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Updated March 20, 2014


$250 Computer Upgrade Parts List

If you already have a computer and would like to upgrade it, this is a great starting point.

This computer upgrade uses the same basic components as the $500 computer.  The difference is that you don't have to buy the hard drive, DVD drive, monitor, keyboard and mouse.  If you want to upgrade your computer, you already have these components as part of your current computer.  The externals are universal and standard so your monitor, keyboard and mouse will work without any problems.  The hard drive and DVD from your existing computer can be either IDE or SATA. Both the Intel and AMD motherboards have for 2 IDE controllers and 4 SATA II controllers.

The reason for replacing your case is that a lot of computers you buy pre-built come with a non standard case and power supply.  Replacing the case and power supply get rids of any compatibility problems and gives you a fresh start, while saving you money vs building completely from scratch with new drives and externals.

 The Processor (CPU)

make a computerIntel Socket 1150

 alt

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

Intel Pentium G3220 3.0GHz Dual-Core

Newegg.com

$69.99

We have chosen a solid performing CPU. This CPU will keep your system speedy for years to come without braking the bank.  It's a dual core which means you can have multiple things going on at once and it will split the load between the 2 CPU cores.  It's like having 2 CPU's in 1 and it's a must going forward. Check out the CPU component lesson for more on CPU features and specifications to look for.

build computersAMD Socket AM3+

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

AMD FX-4300 3.8GHz

Newegg.com

$109.99

For the AMD based system we have also chosen a solid performer.  You may notice the speed in megahertz is faster than the Intel CPU.  3.8GHz vs 3.0GHz for the Intel.  It is also a Quad Core compared to the Intel CPU which is a Dual Core.  This will result in about equal performance to the Intel CPU. Check out the CPU component lesson for an explanation of this performance difference. This CPU is also dual core, like the Intel, so it's a solid performer for you every day tasks.

 


The Motherboard

Choose your motherboard depending on if you want an Intel or AMD CPU.

build your own pcIntel Socket 1150

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

Gigabyte GA-Z87-DS3H SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Motherboard

Newegg.com

 

 

$89.99

This motherboard has a great reputation for being very stable and will allow you to upgrade to a Socket 1150 Core i7 in the future if you need more performance.  Supports a max of 32GB of RAM.  Has on-board video, networking and sound.  It's the perfect platform for building a basic, do pretty much anything very well, computer.


AMD Socket AM3+

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

MSI 970A-G46 AM3+ Motherboard

Newegg.com

 

 

$79.99

For the AMD based system we've chosen a motherboard with very similar features compared to the Intel based motherboard above. It is a Socket AM3+ motherboard so in the future when you need more performance you can upgrade to one of new Zambezi CPUs or even a newer unknown AM3+ CPU. This motherboard supports 32GB of RAM. The on-board video, sound and networking are comparable to the Intel based motherboard.

 

 

altRAM (Memory)

The RAM Memory speed needs to match what the motherboard can handle.  DDR2 800 or 1066

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

For both Intel and AMD based Systems

 G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB DDR3 1333

 Newegg.com

$44.99

This is excellent RAM for the price.

 
Video card: Optional for 3D gaming performance

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

See the higher priced parts lists

 

 

The AMD and Intel CPUs and motherboards have very good 3D graphics performance with their built in graphics chips.  If you do want to upgrade to performance beyond that take a look at the $800 and above parts lists. 

 

altCase and Power Supply

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

Rosewill R519-BK with 500W PSU

Newegg.com

$64.99

See the case and power supply video lesson for features and specifications to look for in a custom computer case. This case has room for 4 DVD drives, 5 hard drives and 1 extra, 80/90mm cooling fan.  

 

altCooling Fans

Description

Where to Buy

Price

Notes

Vantec Stealth 80mm Case Cooling Fan

Newegg.com

$9.99

The case we recommend above has space for one more 80mm fan.  We recommend adding it to help keep the components cool.

 

Sound and Network - included on the motherboard

The motherboard include sound and network adapters so you don't need to buy a separate add on card.

For a PCI computer sound card comparison see the computer sound card component video lesson

For more on
the Network card component see the Modem and Network card component video lesson.

 

Comments  

 
+1 # thanks 2010-04-01 02:09
thanks for the tips!
very good web site:D
 
 
0 # Wheres Hard-Drive? 2010-08-29 17:53
:-)
Figured it was just an oversight.
 
 
0 # Adam 2010-09-30 21:43
If a pentium 4 processor is 2.7 ghz and a Core 2 Duo is 2.4 ghz, which is better??
Also does a Core 2 Duo processor 2.4 ghz, does that mean it will be 2.4X2ghz??
 
 
0 # admin2 2010-09-30 23:00
A Core 2 Duo is better, even it just had one CPU core it would be faster. It comes down to efficiency per clock cycle. Then when you add the second CPU core its even faster. The CPU component lesson covers this. http://www.homepcbuilder.com/video-lessons/internal-components/lesson-7-processor-component-intel-amd-cpu-processor.html
 
 
0 # Adam 2010-10-01 15:40
so just for a cross check
INTEL DUAL CORE E5400 2.7Ghz or INTEL PENTIUM 4 - 3.2D GHZ 2MB cache??
 
 
0 # admin2 2010-10-01 18:09
The E5400 is better.
 
 
0 # Oscar 2012-07-06 15:40
Got this item several years ago!
Was skeptical since I was never computer savvy.
It sat idle for a year or so!
I had been watching the videos.
Finally got the nerve--got myself a "Barebones" sys. from Tiger.com.
Jumped in, put it together. Had Office Depot instal the Operating sys. They were impressed as to how well it was put together (I was nervous about tackling the Operating sys)
Computer functions fine---better than the one I got standard off the shelf!
Now wanting to build an even better one.
Would be nice if you guys offered advice on internet outfits offering to clear your sys of viruses and anti-spyware and the like, since as far as I know you do not offer lessons pertaining to that kind of thing!
Wonderful program--super purchase!
Thanks
 

Why we recommend Newegg.com

You will notice that all of the links to the components in the list are pointing to Newegg.com.  We do receive a commission for any purchases made that come from these links.  Our commission is 1%.  This is not very much.  We could direct our customers to other sites where we would receive much higher commissions.  We chose Newegg because we absolutely believe they are the best place to buy online.  They consistently have the lowest prices, best selection, helpful end user reviews and real customer service.  If you have a problem with a part you can call them up and talk to a real person about whether to exchange it or get a refund.

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