$250 Computer For My Nephew

Hey guys,

I am in need of some assistance.

A few days ago I received a very disheartening phone call from my sister in Florida (I live in Vermont). She told me that my 8 year old nephew, who's autistic, is about to be held back in school a second time, because his reading level isn't up to par.

My sister has a list of educational computer programs that could help him improve his reading skills, but her laptop is broken beyond repair. She's a single mother who can barely afford the bills, so I figured I would surprise my nephew with a new computer.

I plan on filling up the computer up with games such as Minecraft and old SNES roms (Legend Of Zelda, Mario, Megaman, Earthbound, etc.) before giving it to him. I'll have to purchase an OS, a monitor, a mouse and a keyboard, so $250 is my spending limit for the build. I might also want to take a flight and personally deliver the computer to him, but I will probably end up shipping it to them.

I figured a little guy should have a little computer, so I would like to use a MicroATX mini tower case if possible.I saw NewEgg has a deal this weekend on this case which comes with a stock power supply:
-Rosewill MicroATX Computer Case with 400W ATX 2.2 12V Power Supply - $39.99

NewEgg also has really good deals this weekend on storage and memory. TOSHIBA 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - $49.99 and Crucial Ballistix Sport 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 - $35.99

That would leave me with around $150 for the rest of the stuff. I would need a MIcroATX motherboard, a processor that has decent GFX (perhaps AMD), and an optical drive. I have an Amazon Prime account, so I would prefer using Amazon.

Here's what I was thinking for the rest of the parts - http://pcpartpicker.com/p/2Zv3NG

Thanks for the help in advance. Live long and prosper, and...hack the planet!


I don't think it's going to get any better, but I don't know how you'll get away with an os and monitor under $220 unless you use linux, which some of the programs may not support.. And a monitor alone is going to be at the very least $90, though I can't think of any that cheap.. Good luck man, best wishes.

consider this


Its a refurbish laptop from BBY (I love refurbished) they get double checked for quality and have a MFW  this one is for 1 year

its $279.00 USD

But you wont have to get a keyboard or a display and if you want you could give his shipping address and have it shipped to him for free or if you want to load it out first it will be EZ / cheaper to ship than a desktop 

Grab a some cheap 2nd hand gear - ex business machine (i3/i5) + say a 2nd hand 650ti or gtx750, 260x. Do a clean reinstall of the os (which an ex-business machine will have a coa sticker anyway). Then whatever is left $$$ wise - put it in an envelope for em.

Ive bought first gen dell desktops locally for <$100 that have had i3's in em. Including monitor....  

If you're buying all new kit then the Athlon 5350 APUs are very nice Heres the base system I've used for HTPCs http://pcpartpicker.com/p/fgJTP6 With a different or re-purposed case it'd handle most tasks with ease while using very little power and generating almost no noise or heat.

The bonus is that they run very well on Linux, even using the open source drivers. The only caveat with Linux is that it limits the OC potential of these systems to 2.205Ghz by way of capping the multi to 21 and upping the clock to 105Mhz, which results in a Dram overclock to DDR3 1680. The reason for this is that to go further you have to put the SATA controller into legacy mode to reach a higher overclock, the problem is that Linux will not boot with the sata controller in legacy mode.


That said, emulation on Linux is in good shape, emulators for pretty much everything are in the repos of all major distros and these days you have Steam, Desura, GOG.com and Humble Store providing tons of games, many of which are free. I'd recommend Mint 17 Mate Edition http://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=2627 with the OSS drivers, you'll just have to open Synaptic and do a search for Radeon(anything that doesn't ask to also install Catalyst/FGLRX), S3TC and MPV video player to make the most of the OSS drivers and to open up your sources and turn on the GetDeb/PlayDeb repos to gain access to more console emulators and more recent versions of popular programs then Mint provides by default.

also see here for a used system from a fourm member


This looks like a decent machine, I really like the processor you chose.Also should I run a 120gb ssd or a 1TB hard drive?

I would use Linux but the software that my sister would use most likely will only work on Windows. Thanks though!

Thanks for the share, perhaps I should try to get the black PC from him. It looks similar to what I was going to purchase.

Where would you recommend getting that? Craigslist?

just buy him an eee pc or anything similar.

Sorry for your situation. I was held back in kindergarten due to my ADHD. It sucked, I know it would be even worse to be held back a 2nd time. I feel for your sister and nephew. Yes that black PC looks like it could do that job. Otherwise, you may have to go slightly over your $250 budget. BTW your in the Tek Syndicate home state! Good luck!

Either, I was using them with SSDs as they where HTPC front end boxes, all the storage was in a NAS.

The SSDs just made them just that much more responsive and they where dirt cheap on sale, but if this is going to be a general purpose comp then 128Gb will bee too small, I think I've got more then that in just old console ROMs...


The only problems with AM1 is currently thats the fastest you can go, anything faster would be in a different socket and the fact that you only have single channel memory. However, since everything is on the CPU package theres a solid possibility that AMD could update this line resulting in a faster CPU/GPU/Northbridge/memory controller/south bridge all by just swapping out the chip.

Best bet is to purchase used parts last gen if you want any kind of decent performance. You could go with a amd Simpson and 2g ram but in less your watching movies and surfacing the web you will be disappointed.


Used laptop maybe a option too 

Spend $350 !



These videos should be updated more frequently (This one is from Feb 2013).

But thanks for the share!

Do you know where I can find used parts?


Is Tek Syndicate in Vermont? I thought it was somewhere else...

Yes i know, but the cost is still the same =). I think what everyone is saying is It might be worth it to spend another $100 or so to get into the real budget gaming.


Here's a new one, lots of great builds for $400 or less with rebates, some even closer to $350