Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How to NOT build a PC in 200 bucks!

Something caught onto me, may be some old d-i-y testosterone still lying around. And then I was just infatuated with this idea of building my own PC. The primary reason is that I'm just sick tired of using the macbook, its all shiny and sleek, but you can't tweak. Well that's as bad a reason could be.

So here I went off in my pursuit of building a decently powerful machine in as little as 200 bucks. I had few things in mind

1. Small form factor
2. Should not suck on my patience like my laptop

Getting point 2 covered was not much of an effort, at least so I thought. So I went web-shopping to get the nuts and bolts. After spending few hours spread across couple of days I realized three things that you shouldn't miss

a. Keep your configuration which "sounds" like made this year aka bleeding edge
b. Get the cheapest one in that
c. Find the one which comes with free shipping!

Point c is very important, you end up getting better stuff for lesser price overall. So based on this I got a dual core processor, 2 gigs of memory, 320g of hdd and a dvd writer and a motherboard which is reasonable enough. (I'm not a gaming person, so I skipped the graphics card and settled for on-board, otherwise the budget would have been over-board).

Now comes the tough problem of point 1. I wanted my desktop to be portable and not look like hey-I'm-from-the-90's boring box. Small things come at a price and I had to shell out a good 50 bucks for a compact case. A little more could have got me really cute cases, but I wasn't building a Wall-E per se.

After the groceries got home, I started with recipe, which last time I had covered in a flat half an hour. But surprise, this time it took me good 2 weeks to get it to work :( Two of the one-in-10-or-100-thousand things happened, damn two of them, how bad is my luck! The RAM didn't work, cause some pompous companies like Corsair make higher frequency sticks than what the spec says (running at 675Mhz instead of 667Mhz) and I learnt it the hard way. I got a Kingston (1000Mhz) finally which is doing great.

And finally I had a working desktop, or was it...the second coming was the the WD hdd, it was just plain dead, and getting it replaced took ten days.

And finally I had a working desktop, or was the Windows CD was not right. I had to replace it.

And finally I had a working desktop, or was the cheap wifi card that I bought doesn't work. I gave up trying to make it work, and settled for a shared internet connection through my laptop :(

And finally I had a working desktop, yes this time for real, with good old Windows(which has caught a malware and already become unsuable as I write, which made me to write this blog in gmail's composer) and the bling with the greeny Opensuse running KDE 4.2.

If you are interested in the details, the approximate break-up

AMD Athlon X2 4200+ & AM2 socket mobo - 90
2G Kingston - 20
320G WD - 50
Slim case - 50
DVD RW - 25
USB Wifi - 15

Round about 250 bucks..not bad eh? So what if my macbook serves as the router.


Tushar Thole said...

hilarious! Btw I like the new look!

Parag said...

Thanks! I want to play with it a little more...something doesn't feel right yet.