The $150 PC

Written by Geoff Richards

October 19, 2005 | 09:10

Tags: #agp #ddr #hard-drive #linspire #micro-atx #ram #sempron #windows-xp

Sick of the endless drive to upgrade year after year? Maybe you need a cheap system for your Mum to use, or you're thinking of cobbling together a home media server from old components laying about the house. If the answer to any of these questions was 'yes', make sure you're sitting down when you read the rest of this story.

US retailer Fry's Electronics, as part of their online arm, are selling a PC for just US$149.99. That's about £86 if you're in the UK, or just 126 euro for our Continental cousins. Naturally, it doesn't come with a monitor, but otherwise, the specification is far from useless.
  • AMD Sempron 2400+ Processor
  • Micro ATX SIS 741 GX motherboard
  • 128MB DDR (expandable to 2GB)
  • 40GB Ultra Hard Drive
  • 52x CD-ROM
Naturally, the graphics are on-board and rubbish for any game beyond Minesweeper, but for email, web and word processing, it's just fine. There is an AGP 4x slot, so you could slap in your old GeForce 3 or Radeon 8500 if you wanted better performance. There are also two PCI slots should you want to upgrade the on-board sound or add a WiFi card. As all motherboards do these days, there is on-board 10/100 Ethernet.

If you think 128MB is not really enough RAM to run Windows XP at a usable speed, you're right. There is also no way in the world you would be able to sell a Windows PC for just £86, because Windows XP Home OEM alone costs £58.74. Instead, this system runs the Linspire 5.0 Linux distro. To someone new to computers and less demanding about their choice of operating system, Linspire 5.0 looks & feels quite similar to Windows anyway.

The deal is limited to one per household, and obviously only North American readers will be able to snap up this bargain. It makes one wonder though: how many people do you know are currently struggling for speed, using a 1.0GHz Celeron system or worse? Indeed, many of you probably have boxes of old hardware that you think might still be worth something. With systems as cheap as this, it might be time to have a Spring clean.

Have you spotted a bargain deal recently? Think you could build a system cheaper than $149.99? Post your findings in the News Discussion forum.
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