Building new computers for an office

Hello Everyone,

I work in a real estate office where our computers are very outdated... My current computer is an Acer Aspire R1600. It is one of the BETTER computers in our office. I built my first computer about a year ago, and have the blessing of my boss to build one for work as long as it is under $300. Is it even possible to build a computer for that amount? Most of the computers in here are Pentium 4, ranging from 512 MB ram - 1.5 GB ram. Employees often times have trouble multi-tasking on these machines. I was thinking a dual core processor with around 2GB of ram would solve all of these problems. I'm open to suggestions, and am VERY NOOB when it comes to component compatibility etc. So any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I preached to my boss that it would be nice to have a little bit of expandability options with the motherboards, as we never know what programs will be necessary for us in the next 3-5 years.

Things I won't need for the computers:
Keyboard
Mouse
Monitor
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  1. Anything would be more powerful than an Atom, you could pretty much just build the cheapest PC possible. I would go with the 1155 socket though personally, it looks like it's going to last a while. Something like a Sandy Bridge Pentium with 4GB of RAM should be good, normally you could probably get that for $300 but I think it will be a bit more with current hard drive prices.
  2. CPU: Intel Pentium G840 Sandy Bridge $85
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116398

    Graphics: INTEGRATED $0

    MoBo: ASRock H61M-VS $60
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157241

    PSU: COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS500-PCARD3-US 500W $40
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817171031

    Case: NZXT gamma $36
    http://www.amazon.com/GAMMA-Classic-Interior-Chassis-Black/dp/B002UDK9U6

    HDD: Western Digital - Caviar GP 500GB $90
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Western+Digital+-+Caviar+GP+500GB+Internal+Hard+Drive/8682311.p?id=1197679235869&skuId=8682311

    RAM: PNY Optima 8GB Memory Model MD8192KD3-1333 $32
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820178333

    Heatsink+Fan: STOCK $0

    DVD-ROM: SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner 22X $16
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151233

    OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional $140
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116992

    Total: $499

    Explanation: The Sandy bridge CPU is perfect for this business situation, where CPU power isn't as important, but the Pentium is a great CPU that is able to handle a lot. The motherboard is from a reliable company. The 500W PSU should be more than enough for your purposes. The case is cheap, yet fits the job. The HDD is from WD, which is again a reliable company, although due to the fact that it is "green" it spins slower, meaning the boot times and file access times are slower, so you might want to reconsider and go with a drive that spins at 7200RPM. 8GB of PNY RAM incase you're using RAM intensive programs. The operating system is Win7 Pro because it has the ability to connect to networks, which Windows 7 HP lacks (and you probably want that feature if you're using this for a work computer).
  3. You could also buy this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.660850
    and also include a Intel Pentium G840 Sandy Bridge:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6819116398

    or, you can also buy this CPU with that kit:
    Intel core i3 2100:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115078
  4. If you want to build it for $300 and include Windows, you're better off going with OEM machines. Hand build machines for $200 just can't be done without a Micro Center giving away free motherboards.

    If you build yourself, stick to Antec, Corsair, Seasonic, or XFX for the PSU.

    I suggest the Corsair CX430, which was just $16 after a $20 rebate last week. It's regularly $40 w/ frequent $20 rebates.

    @roaringdragon--are you sure that Cooler Master is adequate? I don't trust that brand. The label (on the Newegg photos) says 360W on the +12V rails, which makes it a 400W PSU--not 500W. Although 400W, if it really provided it, would be adequate). It's a Tier 4 PSU: http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/thread/323050.aspx

    Here's a review where it fails to meet PSU power standards standards on tests: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Cooler-Master-eXtreme-Power-Plus-500-W-Power-Supply-Review/728/10
    Compare that to a review of the cheaper CX430: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Corsair-CX430-V2-Power-Supply-Review/1284/10
  5. Thank you all so much for your input. It's really nice to be able to go to a community that is willing to help people feel comfortable instead of stupid when they have questions. Thanks again!
  6. Just to let you know, you don't really need to worry about wattage on the PSU with a low powered CPU such as the Pentium because you have no GPU. Even 300W would be overkill, you're going to be pulling like 150W so you only really need maybe 200-250W+

    Something else, you really don't need to worry too much about choosing your CPU either so just get something cheap. If an atom was workable then you can use any CPU. Even a 10 year old single core Pentium 4 would obliterate an atom (the dual core one). Yes it used like 15x the power but I'm just putting it into perspective.
  7. @jmsellars1--Yes, Atoms are slow--but they're not slower than a 478 Willamette Pentium 4...really, I think they're on par with Prescotts and the dual core ones have better multitasking. Still, Atoms are far slower than what he should be looking at in the $250 or higher range.
  8. Yeah I was thinking of LGA 775 P4's. Maybe I exaggerated a bit with 10 years, more like 7-8.
  9. Honestly an OEM is best suited to get a working PC going with OS and monitor for $300 or less. That is a tough task for building with individual parts.
  10. Raiddinn said:
    Honestly an OEM is best suited to get a working PC going with OS and monitor for $300 or less. That is a tough task for building with individual parts.
    Yep, exactly what I was saying when I posted the links to OEM Athlon II x4's w/ Windows for $300.
  11. dalauder said:
    Yep, exactly what I was saying when I posted the links to OEM Athlon II x4's w/ Windows for $300.


    Almost embarrassing to say, but I think that even the Athon II's you linked are probably overkill! Is it possible to find OEMs that are in the $150-$200 price range? We have a computer in here that has a pentium 4, 3 ghz processor coupled with 1.5 GB of RAM that works pretty well. If all of them ran this quickly, we would probably be OK... But if it's possible to get something just a LITTLE bit faster, for under $200, it would be perfect. I don't really know where to look for reliable OEMs, so if any of you have some good websites, please let me know! I can't believe you can get quad core processors for $300, that's crazy.

    Thanks again for all of your guys' help.
  12. dalauder said:
    Yep, exactly what I was saying when I posted the links to OEM Athlon II x4's w/ Windows for $300.


    Too bad some of the links are either broken or no longer have the price reduction, narrowing the options down.

    It is tough to get something that qualifies because most places don't want to sell hardware that old anymore so even old hardware is more expensive than $300 for a fully built system.

    Used PCs that just came off their leases are probably the OPs best bet.

    If he did web chat with a dell sales rep they can probably tell him how to buy 1 or possibly 2 of those prior leased systems on the cheap for $300.
  13. Here is a new computer from DELL for $299

    Vostro 260 Mini Tower Desktop $299

    Intel® Pentium® processor G630(2.70GHz, 3MB)
    Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium SP1, 64bit
    1 Year Basic Limited Warranty and 1 Year NBD On-Site Service
    2GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz - 1 DIMM
    250GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache™
    16X DVD+/-RW Drive
    Intel® HD Graphics (VGA, HDMI)
    Integrated 10/100/1000 Ethernet
    Dell USB Entry Keyboard and USB Optical Mouse

    It isn't a bad deal for $299. You don't need keyboards/mice but its free so it doesn't hurt in any event. The free on site service for 1 year also doesn't hurt. Nothing you piece together is going to come with 1 year free come to my office and fix it service.
  14. zmackdavis said:
    Almost embarrassing to say, but I think that even the Athon II's you linked are probably overkill! Is it possible to find OEMs that are in the $150-$200 price range? We have a computer in here that has a pentium 4, 3 ghz processor coupled with 1.5 GB of RAM that works pretty well. If all of them ran this quickly, we would probably be OK... But if it's possible to get something just a LITTLE bit faster, for under $200, it would be perfect. I don't really know where to look for reliable OEMs, so if any of you have some good websites, please let me know! I can't believe you can get quad core processors for $300, that's crazy.

    Thanks again for all of your guys' help.
    The fact is, Windows costs $100. The only computers you'll find with $100 worth of parts will come with XP (which you don't want), and have Pentium 4's or worse. They'll also probably be used and may have worse reliability. Save yourself a headache and get the $230 Athlon II x2 Recertified emachine on Newegg I linked above (it was $240). It'll run circles around a Pentium 4 and be useful for several more years. I'd go with the $300 Athlon II x4 though since your company only updates the computers every 6 years--in 5 years, people will be very happy they got quad cores the last time computers were bought.

    Raiddinn said:
    Too bad some of the links are either broken or no longer have the price reduction, narrowing the options down.
    Well the Dell Outlet links are broken. The Newegg links still work. The Dell Outlet one I had linked was a Vostro 260 Mini Tower with a Pentium G630 just like the one you listed--only it was for $260.

    @OP, I think you should do a search on the Dell Outlet for their Vostro 260 Mini Towers and try to find ones for the best price. The great thing about these Sandy Bridge desktops is that you can add RAM (if you get one with a stick only 1 DIMM) or upgrade the CPU (to an Ivy Bridge i3) in a couple years very cheaply and you'll get a big performance bump.
  15. I hate to point out the blindingly obvious thing, but there is probably not any computers in his office that run Windows 7.

    Everything they have is 5+ years old some potentially even 10 years old. That is XP territory.

    There is some value in having the new computer running the same OS as every other computer in the office probably is. At least then employees can instruct each other on how to do computer tasks confident that it will actually work on the other person's system.

    I don't think it would be wise to just dismiss an XP system without at least considering the implications.

    If they are going to dismiss an XP system they should at least understand what they are giving up when they do.

    Not like the office is going to be changing over to all Windows 7 soon with most every computer failing the specifications for it (0.5 MB 0 1.5 MB of RAM doesn't cut it in Windows 7).
  16. This is all very valuable information. I've understood that Windows 7 requires a minimum of 2GB RAM... I will be sitting down with all three of the bosses to discuss upgrading the computers within the next couple weeks, so it's nice for me to be able to explain what the perks of upgrading are. It seems to me that the logical choice would be to fork up the $250-$300 to get something that will last us for awhile and set the building blocks for possible future software upgrades. It's hard to get that through some of their heads because in their eyes it's a completely unnecessary expense. Luckily, one of my bosses has been trying to convince the other two of several tech upgrades, so I think he'll be on my side! We still have one computer that's running on Windows 2000!
  17. Well, not that I am an old tech supporter or anything, but I have 2 XP desktops and a Windows 7 laptop in my house and I don't really like the Windows 7 any more than I like the XP. It is different and technically better, but not better enough that I have sprung for windows 7 for the 2 desktops yet with our limited electronics budget.

    From the business' point of view a spreadsheet is a spreadsheet. Office 97 might as well be just as good as Office 2010.

    Google Docs is free and even better than that. Employees can get access to the spreadsheet or word docs from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

    I would love to have an infinite computer building budget on behalf of a business, but most businesses do tend to try to cut costs wherever possible so it is understandable from their point of view. I am kinda biased though because I am probably one of the few people here with a degree in business.

    If I were you and I were trying to get the bosses to see the light and demand new computers, I would show them something that they absolutely must have that can only be had with better computers. Find out the sorts of capabilities they really want to have and that they will pay good money to have and tell them you can get them that with XXX budget and spend some of that XXX on the new computers to run it on.

    The fact of the matter is that businesspeople like to believe that they are thinking with their logical half of the brain, but they really think mostly with the emotional side of their brain instead.

    Buy yourself a tablet PC with your personal funds and do everything for work on it and make sure they see how awesomely productive you are and how convenient it is that you can carry the thing wherever. They may start to envy you.
  18. Raiddinn said:
    I hate to point out the blindingly obvious thing, but there is probably not any computers in his office that run Windows 7.

    Everything they have is 5+ years old some potentially even 10 years old. That is XP territory.

    There is some value in having the new computer running the same OS as every other computer in the office probably is. At least then employees can instruct each other on how to do computer tasks confident that it will actually work on the other person's system.

    I don't think it would be wise to just dismiss an XP system without at least considering the implications.

    If they are going to dismiss an XP system they should at least understand what they are giving up when they do.

    Not like the office is going to be changing over to all Windows 7 soon with most every computer failing the specifications for it (0.5 MB 0 1.5 MB of RAM doesn't cut it in Windows 7).
    Yeah, half of my office still runs XP too. But I don't think new machines should--it's a lot harder to Network with and is missing some newer features that are useful. I don't think the OP's company being afraid of what's new and better is advantageous in the long run--especially if he's talking about buying several new machines. But you're right that they should understand the implications of switching to Windows 7. For my company, it's worth the switch if it doesn't cost extra money.
    zmackdavis said:
    This is all very valuable information. I've understood that Windows 7 requires a minimum of 2GB RAM... I will be sitting down with all three of the bosses to discuss upgrading the computers within the next couple weeks, so it's nice for me to be able to explain what the perks of upgrading are. It seems to me that the logical choice would be to fork up the $250-$300 to get something that will last us for awhile and set the building blocks for possible future software upgrades. It's hard to get that through some of their heads because in their eyes it's a completely unnecessary expense. Luckily, one of my bosses has been trying to convince the other two of several tech upgrades, so I think he'll be on my side! We still have one computer that's running on Windows 2000!
    Windows 7 installs and runs just fine on 1GB. It likes 2GB better though. Considering most people sit in front of computers most of the day, it's worth spending $300 (8-16 hours salary) every 5 years to upgrade that person's machine.
  19. Raiddinn said:
    Well, not that I am an old tech supporter or anything, but I have 2 XP desktops and a Windows 7 laptop in my house and I don't really like the Windows 7 any more than I like the XP. It is different and technically better, but not better enough that I have sprung for windows 7 for the 2 desktops yet with our limited electronics budget.

    From the business' point of view a spreadsheet is a spreadsheet. Office 97 might as well be just as good as Office 2010.

    Google Docs is free and even better than that. Employees can get access to the spreadsheet or word docs from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

    I would love to have an infinite computer building budget on behalf of a business, but most businesses do tend to try to cut costs wherever possible so it is understandable from their point of view. I am kinda biased though because I am probably one of the few people here with a degree in business.

    If I were you and I were trying to get the bosses to see the light and demand new computers, I would show them something that they absolutely must have that can only be had with better computers. Find out the sorts of capabilities they really want to have and that they will pay good money to have and tell them you can get them that with XXX budget and spend some of that XXX on the new computers to run it on.

    The fact of the matter is that businesspeople like to believe that they are thinking with their logical half of the brain, but they really think mostly with the emotional side of their brain instead.

    Buy yourself a tablet PC with your personal funds and do everything for work on it and make sure they see how awesomely productive you are and how convenient it is that you can carry the thing wherever. They may start to envy you.
    Windows XP is excellent. It only makes sense to me to upgrade to Windows 7 when it's coming with new OEM machines (or you're building and buying licenses).

    Office 2000 added autosave--that made it better than 1997. Nothing's improved significantly since then except that office files (docx, xlsx, etc.) are actually zip files that can be renamed ".zip" and browsed (great for extracting images). Google Docs and Open Office are good enough for me.

    I got approved for a graphics card for work when I showed that the minimum system requirements for a program we use required it (just a GT 240 to upgrade from integrated).

    I'd get a laptop like the one I linked that I just bought yesterday for $250--not a slower tablet without a keyboard. It's your call though.
  20. dalauder said:
    I'd get a laptop like the one I linked that I just bought yesterday for $250--not a slower tablet without a keyboard. It's your call though.


    Laptops have been around for a long time now, I think it is safe to say if the OPs company hasn't latched onto those yet that they aren't likely to after all this time either.

    Tablet PCs, though, have other pros and cons. The OPs management staff might latch onto those instead.
  21. Raiddinn said:
    Laptops have been around for a long time now, I think it is safe to say if the OPs company hasn't latched onto those yet that they aren't likely to after all this time either.
    Haha...good point.
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