I’m looking for the cheapest (respectable) PC configuration I can get my hands on
This is for the reader who e-mailed me recently—he was finally building his first PC after a number of years of reading Digit. He had a very modest budget, and wanted something that would work—allow him to use MS Office, and run Windows XP. I decided to build a good PC from scratch, for those on a very tight budget. At the same time, I want some sort of future-proofing—after all, we all know how most users expand their applications for the PC after a few months of use.
I took a trip to Lamington Road last week to check what I could come up with. I was surprised to find single-core processors totally out of stock with most vendors. Dual-cores have well and truly gone mainstream, with the best deals being combo packs. I was faced with two options—the Intel E2140 processor and Intel D945G motherboard is available for Rs 5,350, while AMD’s 4000 CPU is available on a Jetway GeForce 6100 for Rs 100 more. Both processors have comparable performance, but the AMD 4000 is a little snappier than the E2140, which is a severely cut down Allendale core (Core 2 family). I went for Intel, mainly because the E2140 (1.6 GHz stock) is a very cool product, and overclocks very, very well, and runs very cool at stock. The 945G comes with onboard graphics—a boon for a value PC that doesn’t require a graphics card. There is an x16 PCIe slot for future upgrades, however, as well as two PCI slots. For as little as Rs 700, I could get myself 1 GB of generic DDR2 667 MHz RAM; Transcend’s 667 MHz value RAM comes for Rs 850. I was thinking 512 MB for price reasons—Transcend (667 MHz) was priced at Rs 500, but I decided not to be too skimpy and went with the 1 GB. For a hard drive, I decided to go with 80 GB, since basic browsing and office work will rarely require significant space. Seagate’s ST380815AS 80 GB, 7200 rpm SATA drive is priced at Rs 1,500 and comes with a three year warranty, with doorstep replacement—hassle free.
With my core components chosen, I was at a loss deciding between a CRT and an LCD. Cheap LCDs aren’t very clear, and a value CRT is a much better option. I chose a 15-inch LG 500E, which after bargaining a bit came for Rs 3,000. It’s a nice screen, and better than a lot of the cheaper CRTs around—just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean your eyes should suffer, right? A multimedia keyboard and optical mouse from Logitech was available for Rs 550—sweet! Next, I went cabinet shopping. I saw a few cabinets from the likes of iBall, Zebronics, VIP and Intex, but didn’t like any of the designs. After browsing a couple of catalogues at a few vendors, I came across a value series cabinet from Zebronics called Krish—a neat-looking box decked in black with cooling features like a PCIe vent and CAG duct. Best of all expansion, is good with three external 5.25-inch bays; at Rs 950, this was a must-buy.
Here’s my Ultimate Value PC:
|CPU Motherboard||Intel E2140 (1.6 GHz) Intel D945G||Rs 5,350|
|RAM||1 GB Transcend Value DDR2 667||Rs 850|
|HDD||Seagate ST380815AS 80GB SATA||Rs 1,500|
|Monitor||LG E500 15” CRT||Rs 3,000|
|Keyboard Mouse||Logitech multimedia combo with optical mouse||Rs 550|
|Cabinet||Zebronics Krish||Rs 950|
|Power Supply||Adcom 450 watts||Rs 700|
|Optical Drive||Liteon LH20-A1H 20x DVD Writer||Rs 1,350|
|Speakers||Creative Inspire 245 2.0||Rs 750|
|Grand Total||Rs 15,000|
For the power supply, I couldn’t find anything decent below Rs 1,000 till I came across a 450-watt Adcom power supply for Rs 700. I’ve had good experiences with Adcom power supplies in the past—one of my old download rigs used Adcom power for over three years.
My DVD writer (yes, budget PCs get to burn DVDs too) was a Liteon LH20-A1H, a 20X burner—very reliable, very cheap, and just Rs 1,350. My last remaining component was a set of speakers; I decided on a non-woofer setup, since speakers can always be upgraded if better music performance is needed later. Creative’s Inspire 245 is a gorgeous looker, and at Rs 750, a good deal.
Finally, after six hours and three shops, I’ve got a PC that will happily run all essential applications, and will even allow moderate multimedia usage—all for just Rs 15,000!
A genuine copy of Windows XP Home OEM costs Rs 3,900. I recommend an original copy for the tech support you can avail of if things go wrong. Instead of shelling out for more software, you can find free essential software like Avast! Antivirus on our CDs every month.