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HPR4148: Cheap Computers

Hosted by Moss Bliss on 2024-06-26 00:00:00
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Buying Cheap Computers

Hi. I'm Moss Bliss. You may have heard me on mintCast, Distrohoppers' Digest, or Full Circle Weekly News.

I keep hearing people complain that they can't find a decent computer under $2,000. My response is: lower your expectations, and help end digital waste. Do you really need a top-end gaming machine? Most games will run on older computers just fine. And there are LOTS of 2016 models (and a few newer years) coming off office leases.

My suggestion is the Lenovo ThinkCentre M700 Tiny; I will have other suggestions later in the podcast, but this is what I went with an have personal experience. The M700 Tiny is a box about the size of an older external DVD drive, with your choice of an i3, i5 or i7 processor, up to 64 Gb RAM, and a power supply sipping away at up to 35 watts. If you go on eBay or your local equivalent, you can find these for ridiculously low prices.

My recommendation is to go for a box with an i5, 8 or 16 Gb RAM, with or without a drive. You can find them even cheaper if you search for "no OS", which frequently still includes the drive, but SSDs are quite cheap these days so it hardly matters. I recommend the i5 rather than the i7 because, in the 2016 models, the i7 wasn't much more than a heat producer compared to the i5 but no faster, and the i5-based machines are often $100-150 cheaper.

Of course I recommend putting the Linux of your choice on these machines when you get it.

You will need a monitor and keyboard for this. If you don't already have one, I would suggest looking locally for a used 26" LCD/LED TV. You will also want a cable for it, and you can either get a DisplayPort cable while you're at eBay, or a DP-to-HDMI adapter to use the HDMI cable which probably comes with the TV. For a keyboard, you should go to your local big box store and get one you like, if you don't want to buy used. You can find them from $5 to $20.

I apologize for my US-centric prices, but you should have similar prices in your local currency if you have eBay or something like it.

I just did a quick lookup for "M700 Tiny No OS" on eBay, and saw i5 machines which were purported to work from between $80 and $120 with 8 Gb RAM. Be careful to watch for shipping prices, I see a particularly good-looking refurbished model with 16 GB for under $120 -- but the shipping is over $35 from Australia!

If you want an AMD chip, you'll need to research the model number... but they do make them, just not as many.

If you don't like Lenovo, you can find Dells and HP EliteDesks in the same range. One good thing about the HPs is that they label which generation they are -- G2, G3, G4. Newer generations cost more, but will be more future-proof. There is currently an HP EliteDesk 800 G2 with 8 Gb RAM and No OS on eBay for $50! Again, if you buy a G3 or G4 it will cost more, but be a newer machine as well.

These are all 64-bit quad-core computers, some over 3 GHz, with low power demands. Cheap to buy, cheap to use. Any version of Linux will run on them, and if you're desperate you can run Windows 10 on them as well.

That should be enough to get you started. If you have questions, write me at bardmoss@pm.me.

Hacker Public Radio needs more podcasts, on any topic and any length. Get in touch with Ken and volunteer! This is my second wholly unplanned podcast on HPR; you could be next!

HPR Comments

Henrik Hemrin says: Refurbished computers

RE: hpr4148::2024-06-26 Cheap Computers by Moss Bliss
00:03:42 Listen in ogg, spx, or mp3 format.
Thank you Moss for both your general suggestion to buy an old machine and also for the detailed technical suggestions.

Until a couple of years ago, I have always bought new computers (except early days when it was possible to get very old almost for free at my work).

I have instead of using eBay equivalent bought my old refurbished computers online directly from companies (here in Sweden) focused on refurbished IT. They might be somewhat more expensive and the offerings more limited, but the advantages to buy from those selected companies with good reputation are that they grade the equipment plus gives warranty. When I have bought with the best grade, the computer (and phone) looks as it is brand new.

So I indeed agree with you to consider to buy an old computer, as well as to consider Linux of choice.

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