=== 01/21/2017 ===
This build has been updated: Transmogrify.
Keep in mind, in year 2014 I was an inexperience new builder with computer hardware. Overtime I did learn better. Regardless, it was my first build too.
This mini tower was built for my grandma's 80th birthday. The purpose of her build is to surf the web, emails, play some simple games, listen to country music, playing movies, and office like documents, spreadsheets and powerpoint. The build alone is $674.98. Yes, quite a lot but it's a speedy PC and grandma loves seeing it load everything fast.
NOTICE: This build started all over from the ground up since she had given away her old desktop which had Windows XP. I wanted to build her a decent computer and spoil her since she never bought an expensive PC.
I BOUGHT THESE PARTS NEAR THE END OF JUNE, 2014. However, I really started the build at the end of July but in August I had to replace 1 SATA cable for the SSD to make it flat. Since the Right Angle was too tight and touched the Hard Drive. Then I had the RAM replaced since my MOBO wouldn't duel channel the Corsair XMS 2x (2GB) RAMs.
I did some sleeving with the parts except the PSU connectors, SATA cables and the 2 USBs (one is the audio). I truly apologize for my lousy cable management. It's my first desktop to every build so I did the best I could do at the time but I had researched and read a guide to generally understand some steps of building. Yes I do know it's not the "best" build either, comparing it to the more Experienced PC builders out here.
Here is my two cents with the parts:
Intel Core i3-4130 3.4GHz Dual-Core
- It's a great CPU and temperatures are steady between 35-42 ° C, since my grandma's room temperature is 80 ° F. I know Hyper Threading wasn't a need but I heard it can give a little performance boost if using excel for example. If do not need Hyper Threading, than buy a Pentium for daily tasks + games or a Celeron for basic tasks.
Gigabyte GA-H81M-DS2V Micro ATX LGA1150
- So far it is OK and does on what it is required. I did not expect a lot from this Motherboard but I had a difficult time on solving a problem, in the last week of July, 2014. (Summer Job and life kept me busy). I had no idea what the POST issue was, it had repeated a short-continuous beep. I did the bare minimum to POST again and tried 3 PSUs but it did not change the beep. A month later and thanks to Tom, it was because of the DIMM slots. Slot 1 didn't work but slot 2 did so it passed POST.
Kingston HyperX Fury Blue 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600
- This RAM IS SO BEAUTIFUL! Great RAM and no need to go into BIOS to overclock. It is automatically set as 1600MHz when paired with Intel's i3 processors, 4th generation.
Sandisk Ultra Plus 256GB 2.5"
- Amazing! Absolutely, blazing speeds! Loading up Windows 8.1 is about 10 seconds. Love this SSD, it's fast and easy to boot. One does have to time it well to get into the BIOS. You have about 1.5 seconds to press DELETE in time or have to repeat yourself. I am impressed and never going back to a Hard Drive to hold the OS. No moving parts in a disk makes it silent.
Western Digital Caviar Blue 250GB 3.5" 7200RPM
- It works and it acts as a system restore, additional space for games, music, and pictures. It does make some sound when accessed but it's not too loud either.
GPU - UPDATED @ 12/01/14 & 11/27/2017
EVGA GeForce GT 730 1GB
Used to be a GT 610 but its been removed. This card runs cooler unlike the 610. I don't see anything off or odd. Technically the Intel HD 4400 is somewhat outperformed by a GT 730. Of course the MOBO has the correct outputs, but having a dedicated GPU for the games can be more snappy in 900p and eases the CPU. Realistically this is not required since 720p is good enough for an iGPU too. It was a matter of preference. She is a casual gamer, but she also let's me poke her computer from time to time or watch me game between gaming together.
Rosewill RANGER-M MicroATX Mini Tower Case
- I could say a ton of things about this case but I will summarize it as best as I can. First, this is not a hard case to dissemble but I had to pound some metal down. It has enough room for a MicroATX board but keep in mind it will be a tight squeeze when adding parts in so it's a good idea to plan ahead when installing parts. You will have to gently pull, tuck and zip tie down some excess wires or you might have to remove parts from the Drive Bays if something does not work. Be very careful when pulling the expansion slots, it is very sharp which easily cuts the finger!
Corsair 450W ATX12V / EPS12V
This Full Modular is NOT the most easiest PSU to work with. I know I am being harsh but I recommend a different Full Modular. I am not that impressed with the Corsair RM but I will give it credit for being nice-looking and that it does the job. You will have to be somewhat forceful with the wires because its tough as nails to bend, without trying to damage it. I did not enjoy hooking the ATX 24-pin and ATX 8-pin because it's extremely difficult and tight to properly connect and disconnect, major reasons why I docked it down. Using this in this kind of mini tower case makes it a little too big and difficult to install but I blame myself for that.
This is not why I rated it down, human error on my part but I was most disappointed about the RM being an inch too short to hook up the Optical Drive to the SSD with the PSU SATA. I wanted to avoid connecting two PSU SATAs. I couldn't leave my Optical Drive at the top of the case so had to install it in the 2nd 5.25 Bay. That's why I didn't rush into buying the OKGear SATA cables since remeasured before ordering them. However, if you plan to have no internal media card reader, you should be fine. I'm happy tucking the ATX cords to the side but keeping them flat makes it work. I would recommend a Semi Modular or a No-Modular to save more money. Use this PSU for a Mid/Full Tower. Or a case that allows better spacing when in between internal cages.
Lite-On iHAS124-14 DVD/CD Writer
- It works! Too bad I had to install this last because the Corsair RM is more bulky which the wires are closer to the Bays and accidently managed to yank a pin out. Sound wise, it is there when in use and it does not bother my grandma.
Microsoft Windows 8.1 (32/64-bit)
- I'm using 8.1's 64-bit and it is great so far. I was shock on how much easier it was comparing to the 1st version of 8. Makes Windows 8 remind me of the Vista days... Yes sorry, I am bias but honestly everyone has preferences, right? I love Windows 7 do not get me wrong but seeing 8.1 vs 8, it works a heck whole lot better but I do thank the SSD for the speedy performance. I customized her shortcuts and tiles in to keep it simple but I also taught her on how to use 8.1. She is pleased and to her it feels easier to navigate.
HP W2072a (A3M50AA#ABA) 20.0"
- It works and it's what "she" needed. It's not to difficult to control. I have the DVI-D connected to the video card. She is happy with it and the built-in speakers work with the audio cable connected.
Wireless Network Adapter
TP-Link TL-WN881ND 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter
- It is a nice little wireless, easy to Install and works right away. My grandma is far away from the Router/WiFi, 5 walls + a floor level down. It is a shocker she gets any connection at all. I did not install the TP-Links drivers, due to reading enough reviews which mentions about TP-Link having complications with the WiFi setup for some reason.
Keyboard & Mouse
Cooler Master CM Storm Devastator Gaming Bundle w/Optical Mouse
- Great deal! We like the keyboard and mouse. Two things to be aware of, the mouse light never turns off and the keyboard is good but you have to turn the LED on to see the keys better. If you memorized the standard keyboard, don't worry.
3.5" Drive Bay Converter
Sabrent 2.5 Inch to 3.5 Inch Internal Hard Disk Drive Mounting Kit (BK-HDDH)
- This works good and plenty of screws but be gentle with the screws because they can be fragile when you twist them in securely. You may be better off using your Hard Drive screws that come with your case these days; however, the main point is this makes installing SSDs & 2.5" HDDs a lot easier. You can install two 2.5" of storage.
Media Card Reader
Sabrent 74-In-1 3.5-Inch Internal Flash Media Card Reader/writer with USB Port (CR-USNT)
It works OK since I have fixed it because the pins were misplaced when I sleeved it. Difficult to reconnect when pins are properly in. Now that it works, the BLUE LED stays ON even when the PC is OFF. Unless you switch the power OFF from the PSU or have a power out in the house.
Downfall: It is slow to load Pictures with an SD Micro Card! I'm not too impressed by the 30 second delay or more but as the saying goes, "You pay for what you get." Zero issues with the 2.0 USB. I would suggest to look for a different media card reader. Though for some it may work out well but with my experience not so much.
OK Gear SATA Cables
12" & 8" 6GB Straight to Right Angle w/latch
- The 12" is a perfect size for the Optical Drive and the 8" is perfect for the HDD! The Right Angle is hard to pinch the latch when disconnecting the cord but easy to connect. You might or might not hear a click but you will know if its in. Securely stays connected. Very happy to use these SATA Cables, though I also appreciate the spare 2 SATA cords I gained but 19 inches were super long so why I bought these shorten lengths.
8" 6GB Straight to Straight w/latch
- Perfect size for the Solid State Drive and easier to connect and disconnect but maybe it's too easy. I had to reconnect it once more because it was a little loose which caused a boot fail. Important Note on the SATA cables: Not complaining here since seriously they do work great. Just assume you might be half-an-inch less with the Right Angle Connectors and pre-bend the cables gently, a little before connecting them to your motherboard.
Tripp Lite DVI Dual Link Cable, (DVI-D M/M) 6-ft
- The DVI-D connector is working perfectly with the GPU. It's great to have this connected instead of the VGA. Plus the VGA was too tight to connect properly for some reason which made me worried when trying to connect it. I would recommend this DVI-D cable for anyone who has DVI-D and DVI-I ports.
- I enjoyed this build because this was my first time building a desktop, an actual PC. And most important, it was my first PC that I can give to my family. I wanted to show how I appreciated my grandmother so giving her a PC that fits her preferences brings my heart with joy. Yes I basically doubled than what she would pay for a pre-built. My family is important to me.