Budget Build or Buy cheap laptop ($300-400)? Recommendations Please

My son's PC bit the dust last night. It was slimline Dell that was over 5 years old (impressed it lasted that long). Rather than invest any time or money in trying to figure out what occurred (power, but no screen, and no post. . .), going to either build a replacement or buy. Have not built a computer in 6 years, so not sure where sweet spot is anymore. Trying to budget around $350 or less.

There are some sub $400 i3 laptops out there at the major retailers, but the quality is suspect. Started looking around at DIY combos at Newegg like http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.789234 . Basically a AMD A4-3400 Llano 2.7GHz Socket FM1 65W Dual-Core Desktop APU with 4GB RAM and 500 GB HD for $257. I don't have an OS other than XP Pro and think I should upgrade to Windows 7? That's another $100, but I do have spare DVD burner.

Suggestions? This is for low-end gaming (Pirates of the Caribbean Online, Webkinz, school work, web based games like Miniclip, Armour games, etc.). He is 10, and looking for something can can hold him until HS. Thanks.
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  1. It is hard to get a computer built to last for such a budget.

    The one you chose isn't horrible, it should be fine for an ultra light duty system.

    The power supply makes me cringe, but if that is what it takes to get the budget down then maybe its a sacrifice you have to make.

    I think you will have trouble doing much better than that for the same cost.

    That being said, if the computer makes it 5 years it would surprise me. With a $350 budget you have to accept that the longevity of the system will be questionable.

    Anyway, I would say to go ahead and go with that and hope for some longevity that matches the old DELL.
  2. Raiddinn said:
    It is hard to get a computer built to last for such a budget.

    What about the low end i3 laptops I have seen around for around $400 or less?
  3. Computer in general, laptop included.

    I would think the average laptop vs desktop with the exact same budget the laptop would die quicker, but no guarantees. The laptop may last longer, or it may not.

    Laptops are subjected to a lot of stuff desktops aren't like potential falling damage on a constant basis. The plug in for the power cord can also have a lot of problems from the constant insertion and removal of a power cord.

    The added mobility is nice, but it does come with a lot of added risk too.
  4. Due to costs of HDD and OS, looks like I will be purchasing. . .Have narrowed to:

    Presario CQ5826 Desktop Computer
    AMD Athlon II 260 (3.2 GHz)
    4GB RAM upgradable to 8GB
    500GB HDD
    AMD Radeon HD 3000 (shared memory up to 2GB)
    DVD Burner
    $279.99 from Microcenter
    Has a free PCI-E Slot I believe, but would take a new PSU I'm sure

    Asus - Essentio Desktop / AMD Athlon™ II X2 Processor / 4GB Memory / 1TB Hard Drive
    AMD Athlon™ II X2 running at 2.8GHz
    4GB RAM upgradable to 16GB
    1TB HDD
    AMD Radeon HD 3000 (shared memory up to 1GB)
    DVD Burner
    $349 from Best Buy
    Has a free PCI-E Slot I believe, but would take a new PSU I'm sure

    $279 is freakin awesome price, but it is Compaq/HP, so do I just figure 50% component quality downgrade out of the box anyway? Leaning towards Asus which has overall good reviews.

    Suggestions? Guidance?
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