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Get a quad-core DIY desktop PC kit for $199.99

A couple years ago I bought an off-the-shelf quad-core system--for $600. If you've got the DIY spirit and can operate a screwdriver, you can save big.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read
If you're a do-it-yourselfer, you can build a quad-core desktop for under $200.
If you're a do-it-yourselfer, you can build a quad-core desktop for less than $200. Circuit City

Want to learn how a PC works? Build one yourself. It's not only educational, but it's also a great way to save money on a new system.

For example, Circuit City has a Biostar N68S+ quad-core bare-bones PC kit for $199.99, plus around $12 for shipping. You get (nearly) everything you need to assemble a complete desktop for considerably less than if you bought a prebuilt system off the shelf.

Let's start with what you get, then talk about what you don't. The kit comes with a 400-watt tower case, a Biostar N68S+ motherboard, an AMD Phenom X4 9100e processor (with cooling fan), 2GB of PC6400 RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and a DVD burner.

My only real complaint with that load out is the RAM, but you can easily (and inexpensively) drop in a second 2GB module if you feel the need.

The kit doesn't come with a keyboard or mouse, a monitor, or speakers. The idea here is that you probably already own that stuff, and like the stuff you own, so you'll use your existing gear.

Also not included: an operating system. If you want to keep things on the cheap, you could install any number of free Linux distributions (like, say, Ubuntu 10.10). Or, if you already own a full version of Windows, you can install that.

For many users, the big downside to a DIY system is the lack of tech support. Each component in the kit carries its own warranty, but if you have a problem getting everything to work, well, you're sorta outta luck. But this kit has an average rating of 4.1 stars from a whopping 900-plus users, so I reckon everything goes together pretty well.

What are your thoughts on DIY PCs versus the off-the-shelf variety? I'll admit I usually take the latter route, if only for the sake of convenience, but I've built plenty of systems in my day. It's fun!

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