Beginner looking to build cheap PC - Advice, opinions needed

#1 Posted by carnifexseverian (69 posts) -

Hi there,

I've been in the market to purchase a home PC that can do more than my aging Macbook. The problem is that with a new baby in the family as well as a recently purchased home, well.. I practically have no money to invest in one.

I wouldn't be needing anything fancy. It's main use would be to play music, browse the web, simple word processing and excel use, with a long term goal of tinkering with software like Gamemaker. On the game playing side I really only want something that can play some of the cool indy games that only come out on PC with the high end being something like Dota 2.

Affordability would be the key here. If I can get a part at a thrift store or pawn shop that would be great. I'm thinking this will be a piece by piece project and I'm fine with that.

Any advice on what parts I should look for, where to find them, or even links to other posts or websites would be helpful. Also, what to start with as I'm pretty computer illiterate at this point and am looking at this as a sort of hobby/learning experience.

I apologize if posts like these are common but after searching around I find myself a little overwhelmed.

Thanks for any help whatsoever anyone can provide.

#2 Edited by EXTomar (4837 posts) -

Depending on your budget, it maybe worth a little bit of your time to take a look at the latest MacBooks and MacBook Air. And depending on your "stress level" you may just want to buy an "off the shelf" PC from Dell. You pay extra but you get a bunch of software and support which maybe handy if you have a baby and way less time to deal with tech support problems.

What I often recommend to people is go to Dell.com and play with their "system configurator" (assuming it is still there, I haven't had looked in a year). The key thing that tool does is lay out the inventory for with prices that can be guide. Once you have a computer approximately the size and budget you want, save it or print it out and go from there where you can often use it as a "parts list" if you want to build one on your own.

#3 Edited by JJWeatherman (14558 posts) -

How much can you afford, exactly? Do you have a monitor, mouse, and keyboard already? If so, you can probably buy everything you need to build the machine you want for about $400-$500.

#4 Posted by zels (207 posts) -

@carnifexseverian: Can't really help you with specific h/w because I haven't stayed on top of it recently, but I do have some general tips.

If you're planning on upgrading make sure you get a good motherboard that will support future improvements. Many application licenses, like Windows 8 are linked directly to the motherboard and if that changes you won't be able to reinstall the software without contacting cust support. Also, replacing the motherboard is a bitch.

Get a large case and a powerful PSU - the PSU will only use as much power as it needs and you won't have to worry about wasting cash on a replacement.

Consider using Ubuntu as your OS, at least initially (it's free). With Steam support and plenty of indie games coming out for it it ain't too bad atm.

#5 Posted by VACkillers (1074 posts) -

you got to at least say what you budget is or people have absolutely no idea what they have to work with in order to help you

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