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An Exercise in Patience
by vvildcard
Permalink:   (3 comments)

My main goal with this build was to show how time and good deal hunting can payoff if you're patient. It's heavily dependent on working vendor/site discounts (X% off your entire order or $X off if you buy $YY), combo deals, rebates and being ready to jump on a really good deal when one comes up.

CPU: $130 - $20 Promo Code = $110. Okay, so this was a better-than-average price, but hardly an ultra-deal... they're used on eBay for $100 (without a heatsink, though). I'll be honest: It was the last part in the build and I got impatient. I figure I could have saved $10-20 if I had waited for a used one on eBay or for the price to drop (lowest ever, per PCPartPicker is $100). I also wavered a lot between a G-series Pentium for ~$60-70 and going for an i5 for ~$150-170. I think the i3 ends up being a great compromise. The i5's obviously better, but I just couldn't let myself put a $150+ CPU in a $10 motherboard. There is a stigma against the Pentiums (people perceive them as old and slow... even though they're roughly the same) and since I'm reselling, I want to be able to list it as a 3.4 GHz (people like big numbers) and Core i3 brand.

Motherboard: This one is complicated... $50 base - $10 MIR - $10 MIR - $20 Mouse/TD Bundle = $10. The Mouse/Total Defense deal was from TigerDirect... It's $40 with a $60 MIR. Buying them together was important because the second $10 MIR required a $50 purchase but the motherboard alone didn't meet the threshold. Adding the mouse bundle got me over that threshold, but I got all my money back (and then some) after the rebates cleared. At the end of it all, I had the motherboard and mouse for $10.

RAM: $90 / 2 = $45. Was actually a 2x8GB kit but I only used 1 stick. I will use the second stick in a future build... but could probably get an easy $50 on eBay if I wanted to offset the cost in this build even more.

Storage: TigerDirect deal... $70 base - $30 MIR = $40. I almost included an OCZ Vertex 450 that I got for $45 (TotalDefense bundle) but I ended up selling that on eBay for a small profit.

Video Card: $75 + S&H. I wasn't planning on having a big video card in the build but I found this barely-used gem on eBay and couldn't pass it up. Note this is the 2 GB GDDR5 model... it would be an okay deal if it were 1 GB (I've seen them new for $90)... it's a steal for the 2 GB (which you'll rarely see them for less than $150). The extra RAM is important for 1080p gaming, as 1 GB becomes a bottleneck at that resolution.

Case: Another TigerDirect deal... $30 - $30 MIR = Free after rebate. It's a really simple, no-frills mATX case... a little flimsy but it gets the job done. Cable management was a challenge but nothing a bunch of zip ties (which came with the PSU) can't fix! I feel like it came out really well, all things considered.

Power Supply: $40 - $4 - $20 MIR = $16. The $4 off was a 10% off promo from MasterPass. You really can't beat this PSU for an ultra-budget machine.

Optical Drive: Every once in a while DVD Burner prices take a dive... if you're building regularly, watch for them and snatch a few at a time. Optical drives are becoming a thing of the past but if you can get them for less than $15, I think they're still warranted. I think I got this a year ago as part of a purchase for another build... the price was good and I knew I'd use it eventually.

Operating System: $100 - $20 Promo Code. I wavered a lot on including this in the build. Since my goal is to resell this PC as a complete package and I wanted to be able to ship it with things ready-to-go out-of-the-box, this became required. Remember to remove $80 from the total price if you're comparing prices with a build that doesn't include a Windows license.

Mouse: See the Motherboard notes. Free as part of that purchase.

Keyboard: Never found a good deal on a keyboard before the rest of build was complete so this component never made it.

Media Reader: $15 - $7 Promo Code = $8. Grabbed this on a whim... it was a great price and these days a Media Reader is pretty handy... I think it adds a lot more than $8 of value to the build.

WiFi: $10 - $10 MIR = $0. Was a filler item along with some other items to get a TigerDirect deal that gave a $20 rebate on a purchase of $150 or more.

I've been extremely happy with the build. Everything fired up without a hitch, it's quiet and quick. I copied over a few games and they ran great... temps stay low, even during stress tests. The GPU got up to ~65 C while playing Skyrim, ~70 C while running Heavenly benchmarks (scored ~800, FWIW). The GPU fan (blower) started ramping up at the 70 C mark and wouldn't let temps go higher... under the full load, it spun up to about 50% speed to stabilize the temps, so I have no worries about the thing getting overheated.

Part List
Intel Core i3-3240 3.4GHz Dual-Core Processor
CPU Clock Rate3.4GHz
CPU Temperature While Idle30.0° C
CPU Temperature Under Load55.0° C
When commenting on a completed build please keep your feedback polite and constructive, particularly if commenting on part choices and possible alternatives.
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Sorted by:
Every1LoveEvery1 [1 Build] 1 point 8 months ago

Wow nice, that turned out to be a nice little machine !

Hope you make a decent profit so you can do it all over again.

vvildcard [Submitter] [4 Builds] 2 points 8 months ago

Thanks! That's the plan! I have to have something to feed my desire to build without breaking the budget.

tsunamitomi [2 Builds] 1 point 7 months ago

Nice job finding the deals! Sometimes building a PC can feel like a part-time job, checking for deals every day and making sure you get the best price. It looks like it really paid off.