Hi! I don't have much experience of building computers, but I do know how to do a few things, such as remove hard drive, replace GPU, etc. Anyways, I wanna start my first PC build as a super cheap one so I won't destroy a $1000-$1500 build one.
1. My budget will be around ~$150-$300
2. I won't need, mouse, keyboard, monitor, and speakers
3. Peferrably Windows XP (not sure how much they cost nowadays) if it doesn't fit with budget, I'll go with Linux.
4. I really won't be using this for ANYTHING really. Maybe web surfing, document editing, and super light gaming (like NetHack or something lol)
5. Also, I heard things about a "shoebox" PC? Would be nice to have a small PC. And I would KILL for a quiet PC.
I can say this, the best part of building a pc is doing the research so I'm going to throw some things out there that you can look into and let you run from there.
Ubuntu and/or Windows 7 Student Discount (if this applies)
Research, research, research. When you're done researching, research some more. Google everything and anything you're unsure of. You're already handicapping yourself with your budget. It's going to make for a challenging first build.
Building a $700 pc is a snap, you can get quality cases that make things a breeze. Motherboard and CPU selection becomes easy. At $300... well things get a lot more complicated. At that price range you no longer have the luxury of picking individual parts. You end up having to get items that are bundled together, and maybe they'll work with other parts... then again, maybe they won't. Remember the research part? Then when it's all said and done you can't really afford the $100 Win7 OS. So you're limited to using a free OS. I have nothing against them, some of them are perfectly acceptable alternatives to Windows, but that doesn't mean they'll be as easy to set up, get running or find drivers for.
My honest suggestion would be saving for awhile longer and approach this with a minimum $500 ($600 if you need the $100 Win7) budget. That's really the entry point in which pc building is more about selecting the right parts, and less about cutting every possible monetary corner.
Using linux on a beater might be a good learning experience though. I'll suggest finding the download of Windows 7 online (there are legit downloads for 7, NOT cracked torrents). Because there is no license, activation will expire in a month, or longer if you learn how to stall the activation, but you can still learn how to install it and set it up. You can from there learn how to install and dual boot linux.
Otherwise, mostly what's said above. Finding the parts and checking compatibility can be a learning experience in itself. One thing you'll learn fast is small form factors are harder to budget for and build than mid sized ones. Quiet PCs also become more complicated. Small and quiet is truly a challenge even with a higher budget.
I have the money for almost anything really, my budget is currently $2500, I just don't wanna waste it all, been saving that bad boy for 2-3 years. So I guess I could spend 400-500, see how everything goes and blow the rest on a super badass computer.
I was thinking at first building a cheap one to see if I could actually build computers, and if I failed, it wouldn't be much of a lost. But now that a4mula mentioned it, I might as well build a 400-500$ one and use it as an office computer or a "backup" computer.
All you have to do is go to YOUTUBE and watch a few videos on how newer computers are built. If you can't figure it out from that, find another hobby.
I've built at least 5 home computers and have never had a fail yet...