You can usually find a sale price on a name brand computer that’s running Windows for less than you can build a Windows PC. That said, you can probably build a faster and possibly more reliable PC for just a few dollars more. If you like the idea of building your own budget PC then consider some of these parts.
Computer Case: For budget cases you can use Logisys or Sentey brands that include a power supply. Keep in mind these will be made of thin metal and they aren’t including a top notch power supply at these prices. After you figure your total cost to build then you might opt for a better case and PSU.
Next we need the mainboard or motherboard (mobo, as some refer to it). You can get a very reliable motherboard from ASUS for about $60. That’s a tremendous bargain for features like USB 3.0, SATA 6Gb/s, HDMI, DVI-D, VGA, Firewire, and DDR3. Keep in mind this is for a budget home or office PC. It’s not the board you want for a gaming rig.
Now it’s time to pick a processor (CPU). You could get an Intel Core i3 processor for $100+, or you can get good performance for half the price with the Intel Pentium series. While they aren’t as fast as the latest generation Core i-3 processors, these Pentiums are faster than the previous generation Core i3s. You can compare the performance of the Intel Pentium processors at CPU Benchmark.
Now we need some DDR3 memory (RAM) and a hard drive for storage. I like the Kingston HyperX series DDR3 for my builds. For a budget system I prefer the Western Digital Blue desktop hard drives. You can’t really beat the reliability, performance, and cost combination.
Now we need an optical drive. I like ASUS and LG DVDRW drives. If you have extra mounting hardware and cables then you can get the cheaper drives labeled Bulk/OEM. If you need an extra SATA cable and some screws then get the retail package. The retail package probably includes some extra software too. Most motherboards include 2 SATA cables, and the case will usually have all the mounting screws you’ll need.
Now you need to choose an operating system. In order to compare the total cost to build compared to name brand PCs, you need to consider the cost of a Windows license. The items showing are OEM versions. They are meant for system builders and they do not include tech support from Microsoft. They are not upgrades, so they will only work for a fresh install.
So there you have it. At the time of writing, your cost to build a budget Windows PC is approximately $360 with 4GB of RAM and $400 with 8GB of RAM. For a more accurate comparison, you will need to add a mouse and keyboard. Most computer manufacturers like Dell, HP, Compaq, Acer, ASUS include the mouse and keyboard, and some of their packages will include speakers too.