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The $400 foot stool rebuild PC build.

Go to solution Solved by Bitter,

I guess maybe I should have clarified, this isn't mine but one I built for a friend who's asking for it to be updated.

First the bad and the ugly, I don't think we need much narration to see what's gone on here...I don't recall why I hacked out part of the front case grill but I think it was bent and making contact with the fan blades.





So the old PC was:

Intel Pentium E2140 1.6Ghz Dual Core

Foxconn 946GZ7MA-8KS2H LGA 775 Intel 946GZ Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

ADATA Value Series 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit

XFX GeForce 7600GT 256MB 128-Bit GDDR3 (which got swapped out for a GT430 at some point)

Seagate BarraCuda 7200.10  250GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive (Perpendicular Recording) Bare Drive

All inside this lovely budget case.

Rosewill R5717-P BK 120mm Fan ATX Mid Tower Computer Case,with mesh air filters,adjustable vents & Tool-Free kits


This build was completed in January 2008 and this is the 2nd time I've seen it back for repairs. The first time the video card fan failed, which is when it got the GT430 'upgrade'.

Current failures are the power supply fan has locked up and it appears that several capacitors are bulged/leaking on the motherboard.


She would like to reuse the case so I'm going to strip it down, finish cleaning it, properly cut out the front and rear fan holes for max airflow, get some magnetic filters, and see if I can make this thing move enough air to be useful. I may add taller legs to the bottom and use the rear and side for intake then then front and a bottom fan for exhaust. It's not idea but it would let the filters be accessed without taking anything apart in the hopes that they'll be cleaned.


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The new build will be:

Ryzen 5 1600 'AF'

MSI B450 Tomahawk motherboard

Wraith Spire cooler (or Prism if I can get it at the right price)

G.SKILL Aegis 16GB (2 x 8GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 3200 Memory Kit

EVGA 650 GQ, 80+ Gold 650W Power Supply 210-GQ-0650-V1


Video card is to be determined, I'm waiting to see what Ampere does to the 16 series card prices. I'd prefer to go with Nvidia over AMD for sake of driver stability.

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The dust hurts my soul hahaha

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That is. Disgusting. I've never had a PC get that dirty.

Current PC:


CPU: Intel i3 4160 Cooler: Integrated Motherboard: Integrated

RAM: G.Skill RipJaws 16GB DDR3 Storage: Transcend MSA370 128GB GPU: Intel 4400 Graphics

PSU: Integrated Case: Shuttle XPC Slim

Monitor: LG 29WK500 Mouse: G.Skill MX780 Keyboard: G.Skill KM780 Cherry MX Red


Budget Rig 1 - Sold For $750 Profit


CPU: Intel i5 7600k Cooler: CryOrig H7 Motherboard: MSI Z270 M5

RAM: Crucial LPX 16GB DDR4 Storage: Intel S3510 800GB GPU: Nvidia GTX 980

PSU: Corsair CX650M Case: EVGA DG73

Monitor: LG 29WK500 Mouse: G.Skill MX780 Keyboard: G.Skill KM780 Cherry MX Red


OG Gaming Rig - Gone



CPU: Intel i5 4690k Cooler: Corsair H100i V2 Motherboard: MSI Z97i AC ITX

RAM: Crucial Ballistix 16GB DDR3 Storage: Kingston Fury 240GB GPU: Asus Strix GTX 970

PSU: Thermaltake TR2 Case: Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX

Monitor: Dell P2214H x2 Mouse: Logitech MX Master Keyboard: G.Skill KM780 Cherry MX Red



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I guess maybe I should have clarified, this isn't mine but one I built for a friend who's asking for it to be updated.

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Alright, prior to tearing down the old PC I decided to see if it boots up and shockingly it does! So I OC'd the thing to 2ghz because why not and got to the GRUB boot menu, turns out it's setup up for triple boot from way back when. Ubuntu, XP, and 7, nice. I got Ubuntu booted but I can't recall what her password is so I'll get that from her tomorrow so I can poke around and see if there's anything I need to backup before I end up nuking GRUB to make the two discs 'dumb' so they're not trying to boot with the Ryzen setup.


I'm curious to pull the CPU cooler and see what paste I used and how it's holding up. I probably used AS5 paste as that's normally what I would have had around then (and still do, it super long term stable in the tubes).

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I talked her into a new PC case, she's not thrilled about tempered glass but oh well. Looks good for the price, I don't think there's much better from a functional standpoint at this $50 price range. I can run top fans as intake with filters so she can access them easy to clean and use the front/rear as exhaust. It's not an ideal airflow path but for long term ease of maintenance it makes sense.


I'm going to stick some green LED strips inside because that's her favorite color. I'll do two as static and two that'll change brightness with fan speed if I can.


Next up is hunting for a graphics card, I finally got a budget out of her and it's $700. With this case I'm at $350 give or take a few dollars.


I also need some decent long life case fans. How are these for value/performance?


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On 1/9/2020 at 9:20 PM, JM21 said:

The dust hurts my soul hahaha

Yeah, I kind of wonder if her problems with it gaming slowly in Cities Skylines weren't just cause it was a 1.6Ghz dual core Pentium but maybe it was overheating and throttling? I had a shutdown temp of 85C set in the BIOS for the CPU and the case speaker would begin beeping at 70C, so I doubt it was even throttling the CPU as dirty as it was. That processor just doesn't make much heat!

On 1/9/2020 at 9:33 PM, dizmo said:

That is. Disgusting. I've never had a PC get that dirty.

So I looked up the last time I saw this PC back for cleaning/repair and it was in 2011 when I replaced the 7600GT for a GT430. The fan had died on the 7600GT and the replacement fan was from a Quadro card which for some reason meant it ran at full speed all the time despite being 3 wires and the same motor amperage. The GT430 was actually a pretty huge upgrade over the 7600GT. At that time it got a full cleaning and a strawberry air freshener inside to combat the foul smells it had absorbed from their house.


I also noticed in BIOS that it appears the battery for the board is dead, makes sense as it's from 2007. Pretty sure it's supposed to be 3.3V not 0.85 volt.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Update time!

$372/$700 in parts are here. First case came dented AF so I got a replacement sent. Cougar MX 330-G. About 1/2 the case weight is in the glass side panel, it's super flimsy steel, but that's OK it just needs to move some air through it to keep things cool! Speaking of that, I need to figure out how to get a slight positive pressure airflow going on and make a gasket to seal the glass side panel down to the case better.


Ordered an NVME drive for it, Silicon Power 512GB NVMe M.2 PCIe Gen3x4 2280 TLC R/W up to 3,400/2,300MB/s SSD (SU512GBP34A80M28AB) for $70. It's not the best but it'll do amazing compared to her hard drive she's been using, yeah hard drive like with the moving parts inside. I'm shocked it still works. I don't think that NVME drive needs a heat sink but since I've never used it or any NVME drive before I honestly am not sure. If it does there's a green one on Amazon for like $10 and green is her favorite color.


I had some difficulties with the power supply I got a deal on, turns out the deal was a little bit rotten. It came with some incorrect cables and I smoked a couple old and thankfully disposable hard drives trying to figure it out. Good news is I made a tool to re-pin cables and was able to re-purpose some old cables from a PSU I'll be throwing away so just sucked some extra time but hey it's worthless time anyway.


Currently I'm going to extract the Windows 8 product key from an old Asus OEM board and hope it'll work to activate Windows 10 and see if it's Home or Pro, likely since it's an OEM key I'll have to do the call center thing but that doesn't bother me. I just tell them I had to change some hardware because it failed and wanted to upgrade to windows 10 at the same time and shouldn't have a problem. If I do then subtract $100 for Windows 10 Home I suppose.


Then I'm going to pop the GTX 950 out of an idle system and install for her to borrow and see what better fortunes await later this year in the graphics card market, either used or new hopefully prices are coming down to more reasonable levels for mid range cards. Got more Navi, got Ampere coming, should be interesting and hopefully some competition will drop prices.


On the CPU side of the build I got a Wraith Prism mounted on the 1600 AF and undervolted it to negative offset of 150mv with the weakest LLC and it's stable. On the open bench it's hitting an all core max of 52-55C with the fan at like 1500-1900 RPM at 1 volt vcore. Pretty stunning! I'll probably bump the LLC up a notch before I send it home with her just to make sure it's stable and maybe take it to negative 125mv too.


I'll get a photo of it up when it's all put together, no one wants to see it on the living room floor on top of the motherboard box.

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Made some progress this evening, I need to tidy up the wiring on the back side a bit it's kind of a mess but it looks pretty decent on the front. I may route that PCIe power cable differently, it's just a GTX 950 as temporary so it's kind of lame but better than anything else I have laying around unused.




Oh yea and screw whomever thought it would be a good idea to make M.2 hold hardware in two different sizes. Asus uses M2 threads and MSI uses M3 threads. I bought some for my Asus and some for this MSI, I got two packs of M2 threaded parts. Luckily I had a screw which was M3 thread just laying around and was able to make a plastic spacer and mount the SSD safely. It's not uh spec compliant shall we say but it'll be just fine.

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I'm in the home stretch now!

The Windows 8.1 key I extracted from the BIOS of an old Asus motherboard worked, Windows 10 Home is activated legitly and that's awesome, frees up another $100 to put back into the build. Needless to say, Windows is installed on the NVME. I left about 20GB free if I need to toss Ubuntu on later should she start using it on the internet regularly, currently they have no home internet except this 'library box' that they borrow like once a month? Not sure what that is.



install rear fan

see if she wants/needs an optical drive and install that

clean up some wire routing around back so the back panel goes on easier and knock out a slight dent it had from shipping/handling.

mount the LED strip at the top of the case where it can wash down over the board and permanently wire it up (it's brightness is fan speed controlled, more spin more bright)

wait for a deal on a good GPU later this year, but in the mean time she can Asus Strix GTX 950 it up. I installed Asus GPU TweakII so it can run the full 'game boost' clocks.


When it's done I'll post it in the battlestations thread.





How do I store the WIndows Product key in the board BIOS so it doesn't get lost in case she has to reinstall Windows for some reason? MSI B450 Tomahawk.

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Got the back managed so the side panel slides on and off easily, doubled up the green LED strip and mounted it up top on the angled steel section shining down onto the board and case innards, realized that the optical drive is gray steel so I'm taking it to work to paint the visible parts of it black, realized that the optical will block a little airflow from the top but what can I do, she wants an optical. I mean I guess I could get get a slim optical and use a desktop adapter bracket but that's more parts and more waiting and I doubt it would be any better at not blocking the fan a little. I think it's live-able once painted to blend in better.


I did re-route the PCIe power cable and I like this much better.



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Argh one defective out of the 5 pack, got a blade hitting the frame at higher speeds. Contacted Arctic about replacing it, hope I can get it sorted quick as it's pretty much done otherwise. Need to sort out that and a couple minor things and it's golden. Well until later this year when a suitable graphics card crops up. I just can't decide if it's worth waiting to see if new product and competition drives prices down for better value or not, something like a RX580 8GB would probably be fine but only if it was $100 or under as it's getting on in age. Ideally I want her to have something that can do 1080 @ 60fps in most games on highest settings and 1440 @ 60fps with some settings turned down. Nvidia commands such a premium price and AMD takes tla while to get their drivers sorted. Despite it's high power draw a used Vega 56 might do the trick, anyone have an opinion?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I got her Steam and Origin accounts setup and games installed, she came over and I went through how to use the Wraith Prism softeware to play with the heat sink, how the case LED's change with CPU temp, why some fans don't spin until the PC is warm, and made sure her games work. One didn't want to launch but that seemed like an issue with the game server more than the PC. Overall she seems pretty happy with it! She also dropped off the desktop (first gen i3 I think?) that I had rebuilt into a Dell Dimension 2400 PC case to have Windows 7 updated to Windows 10. That's about as disgusting inside as her old foot-stool PC, but this one has a catch. No keyboards will work with it, so that'll be a fun mystery once I get it dusted out at work. Might see if I can drop in my i5 750 for them and some more RAM. She took her old foot-stool PC back with her, I told her I can repair the PSU later if she wants and that it wouldn't be hard to toss in a hard drive or cheap SSD and have it as a spare PC or a very basic PC for a friend who needs one. Overall I'm pretty happy with how it all went. Seeing her see it for the first time in person was pretty cool, I could tell she was trying to hide how excited she was.

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