$350 Budget Vista PC – Is This A Good Idea?

ExtremeTech put up an article which shows a PC built by their brethren at PC Magazine. It is a very inexpensive PC, built for the price point of $350, including a copy of Vista Basic.

Is this sort of article doing anyone any favors?

I’m inclined to say no, for a few reasons. The very first problem with this build is the inclusion of Vista Basic, presumably because of its low cost and the inability of the onboard graphics to successfully run Vista’s Aero interface.

Since this build eschews the Vista Aero interface, why did the system not use either Windows XP, either Home, for less than the quoted price for Vista Basic, or Pro, for approximately the same price – and get the extra features it has. Better still, since the purpose of the build up was to show an inexpensive PC could be built for doing mundane tasks, and not gaming, for very little money, another choice would be better.

As far as Vista goes, for about $10 more than the quoted price, Vista Home can be had, with many more features, and the choice of turning the Aero graphics off allows for the better responsiveness of Vista Basic. Vista Basic should never have been foisted upon the public – it is simply a bad choice disguised as economy. (For those who must have Vista, for whatever reason, Vista Basic is available for less than $50, if you look in the right places – and this is for a legitimate copy.

Since gaming has been taken off the table, why not use Linux? This is precisely why a build like this one should take place. Using a solid build of Linux will give a user a machine that will do more than thousand dollar PCs of just a few years ago. It removes the customer from the endless upgrade cycle merry-go-round that Microsoft and other companies have put much of the world on.

By starting out with Linux, the temptation of overbuying, with things like Microsoft Office, utilities of dubious efficacy, and applications which simply waste hard drive space, will be removed. By choosing a distribution of Linux which offers ‘point and click’ application choice, the many problems of Linux are avoided for the short term, until the user has a chance to familiarize himself with common practices on a *nix machine.

Beyond that, the almost $100 savings can be used for better parts. which will lead to a longer useful life. This is not only more cost effective, but more ‘green’, as the user will be keeping that much more waste out of a landfill.

Rather than go by a set of pieces listed by any publication, I would, instead, enlist the aid of a friend, carefully chosen, to help with a build of this type. A very good reason for this is that ‘deals’ will vary by region. Your region may have only a few of these parts, but a savvy friend will be able to substitute an equal or better part in each case, available locally or by mail, at a comparable price.

The final word is one not heeded too many times. Don’t be in a hurry. Haste does make waste – and a costlier, less capable PC. Take your time and the experience will be better, and much more rewarding.

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Quote of the day:

I used to wake up at 4 A.M. and start sneezing, sometimes for five hours. I tried to find out what sort of allergy I had but finally came to the conclusion that it must be an allergy to consciousness. – James Thurber

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