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Innovation

The "As close to $150 as you can get it" PC

As usual, my mailbox is brimming with great comments and questions from Hardware 2.0 readers.

As usual, my mailbox is brimming with great comments and questions from Hardware 2.0 readers. Here's one that caught my eye:

I notice that you talk about building PCs regularly. If you wanted to build a PC but spend as close to $150 as possible, what components would you buy for a PC to run XP/Vista?

Good question! Let's see what we can come up with!

Note: As always I start these builds with a disclaimer. The prices I list here do not take into account the ups (discounts, offers, rebates, bundles …) or downs (taxes, shipping …) of life. I’m also not including a monitor, peripherals or OS in the price list.

Also, I’ve chosen Newegg.com as the price benchmark, but that should not be taken as meaning that I endorse any one outlet over another. You should shop around and find the best deals you can yourself.

[poll id=354]

CPU

AMD Sempron LE-1100
When it comes to picking a cheap CPU, plumping for the AMD Sempron LE-1100 is a no-brainer.

This is a single core piece that runs at 1.9GHz, and while it's not going to win any performance awards, it's still a great CPU if you are looking to build a cheap system.

Price: $22.99

Motherboard

PC CHIPS A15G
OK, now that we've chosen the CPU, let's choose a motherboard to go with that. While there are cheaper motherboards available,

I've gone for the PC CHIPS A15G. This is a pretty basic motherboard but it does support 240pin DDR2 800 RAM up to 4GB and it does come fitted with a NVIDIA GeForce 6100, so the graphics are also solved.

Price: $39.99

RAM

Kingston 512MB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800
I remember a time when 512MB of RAM would have set you back a small fortune, but now you can pick up a branded module for under $10 - here I've gone for Kingston 512MB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800.

Literally as cheap as chips!

Price: $8.93

Hard drive

Western Digital Caviar WD800BB 80GB 7200 RPM
When it comes to hard drives, it pays to look at what you can get for an extra few bucks.

Here, if I'd gone for the cheapest drive I could find I would have got a 40GB package. However, for only an extra $1, I super-sized this to an 80GB drive - the Western Digital Caviar WD800BB 80GB 7200 RPM.

The motto here is simple - shop around!

Price: $37.99

Optical Drive

This is the cheapest DVD ROM drive I could find. Nothing fancy.

Price: $17.99

PSU/Case

On a budget you'll need to pick up a case and PSU (Power Supply Unit) combo. This isn't going to get you the best PSU possible (or case for that matter), but as long as it works, it works. This Rosewill R909SL black/silver mid tower with 350W PSU enjoys some pretty decent reviews, which is the best you're going to get for the price.

Price: $27.99

Total Price: $155.88

Thoughts

At a shade over $155, this is a pretty good system (I have older systems in use here that are nowhere near as powerful). Problem with this sort of low-priced system is that if you have to buy a copy of Windows to go onto it (the alternative being that you either have a copy that you can legally move onto it, or you're going to try Linux on it), things get expensive, and you might as well pick up a system like a Dell 530e for a starting price of $279 which gets you 1GB of RAM and a 250GB drive.

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