Skip to main content

The $300 PC

Cost Analysis

We put together all components in the following table :




Sempron 3400+ ($70)

Celeron D 352 ($56)


WinFast K8M890M2MA, integrated graphics ($55)

Asus P5LD2-VM ($95), integrated graphics


2x 512 MB DDR2-667 ($68)

2x 512 MB DDR2-667 ($68)

Hard Drive

Western Digital WD1600JS, 160 GB, SATA/300 ($55)

Western Digital WD1600JS, 160 GB, SATA/300 ($55)

Optical Drive

Samsung SH-S182D ($30)

Samsung SH-S182D ($30)


Any ($30)

Any ($30)

Power Supply

Coolmax ATX Black 400 W ($27)

Coolmax ATX Black 400 W ($27)

Total Cost

$ 335

$ 361

The cost for both systems exceeded our $300 budget, but there is still room to save money ; we didn’t pick the cheapest products, but reasonably priced ones. If you really go for the lowest-end, you can get processors for $40, a motherboard for $40 and a very simple hard drive for $50. This would save you another $70 for the AMD system and as much as $86 for the Intel system.

Minimum Price

$ 265

$ 275

Of course you can go for this lowest-end setup, but you should not expect anything at all from these systems. I clearly recommend making a reasonable minimum investment, which is also why I advise against going for an even cheaper power supply and memory. You can save some more money, but I doubt you’ll be happy with the results if you decide to opt for the lowest of the low-cost components available.

Test Setup

System Hardware

Processor I

AMD Sempron 3400+

(Manila core, 90 nm, 1.8 GHz, 256 kB L2 Cache)

Processor II

Intel Celeron D 352 (FSB533)

(Cedar Mill core, 65 nm, 3.2 GHz, 512 kB L2 Cache)

Motherboard I

Asus P5LD2-VM

Chipset : Intel 945G, BIOS : 1102

Motherboard II

Foxconn Winfast K8M890M2MA-RS2H

Chipset : VIA K8M890, BIOS : 641W1P24Common Hardware


2x 512 MB DDR2-667Corsair ValueSelect VS1 GBKIT667D2

Graphics Card I

Intel GMA950

Graphics Card II

VIA Chrome9 IGP

Hard Drive I (read)

1x 160 GB 7,200 RPM, 8 MB Cache, SATA/300

Western Digital WD1600AAJS

Hard Drive II (write)

1x 150 GB 10,000 RPM, 8 MB Cache, SATA/300

Western Digital WD1500ADFD

Used for video benchmarks


Gigabyte GO-D1600C (16x)Software

Intel Graphics

Version : 14.25.50

Intel Chipset

Software Installation Utility

VIA Graphics

Version :

VIA Chipset

Hyperion Pro 5.11A


Version : 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)


Windows XP Professional, Build 2600 SP2

Benchmarks And Settings

Benchmarks and Settings


TMPEG 3.0 Express

Version : (no audio)

182 MB VOB MPEG2 source (704x576), 16:9

DivX 6.5

Version : 6.5

High Definition Profile

Multipass, 3000 kb/s

Encoding mode : Insane Quality

XviD 1.1.2

Version : 1.1.2

Encoding type : Two-pass / single-pass

Profile @ Level : DXN HT PAL

Target size (kbytes) : 570000

MainConcept H.264 Encoder v2

Version : 2.1

2:19 min MPEG2 source 1920x1080 to H.264

Profile : High

Audio : AAC

Stream : ProgramAudio

Lame MP3

Version 3.97 Beta 2 (11-29-2005)

Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 74 min

wav to mp3

160 kb/s

OGG Vorbis

Version 1.1.2 (Intel P4 MOD)

Version 1.1.2 (Intel AMD MOD)

Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 74 min

wave to ogg Vorbis

Quality : 5Applications


Version 3.7 Beta 3 (multi core optimized)

(303 MB, 47 Files, 2 Folders)

Best compression

Dictionary = 4096 kB

Adobe Photoshop CS 2

Version : 9.0.1

VT-Runtime Script

Rendering 5 Pictures (66 MB, 7 Filters)


Version 9.5

64 Bit

nCPU, 1 CPUSynthetic

PCMark05 Pro

Version : 1.2.0

CPU and Memory Tests

Windows Media Player

Windows Media Encoder

SiSoftware Sandra 2007

Version 2007.5.11.17

CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Multimedia

Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark

Memory Latency Test = ns