Building a budget PC

So, I’m thinking about building a small back-up desktop PC for the other members of the family to surf, play music, watch DVDs, some casual and kids gaming, etc. I have a hard-limit budget of $750 and I haven’t built a computer from the ground-up for a few years so I’m out of the loop on where the sweet spots are and where I can shave a few bucks.

I shouldn’t think a heavy graphics card is needed. Actually probably I can stick with integrated graphics. Same with sound. I just want the best PC I can build given $750.

Any ideas?

Get a Dimension e521. Last week my Dad bought one of these for between 600 and 650 shipped with a 19inch monitor, 1 gig of RAM, etc, etc, etc.

Yeah they have great deals on the e521s and e520s every week or two. For $750 you should be able to get a e6300 with 2GB of RAM and a 20" LCD monitor.

Apparently Dell doesn’t have the deals around X-mas time though. The system you describe stusser would be up around $900 to a grand.

But, yeah, I see y’alls point. With the free Vista upgrade, I’d be insane not to go with the Dell. They really own the bottom of the market at this point, eh?

There’ll be a deal before christmas, they change day to day. Most dell deals only last 2-3 days. Be sure to get the upgrade to home premium, thats the vista you actually want.

I built an e521 for my parents last week for $450 (excluding monitor, which they already have). Except for the video card, it smokes my PC. I also configurated one for a friend today with 17" flat panel for $750 (2 year warranty included). Even without any deals or corporate discounts, those 521s are damn decent non-gaming rigs. Right now they have free regular ground shipping and Vista upgrade (from Windows Media edition) as well.

Pay attention to sites like GotApex? and Techbargains. Also, here’s Dell’s current specials.

If you just want a functional budget PC here:

That is by no means a useless system. It’s not a Core2 Duo either, but I’m unsure given what you seem to want to use a system for why you’d care about that. Dell had the Core2 with the cheaper of their 20" LCD’s on sale with 512MB of memory last Friday for $730. It seemed to not be a huge special of a price.

Here you go. Emachines.

It has an empty PCI-e slot, so you can add in a GeForce 7600 for $150 and have a terrific game PC. (Oh, also add 512MB of RAM.)

Pretty much, except you can find a 7900GS for $150 these days.

Here’s the Core 2 deal I was talking about too. If you want this get it soon, the sale will change tomorrow.

Pros/cons vs. the X2 3800:

  • Better processor by far
  • Less memory
  • More expensive, can’t exclude the monitor
  • 20" LCD (Only an LCD though, unlike the more expensive 20" which has video input as well).
  • Only 80GB HD
  • DVD R/W
  • 7300 LE Discrete Video Card (Better than the on board stuff, still not a gamer card)

I picked up a Core 2 Duo Gateway for my wife about a month back. It was $599 at Best Buy. Seems pretty solidly built and has worked well to this point.

Well, here tis:

It has the advantage of not having to wait thru the x-mas rush for it to be shipped to us since we can pick it up today. Plus it seems reasonably powerful, and I get $100 rebate, though I’m going a bit over my budget out the door with tax.

The 17" monitor bothers me, but not that much since I’ll be using my 21" and the wife and kid can use this one! HA!

(We’ll replace it at tax time…I’m not an OGRE)

Don’t do this unless you plan to take the CPU/Memory, maybe hard drive and OEM OS install and move it into another barebones machine. The PSU, and motherboard will suck. The case will be small and hot, and you’ll melt the good shit you put in there when you upgrade the video card. I’ve never heard anyone report a good result after following this advice.

Just ask Bill Dungsroman for a QT3 local’s experience with this “budget” plan. He practically bought an entire new PC worth of upgrades after it self-destructed. Spend a bit more and go with a cheap Dell if you want to upgrade a bargain PC.

EDIT: I’ll admit this is based on anecdotal evidence, but I’m curious if anyone out there has really had a successful experience with an upgraded Emachine.

Now you guys tell me. I recently bought one of these with a 3800+ and 1 gig at best buy and I was getting ready to pick up a video card for it. So I need a new case and power supply before I do this?

Well, maybe it’s not as gloomy as I’ve heard. Just don’t get a card that runs too hot, and make sure its power requirements are met by the PSU that your Emachine is sporting. If it does cause instability, you can always buy the roomier case and PSU at that time.

I wouldn’t touch an emachines with a 10’ pole.
even if it does have expansion ports, the power supply in those are notoriously sketchy.

Ok thanks. I knew I needed to check the power rails on the PSU. Ill keep an eye on temps also.

I searched for a thread about Bill having a problem with his and I couldn’t find it. I found where he talked about doing it before hand, but not where he had done it and had a problem. Oh well Ill drop him a pm before I do anything.

There may have been other threads. It was a slow burn.

Well, what do you want on the cheap? If you want a better power supply, you can pick one up for $40 when you buy the videocard. (And at least the emachines PSU isn’t proprietary.)

I ran a full suite of benchmarks with an emachines and a 6600GT back in the day–twice, even–and never ran into any heat or power problems. Granted, I had them for a month or two. The cases are small, but they had enough ventilation.

Also, both had name brand motherboards, just older models. One had an MSI board.