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Building 2011's Sub-$200 Computer

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the trade-one-form-of-depreciation-for-another dept.

The Almighty Buck 394

adeelarshad82 links to PC Magazine's recent account (updating a similar quest detailed last year) "to see if a decent PC could put together for less than $200. Turns out that between some great deals, an AMD processor, and a Linux OS, it can actually be done." They actually come out with a decent-enough system for that money — but omitting an optical drive in a full-size desktop computer build seems something like cheating.

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Decent Computer? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293192)

And it has Linux on it? Crap, at least get Win XP.

Re:Decent Computer? (2)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293234)

And it has Linux on it? Crap, at least get Win XP.

That's right, if you want crap, get Win XP. That was too easy.

Re:Decent Computer? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293262)

Since moving to OS X 4 years ago, both Linux and Windows are crap

Re:Decent Computer? (1, Redundant)

one cup of coffee (1623645) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293312)

I've got to say, at this point there's no contest as far as basic functionality goes, and for doing the things that "most people" tm do on their computers most of the time. Linux is clearly superior to Windows. I dare you to take a dual boot challenge.

Re:Decent Computer? (1, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293470)

I've got to say, at this point there's no contest as far as basic functionality goes, and for doing the things that "most people" tm do on their computers most of the time. Linux is clearly superior to Windows. I dare you to take a dual boot challenge.

I'll take that dare... here's where linux breaks down for "most people" tm:

1) Itunes - sure there are plenty of great media players and what not for linux... but if you have an ios device whether its a new ipod, ipod touch, iphone, or ipad (and literally tens of millions of completely normal people do, they need itunes).

2) TurboTax etc... yep its just one week a year. But millions of completely ordinary people do their taxes with this type of software.

3) Miscellaneous Toys - from the child friendly Barbie photo manipulation software that came with the Barbie camera to setting up your new Logitech universal remote to an AppleTV to programming a Lego Mindstorms creation with LabView. This affects far more people than you might think.

4) Video games - Believe it or not, lots of perfectly normal people play everything from World of Warcraft,to Left4Dead, to the copy of Bejeweled or Riven they picked up at Walmart for $7 as an impulse buy.

5) Peripherals - Printer fax scanner copier combination devices in particular still suck with linux. Getting printing going is usually relatively straightforward, but anything else is a complicated crapshoot.

Re:Decent Computer? (1)

HJED (1304957) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293602)

You forgot:

6) Docx support, whilst I prefer open office to MS Office in general. In OO/LibreOffice Docx support is terrible (Images in wrong place, different table sizes, no word art, etc). Nb. from my experience the same isn't true the other way round, open office documents usually display fine in word.

Disclaimer: I dual boot ubuntu with Gnome 3 (btw Unity is reason 7 if we are talking specifically about Ubuntu) and Win 7. For programing, internet browsing and file operations linux is generally better. I also use LibreOffice when I am creating documents (but not for opening or editing documents created in Word). However I generally haven't found good replacements for Windows Live Photo Gallery (although digikam get close in terms of functionality, but with a terrible UI), Photoshop (I have tried gimp), MS Power Point and movie editing software in general (I've tried a large number of linux movie editing software on a reasonably high spec system and they all seemed to crash at random intervals).
Win 7 is also more visually appealing.

Re:Decent Computer? (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293652)

crossover office is $40-70 and works well in my experience.

it's not that much more $$$ in addition to microsoft office and if you're pirating that, then go ahead and pirate crossover too.

Re:Decent Computer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293672)

Guys, we have a heretic amongst us who will not suck Linux cocks. Get the pitchfork and torches out!

Don't even have to build it yourself (5, Informative)

steevven1 (1045978) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293212)

You can get an eeePC netbook for $199 RETAIL at Best Buy...Best Buy!!! I know this is talking about desktops, but it just doesn't seem that surprising...

Re:Don't even have to build it yourself (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293414)

Yeah, but to be fair, a netbook can't really compare. An Atom's cool for low-power uses, but it's such a slow, dated design you can barely run a functioning computer off it. Even the integrated 6100 GPU on this build is better than Intel's crappy offering on there.

You have to compromise somewhere considering you get a screen, wireless, keyboard and trackpad/mouse (none of which are otherwise covered in this buildup) for that price.

Re:Don't even have to build it yourself (1)

dbet (1607261) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293438)

I don't know, I managed to run World of Warcraft off of a Dell 10v. And I regularly watch 1080p video on it.

Re:Don't even have to build it yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293502)

I'm using an Atom D410 running Lubuntu, it's the only system i've got and it's a perfectly capable desktop.

Re:Don't even have to build it yourself (2)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293692)

My experience dates back to second-generation Atoms (I had a first-generation 10" EEE PC) and I'll say they were barely functional. It's certainly able to do most common tasks, just bog slow with it.

Bear in mind your D410 is a dual-core CPU, whereas I'm fairly certain a $199 EEE PC won't be (looking at Amazon, even $250 doesn't net you that). They did get multithreading in with say the N455, though, which is a step forward I guess.

My entire point was just to say that even the best Atom gets blown away by the Athlon in the setup presented here.

Re:Don't even have to build it yourself (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293696)

Why do you need it to be fast? Most people only use a computer for browsing. If a computer was fast enough in 1990, it should theoretically be fast enough today assuming that you don't load it down with bulky and badly written OS and applications. Now if only we had programmers left who cared about efficiency...

Re:Don't even have to build it yourself (1)

brim4brim (2343300) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293702)

I just installed Linux Mint Debian Edition and put Enlightenment as window manager. Now I'm running Eclipse and doing Android programming no bother on it though I'm using my phone rather than the emulator which was taking too long to start up.

But you'd be surprised what you can do with a 200 Euro laptop when you ditch the bloat of most modern desktop environment. I still have all the auto-mounting, wireless management, update manager etc.. through the systray gadget which loads all the gnome systray stuff and the ability to use nautilus or any other gnome app I want though Enlightenment does pretty much everything I need in 30MB or so of memory.

Gnome is pretty much unusable on Eeepc I have, the system monitor uses 25% CPU and I'm disappointed in how it is bloating. We need Gnome lite :P

Re:Don't even have to build it yourself (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293564)

Just a few days ago, there was an HP desktop on woot.com for $299. 3Ghz AMD II 64-bit, 4gb ram, 1tb HDD, Windows 7, and Optical drive. There is really no reason to make big sacrifices to save a few dollars.

Re:Don't even have to build it yourself (1)

Yonder Way (603108) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293638)

$299 according to their web site.

Re:Don't even have to build it yourself (3, Informative)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293646)

Or you can get a bottom-end eMachines dual core 15.4" laptop for $230. It ain't fancy but, unlike the article's $200 desktop, it includes monitor, optical drive, input devices, and even a UPS. And it comes with an operating system that will have support for or be supported by whatever peripherals or software the user wants to add without having to call their weird nephew for help.

re: optical drive (5, Insightful)

ZankerH (1401751) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293216)

but omitting an optical drive in a full-size desktop computer build seems something like cheating.

It's 2011, dammit, why do people still use optical drives?

Re: optical drive (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293232)

Here Here.

Get a fucking USB one if you are stuck on them.

Re: optical drive (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293328)

Too slow and USB3 are expensive at this time.

Re: optical drive (1)

Tynin (634655) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293710)

Too slow and USB3 are expensive at this time.

What kind of optical device is going to saturate USB2's 60 MB/s? I'm curious as didn't think they were able to reach those speeds.

Re: optical drive (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293258)

I use mine mainly to rip audio CDs.

Re: optical drive (4, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293300)

What is this "Audio CD" you speak of? Is it like an Audi TT?

Re: optical drive (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293368)

It's what recordings that aren't available in the iTunes store come on.

Re: optical drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293552)

The Internet?

Re: optical drive (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293586)

So it's where the Pirate Bay stores its torrents?

Re: optical drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293366)

Ahoy there, matey! Abandon ye olde music acquisition ways and say arrrrrrrrgh.

Yo ho, yo ho......

Re: optical drive (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293268)

My optical drive broke down about 3 years ago. I've never had to replace it. So I agree, for some, it might not be needed at all.

Re: optical drive (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293402)

I've used a 3.5" floppy drive more recently than I've used an optical drive.

Slow Down Cowboy!

Slashdot requires you to wait between each successful posting of a comment to allow everyone a fair chance at posting a comment.

It's been 6 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment

Dear Slashdot Janitors,
Is there a reason why you make it so unpleasant and troublesome to contribute to your site?

Re: optical drive (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293522)

You must be rather young. You obviously don't remember the good old days, back when this site first started and was overrun with spam and trolls.

Re: optical drive (3)

Nos9 (442559) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293280)

Because the people that put out content for the computer ship on them. A cheap 4G mem stick is ~$4, to press 4.7G DVD costs them pennies. Until there is a useful way to allow customers to DL onto their own memory sticks, optical will stick around.

Re: optical drive (2)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293694)

People also have boxes of CDs and DVDs. You don't need a burner but you definitely need a reader.

Re: optical drive (3)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293284)

but omitting an optical drive in a full-size desktop computer build seems something like cheating.

It's 2011, dammit, why do people still use optical drives?

Because they want to.

Re: optical drive (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293294)

I can unequivocally say no. We sell a lot of little desktop computers without an optical drive. They come with Ubuntu usually and maybe 1/3 of our customer base gets one. They are extra. The minimal configured systems are without keyboard, mouse, monitor or optical drive and run $249. People are not renting DVDs any longer and most have never watched a DVD on the computer in the first place. Some areas have a higher than usual younger user base (Portland) and there is more demand for an optical drive (or at least there was) in these region. Elsewhere though most people do not watch movies on the PC.

Re: optical drive (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293706)

I would not mind having more external optical readers. But I've found that most of them are junk. Expensive, loud, and hot compared to internal drives. But if you do have a nice external drive then you don't need on one your new computer.

The drive is not there for movies or music, but for archived backup disks you created in the past, old applications, old games, etc.

Re: optical drive (1)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293298)

I know I did not even blink about missing an optical drive from my latest build. Even MS supports creating a boot-able USB drive with Windows 7 on it! Granted you need an existing copy of windows but still. I cast my vote firmly in the fewer moving parts camp.

Re: optical drive (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293494)

Even MS supports creating a boot-able USB drive with Windows 7 on it!

Somehow, I had missed that little bit of "trivia". I have to say, "About time!" I remember my early days with Windows, trying to work around a bad CD-rom in some cases, or a scratched up CD in others. And, trying to get someone's driver installed by way of the floppy drive which was often full of lint and dust. Yes, it's about time that MS actually SUPPORTS a boot-able USB. Take all my headaches, multiplied by all the people worldwide who had to work around that limitation, and you most certainly have billions of hours of wasted time!

Of course, these days, I don't spend much time fixing people's trashed out computers. I guess that's why I wasn't aware that Microsoft had come out of the stone ages.

Re: optical drive (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293664)

MS may support it, but I burned myself a DVD anyways. Sometimes you really do need something to be on a WORM disc, I'd hate to think what would happen if I forgot what was on the disc and reformatted it.

That being said, we've hit the point where it's sufficient to have on external optical driver per household.

Re: optical drive (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293338)

Not including the optical drive seems like future proofing to me :-p.

Re: optical drive (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293372)

It's 2011, dammit, why do people still use optical drives?

When I built my last PC (less than a month ago) I neglected to include an optical drive (which was actually an oversight). I've since had to order one because I can't play DVDs, I can't install games from disc (not everyone has unlimited 100Mbps internet), I can't rip audio CDs and it's hardly practical to keep all the various recovery and install CD images on USB sticks (cheap as they are, buy 20 and they soon add up - plus you can't put them in a wallet).

While blank DVDs cost a hundredth of the price of equivalent flash memory, optical media is not dead. I would happily pay £15 for a SATA DVD+/-RW drive for that convenience.

Re: optical drive (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293384)

"Optical drive"? Is that the slidey thing you put those sort of shaving mirror thingies into? I remember we used to use something like that in the olden days.

Re: optical drive (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293390)

It's 2011, dammit, why do people still use optical drives?

Possibly because, just because it's 2011 doesn't mean all past cds/dvds are magically converted into usbs.

Dammit archaeologists, it's 2011! Why are you still reading clay tablets!

Re: optical drive (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293392)

Because I have close to 100 CDs and 30 DVDs. Yeah, I'm old school. Ripping them onto my hard drive would take up too much space.

Re: optical drive (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293464)

Only 30 DVDs? That's not going to take much space at all. Certainly not much at all by modern HDD standards.

Even the drives that come in cheap low profile machines (nettops) are probably large enough to accomodate all of that.

30BD's would be another matter though.

Re: optical drive (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293716)

But the point isn't the space, but that you have the disks for archive. They're cheaper and more reliable for archive purposes than a hard drive.

Re: optical drive (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293508)

It's because they want to distribute software to you with an optical drive. It's not that big a deal in the Desktop space (its just so they can rip you off an extra $50). The real problem with it is in the laptop market you could fit an extra 2-hours+ of battery life in the space or a descent discrete graphics card or even a more robust cooling system that could add years of life to your laptop. It's ridiculous that you can't even find a 14-inch or larger laptop without a optical drive.

Re: optical drive (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293600)

I don't have an optical drive in my desktop. When I want to burn a CD to playon my Sega Saturn I have to boot up an old P3 box. That's about all I use it for.

Re: optical drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293636)

Because I'm too lazy to go out and buy an external hard drive. Because I don't have an abundance of 4GB USB thumbdrives lying around. Because backups are good, redundancy is good, and sometimes I want to free up space on the hard drive (by thinking a 25%-full drive will be a little faster than a 50%-full drive). Because a lot of computer products and games are still selling on CDs/DVDs. Because downloading 4GB of anything online is not feasible due to low download caps and satellite internet. Because I still have some 50 blank DVDs lying around and that seems like a heck of a value for storage.

At least I have a USB external optical drive. But all that's done is made me wish computers came with more than 4 USB ports.

Re: optical drive (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293648)

I have not put an optical drive in any of the computers I have built for myself or family for a couple of years now.

Re: optical drive (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293650)

I've got 1 USB DVD burner that I swap between computers as needed. I don't use it a whole lot, but sometimes it's nice to have a CDROM or DVD for moving files around or short term back ups.

But, most of the time I use it to rip my CDs and DVDs to disk.

Re: optical drive (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293682)

> It's 2011, dammit, why do people still use optical drives?

Because the lightning fast internet connection that (I'm assuming) you have isn't available in every household on the planet.
It's hard to feel 2011 when you have a 1997 internet connection at home.

Optical drive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293218)

Of course, like if you had used your optical drive in the last few months.

Seriously, why would one want an optical drive in a PC these days?

Re:Optical drive? (2)

HJED (1304957) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293634)

To instal Windows? To install most versions of Linux? To install a large number of commercial products (E.g. Photoshop)? To boot from a live CD when having boot problems? To install the free stuff that comes with computer Magazines?To play BD movies (I don't live in US and I prefer not to pirate everything)

Re:Optical drive? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293662)

To run any of the numerous games or software packages which use the CD/DVD for DRM?

So they just trolled Newegg (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293222)

So they comparison shopped a bunch of parts, and editorialized about every one. Big deal - go to Newegg, hit the sales, and don't overindulge and this is an easy project. How is this even news?

Re:So they just trolled Newegg (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293336)

Because it's teh Linux!!!!onehundredeleven!!!

no, it's time. (4, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293226)

"omitting an optical drive in a full-size desktop computer build seems something like cheating"

Optical disks? How quaint! :)

Re:no, it's time. (2)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293304)

While I can't imagine installing an optical drive in a computer an external one is handy for software that still ships on optical media as well as ripping the occasional cd or dvd. I use my external drive less and less but I know if I didn't have it I'd have to borrow someone else's sooner or later.

Re:no, it's time. (2)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293344)

Optical disks? How quaint! :)

You do realize people still buy software, and that it still comes on optical disks.

Not everyone has a broadband yet.

Optical discs aren't even close to dead yet.

Maybe you don't need one, that's just fine, good for you.

Re:no, it's time. (5, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293358)

"You do realize people still buy software, and that it still comes on optical disks."

This is a Linux system they built, though. Shrinkwrapped software is very rare, verging on nonexistent, for that OS.

Re:no, it's time. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293446)

There's still other types of software: CD, DVD & BD.

Although for a "cheap" system, removing the optical drive is at least an understandable trade off versus more expensive products.

Re:no, it's time. (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293512)

This is a Linux system they built, though. Shrinkwrapped software is very rare, verging on nonexistent, for that OS.

Good point. Frankly the whole article is a bit sketchy though... I mean... they assume you have a keyboard, mouse, and monitor already... doesn't that imply you already had a computer previously?

Doesn't that imply you had software for it? Software you might want to use on the new one? In which case going with linux was a bad move...

On the other hand... if your dismantling your old desktop to build a new one... perhaps you have an optical drive amongst the parts too...

[And now I have to futz around for a few minutes because apparently I can type comments faster than slashdot is willing to accept them... Its been 4 minutes since you last post? good god... if i took 5 minutes per email I'd never get anything done... WTF]

Re:no, it's time. (2)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293714)

Doesn't that imply you had software for it? Software you might want to use on the new one? In which case going with linux was a bad move...

You are assuming the former computer was running windows, some people have been using linux exclusively for well over a decade.

Re:no, it's time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293732)

On the other hand... if your dismantling your old desktop to build a new one... perhaps you have an optical drive amongst the parts too...

Should've spent the time fixing the typos....

Re:no, it's time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293460)

Optical disks? How quaint! :)

You do realize people still buy software, and that it still comes on optical disks.

Wait, people still buy software?

Re:no, it's time. (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293654)

People still use dialup too, I certainly wouldn't be putting a dialup modem in a modern computer by default either though.

Build a desktop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293228)

What is this, 2005? It's not worth the hassle to build a desktop PC any longer.

In fact, I haven't used a desktop in several months.

Re:Build a desktop? (3, Informative)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293308)

It is if you want anything with serious horsepower. Sure, a commodity PC will work fine for most things but if you want 8 cores and 64gb of ram with multiple video cards you'll be better off building it yourself.

Still x86 though (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293230)

I can't wait until these sorts of things are possible with commodity ARM (or other architecture) chips as well, especially for overall power consumption.

All recent Computer architectures are dogs. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293282)

When students were grown in schools to design computers, rather than processors designed in companies the tried and true method of market success,
this is when the industry failed into the hands of educators.

So many better architectures, waiting to be minitiarised for more efficiency from prior fabricatio nmethods, are going to be ditched in favor of these shitty designs now.

We all could have dreamed about the reality of a VAX on your wristwatch, a cluster of 21264 Alpha systems on a 5-plug UPS power strip, a UltraSPARC 3 PDA, or a SGI MIPS -based Heads-up-Display, but no: we get shitty chinese ARM's and everyone worships Apple Compooters Corpse for Jobs queefing a Tablet out his droors that is just as slim as he is from cancer!

Re:All recent Computer architectures are dogs. (3, Funny)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293342)

your spelling is about as good as your thinking.

Re:All recent Computer architectures are dogs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293416)

When students were grown in schools to design computers, rather than processors designed in companies the tried and true method of market success,
this is when the industry failed into the hands of educators.

So many better architectures, waiting to be minitiarised for more efficiency from prior fabricatio nmethods, are going to be ditched in favor of these shitty designs now.

We all could have dreamed about the reality of a VAX on your wristwatch, a cluster of 21264 Alpha systems on a 5-plug UPS power strip, a UltraSPARC 3 PDA, or a SGI MIPS -based Heads-up-Display, but no: we get shitty chinese ARM's and everyone worships Apple Compooters Corpse for Jobs queefing a Tablet out his droors that is just as slim as he is from cancer!

You've proven that educators have failed, at least in one case.

Re:All recent Computer architectures are dogs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293540)

The force is strong with this one. And by "force" I mean "drugs".

ARM is a good architecture (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293630)

ARM is a good architecture. It offers the 16 registers recommended, and fast interrupt registers, for quick processor mode changes (helpful for micro kernels). Its 32 bit instructions have conditional instructions to avoid small loops. ARM pioneered the high density code instruction set with Thumb. Today, MIPS is copying the ARM's past innovations.

Re:Still x86 though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293612)

You can get today's multi-core x86 computers, where most of the power draw is not from the CPU. Yes, those exist provided you run them at a slower speed than maximum.

HEre's your ARM,

http://www.slashgear.com/25-raspberry-pi-computer-runs-quake-iii-30175129/ [slashgear.com]

Frankly, I'll stick with x86 and supported peripherals for now. Things like llano APU from AMD provide cheap CPU and great GPU and very cheap overall. Why would I go back 10 years in performance so I can run an ARM?

Cheating? Hardly. (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293274)

I've used my optical drive probably twice this calendar year, once to install an old game and once to install MFC printer s/w that's not available for download. For the most part I can do without one.

I omit optical drives in $1xxx builds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293278)

Optical drives are dated and obsolete. I boot a live CD via USB then grab the stage3 for an OS install. Backups are done via the network.

I wouldn't put an optical drive in if budget weren't an issue. The few watts it consumes while plugged in are a terrible waste of power for something never used.

Who even wants to load an OS via optical? Talk about slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow.

Once you install via USB you'll never go back.

what about a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. (2)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293290)

Probably more important than an optical drive

Re:what about a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293362)

you're right, that IS cheating not to have those. A new usb keyboard and mouse from several place on eBay can be had for $11. But the monitor is a killer, for young eyes could squeak by with a 15 inch that sometimes is under $100, but at my age that's going to cost unless buying used or refurbished. I'm on a 23" widescreen samsung now that was $250 refurbished with warranty. but there goes a cheap computer budget.

Re:what about a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293374)

They are also completely interchangeable after market parts.

Cheating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293356)

> omitting an optical drive in a full-size desktop computer build seems something like cheating

Why? Even if you can get a DVD burner for under $20 - if the goal is to build a sub-$200 computer, and you can install all your software without one, then why intentionally eat up 10% of your budget on something you don't even need?

Optical still wins when it comes to $ & lifesp (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293376)

I've bought 4 USB thumb drives over the past 5 years and so far, 2 have failed. These little bastards weren't cheap either. I've also got CDs I burned about 7 years ago that still work fine. Not ONE failure. Therefore, everything gets backed up to DVDs.

The car stereo also doesn't play MP3s (2007 model, factory stereo) so I can either A: spend about $200 on an aftermarket mp3 adapter or B: burn CDs.

Re:Optical still wins when it comes to $ & lif (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293514)

Realy? I've fond hard drives to be cheap and effective.
1TB of storage is a monsterous stack of DVD's or a small hard drive. 2TB is even worse.

As far as hard drive reliability, make 2 or 3 copies. 3 2TB hard drives is pretty easy to handle, DVD's pretty darn difficult.
I don't have a blu ray drive, but I dont' see it being momumentally better.

Optical is dead, and flash drives aren't reliable.

Re:Optical still wins when it comes to $ & lif (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293644)

Good point. I have already started using an HD for backups but I still back up to optical too, just in case the HD dies. It certainly is a chore to make several DVDs to back up several GB of files but at least if one or two go bad, I have more backups. If a HD goes bad, I'm screwed.

However, even more to your point, the price per GB falls every year and capacity increases. Behold HD size in rough terms:

1985: top-of-the-line HD had MAYBE 10MB. It also cost about $5000.
1995: about 8-10 GB. Cost: I honestly don't know.
2005: about 500 GB.... around $120.
Today: 2TB... $90.

Imagine 2020... or 2030... holy shit. I can see the Fry's ad now: "100 PB for $120. While supplies last." [Factoring in the estimated inflation].
But what the hell does someone do with 100 PB? As is the case with CPU speeds, we will eventually hit a ceiling. Except in this case, the ceiling will be what is practical vs. what is possible. I can't imagine someone ever using that much HD space except for perhaps a company that never destroys old customer data.

How about a server? (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293398)

Kind of tangentially on-topic (wink-wink), but ... I am planning to upgrade my home server machine, which has been humming not so quietly since 2003. Sadly, I have not much dabbed in PC hardware since then -- do you guys know any online references with example configuration for decent, quiet machines to use as a starting point? My basic requirements are ecc registered ram, a terabyte or so of some kind of raid, a quad CPU and a well-supported video running Linux and, very occasionally, an odd windows instance in VirtualBox. TIA for any opinions.

Re:How about a server? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293422)

been doing this since VirtualBox vsn 1.*

They trolled Newegg? (2)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293478)

I built a better system (WITH A VIDEO CARD AND OPTICAL DRIVE, PCMAG) for $189 on Pricewatch.

AND YOU CAN GAME ON IT.

But you forget about monitor pricing.

I tally $184 - not even looking for deals (1)

sottitron (923868) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293492)

Its not my dream rig or anything, but picking off just about the cheapest item in each category yields $184 from newegg.

CPU $42 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103888 [newegg.com]
Motherboard $38 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813153181 [newegg.com]
RAM $25 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820134635 [newegg.com]
Case & PSU $30 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811162059 [newegg.com]
HD $34 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148698 [newegg.com]
DVD $17 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827118031 [newegg.com]

Re:I tally $184 - not even looking for deals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293628)

Include shipping on that and your >$200.

Re:I tally $184 - not even looking for deals (1)

ustolemyname (1301665) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293670)

Your CPU: 2.8GHz single core
Their CPU: 3.4GHz dual core

For the extra seven bucks, loss of a dvd drive, their computer's performance beats the pants off yours.

Press F2 to continue... (4, Insightful)

CaptCanuk (245649) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293520)

Missing:
  - keyboard
  - mouse
  - network cable
  - monitor?
  - USB key to install from
  - Friend to copy OS onto your USB key
  - taxes (for those lucky to have them)

I think the real cheat is any budget that involves a mail-in rebate.
The article starts out about financial difficulties and then provides a price that doesn't reflect the walk home price. 3-6 weeks you might make that money back IF you are lucky that the rebate was honored.

Why I use optical discs (2)

atomicbutterfly (1979388) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293526)

I'm currently on a bit of a "get legit" roll when it comes to my media. All my software is acquired legally via the net so that's OK, it's just stuff like movies and music that I still require an optical drive for. Why?

1. I like my music in FLAC format. There are very few digital music stores which sell in this format. My favourite by far is http://bandcamp.com/ [bandcamp.com] but they don't have much mainstream/big-artist stuff.

2. Even if I didn't have a preference for FLAC, there aren't any legal digital music stores around which service my needs with at least a high-bitrate MP3. I don't want to use iTunes because I don't want to deal with AAC (I can convert them but I don't want a dependency on iTunes anyway). Amazon still hasn't, for whatever reason, opened an MP3 store here in Australia yet despite promising to open up to the world many years ago.

3. You can forget about any legit digital movie stores selling non-DRMed stuff either.

So what do I do? I buy music CDs and rip them to FLAC. I buy DVDs and use HandBrake to convert them, or just play them directly with VLC. Both of these cases require an optical drive, and until such a time occurs that physical sales of media are completely abolished, I will continue to do this. UNLESS... a suitable online store apears in my area which sells non-DRMed music AND video of what I want, in my preferred format. At this rate that's going to take a very long time (if ever), so I do what I can to stave off piracy.

Sooo... (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293580)

Get a $15 optical drive then.  Whatever.

You do realize optical drives are shit, right?

vga only in 2011 and the old GeForce 6100? (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293590)

you could of gotten a amd board with a newer ATI chipset with DVI for about $15 more and for like $30 more a AM3+ board.

a brick (2)

pbjones (315127) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293592)

It fails because you need to load an OS from somewhere, from something, so you need to include the cost of the USB stick and time/cost of downloading Linux. I didn't see the cost of HD cable either. CPU Heatsink? Minor stuff but it all adds up. 2 GB of ram? pfft. Why have a HD at all? boot from USB and use Network storage.

Re:a brick (2)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293698)

I've done it that way for fun but usb boot/system disk and internet storage are too dang slow.

but you don't need to worry about install media, just borrow from your local bsd or linux evangelist. I loan out cd or usb stick, and have done installs for friends and coworkers on their personal machines. wish I had some stickers of dead microsoft colored butterfly men that I could put on case of my laptop every time I kill a windows install. hmmm, that could work as a web page too....

Re:a brick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293728)

All retail CPUs come with a heatsink for the past several years, so that's straight-up bullshit. Motherboards usually come with at least 1 PATA (in the old days) or 2 SATA cables -- the particular one they chose clearly includes [newegg.com] 1 PATA and 1 SATA cable.

USB sticks are incredibly cheap -- you can probably bum a 256MB off your friends for free (if you can find anyone who still has one that small), worst case you pay $5 for a 1GB or 2GB. That's way more than enough room for a net-install, or adequate for a disk-install -- and still doesn't push it over $200.

Time to download? Now you're just being an ass -- they're not counting time to assemble it, time to pick up components locally, time to order components online, or time to sit around smoking weed while waiting for the UPS truck to bring your goodies. Why would they count time to download the OS?

Don't like the idea of useing a cheap PSU with a (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 3 years ago | (#37293604)

Don't like the idea of useing a cheap PSU with a case for under $30 much less a under $30 psu.

Optical drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37293626)

If you think about it, USB sticks are probably a good flat-out replacement for CDWRs/DVDWRs. They're faster, more convenient, and hold more. You can put them on your keychain. Just go with it, drop the optical, replace with USB.

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