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

Wanna put together a barebones PC package featuring a quad-core processor for under $400? Read on!
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

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:


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


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

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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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