This computer was originally built in January 2015 with a small budget, and I don't have a job so upgrades do not come often. Anyways, I love this computer; it's a constant work in progress. Next upgrades will probably be a graphics card (750TI?) and a new monitor (I need 1080p and a larger screen).
Here's the backstory on this build. It's kind of long
I originally built it in January, after I received birthday money. The plan was to upgrade a 2007 Dell Inspiron, and my budget was $180. It had a crappy AMD CPU and very limited upgradability, so the best option in my mind was to essentially build a new computer, salvaging some parts from the Dell. $180 does not go far in the PC world, so I knew I had to be picky with what I buy in order to have a decent computer. The best solution at the time was to buy a new CPU/Mobo, as those two are the main components. Also, with an LGA1150 socket and 4 RAM slots, it gave me much more upgradability. I was able to salvage many parts:
-4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 RAM (Not from the Inspiron; I can't remember where it was from) - Samsung 320GB 7200RPM 3.5" Hard Drive - Case from a Gateway Pre-Built - Optical Drive - Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers, and Monitor from the Dell - FSP Group Inc 300W PSU from the Gateway Pre-Built
With all of these parts already, a new CPU and Motherboard gave me a functional computer, with lots of room to upgrade in the near future. At this point, I just had to decide which ones I would actually buy. After hours of research and taking multiple things into consideration, I decided the best parts for me were the Intel i3-4130 and the Biostar board, and here's why:
-I believe the i3 is underrated in its speed and power. This thing is blazing fast, especially for the low price-tag, and I haven't encountered any lag issues so far. Choosing this over a Pentium was a debate in my mind, but I'm so glad I picked it. I won't have to upgrade for a while, and when I do, I have a good upgrade path.
-The Biostar board is a bang for your buck. It's not of the highest quality, but it was $58, and I got a solid board with 4 RAM slots, and some other nice features.
With these two items purchased I was out of money, yet still needed an OS. Linux was the obvious option, and it's perfect since I'm not a heavy gamer. I decided to go with Ubuntu, and so far it's been great! Anyways, the parts came in, I assembled the computer, and it all worked fine. The Ubuntu installation took less than 15 minutes, and went surprisingly smoothly. I was so excited with my new computer, and everything went fine for a while.
The next month, the old Gateway case was showing its age, as parts started chipping off, the front audio port broke, and it just plain looked ugly. With a little more money stockpiled, I was able to afford the Silverstone PS08B Case. Buying this I don't regret in the slightest. It's a decent looking case, and I bought it for a mere $35. Installing my components in it went smoothly.
Fast forward a month and a half. It's now the middle of March, and my power supply dies. Go figure, it was a crappy PSU from a prebuilt. I should have listened to the internet people that urged me to get a new power supply sooner. I didn't have enough money at the time to buy a new one, so I had to wait it out. Come early April, the best cheap PSU on the market was the CX430M, and the semi-modular features are great! It arrives a week or so later. I installed it in the computer, cable everything up, and spent an hour or more cable managing it. Unfortunately for me, I didn't check to see if it booted first. Once my computer was all pretty and airflow was destined to be great, I attempted powering on the computer. Let's just say that didn't go too well.
After countless hours of hopeless troubleshooting, and days of despair, I finally accepted the fact that I just couldn't get my computer to work at the time-being. Thanks to the wonderful people of PMC, PCPartPicker, and Tom's Hardware, I was able to narrow the problem down to being my motherboard. I filed for an RMA request with Biostar in early May, but it took them weeks to process it, and finally in late May they accepted it, and I was able to send the faulty board in. Thanks to their (not at all) wonderful customer service and urgency, I received the new motherboard just this week.
I reassembled the computer from scratch, but when I attempted to power on, nothing happened. My own troubleshooting failed, so I reached out to the internet. Shout out to killertoad for helping me figure out that the power button was the issue. I had to jump the start pins with a screwdriver, and the computer started up. My solution was moving the RESET SW cable to the start pins, so I can start the PC with the reset button. It works perfectly with this solution. OS reinstall went perfectly and now my computer is up and running and better than ever.
I then picked up the cheapest 4GB stick of RAM you could buy at the time ($28) so my computer has 8GB of RAM.
July 2015 hit, and Windows 10 came out. I knew I had to get my hands on it. I picked up a free Windows 7 key from a friend and installed in, then immediately upgraded to 10. The computer remained this way until March. I bought a new keyboard and mouse (CM Storm Devastator II combo), new speakers (Logitech Z200), and an SSD. The computer's boot time decreased from ~45 seconds to ~9 seconds.
That is my computer up to this point. Thanks for reading! None of this would be possible without you lovely internet people. :)
This i3 is more than enough for everyday tasks like web browsing and doing schoolwork, and the built-in graphics can handle games like Minecraft, CSGO, and Rocket League just fine.
It's not the greatest of boards by any measure, but it was a good buy mostly due to the low cost, and the fact that it has 4 RAM slots. What's terrible, though, is Biostar's customer support. it took about a month and a half to complete the RMA process.
Works flawlessly. Cheap 4GB stick of RAM.
I don't use much hard drive space at all, and I'm really loving this 240GB SSD. Fast and cheap! Feels a bit flimsy, but runs great; I get boot times of ~8-10 seconds from BIOS to desktop.
This is a really cheap case - you get what you pay for. There's not much room inside, and not many cable management options, so I have to tuck the cables in empty hard drive bays. No room behind the motherboard tray at all. Anyways. I think the case looks nice, and the airflow isn't terrible.
The CX430M is a good, cheap, semi-modular power supply with ample wattage for my computer, and it runs quietly. I have no complaints here.
I finally upgraded from Ubuntu to Windows. I didn't pay a dime because I got a Windows key from a friend. Now I have support for all Steam games, MS Office, and more. Also, 10 is better than Windows 7 or 8.1, in my opinion.
I actually recently bought the CM Storm Devastator II, which isn't on PCPP yet, but it's nearly identical to its predecessor. It feels like a mechanical keyboard and looks nice, with bright LEDs.
I just upgraded from ancient Dell speakers to these, and the difference in sound quality is quite noticeable. These speakers have rich, crisp sound; for $25, what more could you ask for?