There are a lot of great guides out there to help those on a budget to build cheap computers, but one thing that always bugs me is that they either never seem to be worth the money, offering low-end, garbage parts, or on the flipside they seem to be too expensive for what it could be. So today, I was on a mission: what’s the cheapest I could build a computer that’s worth using using only parts currently sold on NewEgg?
Read more after the break.
At the end of the day, after some looking around, I settled on some higher end parts and some lower end parts. Thus, sacrifices had to be made – this certainly is not a gaming machine by any stretch of the imagination, nor does it include an optical drive (though you could add one for ~$25 if you so chose).
What it does include, however, is a super-fast 2.4 GHz Dual-Core Intel processor, with reviews that promote this guy as “incredibly capable”, as having “low power usage”, and even “amazingly surprised at the power “. I won’t reveal which specific processor this is yet, for reasons you’ll find apparent shortly.
I also didn’t skimp on the RAM – I picked out pretty highly rated DDR3 1333 RAM, which is some of the fastest on the market – and 4GB of it, which is what comes standard on $500+ computers these days.
Last but not least, NewEgg is also offering a 800GB 32MB SATA Western Digital Hard Drive at an amazing price for a limited time, so I threw that in there as well. No guarantee on how long that will last, but if you can pick one up I highly recommend doing so – I’m rocking a 1TB version of this same drive on my multimedia streamer and have had no issues with it.
So finally, are we ready for the big reveal? The exact specifications I chose are…
- Intel Celeron G530 Sandy Bridge 2.4GHz Processor (includes GPU) – $49 (free shipping) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116409
- JetWay JTI61M5 Intel H61 Micro-ATX Motherboard – $42.99 (after rebate) (free shipping) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813153232
- Team Elite 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 RAM – $19.99 (free shipping) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820313102
- Western Digital Caviar Green 808GB 32MB SATA HDD – $35.99 (free shipping) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822236228
- APEX PC-389-C Black Steel ATX Case – $18.99 (+ $9.99 shipping) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811154095
- LOGISYS Coputer 550Watt ATX12V Power Supply – $18.99 (+ $3.99 shipping) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817170010
Now, you’ll have to include your own monitor, keyboard, and mouse in here – I didn’t include those – but they’re so cheap and common these days that you probably have one of each just lying around your house.
You might notice that I also didn’t include an operating system, mostly because there are so many options out there. Sure, you could buy a Windows 7 license, but why bother these days? I’d recommend one of the following options…
- Windows Server 2008 R2 – $0 on Dreamspark - This is a fully functional version of Windows, built on top of Windows 7, absolutely free for any and all students. All you need is to register on Microsoft’s Dreamspark site with a .edu email address and you’re set.
- Windows 8 Consumer Preview – $0 (expires 01/15/13) - This is, again, a fully functional version of the next generation of Windows, absolutely free until it expires on January 15th, 2013. I’ve been using this as my main Windows OS for a little while now and it’s pretty damn near rock solid. After it expires you can always re-evaluate your options.
- Ubuntu 12.04 – $0 - Ubuntu is a free version of the Linux operating system. It’s not compatible with most Windows applications and it has a bit of a learning curve, but it’s incredibly powerful and there should be an alternative application to fill in all the gaps.
If you’re a student, I’d highly recommend the first option as your #1 choice. If not, Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Ubuntu are fine choices as well. Because I didn’t include an optical drive in this build, you’ll need a USB thumb drive to install an OS.
All in all, building a computer is relatively easy, it can be pretty fun, and you can definitely get yourself a deal. There’s no need to settle for a mass market OEM if you’re in the market for a cheap computer that works.