Maybe you don't need 3D gaming capability. You just need a basic system for Internet, email, office applications, and other 'non 3d' uses. Well if you are handy with a screwdriver and are familiar with computer hardware, you can build your own COMPLETE system with monitor, mouse and keyboard for just over $400. Compare this with a new Dell Inspiron Base model plus 17" LCD monitor, and speakers at $539 - those $349 'name brand' machines sound like a great deal, until you see whats not included - like the monitor and speakers!
So here's my recipe for an Ultra-budget DIY build (all prices are from Newegg).
Normally I use Antec cases and power supplies, but for this build we're going to go with a Rosewill case. These cases are not as nice as the Antec cases, but they are sturdy and come with a 300W power supply that should suit our needs here. The model I picked out is only $25.99 plus shipping.
Rosewill R805BS Black/silver Steel ATX mid-tower case with 300W power supply - $35.98
Next comes the motherboard and CPU. For this one, we will be using an AMD Sempron 64 3000+ Socket AM2 CPU running at 1.6 Ghz, paired with an MSI K9VGM-V motherboard. The motherboard has a Via K8M890 chipset and Via Chrome9 Graphics. It also features 2 ATA-100 IDE ports for up to 4 IDE devices, as well as two SATA ports for drive expandability. It also has a PCIe X16 slot if you want to add a graphics card later on.
MSI K9VGM-V motherboard - $53.32
AMD Sempron 64 3000+ CPU (retail) - $25.99 (free shipping)
Next comes the RAM. I don't really like to use less than 512 MB so I chose a single 512 MB stick of DDR2-800 RAM from Patriot. Very affordable at $24.99 plus shipping.
512 MB Patriot DDR2-800 RAM - $29.98
Ok, that takes care of the 'guts', now we need to select some drives. I selected a Seagate ATA-100 80 GB hard drive. This drive comes with a five year warranty, unlike most other brands which have three or even one year warranties. Its very affordable at $41.99 plus shipping. If you're willing to splurge, you can get a 160 GB drive for only 8 dollars more. For the optical drive, I stayed with my old workhorse - the Liteon 'combo' drive which burns CDs and also plays DVDs. Its a steal at only 21.99 plus shipping.
Seagate ATA-100 80 GB hard drive - $47.28
Liteon Combo drive CD burner/DVD ROM drive - $27.83
Well, that takes care of all the internals and the case - the only thing left is the I/O stuff. And we've barely broke 2 bills at $221!
Next we add a 17" LCD monitor from Sceptre.
Sceptre X7G-NagaVI 17", 8 ms LCD monitor - $153.17
Then the keyboard, mouse and speakers:
Microsoft CA9-00001 Keyboard and mouse combo - $23.32
Genius SP-S110 speakers - $12.53
This gives us a grand total of $409.91, but if everything is ordered from Newegg at the same time you get a break on shipping that brings the cost down to $392.02!
Next time I'll post a more serious gamers build.