How to make a powerful cheap PC (around ?550)

Just a year ago, the words 'cheap' and 'powerful' could never be used when describing a new PC. Now with the recent drop in prices and massive rise in power, they can. This guide will run through all the parts necessary for such a PC.
CPU - Athlon 64 2800 (1.80GHz) Retail
The Athlon 64 is the new must have processor. This is the entry level version, but it would still outperform most x3000/p4 3Ghz, plus it has the latest technologies. Still a bit pricy at ?90.
Heatsink and fan - Retail
The retail heatsink is pretty effective, but you can get quieter and more effective ones.
Motherboard - Gigabyte GA-K8NS Pro
This board uses the latest chipset for AMD 64 chips - the Nforce3. Full support for latest technologies (usb2.0, SATA Raid, AGP 8x, Gigabit lan) with a lot of handy devices onboard. ?55.
Memory - 2xPC3200 512MB memory chip
You need DDR memory for this board. To make best use of the dual channel ability, we are using 2x512MB chips. Cost is ?95 for both.
Video card - 128MB ATI Radeon 9800 pro
The ATI Radeon 9800 is a high-end card, but prices have dropped enough to bring them to the mainstream- just ?132.
Sound card - Onboard
The onboard sound is pretty good.
Modem - any good brand
If you are upgrading, you probably already have one. If you don't, just get a good hardware modem -?30. Decent networking is already onboard for free.
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. Good ones start at ?35.
Hard drive - 160GB HGST 8mb cache SATA
With the recent price drops on hard drives, SATA is no longer overpriced and GB costs just 50p each. By choosing the best 7200rpm SATA drive, we guarantee the best performance. It costs ?66.
DVD-R Drive - Pioneer DVR107 8x
There is little excuse not to buy a DVD-R drive nowadays. Prices have come down so much that a good one (8x) can be purchased for just ?50.
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: about ?550 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 a lot cheaper. Software is also not included. I strongly suggest getting hold of Windows XP pro - 98 is too dated and 2000 to 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.
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Last modified: 01/06/2005