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DIY: Budget PC Guide

A Recommended List of Components for Building a Low Cost PC


Rosewill R536-BK Case
Rosewill Inc.

Last Updated: Mar 21 2014


Many people do not realize how easy it is to put together a computer system from parts. In fact, many systems that users build can outperform purchased desktop computer systems. The biggest challenge of putting together a computer system is typically finding what parts to buy. That is where this guide comes in.

This is really a guideline for those looking to put together their own computer system but don't want to break the bank. For around $500, it is possible to to put together a highly functional computer system that works extremely well for general purpose computing such as internet access, office applications and even digital photography. Below is a list of parts that I have selected that can be used to put together such a system. It includes all of the parts that are internal to the computer plus the operating system. It will be necessary to buy a monitor and other peripherals such as speakers to complete the system.

Many of the parts on this list are sold as OEM products. They are the same items that would come in a retail package but have less material as they are sold in bulk typically to builders. They should carry the same warranties and protections as retail box products.

Remember that this is just a guide of recommended products. There are many alternative components available that will perform just as well. In addition to the name of the item, a link is included for shopping for the components.

The Budget PC Components

  • Case - Rosewill R536-BK
    A well designed low cost steel desktop mid-tower case that also includes a 500W power supply. The case has many great features that make it very easy to work with.
    Buy Direct
  • Motherboard - ASRock B85M-GL
    In order to support the most recent Intel processors it is necessary to get an LGA 1150 based board. This board is a pretty basic board that support the chips and offers a good set of features. The mATX size can help make it easier to install in a case but does have fewer expansion slots for internal cards.
    Buy Direct
  • Processor - Intel Pentium G3220
    While this is just a dual core processor from Intel that lacks a couple of features, it uses the same Haswell core as the latest Core i processors and provides more than enough performance for the average user.
    Buy Direct
  • Memory - G.SKILL Ares 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Kit
    DDR3 is the defacto memory strandard now and the 1600MHz speed is the most common. With prices having dropped in the past year, it is now possible to afford 8GB of memory to allow a smooth experience in Windows.
    Buy Direct
  • Hard Drive - Seagate Barracuda 1TB SATA
    This drive from Seagate offers some solid performance thanks to the 7200rpm spin rate and large drive cache.
    Buy Direct
    This low cost DVD burner supports all of the current DVD media standards and has 24x speeds for DVD+/-R media.
    Buy Direct
  • Keyboard and Mouse - Logitech MK120 USB Keyboard and Mouse
    This keyboard and mouse combo is very inexpensive but provides a good overall feel.
    Buy Direct
  • Operating System - Windows 8.1 System Builder 64-bit
    The most recent version of Microsoft's operating system is a major departure but if you want to be current, it is the version to get. It does fix some of the desktop mode issues and Update 1 should further improve it.
    Buy Direct
    or Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
    While Windows 8 is the latest, it is a pretty major change that many people would rather have Windows 7 which they are familiar with and like. It thankfully is still available although generally slightly more expensive.
    Buy Direct

What Else is Needed

This list of components will make up the heart of the computer system but it still needs a monitor. There are a wide range of monitor sizes but the most afford tend to be the smaller ones. I would recommend looking at my Best 24-inch LCD Monitors list for a good low cost display. There are also no speakers or headphones for the audio but many monitors can have this built in such that they are not needed.

Putting it All Together

Once you have all the parts, the computer system will have to be assembled and installed. Tutorials on the various steps required to install the parts together into the computer system can be found in one of two ways. I have available a 5-day E-mail Newsletter Course that puts the steps in a logical order or you can just dive right into the individual Tutorials themselves. For those with access to a Kindle e-reader or application, you can also pick up a copy of Build Your Own Desktop PC which offers detailed images and descriptions.

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