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Last post Author Topic: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck  (Read 7771 times)

Jammo the OrganizedFellow

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Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« on: July 28, 2007, 04:18:45 PM »
I've never built my own PC, though looked forward to it for many yyeeaarrss.
I came across this article the other day on ComputerShopper.com

Their total bill came to $242.46 (after a $20 bundle discount and a $15 mail-in rebate).


So can I just share below what I am considering? I want to make absolute certain everything is compatible :)
This is just a budget PC, no gaming, mostly internet surfing, web development, scripting, minimal stuff. Preferred 2GB RAM so I can safely run VMWARE+Ubuntu :)

I'll use the same processor as the article, but a different motherboard, so I can get some bundle pricing.
(all TinyUrl links are to NewEgg.com)

Processor: AMD Athlon 64 3400+ 2.2GHz (http://tinyurl.com/26gkx6 ) = $35.99
Mobo: BIOSTAR GEFORCE 6100-M9 Socket 939 (http://tinyurl.com/3yg284) = $59.99
($20 discount for bundle @ $75.98)
<< max RAM = 4GB >>

RAMx2: Crucial Ballistix 1GB (2 x 512MB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM (http://tinyurl.com/3bhwng) = $72.49
(after $40 mail-in rebate = $32.49 x 2 = $64.98)

Hard drive: Western Digital 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 160GB (http://tinyurl.com/2tokk5) = $48.99

Question about CD/DVD reader/writer: can I just use my old ones?
Lookig at device manager and front of tower it says:
DVDRW/R IDE 16x / CD-ReWritable
GoldStar CD-ROM CRD-8482B

CPU cooler: COOLER MASTER DK8-8ID2A-0L-GP 80mm Rifle CPU Cooler (http://tinyurl.com/yu5cz4) = $4.99
case: Foxconn Black/ Silver Steel MicroATX Mini Tower 300W PSU (http://tinyurl.com/25d3c3) = $39.50

Looks like my total, if i can use my old CDROM and DVD burner, plus with the $20 CPU+MOBO bundle and $40 RAM mail-in rebate = $234.41
<< i know the rebates and bundle pricing end soon, but I'm just getting an estimate for a budget PC. >>

If I can't use my old devices, then I can do with 1GB RAM for $32.49 and get an affordable device, but I need DVDRW for data backups (I'm pretty OCD about backing stuff up, haha. no movies, no music).
As an aspiring web developer/designer, it is a constant struggle to cope with my ADHD + Hypomania/Bipolar Disorder.

The slow growth of my web dev projects is eclipsed by my patience, understanding and desire to learn AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE as I slowly progress.

X_____jamjammo_____

steeladept

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2007, 06:11:48 PM »
Yes, you can use the old one as long as there is an IDE connection on the Motherboard...There should be, but I didn't go look it up.  My only other comment (and I understand that it depends completely on costs) is that you should consider the memory.  Upgrading from 2 2x512 to 1 2x1GB modules would allow for future expansion without wasting the memory later.  My experience with VMWare and Ubuntu (I do that too already  :Thmbsup: ) is that 2GB memory is the MINIMUM you want so that you can give XP 1.5GB and Ubuntu 512MB memory.  I also found out they both work much better with XP@2GB and Ubuntu@1GB.  Of course that could just be my setup, but going with the 2x1GB would allow for the 2x512 addition (or even another 2x1GB) later without wasting anything.

Curt

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2007, 06:52:04 PM »
When these large (GB) memory blocks first arrived the market, one of the complaints was that they might be fast when handling big video games, but they were too slow when it came to small, simple jobs like copy&paste a word in the text editor! Is this problem all gone? I am asking because I never play these big games, but I need more RAM, and I am having doubts about what size to ask for, please.

 :tellme:

steeladept

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2007, 07:26:00 PM »
Hmm.  I don't ever remember hearing that.  To my knowledge, there hasn't been an issue with it, but that doesn't mean much.  I would guess that it is stated due to a block size issue, but I have only heard of that on hard drives, not in memory.  Of course in hard drives, you can resize the blocks to fit your requirements - within reason.

Jammo the OrganizedFellow

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2007, 01:57:59 AM »
... you should consider the memory.  Upgrading from 2 2x512 to 1 2x1GB modules would allow for future expansion without wasting the memory later.  My experience with VMWare and Ubuntu (I do that too already  :Thmbsup: ) is that 2GB memory is the MINIMUM you want so that you can give XP 1.5GB and Ubuntu 512MB memory.  I also found out they both work much better with XP@2GB and Ubuntu@1GB.  Of course that could just be my setup, but going with the 2x1GB would allow for the 2x512 addition (or even another 2x1GB) later without wasting anything.
Thank you immensely for the tips on the memory.
This should be sometime in the next week.

If it ends up happening later, that's fine too. Expecting baby to be born any day now, so ... that's put a hold on some projects.

Thank to everyone for their advice. :)
As an aspiring web developer/designer, it is a constant struggle to cope with my ADHD + Hypomania/Bipolar Disorder.

The slow growth of my web dev projects is eclipsed by my patience, understanding and desire to learn AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE as I slowly progress.

X_____jamjammo_____

steeladept

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2007, 08:51:05 PM »
I know how that goes.   :-\  My last PC build was two years ago when my first daughter was still 2 months due yet.  However, she was born early due to pregnancy complications, and the only reason I could finish setting it up is because she was in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit for a month.  I couldn't really sleep much from the worry, so when we weren't with her or at work, I worked on the PC.  Hope yours goes a bit more smoothly :Thmbsup:

Jammo the OrganizedFellow

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2007, 11:16:00 PM »
Hope yours goes a bit more smoothly :Thmbsup:
Thank you kindly!  :)
My wife was born 2 months premature. She required some surgery to repair digestive track. She has this amazing scar on her belly. Even though we are currently at week 38, her stretched belly STILL has the deep scar tissue.

I work at Costco, and have decided to get one of our Viewsonic monitors. Last week we had a $20" drop $20 :) we also have a good keyboard/mouse combo by M$.
As an aspiring web developer/designer, it is a constant struggle to cope with my ADHD + Hypomania/Bipolar Disorder.

The slow growth of my web dev projects is eclipsed by my patience, understanding and desire to learn AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE as I slowly progress.

X_____jamjammo_____

steeladept

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2007, 01:29:33 PM »
38 weeks?  You are home free then.  Even if the baby came today, it would be considered at term by most doctors.  Wait, it didn't already come, did it?  :P Good luck.

Jammo the OrganizedFellow

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2007, 03:34:10 PM »
Not yet.
Although some more painful contractions were had today.
As an aspiring web developer/designer, it is a constant struggle to cope with my ADHD + Hypomania/Bipolar Disorder.

The slow growth of my web dev projects is eclipsed by my patience, understanding and desire to learn AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE as I slowly progress.

X_____jamjammo_____

Carol Haynes

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2007, 06:45:20 PM »
One thought - you might want to get a more powerful PSU - 300W is a bit borderline for the CPU you are using and all the other internal peripherals and USB devices.

Check the spec for the mobo and the CPU at least for power required. I haven't done it but I would have thought over 400W (probably 450W) would be a useful minimum to aim at.

If you build a system and you find it unstable one of the first things you need to check is that you have sufficient power - it is a false economy if you then have to buy a second PSU (been there, done that, got the T-shirt !!)

Jammo the OrganizedFellow

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2007, 12:44:26 AM »
One thought - you might want to get a more powerful PSU - 300W is a bit borderline ... I would have thought over 400W (probably 450W) would be a useful minimum to aim at.
Thank you!

I'll modify my list to include a 400+ unit :)
As an aspiring web developer/designer, it is a constant struggle to cope with my ADHD + Hypomania/Bipolar Disorder.

The slow growth of my web dev projects is eclipsed by my patience, understanding and desire to learn AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE as I slowly progress.

X_____jamjammo_____

nite_monkey

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2007, 01:35:36 AM »
Also note that you need to go back and check your cpu, I just clicked the link, and they no longer have the cpu you have listed.
[Insert really cool signature here]

Carol Haynes

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2007, 03:45:18 AM »
One thought - you might want to get a more powerful PSU - 300W is a bit borderline ... I would have thought over 400W (probably 450W) would be a useful minimum to aim at.
Thank you!

I'll modify my list to include a 400+ unit :)

Personally I always use the rule of thumb that you buy the best PSU you can afford - in two years time hardware will need more power and if you invest a little extra now you can allow your next build to inherit a powerful PSU. If you are on the borderline now the PSU will be useless in the future if you want to build again.

Don't forget cooling too - some of these new beasts get really quite hot (despite the hype on the manufacturers website about 'cool' technology). Make sure your case has adequate space to allow tinkering and sufficient cooling options (ie. places to put fans). Also decent fans are cheap so don't skimp on buying good quality - your ears will thank you for it when your system doesn't sound like an aircraft on the approach path!

I have built numerous systems over the years and good PSUs and cases live through multiple systems for me which makes subsequent builds much cheaper and easier.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2007, 03:59:55 AM »
Also note that you need to go back and check your cpu, I just clicked the link, and they no longer have the cpu you have listed.

How about an AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Toledo 2.0GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket 939 Processor - OEM at Newegg. You'd need to add a heatsink but it would be much better CPU.

If it isn't a daft question why are you choosing a 939 board now? Even if you want to build a budget machine why not look at an AM2 based board - then you can use DDR2 memory and have a much better choice of CPUs.

I built 3 x 939 systems a few months back and am pleased with them but should really have gone down the AM2 route for future flexibility. Given that CPU availability is now dropping off drastically you are really just buying left over stock and if you ever decide to upgrade to a faster CPU or a dual CPU you may find it difficult to find one (and a heatsink to fit it). If you do decide to go with a 939 board get the best CPU you can find - unfortunately prices are going up on them as they become scarcer. My 3 systems have: Athlon64 3400, Athlon64 3800 and Athlon64 X2 4600. You really notice the difference with the X2.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2007, 04:10:59 AM »
Just a suggestion ... have a look at these combo deals (all the same AM2 board with different CPUs - and everything is retail so you get all the extras including the official AMD CPU heatsink). You'd still need memory and other bits (try Crucial Technology for memory - they are cheap, easy to pick the right memory using their online ID system and it comes with a lifetime guarantee).

http://www.newegg.co...geSize=10&page=1

See http://www.crucial.c...del=K8M800+Micro+AM2 for memory kits.

So you could get:

AM2 Mobo + Athlon 64 3500 AM2 CPU + 1 Gb memory for $171

OK you still need a CPU / Case / HD (and don't forget graphics - just because a system has an onboard graphics chipset doesn't mean you don't need an adapter!)

Personally I would go for a better mobo (try this Gigabyte board for size which is only about $5 more) to get more CPU options and it also includes PCIex16 graphics slot (AGP are effectively defunct these days).

How about:

Gigabyte board $50.99
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600 retail (includes cooler) $60.99
Crucial Memory 1Gb $79.99

total $192

That compares pretty well to your original $170 bundle given that you get a dual AM2 processor and a PCIe based motherboard.

You can get a low end (NVidia 7300 ?) PCIex16 graphics card for about $30-40 (less than half the price of a defunct AGP equivalent and much faster in your system as there are less overheads).

By the way don't forget to get a PSU that is ATX2.0 compatible (ie. with a 24 pin mobo connector - preferably a 20+4 pin connector that way you can use it on any mobo).
« Last Edit: July 31, 2007, 04:50:55 AM by Carol Haynes »

f0dder

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2007, 07:58:04 AM »
Instead of TinyURL links, you could just URLify the specific item... I've become weary of TinyURL because of people trying to hide referrer links (no, not accusing you of that, just saying that I get ticks whenever I see them now :) )

You can probably get away with 1 gig of ram total since you don't do gaming, but you do mention vmware... I'd try to get 2x1gig if at all possible. Sure, you could expand with another 2x512 later, but it's safest to use identical memory modules, and you won't always be able to get exactly the same some months/years later.

I'll have to agree with Carol, as usual :) - go for an AM2 motherboard and CPU, shouldn't be more expensive, and gives a better upgrading flexibility. Also heed the PSU advice - don't be blinded by wattage only though, a 400W stable+power-efficient is much better than a 700W lahlahlah PSU.
- carpe noctem

Lashiec

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2007, 10:42:29 AM »
Look carefully that PSU, as I see you're opting for a MicroATX case, and you could have space problems. About power, if he is not going to upgrade the machine to something quite powerful in a near future, a good 300W power supply should be more than enough. In 7 years the wattage needed by components didn't escalate that much, despite those insane people manufacturing 1 and 2 KW PSUs (who is going to need that kind of power?)

EDIT: Typos!
« Last Edit: July 31, 2007, 03:26:52 PM by Lashiec »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2007, 11:42:05 AM »
I just looked up the reference for the last system I built ...

I built a 'cheap' sysem based on DFI LANParty RDX200 mobo (very pretty 939 board that cost me about the equivalent of $40). On the quick installation guide was a sticker recommending the following PSU ratings:

Athlon64 3400+ >450W
Athlon64 4000+ >500W
Athlon64 FX-57 >600W

granted this was on a full size ATX board with 6 USB sockets and 2 PCIe graphics slots - but nevertheless I really think 300W is on the light side for a 64 bit system.

My old 32 bit AthlonXP 1600+, 512Mb memory and an AGP card required 300W !!

A larger modern PSU will be an investment for this and subsequent builds (once you have built your own system you have the bug!). Buying a cheap low capacity PSU now is a poor investment for the future and could lead to potential instability problems that are hard to deal with without spending even more money.

Personally even if you are going for a MicroATX form factor I would use a full ATX box - it will be usable again in the future and it will have better ventilation. Just make sure the box you choose has the flexibility to accommodate different form factors.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2007, 11:46:54 AM by Carol Haynes »

f0dder

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2007, 08:23:25 PM »
I used to run 350W for my AMD64 3500+ with a GF6600 card and a bunch of harddrives, that was just fine. For my current AMD64x2 4400+ with GF7600 and a bunch of harddrives, I now have a 550W Antec Neo HE550EC, which I got because it has a nice modular (ie., less cable clutter) design.

I'd stay away from micro-atx cases unless you opt for a really low-end power-efficient CPU, otherwise you'll surely run into heat problems. I lost a harddrive (fortunately in a raid-mirror setup) because of heat issues from a too small case, it had idle CPU temperature of 50-60C when it should only be ~30C... please do consider!
- carpe noctem

Jammo the OrganizedFellow

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2007, 05:25:11 AM »
Okay folks.
After much more deliberation, and a little more saving, I'm in the clear to add about $200-$300 MORE to my estimated $250+/- BudgetPC, bringing me into the $450-$550 range.

If it isn't a daft question why are you choosing a 939 board now? Even if you want to build a budget machine why not look at an AM2 based board - then you can use DDR2 memory and have a much better choice of CPUs.
@ Carol Haynes:
I don't know the difference between 939 and AM2, but with the increase in my budget, 'a much better choice of CPUs' is much more probable now. Perhaps something in the dual-core variety?

So, here are my NEW specs for the following COMPLETE system (PC Case, Hard Drive, CD/DVD R/W ROM Drive, Processor, Processor Cooling Fan, Motherboard, Memory Modules, Power Supply, Video Card, Keyboard & Mouse):
:)


COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UW Black Aluminum Bezel, SECC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.co...Item=N82E16811119068
$49.99 -
$10.00 (mail-in rebate)

Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.co...Item=N82E16822136074
$74.99

LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model LH-20A1L-05 - OEM
http://www.newegg.co...Item=N82E16822136074
$36.99

AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+(65W) Windsor 2.0GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM2 Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.co...Item=N82E16819103733
$65.50

COOLER MASTER GeminII RR-CCH-ANU2-GP CPU+ Board Cooler - Retail
http://www.newegg.co...Item=N82E16835103026
$35.99 -
$15.00 (mail-in rebate)

BIOSTAR TForce TF7025-M2 Socket AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 7025 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.co...Item=N82E16813138074
$69.99

2GB kit (1GBx2), 240-pin DIMM, DDR2 PC2-6400 memory module
http://www.crucial.c...ULE=CT2KIT12864AA80E
$149.99

Thermaltake TR2 W0070RUC ATX 430W Power Supply 115/230 V - Retail
http://www.newegg.co...Item=N82E16817153023
$39.99 -
$10.00 (mail-in rebate)

EVGA 256-P2-N615-TX GeForce 7600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.co...Item=N82E16814130062
$89.99

ViewSonic Optiquest Series Q7B-3 Black 17" 8ms LCD Monitor 280 cd/m2 600:1 Built in Speakers - Retail
http://www.newegg.co...Item=N82E16824116010
$159.99

49.99 + 74.99 + 36.99 + 65.50 + 35.99 + 69.99 + 149.99 + 39.99 + 89.99 + 159.99 = 773.41 - rebates = $738.41 + S/H

I've just registered at NewEgg, and plan on purchasing my new hardware by (hopefully) August 20.
:)
As an aspiring web developer/designer, it is a constant struggle to cope with my ADHD + Hypomania/Bipolar Disorder.

The slow growth of my web dev projects is eclipsed by my patience, understanding and desire to learn AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE as I slowly progress.

X_____jamjammo_____

Jammo the OrganizedFellow

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2007, 05:31:55 AM »
oops, I can't forget this:

CABLES UNLIMITED ACC-1400 Anti Static Wrist Strap With Grounding Wire - Retail
http://www.newegg.co...Item=N82E16899339002
$5.99

 :Thmbsup:
As an aspiring web developer/designer, it is a constant struggle to cope with my ADHD + Hypomania/Bipolar Disorder.

The slow growth of my web dev projects is eclipsed by my patience, understanding and desire to learn AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE as I slowly progress.

X_____jamjammo_____

Lashiec

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2007, 11:17:36 AM »
Looks pretty good to me, and it lasts quite some years with those components. Perhaps you could save some dollars buying cheaper RAM. Good purchase, anyway! :Thmbsup:
« Last Edit: August 07, 2007, 11:22:06 AM by Lashiec »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #22 on: August 07, 2007, 12:45:31 PM »
Looking good.

Do you need the CPU cooler? The retail AMD CPUs come with a very nice cooler included.

Also if you aren't a big game player you could get a lower spec graphics card. I have found 7300/256Mb more than adequate and they are about half the price. Even better buy two and run them in SLi mode!
« Last Edit: August 07, 2007, 12:47:19 PM by Carol Haynes »

tinjaw

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #23 on: August 07, 2007, 03:10:21 PM »
I suggest computing what you really need for a PSU at the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator. I got the 1 year subscription and it has most of the brand name parts so you don't even need to look for the specs yourself. They free version requires you to look stuff up yourself.

Jammo the OrganizedFellow

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Re: Build a $250 PC That Doesn’t Suck
« Reply #24 on: August 07, 2007, 08:52:03 PM »
I've just selected everything i want to buy, and clicked on ADD TO CART, on all items.
I've never done anything like this before, this is VERY exciting!

:)

I've changed a few items to keep costs low. All selections were based on the ratings on NewEgg. Nearly everthing has a high satisfactory level with others.
Here are the ones I've changed:
LG 18X DVD±R DVD Burner with 12X DVD-RAM Write Black E-IDE/ATAPI Model ... - OEM   http://www.newegg.co...Item=N82E16827136119      $27.99

At the comment by Carol Haynes, I've chosen a bit cheaper video card. I read about PixelPipelines, and chose this one cause I don't think I need anything higher, as I'm not a gamer:
 GIGABYTE GV-NX73T256P-RH GeForce 7300GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail   http://www.newegg.co...Item=N82E16814125036      $69.99

Also changed the PSU, going from the above 430W to a 500W unit:
 Thermaltake W0093RU ATX 12V 2.0 Version 500W Power Supply 115/230 V UL, CUL, TUV, FCC, and CB - Retail   http://www.newegg.co...Item=N82E16817153028      $79.99

And lastly, the RAM. I felt that yeah, $150 is kinda pricey. But I read so much good about Crucial memory, I wanted to stick with them. So:
 Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail   http://www.newegg.co...Item=N82E16820146565   $30.00   $109.99

So after switching a few things around, I managed to go WWAAYY over-budget, hahaha, but, I feel I really needed to. After the shipping fees I'm at $781.81 minus the $50 in rebates (Case -$10, RAM -$30, and bundle deal on CPU+MoBo another $10 off) = $731.81.


Does anyone know how long I can keep my items in the shopping cart?
I'm getting paid next week by a client for whom I did some web development work for, so am waiting for that.
As an aspiring web developer/designer, it is a constant struggle to cope with my ADHD + Hypomania/Bipolar Disorder.

The slow growth of my web dev projects is eclipsed by my patience, understanding and desire to learn AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE as I slowly progress.

X_____jamjammo_____