Desktops forum

General discussion

Need a cheap desktop purely for surfing and email?

by ensyed / December 6, 2004 2:29 AM PST

My Dad wants a new desktop. He only uses it for surfing and writing emails. Occasionally he uses the word functionality to edit letters.
Where can I get a really cheap desktop. Dell's appear to be around 500. Is there anything cheaper out there? Thanks

Post a reply
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Need a cheap desktop purely for surfing and email?
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Need a cheap desktop purely for surfing and email?
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Re: Need a cheap desktop purely for surfing and email?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 6, 2004 2:37 AM PST

Maybe refurbs? I picked up a 1GHz P3 from for my nephew. It was 99 bucks. We fitted a spare DVDROM drive and that let him watch movies too.

Best of luck,


Collapse -
Re: Need a cheap desktop purely for surfing and email?
by Coryphaeus / December 6, 2004 12:02 PM PST
Collapse -
Re: Need a cheap desktop purely for surfing and email?
by gatorz759 / December 10, 2004 12:08 AM PST

If that is all you need Try Best buy,, for a factory built Sys. E-machines top end is only about 399.00 and they r built better than most out there.

Collapse -
Inexpensive Desktop
by jhall49 / December 17, 2004 12:34 PM PST

E machines are a good way to go if you are looking for an inexpensive computer. I think that Walmart offers a full system, including monitor, printer, ect. for around $400.00. You really can't beat the price and the system will work great for what you father is doing.

Collapse -
dell is a good choice
by Lance DixxX / December 18, 2004 4:31 AM PST
In reply to: Inexpensive Desktop

dell give's an amazing support, if you want a cheap computer for email and browsing the dim3000 would work. right now they have a free printer bundle.. so.. try with dell.. remember all computers are the same, the diference is the service and the warranty

Collapse -
Re: Need a cheap desktop purely for surfing and email?
by Sammy7 / December 11, 2004 6:44 AM PST

If you like Dell, I just found a brand new sealed Dell for $329.- on Ebay. Here are the specs:-
NEW Dell Dimension 2400 Intel P4 2.8Ghz

*** Brand New, Not Refurbished!

*** In Dell Factory Sealed Box!

*** Free Dell Color printer 720

Intel Pentium 4 Processor at 2.8GHz
128MB DDR Memory at 333MHz
80GB 7200 RPM Ultra ATA Hard Drive
48X CD-RW Drive
3.5 inch Floppy Drive
Integrated Intel Extreme Graphics 2
Intel Pro 100M Intergrated Ethernet Card
Integrated Audio
56K PCI Data Fax Modem
Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, Service Pack 1
Dell Enhanced Multimedia PS/2 Keyboard
Dell USB Optical Mouse
* Dell A425 Speakers w/Subwoofer (Optional at $40)
* TWO year DELL warranty

Just do a search for Dimension 2400 and u shud get loads of them.

Collapse -
you can try building one too
by onebione / December 17, 2004 5:25 AM PST

you can try building one with cheap parts.
I recommend checking out for parts on sale.
my guess is a amd sempron, a cpu-compatible DDR400Mhz MoBo and a 7200RPM hard drive should start you off right.
remember, even though your dad might not use it for much, he should still get a relatively fast machine. It will have an effect on how fast webpages load as well.
The trouble with buying cheap computer from Best Buy or, for that matter, dell is that they use cheap parts inside.
Merry Xmas.

Collapse -
New computer
by S Barringer / January 13, 2005 2:06 PM PST

Ebay can be a very good source if you check the seller out real good. Make sure it's a "power seller" with warranty, etc.
Personally, I like They have some real good deals on basic systems.

Collapse -
Cheap Desktop
by izzy1216 / December 17, 2004 3:28 AM PST

There are several options available. 1st off, I am primarily a MS Windows user (IT/Development, etc...) but have been looking at & using several alternatives. There are low-cost refurb machines available - good place to start is If your Dad is only using the machine for what you stated, look at and/or Both sell decent low-cost machines with a Linux-based, very user-friendly OS with plenty of apps for under $300. I have actually used the Xandros OS which has proven to be a out-of-the-box, relatively secure, reliable/stable option for a user like your Dad. There are even other options, both MS & Linux-based, so you should be able to find a decent box with functionality and ease-of-use for under $300.

Collapse -
by Felty / December 17, 2004 3:52 AM PST has some deals going now that after rebates (around $50) they range from $199 to $349 for a decent celeron or AMD sempron machine. Some are refurbs, but the price is right. Bought one for my 8 year old and it works perfectly for what he uses it for.

Collapse -
Linspire is the way to go
by simplecaveman / December 17, 2004 4:01 AM PST

If you only want to surf and deal with e-mail, the best value going is a computer with Linspire as the operating system. maintains listings of computers that come preloaded with Linspire. It is straightforward and is open source, which means you don't have to deal with Microsoft and its overpriced software.

Collapse -
Need a cheap desktop purely for surfing and email?
by Aaron / December 17, 2004 4:05 AM PST

I bought 2 from Best Buy for $399 for the kids this Christmas. It even has the smart card area on the front for the digital cameras. eMachines has been a solid company for a while now

Collapse -
by michael1964 / December 18, 2004 11:01 PM PST

e-machines are great I owned one for 4 years and it even played games well. It is also owned by Gateway now.


Collapse -
Need a cheap desktop purely for surfing and email?
by deesyd / December 17, 2004 4:48 AM PST

Staples has this special on until the 18th. I went to and put clicked on Weekly Specials and put in my zip code and clicked on Computers.

Compaq AMD Sempron Processor 2800+ Presario PC and monitor package
Save $250. SPECIAL BUY.
after instant savings & easy rebates
Valid Dec 12 - 18

In-Store Savings
Add this item
to Printable
Shopping List
This Compaq Presario PC and monitor package includes:
AMD Sempron Processor 2800+
? 256MB DDR RAM ? 40GB hard drive ? CD-RW drive
? 56K (max) modem ? 10/100 Ethernet card
? Compaq FS7550 17" flat-glass CRT monitor (16" viewable)
? 9-in-1 card reader ? Windows

Collapse -
cheap PC
by Karridog / December 17, 2004 4:57 AM PST

I would recommend that you visit For less than $300.00 you can get a complete desktop computer system. You can see videos that explain in very much detail what you will get for your money. I have a Dell PC and will be getting a Linspire/Linux desktop computer very soon myself.

Collapse -
cheap PC
by gooslojo / December 17, 2004 5:35 AM PST
In reply to: cheap PC

Try your local classified section. I bought an E-Machine with 98ME,686mhz processor,10 GB hard drive,CD\DVD burner and desktop speakers for$100 from a local woman who bought a computer to keep up with the Jones'(her words). She used it for about two weeks and realized it wasn't her cup of tea.Also, check local businesses who are upgrading and unloading their entire "fleet" of computers. I also bought a DellV333c with windows 98,10GB hard drive,Windows office 2000,288kb ram for $100.You never know what you can find from people who just want to get rid of their "junk"

Collapse -
Cheap desktop
by nickj6282 / December 17, 2004 5:35 AM PST


If you can read simple instructions and work a basic screwdriver, then building your own is probably the way to go here. You can go to eBay or and pick up any parts you need for very reasonable prices. If you don't know how to build your own computer, there is an excellent book out there "Building a PC for Dummies" (yes, those books) that you can get from Amazon/ that will make it easy. Many people are intimidated by building their own PC, and those same people are amazed by how ridiculously easy and simple it is, plus you will no longer have to pay some technician $50 to install new RAM or a new CD drive for you (which is WAY overpriced!)

If you still don't want to take this route, then also sells desktop PCs at very reasonable prices, or you can get a barebones PC from them too, if you already have a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers left over from another PC. That is another way to save a few bucks. Good luck!

Collapse -
cheap computers
by jmustiansr / December 17, 2004 5:57 AM PST

Find a local geek or part time computer nut by word of mouth in your area. I make a real good part time income by collecting and refurbishing old pentium 1,2,& 3's, just for folks that don't need all the bells and whistles.

Collapse -
I need cheap too but has to be able to run videos off CD-DVD
by barnesa_17201 / December 17, 2004 10:07 AM PST
In reply to: cheap computers

At school we have lots of CDs and probably some DVDs from colleges, scholarship outfits, etc. We'd like to acquire a stand-alone PC with decent sound for narration (not necessarily music), speed and memory to keep up with a video, but almost no disk space needed. What other considerations are there just to play video on a standalone PC? Version of Win? is 95 OK? Don't need anything M$ I'd guess...

Ann in PA

Collapse -
Low Specs
by JTHunter / December 17, 2004 11:49 AM PST

An older computer is a good choice for most of what you describe. If you want to avoid some of the security problems found in MS products, try Linux. Just remember that not all software works with Linux. This computer has Photoshop 6, Illustrator 9, Dreamweaver/Fireworks 4, and Flash 5. This is on a 6 1/2 yr. old 400 mHz P2 w/ 320 mb RAM using Windows 98. It has a CD-RW, dual hard drives, ZIP and floppy drives and runs well enough for its age. And with 98, you don't have many worries about viruses and worms like "SoBig" and "Blaster" which are aimed at the NT based systems (NT, 2000, and XP). If you can build your own, you can afford much higher end parts. Good luck.

Collapse -
Low end
by jhall49 / December 17, 2004 12:47 PM PST
In reply to: Low Specs

JT, I think that you are right about building your own for better componets, but wouldn't you agree that you can not build one for less than you can currently buy a low end system that will do what is asked? I don't think that I could build one for less than what Walmart sells a low end system for. Plus a cheap E box will already have some if not all the software installed. It should be albe to plug in and go.
I am a big fan of building your own to save money, and you will also get you more power, but just to surf and email a ready built machine will work just fine with far less hassle. Just my thoughts.
Happy Holidays,

Collapse -
Cheap desktop for E-mail & Surfing
by iahlea / December 17, 2004 12:47 PM PST

Have you considered the (used to be called webtv)? I had 2 different models before I needed a computer and I really liked using them. You can hook them up to a small (13") tv and surf to your heart's content and they only run about $200. There are word
processing websites (if he ever needs that feature) that are free and you can hook the msntv up to an inexpensive printer. If you decide you'd like to try one let me know and I'll be glad to send you one!

Collapse -
by Dillbert / December 24, 2004 6:18 AM PST

I noticed your post on msntv and I am very interested. With this are you able to access 'all' of the internet like you do with a computer? Or more specifically, what things is it not capable of doing that a regular computer does? Can you save favorites, send attachments with email, etc. I guess I'm just trying to figure out what the catch is. It would seem that there would be no need for a regular computer if this can do it all. Thanks for any help you can give me.

Collapse -
Member Question of the Week
by brokfarm / December 17, 2004 1:46 PM PST

I would look for an older mac, System 8.1 - 9.1, no higher. Simple and easier to understand yet still powerful. If he has access to dsl or broad band, I would stick with 9.1 and make sure you have an ethernet port. If no fast conection don't forget about the modem.

think about the windows in the envelopes you get with your bills. There are three ways you can mess up.

Collapse -
what about a mac?
by eyecreate / December 18, 2004 2:32 AM PST

How about a Mac? They are simple, easy to use, and your Dad won't get anywhere near the amount of viruses, etc that will slow down his computer. You will be told that Macs are more expensive, even if they are, say $200 more, isn't it better to have a computer that your dad can use (for a long time) without you having to fear about virusus, spyware etc slowing down his machine?

The E macs are great little machine to look at. I've always had great experience with Apple Care. I think it's free support for about 90 days.

Collapse -
Need a cheap desktop purely for surfing and email?
by rsnow / December 18, 2004 2:56 AM PST

Saying that your dad wants a new desktop implies that he already has an old/older one. If it is true that all he does is surf the net and do emails, he certainly doesn't need a monster machine. Not long ago, I gave my 20 year old Dell to my sis-in-law to do the same things.

From all that I've seen in the stores and elsewhere, it seems the e-machine brand has the most for the least $$.

Then of course, there are the new Linux machines with the Linspire OS. I have looked at the Linspire OS and am impressed with it. You can check their web site and see if they have info about where to buy a machine with their OS already installed. I am thinking of getting it myself.

Collapse -
Low end pc
by smartipants / December 18, 2004 3:14 AM PST

Last May I got my mother (age 77) an e-Machine system that came with everything including a printer. We bought at one of the large office superstores for about $650 with $250 in rebates. Well, she still has not received the rebate money, and I won't be back in her home state until May of 2005 to help deal with it. Aside from the rebate issue, the system is perfect for her - a very new low end user. She runs WinXP and does mostly email plus occasionally printing pictures of her grandchildren. She'll probably never need to upgrade anything or add any programs (still uses her manual typewriter to type letters). My advice is to watch the sales fliers that come from the different stores for the best price you can get, but beware of possible rebate issues (keep copies of what you send and follow up if they don't send the rebate amount in a reasonable time). HTH :o)

Collapse -
cheap desktop
by Santos / December 18, 2004 9:04 AM PST

i definitly recomend the eMachine as a very good quality (cheap) desktop. you can buy one for as cheap as $350.00 at bestbuy or circuit city. also gave eMachine a good review.

Collapse -
Cheaper than Dell?
by MartinM2517 / December 18, 2004 11:00 AM PST

Well, but of course! Go to Gateway, HP, and others. HP has an awesome deal on a PC with a monitor for $399! There are some that are even less--and they're all brand new! And of course you can go to CompUSA or to your mom and pop computer store and probably get a good bargain there (plus, if you ever have problems, at least they're close by!)

But, if he doesn't even need that much, you/he can get something for even less by purchasing a used or refurbished model from hundreds of vendors or even from people who advertise in your local paper or free weekly publications. Just to surf the web, send and receive e-mails and print stuff out from a program like Word won't cost you an arm and a leg. You can usually get a Pentium II cheap today with a monitor, keyboard and mouse for under $125 and a Pentium III can be had for less than $275. Keep it all in mind.


Collapse -
cheaper computer
by g6sl1 / December 19, 2004 2:13 AM PST

you might want to try and their brand new.

Popular Forums
Computer Help 49,613 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,349 discussions
Laptops 19,436 discussions
Security 30,426 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 20,308 discussions
Windows 10 360 discussions
Phones 15,802 discussions
Windows 7 7,351 discussions
Networking & Wireless 14,641 discussions


Having Wi-Fi troubles?

From the garage to the basement, we blanketed every square inch of the CNET Smart Home with fast, reliable Wi-Fi.