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Uber Cheap Desktop Build (~$100)

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November 7, 2009 5:04:21 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Before Christmas 2009
BUDGET RANGE: ~$100 (As close to $100 as possible. Rebates are fine)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Excel, Word, Internet Browsing.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers, OS, Monitor. If the motherboard is correct, she may not need a case either as I have two old cases in my room (a small e-machines tower and a regular sized Gateway tower).

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: I like Newegg but the TigerDirect headquarters is close to my house so parts from there would save me shipping costs.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: U.S.

PARTS PREFERENCES: Doesn't matter as long as it works.

OVERCLOCKING: No
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Doesn't matter. Right now my mother (whom I am making this PC for) is using 640x480 so anything is better (lol)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: It is for my mother and right now she is using a computer that is well over 8-10 years old running Windows 95 and Lotus 1-2-3! I say this because I want you to understand exactly how little she requires in a PC. This is why I am trying to make the cheapest PC possible. Anything I make will be overkill for her purposes no matter how cheap.
I plan on installing Windows XP Pro 32-bit and Office 2007 (I already have both of these). She also needs a wireless card since there is no way to route an ethernet cable for the router to her computer.

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List of parts I have found so far (all from Newegg):
  • Linkworld 43706-228FU+P04 Black Steel MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case 430W Power Supply - Retail
    $33.99

  • Foxconn A6VMX2-K AM2+/AM2 AMD 690V Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
    $44.99

  • AMD Athlon 64 LE-1640 Lima 2.7GHz Socket AM2 45W Single-Core Processor Model ADH1640DPBOX - Retail
    $39.99

  • Crucial 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model CT12864AA800 - Retail
    $23.99

  • Western Digital Caviar Blue WD800AAJS 80GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    $34.99

  • ENCORE ENLWI-G(2) TPCI Standard Universal Add-in card Compliant with PCI 2.0 Wireless Adapter - Retail
    $12.99

    Total:$190.94

    This is too much for me. That is why I am here. I want your advice on what I can sacrifice and what I cannot to build a machine that will do what she needs. Thank you for your time.
    November 7, 2009 8:09:24 AM

    Please stop dreaming. A $100 is impossible, unless you'd try to find a second hand pc somewhere.

    For $400, a good system that will run quite a few years can be built. With $300 you can get something as well. $200, like you do, is possible if you use cheap and second rate components that won't last long. Less is impossible.

    1GB RAM cannot run today's operating systems or office tasks. 2GB should be fine, 4 is ideal. You should get the cheapest dual core AMD CPU at the least, that will last you for a few years. Don't save on the motherboard either, you'll want a good onboard graphics card and things like that. The PSU you selected is junk, it's not going to last long.

    Spend 300-400 dollars and get a system that will last for years to come. Spend 200 and get junk. Spend 100 and you've got nothing. And we're not including peripherals like keyboard, mouse and monitor here, add another 150 dollars for that.

    If I'm allowed to make you a suggestion: for that price, you can get a second hand system somewhere that will far outperform a new one like this.
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    November 7, 2009 1:35:53 PM

    Foxconn board is good...I've built several around that brand and never had a fail.
    If you have a case already....clean it up and give it a fresh paint job and buy a decent 350 to 450 watt power supply, enermax, corsair, etc.
    Also, for better performance I would also suggest 2GB of ram...and if posible, get a dual core much better performance.
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    November 7, 2009 1:54:27 PM

    Your old 8-10 year old pc was probably a decent build, to get that life span again you would need to spend another *atleast* couple of hundred to get something that will last a few years, so as johnnyq1233 suggested - more ram, dual core and please - a DECENT BRANDED POWER SUPPLY - that alone will give your PC a longer lifespan

    and XP.... blaarrggg comeon - xp is 8 years old atleast already
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    November 7, 2009 2:27:22 PM

    XP isn't that bad, especially given the crappyness of his hardware. But indeed, get more RAM (2 won't last another 8-10 years, you'd need 4 for that), get a decent HDD (files get larger and larger every year), get a better CPU, brand name PSU,...

    8-10 years is possible with a good pc. With such a low budget, you can be happy if you reach 2...
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    November 7, 2009 7:54:48 PM

    If the computer was for me I would agree with you guys about performance and lifetime but like I said... it is for my mom. Right now she is perfectly fine with Windows 95 and Lotus 1-2-3. I said this so as to imply that she does not need performance or scaleability for software. Her computer takes about 20 minutes to boot up!

    Windows XP is overkill for her. So is Office 2007 and 1GB of RAM. And by overkill I mean performance wise it will be night and day compared to her current system. Please try not to look at this build from your point of view or from the point of view of someone that wants to run the latest software or anything like that. As stated, she is only going to use it for word processing, Excel (to tabulate earnings), and maybe the occasional internet browsing. You do NOT need 1GB of RAM, a bigger HDD or a dual-core processor.
    Go back in time to when Windows XP came out. That is what I want to build. Back then computers had 256MB of RAM, 20GB of HDD, and single core processors and they ran fine!
    The only thing I will agree on is that a quality PSU is needed. Thank you all for your time and suggestions so far but please take into consideration who this computer is being built for.
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    November 7, 2009 8:35:22 PM

    There is a store called ATD here in Charlotte, NC that sells refurbished Dell workstations for between $130 and $200 bucks. 512mb of RAM, 80 gig hard drives, 2.8 single core processors... Includes Windows XP. We've bought a number of them for office use and aside from being dated, they work fine.

    I would check on Craigslist in your area or visit local OEM computer stores to look for (gently) used machines. You'll have a much easier time.
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    November 7, 2009 8:39:07 PM

    Brentnauer said:
    There is a store called ATD here in Charlotte, NC that sells refurbished Dell workstations for between $130 and $200 bucks. 512mb of RAM, 80 gig hard drives, 2.8 single core processors... Includes Windows XP. We've bought a number of them for office use and aside from being dated, they work fine.

    I would check on Craigslist in your area or visit local OEM computer stores to look for (gently) used machines. You'll have a much easier time.


    Yeah I figure it is probably easier to just buy a used old machine the thing is that shipping alone will be cost me a lot. Anyone know of a place in south Florida that sells old computer cheap (besides Tiger Direct)?

    The reason for this post is that while thinking about building my mom a computer, I wondered whether it was possible to build a very basic one for ~$100 out of new components. It is starting to seem like it is not possible.
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    November 7, 2009 8:50:34 PM

    Alright so trying to reach the $100 mark I have sacrificed a few things. Here is the updated list and price so far:

    List of parts I have found so far (all from Newegg):
  • Rosewill R101-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
    $19.99

  • Rosewill RV300 300W ATX12V Power Supply - Retail
    $15.99

  • Foxconn A6VMX2-K AM2+/AM2 AMD 690V Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
    $41.99

  • AMD Athlon 64 LE-1640 Lima 2.7GHz Socket AM2 45W Single-Core Processor Model ADH1640DPBOX - Retail
    $39.99

  • OCZ 512MB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model OCZ2P800512 - Retail
    $12.99

  • Western Digital Caviar Blue WD800AAJS 80GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive (She really doesn't need so much space but this is the cheapest drive I could find)
    $34.99

  • ENCORE ENLWI-G(2) TPCI Standard Universal Add-in card Compliant with PCI 2.0 Wireless Adapter - Retail
    $12.99

    Total:$178.93

    Changes from previous build:
  • Memory decrease from 1GB to 512MB
  • Case from Linkworld to Rosewill case
  • PSU from default Linkworld to Rosewill PSU
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    November 7, 2009 9:41:38 PM

    512 MB of RAM will not,I mean WILL NOT run a modern OS,I think 512MB RAM run Windows 95,I know your on a budget but you need at least 2GB of RAM and to keep that computer from dying in a month,a better Power Supply.
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    November 7, 2009 10:12:20 PM

    tjmcvey2011 said:
    512 MB of RAM will not,I mean WILL NOT run a modern OS,I think 512MB RAM run Windows 95,I know your on a budget but you need at least 2GB of RAM and to keep that computer from dying in a month,a better Power Supply.


    I never said I wanted to run a modern OS. Please read before posting. I am planning on running Windows XP and the minimum system requirements for XP is 128MB RAM. I have run Windows XP on 256MB of RAM just fine.

    Also, what is wrong with a Rosewill PSU?
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    November 7, 2009 10:34:48 PM

    Use that old emachines case you said you have lying around. Its no different than that 20 dollar rosewill. Do you need that wireless card, do you not have an old one lying around? Thats about the only parts that can be varied, all of the core parts cant go any cheaper.
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    November 7, 2009 10:35:48 PM

    Nothing is wrong with that Rosewill psu for a computer like this, you get just as bad a branded psu when you buy a emachines or acer w/e.
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    November 7, 2009 11:26:36 PM

    I suggest ASUS Eee Box EBXB202-BLK-E0002 Intel Atom N270(1.60GHz) 1GB DDR2 160GB Intel GMA 950 Linux EZOS - Retail - $299.99. It's costs a bit more than what you would spend on your own build, but in my opinion, it is built of higher quality components. I've had the Asus Eee PC 1000he for quite a few months now and my company also uses them. If the Eee Box is built anything like the Eee PC, then its a great little computer that will last a long time.
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    November 8, 2009 1:46:02 AM

    I would suggest finding a local computer store that sells used computers. Another option would be if you know someone who works for a company that is going to be upgrading their computers. Sometimes the company will get rid of the older computers by letting the employees buy or bid on them or give them away to whoever asks for them first. The only other option I can think of is check on Craigs List or EBay. I'll probably get flamed for that last option. :p 
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    October 8, 2011 5:01:34 AM

    Silmarunya said:
    Please stop dreaming. A $100 is impossible, unless you'd try to find a second hand pc somewhere.

    For $400, a good system that will run quite a few years can be built. With $300 you can get something as well. $200, like you do, is possible if you use cheap and second rate components that won't last long. Less is impossible.

    1GB RAM cannot run today's operating systems or office tasks. 2GB should be fine, 4 is ideal. You should get the cheapest dual core AMD CPU at the least, that will last you for a few years. Don't save on the motherboard either, you'll want a good onboard graphics card and things like that. The PSU you selected is junk, it's not going to last long.

    Spend 300-400 dollars and get a system that will last for years to come. Spend 200 and get junk. Spend 100 and you've got nothing. And we're not including peripherals like keyboard, mouse and monitor here, add another 150 dollars for that.

    If I'm allowed to make you a suggestion: for that price, you can get a second hand system somewhere that will far outperform a new one like this.

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    If you have a monitor then
    Intel Motherboard embeded atom 1.66 or 1.80 Ghz(1 core, 2 threads)~ Rs. 300
    2gb ddr3 or ddr2 ram (as your motherboard support)~ Rs. 650
    power supply min 25W or more.. preferable 50Watt.~ Rs. 200
    small formfactor case Rs. Rs.300
    Hard disk 500GB 7200 rpm Rs.1800
    total: Rs 5925
    Thats the best you can get. use old computer powersupply and case to save Rs 500.
    and run windows 7 on it..though will run slow.
    no more than 720p video and 480p flash.
    good for surfing and 720p movie.
    also can play IgI 1 on it ha ha.
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    October 8, 2011 5:06:26 AM

    I cry when i see this. you need to spend at least $300.
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    October 8, 2011 1:13:13 PM

    Dude if you see this you would see that it's been 2 years! it's a 2009 topic lol.
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    October 8, 2011 2:40:14 PM

    Lol fail, newcomer lured me in made me think it was a new thread. Deleting posts. Mod, please lock thread.
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    !