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My $17 Computer

I thought I would share about my $17 computer. I went to a garage sale and saw a desktop computer sitting there, and I asked them if it worked and how much they wanted. They told me $10, and yes.
I was a little skeptical, but I do know how to do some computer repairs, so I thought the computer might be old, but it would almost have to be worth $10, even if it was broken.

So I took my computer to my friend's house to test it out. I saw 2 things that didn't look very good. The first thing was when I was carrying the computer I heard a "clunk" like there was a part loose inside. So I opened up the case and it turned out that the CPU heat sink actually fell off! The bad part was that the CPU mount is broken, but I decided just to put the CPU heat sink back on and see if I could even power it up.

I was able to actually start Windows, to my surprise! The second problem was that Windows was running incredibly slow, but I was able to fix that by doing a factory restore. I have not yet fixed the heat sink mounting bracket, so it could be running a little hot, but it works well enough for such an old computer. It has a single core CPU and only about 1 gigabyte of memory, so it's pretty limited, but I'm actually using it right now.

Here's what I use it for:

1. Internet browsing and email
2. Streaming music (mainly Grooveshark and SoundCloud)
3. YouTube Videos (can be a little choppy, but they do work)
4. PartyCloud (sometimes the CPU can't keep up, but it does work)
5. Burning CD-ROM software. Not everything I burned worked, but I'm not sure if it was the CD-burner or some other error. I still have to try out some more linux CDs to find out.

I will write another blog about PartyCloud, in case people don't know what that is. It's basically a web-based tool that allows you to mix songs together. You can mix the songs from SoundCloud, so it's probably the cheapest way to try out DJing. It's pretty limited, but it is pretty fun.

There's also another cool program called AudioTools that lets you create your own electronic music. For a free app, I think it's awesome. I have not learned that much on it yet, and my computer does run it, but not very well. I might do a review on this app at a later date.

Generally, streaming music and other web browsing work quite nicely, I think, even videos on YouTube work fine.

The reason the computer was $17 is that I went to GoodWill and bought a mouse and keyboard, that were not included.

Now I'm trying to decide what to do in the future with this computer. I originally wanted to upgrade it, but basically, I will need to replace the motherboard, because this motherboard will not support anything faster than a single core CPU, which is the weakest link in my computer.

I could actually purchase a used motherboard and CPU for fairly cheap, and memory is pretty cheap too, but the problem is I will either have to buy another copy of Windows, or run only Linux. I don't know very much about Linux and I'm not sure how many apps I can run on it. My other alternative is to look for another cheap computer that can be upgraded more, without replacing the motherboard.

Suggestions are welcome. Smile

7 blog comments below

I like the idea of a "new" used motherboard. But with your talent of fixing, why not start a whole new computer from scratch? You can put it together with used or low cost parts.
deanhills on Mon Dec 16, 2013 12:14 pm
Put linux mint or something lightweight on it, there are certain distros that love old machines like that.

When I saw your thread I thought you had a got a cheap Raspberry Pi, I finally got round to setting mine up recently the thing runs RaspBMC brilliantly although I think they need a few more OS updates personally.
Josso on Mon Dec 16, 2013 6:46 pm
Great computer for the money. If possible, add some memory and some of your 'slowest' might go away.
standready on Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:30 am
Well, I'd probably be almost starting from scratch if I replaced the motherboard. I would just be using the existing case with the power supply and other drives. It would save me some money, but I would prefer a larger motherboard than micro atx, though micro atx might be OK.

I guess I will try to burn a mint linux CD. I tried Ubuntu and I got some sort of kernel error, which I think was related to file corruption.

I think it would be possible to add some memory, and it may help, but it looks there is still memory left over but the CPU has trouble keeping up anyway. I may be wrong about this, and memory is probably really cheap on Ebay.
SpaceInvader75 on Wed Dec 18, 2013 1:08 am

I love to put these old machine back to life.

What CPU does it support. I have a 2.4Ghz here I'm not using with heatsink. I think it was the power suply that whent down. But it is a DELL so I did not try to get another one.
I also have some memory, 2x512MB.
If someone pays for the shipping I'll send it over Smile
ruimsf on Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:46 am
ruimsf: I'm sorry I didn't respond earlier. I took a little break from the forum. One reason is I still have this $17 computer, and it's not very enjoyable to use, since it seems to have a multimedia problem now. I can't really play videos or music. Maybe the heat sink is causing that, but now I have worse problem.
Since the computer has Windows XP, it's not even supported anymore.

I think I'm just going to have to buy another computer.
SpaceInvader75 on Tue Jul 29, 2014 5:55 pm
I did another factory restore and I think the video is working (going to hook up speakers and test now) but I haven't solved the Windows XP problem. I've tried several times to burn linux to a CD, and it looks like it's going to work (starts booting) but Linux always freezes up and won't complete booting.
SpaceInvader75 on Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:06 pm

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