• DIY Computer Saves a Lot of Money

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    Warning: This post has much geek speak. Those who are offended or more likely, bored, can look away.

    Our computer at home is dying. Lately we’ve been getting spontaneous reboots, freezing, and general slowing down. It has trouble with more than 3 tabs open at once in Firefox. Itunes can’t play songs without it being choppy. Photoshop takes forever to open.

    That’s okay though, it is an archaic 8 years old. I’m surprised that it has even last that long. The original computer was a Dell XPS-R450 – it had a Pentium 2 processor (a screaming 450mHz), 64MBRAM, NVIDIA 32MB RIVA Video Card, Turtle Beach SoundCard (are these guys still in business?!?), a DVD-ROM drive, and a 6GB hard drive. And Windows 98. Shiver.

    In order to lengthen the lifespan of this computer, here are the modifications that I did to this computer:

    • Swapped out the measly 64MB RAM for 512MB. Cost: $100. Go expensive PC133!
    • Replaced hard drive (it died anyway) with an 80GB one. Cost: $60. Go rebates!
    • Replaced the video card to a Radeon 9500 Pro. Cost: $200. Go keeping up with the geeky joneses!
    • Installed Windows XP Home. Cost: $100. Go Upgrade Edition!
    • Installed a CD burner. Cost: $50. Go, uh, burning CDs!
    • Upgraded the 450 mHz Pentium 2 processor to a Celeron 1.3 mHz. Cost: $150. Go Powerleap for coming up with the technology that allowed this upgrade!

    Total cost for keeping an 8 year old computer alive and able to keep up with today’s software: $660.

    Instead of completely discarding the poor computer, I’m going to gut it for parts – namely all of the ones listed above. I figured out that all I need is to buy a new case, power supply, motherboard, RAM, and processor. We have budgeted around $300 for these new parts, and I’m pretty sure we’ll go a little bit under since I’m only going to buy the parts if they go on sale. The best part about building my own computer is that I am going to choose parts that will allow me to easily upgrade it in the future.

    I’ll also be able to sell the RAM and processor upgrade on eBay – and get around $100 for all of that stuff.

    The total amount spent on a “new” computer: $990, spread over 8 years. Not bad considering I know people who have purchased at least two computers in this same time span. I hope to keep this computer for at least 4 more years before I have to upgrade anything else.

    Let’s just hope the 8 year old clunker can hold out until we get all of the parts.


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