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Cheap PC

MMOman101MMOman101 Posts: 1,439Member Uncommon

I am looking at building a very cheap PC, or 2, and I think I want to keep the cost at ~200.  Maybe 250.

I think I am looking at a Micro or Mini ATX case.  Size does matter and having something that does not make much space is a huge advantage.  I won't need Monitor/Keyboard/Mouse/OS.  Integrated graphics are probably the way to go, but I will need HDMI.  I am not sold on anything in particular. 

I think I would like a case that has the ability to add a 2nd HD if I want. 

The PC is not for gaming, obviously.  I just want a smaller PC that people can use for very basic functions. 

The PC will also need a wireless network adapter and the adapter will be PCIe. 

So the challenge for those that wish to partake is to suggest a cheap build that gives the biggest bang for the small buck. 

Note: I am not worried about heat. These will be in a climate controlled environment.

Thanks in advance. 


  • doragon86doragon86 Boston, MAPosts: 589Member Uncommon


    just aim for the destitute tier. It'll fulfill all of the needs you've listed here. 

    "For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
    And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:
    And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
    And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"
    ~Lord George Gordon Byron

  • iamrtaiamrta your momsPosts: 164Member Uncommon
  • MMOman101MMOman101 Posts: 1,439Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by iamrta
    go nuts....   Microcenter $100-200 range

    Not doing a refurbished system.  Thanks though.

  • GruntyGrunty TexasPosts: 7,939Member Rare
    She was grimacing. "That does sound like what America's has been trying to do for the last century or two--get rich faster than the parasites could steal it."   The Free Lunch by Spider Robinson
  • MMOman101MMOman101 Posts: 1,439Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Grunty
    Windows 7 thin clients

    I have looked at Thin Clients.  Not what I am looking for right now.  I am looking for a cheap PC that I can throw together myself.  I have a feeling that will be the cheapest best solution for my needs. 

  • RidelynnRidelynn Fresno, CAPosts: 5,549Member Rare

    Well, here's the issue.

    Your going to need integrated graphics - discrete is already out of the question. You aren't getting terribly high quality anything in there. If you need a Windows license this budget is totally shot.

    Power supply at around $30 -- this is a problem really, because an actual microATX power supply will cost you more. You can get a decent ATX power supply for around $30

    FM1 microATX Motherboard at around $50 (may have to use a DVI->HDMI converter)
    Older Llano A4 for around $40
    2G DDR3 kit for around $20

    The cheapest HDD I could find (non-refurb) was $55 - 250G 3.5"
    If you go much smaller SSD, you can drop to $40 for 30G

    That's enough to get you running, but no wifi, no case, no software... your up to $180, no shipping/tax. There's enough room in there to get WiFi in there (probably USB dongle, it's cheaper, maybe $10), and case of your choosing/requirements.

    It won't be pretty, and it won't be fast. You could save a lot of money buying used though - scavenge used PC's on craigslist for under $50, buy 4 or 5 of them, and you'll have enough parts to probably keep 2 of them running well.

  • miguksarammiguksaram Fort Meade, MDPosts: 827Member Uncommon
    Care to give more detail on what EXACTLY you expect these machines to do?  If a Linux based system is an option and speed isn't a huge concern you can meet your goals in one of the various DIY credit card sized systems that rely on USB drives for memory such as Rasberry Pi.
  • levin70levin70 bolingbrook, ILPosts: 87Member



    (1)  what is more of a priority, single thread performance or # of cores?

    (2) how much hard disk space is required

    (3) does the wireless network have to be inside the enclosure?  Can it be outside via a usb port?



  • syntax42syntax42 USAPosts: 1,374Member Uncommon

    Details would definitely help, but I would like to throw in some suggestions.


    Have you considered a ChromeBook, tablet, or other device?  I don't know what you are trying to do with them, so it is hard to know if those fit the application.


    I recently built a $300 MicroATX PC for use as a firewall, but I went with a Core i3 when there are cheaper options.  I also used a reliable motherboard brand instead of one of the dirt-cheap brands.  The only cheap part I used was the case which came with a power supply.  The case was a low-profile case which only caused some issues when I wanted to install a NIC, but the NIC was short enough that I just had to modify the mounting bracket.


    Would an embedded solution (basically a laptop CPU on a desktop motherboard) work for you?  Here is a build from Newegg.

    $65 - CPU + MB

    $43 - 4 GB RAM

    $45 - Case + Power Supply

    $50 - WD Blue 2.5" 250GB HDD

    $11 - Dual 2.5" to 3.5" bay adapter (optional)

    Total with option - $214

    The bay adapter is optional if you don't care about mounting the hard drive properly.  If you do buy it, it lets you mount two laptop-size hard drives in one 3.5" bay.  The laptop hard drive was in the build because it uses less power, it is smaller (lets you fit two drives in one bay) and there is no price difference if you are going for a cheap build.

  • MMOman101MMOman101 Posts: 1,439Member Uncommon

    The goal is to have some cheap windows 7 systems for my family.  Web browsing and basic office type apps is all they will be used for.  The users who are going to be using these PCs are going to be very low level.  I want everything to be as COST as possible.  It just allows everyone to learn, grow, and operate in a way they are used to and feel comfortable with.

    I just want to make this as simple and easy as possible both long and short term. 

    I looked at doing a virtualized solution and thin clients, but I don't want to go through the hassle right now. 

    We have tablets now, and I think a desktop is needed for school.  

  • RidelynnRidelynn Fresno, CAPosts: 5,549Member Rare

    Oh man if you need Windows licenses in there too -

    Your better off snagging whatever $299 special you see in the WalMart Black Friday ads, or picking up used machines and learning/growing that way.

    Windows licenses at $100 a pop going OEM are going to break the budget for anything you try to do yourself. Big Box OEMs get huge bulk discounts, and used machines often come with their own original OEM licenses - yes the hardware will be crap or a throw of the dice, but on that budget, there isn't really much else out there.

  • MMOman101MMOman101 Posts: 1,439Member Uncommon
    I don't need the licenses. 
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