How to make a fast cheap PC (about ?350)

This PC is designed for a person on a budget. Do not expect this PC to be able to play games particularly well !
CPU - AMD XP 2100+
For ?38, go for the XP chip - the 2100+(1.73GHz), it is the best chip in its price range.
Heatsink and fan - GlobalWin FSP82
With modern CPUs, a decent heatsink and fan is necessary. This one will cope with XPs up to 2000+, at ?10. It is based on an 80mm fan for low noise.
Motherboard - Abit NF7-s 2.0
This board uses DDR-ram, has decent onboard 6 channel sound, 6 pci, usb2.0, 3 dual channel memory slots, onboard network, SATA and support for 400fsb chips. It is based on the Nforce2 chipset from Nvidia. Price is ?45.
Memory - 2xPC3200 256MB memory modules
You need DDR memory for this board. To make use of the dual channel ability, we are using 2x256MB chips. This will dramatically increase the game performance. Cost is ?50 for both.
Video card - ATI 9600 128MB
With recent releases, midrange old technology cards have dropped a lot. ?70 will now buy a 9600 with 128MB. This will cope with most games and supports most newish features.
Sound card - use the onboard
The onboard sound is pretty good for most cheap PCs.
Modem - any good brand
If you are upgrading, you probably already have one. If you don't, just get a good hardware modem, about ?30.
Case - a good midi tower with a 300W PSU
Most basic cases are fine today, just make sure you get a 300W PSU or you will end up with an unstable system, about ?25
Hard drive - 120GB IBM/HGST 7k2500
120GB drives are the smallest sensible buy. Prices have dropped so much recently - this is just ?55 (less than 50p a GB), and it includes a vital 2yr warranty.
CD-ROM/DVD - dvd/cd-r combo drive
Combo drives are very cheap now, so go ahead and get one. They start at about ?25. If you must save even more money, Just get a DVD drive at about ?15.
Keyboard/mouse/floppy drive
For these necessary components, I recommend the Wheelmouse Optical from Microsoft, any floppy drive and a decent keyboard, because cheap ones are just nasty. Cost is about ?30 in total.
Final cost: around ?350 inclusive of vat and delivery
I did not suggest a monitor, because that is down to the individual. I recommend at least a 17", or a 19", as 21" is still too costly. Try and get a good warranty from a good company. Prices for 17" start from about ?100 new, try and find a reconditioned one for cheaper. Software is also not included. I strongly suggest getting hold of Windows XP pro - 98 is too dated and 2000 too tricky. Don't even get me started on ME and XP home... Basic speakers cost next to nothing, but a 4.1 set is well worth it for better sound.
Up to medium PC
Last modified: 01/06/2005