Building a Budget Minded Church A/V Workstation


Running A/V on a laptop is great provided the device is powerful enough and portability is another great feature but nothing quite gives you the lasting life, customizability, and flexibility of a desktop. I’ll get to the pros and cons later, but first lets go to the parts list and why each part was chosen.

Goals:

This computer should do the following:

  • Run the Proclaim Presentation Software on Two Monitors, both with a Resolution of 1080p
  • Run Audacity for audio recording and editing
  • Be light and portable enough to be broken down(moved) with the other a/v equipment every sunday
  • Be easily upgradable and last for at least 5 years

Motherboard and CPU

Because we need performance on a budget, we went with AMD’s Ryzen lineup. We chose the 2200G for two reasons, one because it’s a 3.7GHz Quad Core, and second because it has built in Vega 8 Graphics. The result is a CPU with about the same performance of a Ryzen 1400 and GPU performance somewhere between intel graphics and a RX 560. Since this will be handling multiple monitors and a presentation software, which tends to not overload but push the limits of Intels Integrated graphics. The micro-atx form factor is often the best for budget minded builds, and really as long as you don’t mind the cramped building conditions it shouldn’t make much of a difference. Our motherboard is a MSI B350 mATX motherboard, which comes with a very modern feature set(at the time of this writing).

RAM

The state of the DRAM shortage is a point of contention for many PC builders right now. So we took the high road and went with a single stick of 8GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4. This will give us enough room to breathe but will also allow us to upgrade again should we find our usage going to high or when the price of RAM drops(hopefully).

Storage

We decided to go with a small SSD for two reasons, one because I happened to have a lot of spare 1TB hard drives lying around, and two because nothing affects system responsiveness more than the storage option. It’s one of the largest bottlenecks in any system, and the more SSDs become cheaper the less of an excuse there is to not get one. We went with a Samsung Polaris PM961 128GB NVMe drive for maximum system responsiveness, and for $76 it was hard to go wrong for a drive of this speed.

Case

This is a working computer not a gaming one, we went with the cheapest, plastic, ugliest, 18$ case that Rosewill makes. It’s not worth mentioning, but it should be noted that when you are building a system it’s important to outline your goals at the beginning of a project. Budget minded builds should never blow more than $25 on a case unless it’s that important to you.

PSU

Thermaltake 500W 80+. It’s inexpensive, name brand, and it’s way over our power requirements so it should last past any upgrades. I went with a name brand, because really you should never skimp out on the power supply, it’s the one point of failure that could destroy your system.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Easily Upgradable
  • High Performance and Cooling
  • Will last a long while
  • Flexibly, as many ports and types of ports we want

Cons:

  • Not nearly as portable
  • No Official Support or Warranty

Conclusions

So overall I think this build sets out to accomplish our goals. It’s more performant, flexible, and ultimately meeds our needs better than our previous solution. I don’t recommend whiteboxing(Building it yourself) to everyone, however if you know what you’re doing it can be a great way to get a bargain workstation. The tendency for most professionals is to overspend on solutions with support. While for most scenarios that’s a better idea, there are situations where it just makes more sense to spend a little time instead of money to make a solution that works out to be better suited to the needs of the project.

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