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Build a $300 PC and Run Vista On It - Article

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June 21, 2007 4:07:23 PM

http://channel.tomshardware.com/2007/06/21/300_dollar_pc_with_vista/

I like articles like this, but this is apparently the wrong time to be writing them with the way prices are dropping. I just ordered a $300 computer from newegg last week and it beats the tested hardware on every front except PSU:

Combo discount $15.00

APEX DM-317-A Black/ Silver Steel MicroATX Slim Case Computer Case ATX12V Flex 275W Power Supply - Retail
Item #: N82E16811154061
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy $42.99

HITACHI Deskstar T7K250 HDT722525DLA380 (0A31636) 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Item #: N82E16822145087
Return Policy: Limited 30-Day Return Policy $64.99

AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+ Brisbane 1.9GHz Socket AM2 Processor Model ADO3600IAA5DL - OEM
Item #: N82E16819103036
Return Policy: Processors (CPUs) Return Policy $59.00

ECS GeForce6100SM-M (1.0) Socket AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 6100S Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Item #: N82E16813135039
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy $49.99

WINTEC AMPO 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 3AMD2667-2G2K-R - Retail
Item #: N82E16820161677
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy $61.99

SUPER TALENT INT-AIN1-C All-in-one USB 2.0 Card Reader - Retail
Item #: N82E16820609198
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy $7.99

LITE-ON Combo Drive Black SATA Model SHC-52S7K-05 - OEM
Item #: N82E16827106040
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy $24.99

ARCTIC COOLING ALPINE 7 92mm CPU Cooler - Retail
Item #: N82E16835186009
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy $14.99

Subtotal: $311.93
Shipping: $31.03
Total: $342.96

Dual core, faster CPU, Geforce 6100 instead of VIA onboard video, 2GB instead of 1GB, faster larger HDD (I chose the wrong one though, should have gotten T7K500, same price, faster thoughput). Vista ready I think, but haven't installed yet.

And I was pissed off that before I even got all of the parts delivered I got the newegg specials email and prices had fallen again!

I also don't get why they recommended a 400w PSU. The max system draw was like 60w. Even with a 250-300w PSU at 80% efficiency you've got a lot of power available:

60w * .8 = system power use: 48w
250w *.8 = available power: 200w
300w *.8 = available power: 240w
400w *.8 = available power: 320w
500w *.8 = available power: 400w
remainder available 250w PSU: 152w
remainder available 300w PSU: 192w
remainder available 400w PSU: 272w
remainder available 500w PSU: 352w

What are you going to add to your value PC that consumes over 150w? Or 250w if you insist on 400w PSU? You can't do SLI on your microATX mobo... I understand that PSUs are important, and when you get to the limit of a PSU's capability it can cause all kinds of reliability issues, but that extra 150w is a lot of headroom. I have had to replace several PSUs in my life (had a mobo that would fry PSUs when soft off, sleep state S5) but they are usually one of the easiest components to replace.
June 21, 2007 6:22:07 PM

This article was originally written AND PUBLISHED sometime in February. I have no idea why they decided to republish this article. I could find no new information in it (unless the Vista observations warranted the re-release?).

Original article:

http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/02/19/the-300-pc/index...
June 21, 2007 6:24:37 PM

power supply is the most important component next to the hard drive. A bad PSU can kill your mobo and cause much grief! I would never buy a power supply unless it gets a 5 egg rating with over 100 reviews! Once those conditions are met then I look at price! I've been buying that really good selling 430W Thermaltake. Haven't had any problems with any of them yet. I'm done buying cheap PSU's that feel like they are made of balsa wood.
Related resources
June 21, 2007 7:11:18 PM

Cheap PSU's can cause problems, but so can any other component. Quality is important, and PSU's are a place that manufacturers can skimp, but any bad component can fry any other. If I'm building a $800 machine,I'll spend $80+ on a PSU, but when your PSU costs more than any other single component I think your priorities are out of line.

Also, not everyone needs 500w+. You didn't recommend huge power, but lots of generic statements are made about needing 500w min or 400w min. With an 8800, yes. with onboard video, no. A simple machine with no add in cards or additional drives doesn't need more than 300w.
June 21, 2007 7:16:27 PM

Quote:
power supply is the most important component next to the hard drive. A bad PSU can kill your mobo and cause much grief! I would never buy a power supply unless it gets a 5 egg rating with over 100 reviews! .

Be careful relying on newegg comments. You'll find a lot of biased opinions on popular items. You might get dooped into buying a crappy product.
June 21, 2007 7:38:17 PM

Also, there are incompetent fools who rate a PSU when they have only used it for less than a week.
June 21, 2007 8:20:38 PM

I just bought a Dell E520N system for $322 shipped. It includes:

Core2Duo 1.8 ghz
Nvidia 6150LE integrated video
1 gig of RAM PC2-6400
250 gig SATA2 hdd
CDRW/DVD combo drive 48x
Integrated audio/NIC
Dell USB keyboard/Mouse
Ubuntu Linux 7.04
Expansion slots: PCIe x16, PCIe x1, 2 PCI ...

Price: $322.00
Tax: $29.79
Total: $351.79

I bought 2 gigs of OCZ PC2-6400 for $79.99 (shipped, no tax) to go with it.

I'd say the specs on my Dell system surpass those on the home-built system.
June 21, 2007 9:04:25 PM

What makes you think they even bought the product?

I love the folks who clearly do not even own the product and review it.
June 21, 2007 9:25:27 PM

Quote:


60w * .8 = system power use: 48w
250w *.8 = available power: 200w
300w *.8 = available power: 240w
400w *.8 = available power: 320w
500w *.8 = available power: 400w


That is incorrect. They should actually put out their rated wattage if it is a decent PSU.

60w at 80% efficiency sucks 75 watts from the wall under full load but delivers 60 watt to the system.
250w at 80% efficiency sucks 313 watts from the wall under full load but delivers 250 watt to the system.
To lazy to figure.
To lazy to figure.
500w at 80% efficiency sucks 625 watts from the wall under full load but delivers 500 watt to the system.
June 23, 2007 1:10:18 AM

Quote:
What makes you think they even bought the product?

I love the folks who clearly do not even own the product and review it.


Ah, true, true... didn't think about that. :o 
June 25, 2007 4:46:48 AM

The day I ordered my parts off newegg a comparable dell was $200 more. Just tried to make your config and there was no nvidia onboard option with an intel proc... Maybe they magically stopped making _that_ E520N and replaced it with the newer, more expensive, non nvidia E520N. I did manage to get a similar config down to only $469.
June 28, 2007 3:33:30 AM

I was wrong ...

The Dell order receipt showed the 6150LE.

It turned out to simply be the GMA965 Express chipset w/ X3000 video.

PS - The $322 price was only available for a couple of days. I bought (3) of these systems and they all work great. I am currently running Vista Business x64 on the one system that I bought for myself.

Stephen
!