Building a budget PC for under $500

Summary:How to build a budget PC around the AMD A8 Llano APU (Accelerated Processing Unit).

Believe it or not, it's possible to put together a great value PC without having to spend the earth, remortgage your house or sell your first-born! I'm going to show you how to build a budget PC for under $500 around the AMD A8 Llano APU (Accelerated Processing Unit).

RelatedHow to: Stress test your new PC to shake out any faults

Note: As usual, I won’t be recommending a case or peripherals … there are too many possibilities, and personal choice/tastes are too varied.

Processor

As I've already said, this system is built around AMD's A8 APU which sees the CPU and GPU combined into a single package.

The silicon I'm going to use here is the A8-3870K 'Black Edition.' It combines a 3.0GHz quad-core Socket FM1 CPU and a AMD Radeon HD 6550D GPU into a single package. Also, being a 'Black Edition' part it has an unlocked multiplier which makes overclocking easier (if you're into that sort of thing).

Note: Because the APU is  CPU and GPU, there's no need for a separate graphics card, which reduced the cost of the overall build. Also, the heatsink and cooler are included in the bundle, so there's no additional spending required.

Price: $115

Motherboard

Because we're using an A8 APU, we need a motherboard that features a Socket FM1, but don't let that put you off going for an A8 APU because there's plenty of choice.

With a budget build we don't really need to go overboard on the motherboard, we just need something solid and reliable. Fortunately, for under $100 you can not only get a good board, but also high-end features such as HDMI and UEFI firmware, even USB 3.0.

The board I've gone for here is there the ASRock A75 PRO4. It contains everything you need at a decent price point.

Price: $90

Next -->

RAM

We're building a budget PC here, but i still don't think that you should skimp on the RAM and fit less than 4GB, especially given that it'll only cost you around $25.

Note: For more information on how much RAM you need, check out 'How much RAM do I need?'

For this build I've chosen 2 x 2GB of Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600). Good, stable RAM at a decent price.

Price: $25

Storage

Over the past few months the price of hard disks has risen by something like 300% following the disastrous flooding in Thailand which caused production to shut down.

One of the best deals I've found for storage lately is the HITACHI HDS721050CLA362 500GB, 7200 RPM drive (buy it s a bare drive as you don't need the full retail kit).

Price: $80

Power Supply Unit

I'm keeping it real with the power supply and going for something modest. I've gone for the Corsair Builder Series CX430 V2. This offers 430W of power, a wide range of connectors, it's quiet, and is 80 PLUS efficient so it won't cost the earth to run.

Price: $45

Optical Drive

Don't overthink this one too much. A combo burner like the ASUS DRW-24B1ST which you can pick up cheaply will do just fine.

Price: $20

The Bottom Line ...

Let's do a quick rundown of the price list (a copy of Windows have been added to the price):
  • A8-3870K 'Black Edition' - $115
  • ASRock A75 PRO4 - $90
  • Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR3 1333 - $25
  • HITACHI HDS721050CLA362 - $80
  • Corsair Builder Series CX430 V2 - $45
  • ASUS DRW-24B1ST - $20
  • Windows 7 Home Premium OEM - $99

Total price: $474

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Topics: Hardware

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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