Buy or build $250 Receptionist Computer?

So I have a friend who's father owns a used car lot, and during one of the times I was photographing his cars he mentioned that the receptionist needed a new computer. He knew that I built mine, and wondered if it would be possible to put something together for around $250. 

My question is, should it be done? Or would it be a better idea to go out and buy a pre-owned, maybe even new cheap PC. What about just purchasing a more versatile laptop. I know one can build a cheap computer but how cheap does it need to be to be any good? It's a computer for a receptionist, how hard core do these parts need to be?

P.S.- In case you are wondering, I told him it might be better to just buy a cheap laptop. 

This is probably as cheap as you can go but the OS is going to at least cost at least $100 LINK

It is more feasible to purchase a simple laptop like this LINK

I figured as much, when the budget is that extreme is may just be better to buy a laptop or some ish


Just grab an A1M part from AMD and build it in a mini-itx case with an integrated power supply. Should cost under that, the sceen will not though, neither will a 'brought os', unless it is a trasnfered one from another machine (which can be done legally).

  • 2nd hand dell ex-business machine (i've picked em up for <$100 in the past) - i3 minimum, with windows 7 coa, give it a good clean then add an ssd (120gb samsung evo, intel cherryville etc). Chances are you could score the monitor and perfs with it. I've done this to a few old dell and hp ex-lease machines and on-sold them.
  • This is a turd of a system apart from the ssd but it'll do the job but you'll still need an os....
  • You could even throw together a dirt cheap rig from old 775 or am3 parts. Just add a ssd. You might be bottlenecked by sata 2 but at least the system will boot fast and shit will load pretty quick.
  • Old laptop + ssd

I'd see if the receptionist can use Linux. Will save $$$ if you do build a machine for 'em.

I got a laptop free from my friend with everything working except the backspace key which i was going to 3d print anyway what i am tring to say is to just buy a cheap laptop and fix it up and add an ssd or something like that

Or you can buy a chromebook

I was thinking about the Chromebooks, but without a super reliable internet access it will be next to useless. If the offline Office Suite apps work then maybe it wouldn't be a huge deal...IDK. I have no idea what kind of computer a receptionist needs for everyday work.

I'm on the same page as you are, a second hand desktop with 1 or 2 nifty updates would make the whole situation better. Spend a bit on a used machine and just a tad more for some key upgrades. Something like an SSD (like you mentioned) and quicker compatible ram ought to make things nice and breezy even on an older machine.