Do It Yourself Computer Kits - Build a Bargain PC

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Building a Bargain PC

It's completely possible to build a very useful bargain PC today for under $500. Cheap computers are available today that perform quite well for the average user. In this section of the site, I've already done the leg work for you as far as planning and design. The only things left for you to do are order the parts and put together your new bargain computer. Now, keep in mind that I've assembled a list of parts that should come in under $500, but I'm not including a monitor in this total. If you're in need of one to accompany your new bargain PC, feel free to check out my page on monitors to get an idea of what you'll need.

Since computer technology is constantly changing, I'll be updating this page as time goes on. My goal is to provide a complete listing of compatible parts that will allow you to build your own bargain computer for around a current market price of about $500 (excluding your monitor, speakers, and printer). Of course, you can always tweak the parts list to help you keep your costs down (or upgrade components as well). However, if you do decide to modify the list, make sure your alternate choices will be compatible with the rest of your hardware!

Configuration 2: Build Your Own $1000 Premium/Gaming PC (Good for many gaming and multimedia applications)

Configuration 3: Build Your Own High-Performance PC (Perfect DIY PC for high-end gaming, graphic design and multimedia work)

For more information on choosing bargain PC components, follow the Quick Links for each listed component on the left-hand side of this page.

You can also check out the Barebones computer kits avaliable from TigerDirect icon

Parts List Updated on: [an error occurred while processing this directive]

Build Your Own Computer - Hardware List

See Parts Lists for Additional PC Configurations

Component Where to Buy Description Comments
CPU Amazon.com
$89.99
AMD AD631XWNGXBOX Athlon II X4 631 Processor - Quad Core, 4MB L2 Cache, 2.60 GHz, Socket FM1, 100W, Fan, Retail This is a retail version (i.e., shipped in a box with heatsink/fan included)... very convenient for an experienced or first-time bargain pc builder.
Motherboard Amazon.com
$102.99
ASUS F1A75-V PRO AMD A Series Motherboard - ATX, Socket FM1, AMD A75 Chipset, 1866MHz DDR3, SATA 6.0 Gb/s, RAID, 8-CH Audio, Gigabit LAN, SuperSpeed USB 3.0, AMD Dual Graphics Ready This board a great buy and will allow you to upgrade your system later on. It has many features that you may not expect to find for a cheap pc motherboard. It has on-board audio, video, plenty of USB ports. It's also CrossFire capable!
Memory Newegg.com
$41.99
Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory This package gives you two 2GB memory chips - total 4GB. You may find the same size memory in a cheaper brand, but you DON'T want to go cheap (even on a cheap computer!) when it comes to RAM.
Computer Case Amazon
$64.24
Cooler Master Elite 350 RC350-KKR500 500W Power Supply Mid Tower Case (Black) There's a decent amount of expansion room here for upgrading your custom-built, cheap PC. The case also includes 500-watt power supply, and plenty of USB ports.
Hard Drive TigerDirect
$79.99
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Western Digital WD5000AAKX Caviar Blue Hard Drive - 500GB, 3.5", SATA 6Gbps, 7200RPM, 16MB Nice drive! Fast, quiet, and 500GB... Great buy for a bargain PC!
CD/DVD TigerDirect
$27.99
HP HPDVD1260I Multiformat DVD/CD Writer - SATA (Retail "Boxed" Version) This drive pretty much does it all. Just about every CD and DVD format is supported.
Floppy Drive/ Card Reader TigerDirect
$9.99
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Sabrent CRW-UINB 7-Slot USB 2.0 Internal Memory Card Reader & Writer - Aluminum, SDHC/SDXC/M2, USB 2.0, Black, 3.5", Self Powered, SDHC, MicroSD Support Multi-format media card reader. Accepts most common types of media cards.
Keyboard TigerDirect
$15.99
Microsoft ANB-00001 Wired Keyboard 600 - USB, Black A basic but functional keyboard at a bargain price.
Mouse $13.99
TigerDirect
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Microsoft Basic Optical USB Mouse A basic optical USB mouse. Good quality and affordable.
She'll only be a newborn once

Build Your Own Computer - Software List

Component Where to Buy Description Comments
Operating System Amazon.com
$161.66
Microsoft Windows 7 Choose the version of Windows best suited for your needs. For most, Windows 7 Home Premium is a good choice. When you shop for your copy of Windows, you may be confused by the options. If you have an existing copy of Windows (say Windows XP or Vista) and you have the original media (CD/DVD), you can purchase an Upgrade version of Windows 7 for significantly less. But remember, if you don't have the old discs, or if you're not installing over an old version, it wont work! You can also buy the cheaper OEM (System Builder) version of Windows, but the license will not allow you to move it to new hardware if you upgrade at any time in the future! So, buying the full retail version may work out better for you in the long run.
Online Backup Software Click here to try Mozy for FREE! Mozy Online Backup
Up to 2GB FREE!
Don't skimp on backing up your new PC. You can lose everything in a flash--through no fault of your own. Protect yourself--it is well worth the money. It can cost THOUSANDS of dollars to recover data from a damaged hard drive if you don't have a good backup!
Anti-Virus Software Kaspersky Labs
FREE 30 day trial!
Kaspersky Labs
If you're going to build your own computer, you'll need to protect it. You've heard about what kind of damage that viruses, malware, and trojans can do to your computer. Be sure to protect yourself. Kaspersky Labs has been in the business for quite a while, and in my experience as an enterprise-level systems administrator, I've come to depend on Kaspersky's services--They're usually the first ones on the block to update their virus definitions in response to a newly discovered threats!
Full Internet Security Amazon.com
$25.90
Norton Internet Security 2012 Internet Security Suites combine Antivirus, Malware, and other protective services in one package. Norton Internet Security 2012 also includes a Firewall for additional protection.


Now, let's examine the steps I followed to choose my parts:

Step one: Choosing my processor. For my bargain PC, I've chosen to purchase an AMD Athlon II X2 255 Dual Core Processor. It's a dual-core processor running at 3.0Ghz with 2MB of SRAM cache. It has a 2000Mhz bus speed and includes a fan and heatsink. Be sure to purchase the RETAIL version, otherwise you'll have to purchase your own fan and heatsink. Now that I've chosen my processor, this clears the way to choose an AMD compatible (Socket AM3) motherboard that will support it.

Step two: Choosing my motherboard. I've chosen a quality, name-brand board that supports my processor type and also allows me to install up to 16GB of RAM (with a 64-bit OS). My board of choice for this project: the ASUS M4A78T-E Motherboard. This board has plenty of USB and SATA connections to support additional peripherals, and a PCI Express 2.0 slot allowing for expansion of video functionality. The board has integrated video and audio capabilities thereby eliminating the need to purchase separate sound and graphics cards. This isn't the cheapest board out there, but for the money, it gives you a ton of room for future upgrades.

Step three: Choosing memory. Memory prices have dropped dramatically over the past year, so this will be extremely helpful in keeping our costs down. My choice: Crucial Dual Channel 4096MB PC8500 DDR3 1066MHz Memory (2 x 2048MB). The memory configuration is 2x2048, meaning you get two 2GB DIMMs per package, for a total of 4GB of RAM.

Step four: Choosing my bargain computer case and power supply. I wanted a case that is easy to work with and provides adequate ventilation to keep my computer running cool. My choice: the Ultra Gladiator Black ATX Mid-Tower Case & Diablotek PHD 650W ATX Power Supply Bundle. It includes front-panel audio and USB ports for convenience. This particular case includes a 650 watt power supply. It provides plenty of power for my configuration and includes SATA and PCI-Express connectors.

Step five: Choosing my Hard Disk (HDD). I chose the Western Digital Caviar SE16 500GB Hard Drive - 7200, 16MB, SATA-300, OEM . Since a Retail version wasn't available, I had to ensure that I would have a SATA cable to connect the drive to my motherboard. Fortunately, I chose to purchase the retail version of my motherboard which includes a SATA cable that I can use to connect my Hard Drive.

Step six: Choosing my CD/DVD Burner. I went with an all-purpose DVD Burner, the HP HPDVD1260I Multiformat DVD Writer - SATA. Again, I made sure to purchase the RETAIL version which includes a SATA cable. This drive is capable of reading and writing just about any CD or DVD format out there. The price for this drive is extremely reasonable. I installed two of them to make copying from disk-to-disk more convenient.

Step seven: Choosing my Video Card. Well, this was an easy choice since my motherboard already has on-board video capabilities. If you're focused on builing a cheap computer, this works out well for you! However, you will be in a good position to upgrade your video at a later date since this mainboard already has a PCI-Express slot

Step eight: Choosing a Floppy drive and Media Card Reader. I wanted the convenience of being able to plug meory cards from my digital camera directly into my bargain computer without the hassle of breaking out the cable to download photos. This is a very cheap add-on to your bargain PC and is well worth the small cost. I chose the Ultra Internal 3.5" Floppy Drive w/Multi Card Reader. It will install nicely into one of my cases 3.5" floppy bays. And, as an extra bonus, I get a 1.44MB floppy drive, just in case I ever need it.

PCSecurityShield

Step nine: Choosing a keyboard and mouse: For my bargain PC keyboard, I chose the Microsoft Wired Keyboard 500 USB (Black). For my mouse, I chose the Microsoft Basic Optical USB Mouse.

Learn more about Computer Kits

Don't forget to choose a monitor for your new bargain computer!