Thanks for the feature PCPP! I showed my daughter as soon as she woke up this morning. Exciting way to start the day. Also want to thank everyone for all the amazing comments. This really was a great project and we both had a lot of fun. 6 was definitely not too young for this in my opinion, so if you have a little one and an old PC laying around don't be shy!
I replaced an old store-bought desktop at the beginning of the year and just for fun I disassembled it into a pile of components. Seeing as that most of these components were not really worth anything I decided to let my daughter (6 years old) use them to learn about building a computer and what all the different pieces do. I know she’s pretty young still but I felt it was a great opportunity to introduce her to some tech education, which even in 2017 I feel is still majorly lacking in the the public school system all the way up through high school. Long story short, she was doing really well with putting together all the junk components and was really excited about learning about them, so I took a few of the salvageable components and set out to complete a low budget build for her first computer. She loves to write so hopefully with WordPad or Notebook she can get a head start on her typing skills and use a few other education programs as well.
So, this build was centered around a few ideas. It needed to look cool so that she got excited about it. It needed to be girly (for her) but not to girly (for dad’s sake). It needed to be cheap, since she is only 6! We decided on a Batgirl theme which I think fit our requirements perfectly. I used the video card (GTX 550) and 2 sticks of the stock RAM (2x2GB) from my old desktop as a starting point. I got some cheap RAM heat spreaders and painted them in the theme of the build. The rest of the pieces I found searching PCPartPicker for good bargains. Some of them weren’t really necessary in the sense of a budget build but definitely helped bring the look of the build together for just a few more bucks.
I think I was a little over ambitious with the amount a 6-year-old could accomplish putting together an actual computer. However, my daughter did do all the work installing components outside the case (installing the CPU, memory, cooler, plugging stuff in...) and we got it fired up before putting it in the case. Working in the case is a bit much for her but she did help with a few steps there as well (installing the HDD, video card, IO shield...). I had to get the fans and MOBO in and did all the cable management. Overall though, she learned a lot and I think the computer will mean a lot more to her know that we built it together.
The following is just a bit of detail on the part choices:
Case: Wanted something with purple in it, a side panel window, micro-ATX, and budget friendly. The DIY-F2-P fit these specs perfectly. At only $43 it also came with 2 fans with purple LEDs. You definitely get what you pay for with this case though. The space behind the back panel for cable management is frustratingly small and several of the openings such as the upper left-hand corner where I would want the CPU power cable routed through were too small to fit the connectors through. The fans would have made the case as a whole an extra good deal but they had a regular 3 pin fan connector and a 4 pin Molex connector for the LEDs. Again the 4-pin connector would not fit through the space provided for cable management. I opted to just spend a few more dollars and get some fans with a single 4 pin fan connected and nicer LEDs. I still would rate this case highly for its price range but in general would probably recommend the Thermaltake Core V1 which I did a previous build in (this is a mini-ITX case though which might up the budget for a MOBO a bit).
CPU: Honestly think this thing stinks so far. Haven’t really done much besides installing drivers and updating windows but CPU was pegged during the windows updates and was painfully slow just trying to open a browser during this. I know I didn’t need the APU since the build has a video card. I was mainly looking based on price of the CPU and MOBO price/selection for the socket. As I said earlier this is only going to be used for some basic applications so I didn’t think it would be a big deal. I am probably a bit spoiled from my desktop but is it really that much to ask to be able to open a browser in less than 10 seconds? I just did a previous build using a GS4500 which was a bit more expensive but still relatively cheap and I had no complaints about. The MOBO is FM2+ so maybe if my daughter really takes to this we can upgrade the CPU one day.
Memory: Just some stock sticks that I got some cheap $5 heat spreaders (from Newegg) for. Painted the heat spreaders in the build colors. Maybe we will upgrade this one day.
CPU Cooler: Could have just used the stock cooler but I had an 80mm fan from a previous build where the fan actually comes out of the housing. This made it easy to paint in the build colors, which I did. I bought this Thermaltake cooler because it was cheap and allowed me to replace the 80mm fan it came with, with the one I painted.
PSU: Nice that its semi-modular and the price was amazing on sale. Of course, it required a mail-in rebate but I just used that 20 bucks on some other pieces when it finally came it. I want to sleeve the cables but I haven’t done that before and don’t have all the tools yet. Maybe one day...
Video Card: From my old desktop. It still works and my daughter isn’t into gaming so this should be more than enough. I put that this cost 15 bucks because I broke a fan blade off after I took it off and had to order a new fan.
Motherboard: Good looking motherboard and a good price. No issues with setup or BIOS. No wifi but I did that on purpose since the computer is for a young kid. Got her a USB dongle for wifi for when she needs to get online for something.
Storage: Just a standard 1TB drive from my old desktop, wiped and repurposed.
Fans: Just some cheap fans I found on Amazon. Not represented here on PCPartPicker. They were cheap, work and look cool.
Hope everyone enjoys the build. I would say the actual price came out to be a bit over $200 since I didnt add the fans, fan hub, spray paint, decal paper etc. Thoughts and opinions are always welcome. Definitely would recommend this as a project with a young kid if you enjoy building PC's.