View Full Version : [all variants] Help building a cheap desktop

July 31st, 2009, 03:52 PM
I think I'm going to need to build myself a cheap desktop, and I don't really know where to start. I'm assuming I start with the motherboard, but is there a certain brand I should go with, or any particular details I need to look for, and where is a good place to buy these types of components?

I'm not a gamer, so I don't necessarily need a dedicated graphics card. I do want the flexibility though to upgrade the system later. I want something that will last for a while, staying current with the latest distribution releases, requiring only modest upgrades.

This system will not be used for Windows, only linux, so obviously, I want to make sure that the hardware will be well supported.

I'm really looking for any available help, suggestions, or recommendations. Thanks in advance!

July 31st, 2009, 03:57 PM
you live in the US, then NewEgg.com (http://www.newegg.com) is the place to look. they have reviews and some of the best prices for computer hardware.

I build all my own machines, you can get a decent setup these days for under $400. for a decent machine may I suggest a Dual core or better processor, 2GB of RAM at least a 250GB hard drive, a power supply over 400 WATTS, a mid tower case (Antec is the best for new builders, some come with power supplies), any DVD-RW as they all work fine

July 31st, 2009, 04:46 PM
Thanks for the tip, LowSky. I've bought RAM from NewEgg before, and was very satisfied with their prices.

I've been looking around on their site though, and I'm just overwhelmed with choices. I've often heard of Gigabyte, ASRock, and ASUS motherboards, and so I thought I'd start there. The CPU socket seems to be the most obvious distinction between motherboards...

Unless someone here would suggest otherwise, I think I'm probably going to go with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. It seems rather middle-of-the-road, a good balance of value, which is what I'm looking for. From what I can tell, this means I need to get a motherboard with an Intel socket 775.

From there, I think I need to choose the chipset... At least on ASUS's website, this leaves lots of options, and I really don't have any idea what the differences are. Again, I think I want to go with an Intel chipset, just because I'm not into gaming, and they seem to be more mainstream. Is this a correct assumption? From there, how do I choose?

July 31st, 2009, 04:49 PM
Check out Tiger Direct too. They have good deals on bare bone kits.

July 31st, 2009, 04:55 PM
About the price range, I definitely want to spend less than $400. I'm hoping between $200 and $300. Am I looking at the right stuff for this price range?

July 31st, 2009, 06:30 PM
The barebones kits seems to be alittle pricey for the components. I think I can do better if I buy the pieces individually.

So far, I've found...

an Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5200 Processor
2.5GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, Socket T LGA 775 for $66


an ASUS P5QPL-AM LGA 775 Intel G41 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard for $65

Both of these choices were partially arbitrary, but these seem like good buy's to me. Are these a good value? My choice of the G41 chipset for the mainboard was because it has the integrated X4500 GMA graphics, which seems to be on the higher end of integrated graphics, if there is such a thing. While I'm not going to be gaming, I do want to be able to playback DVD video, and high resolution streaming video (like hulu.com) smoothly, without jitter.

From there, I would just need to pick out ram, HDD, a case, a PSU, an optical drive, and then the external peripherals (monitor, keyboard, mouse), right?

For RAM, I'll go with probably just a 1GB module for now, from Corsair, Kingston, or Crucial. I'll get another 1GB module later, when money isn't so tight. I'm guessing this will be around $20.

For the HDD, I'd like to go with Seagate, because I've heard they're much more reliable than other brands. Newegg has a Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 250GB Hard Drive for $45, which seems like a good deal to me.

I found an Antec NSK4480 Mid-Tower Case with a 380WATT PSU for $94. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

So far, the pricetag is at $290, which is more than I was hoping, and I don't even have the external peripherals or the optical drive yet. I'd really like some feedback on these components. Are these good deals? Which of these components, would you recommend I try to find cheaper alternatives. I've never done this before, so please feel free to offer any criticisms or suggestions.

Edit: I also found an LG optical drive for $46, bringing the total for everything necessary up to $336. The monitor, keyboard, and mouse I could probably get by with something used from a local seller (consignment or craigslist) for dirt cheap as a temporary fix...

July 31st, 2009, 06:39 PM
A lot of people say to pick the processor first, then the motherboard, ram, etc. As far a Linux compatibility, if it doesn't say, I call the store and ask. Usually everything will work*, but that way 1. they know people are interested in Linux, and 2. If it doesn't work, I can say, 'you said it would work"

*In fact, the last motherboard I bought was more linux compatible than windows! For windows, you had to install drivers, and in Linux, it just worked. BTW Linux compatible WIRELESS PCI card $15 (http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?Sku=M501-1318)