The Mom Machine 2017 -- OR -- How she stopped using laptops and learned to love the box

I recently bought the parts and built a PC for my mother -- She's got a massive graveyard of dead laptops, and has a talent for physically wearing down technology. Data Loss and outages have been a fact of life for her. Because I primarily communicate with her over distance through email and social media, I decided to fix the problem. No more Cheap laptops -- no more half-measures. This is what I came up with:


  • i3 4170 -- 0$ (picked it up free on a previous job years prior)
  • Gigabyte B85M-DS3H-A -- $55
  • 2x4GB HyperX Fury DDR3 1600 -- $58
  • Hitachi 2TB HDD -- $63
  • Seasonic S12II+ 430W -- $41 *
  • Mushkin 60GB SSD -- $40
  • Cooler Master N200 -- $50
  • Win 7 Pro -- $32
  • Unicomp Model M clone -- $85
  • Steelseries Mouse -- $30
  • Cheap 21" Display - $70

Total: $524 Peripherals Incl./$339 Tower Only

[* The Seasonic PSU was swapped with a known good spare PSU when it failed to arrive on time. I was going for a visit and it made sense just to put the overkill PSU in there rather than wait a day on traveling just for the sake of parts matching]

The Parts

Beauty Shot

Cable Management

First POST


Rationale behind this build was durability and productivity on a budget -- I got comfortable-to-use peripherals and separated the boot and storage drives to minimize long-term problems as much as I could, short of scripting bacula or tarsnap to one of my storage VPSes. My Mom only does light productivity, web browsing, and email, so the i3 I've had sitting around since haswell was new was a perfect fit.


Awesome build for your mother. I love the keyboard. I hope she loves it.


Ew intel.


Ew, look at all of those non AMD parts.


And your giving your mom a real keyboard?

Are you competing for the "son/child of the year award" with someone?


She used to use a Model M at her old workplace, and she always said it was the only one she liked because it helped her type with arthritis. I got this one to help her with it, since her job increasingly involves data entry at home.


Speaking of the keyboard, what is it?

The full product name is:

Unicomp Ultra Classic Black Qwerty 104-Key Windows Super PS/2 Buckling Spring Keyboard

Same switches as a Model M, same manufacturer, generic branding and no cleaning or restoration required.

It's lighter than the "just classic" version but feels just as nice to type on.


I feel like I should own one of them for no good reason. But I don't much care for loud keys. The blues I am currently using are driving me crazy.

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they're loud, but the sound is far less "harsh" than MX switches. The sound is much more easily drowned out by white noise, closed doors, etc.

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From the videos that I watched about it, it sounds more like a typewriter than the rather strange sound of blues and the like. Considering other sounds, it is actually cherry switches that sound pretty strange. All high pitched and sharp and whatnot. Still, I think that it is a bit too much for my preference, though I would like to own one at some point for the hell of it.

I'm of the opinion that of the plethora of switches one can choose from, bucklers sound the most "natural" of the noisy ones. If you don't like noise and you don't care about how they feel, blacks or clears might be more your speed.

So far, from what I have tried , I really like reds with o'rings. However, it seems that I can successfully use two o'rings with blues (I couldn't with reds), so we will see how well I like it once I get that done. If it weren't so much money, I might get one just to fuck around with it. I really like that it comes with PBT keycaps.

I don't trust my mom with an ssd. She'd fuck it up if I didn't hide it one her machine.

just move her user's desktop, documents, etc to the HDD, and no writes to the SSD will happen

Haha I don't trust her even with an iPhone in easy mode she still fucks it up, blows my mind the shit she manages to do. Just gonna get her a chrome book and pray.

I don't understand what there is to trust when it comes to an ssd.

me niether tbh

Awesome machine! Watch that SSD. 60gb is too small. She (and you) will find that it'll get overrun quickly with temporary internet files and hibersys if you let Win get away from you. Tell her to save up for a 240gb one for the near future.