In December, we ran a competition on Boards.ie to see who could build us the most impressive PC without going over a budget of €500. When I asked if we could do an example post, Ryan had boasted before his first attempt that he could “easily” fit in a copy of Windows, but after several builds not quite affording a hard drive, he gave up on it.
Still, that wasn’t enough to deter Boards.ie member, and eventual competition winner, Orcrist666. As we’ve said above, the whole point of the competition was to build a PC for under €500, but this one goes a bit above and beyond…
We’ll take it from the top…
Since this is a build that’s being put together on an absolutely minimal budget, it’s not going to be using a phenomenal amount of power.
Not using too much power means not having to spend a tremendous amount on a high wattage power supply. Orcrist666’s build uses a fairly simple 500W AXP power supply, which has been well reviewed by just about everyone who has bought it. It’s a little noisy at times, but overall it’s a solid piece of kit.
Considering the fact that the AXP Power Supply ATX weighs in at just €34.86, it’s not a bad old deal at all. A solid base for a budget machine.
Following the theme of, “as cheap as absolutely possible without compromising the build,” the case is a NOX Saphira Midi-Tower.
This is a case that proved remarkably popular, appearing in just about every low-budget build any of the people who entered posted for us. It’s a combination of its size and (extremely low) price that make it so popular. Like the AXP 500W, it’s been positively reviewed by those who’ve taken the time to leave comments, saying that it’s,
“This case has high quality to cost ratio; you are not going to find a better case at this price. It’s very functional and not too bad to look at either!”
The NOX Saphira Midi-Tower gets some fairly strong praise for a case that’ll set you back €28.88.
When it comes to capacity, you’re probably not going to want to jam multiple terabytes of storage into your budget PC when you build it; they can be added later on, as you go.
With that in mind, this build boasts a Samsung SpinPoint F1 320GB HDD, it’s a solid drive, that’ll net you reliability and strong performance without driving up the overall cost of the build an inordinate amount. It’s a 3.5” SATA drive, as you’d expect, and it’s compatible with Windows 7, for when you come to the OS installation bit.
Samsung’s SpinPoint F1 320GB will set you back €40.84, which isn’t a bad price, though it does make the HDD the most expensive item on the list so far.
The motherboard in this build is an MSI 770-C45, chosen, once again, to keep everything within the nice, tight budget and still allow for a few extra bits and pieces to be added to the build at the end.
As well you might have expected, it’s a socket AM3 board, with multi-core support. This much will tip you off to the fact, in case you somehow hadn’t twigged it already, that this build will be running an AMD processor, again for budget reasons. It also boasts 12 USB ports, 6 SATA ports and one ATA.
The MSi 770-C45 will set you back €54.28, making it the new most expensive part in the build… but it’s still hardly breaking the bank when it comes to motherboards.
When it came to the processor there were no real surprises when it turned out to be an AMD Athlon II X3 435.
It’s been a very long time since we’d seriously consider an Intel processor in a build with a budget this tight, since AMD has such strong offerings at low price points. The Athlon II X3 435 is a triple-core processor clocked at 2.9 GHz, it won’t be breaking any records anytime soon, but it will sit well at the centre of a build like this.
AMD’s Athlon II X3 435 will set you back by around €85, which isn’t a bad price for a processor at all.
It’s hard to know what to say about RAM, other than that there’s 2GB of Crucial’s DDR3 1333MHz 2GB, CL9 in this build. 2GB might not seem like an awful lot, given the propensity to aim for 4GB in most builds these days, but it should see you through quite well in a budget machine.
2GB Crucial’s DDR3 1333MHz will set you back €48.80, which isn’t so very bad.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; Sony’s NEC Optiarc is the drive for inclusion in any budget build that needs an optical drive.
Over the course of the competition, there was some fairly spirited debate about whether or not a PC without an optical drive constituted a “complete build” at which point there was a lot of argument about installing Windows 7 from USB and downloading games, mounting from virtual drives – it got messy. Still, when you look at a drive as solid as the NEX Optiarc, it’s hard to see any reason not to include one. It’s both reliable and dirt-cheap.
Sony’s NEC Optirarc DVD± burner will set you back the relatively minor sum of €19.82.
When it comes to graphics cards in budget machines, there are any number of older cards you might pop in, just to ensure that the machine is capable of some simpler gaming.
This build boasts a Sapphire Radeon HD 4670, which boasts both a low cost and a raft of awards to its name. It also has 512MB of GDDR3 memory on its side, which might not be quite up to the 1GB standards of newer cards, but should see you well enough for some older games. The card itself boasts a clock speed of 750MHz and a maximum output resolution of 2560 x 1600.
The Sapphire Radeon HD 4670 will set you back €62.24.
Now… this is where things get interesting. The idea behind this specific entry was to include as much equipment as possible, to make a complete build to whatever extent that could be done for under €500.
So, staying under budget, let’s keep going.
Most builds this cheap will rely on you recycling some parts from your older machines, keyboard and company included. This build has a keyboard on the list already in the form of Logitech’s Ultra Flat model.
Logitech’s Ultra Flat may have a US layout, but it’s still a bit of a steal at €18.90.
When it comes to simple, no-nonsense mice there are few that fit the bill more neatly than Logitech’s RX250 Optical Premium Wheel. It’s a nice and simple optical mouse, with a 1000dpi optical sensor.
It might not look the business, but Logitech’s RX260 will get the job done, and get it done for €12.90 too.
When it comes to budget builds, you’re often far better off picking up a nice headset, rather than shopping around for a cheap set of speakers and hoping they can deliver the kind of sound you’re looking for.
Creative’s Fatal1ty headset connects via USB, boasts some nice, reasonably high-quality sound, as well as its own mic, which is always excellent. It’s a solid setup, as well as being comfortable enough that it doesn’t tend to irritate quite as much as some other gaming headsets.
Creative’s Fatal1ty Headset will set you back €48.80, which isn’t too bad at all, in the grand scheme of things.
Considering the fact that there’s already a microphone and some nice headphones in play, it would seem almost a waste not to manage to include some sort of a webcam on the way.
While it might not offer the vast resolution of more expensive webcams, clocking in at 1.3 megapixels and offering a resolution of 1280 x 1024, it’s an easy one to recommend on a budget build, especially for anyone looking to use Skype.
Logitech’s WebCam C300 is only €32.37, which isn’t bad considering the simple novelty of having a camera around for video-calling.
Sometimes, you’re going to need a cable that boasts a bit of a bend so you can get everything into the case the way you’d like. Akasa’s SATA2 cables will sort that out for you.
Akasa’s SATA2 cable is 45cm long and €3.50. Does exactly what it says on the tin.
Finally, just to make sure you’ve got just about everything you need before you’re ready to go, the build also includes some spare budget for a Kingston Datatraveler 100 4GB USB stick.
It’s a relatively simple thing to add to a build, but it’s also always handy to have a spare USB stick floating around, especially a 4GB one.
Kingston’s Datatraveler 100 4GB will set you back €10.95.
Originally, the whole build had come in at under €500, but due to some fluctuations in the price of processors it now comes in at around €502. Still, if you drop any of the optional extras towards the end you’ll come in well under budget, which is always lovely.
Anyway, massive thanks to all those who entered, we had an excellent time running the competition and we hope to do something similar with some more impressive prizes in the near future.
In the meantime, good luck to anyone who decides to build either this build itself or anything based on it. Don’t hesitate to drop us a line and tell us what you think either 🙂
Note: If you already have computer components that you would like to add to your PC, why not register for and bring them along with you to one of our Build your own PC classes and we’d be happy to show you how to do it! Visit http://www.komplettblog.ie/events/ for location and dates.
Tags: Akasa, AMD, Athlon II, burner, cable, Creative, crucial, DataTraveler, dvd, Fatal1ty, HD 4670, hdd, headset, keyboard, kingston, logitech, memory stick, mouse, MSi, NEC Optiarc, optical, Radeon, RAM, Samsung HDD, Sapphire, SATA, sony, SpinPoint F1, stick, ultra flat, usb, USB key, Webcam, X3 435