On Sunday night I put together a new computer. I bought a barbones box, processor, memory and a hard drive for $248, including shipping. It took me under an hour to get it all set up. This is no top-of-the-line machine mind you, but it is better than all of the other old machines we currently have (except Colleen's new laptop). I have been using Ubuntu linux as my primary desktop and it is on an old Pentium3 933MHz with a 10 GB hard drive. I don't use my computers for gaming at all and watch the occasional quicktime movie clip, so as long as I have decent video, I don't care about fancy or powerful. I basically use them for websurfing, email, some music ripping, web development and coding. I do most of my code now "by hand" using jEdit and do minimal graphics work because, well, I prefer development over design. I don't need tons of space, especially since next on my list is setting up our 200 GB file server. The old P3 has been working fine for my needs but I decided I wanted to upgrade a bit. So what did I get for $248?
Barbones box with all the main stuff (MSI motherboard) - $68
Intel Celeron D 2.66 GHz processor w/ 64-bit - $69 (on sale)
1 GB DDR 400MHz RAM - $59 (after rebate)
Hitachi 80 GB hard drive - $35 (after rebate)
CD-RW taken from another computer - free (I may swap this for the DVD-RW in that machine later)
Shipping - $17
(All the links point to Newegg but I gathered these items from several different vendors - Newegg, CompUSA and TigerDirect.)
This was the first time I had really been involved in the guts of hardware, albeit not really from-lots-of-little-pieces-scratch. It was easy as pie to build though. My only hiccup was after I put it all together and turned it on, it would power off when I tried to boot. It just turned off. It took me a little while to check the CPU temperature and it was a whopping 194 degrees! I opened it back up and realized that one of the four CPU fan fasteners was turned the wrong way and therefore not making full contact with the processor. I reattached the fan properly and she works like a dream now.
The linux install was very fast and since I don't bloat my linux installs up to MS proportions it runs very fast on this hardware. I haven't played much yet, as I don't have all of my files and settings transferred yet, but the difference between the old and new machines isn't that hard to predict. All-in-all a very satisfying experience and great bargain.