This guide is for people who want to build a basic computer just for surfing the web, listening to music, watching videos, and simple word-processing tasks. This type of build should cost no more than $450. Here’s what I would recommend for this type of computer:
Although they are cheaper, NEVER buy OEM parts because they do not come with everything and are untested. For example, an OEM CPU would come with the CPU only. No fan, nothing else.
If you want to build a computer around the Intel platform, I would get a Celeron, Pentium, or a Core 2 Duo (although Core 2 Duos are coming off the market). If you would like a little more power, try a low-end i3. These processors are low in price yet offer pretty good performance.
Maybe you want to build around the AMD platform. Then I would get either a Sempron or a low to mid-range Athlon processor. These are adequate.
A motherboard that is under $60 will work. Just make sure that its socket number matches the one of your CPU or it won’t fit in the socket. AMD CPUs never share socket numbers with Intels. If you are unsure that your CPU has the same socket as the motherboard you chose, you can verify that they do on the website PCPartPicker. Just a suggestion, MSI makes good Intel-based motherboards. One last note: Be sure to pick a motherboard that is of the MicroATX, Mini ITX, or any small size. ATX will not fit in a small case.
Before choosing RAM, make sure that your motherboard supports DDR3 (DDR2 is becoming obsolete) that is rated from at least 1066 to 1600 MHz. Choose either 2 or 4 GB of RAM (preferably using 1 slot to make room for future upgrades) and you are good to go. Another suggestion, RAM made by Kingston is low-priced, high-performance , and reliable too.
No matter how little power your build will use, you need at least a 250W PSU. Also, avoid the PSUs that come with cases and vice versa because they are non-reliable. Period.
If you are on a budget, I would get a Seagate or Western Digital hard drive up to 500 GB. 500 GB is a lot of space and if you are one of a lot of people, you will never use it all up. If you are willing to spend a bit more, get an SSD of 250 GB or 500 GB. They are more expensive but much, much faster than standard hard drives.
Most CPUs and motherboards nowadays come with built in graphics, so there is no need to spend money on a graphics card. If neither your CPU nor motherboard has built-in graphics, you don’t need a graphics card with more than 256 MB of memory.
If you followed the instructions for choosing a motherboard above, you should get either a MicroATX or MiniITX case, depending on your motherboard. You can get mini tower or midtower.
Final Note: If you want to be sure that all your parts that you chose will work together, assemble a virtual build on PCPartPicker.com.
To save money, you could go with Ubuntu. It is free and comes with many apps to install and use. It even comes with its own office suite!
Here’s a sample build that used these parts: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/v7hzrH
I hope this guide helped you!