A few months ago, I found myself in the position to buy a new computer for the girls. Over the years, I've built our PCs from scratch, slowly upgrading them as needed. I thought for sure, the cheapest way to get a new computer was to buy the components and put it together myself.
I was quite surprised when I found this wasn't true.
I went to Newegg, one of the best online shopping sites for computer gear and started pricing everything out. I easily started getting the total over $450. I even looked at a Mac Mini to run Windows on, but at $599, even it was expensive in compairision. I looked at the Walmart computers, and they were cheap but fairly low power.
I checked the Dell site, and was surprised to see the Dell Dimension B110 for $299. It's got to be bad, I thought. Not true. For a web surfing computer, the specs are impressive. 2.5 GHz Celeron processor, 80 GB hard drive, DVD-ROM player, and 256 MB RAM. That price includes Windows XP and even a monitor. It's a full system for $299. With an online coupon, you can even get free shipping.
Sure it's not much to look at, but for the price, you can buy a lot of stickers.
Inside is pretty sparse, but the slots and ports are there to expand if you want. If the Intel Extreme Graphics 2 video doesn't cut it, you can slap in a video card into the PCI slot. I added a 512MB memory stick (bought via Newegg) to bump the total of 768MB of RAM. XP runs pretty damn smooth with that much RAM.
I did have to spend about an hour deinstalling all the crapware that Dell installed and loading Grisoft AVG and Firefox. For an extra $10 I got an actual WinXP install disc and for another $14 a copy of Webroot Spysweeper. Not getting a monitor pretty much covered those costs.
The girls are happy and I've had absolutely no problems with the computer so far. It's quiet and stable.
One more surprise I found on the Dell site was the $78 laser printer. When buying it with a computer, the 1110 laser printer is only $78. Hard to believe these things used to go for thousands. Again I was surprised at the good quality of the output and the printer itself. There are a couple drawback though, as it doesn't come with a USB cable (Dell wants $25 for one!!) and the toner cartridge goes for $68 . But with the minimal amount we print, this cost is actually in line with comparable printers that go for twice as much.
I still intend to build our performance computers from scratch, but if I need to buy a beginner system, I'm going to look at buying rather than build.
Posted by michael at August 07, 2006 10:48 PM