Friday, November 23, 2012
So site traffic has been increasing steadily.
I want everyone reading this to know that I'm appreciative, and to understand that this site is a work in progress.
Some sections aren't yet finished (servers and media editing PCs, specifically, but recommended products too) and other parts of the site will under go some changes, especially the charts. With new CPUs and GPUs being introduced every month, information on this site will get updated accordingly.
With that said, please remember to bookmark the site so that you get up to date info for your PCs, and if you like the site, please leave me some feedback (comments or emails appreciated. Twitter and Facebook on the way soon). And if you really like the site, please spread the word.
This is my labor of love, and I hope it shows.
P.S. Black Friday is almost over. I hope everyone got some good deals. If not, there's always Cyber Monday!
My name is Wes, and my hobby is computers.
You might be saying to yourself, "Computers? That's not a hobby! It's a category of general purpose mechanical or digital devices that carry out mathematical and logical operations based upon an external input or a preset and predefined program and/or algorithm!" You know... computers.
And you're right. Computers themselves are not a hobby. Computer programming is a hobby. Building computers is a hobby. Computer modding is a hobby. So on and so forth. I do all of that. So my hobby is computers. Deal with it. I'm into it all.
I'm also cheaper than Chinese toothpaste.
So how do I reconcile the two? Easy. I'm frugal. I build computers on the cheap, and save money over time by planning ahead. I build my own computers, each one designed for a specific purpose, and each one balanced to squeeze as much performance out as possible within the budget.
Head on over to any popular computer forum and you'll encounter hundreds, maybe thousands, of posts asking, "What's the best PC for me?" And the answer is usually the same: "What's your intent and purpose with the PC, and what's your budget?"
After answering hundreds of these posts myself, and finding that I was repeating the same answers over and over, I thought it to be prudent if I consolidated all of it under one blog.
With that, welcome, to Budget PCs!
So head on over to one of the many sections, and get started on your own computer!
P.S. Feel free to leave comments or questions.
Description: This mini-ITX server/NAS is a good fit for the individual or small family. The case's footprint is rather small, but supports 6 full sized hard drives (five 3.5" bay + one 5.25" bay). A fanless motherboard keeps the build very quiet, and the low-power integrated C-60 dual-core CPU provides plenty of power for file serving needs. The motherboard supports up to 6 SATA III devices, and has 12 (6 internal, 6 external) USB 2.0 ports, meaning you could potentially have 16TB of high speed storage and 32 TB of medium speed storage connected to this at once if you were using nothing but 3TB drives (assuming 3TB drives eventually have their problems worked out). Of course, for this low-budget build, we will only be adding 4 TB of hard drive space, which you can expand on later on. A gigE NIC means great networking speeds. An efficient power supply will keep your monthly electric bill down, and the lack of any other peripheral means that power consumption and heat generation is at a minimum.
|RAM||G.Skill 4GB 1600MHz||$18||---||Newegg|
|Hard Drive||2 x WD Caviar Green 2 TB Refurb||$180||---||Newegg|
|Power Supply||Antec EA-380D||$28||---||Amazon Warehouse|
|Motherboard + CPU||ASUS C60M1-I||AMD C-60 APU||$80||---||Newegg|
Case: Replaces the case with a slightly smaller one. The case has less hard drive bays, so expansion is impacted, but if you feel that 4 hard drives would be enough, the CM Elite 120 would be a good fit for you. You'll also save quite a nice chunk of change with this cases, so that can either be saved up, or can go towards a small SSD or HDD boot drive.
|Case||CM Elite 120||$50||$10||Newegg|
|SSD||Samsung 830 64GB||$63||---||Amazon|
|Hard Drive||WD Caviar Blue 500GB Refurb||$50||---||Newegg|
Power Supply: Replace the power supply with a PicoPSU. The PicoPSU has no fan and is powered by a power-brick (AC-DC adapter). It's also 90% efficient at most power levels, meaning you get more power from each watt drawn from the wall. The PicoPSU will require a series of adapters and brackets to work, all of which are included below. It should be compatible with either of the cases above. The 120W PicoPSU below maxes out at 102W using the provided adapter, which should be enough for the motherboard, CPU, and 6 hard drives to all be running at full load, and still have power to spare. However, if you feel like you need more power, 150W and 160W versions are available as well.
|Power Supply||PicoPSU 120W + 102W Adapter||$55||---||Mini-Box|
|Power Supply||PicoPSU 150W + 150W Adapter||$70||---||Mini-Box|
|Power Supply||PicoPSU 160W + 192W Adapter||$76||---||Mini-Box|
|Bracket||Rear Power Jack Bracket||$1||---||Mini-Box|
|Adapter||(2) MOLEX to 2x SATA||$6||---||Newegg|
Expansion: Expansion is simple with the Prodigy. Simply buy some more hard drives (matching ones, if you are implementing RAID) and add them to the case bays. If you need to add a 6th hard drive, use a 3.5" to 5.25" bay adapter, and add the hard drive to the 5.25" optical drive bay of the case. With 6 hard drives, you'll have used up all the internal SATA ports on the motherboard.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Description: The $300 office PC entry is an upgrade from the entry-level $200 nettop. You get an upgraded CPU, upgraded storage, and more expansion options. Unfortunately, the mini-ITX tower, while not huge, is still larger than the $200 nettop build, so you will have to take this into consideration. Otherwise, this is a respectable CPU capable of every mundane task you can think of for a computer, and then some. A Seagate hybrid SSD+HDD drive provides faster and plentiful storage for this machine.
|Hard Drive||Seagate Momentus XT 750GB||$130||---||Newegg|
|Case + Power Supply||HEC ITX200B||Integrated PSU||$50||---||Newegg|
|Motherboard + RAM||ECS H61H2-I3||Crucial 4GB DDR3 1600MHz||$61||$15||Newegg|
This build came in a little under budget. If you can spare it, it any of the upgrades below would be a good investment.
SSD: Replace the hybrid drive with a medium-capacity SSD.
|Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB||$100||---||Amazon|
|Sandisk Extreme 120GB||$100||---||Amazon|
|Intel 330 120GB||$100||---||Amazon|
|Intel 330 180GB||$100||---||Newegg|
CPU: Upgrade the CPU to a faster Pentium series.
|Intel Pentium G630||$65||---||Newegg|
|Intel Pentium G860||$75||---||Newegg|
ODD: Invest in an external USB optical disk drive.
|ASUS USB 2.0 DVD-Burner||$30||$5||Newegg|
Description: This entry level nettop is a step up from the standard Intel Atom found in netbooks. Capable of all the basic computing tasks, it also has a nice GPU built in, meaning you get a good browsing experience with streaming video playback. However, the small size means that there is absolutely no room for expansions. There are three upgradable parts: the hard drive, the RAM, and the wifi card. Apart from that, everything is integrated into the system and motherboard and cannot be altered.
|Barebone System||FoxConn A45||$140||---||Newegg|
|RAM||G.Skill 4GB DDR3||$18||---||Newegg|
|Hard Drive||WD Scorpio Blue 320GB||$50||---||Amazon|
SSD: There are a small number of ~$50 (used and refurbished) SSDs floating around between 60GB and 80GB. Any of these would make a good substitute for the hard drive, assuming you don't need the space of a large hard drive. Of course, you'll have to hunt these SSDs down yourself. Try to get an Intel X25-G2 or 300 series, Crucial C300 or M4. Any of those are a safe bet. Otherwise, try to look up the SSD model and find reviews for it.