New PC Build For Basic Use - Opinions

My aunt and uncle are in desperate need of an upgrade. Their current system is an AMD Athlon 64 3500+ single-core 2.2ghz with 448MB of ram and is completely bogged down with Norton along with who knows what else.

They spent $600-700 on that system when it was new, so they were pleasantly surprised when I told them I could build them a very good system for a lot less. It'll be mainly used for web browsing, MS office and other basic stuff. No gaming.

Going with windows 7 because they're coming from XP and since they aren't super tech-savvy, the transition will be much easier.

Came up with two builds (AMD and Intel) in the $400-450 range (CDN). I know the i3 would be the slightly faster machine, but to them, they wouldn't know the difference anyways. I'm more interested in your thoughts/opinions of the quatily of the motherboard and PSU, primarily. I've read some reviews on this PSU and apparently it's pretty decent.

Here are the builds: 



The 1866 ram on the AMD build is just to better complement the APU. It's nearly the same price as 1600 ram anyways. For both systems I selected a single stick to allow for an easy upgrade later on. Also, there's no case or optical drive selected because I'm hoping to re-use their existing case/drive.




Nope, the i3 is MUCH slower.

why even go i3 if they're not tech savvy?

Why not something like an Ivy Bridge Celeron G1620 with an SSD? It would feel light-years ahead of what they have now

The PSU seems alright. In this wattage range you won't get a super good PSU but it seems to be fairly solid.

The only thing i changed was the Mobo. I don't have a problem with ASRock, but the ASUS mobo i listed has all 5k caps and components (5,000 hours of life) as opposed to the standard 1k or 2k caps. So for $5-$10 I'd say it was worth it.

What you CAN do a little extra with both of these builds that your aunt and uncle will appreciate, if you knuckle down a bit on the CPU or RAM you can pick up a MicroATX Slim or Micro tower that will take up a lot less space and possibly sit on the desk where it will be easier to reach.

Even the uninitiated can appreciate a smaller form factor.

Not valid, all are synthetic. The per core performance of the AMD is higher, as is the multi-threaded performance and the number of cores. Furthermore, the GPU integrated onto it is MUCH better. 

They are valid, in the context of synthetic benchmarks. Can you provide data to back up your claims? 

It is my understanding from many sources that the hyperthreaded i3's have very strong per-core performance, especially when compared to per-core performance of most AMD CPU's. 

I'm not Intel bias, so by all means, show me if this is wrong.

I slimmed the CPU down to a dual core. Again, it's a basic use CPU so dual core 2.9 ghz will annihilate their single core 2.2 ghz Athlon. Especially with DDR3 Ram.

This particular one i included a silverstone case that's very small and fits on the desk or even under the monitor depending on your space limitations this might be a much better use of $50 than having an overkill CPU.


As for the synthetic benchmark validity argument... There's a case to be made against using synthetic benchmarks because they have been rigged several times in the past to favor one competitor over another. I believe AMD may still be in litigation against PCMark for some crooked dealings by PCMark recently. (PCMark was checking if you had an AMD CPU and if you did it ran the most unoptimized code humanly possible. So, of course Intel CPUs looked golden when you compared them with PCMark.) At least i think it was PCMark.


Regardless at this price range and for this usage scenario you're talking about diminishing returns anyways. Any current gen CPU or APU is going to annihilate a single core Athlon, and that's what they'll appreciate. Not 5% more performance for this CPU or this one... spend their money in ways they'll actually notice and appreciate.

Being less tech-savvy doesn't mean they deserve a slower/cheaper CPU.

The idea is that they won't have to upgrade for a long time and stay relevant. Just like single core CPU's don't cut it anymore, the same thing will happen with dual cores. The i3 is at least hyper-threaded.

I would go with the Intel build. The single core performance is probably needed at least as far as I have seen my own aunt use her computer (well a mac, but anyway). I would also throw in an SSD if possible.

I don't know that "deserve" is the appropriate word but I would consider it a waste of money to buy something that won't be fully utilized.

For web browsing and basic "old people" stuff a dual-core CPU is just fine.

They are only valid if all you want to do is run synthetic benchmarks, something I do not believe you will be doing. Unfortunately, I can find no further benchmarks on the CPUs whatsoever, not even comparisons of the GPUs. Look at it like this though; 2 cores for more expensive, or four cores that are slightly weaker in single core performance in synthetics. Not only that but the GPU is much better on the AMD. 

Closest I could get to a GPU comparison:,3304.html

The APU destroys the iGPU 

Thanks. I appreciate your input and totally understand what you're saying. 

I like the slim case designs they have out there and that is another question I have yet to ask them. I don't like the idea of reusing their old chassis, but they are the type that "don't care what it looks like as long as it works" kind of folks. Again, that's something I still need to run by them, but I also don't want to over-complicate this for them.

I've been trying to keep in mind exactly what you're getting at. I know more about building gaming rigs, but not so much regular use machines. So thanks for helping me step out of that mindset. ;)


I would go for the i3 build. Everything looks good to me, except for that single stick of RAM. Only buying a single stick is pointless. It's going to run slower, and dual channel kits are not much, if at all, more expensive. Get some dual channel RAM in there and you're golden. If they feel the need to upgrade later on, then they can just replace the dual channel kit with something else. It's going to cost relatively the same price either way, and you're going to get more speed from dual channel performance.

Perhaps "deserve" wasn't the right word. lol

What I'm trying to say is something that works "just fine" today, may not be "just fine" in 4-5 years. Where as something that might be considered a little "overkill" today, will still be "just fine" beyond 4-5 years. 

So while they may not notice any difference or utilize it's full potential right now, it will still be relevant and able to keep up several years down the road and not go the way of that single core so quickly. 

Agreed but considering what they're using now, anything will be a significant upgrade lol

Plus the SSD will somewhat make up for the slightly weaker CPU.

To each his own, I plan to do a similar build soon for my HTPC so we'll see how it goes

Nice little build . Really,  only consider top of class a A10  6800k will serve light duty for quit awhile.

Sure, anything would be a significant upgrade, but that doesn't mean you should necessarily go with weaker parts. Besides, I'm not talking about using an i7 or anything like that. lol. We're talking about an i3 or an even cheaper APU.

I like the idea of adding an SSD though. That might be something they would appreciate. 


Took a closer look at RAM prices and you're right. Might as well go dual channel. Good point.