I’ve talked at length about HP’s new mini PCs, but there are some alternatives in the DIY space. For example, Asrock offers the D1800B-ITX, which sells for around $53. Going the DIY route, you won’t get a discounted copy of Windows, but you also won’t spend money on RAM and an SSD that you’re going to end up replacing and you can get exactly as much CPU as you want.
Tallying up the damage, here’s what a potential build using one of these boards would run:
16 GB RAM: $119
120 GB SSD: $60
OEM copy of Windows: $80
mini-ITX case and power supply: $83
Of course, if you have parts laying around you can substitute. If you have a line on some discarded DDR3 SODIMMs from laptop upgrades, for example, you could settle for less memory and upgrade that at a later time. And if you want more power than a Celeron, you can buy a costlier board as well.
If you have an old computer case to reuse, you can save the $83. You’ll end up with a bulkier machine but more upgrade options. For example, if you’re willing to go micro ATX, you could go with Asrock’s Q1900M, which is about $10 more but offers expansion slots and more ports because of the larger form factor.
And if you’re not tied to Windows, you can run Linux on it–I’m impressed with Linux Mint–and save $80.
So depending on what you have to work with, may be able to get yourself a nice upgrade for less than $100 and end up with a machine with lower power requirements and that makes less noise.