Build It: A $340 Ultra-Budget Box

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bwilding

I bought the case($50) and board w usb 3.0($110).  I use a previous family pack version of Win7 that gives 3 licenses, so no extra cash spent there.  I used a DVD and sata HDD drive that I already had.  I bought Patriot Gamer ram 2-4gb pieces, from newegg (for about 35 bucks after rebate).  Total net price:  about $200.  The family loves it.  I also installed a card reader(5 bucks at a yard sale), and have plans for a 2.5 SSD drive since i saved a few bucks for the initial build.  Nice and small with some room to grow!!!!  Thanks MPC!!!!!!     

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oldnewb

I just built my first computer using the directions in the article (my wife was completely shocked, since I don't even change the oil in my car and am not terribly mechanical). Anyway, things were running fine for the first few days, I downloaded one of the unused licensed copies of Norton Internet Security, upgraded to IE9, and then...after a shutdown it would not reboot at all for several hours, and then after I tried again, the reboot was agonizingly slow: ASRock splash screen for 10 - 15 minutes, Starting Windows for 5 - 10 minutes, and then everything pretty much normal operation after I typed in my Windows password.

I spoke to someone at a computer repair place and they suggested that there might be some incompatibilites between Norton and Win7-64. But I also had some email contact with the techs at ASRock; most recently they sent this (note in particular the last point):

Install a new copy of window on different HD if you have spare HD you can try.

· Go into bios and press F9 (load default setting) save and exit out the bios.

 

· Try boot up the system with only 1memory, video card, and 1 HD only.

 

· Please note that this mainboard doesn’t support window 7 O/S.

 

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elitedave7

can i put this mini-ITX mobo in a Rosewill case that is microATX with a 530w PSU?

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Mattpense

One question does it come with the wires needed to build it?

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dgrmouse

Yes.

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darkmachine

Do you have any notes on the power draw from the wall socket on this unit?

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Lorddeth

I had a question about the RAM stick you used, the motherboard says it is rated for DDR3 1066 max, were you able to get it to use a 1333 stick without issues?  I mean apparently you did, but I was just curious......

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Wingzero_x

I have the Acer laptop with the E350 APU, which came with a 2GB stick od DDR3@1066, which I replaced with 8GB DDR3@1333 and I have no problems.

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eo

I used G.SKILL Sniper 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 that cost $50 and it is working fine.

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chessmyantidrug

This build doesn't list a monitor, keyboard or mouse. Wouldn't it be slightly difficult to use a computer without peripherals?

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winmaster

Maximum PC probably expects you to have these lying around. What computer geek doesn't have a spare keyboard, mouse, and monitor (even if its a CRT).

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CaptainFabulous

Nope. It's all in your mind.

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lunchbox73

Yeah, I've always felt that's cheating a little.

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reper

Nice, this makes me rethink my planned HTPC build. One question though, I saw another review of the e-350 which said they could only get smooth 1080p playback with Flash via a custom version of 10.2 supplied by AMD that was not made public. 10.3 release notes haven't helped any in figuring out how this has progressed, did you test HD flash playback at all?

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jackal49

I have no issues with 1080p clips on Youtube.  I am using Flash 10.3.  I had some issues with PowerDVD and Blu ray playback.  I may not have the latest version.  I think I was using 8 or 9(which do not support Fusion).  I couldn't get v 10 to work with any of my Win 7 computers and blu ray drives.  I use Total Media Theatre, as it's latest patch supports Fusion.  During playback, CPU hovers around 25%.

I don't work for AMD, nor am I an AMD fanboy.  I just can't describe enough how Fusion knocked my socks off.  I'm coming from a big, loud, and hot HTPC with a C2D and Geforce 9600 in a Thermaltake Lanbox.  The overall size is about 1/3 of that, and cooler, quieter, and "greener."

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Wingzero_x

I totally agree, I bought the Acer laptop with the e350, and it still surprises me, and I don't think some people give it as much credit as it deserves. I've being playing newer games (CoD:BO, BF:BC2, DoW 2, Batman AA...) on it and while the settings are at low, and sometimes there is stutterering about the only game I can say was unplayable that I've tried has been GTA IV. HD video via iTunes seems to run flawlessly@720p (1366x768)

 

BTW this time I am an AMD fanboy because I'm pissed that Intel killed the LGA1156!! (Plus it might be their turn again.)

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lindethier

Nice little build. I've been wanting to build a little HTPC for a while now.

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mario_ramalho

Nice little system. I've been wondering just how well these Mini ITX/APU combos do in the real world, and from the benchmarks i can see that they do fairly well indeed. I, however, would go one step further and save a Bejnamin by using Ubuntu. If it's a system for basic light duties, i think the freebie OS could handle that task, including Blu-ray playback, and some light gaming (I'm sure Torus Trooper would rock on that thing with no problem). But to each their own, i rock with Windows too, but the sweet price of Ubuntu leaves a better aftertaste, even though it's a bit tougher to make it do what you want it to do at times. ;)

 

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jackal49

@van_helblaze: I have a similar set up too.  But I used the Sapphire Fusion board because it had SoDimm slots, a mini-pci slot, SATA 6 Gbs, and USB 3.0.  I also used a 32 GB SSD for the OS, and a 1Tb WD Green for storage.  All for under 400 clams.  I have one 4 Gb SoDimm, and I'll get another during Egg's next memory sale.

I tried going fanless on the heatsink, but I kept seeing idle temps over 70.  I installed a silent fan over the cpu (not that the stock fan was noisy, but I was the noisiest thing in the case) and I haven't seen over 50, even while playing Blu Rays.

I think it seems almost as peppy on the desktop and menial tasks as my C2D E6420.  Hand brake and other apps like that put it to shame.  But it doesnt' stutter in the least on Blu Rays, HD clips from Hard Drive, and HD streaming.

On a side note, Silverlight does not support GPU acceleration yet, so I haven't been able to stream Netflix in HD, but whatevs...

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van_helblaze

Wow, kinda ironic that i just finished a similar rig, though mine had a 500gb sata3 drive, 4gb ddr3 ram, and a 68-in-1 media card reader, other than that though, the systems are prettly close. (My cost was around $377)

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ShyLinuxGuy

Pretty decent build for an entry-level HTPC...for general use, if power consumption and size isn't a factor, this is *not* OK. My build, which includes 4 gigs of memory and an Athlon II (Regor 255) and a striped 1TB array (2x 500GB) was about the same in cost as this build, maybe a teenie bit more.

@Torqumada286: Agree, Linux (Ubuntu in particular) can save $ if Windows isn't needed...Windows 7 is definitely worth the cost, but if it isn't *absolutely* needed (I need it for CS 5, among other things), then Ubuntu is the way to go. If this is an HTPC, with the right stuff, Ubuntu would make for a sweet HTPC setup.

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haboh

Lack of netflix on linux is just a massive bummer though. Otherwise it would be so perfect for a cheapo HTPC! Putting $100 for win 7 on top of $300 parts for my HTPC felt wrong.. 

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Wingzero_x

I was running Ubuntu (WUBI) on my Acer e-350 laptop, and it what I saw it ran pretty good. However I just didn't like the Narwhal's interface, so I uninstalled it. I did have DVds playing via VLC and they looked good.

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Asterixx

But... why? You could build this computer for $340, or you could buy a pre-built one with the same APU, more RAM (3GB vs 2), a bigger hard drive (500GB vs 320), a 5-in-1 media reader, and a mouse & keyboard (both which I don't see in the "ingredients"). With a warranty. And $10 cheaper to boot, at $329.

http://www.futureshop.ca/en-CA/product/acer-acer-aspire-amd-e-350-computer-ax1430-ef20p-ax1430-ef20p/10171612.aspx?path=96f94eb5de75a8b2eddbcc6897e8821aen02

And this is a Canadian price. Since Canadians generally get gouged higher than Americans (even though the loonie is worth more than the greenback and has been for several months) I'm sure you could buy it even cheaper stateside...

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FrostyWinnipeg

It's down to $279 now on the FutureShop site. I would like to know if the Acer is quieter. I dont see why u could not use that one as a HTPC, it has HDMI out too. Some replies have mentioned that this is a build-it-yourself article and while that is true, it's a built-it-yourself-on-the-cheap article and if its about saving money, we might as well go with one already built. Though I do like the one in the article. Prices comes out to $300 w/tax from newegg.ca for me sans Windows 7.

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CaptainFabulous

Why would anyone reading MaximumPC want to buy a pre-made computer?

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Asterixx

Using that logic, why would anyone reading MPC build a $340 computer?

 

And really, just reading MPC means you should pay $10 more for less computer, just so you can build it yourself? I dunno, something about that math just doesn't add up...

Oh, and I haven't built my own computer in years, not since laptops became so cheap and powerful. The last computer I built was a P4 3.06 GHz. If you could scratch build a laptop I might (if the cost was less, too) but since that ain't practical I have no need to build a computer.

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CaptainFabulous

You build the computer that's right for the job. There is no sense in building a $1000 rig when a $340 one will do.

And "paying more, getting less" is relative. The Acer case is a tower, this is a mini. Maybe that's important to someone (and smaller usually costs more). You have no idea the brand of the PSU or DVD drive, or how loud it is (just that it's 225W as opposed to the 250W used here). You're rolling the dice on a cheap machine that if something goes wrong you have to ship the whole thing off to some Acer service center on your dime. If you build it yourself and a part fails you only need to ship back one part, not the whole thing.

You also don't know what kind of proprietary parts are inside that Acer. If the PSU dies can you replace it with a standard one or do you need to buy it from Acer at an inflated price? Any idea who makes the mobo? Is it an industry standard size? What about the case? Can you reuse it again in 2-3 years if you want to repurpose it for something else, or are you stuck cause nothing else will fit? Is the hard drive a 5400 RPM model or a 7200 RPM model? Who makes it?

So yeah, I'd gladly pay $10 more to have the peace of mind of knowing exactly what's going into my new system.

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Asterixx

Ok, I really hate spam, but this is ridiculous. I tried to edit my previous post to change that "$329" to $329.99 to reflect the actual price (and make my "$10 cheaper" statement more accurate) and my edit triggered the spam filter. My original post didn't, but trying to add the .99 did. WTF?

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fellowleo

Hmm... have you considered comparing this device to a laptop that you can purchase for $340?

The Giada i50 link is still broken...

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CaptainFabulous

Kinda f'ed up that the OS is 1/3rd the price.

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Wingzero_x

UHHHH GREED!

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rawrnomnom

im really suprised you didnt go for a 4gb kit, if you had gone with gskill there's a ddr3 4gb kit for $26, and would have kept you under your $350 budget... 

 

Also... can it handle hd streaming? I might have missed it, i know it can handle 1080 off the hdd.

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DMTurner85

Also would like to know if this can handle HD streaming. I am interested in replacing my cable service with an HTPC and this looks like a decent build to start with. I do not watch TV but my wife does, so I need to sell her on something that can handle 1080p without much trouble and not costing me as much as a "real" pc.

Found this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883220072&Tpk=ASUS%20Eee%20Box%20EB1021

Very similar. For the extra $40 you get a mouse and keyboard plus a vesa mount and a wireless card. Downside you loose an optical drive (not really an issue for me) and customization/re-purposing later on.

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eo

Why did you decide to mount the hard disk in the rear on the right as opposed to the front mount? It would seem to block the vent holes if mounted in the rear side. I built the box and used the front mount, just curious about your decision.

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Ilander

The price includes the OS, do the math.

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Torqumada286

I see where I missed it.

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Torqumada286

So the price doesn't include the OS?  Isn't that a bit of a cheat? Most of the people who would find this useful to build would probably use some version of Windows instead of downloading a Linux distro and that is going to add a bit to the price.  Still, it gives me an idea for a chap computer for my kids.

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PCLinuxguy

to save that exrta $100 that made this a $340 build I'd just use Linux. I mean if this is meant to be a basic machine that surfs the web does email and the like (maybe very mild gaming. this isn't an A6 or A8 quad core apu here) it'd be plenty fine, and the extra money saved could account for giving this machine a 1-2 TB HDD or a fast 64-120 GB SSD. Not a bad looking case either, though if you've got the know how, paint, and patience, I'd suggest maybe giving it some custom flair of a nice paint job  (like electric blue) to not make it such a hum drum first, second, or just overall super inexpensive computer for the house/family/kids. 

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win7fanboi

No blue gloves!!!! FAIL :)

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SilverSurferNHS

Giada i50 Broken Link

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ABouman

Fixed! thanks for the heads up!

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