Trying to keep a build under $400

speedy2

Golden Member
Nov 30, 2008
1,294
0
71
IF it's possible


1. What YOUR PC will be used for. Light Internet use. Word Processing. Photo & document storage

2. What YOUR budget is. $400 in parts for a complete Tower

3. What country YOU will be buying YOUR parts from. USA

4. IF YOU have a brand preference. No Preference.

5. If YOU intend on using any of YOUR current parts, and if so, what those parts are.NO

6. IF YOU have searched and/or read similar threads. No

7. IF YOU plan on overclocking or run the system at default speeds. default speeds

8. What resolution YOU plan on gaming with. N/A

9. WHEN do you plan to build it? Within a month

Some other info

Parts will be purchased from Newegg or here if someone has a part I need in unused condition.

Windows 7 will be the OS.

Building this for a lady. She is on a tight budget. But, her current PC is an old Gateway with a Pentium III upgraded to XP. I've cleaned it up for her as much as possible but it's just too slow to keep up with large emails, photos, etc. Sites with Flash or quicktime really give her a hard time. Any help is appreciated.
 
Last edited:

darkewaffle

Diamond Member
Oct 7, 2005
8,152
1
81
I'm assuming we don't need to include a monitor/keyboard/mouse? What about an OS?

Otherwise you should be more than able to keep it $400 and under for such a light workload. You might even consider getting into pre-built territory.
 

speedy2

Golden Member
Nov 30, 2008
1,294
0
71
I'm assuming we don't need to include a monitor/keyboard/mouse? What about an OS?

Otherwise you should be more than able to keep it $400 and under for such a light workload. You might even consider getting into pre-built territory.

Windows 7. Sorry.

Yes, nothing but a tower. I was considering it, but I think I'd rather put it together. I like to make sure it's all done right. I don't really like the low end big name pc's.
 

darkewaffle

Diamond Member
Oct 7, 2005
8,152
1
81
I think $100 for case/psu on this budget might be overallocating, but lets take a look.

$100 Case & PSU

$81 4GB GSkill Value RAM

$80 MSI 880GM Mobo

$40 500GB WD Caviar Blue HDD (Use coupon EMCYWNT34)

$80 AMD Athlon II X3 445

$19 Sony Optiarc DVD Drive

Just about exactly $400.

If you want to though, you can save a lot here. She might be fine with a smaller hard drive or a dual core processor, and you can save some money splitting up the Case/PSU. Personally I would keep the 4GB of RAM though; it'll keep her Windows7 feeling more responsive.
 

speedy2

Golden Member
Nov 30, 2008
1,294
0
71
Thanks. yeah. She just went and bought a 500GB external drive. That old gateway has like a 20GB drive and it's about full.

I was thinking the AMD X3 as well. I have done a build with one, and it runs great.

I do like gigabytes boards, but if I don't find one cheaper, I may stick with the MSI you suggested. Again thanks.

EDIT: Well I didn't mention it, but the purchase of Windows 7 will have to be included int he $400. lol. tricky hmmm.
 

f4phantom2500

Platinum Member
Dec 3, 2006
2,284
1
0
you could just buy a dell, and not have to worry about any of the headache of building it yourself.
 

speedy2

Golden Member
Nov 30, 2008
1,294
0
71
I don't see it as a headache. I see the low end dells as the bigger headache over the long run.

Thanks darkewaffle.
 

mfenn

Elite Member
Jan 17, 2010
22,400
5
71
www.mfenn.com
you could just buy a dell, and not have to worry about any of the headache of building it yourself.

I second this.

I don't see it as a headache. I see the low end dells as the bigger headache over the long run.

Thanks darkewaffle.

Building might not be a headache, but supporting it will be. A refurb Dell with a warranty will get you a tech with parts-in-hand in 2-3 days.

If you really really want to build, darkewaffle's suggestions are good.
 

speedy2

Golden Member
Nov 30, 2008
1,294
0
71
I second this.



Building might not be a headache, but supporting it will be. A refurb Dell with a warranty will get you a tech with parts-in-hand in 2-3 days.

If you really really want to build, darkewaffle's suggestions are good.

How long is a Dell warranty usually? Without paying a lot. I've built a few systems and given support. Been over a year on most and zero issues. Don't know, I've just had and heard bad experiences with Big name companies, both in products and service.
 

darkewaffle

Diamond Member
Oct 7, 2005
8,152
1
81
I don't really see the headache behind building. Ideally you'd have like $100 more budgeted for more RAM and a different mobo / tricore, but it's not like there's anything wrong with the current components.

I mean even if something goes wrong with the Dell, who does she call first? You or them?

I got my parents a Dell for a combo mothers/fathers day gift, only because the Hybrid Studio has such a nifty little form factor and I got a great deal on the kb/monitor/mouse/Win7 with it, but I'm still the first person they call with a problem even though I got them a 3yr warranty/support with it :D
 

piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
17,168
60
91
It is kind of hard to get a decent build less than $400 unless you just go buy a used or refurb name brand product or buy stuff that is two - four years old from a technology standpoint. You would have to cut a lot of corners or use some used drives, keyboard, old mouse, Like maybe the leftovers from your last build. I dont know how Dell sells the cheap junk that they do and gets it to sell for say $400.00. Some net tops sell for over $300.00. Maybe an ATOM processor might work. But I just think those are toys.
 

speedy2

Golden Member
Nov 30, 2008
1,294
0
71
I don't really see the headache behind building. Ideally you'd have like $100 more budgeted for more RAM and a different mobo / tricore, but it's not like there's anything wrong with the current components.

I mean even if something goes wrong with the Dell, who does she call first? You or them?

I got my parents a Dell for a combo mothers/fathers day gift, only because the Hybrid Studio has such a nifty little form factor and I got a great deal on the kb/monitor/mouse/Win7 with it, but I'm still the first person they call with a problem even though I got them a 3yr warranty/support with it :D

Exactly. At least if it's my build and they call me I handle it. I don't have to worry about Voiding a warranty. Or relaying messages from the other company(have done this before). When the customer hears something they don't like, they take it out on me. Plus I'm out the time and the headache. On hold with them. Just not worth it. I find a build satisfying and actually relaxing. Plus I know it's done right. Parts are better for the most part as well.

Looks like she's putting this on hold until the middle of September. Thanks for the advices and links guys.
 

speedy2

Golden Member
Nov 30, 2008
1,294
0
71
Ok. With everything it comes out to $447.20

I'm charging her $500. I would've liked to make $100 on the build. But, I wouldn't mind eating some of that to give her a good system. Plus, she'll be paying me hourly to move all her files from her old computer and set it up as close as possible to how her old one is too. I also deliver the PC to her house. Well worth the time and I will make a decent amount. And, I've already got a referral from her as well.
 

heyheybooboo

Diamond Member
Jun 29, 2007
6,278
0
0
If you are going to do your thang keep an eye out for complete component combo deals --- and you may also eyeball some of the Egg Rosewill case combos. You might get lucky and catch a case/785g combo on the cheap with free shipping.




--
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
56,327
10,035
126
Got a Microcenter nearby? Check out their AMD combo CPU+mobo specials, I got quite a few combos from them with $100 quad-core CPUs, with free motherboards.

And for cases, go to ewiz.com, search for "imicro", and then click on cases. They have some decent cases for $32 with free shipping, with a 400W UL-listed PSU included. Just fine for an econo-box.

I built some AMD quad-cores (Athlon II X4 630) with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HD, 22/24X DVD burner, card reader, case + PSU, for $300 (with Ubuntu as the OS).

Dell was running a special for Win7 HP upgrade retail package for $70 too.
 

f4phantom2500

Platinum Member
Dec 3, 2006
2,284
1
0
It is kind of hard to get a decent build less than $400 unless you just go buy a used or refurb name brand product or buy stuff that is two - four years old from a technology standpoint. You would have to cut a lot of corners or use some used drives, keyboard, old mouse, Like maybe the leftovers from your last build. I dont know how Dell sells the cheap junk that they do and gets it to sell for say $400.00. Some net tops sell for over $300.00. Maybe an ATOM processor might work. But I just think those are toys.

it's cuz they buy everything in such massive quantities that they pay substantially less for each part than you would pay, especially windows. when they have a good deal it's very hard to beat by building yourself. a couple years back my old roommate was looking to get a computer. he'd recently moved, but i told him that i could guide him through how to build it (he's dealt with in-depth car audio installs, so a computer would be pretty easy for him). however, dell had a deal on a desktop that had a q6600, 3gb ram, a 500gb hard drive and a dvd burner for i think it was $500. if i'm not mistaken, at the time a q6600 was in the $300 range on newegg and ram prices had just jumped back up from their ridiculous all time low. he got the dell.

it's not a huge pain in the ass, but in my experience little problems have their ways of happening, and it's just easier to call up dell and tell them to fix it. i had a hard drive fail in my dell laptop once, they got a replacement drive out to me within 2 days. it's just easier to deal with only one company instead of several. plus, any random little incompatibilities that shouldn't exist among your components won't exist with a prebuilt unit.

i'm not saying building yourself is a bad idea, it's just that, with a budget so small and such limited needs, i think the real question is whether the difference in a prebuilt computer is worth the trouble of building it yourself. maybe i'm just lazy.


Got a Microcenter nearby? Check out their AMD combo CPU+mobo specials, I got quite a few combos from them with $100 quad-core CPUs, with free motherboards.

And for cases, go to ewiz.com, search for "imicro", and then click on cases. They have some decent cases for $32 with free shipping, with a 400W UL-listed PSU included. Just fine for an econo-box.

I built some AMD quad-cores (Athlon II X4 630) with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HD, 22/24X DVD burner, card reader, case + PSU, for $300 (with Ubuntu as the OS).

Dell was running a special for Win7 HP upgrade retail package for $70 too.

these are great deals. if you're willing to look around for this kind of stuff and don't mind building it yourself, and trust a possibly shoddy motherboard/psu, go for it. usually cheap (cost) motherboards from reputable brands, these days, seem to be pretty solid as long as you don't overclock. i'm a bit wary about cheap psu's though...i think it's worth the extra $20 investment to get a psu that has a reputation for being solid, as opposed to one with a neutral one. what's the use of getting a great deal on a computer if the psu fries it?
 
Last edited:

speedy2

Golden Member
Nov 30, 2008
1,294
0
71
Thanks again guys. Looks like she upped the budget. Now, my cost can be between $400-$500

Although, still staying close to $400 if possible. Probably just do the 4GB of RAM with that.
 

GregMal

Golden Member
Oct 14, 1999
1,427
0
71
My last homebuilt was a little over a year ago.
.
Why build when you can get a Dell with:
Intel Core Duo E7500
Win7 Home Premium 64 bit
4 GB ram
320 GB HD
1 Year Warranty
.
For $349.99 plus shipping!
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
56,327
10,035
126
A couple of months ago, I built some quad-cores for ~$350 ea.

An Athlon II X4 630 from Microcenter, in a combo with a free micro-atx 760G motherboard - $100 + tax
2x2GB DDR2-800, from either microcenter or newegg - $100 (cheaper now)
500GB HD, previously purchased a year ago for $60
22/24X DVD burner, SATA, from newegg - $20
multi-card reader, USB, for $15-20 from Microcenter or BestBuy
And a case/PSU from Ewiz, search for "iMicro", then click cases, they have some decent ones with front-panel audio and usb, including 400W UL-listed PSU, for $32 free shipping.
 

darkewaffle

Diamond Member
Oct 7, 2005
8,152
1
81
I should find out where I can get people to pay me for doing this, lol. Even just one or two now and then would be fun and some extra cash.
 

speedy2

Golden Member
Nov 30, 2008
1,294
0
71
Got this thing all together and it runs really great.

Ended up being

Antec Three Hundred + BP430 Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 430W Power Supply

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL9D-4GBNT

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM

MSI 880GM-E43 AM3 AMD 880G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

Sony Optiarc CD/DVD Burner Black SATA Model AD-7260S-0B - OEM

AMD Athlon II X3 445 Rana 3.1GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ADX445WFGMBOX

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

I think going ahead and getting the 4GB of RAM will be more than worth it in the long run.