First off, I want to stress how much this site and its features (price tracking, compatibility checks, etc.) have helped me with my second build. The convenience and comprehensiveness of this site cannot be beat :)
I assembled this for the purpose of a basic computer (running an ‘alternative’ OS) for web browsing, video watching, the occasional solitaire game, etc. for a family member. Since most of these tasks don’t require complex software, I opted for using Neverware Cloudready. The motherboard on his old Gateway is broken :(. I tried to keep the budget under $200, but went a bit over. (The prices on the part list are accurate.)
I took a few months over the summer to search for deals, and I took the approach of obtaining my parts over time (unlike my first build).
A quick rundown on the obtained components of the build:
- Pentium G4560: A decent 2c/4t Kaby Lake CPU ideal for office tasks / web browsing. Microcenter had this on deal for $40, but my closest location stopped carrying it recently. I settled for a manufacturer refurb one on Ebay.
- CPU Cooler: It’s just the stock 1151 cooler; should be sufficient for a pentium, stock thermal paste. It’s also quieter than I remembered, or maybe I’m going deaf :P
- 2x4 gb Crucial Ballistix: I had no problems with the 2400 MHz XMP profile. It’s brand new, decently priced dual channel RAM. 8gb of RAM should be very suitable for web browsing in the near future
- 120gb Inland SSD: Not a name brand SSD, but the hardware inside is decent for the price. I snagged one off Amazon. Not much storage is needed since Chromium-OS is mainly web-based.
- MSI B250M pro-VDH: Got one for quite a steal off Ebay (refurbished), but it didn’t come with an IO shield :/ (see pic) The HDMI compatibility at this price point is nice, compared to the pro-VD. It’s just a basic motherboard that should get the user through basic tasks.
- EVGA-500W BR: Not as good as grey-label Corsair CX’s, but I got it directly from the manufacturer for quite cheap. 500W is quite overkill for this build currently, to be completely honest
- Rosewill FBM-01. An entry level but decent looking case, with two case fans. At under $20 who can complain? Me, actually. See the review below
- Neverware Clouready Home: An free OS developed off Chromium. So much happens in the browser nowadays I personally find it hard to justify a Windows 10 license for email, news, and solitaire. (see more below)
- USB WiFi adapter: just something I had lying around. I will find a more permanent PCI-e or USB adapter soon. (I promise :P)
- Peripherals and monitor: Came with the last computer they had (see the last few pictures, the first few were from when I was testing it from my desk)
The building process was quite uneventful and it took me about ~2 hours. But it wasn’t without a few minor problems:
- The HD audio cable was much too short, and I had to route it through another hole to get it to the standard location on most motherboards (mentioned in the case review)
- There was no place to mount a 2.5” drive in the case; a bit of strong duct tape is currently keeping the drive in place :P
- I could not get the SATA power cable into the SSD for the life of me. After some wiggling around, I finally nudged it into the SSD with lots of force.
- The spaghetti monster in the case! The case has basically no solution for cable management. Although there is no glass side panel, having these cables in the main area in the chassis is still annoying. I am particularly worried about the thick ATX power cable hitting the CPU cooler fan and jamming it.
Surprisingly enough, the computer POSTed on the first time. Setting up the XMP and boot order were easy, and so was installing CloudReady. Although it’s a relatively obscure and unsupported OS, the hardware support was quite seamless, with sound, full display resolution, WiFi, and USB devices working without any tinkering around. I actually got some Android apps working through the official Arc Welder app in the Chrome Webstore.
Idle Temperature: Since the OS is quite restrictive, I obtained the idle temperature while idling in the BIOS.
Basmark 3.0: I forgot to take a picture of the score :( Will update with an actual score soon once I get the chance to run it again.
A decent Kaby Lake mobo with HDMI and two fan headers. IO and features are quite decent for the price point.
The good: Pretty professional looking in real life. Fans are quiet, price is perfect for a budget build.
The bad: PSU mounting is quite awkward and restricted. The HD audio cable is much too short to reach the location on most modern boards. The front panel is almost impossible to remove. No USB 3.0 in the front, and cable management will be the nightmare you will get flashbacks to.
However, most of these negatives can be partially justified for the price. If you want a very good building experience, go for a better case.
A decent PSU for a very budget build. Relatively quiet under low loads. During installation, the SATA power and 24 - pin ATX cables are much too tight.