$350 barebones Vista/7 PC

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

    $350 barebones Vista/7 PC

    Posted: 14 Nov 2008
    Prices of PC components are falling weekly, and $350 will buy you a lot more horsepower today that it would a few months ago.

    Letís look at what sort of all-purpose barebones PC system you can put together for around $350 - we want a system thatíll be tough enough to handle Windows Vista and Windows 7 yet not cost the earth.


    Letís start with the CPU. The trick with budget builds is to get a good, solid CPU without overspending. The ideal price range is somewhere around a quarter to a third of the overall budget you have planned.

    Here Iíve gone for Intelís 2.5GHz E5200 (Wolfdale) dual-core CPU. If youíre into overclocking then you should be able to get this CPU to 3.0GHz and beyond, but even if you keep it at stock speeds you have a good performer for well under $100.

    Price: $83


    For this build Iíve chose the ASUS P5N-EM HDMI board. This is a good quality board which features the NVIDIA GeForce 7100/nForce 630i, supports 4GB of RAM, PATA/SATA and SATA RAID hard drive connectors, HDMI, 4x USB and on-board audio.

    To top off the features, this board comes in micro-ATX form-factor so itíll fit into a small case, making it suited to home theater use.

    Price: $70

    Graphics card

    The ultimate dilemma Ö do you go for an ATI or NVIDIA graphics card?

    Here Iíve gone to ATI for a mid-range card Ö but donít let the price tag fool you, this card really kicks pixels!

    The HIS Hightech H467QS512P Radeon HD 4670 features 320 stream processors, 512MB of GDDR3 memory, DirectX 10.1 support, and HDMI. Itís not exactly a 4870 but it delivers enough performance for anyone other than a hardcore gamer.

    Price: $80


    2GB of RAM for this build. Nothing fancy here, 2x 1GB Crucial DDR2 800.

    Price: $25

    Hard drive

    The Hitachi Deskstar T7K500 offers 320GB for $50, which works out at 6.4GB per $. This driver isnít going to win any speed contests but it will offer reliable storage and good capacity for a decent price.

    Price: $50


    A PC like the one outlined above doesnít need a mini-nuclear reactor to power it. We can get away with a 300W. Also, in the interests of the environment and overall running cost, itís worth getting a PSU thatís 80 PLUS certified. Iíve gone here for the SeaSonic SS-300ET 300W PSU.

    Price: $37

    Total build price: $345 Ö all thatís left to do is add your own case (starting at about $20).

    Price wriggle

    Thereís a fair bit of wriggle room in the price of this PC. If graphics arenít important to you and you want to save $80 then you can get rid of the Radeon HD 4670 and rely on the on-board graphics. Alternatively you could by a budget card.

    Thereís also wriggle room in the price when it comes down to the CPU.


    $350 barebones Vista/7 PC | Hardware 2.0 | ZDNet.com
    echrada's Avatar Posted By: echrada
    14 Nov 2008

  1. Posts : 289
    Windows 7 7100 build

    Seems like a good system for $350.

    It should run most things you throw at it and do it fast enough.

    Basic users should not bother spending $1,000 plus when they will not even take full advantage of the system.
      My Computer

  2. Posts : 50
    Win7 7201 x64

    I agree as i always seem to find that money well spent on the mobo is the best way to go, as you can always upgrade the other parts without a full overhaul.
      My Computer

  3. Posts : 41
    Windows 7 (7000) public beta

    waiting for 7 pub beta

    I just bought the cheapest parts my PC shop had to try Windows 7 public beta when it is released. They're Australian dollars, so a lot less in U.S. currency.

    1. MCG Deluxe Miditower Case - 450W Black Price : $45.00 (Including tax

    2. Asus P5KPL-CM Motherboard S775,G31,FSB1600

    ($58.00 inc tax)

    3. Intel Dual Core Pentium E2180 CPU, 2.0GHz 800FSB, 1MB Cache, LGA775

    [BX80557E2180] Price : $89.00 (Including tax)

    4. 2 x Hynix 2Gb 800MHz DDR2 Ram
    Price : $39.00 each (Including tax) = $78.00

    5. Asus EAH3450-HTP-512 Graphic Card RADEON

    Price : $37.00 (Including tax)

    6. Samsung 160Gb 7200RPM 8Mb Cache SATA2 Hard Drive [HD161HJ] Price : $44.00

    (Including tax)

    7. Samsung 20 X SATA Dual Layer DVD Burner Black Price : $24.00 (Including tax)


    AUD$375 USD$237
    2:36 PM 23/11/2008

    Overclocked to 3 GHz easy stable. Ram and graphics are O/C also.

    *Flashed the BIOS with latest update.

    How long it lasts I don't know, just the stock box fan & heat sink and V-cool heat sink on graphics card. Boy, it's a VERY QUIET system! AND FAST - SiSoft Sandra has it ahead of Intel CPU 5+ times the price.

    *Edit spell error
      My Computer

  4. Posts : 104
    Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

    ^ Very cool. I wish I could just buy parts like that and make computers, would be fun. How did you overclock your computer... easily?
      My Computer

  5. Posts : 22,814
    W 7 64-bit Ultimate

    Hello Jack.

    There's a lot of good information over at x64, at the link below! Have a look.

    Overclocking & Cooling - Vista Forums

    Later Ted
      My Computer

  6. Posts : 104
    Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

    Bare Foot Kid said:
    Hello Jack.

    There's a lot of good information over at x64, at the link below! Have a look.

    Overclocking & Cooling - Vista Forums

    Later Ted
    Hmm, looks quite difficult. I'll read around and maybe overclock something for a test. Cheers for the link.
      My Computer

  7. Posts : 41
    Windows 7 (7000) public beta

    I'll have to look at the BIOS as there are numerous changes. I'm a 1st time over clocker, so sure I've made some mistakes..

    Basically, as you can see in cpuz the multiplier is 10 and at bus speed 200 Mhz (200 x 10) that's = 2 Ghz Intel speed. So, if you increase the bus speed to 305 (last stable I could find, 306 crashes) then the core speed jumps from stock 2 Ghz to (305 x 10) = 3.05 Ghz.

    You can only do this if your MB supports O/C. This MB will do it for you at 10% increases, but only goes to 30%. You can see I have O/C'ed to just over 50%, so had to do it manually.

    This auto increases ram O/C.

    Cheap reliable Ram 2 GB sticks :)

    You also need to increase voltages and I have all at MAX. I can get. This will eventually wear the components out quicker, say 3 years instead of 10. But this will be an unusable OLD PC in 3 years - so what!

    Also, you need to turn off energy saving features, such as smart fan (CPU runs hot, don't want to throttle down fan to save power )

    Must use box fan & heatsink for cheap over clocking ..

    This is CHEAP over clocking - so you must go with the standard parts. If you are having to add a $$$$$$$$$$$$ water cooler giant or something you might as well buy a more expensive CPU.

    It's a 50% speed gain for your buck at no extra cost...

    *You must check will the O/C community though for the best CPU and MB O/Cers.
      My Computer

  8. Posts : 12,364
    8 Pro x64

    echrada said:
    Prices of PC components are falling weekly, and $350 will buy you a lot more horsepower today that it would a few months ago.

    The ultimate dilemma Ö do you go for an ATI or NVIDIA graphics card?
    Really? Tell that to my wallet with a lot less Australian Dollars in it. Lol

    I opted for ATI this time around and grabbed a ASUS 4850. Good performer apart from the heat, although I'm starting to understand everyone's annoyance with Catalyst drivers...
      My Computer

  9. Posts : 4,364
    Windows 11 21H2 Current build

    Having built what I considered a passable system for high power number crunching and decent gaming, and then having upgraded as I have, I can only say the same thing as I suggested to someone at another forum - the new Core7 CPUs are way more processor than even the Extreme Editions that are currently out. Granted it requires a whole new motherboard and moving to DDR3, but if $350 is not your limit, then *seriously* look at spending the near $1000 for CPU, RAM and mobo out there - if you do the research you'll see that those CPUs are your best chance at future proofing your machine for then next OS or 2 from M$....

    As for $350, The machine I built in April quite possibly could go for $350 if I used a different case, less powerful PSU, and such...Prices changes in the last 6 months have already taken the base price of what I built to under $800, and that is using the exact same components....
      My Computer

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

  Related Discussions
Our Sites
Site Links
About Us
Windows 7 Forums is an independent web site and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Microsoft Corporation. "Windows 7" and related materials are trademarks of Microsoft Corp.

© Designer Media Ltd
All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:08.
Find Us