I inadvertently set out on building a moderately capable machine out of cheap or second hand parts primarily sourced off of Craigslist around mid-January, and it turned out quite well. For under $350 CAD (The price of an Xbox One) I managed to scrape this build together including all taxes.
It may be showing its age in that it's only performing roughly as well as a G3258 at stock, but for 40$ this slice of silicone holds its own. Since it's in the first generation of the Core series, it's also unlocked although I have yet to try overclocking it yet. I had originally found an even older Pentium E5300 to test out the other components, but thankfully this came along.
Similar to an Intel stock cooler, the TX3 just has pop-in pushpins for easy installation. This specific model I found was rebranded due to a manufacturing error that made Cooler Master deem it unfit for their standards. Still fully functional, it's usually just an imperfect base finish or misaligned fins. Best Buy had a clearance on their stock of these, so $11.16 each with taxes isn't bad. Got 3 for free shipping.
Sold together with the CPU. It's functional. SATA 2, USB 2, 4 DIMMs and a neat little automatic overclocking feature as the cherry on top. Pretty basic, but it works. Still visually has the old-school blue BIOS, but I suspect it's a UEFI.
4GB is right in line with what I expect this machine to do. Also sold with the CPU and Motherboard. The speed is on the lower side but at least it's not 1066. Really nice heat spreaders that I wasn't expecting.
Cheap. Decent speeds normally but it's still limited by the SATA 2 controller. No onboard RAM in sight so it probably wouldn't perform much better on SATA 3. Stumbled upon this and actually had to ask to get it added into the system here on PCP. Originally bought one for a friend's office PC with a failing hard drive and the performance was good enough so I snagged one for myself.
Fermi. Thankfully the second generation of Fermi so it'll run a bit cooler but apparently these single fan units are still quite loud (and hot) under a normal load. Got two of these in a pair for $70 each which isn't an amazing deal but it's fairly good considering people around here think their electronics are worth their weight in gold. Crazy how many people think that their used RAM is worth 1.3x the going rate for new sticks. Anyways the card runs very well after a thorough cleaning, it more than meets my expectations for a card of this age and architecture.
The cheapest possible case I could find anywhere. People on Craigslist wanted upwards of 40$ for their proprietary Dell cases, imagine what they wanted for a decent mATX case. This thing has USB 3.0 (Which I can't use), a neat-o PCIe card guard and preinstalled standoffs. It also has an terrible and equally annoying front fan, an obnoxious support, absolutely no cable management, a top mounted PSU and oldschool cutaway PCIe guards. For $30, I wasn't expecting much. I would actually buy again for a budget build similar to this one, but for an extra $20 you can buy yourself a better case with better...everything, really.
The purchase that started it all. I saw this go on sale for fairly cheap so I grabbed it hoping to use it as a backup or to replace the fishy PSU in aforementioned friend's PC. It's great for the price. 500W should be able to power the system, even with the scalding hot card. My only concern is that it's in a top mounted position directly over a Fermi GPU in a case with limited cable management and a low airflow front fan.
It's completely free! The Windows for Linux users, I find Ubuntu very easy to use and it makes a nice backup for when you don't have a Windows key. Mint, Puppy, Arch, they're all good but this is the one that even OEMs use from time to time.
The only reason why this is absolutely needed is because of the top mounted power supply and the poor front fan. It's also the only 80mm fan they had in stock at my local component shop. It runs pretty quietly for an 80mm unit, even at 100% so that's where it's staying.
Edit: All prices are in Canadian funds, at the current exchange rate this works out to roughly 240$ USD.