The Ultra Budget Computer

The idea is to make a semi-decent PC on the cheap using ultra budget parts picked up either free or dirt cheap. A prime candidate for hardware mod experiments, which might then be used on a PC that isn't a Frankensteinian heap of junk...


CPU : AMD Duron 800MHz
Cost: 13.70
From: eBay
Note: A good obscure processor makes for a good bargain - people go silly at the mention of a Pentium, and this processor is equivalent to a 1.2GHz Intel Celeron.


RAM : 256Mb DDR266MHz DIMM (PC2100)
Cost: 25.00
From: shop4memory.co.uk
Note: It seems the best bargains are to buy from ordinary retail shops, as RAM is a popular commodity, and you save little or no money by buying second hand.


Motherboard: VIA Mini ATX (onboard LAN, audio, video)
Cost: 0.00
From: Donated from a friend doing upgrades


Removable Media: Philips DVD Burner
Cost: ?
From: Gift
Note: Thank you Santa!


PSU : Generic 300 Watt
Cost: 15.00
From: nenaghcomputers.ie
Note: Needed to upgrade from the donated 100W PSU to accommodate my sparkly new DVD burner }:)


Case: Attache Toolbox
Cost: 15.00
From: Hardware store
Note: Sooooo shiny....


Graphics Card: nVidia RIVA TNT 2
Cost: 0.00
From: Donated!
Note: Had to use this since the onboard graphics were fried!


Display: 14" Gateway EV500 CRT
Cost: 0.00
From: Donated!


TOTAL
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83.70
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Barebones

Here the Ultra Budget Computer is up and running, installing Fedora Core 3. It ain't pretty, but it works!

 

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Power Supply

Pretty self explanatory. It's a micro ATX form factor to save a little space in the new case.

 

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Power Supply Surgery

The case is easy to disassemble by removing a few screws. The (noisy) fan is easy to remove. Be very careful if you're trying this, as the capacitors in power supplies easily hold enough juice to fry you if they are charged. To discharge them, either turn on your computer while the supply is unplugged from the mains, or leave the supply unplugged for the mains for a few days.

 

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Mains Connector

A close up of the mains connector on the power supply shows that it's modular and easy to pop out of the case. This means that the supply can be placed anywhere in the new computer case, and the connecting wires extended.

 

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Graphics Card

My old but functional nVidia AGP graphics card.

 

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Denuded Graphics Card

Same card, with the PCI slot riser thing removed to make installation easy.

 

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Bungee

One of the critical components for my attempt at making a reasonably silent computer! The idea is to 'suspend' the hard-drives and fans using these elastic cords to prevent them from transmitting vibration to the computer case, reducing the amount of noise they generate.

 

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Tool Box

Oh so shiny.

 

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Case Interior

The inside of the case is covered in a thin and dense layer of foam. This should help to further reduce noise.

 

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Rough Component Layout

Working out where everything should go.

 

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Miracle Connectors

The connectors are frickin' cool! Just the thing for bolting the bungee cords to the sides of the case. I have no idea what they're called, but I likes 'em.

 

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Bungee One

The first strand of bungee to support one of the case fans.

 

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Bungee Two

The second piece of bungee for the fan. Note the extra piece of bungee on the left to allow for tension adjustment. This is necessary here, as the fan barely clears the sides of the case when closed.

 

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Fan Mounting

The arrangement shown was necessary, as I had neglected to include the thickness of the bungee when measuring the fit for the fan. With the cord thickness added, the fan was pressed against the sides of the case, negating the whole suspension caper. The drill bits were later replaced by bolts... };)

 

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Bungee Closeup

Just a detail on how the cord is bolted to the case.

 

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Even More Bungee

More bungee, this time to suspend the DVD drive. Hopefully this will prevent the computer from sounding like a helicopter at take-off when the drive spins up.

 

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Face Plate

Installed the face plate for the mother board. Discovered while cutting the slot that the 'aluminium' case is actually made of fibre-board with a thin layer of metal on top.

 

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Egads! Not More Bungee!

Even more bungee to suspend the hard-drives (red) and second (intake) case fan (blue).

 

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Motherboard Mounting

Drilled holes to mount the motherboard. The idea is to bolt it to the case, with a couple of extra nuts to act a spacers. Note that it's important when mounting the motherboard to put the bolts through the board first, as if the holes are even slightly misaligned, the bolts will have to be forced through, and it's preferable to force them through the case than through the delicate motherboard!

 

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Power Connector

Here's the power connector doohickey removed from the power supply. The black and white wires were removed and replaced with longer ones. This was done very carefully to preserve the white connector, which just clips into the power supply. The earth (yellow) wire was left unmolested, as it will bolt handily to the case.

 

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Air Intake

Intake for the second 120mm case fan, positioned directly over the processor heatsink.

 

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Air Output

Second airflow vent. I decided to leave the band running down the centre to preserve some of the structural integrity of the case. The second fan pulls air through the power supply.

 

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Power In

Close up of the power connector in situ.

 

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DVD Drive

Optical drive in place.

 

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Hard Drive Mounting

Made these pins out of paperclips. The idea is to bolt them to the harddrives, and wrap the wire around the bungee cords. Just a quick and dirty method to get the drives in there which I haven't bothered to neaten up yet, as it's working just fine.

 

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Complete Suitputer

Completed! Check out the spiffy guarded power switch. Not shown above was the slot cut out for the VGA out of the graphics card, where the blue cable connects here.

 

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Completed Angle Two

Just another view to show off my handiwork.

 

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Suitpute Guts One

The final configurate here shows a couple of spots where I cheated. Note the risers included to force the case fan on the left into position (where it would have been if I wasn't forced to use the bolt arrangement described earlier) and to keep the DVD drive up at the rear - I forgot to account for its weight bowing the cord in the centre. Note also how the power connector is extended over to the power supply

 

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Suitpute Guts Two

Hard disks and fan. I slipped some foam behind the drives for further noise dampening. The IDE cables here are a little messy. A future upgrade may be to replace them with round cables, which will aid airflow through the case too.