The $175 challenge

Hey Guys,

I wanted to present you all with an interesting little challenge. The idea is to theoretically build the best system you can for no more than $175 (US). Here are the rules of the challenge:

The system must cost no more than $175 (US), but may exclude delivery and sales tax.
For our purposes a system is comprised of: Case, Motherboard, CPU, RAM, Graphics Card and a HDD.
The best system is to be judged by all users and should be evaluated based on overall spec.s
Rebates and grouped item discounts may be employed.

OK, well when I ran a British version of the challenge i put together a system with 1GB DDR2 ram, a 2.2Ghz Athlon 64, a 256MB graphics card and a 40GB SATA hard drive for £100 ex. VAT and with £10 off on google checkout.

I'll try and familiarize myself with Newegg etc. and post my own build here when I can, until then I look forward to seeing other people's entries.
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  1. Is there a reason you left out a power supply?
  2. No not really, sometimes you'll get a PSU thrown in with the case, though admittedly not with the cheapest cases.

    OK, I have been browsing the bargain bin and mail-in rebate isles over on Newegg and have put together my modest entry:

    Foxconn NF4K8AB-RS $29.99 after rebate
    AMD Athlon 64 3200+ Orleans 2.0GHz $42.99
    Patriot 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 $27.99
    Western Digital 40GB 7200 SATA150 8MB $39.99
    Foxconn FV-N84SM2DT 8400GS 256MB $33.99 after rebate
    RAIDMAX SONOMA ATX-402W $0 after rebate

    Total = $174.95

    Not the greatest rig in the world, but what do you expect for the price. I put this together pretty quickly so I'm sure its possible to build a better system for the money.

    nb. Just noticed that the Foxconn motherboard doesn't support DDR2 RAM, So i'll try and find a better board to get the most out of the memory.
  3. And what is the point of this?
  4. Why can't we use on board graphics?
  5. LOL, if only it were that simple, then I wouldn't have to spend months finding the right PSU...
  6. @Criminal89: Its just a thought exercise/bit of fun but it does also serve to illustrate what sort of system you can get for very little money.

    @geotech: You can use on-board graphics, the challenge is about bang/buck, so if your build makes up for the quality of the onboard graphics by spending the money elsewhere then great.

    As far as the PSU goes, extra credit will be given for fitting it into the $175 budget.
  7. It's going to be hard to load an OS without an optical drive.
  8. Seems like a waste of time.
  9. it seems like it could be fun... especially if the parts picked can be either used or refurbished.

    if everything has to be new though, its going to be rather difficult to get much better, at all, than what was already posted above, at least with the parts that are available currently in retail.

    so, i would say given the very tight budget, and the desire to build a pretty decent system on it, to look into places like ebay or craigslist too... and you could definetly build a decent system that way, that will most likely fall within the given budget.

    for instance, heres a 74GB GD raptor for $2.25 (+$9 shipping) thats currently being bid on, and the seller has 100% positive feedback, too:
  10. $175... nope, I can't beat your config for that price using new parts
    (I can build a decent $300 system though)

    however, people who have a very low budget can either:
    -have patience and wait for price drops
    -get a Dell (cheapest system or best deal / promotion)
    -eBay (but be careful)

    on side note, it really hurts to see your config beat my 900Mhz Duron system ::sniff::

    maybe you can replace that mobo/gpu with one of those Biostar am2 onboard video and audio ddr2 mobos
    about the same price and without rebates
  11. You could likely find a similar system for close to free or maybe a $50 giveaway on CraigsList.

    I wonder if his motherboard that takes the Athlon 2.2Ghz even takes DDR2. I certainly hope it can boot via USB with the install OS on the USB stick since there is no floppy or DVD>
  12. This is a weird thread but interesting. And as far as your rebates go some of them you will be lucky to receive.
  13. @carver_g - It would indeed, but seeing as this is a hypothetical exercise, let's try not to get bogged down in detail. Is it a complete system? No. No monitor, no input devies, no optical drives.

    The reason I'm not doing a "$250 challenge with optical drives and everything thrown in" is that it's less interesting to compare pro.s and con.s of the spec.s for these 'peripheral devicves' than for the 'guts components'.

    @ jaguarskx - It absolutely is.

    @ choirbass - You can use second hard parts on eBay, Craig's list etc. but this should be included in the overall judging of the quality of your system.

    As far as ebay specifically goes, you can't use auction prices, because you can't say for sure what the price would have been if you had bid on it. But Buy it Now and eBay shops are all good.

    @ kolix - "have patience and wait for price drops ". This is always true, but if you do wait and slightly better components come down to this price range, why not wait again as even better components drop down and so on and so on.

    The challenge is what's the best system you can buy right now, not in 6 months, for $175.

    I'll look at the biostar Motherboard you mentioned, but I'm not sure what you'd gain in RAM speed would be worth swapping to onboard graphics.

    @ zenmaster- "You could likely find a similar system for close to free or maybe a $50 giveaway on CraigsList." Please support your claim with some citations. As I said if you can build a better system with second hand components, put up your build.

    I already mentioned the DDR2 RAM issue, but I'll try and find a replacement MOBO.

    As I mentioned its a hypothetical exercise so try not to get overly fixated on issues like the OS install. I never said this system would have to be ready to go with just the $175 worth of components.

    @paq7512 - I agree, the rebates can be a real pain to track down, but those who can't invest as much money sometimes have to invest a little more time.

    OK, thanks to everyone for their comments, but I'm still waiting to see some alternative builds.
  14. An option would be to sacrifice the video card (using integrated graphics) for a cpu upgrade (X2 4000+)
  15. integrated graphics are obviously a must for a $175 system.

    AM2 mobo, 2x512 ram, X2-3600, cheap case+psu, all that can be had for $150 eznp.

    The big hangup is the HDD. Sure you can skimp out and buy some old 40 gig drive for dirt cheap, but it would be much wiser to spend ~$30 more and get a 250+ gig HDD. Because of this you should not set your sights on a $175 system. Make it $200 even.

    If you are really hellbent on staying under 175, the best thing to do is locate an old pc and strip parts out of it. With some luck you'll be able to find a 7200RPM HDD, a floppy, a case, and an optical drive. Then you'll be able to spend the full 175 on the mobo (50), cpu (60), ram (20), psu (25), DVDRW (25). I have done this recently, and must say it is not at all difficult to find the "free" parts I mentioned.
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