Suggestions for DIY Desktop PC


February 2016 hasn't been a good month for my computing devices. First the harddrive on one of my laptops dies, and now my decade old PC has finally given up the ghost. I built this system from scratch and replaced components over the years as they failed. A few years back, I actually replaced the motherboard when the capacitors on it blew up. Seems like there were a period of time where a major capacitor supplier put out a huge batch of defective units that a lot of manufacturers used and my mobo was one of them. I'm not even sure what's wrong with my PC. When I power on, the fans and harddrive go on, but there are no beeps and I don't see any POST activity on the monitor. I've decided it's not worth trying to figure out what's wrong and just replace it. It was getting very long in the tooth.

I've also decided to build another machine and I can reuse the harddrives (if they're ok), the DVD drive, But it's been so long since I built this one, the components have all modernized, so I don't have a good idea what to look for.

Here are my thoughts/desires::

  • General web browsing, surfing, social media and video watching. My old system was choking on 1080p video.
  • Some medium intensive photo editing. I have an older version of Adobe CS suite with Photoshop, Bridge, etc. They took minutes to start up on my old system.
  • Ability to play modern games. I don't want a rig that can play graphics intensive games at 4K resolution, but I'd like to play some of the modern titles at a decent setting. I can probably just go with the onboard video for now and upgrade to a discrete GPU later.
  • I don't need the latest and greatest CPU. My old CPU was an AMD. I'm looking at maybe an Intel i5 or an AMD A10(?) I'm not sure how they compare. Is it worth it to get a Skylake I5 or save some money and go with Haswell? I've even seen some people saying that a newer version Pentium might suffice.
  • I intend to get an SSD (preferably 500GB) for the boot drive and reuse my HDD as a data drive.
  • I think it's best not to reuse the old PSU. It's a few years old (less than five but it's connected to an older than that motherboard) and I don't want it crapping out a year from now. Have the connectors changed any in the last few years?
  • I'd also like to swap out the case so I can get USB-3 ports and I want a simpler design. The old one has a window and lights (ah, the folly of youth). I'd like a mid-tower case. I don't need 10 drive bays, but ease of accessibility is always preferable.
  • And the most important factor - I'd like to spend $400 or less.

I know there are 10 billion options, but I'm just looking for ideas or recommendations or resources to help in my search.