Minor Gaming/HTPC build for my sister

A little background first. She has been waffling on getting a PC for a while and has finally settled on doing it this year. After some discussion we agreed that she wants decent storage and 1080p movie playback along with the ability to occasionally play things like heavily modded Minecraft, Borderlands 2 (with a controller...buh...) and Civ 5.  Let's start with a budget (and boy is it) of $400:

  • My initial thoughts scream APU. A10-7850 to deal with the occasional game perhaps?
  • Gotta have some extra memory for the APU. 2x8 1600?
  • Given the home theater mindset maybe a mATX or ITX board?
  • No need for an SSD, just a good ol' 1TB mechanical. Looking for the best deal here.
  • A decent, inexpensive, low-profile case would be ideal.

She's got a ll the peripherals she'll need. She's planning on running HDMI to her TV and using her existing keyboard and mouse she currently has for her laptop.  I'll be searching for the best deals for the next week. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
EDIT:Here is a starting point list I'm working on:  http://pcpartpicker.com/p/fTv3vK

As long as you don't mind running a Linux distro like Ubuntu or Linux Mint, this build will work just fine. FYI, Civ V and Borderlands 2 and Pre-sequel are out on Linux as well as Minecraft. Steam 4 Linux FTW.

Here is a good build. It uses a Mini-ITX board that has onboard Wireless a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0 3.0 and 2.1. The CPU is the A10-7850 with 8GB of 1866Mhz RAM to help with graphics performance. I tried to use the AMD Athlon II 860k but the price jumped too much. The case is the Coolermaster Elite 130 which has support for a GPU up to the size of a Radeon HD 7990 aka 13" card. The HDD is a toshiba 500GB 7200RPM drive. If you run Linux Mint or Ubuntu on it, the OS takes up ~8GB of space total and the rest of the software won't even come close to touching 500GB. Not to mention EXT4 requires no de-fragmentation so there should be no noticeable degradation of performance. I included a DVDRW drive for posterity's sake.  Your sister won't have to worry about an Office suite since LibreOffice comes pre-installed on most Linux distros and Linux Mint or Ubuntu are no exception. On a budget system like this, Running a Linux distro is usually the smartest thing to do since the overhead on a Linux distro is usually quite small. Installing the graphics drivers for the APU under LinuxMint or Ubuntu is as simple as going to the control panel or searching for additional drivers and selecting the FGLRX drivers.

Unreal Engine 4 is on Linux too so the next gen UE games will run on there too.

Steam is not the only place to get Linux games: Penguspy.com, gog.com, etc


PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/BVgbxr

Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/BVgbxr/by_merchant/


  • CPU: AMD A10-7850K 3.7GHz Quad-Core Processor ($149.99 @ Newegg) 
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-F2A88XN-WIFI Mini ITX FM2+ Motherboard ($94.24 @ Amazon) 
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($57.80 @ Newegg) 
  • Storage: Toshiba 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($44.99 @ Newegg) 
  • Case: Cooler Master Elite 130 Mini ITX Tower Case ($51.98 @ Newegg) 
  • Power Supply: Corsair CX 430W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply ($35.98 @ Newegg) 
  • Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE DVD/CD Writer ($13.99 @ Newegg) 

Total: $448.97
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-02-05 18:09 EST-0500


this is a good list. if you dont want the optical drive i would upgrade the ram to 2133.

Yeah, I agree with Keiff, upgrade the RAM to 2133

Not a bad list at all! though I'd love to take advantage of those Superbiiz codes, the earliest she'd be able to purchase things will be Tuesday. There is no need for the optical drive, something I hadn't mentioned before. Linux is not outside the realm of possibility. I've had some experience with it but convincing my less-than-savvy sibling...another story.

I got my folks and siblings running Linux Mint and Ubuntu. They are NOT tech savvy. I get a call every once in a while.

Further discussion has led us to the idea of running the windows 10 preview on it. Could be fun?

Windows 10 should be called Windows NSA Lockdown Edition.

I tried using Ubuntu.

I couldn't handle it for more than 2 days.

Can you elaborate?

Personally, I think you may be throwing your money away.

For a HTPC, a dead quiet $35 Raspberry Pi would work quite well. And now that the RazPi-2 is out, it's even better now that Windows 10 will (supposedly) be made available for it.

And for simple 2D gaming or game emulation, again the RazPi is an excellent choice. So why waste your money unless you just want something to do (other than the off-hours tech calls you're sure to get)?

That's my 2-cents. But I'm sure you have your reasons.


Correct me if I'm wrong on this but I don't think Pi can "occasionally play things like heavily modded Minecraft, Borderlands 2 (with a controller...buh...) and Civ 5." as mentioned at the top.  ;)

I don't blame you about Ubuntu. I mod it almost immediately. That is why I mentioned Linux Mint. It takes the Ubuntu crap and makes it sexy.

I'll take a look at that distro.