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Building a sub $250 PC (summer 2013 edition)

Sometimes you just want a cheap and cheerful PC to handle some simple tasks. This build – excluding Windows, a display, and peripherals, comes in at under $250.
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1 of 7 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Introduction

Sometimes, you just want a cheap and cheerful PC to handle simple tasks. Maybe you want a kitchen PC, or a small PC for a study or bedroom. You don't want a behemoth capable of running Crysis 3 with all the controls turned up to the max, and you're not going to be rendering the next Pixar movie on it.

Here's a blueprint for just such a PC to get you started. Feel free to customize the build to suit your needs or budget.

This build — excluding Windows, a display, and peripherals, comes in at under $250.

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2 of 7 AMD

Processor

Let's start by looking at the heart of the system — the processor. In this case, the processor is not going to be just the CPU, but also features a built in GPU. This makes the build both cheaper and easier.

For this build, I've chosen AMD's A4-3400 Llano APU. This is a 2.7GHz dual-core part, which also comes equipped with a DirectX 11-enabled Radeon HD 6410D.

Price: $45

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3 of 7 MSI

Motherboard

The AMD Llano APU needs a motherboard with a Socket FM1 connector for the processor. I've chosen the MSI A55M-P33, which is a cheap, yet fully-featured board.

Along with the raft of stuff you expect from a motherboard, this board offers some other cool features:

  • UEFI BIOS
  • OC Genie II: Auto OC to boost performance in 1 sec
  • ClickBIOS Concept: Easy-to-use UEFI BIOS interface
  • Super Charger: Fast charge iPad/iPhone/smartphones.

Price: $50

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4 of 7 Western Digital

Hard drive

Simple drive, nothing special.

The Western Digital WD Blue WD5000AAKX 500GB offers a decent amount of speedy storage at a reasonable price. It is a 7,200RPM, SATA 6.0Gb/s unit featuring 16MB of cache.

Price: $60

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5 of 7 G-SKILL

RAM

Given that RAM is so cheap, I don't see a need to skimp on it. I've chosen 2GB of G-SKILL DDR3 1333.

Price: $20

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6 of 7 Lite-On

Optical drive

I've gone for the cheap-and-cheerful — but thoroughly reliable — Lite-On iHAS124-04 CD/DVD burner. Excellent drive at a very affordable price.

Price: $20

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7 of 7 Rosewill

Chassis + PSU

Since this is a budget build, there's no need to go spending big money on a chassis. And for the first time, I'm recommending a cheap chassis and power supply unit (PSU) combo from Rosewill.

The R103A is a mid-tower chassis that comes with a 350W power supply fitted as standard. The PSU is not the best in the world, but from both my personal experience of these, as well as what I'm hearing from other owners, they're fine for low-powered systems.

Price: $50

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