Computing on the Cheap

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Shalbatana

this was a great article when it appeared in the mag, and is just as good upon [umpteenth] re-reading.

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riopato

I want that piggy bank case! The "coin slot" can double as a slot loaded optical drive!

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bjoswald

Great article, with a lot of useful recommendations!

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Strangelove_424

Cool article. The opportunities in computing are infinite, but nobody has an infinite budget. You have to make choices about what you can do and can't do, and take as many shortcuts as you can to get you the rest of the way. There's an art to taking those shortcuts, and you guys have some really creative solutions here.

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NavarWynn

Sorry, but google docs kind of really sucks when compared to libreoffice or OO (both still available for the low low price of free). The document writer is tolerable, especially if you need RT multiple party editing, but that is it's only redeeming feature. The presentation, spreadsheet, draw, and form ALL are nearly impossible to use with anything approaching the ease or intuitiveness of most of the suites.

The lack of multiple format support is another critical flaw (though there isn't any reason it couldn't be done easily)

While it is cool, and new, actually USING it, is kind of a huge PITA.

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jaygregz

It's articles like this that make me read maximumpc both online and in the magazine. Great job guys.

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AFDozerman

If you're gonna say linux, at least say something other than ubuntu. Most overrated linux ever.

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jaygregz

It's a perfectly good distro of linux. Not my preference but it certainly is the distro that most would agree would appeal to the most people.

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AFDozerman

I could argue that Ubuntu variants like Mint are earsier to use while retaining the things that make Ubuntu good.

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sean76

Skydrive also offers an Android APP besides the windows phone and windows 8 intigration.

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xmichaelx

Gimp is a good Photoshop alternative, but most people don't need anything close to that powerful.

Pixlr Editor -- a free app for Chrome -- mimics A LOT of Photoshop's features, including layers. And it's free!

Just remember to save a lot. After all, it's browser-based.

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jgottberg

One thing I'll say about Libre Office is that it attempts to install WAY too many freebie crapware apps along with it. The Linux Mint install is great, goes without a hitch and appears to install only the office suite. However, on a Windows box, there must be 35 boxes to uncheck for crap it wants to install that are absolutely NOT essential to the operation of Libre Office.

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pcguy94

You should make sure you actually downloaded the official installer from libreoffice.org. It shouldn't have any crapware bundled with it.

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jgottberg

Could have sworn I did but I will make sure next time. Thanks for the heads up.

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burntham77

The AMD build here is a very good set of parts. I have almost the same components in my rig at home, and I rarely find a game that cannot run at maximum graphics settings on my 2560x1440 monitor.

I work with some folks who are console gamers, but they are curious about PC gaming. I tell them they can build a PC for fairly cheap, and considering they needed a PC in their home anyway, a budget gaming PC can be incredibly useful.

I have tried some of AMDs recent APUs and they are surprisingly adept at playing modern games at 1080p. Sure, you have to run most games at "medium" graphics settings, but it gets the job done.

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vrmlbasic

Same GPU?

The 6850 is a decent performer and via AMD's convenient OC'ing options I've eked a bit more performance out of it but I'm noticing some issues in maintaining a solid 60+ fps at 1920*1080 in several mainstream games with the settings maxed. Deus Ex:HR and Borderlands 2 come to mind. Both are lackluster console ports, though the devs did put in more effort than was required, but even after the requisite .INI tweaking to improve FPS (cough BL 2 cough) I'm still seeing my FPS dip into the low 50s in certain areas.

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Dysthymia

Didn't you run an article recently about how MSE has failed it's AV-Test certification? How can you justify recommending Microsoft Security Essentials when other free alternatives have better detection rates and have earned this certification?

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someuid

Because this cheapskate article was in the October 2012 edition of MaximumPC, meaning it was researched and written in August/September 2012.

MS's AV cert failures happened more recently than that.

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CaptainFabulous

Because nobody cares about that certification?

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ervit

In 2007 I built a cheap system with a plan to upgrade in the next few years. It had an MSI p35 Neo motherboard, an e4300 Core2Duo CPU, 8600GT video card, a 2x1GB RAM kit, a 160GB HDD and a budget PSU. As prices came down, I now have on the same motherboard an overclocked Q9550 Core2Quad CPU (bought from MicroCenter for $195 in 2011, overclocked to 3.2GHz - the max I can go without overclocking the RAM), a 9800GT video card (bought in 2009 for $115), a 500GB HDD, a 120GB SDD, 4x2GB RAM (2 kits) (RAM and SSD bought in December), a 600W CoolerMaster Silent series PSU, and I upgraded Windows Vista to Windows 8 for $40. Except for the old processor, all old components are in use either on my other computer or in my friends' computers, so nothing went to waste! My computer is fast for my needs (playing TF2 and work) and I hope it will live another 3-5 years!

(PS: capacitors on the motherboard need replacing every now and then, but I have a friend who solders them without much trouble and for free! we have changed all the caps around the CPU and a couple others, and two more are waiting to be replaced, but the system is solid even with those two bulging)

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azuza001

Wow, I agreed with everything in this article. Especially the 600$ build at the end, thats almost a to-the-t build that I built for a friend a few months ago! Only difference is we bought our parts used off of craigslist over a 2 month span to save money but it's still damn close to that system. Good job on this article, always love coming here.

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thematejka

Great article. More need to know about freeware, and that you don't need expensive 'professional' or 'leet' hardware and programs to get the job done. The true mark of a tech nerd is how well they can utilize what they have to the fullest.

At my university, the staff and faculty mostly use freeware and cloud applications. With a good pipe from Shaw and great local-server maintenance, we save piles of money from avoiding volume licence software (except the design students, they need their Macs and Adobe software).

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Electrik

Great article. Probably the biggest single expense in home entertainment is cable. Cut everything except for internet, get a good antennae, and never look back.

You’ll save $100 per month. I did it, best move I’ve made in years. I don’t miss the crap I never watched.

Do go to Antennae.org and check your coverage; if you're lucky, all the transmission towers are on one hilltop.

I get thirteen channels, six in Hi-Def, all the local and national channels and I've never missed a major event. Plus a couple of weird yet pretty cool channels I never new existed.

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CaptainFabulous

Many times even if you don't pay for cable TV, only Internet, there are unscrambled channels that you can still watch on your TV.

Where I am Time Warner puts in a line filter that blocks analog channels 5-68 and that's it. Any analog stations outside that range I can watch, and all unencrypted digital channels I can watch too, including HD. It's nice, especially since I'm too far away from a city to pick up any OTA channels. Not too bad for free.

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goodtime

and for around $50 you can get a tv tuner card to make up for the lack of a expensive dvr.

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Peanut Fox

Do you add to your viewing at all with any streaming services?

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jgottberg

I cut the cable over two years ago. I still need cable internet service because it's the only option (not even DSL - WTF, it's 2013). What I did was piece together a decent HTPC with two digital tuners, 7.1 audio card with optical to my receiver for surround, and installed a Bluray drive. With Windows 8, I have both Netflix and hulu apps installed and the built-in cable guide works great for the free OTA channels I get. No reason for me to ever go back to paying $180 a month for cable.

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Electrik

I tried to add some links to some pretty good streaming video and other sources of on-line entertainment.

NOW your spam filter works?

*sigh*

Anyway, go to Blockbuster before they close and raid 'em like Blackbeard, if you get my drift.

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vrmlbasic

Blockbuster is long gone in my area. Many of the old stores still sit abandoned, unloved and unclaimed. Some might say it is the lackluster economy in my tax-'n-spend state but I think that no business wants to be located in a storefront which was once occupied by a company that killed itself.

Blockbuster's implosion left metaphorical salt in all their former sites around here. Like Carthage, nothing will ever grow there again.

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jgottberg

Damn, that sounds bleak.

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Corfy

I just wanted to add my favorite free music service to the mix. Jamendo.com has hundreds of thousands of songs available for streaming and downloading, and it is 100% free. The catch? It is all independent artists who have released their songs under a Creative Commons license. Granted, there is a lot on the site that isn't worth listening to, but isn't that true of any service, even the paid ones? I've found a lot of real gems on the site over the last couple of years, to the point where most of the songs in my playlist are from Jamendo.

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Baer

Really good article, thanks.

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jimmthang

I know, huh? :)

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