Many of the build-your-own systems that I cover here on Hardware 2.0 are high-end gaming systems or systems designed specifically for a certain tasks, such as running Photoshop. However, not all build-your-own systems have to cost a fistful of dollars. It's possible to put together a great value PC without having to break the bank.
Here I'm going to show you how to build a budget PC for under $360, built around AMD's excellent A8 APU(Accelerated Processing Unit).
Let's take a look at the components you need for this system.
AMD A8 APU processors are great for budget builds because they combine the CPU and GPU into a single chip. There is no need for a separate graphics card, a component that significantly reduces the overall cost. You also get a decent heatsink and cooler included with the bundle, so there's no additional spending required on cooling either.
The processor I've chosen here is the A8-3670K "Black Edition". It features a 2.7GHz quad-core Socket FM1 CPU, and a built-in AMD Radeon HD 6530D GPU.
Processors from AMD's 'Black Edition' line all have an unlocked multiplier, offering the scope for some impressive overclocking -- if you're into that sort of thing. It's quite possible to push this 2.7GHz CPU all the way to 3.8GHz and still have it running rock-solid stable.
Because we're using an AMD A8 APU, we need to choose a motherboard that features a Socket FM1.
With a budget build like this we don't really need to go overboard on the motherboard; we simply need something solid and reliable. Fortunately, for under $100 you can get a good board with high-end features such as HDMI, UEFI firmware, and even USB 3.0 ports.
The board I've gone for this build is there the Gigabyte GA-A75M-D2H. It contains everything you need at a decent price point.
I know we're building a budget PC here, but I still don't believe that you should skimp on the RAM. Fitting any less than 4GB is false economy, especially since two 2GB RAM modules will only cost you around $25.
For this build I've gone for two sticks 2GB of Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600). It is good, stable RAM, and it's a decent price.
I've had nothing but good experiences with Crucial RAM over the years, and I personally recommend it. For more information on how much RAM you need, head this way.
Following the disastrous flooding in Thailand which caused production of hard drives to slow down dramatically, the price of storage has gone through the roof, increasing by as much as 300 percent. Given this, it's vital to shop around for the best deals.
One of the best deals I've found when it comes to storage is the Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKX 500GB. It's an excellent drive that's still available at a reasonable price.
When buying hard drives it's a good idea to choose a "bare drive" option rather than the 'retail kit'. These retail kits come with all sorts of extras such as packages, drive rails, screws, instructions and so on that you're unlikely to need. You can pay as much as $30 extra for the privilege of your drive coming with retail packaging as opposed to being shipped in a plain anti-static bag.
Power Supply Unit
Here I've gone for the Corsair Builder Series CX430 V2. This offers 430W of power, and a wide range of connectors. On top of that, it's quiet and is 80 PLUS efficient so it won't cost too much to run.
Don't overthink this one. A combo DVD burner like the ASUS DRW-24B1ST will suffice, and come at a relatively cheap price.
The bottom line
Let's do a quick rundown of the price list:
CPU: A8-3670K "Black Edition" - $110
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-A75M-D2H - $80
RAM: 2 x 2GB Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR3 1333 - $25
Hard drive: Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKX - $80
Power supply unit: Corsair Builder Series CX430 V2 - $45