March 22, 2015

Cheapskate Computer Project

I occasionally see deals on computer parts like deep discounts or even free-after-rebate (FAR) promotions.   I figured if I was patient and collected parts one at a time via these deals that I might be able to build a computer for a deep discount.

Sample parts with prices from Newegg:

CPU - Intel Celeron G1820 Haswell = $46 +2
Motherboard - MSI H81M-P33 micro ATX = $40 +3
Chassis -   APEX PC-375 w/ 300W PSU = $40 +6
Memory - 4GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3 1600 = $30
Drive - Seagate 120GB SATA ST3120026AS = $20
OS - Windows 7 or 8 = $100
TOTAL = $287

That does not include a monitor.    Also note that I'm going with a dirt cheap 120GB drive there to cut cost and thats not much storage.  I could spend $30 more and get a 1TB drive though.
I'm not listing a CD/DVD drive here because you don't generally NEED them nowadays.   It would be handy to have one but its not a requirement, but installing software can be tricky without them.   I do have a USB portable unit at home I can use though. 

Dell basic desktops start at about $199 on sale.   So it would not make sense to build my own basic spec. system when I can just buy a Dell unit for less money.

I rarely if ever see deep discount or FAR sales on processor or the operating system.   Once I saw a sale for a processor & motherboard combo for $30 so there are deals out there but they are rare and I'd have to be patient and diligent to catch them.    The Windows operating system though doesn't seem to go on deep discounts or promotions.   Newegg happens to have Windows 7 on sale for ~$80 right now but thats about the best deal I recall seeing.     I see people selling versions of Windows 7 on eBay for about $50-70 range.     I'd be suspicious that those aren't legitimate copies of Windows but the ones I looked at didn't have any signs of being pirated.  (at least as far as I can tell).

I figure if I do it well and catch some good deals and FAR promotions I might get all the parts for something around $100 excluding the OS.    I could then use a free OS like Linux to build the system rather than Windows.   Or I could go up to about $150 and get one of those cheap Windows discs off of eBay.    Still thats only about $50 less than a fully equipped prebuilt system from Dell if I go for Windows which is hardly worth the effort.

How well this might succeed though all depends on what kind of discounts I might find.  If I can find a bunch of great FAR discounts on the parts then I might be able to build a PC for almost nothing in out of pocket cash.    Thats pretty unlikely since most parts don't get FAR deals.   But I should at least be able to do something pretty cheap.

This is mostly just an experiment for fun and we already have a good computer at home I built a bit ago.   I don't know what I'll do with the computer I will build with this project.  I might just donate it or I could probably sell it. 

So anyway... here's the plan :    I'll shop around and keep my eyes open for good deals on discounts and rebates on computer parts.   I'll then buy the parts as cheap as I can find them one at a time.   In the end I'll build a cheap computer.    I am not sure what OS I'll use on the computer at this point.


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