Building PC for dad. Barebones < $400


Jun 26, 2008
Ok, so my dad wants a pc to basically do a little online banking, quickbooks using, and maybe some web browsing. That's it. He wants to try and get it for $350 plus the cost of a wireless access point.

The only PC's I've ever built have been $1500-$4000 gaming rigs, so I don't even know what to buy for such a low scale rig.

I want to keep it as cheap as possible, but I also don't want him calling me to come over and help him because the damn thing freezes for 30 seconds every time he clicks a link.

I don't even know where to start guys. Thanks.

I'm wondering if it'll just be better to head to and order him the lowest level POS I can find.

Here's a build. It's a little over, but there are some obvious places you could make cuts:

SAMSUNG DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223L - OEM
Model #:SH-S223L
Item #:N82E16827151188
$26.99 $26.99

Rosewill R102-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
Model #:R102-P-BK
Item #:N82E16811147111
$29.99 -$10.00 Instant $19.99

BIOSTAR TA790GX XE AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Model #:TA790GX XE
Item #:N82E16813138140
$89.99 $89.99

PC Power & Cooling Silencer PPCS420X 420W ATX12V 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail
Model #: PPCS420X
Item #:N82E16817703017
$69.99 -$20.00 Instant $49.99

AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition Callisto 3.1GHz Socket AM3 80W Dual-Core Processor Model HDZ550WFGIBOX - Retail
Item #:N82E16819103680
$109.99 -$7.00 Instant $102.99

mushkin 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 996557 - Retail
Model #:996557
Item #:N82E16820146692
$53.99 $53.99

Western Digital Caviar Green WD6400AACS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive (bare drive) - OEM
Model #:WD6400AACS
Item #:N82E16822136298
$67.99 $67.99

Subtotal: $411.93
You could drop the mobo back to a 780G, drop the CPU back to a 250BE or 7780, and/or get only 2GB of RAM. Unless you have a 32bit O/S already, I'd stick with 4GB though, since if you bought one you'd either buy Vista 64 or put on the 64bit Windows 7 RC.
No. That PSU is crap, and furthermore the case takes a standard size PSU. Of all the places to skimp, the PSU is not one of them:
Next, your father will never thank you for inflicting a Celeron on him. His requirements may be low, but nothing is THAT low. A low-end AMD chip will run rings around it.
You'll also want to use a SATA burner, that can also use DVDs; at least for reading, because some software installs from DVD now, and he can watch movies on it too.

Master Kibbe

Jun 23, 2009
I wouldn't waste my time putting together a low cost solution such as this. Why not hit up and get a decent core 2 duo system with OS, LCD monitor, and acessories? I'd only build systems when they'd cost me $500+ otherwise it's a waste with all the good low price options out there.
The G31 is an o.k chipset, but it's IGP is pretty crummy for doing anything other than basic office work. I suppose if you aren't going to watch any movies, especially HD movies, it will be o.k. That celeron is also pretty minimal for a modern system. The AMD Phenom II X2 550 paired with an AMD chipset would be a better choice, or at least an nVidia chipset if you're pinching pennies here :D.

I wouldn't trust the PSU that you chose either. That Athena PSU could very well blow and take the whole system with it. The old Fortron Blue Storm is a decent choice

FSP Group FSP400-60THN-R 400W $44.99

This newer model is worth the extra $5 for it's active PFC and higher efficiency

FSP Group FSP400-60GLN(80) 400W $49.99

or you can get an Antec Earthwatts 380 which is more than enough for that system

Antec earthwatts EA380 380W $49.99


May 25, 2009
I'm surprised that most of you go for a separate PSU, he's building a computer that won't even exceed 100W in power, any PSU can handle that. I built a cheap computer for my friend very similar to your dad's needs. I used an Asus G31 MB + Celeron Dual Core CPU 2Ghz. Simple Coolermaster case + 2GB RAM (4GB is overkill, 2GB + 2GB pagefile = 4GB that's a lot of windows and programs running). 500GB HDD, DVD writer and also a Twinhan HDTV tuner with remote. All up cost $390 AUD = $280 USD. He can watch 1080i HD TV on 1 monitor and surf the web on another with no problem at all. I'm not sure about full HD playback but recorded TV is 1080i and that plays back perfectly, all of these in Vista Home Premium. I'm sure US parts are cheaper or just as cheap as parts here in Australia.