting to get the more advanced motherboard, eh?

Well, I really want to do a full DIY job, just for the learning experience, you know.

That still depends if the Ryzen 4300G will be released to the general public or not. I suspect it will be released once the 4xxx series is unveiled in October.