(2022-05-12) I Built A New Computer For My Parents

Two weeks ago I built my parents a new computer, and it's interesting how I ended up in this situation. My parents some time before had been using my old computer that I took from them and switched for a mini PC, but that mini PC had ended up having some annoyances which meant that my parents wanted to get rid of it and replace it with something better. This mini PC was basically a cheap "NUC" from a no-name company with decent specs that I bought off of Amazon thinking that it would be fine for my parents for a long time. However, even when I turned it on I realized it maybe wasn't the best. It worked fine, but the fan was a little bit loud and would sometimes randomly spin up a lot even when the computer was idle, and later it would also sometimes randomly BSOD once every few months. Still, after all that I was kind of apathetic about my parents new computer and just decided to leave it because it was completely functional.

Later, however, the fan bearing or something broke and the fan became much noisier and more annoying and sounded awful when running at full blast. I didn't do anything about this again not because I didn't want to, but because I offered to fix/replace the fan, and my mother, who uses the computer the most, declined my offer for whatever reason. So I just didn't do anything about it and left them alone. My parents maybe sometimes mentioned the noise and I told them I can fix it and they didn't seem to care. But then finally, one day when I visited my parents they mentioned that they were fed up with the noise and wanted to get a new computer. I could have tried to fix that mini PC's fan, but instead I decided that that computer caused enough issues and I also felt a bit guilty for not getting a decent computer in the first place. So I offered to build my parents a new PC, and they accepted my offer. Here's what I built:

And here's what the insides look like:
Here are the specs:

Selecting these parts took me a couple days because I used PCPartPicker, which didn't show the prices and availability for all the stores correctly. I later had to go directly to Amazon and Newegg to pick out some of the parts that were needed. The Intel CPU I picked is a solid CPU for the regular content consumption and light productivity that my parents use their computer for. Maybe it's even more than my parents really need, but the price was acceptable for me, and I wanted to ensure my parents' new computer is reasonably "future-proofed". The computer will be using the integrated graphics of this CPU which is also enough for everything my parents do. Its graphics is more than enough, and getting a dedicated GPU would have been seriously overkill. I think that 8GB of RAM is good and won't cause any issues for my parents computing. The Samsung SSD is the same one that I put in my old computer when I upgraded it, which saved me a little money on this computer. That SSD wasn't in use anymore because I built a new computer with a PCIe SSD. The Asus motherboard was basically one of the cheapest motherboards I saw available from a decent brand. If you know anything about how power hungry computer components are, you'd know that my computer probably wouldn't need more than 100 watts of power to run. I got that 650W PSU because it was one of the cheapest PSUs I saw on Amazon which was from a brand I trusted. Plus it also had a "Silencio" fan which turns off when the PSU wasn't hot. The Rosewill FBM-X2 case is an amazing budget case, which I'd highly recommend to anyone. It's honestly a great case for any no-frills PC build. The only downside I can think of is that it can't fit longer GPUs like the Bitchin'fast!3D2000 inside it.

Building the computer took me a little over an hour. It was slightly less stressful as for me than it was when I was building my current computer. At first I was doing things a little weirdly, but after a few minutes I did everything the "proper" way. First I installed the CPU and RAM onto the motherboard. The Intel CPU went in like it did with my new computer, with a slight crunch that makes it feel like you're breaking something, but everything's actually fine as long as you put in the CPU correctly, which the alignment pins on the side make hard to do. Unlike with my previous PC build, I used the included Intel stock cooler, which actually looks kind of cool compared to their older stock coolers with its new all-black design. The RAM I bought seemed kind of cheap pricewise, but felt pretty premium with cool-to-the-touch metal sides when I took it out and installed it. Next I popped in the motherboard I/O shield into the case, put in the motherboard, and screwed it in. I accidentally screwed in the wrong type of screw in one of the holes, and getting it out was a little annoying as it unscrewed one of the case's motherboard standoffs when I took it out and then was really tightly stuck in the standoff. Then I put in the SSD, which required using the case's strange rubber mount things to mount. The final piece to put in was the PSU. After all the parts were in, it was a matter of wiring up everything. The most tedious things to connect were the front panel power & reset button and indicator light connectors which were tiny and had to be connected to this small pin section where everything was confusingly labeled. I had to get out the motherboard manual to make sure I was connecting everything in the right place.

I finally had everything I needed to turn on the computer and see if it works... and it POST'd successfully on the first try! Yaaay! Right away I installed Windows 10, which I had ready to go on a USB stick I brought with me. After Windows installed successfully, I didn't transfer my parents to their new computer right away, I did that later in the week. The final thing I did with the PC build was take out the single included 120mm fan that the case came with, and put in two of my own 120mm fans that I had. These two fans are fans that I had as leftovers from my last PC build because I replaced those two fans with silent Noctua fans. When the computer was running it wasn't silent enough for my neurotic standards, but for my parents it was effectively inaudible, and it certainly was infinitely quieter compared to the crappy mini PC. Now the PC build was done, now all I had to do was transfer over my parents' files and software to their new computer.

The transferring took way longer than I'd like it to have taken. It took almost three hours to finish everything. A lot of that time was spent waiting for the files to transfer and waiting for things to download. My parents internet is just enough for 1080p YouTube videos, but was slow AF for the file downloads I was doing. I regret not downloading all the drivers I needed onto a USB stick in advance at my place, which would have sped up the set up process. Sadly I could not have had everything downloaded in advance as some of the software I installed gave you an installer that downloaded the program files in the installer. One more annoying thing was when I installed a copy of Microsoft Office that is linked to my Microsoft account (for the license and stuff), it automatically logged me in with that account almost everywhere in Windows. I had to go to the settings in the computer account, OneDrive, and in Edge to unlink everything that I never asked to be linked. Sure is annoying dealing with such "conveniences". Finally I fiddled around with some settings that I like to change and did some tweaks, and my parents' new computer was ready for them to use!

So yeah, my parents have been using their new computer I built for over a week now, and they've been satisfied. I really hope it doesn't have any issues itself and lasts for as long as my old computer lasted. Fan noise and broken fans should never be a problem again because they're standard computer fans and replacements are really easy to find. The computer tells me it's "ready for Windows 11" which is nice, though I'm not going to upgrade the computer until Windows 10 is finally EOL'd. (Update: almost a year later the computer updated itself to Windows 11 because my parents didn't know how to make the upgrade prompts go away, but my parents don't have any issues with the new OS.) Well, anyways, I'm all done and I'll probably not have to worry about my parents computer hardware for a long time.

Oh yeah, one small piece of advice before I go: don't buy no-name brand mini PCs. Get a genuine Intel NUC or something similar from a reputable computer brand. I'm really considering smashing that mini PC with a sledgehammer later...

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