How cheap can you build a decent PC?

2014-01-05 17.44.07I started this project way back in June 2013 to see how cheap I could build a halfway decent PC.  It took me awhile waiting for online sales and hunting through garage sales and Craigslist’s free section, but I finally finished it.  Here’s the results:

Case – Generic Full tower ATX case
Retail Price: Similar cases are around $80.00 to $110.00
I paid: Nothing… it was free curbside on craigslist

The case is really what started it all.  Someone was just getting rid of it, so I brought it home to see what I could do with it.

Motherboard – MSI 760GM-P23 (FX) AMD Series Motherboard – Micro ATX
Retail Price: $54.99 on TigerDirect
I paid: $25.00 after TigerDirect sales price and MSI mail-in rebate

2014-01-05 17.41.45I’d found another board at a garage sale for $3… but it was kind of an old crappy one (Actually it was probably a pretty good board back in the day. It seems to run Linux just fine in another build.) so I opted to shop around online.  I got a good deal on TigerDirect.

CPU – AMD Athlon II X4 620 2.6 GHz Quad-Core
Retail Price: $79.99
I paid: $57.90 on eBay

Sure, I had to wait for it to ship from South Korea… but I saved some money on it.

CPU Cooler – Cooler Master DK9-7G52A-0L-GP 27.1 CFM Rifle Bearing AM2 / AM3 CPU Cooler
Retail Price: $7.99
I paid: $7.99 (plus free shipping and no sales tax on Amazon)

I wasn’t having any luck finding a free cooler that would work with my motherboard, so I finally broke down and spent the whole $8 on this one.

2014-01-04 18.42.28RAM – G.Skill 8GB (4GB x 2) Ripjaws X Series DDR3 PC3-12800 1600MHz
Retail Price: $84.99
I paid: $57.24 on eBay

Brand new, still in the package.  Apparently they were a bonus with a CPU the seller ordered and he didn’t need them.  Yay eBay!

PSU – Logisys Corp. 550W 240-Pin Black Dual Fan Switching Power Supply
Retail Price: $23.21
I paid: $4.37 (after Discover Cashback points on Amazon)

I actually have several old power supplies sitting around, but they were a little underpowered for this.  So, I used my Discover Cashback points to get it cheap on Amazon.

Storage – Hitachi Deskstar 320GB internal hard drive
Retail Price: ~$49.99
I paid: $3.00 at a garage sale

For $3, I figured even if it was a dud, I wouldn’t be out much.  As it turns out, the drive works just fine.

2014-01-05 17.43.40Optical Drive – Sony CD/DVD Rewritable AD7200S Optical Drive
Retail Price: ~$25.00
I paid: Nothing… it was free curbside on craigslist

This, and a 400W PSU (that unfortunately wouldn’t work with my board), was in an otherwise empty case someone was throwing out.

Fans – Generic 80mm fan Turbo DF1208SM x 4
Retail Price: ~$8.00 each
I paid: Nothing… they came with the case

Free fans… and they glow!

Additional Cables – NZXT CB 44SATA-R Singled Sleeved 4-Pin Molex to 4 SATA Premium Connector Cable
Retail Price: $12.37
I paid: $12.37 (plus free shipping and no sales tax on Amazon)

2014-01-05 17.43.49I plan to add more hard drives eventually, so I planned ahead.  I think this is the only thing I paid full retail for other than the CPU cooler.

OS – Windows Vista Business
Retail Price: ~$150.00
I paid: Nothing.

And yes, it’s a legitimate, legal copy.  I also have a serial number for Vista Home from the sticker on another case someone junked.

So… how did things turn out?  If I’d bought everything new at full retail price, I would have spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $600.53 to $630.53 (plus tax/shipping costs).  Ultimately, I only ended up spending $167.87 and some free time.

On top of that, I was also able to build a second computer out of the plethora of other free parts that I found that weren’t suitable for/compatible with this build.  It runs Ubuntu 12 and cost me nothing.  And if I can find another free motherboard, I think I have enough parts to put together a second Ubuntu build.

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Nikki Blight – Web/PHP Developer