I'm on a tight budget at the moment, and I'm getting quite fed up of my old Dell Laptop. I'd like a very cheap PC for long rendering stints and light gaming (running Crysis smoothly at lowest possible settings is desirable). This is going to be a temporary PC only until I can save up for a beast of a computer. I don't want to wait.
Stuff I've already looked at
I've read around Tom's Hardware 'best config sections' and general posts and found a lot of budget PC configurations, but most seem to be around the $600 mark, and a couple at the $400 mark. I also looked at MicroATX builds using the "AMD Quad-Core A10-5800K APU" but that ends up being around $400 and I don't get the impression APUs are powerful (although I'd be happy to hear otherwise).
Doing some more research, I found a hidden (yet massive) market for single-board ARM computers - all less than $200:
ODROID U2 (1.7GHz Quad Core A9 CPU, 440MHz Mali-400 Quad Core GPU, 2GB RAM)
Cotton Candy (1.2 GHz Dual Core A9 CPU, MHz Quad Core Mali-400MP GPU, 1GB RAM)
PandaBoard ES (1Ghz Dual Core A9 CPU, PowerVR 384Mhz? GPU, 1GB RAM)
Raspberry Pi Revision 2 (700MHz ArmV6K CPU, 200MHz? GPU, 512 MB of RAM)
MK802 III (1.6 GHz Dual core Rockchip RK3066 CPU, ?MHz Mali 400 GPU, 1GB RAM)
What I need some help with: 1. Can a single-board ARM computer (e.g. those listed above) be used to render animations or play games like Crysis with minimal settings?
2a. If so, do you have advice on what brands of ARM computers to avoid or what brands worked for you?
2b. If not, can I build a PC (preferably <$200 and def. <$300) that can?
If you recommend building a system:
Not required: Monitor, accessories, or OS.
Either Intel or AMD will do!
I realise what I'm asking is probably impossible. Your time/experience is still very much appreciated!
If you have a hard drive, it might be possible. Is it going to be a beast? No. Is it going to be faster than your old Dell laptop? Probably.
You can get a Sandy Bridge Celeron, 4GB of RAM, and a motherboard for just over $100. Throw in a decent video card for another $150 to $200, depending on how much you want to spend. That still leaves you needing a case and PSU, though.