To mount a low-cost PC is something that we can face from very different perspectives that depend, always, on the use that we are going to give it. Thus, it is not the same to mount a low-cost PC to play that one that will be dedicated to simple office automation and multimedia content. Nor would it be the same if we had to focus an economic configuration oriented to 3D design and rendering. Yes, there is no doubt that the budget is the first factor that limits us when setting up a PC, but this must be linked to the user that the equipment will have throughout its useful life. Both keys are deeply united, and that is to mount a low-cost PC focused on games we will need a much larger budget to mount one dedicated solely to office automation and multimedia.
In MC we have published many guides dedicated to the assembly of equipment for gaming , and today we wanted to get out of the ordinary and give shape to a guide focused on choosing the best components to assemble a low-cost PC focused on office automation and multimedia that will offer an experience of perfect use and that will have, in addition, a long useful life, so much by yield as by possibilities of expansion. As always we will leave you a list of components to assemble this low-cost PC that revolves around the criterion of seeking the best value for money, a scale that, we believe, is essential when we move in economic configurations. If you have any questions you can leave it in the comments.
To mount a low-cost PC focused that is able to offer a good experience in office automation and multimedia we have many options, but without a doubt, the most balanced in the price-performance ratio is found in AMD socket AM4, especially after the arrival of the Athlon 200 series APUs. The motherboards with socket AM4 offer a very balanced price, fantastic compatibility with a great variety of processors since they allow to mount models of the Zen (Ryzen 1000), Zen + (Ryzen 2000) and Zen 2 (the future Ryzen 3000 series) generations. ), and also have a good level of performance even in the most economical models. Its medium and long-term expansion possibilities are guaranteed, and this platform will also allow us to enjoy an excellent user experience with a minimum investment, so it is, without a doubt, the best option.
We need an economic solution that offers a good quality of construction and that integrates all the elements that we will need both short and long term. To maintain tight spending without making sacrifices we opted for the GIGABYTE B450M S2H , a motherboard that comes with B450 chipset instead of the classic A320 found in cheaper models and has HDMI output. Two very important details, since this chipset will allow overclocking if we decide to upgrade to a processor or a Ryzen APU in the future, and HDMI output is essential to enjoy a good multimedia experience with integrated graphics. Otherwise, this motherboard has a good quality construction for the price it has, has integrated sound and supports up to 32 GB of RAM. Very complete, and very economical, since it costs 58.90 euros.
To enjoy a good experience of office and multimedia use, we do not need a very powerful CPU, nor a dedicated graphics card. Since the objective of this article is to assemble a low-cost PC we have opted for the Athlon 200GE APU , a chip that integrates a processor based on the Zen architecture with two cores and four threads at 3.2 GHz. It comes with an integrated Radeon Vega 3 GPU that adds 192 shaders, 12 texturing units, and 4 raster units, more than enough to enjoy a rich multimedia experience, and also to move even not too demanding games. It is the best option that currently exists within the market of low-cost components, as it offers great value for its price. We can get it for 54.99 euros, and it comes with a compact fan that fits well since the chip has a TDP of just 35 watts.
Since the objective of this configuration is quite modest we have more than enough with 4 GB of RAM. The integrated GPU uses this memory to use it as VRAM, but this amount is more than enough to enjoy a good experience of office and multimedia use. To get a good match to the APU Ahtlon 200GE that we have chosen as the heart of the team we opted for a Ballistix Sport LT module from 4 GB to 2,666 MHz with latencies CL16, whose price is 26.99 euros. The speed of that memory module is high enough to get good performance from the Athlon 200GE CPU. It is true that mounting two modules in the dual channel would have an extra GPU performance, but it is unnecessary since the goal of this guide is to mount a low-cost PC for office automation and multimedia, not for games.
The idea of maintaining a low cost could stop us from choosing an SSD, but as the storage capacity needs of a computer for office automation and multimedia are not very high we could choose this solution as a storage unit. Obviously, this is a point that admits exceptions. If instead of enjoying most of the streaming multimedia content you plan to download many movies and series and have them stored it would be advisable that you accompany a secondary unit of HDD type with a minimum capacity of 1 TB. In our case, we opted for a Toshiba OCZ TR200 SATA III 240 GB SSD, which offers sequential read and write speeds of 555 MB / s and 540 MB / s respectively and has a price of 36.99 euros. It will help to make the team “fly”. I know what some may be thinking, and why not a PCI-E unit in M.2 format? Well, very simple, because the price would skyrocket to 50-60 euros, and the difference in terms of real performance would not compensate.
Box and power supply
Again we have many options, but in this particular assembly, we wanted to find a compact and economical solution that also offers an attractive design. Our choice has been the Nox Listen, a small box that has a pretty attractive design, supports micro-ATX motherboards and comes with an integrated 450-watt power supply. Yes, the source does not offer the same quality as a 450-watt Corsair, but it is more than enough to cover the needs of this equipment and would leave us plenty of room to assemble, in the future, a dedicated low-profile graphic that does not require additional feeding This box offers an excellent value for the price it has, it is very beautiful and also has a very good distribution of spaces, which makes it easy to work with it both when setting up the PC and making future expansions. Its price is 38 euros and comes with an integrated fan, so it is ready to use.
We have a team with a total cost of 215.87 euros, a very affordable price for a team that is able to offer excellent performance in office automation, multimedia and also in games not very demanding. If we expand the memory to 8 GB we could move games of the current generation in 720p resolutions with low quality and an acceptable fluency, a fact that I give you to give you an idea of what this little guy offers.
The two-core and four-wire Ryzen processor that incorporates the Athlon 200GE has a good IPC and a multi-threaded potential at the level of a Core i3 6000 series, thus ensuring a good life. The 4 GB of 2,666 MHz DDR4 memory is a balanced complement that rounds the whole, and the SSD will make, as we said, both the operating system and the applications “fly”. The conclusion is clear, this team offers outstanding value for the price it has and is prepared, in addition, to support future expansions without problems.