Poor man's $300 PC (no gaming)


SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: internet chat and email, occasional youtube views

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg, but will use any if recommended.

PARTS PREFERENCES: I don't care as long as they are reliable


MONITOR RESOLUTION: old monitor w/ low resolution

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I never built my own PC before, but trying to do it for a friend who's running a 10 year super slow machine. I wish I could keep it as low as possible. Would like some opnions if this is the best bang for my buck or should I make a few changes. I chose not to add a video card as my friend doens't play games at all (not sure if having it would benefit anything else other than playing games). I'm not sure if I should get 1 or 2 sticks of RAM so I added 2. The total price came to $295 so far.

APEX TX-381-C Black Steel Micro ATX Tower Computer Case

ASUS P5G41T-M LE LGA 775 Intel G41 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

Intel Celeron E3200 Wolfdale 2.4GHz 1MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor

MASSCOOL 8W553B1M3 90mm Ball CPU Cooler

COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS-460-PMSR-A3 460W ATX12V V2.3 Power Supply

Crucial 1GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Desktop Memory Model CT12864BA1067 (2 each)

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST380215AS 80GB 7200 RPM 2MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive

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  1. Best answer
    First let me say that I am not that familiar with budget systems, but enought to know it is extremely difficult to put together a system for only $300 and it looks like you did a pretty good job.

    What are you doing for an operating system?

    The CPU comes with a stock HSF that should be fine if you are not overclocking - and may be as good as the one on the list. You could eliminate it and save $18.

    I would spend an extra $10 to upgrade the power supply to this one:

    OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply compatible with core i7 - Retail - $40 AR with free shipping.

    This is an excellent PSU - in tier two on the list linked below, compared to tier 4 for the one on the list (also see the unusual note that says to subtract 100watts from the rating of the Cooler Master eXtreme.)

    [Edit sorry did not see you had memory times too - ignore the next paragraph and adjust price accordingly at bottom]

    On the memory, I assume you have already confirmed it is compatible with the mobo. This is the real cost issue, though. With Vista or Windows 7, 2 GB of memory is considered the absolute minimum. Most mainstream vendors have started shipping 4 GB even with budget systems. So you should get at least the 2 GB. The next issue is do you get it in one stick or two? Since the mobo has dual channel memory support, you should get two sticks or 2 x 1 GB. The complication is that your mobo has only 2 slots, so you won't then be able to increase memory by just adding more sticks later.

    So with shipping that is another $32.

    Get this harddrive instead:

    Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250318AS 250GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive - $47 with free shipping

    Both are Segate drives, but with this one you add $5 to price with shipping and get a drive that is over 3 times as large - 250 GB instead of 80 GB. Now 80GB is enough if he only surfs the net and watches DVDs - but if he ever wants to store anything - including movies or pictures - then the extra space would be basic. Most basic systems today now ship with 250 GB to 500 GB hard drives. In addition, this is the 7200.12 version HD compared to the 7200.10 listed above - so it is two generations later and faster.

    So add memory, upgrade the PSU and HD, and eliminate the HSF - net change $29. Sorry for adding but the changes will make a world of difference in the system.
  2. I was planning on reusing his old copy of Windows XP, but unsure if I should buy Windows 7 instead. Thanks for the input.
  3. I checked on cases and found two that I think you should consider:

    1. Net $5 less with shipping - I don't know much about the case you selected but Cooler Master makes a lot of good, low priced cases so I think this one might be better - it is also a larger - a Mid Tower ATX that is micro ATX compatible.

    COOLER MASTER Elite RC-310-BWN1-GP Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - $30 AR plus $5 shipping

    2. Net $10 more for a much better - and larger - case. Mid tower ATX compatible with the mico-ATX mobo.

    SILVERSTONE PS02B Black Aluminum / Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - $40AR plus $10 shipping
  4. Best answer selected by Lou30.
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