PC re-build advice needed...

Marty81

Member
Hey Guys!

Not sure if I'm posting this in the correct place, so apologies if not.
I've had a HTPC style build for over a decade now that has finally become so slow that it's struggling to handle pretty basic tasks and since I now have to work from home due to Covid, it's finally time I sorted it out!

I had it pre-built by a company who's name I have long since forgotten (like I say, it was over a decade ago!) and I was hoping that I could just replace parts rather than scrapping it completely and getting a whole new build. The case is an Antec Fusion and it would be nice to keep this as it sits well under my TV (which it is connected to), however I realise that everything else will probably need to be upgraded (including the operating system).
The issue is that I have never built a PC before and to be honest would not know where to start! So would you recommend I gave it a go myself or would it be possible to have this built elsewhere to then insert into the case?

I would be mainly using it for work (multiple web based programs), watching movies (from both discs and streaming) and I do frequently use Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop/etc, so it would need to handle these programs along side others that will be open. It will not be used for gaming.

It is currently connected to my LG HD TV but I will probably be upgrading to a 4K at some point, so it may be worth me including a 4k disc drive.

My current specs are as follows (I appreciate that this will raise a few laughs!):

Operating system: Windows 7 32bit
CPU: Intel Pentium E5300 @2.60GHz Wolfdale 45nm Technology
RAM: 2.00GB Single Channel DDR2 @ 399MHz
Motherboard: ASUSTek P5QPL-VM EPU (LGA775)
Graphics: Intel G41 Express Chipset
Storage: 465GB Western Digital WDC WD5000AAKS- 00V1A0
Optical Drive: Samsung DVDWBD SH-B083L
Not sure about the sound card but since this is hooked up to the amp in my Hi-Fi setup it would be good to have some decent audio quality.


Sorry if this info is insufficient or what I'm asking is a bit silly, but I'm really not sure who to ask about this and am just looking for a bit of advice.

I appreciate your time and any advice you can give.

Cheers!

Martin
 

DavidG1

Active Member
You could keep the case, however after 10years it is possible that the the various dials ports and displays might fail at any time. Additionally you wouldn't be able to take advantage of front USB3.0 ports that modern motherboards offer.
If that doesn't deter you then the case takes a microATX form factor motherboard. You could go to PCpartpicker and start by choosing the motherboard and CPU then add RAM (8GB minimum) and Storage normally SSDs are recommended minimum 256GB - more if you store videos (1TB+) - you could reuse the existing DVD player. PCpartpicker will automatically advise of any incompatibilities
The simplest options would be to take the case to a local shop and ask them to rebuild it for you.
The second simplest option would be to buy a bare-bones NUC such as this
Intel Quad Core 8th Gen i5 Tall NUC Barebone Mini PC Kit then add some RAM and an M.2 /2.5" SSD. If you need to stream from disks you would need an external DVD player to plug into one of the USB ports
The final option would be to ask one of the system builders to build for you in a minPC case/NUC case
 
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EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
The issue is that I have never built a PC before and to be honest would not know where to start! So would you recommend I gave it a go myself or would it be possible to have this built elsewhere to then insert into the case?

Not really. You can get or used to be able to get some bundles with the CPU, memory and and cooler already installed in the motherboard but it's a lot less fiddly a job than it used to be, and they won't have the other aspects sorted like operating systems installed.

PCSpecialist do offer the option of sending in your case and having them assemble a PC in it, although they'd likely want to see a fairly standard case and probably wouldn't take the effort to get any unusual features working (Displays etc.).

Pentium was the low end brand back then, so it's likely that an lower end desktop will work fine once again - desktops components have gotten more powerful across the board relative to the mainstream as it's shifted towards smaller, lighter devices.

Which case in the fusion range was it?
 

Marty81

Member
You could keep the case, however after 10years it is possible that the the various dials ports and displays might fail at any time. Additionally you wouldn't be able to take advantage of front USB3.0 ports that modern motherboards offer.
If that doesn't deter you then the case takes a microATX form factor motherboard. You could go to PCpartpicker and start by choosing the motherboard and CPU then add RAM (8GB minimum) and Storage normally SSDs are recommended minimum 256GB - more if you store videos (1TB+) - you could reuse the existing DVD player. PCpartpicker will automatically advise of any incompatibilities
The simplest options would be to take the case to a local shop and ask them to rebuild it for you.
The second simplest option would be to buy a bare-bones NUC such as this
Intel Quad Core 8th Gen i5 Tall NUC Barebone Mini PC Kit then add some RAM and an M.2 /2.5" SSD. If you need to stream from disks you would need an external DVD player to plug into one of the USB ports
The final option would be to ask one of the system builders to build for you in a minPC case/NUC case

Thanks for your reply!
I hadn't actually thought of things like the USB3.0 ports, thanks for mentioning this.
Hmm, I thinking that the best option probably would be to start from scratch with a completely new system. I like the look of the Barebones NUC but I do not know if the specs are suitable for my needs. As I said, it would need to handle multiple programs (such as the Adobe Creative suit) as well as various web based software running simultaneously. Would I need a certain type of Graphics card for this and also output 4K resolution? Apologies for my ignorance, I'm clueless when it comes to specs! I have read that mini PC's tend to overwork the fan due to poor air circulation (as a result of the size) and can be quite noisy. Would it be better to go for something larger?

Thanks!
 

Marty81

Member
Not really. You can get or used to be able to get some bundles with the CPU, memory and and cooler already installed in the motherboard but it's a lot less fiddly a job than it used to be, and they won't have the other aspects sorted like operating systems installed.

PCSpecialist do offer the option of sending in your case and having them assemble a PC in it, although they'd likely want to see a fairly standard case and probably wouldn't take the effort to get any unusual features working (Displays etc.).

Pentium was the low end brand back then, so it's likely that an lower end desktop will work fine once again - desktops components have gotten more powerful across the board relative to the mainstream as it's shifted towards smaller, lighter devices.

Which case in the fusion range was it?

Hey, thanks for your reply!
I've attached an image of the case. It would be a shame to scrap it as it looks nice within my setup and I guess I just wanted to save what I could from going in landfill. But considering it's age and the logistics of building a PC from scratch (something I have never done), its probably better for me to use some one like PCSpecialist. I'm just not really sure what I need these days in terms of specs based on my aforementioned requirements, so any help with this would be greatly appreciated.
antecfusioncase.jpg
 

DavidG1

Active Member
If you are going to use Adobe Creative Suit then you are going to want something with a bit more grunt than a NUC. Additionally as you say they can run hot due to the limited space, especially as you would be pushing it hard with Adobe. In that case I would recommend a small HTPC case such as this
Amazon productThis takes up to a standard ATX case and full size graphics card. Check the external dimensions suit your needs. You could build this yourself or specify the case with a custom builder such as PCSpecialist, scan computers etc
 

Marty81

Member
Thanks for the feedback and the case suggestion. Not too dissimilar to my current one and taking into account my requirements it's probably best that I go for something like this again. I guess I just need to figure out what specs I need. Is it better to go with Intel or AMD do you think? Also my current hard drive (500gb) is not even half full, so is it worth keeping this or upgrading due to the possibility of it not being compatible with a new motherboard, etc?
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
Hey, thanks for your reply!
I've attached an image of the case. It would be a shame to scrap it as it looks nice within my setup and I guess I just wanted to save what I could from going in landfill. But considering it's age and the logistics of building a PC from scratch (something I have never done)

It's not particularly difficult, all the parts are designed to be assembled by hand with no special tools requires, and the technical questions on the OS install is limited to things like asking you which hard drive you'd like to install to and which layout your keyboard has.


That variant of that case appears to go by the name of the Fusion Black 430 or the Fusion Remote. Going by the review of the Black 430 here it all looks pretty standard.

ATX Power supplies, 120mm fans and MicroATX motherboards are all widely available.

The front USB ports and front audio ports may not connect directly but adapters are cheap and widely available.


Getting the display and firewire port working would be more difficult. The firewire port would likely require a PCI-E card with the appropriate header.

The Display seems to use a custom power connector so unless antec still happen to have stock of adapters you'd likely need to get out the multimeter, determine which voltages it's using and wire up an adapter using the existing connectors.

You could keep the current power supply, it should work with modern hardware although it may not be the most efficient standby state. Whether it'd last another decade I'm not sure, but if you're happy to replace it when it dies or the fan gets too noisy then that is an option.

The review doesn't say, but I'd guess the display just uses a USB connection for data. Whatever software runs it may not be Windows 10 compatible though.


CPU cooler height is obviously restricted but not seriously so that's something to pay attention to.

Drives are 3.5" so you can get a 3.5" to 2.5" bracket - the most common drive size today or just go for the motherboard-mounted M.2 form factor that's becoming more popular.

Existing hard drive will likely to be SATA at that age, which is fully compatible with current motherboards. However, drive speed has moved on substantially so a modern drive (an SSD) will feel noticeably faster. Your current drive could be kept as a storage drive though.


Case looks good to me other than display and firewire. No new case is going to have firewire and you didn't seem bothered by David's suggestion of a case without display.


In terms of specs it's more about what you're doing than the program's you're using. Adobe CC is used by professionals and the more demanding workloads can stress any PC in existence. But if you're only using it for some standard editing of your smartphone snaps then anything will do that.

AMD's G-suffix Ryzen processors are a good all-round choice, such as the 4350G or 3200G (the former is newer and faster, but a bit thing on the ground at the moment).

IIRC Adobe's image editing software has a little bit of GPU acceleration, but it doesn't make a huge difference unless you're doing heavy filters or similar so integrated graphics are fine.

4K output and video playback are both features of the GPU and not related to how powerful it is. They're well supported by recent integrated graphics and graphics cards so the only way to miss then is generally either a budget graphics card using an old chip or a motherboard without the appropriate video output.


I don't know anything about BD UHD drives, PC support for them never took off generally - optical discs are obsolete for files - so it's a pretty niche market.
 

DavidG1

Active Member
Go to pcpartpicker (link given above) and look at the various builds according to your budget. A budget graphic card of an AMD 570/580 or Nvidia 1060 would be more than ample. You might even get away with integrated graphics. I would suggest anything over £500 for the total build should be more than powerful enough. I would personally not use the HDD and use an SSD as a boot drive. The difference in performance is like chalk and cheese, additionally if the HDD is more than a few years old the reliability will be suspect. If you can afford it go for a single 500-1TB SSD. You would also need to factor in the cost of Windows 10

check out this recent post in the AV Forum, specking out a mini PC
 
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Marty81

Member
Wow, thanks so much guys for all the valuable information and it's incredibly helpful for me to determine what I need. I also really appreciate the comments regarding the Harddrive, as this was something I was not sure if would need to upgrade but looks important that do.
I was looking to spend around £500 or just over, so that's good news.
Thanks for the link David to the AVforum post, I'll definitely check it out.

Cheers!
 

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