Quad-core barebones PC ... for under $400!

Quad-core barebones PC ... for under $400!

Summary: Wanna put together a barebones PC package featuring a quad-core processor for under $400? Read on!

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Wanna put together a barebones PC package featuring a quad-core processor for under $400? Read on!

Note: This is a barebones system, so there's chassis, OS or peripherals included.

Let's see what goes into this package:

Processor

We're working to a tight budget here, so we can't pick the fastest or the best CPU going (that would set us out $1,000 right from the start) but that doesn't mean that we can't get a really good CPU.

For this build I've gone for AMD's Athlon II X4 620 Propus 2.6GHz part. This is a quad-core part that fits into a Socket AM3 motherboard. It offers plenty of power spread across four cores at a decent price.

Price: $98

Motherboard

We need a cheap and cheerful motherboard for this build. I've chosen the Foxconn M61PMP-K AM3 board, not only because it's cheap, but because I've have good success with this board myself.

This motherboard doesn't offer much in the way of overclocking capability or advanced BIOS features, but for the price it's a cracking board. It's a solid, reliable board that it easy to set up and should offer years of reliable service.

Price: $44

Next -->

RAM

Nothing special here, just 4GB (2 x 2GB) of G.SKILL Ripjaws Series DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800).

Fast. Cheap. Reliable.

Price: $110

Hard drive

The trick here is to strike the right balance between price and capacity. Currently the low-end sweet spot seems to be at the 320GB mark.

I've gone for the excellent Western Digital AV-GP WD3200AVVS 320GB drive. It offers bags of performance with the added benefits of being quiet and reliable.

Price: $48

Graphics card

The motherboard chosen here comes equipped with an on-board GPU, but I'm going to augment it with something a little better. Not only does this make the system ideally suited to casual gaming, but it also means that we can add support for HD video too.

The POWERCOLOR Go! Green AX5450 is a card based on ATI's Radeon HD 5450 GPU. It features 512MB, is passively cooled (no fan) so it's quiet, can handle HD video and features an HDMI connector.

Price: $42

Power Supply Unit (PSU)

Finally, a PSU. Something small, cheap, reliable and energy efficient will do the trick (no need for a mini fusion reactor here!).

I've gone for Antec's EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W PSU. This is a ATX12V v2.3/EPS12V power supply that's rated as 80 PLUS efficient. Ideal for this system.

Price: $45

Total price for the barebones system: $387

Thoughts? Anything that you'd change or add?

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32 comments
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  • RE: Quad-core barebones PC ... for under $400!

    Note: This is a barebones system, so there??????s chassis, OS or peripherals included.

    Don't you mean "NOT" included?
    drjose@...
    • RE: Quad-core barebones PC ... for under $400!

      @drjose@...

      true, but OSes can be free(as in beer) if you go Linux/Unix, and most people if building a bare bones system will have a spare keyboard and mouse sitting around. The expensive part of what is not included is a monitor. Unless you use the system as a remote into only system, its virtually useless without one and that's going to add a few schillings to the cost too.
      Cyrorm
      • If you're reading this blog you probably already have a monitor.

        [b] [/b]
        AzuMao
      • RE: Quad-core barebones PC ... for under $400!

        @AzuMao

        Just because you have a monitor doesn't mean you have a spare for a second system....
        Cyrorm
      • @Cyrorm Most people don't need to use multiple desktop PCs simultaneously.

        [b] [/b]
        AzuMao
      • HOLY DAMN! This new threading system they forced on ZDNet REALLY sucks.

        I was replying to Cyrorm's reply, not myself, but it displays out of order... :(
        AzuMao
    • RE: Quad-core barebones PC ... for under $400!

      @drjose@... Even if one has an OS, keyboard, mouse, and monitor laying around (I do) there is still the issue of a case. System's not much good without one. I guess one could just connect and scatter the components all over a shelf...
      DT2
  • RE: There in lies the dilemma for many

    In the past I've built my own systems, not really for gaming but other day to day uses, a nice middle of the road system. I recently took the easy way out this time and just bought from Dell:<br>Refurbished: Core 2 Quad, 4 Meg RAM, 500 G HD, case, keyboard, mouse, 5.1 Sound, HDMI <i>and</i> Windows 7 Home Premium. 429.00

    42 dollars gets you a DVD, Software, Case, and OS. Plus for gaming just add that 50.00 video card of your and it would probally work OK for that.
    John Zern
    • Tempting, but...

      It is tempting, and there are advantages in doing this for building an additional PC. However, usually you end up with a case and possibly a power supply that are not compatible with standard ATX or uATX motherboards. So each time it has to be a full new purchace of another old and refurbished. If the case is standard, you can do an upgrade to the leading edge for the same price.
      Earthling2
      • RE: Quad-core barebones PC ... for under $400!

        @Earthling2
        Most of the dells you get an ATX, there were some that were useing the BTX. And some of the way older systems used a custom PS. Lately though I think they are pretty standard. S Have you worked with Dell lately?
        DevGuy_z
      • In the past I would say you're dead on

        because you're right, they had custom everything, down to the PS. Today I find alot of these systems are using standard size P/S, the CPU are no longer BGA, (though still limited in terms of CPU choices) use standard memory, and plenty of slots for add in cards, though the motherboards are still custom, but replaceable thru Dell.
        AllKnowingAllSeeing
  • RE: Quad-core barebones PC ... for under $400!

    How the case?
    sully0208
  • RE: Quad-core barebones PC ... for under $400!

    Why not spend a little more on a motherboard with a built on card, like the 790 and now the 890? Should ofset the costs of a seperate graphics card, but cheaper than buying them seperately. Of course anything cheap would be an AMD system. Because Intel just likes to roll that way.
    trust2112@...
  • RE: Quad-core barebones PC ... for under $400!

    Didn't say where he got these parts, one would assume either newegg or tigerdirect. But living in Tennessee, I also have to pay taxes for orders from newegg, so don't forget to add that in. (Only if they have warehouse or ordercenter in your state.)
    trust2112@...
  • RE: How about getting a free motherboard...

    If you buy an Athlon II X4 630 for $99.99, you can get a Biostar A760G M2 motherboard thrown in at no extra cost from a chain retailer near where I am in the Kansas City area. Then you have $300 to play with for the rest of the system. BTW, this retailer also does internet orders, and it's <i>not</i> Newegg, although Newegg is a decent source.<br><br>Add Ubuntu 10.04 LTS for the OS.<br><br>For the parts that most of you mention as missing, any semi-experienced system builder worth his salt has spares sitting around or access to cheap but still very good second hand parts, perhaps with the exception of an LCD monitor. We have a very good electronics recycling center here in the Kansas City area.
    djchandler
  • Double the price and get 16 times more use

    I went with a barebones for my new system and ended up at $836 from one of our local firms (enuinc.com)
    4 Gigs memory, ASUS M478T-E MB AM3 socket, AMD Phoneom II X4 945 (dual core, but the ASUS board has it built in to unlock the other two cores, so now I have a quadcore chip), 1 TB WD SATA HD - 1/3 of any HD will be used just to install software - plus you need room to store the ISO images of anything you install so you can get to them as needed, Antec 902 case and 650 watt power supply. I already had an PCIE 9800GT card and a good monitor to use. This way you have room to grow into another 2 to 3 HDs, CD trays etc and can go up in CPU if desired later on. Cheaper in the long run than going low.
    TAPhilo
    • RE: Quad-core barebones PC ... for under $400!

      @TAPhilo
      That sounds funny... You say "...dual core, but the ASUS board has it built in to unlock the other two cores..." yet descibed it as an X4 which means quad-core. I find it odd to use the term "unlock the other cores" as I never heard of needing to unlock the other cores, that is like selling a car wit ha V8 and disabling 4 of the cylinders and needing spceial software to "unlock" the other cylinders.
      ryanstrassburg
      • RE: RE: Quad-core barebones PC ... for under $400!

        @ryanstrassburg My mistake, it was the x2 that I got but I found out that it was a "binned" quad-core sold as a dual core and thus the ASUS MB allowed me to unlock the other two.
        TAPhilo
    • RE: Quad-core barebones PC ... for under $400!

      @TAPhilo Just remember some of the dual or tri cores are sold that way because the other core or cores are defective so sometimes this works but you take your chances,
      serendipityii
  • RE: Quad-core barebones PC ... for under $400!

    It seems to me a better route is just to upgrade your current system with the motherboard/processor combo for about $150. I would want to add a new chassis with front ports, since mine is from 1998.
    stanrogers@...