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What's my best option for finding a cheap-as-dirt computer in the Dallas area?
May 22, 2008 12:43 PM   Subscribe

What's my best option for finding a cheap-as-dirt computer in the Dallas area?

I recently received a promotion at my much-loved job that requires me to do some basic (i.e. Excel, email, internet browsing) work from home. Trouble is, my ancient Thinkpad finally coughed out its dying breath a couple of days ago and I don't think it'll be revived in any easy manner.

I've got various peripherals lying around and I don't need anything other than the computer itself - I don't need a laptop, either. I'm not the world's most tech-savvy fellow, otherwise I'd just pick up something off of Craigslist. I can't afford to buy something that'll conk out on me in a month. I'm broke, dead dead broke for at least the next few months, so I can't really spend more that a few hundred bucks - even $300 will be stretching my budget in an uncomfortable fashion.

Any suggestions as to my best means of computering myself as cheaply, semi-reliably, and quickly as possible will be greatly appreciated.
posted by item to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
 
If your job requires you to do PC work from home they really should be supplying the computer. I think the first thing you should do is to ask the boss about supplying a suitable computer.
posted by COD at 12:58 PM on May 22, 2008


Freecycle?
posted by Martin E. at 12:59 PM on May 22, 2008


There is a shop on the east side of Harry Hines between NW Highway and Walnut Hill (near Lombardy, I think) that has a banner advertising cheap desktops. I have never been in there, but it is probably a little better than Craigslist.
posted by Uncle Jimmy at 1:12 PM on May 22, 2008


If your job requires you to do PC work from home they really should be supplying the computer. I think the first thing you should do is to ask the boss about supplying a suitable computer.

I guess I should've mentioned we're a restaurant. We've only been open for 3 months, and while business has been amazing (the lines & wait times we experience are every restaurateur's dream, especially for a new establishment) we're still a small, independent joint. I'm the office manager, so I know firsthand that any extra money the owner's making right now is going to pay back loans & buy new pieces of kitchen equipment. I have no doubt she'd buy me a computer if she could, but right now there are other more pressing expenses.
posted by item at 1:44 PM on May 22, 2008


Without computer building savvy, you will have a bit of trouble. I would talk to some craigslist types, and see if any of them will have sympathy for your particular situation. There are probably a few local guys nearby who sell old computers from their basement. Find one who seems competent and businesslike and explain that you don't mind paying a little more for reliability/service/guarantee.

If you had some troubleshooting skills, or if you have access to them, retrobox or vfxweb have the best prices.

Any PIII above 800MHz will suite you fine. Very important though, get at least 512mb memory (768mb or 1gb would be much better still). And, try to avoid PIVs under 2.2GHz.. PIIIs are almost twice as fast at the same frequency rating, and early PIVs often come with a memory type that isn't easily upgraded (RDRAM bad, DDR good).

Overall, you should be able to find something very satisfying for less than $150 sans monitor. And, if you can live with a CRT, the monitor should be virtually free.
posted by Chuckles at 2:30 PM on May 22, 2008


I'm the office manager, so I know firsthand that any extra money the owner's making right now is going to pay back loans & buy new pieces of kitchen equipment. I have no doubt she'd buy me a computer if she could, but right now there are other more pressing expenses.

A computer is an investment. I imagine that her return on that investment would easily exceed a few hundred dollars, so I'd suggest that the owner invest in one. Otherwise, I have nothing to contribute.
posted by mpls2 at 3:30 PM on May 22, 2008


Without computer building savvy, you will have a bit of trouble. I would talk to some craigslist types, and see if any of them will have sympathy for your particular situation.

Sympathy, schmympathy -- see if any of them are HUNGRY! Perhaps you could get the boss to agree to giving the owner of a local repair place free lunch for his or her shop for a week in exchange for a decent computer.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:32 PM on May 22, 2008


Here is a link to the place I mentioned above: Discount Electronics & Repair. Just south of The Mecca. Good luck.
posted by Uncle Jimmy at 6:44 PM on May 22, 2008


You know, if you're still totally desperate in another two weeks or so, I might have an old computer that will have become redundant in my family because I got a new laptop and so some computer shifting is in order. I'd have to talk w/ my brother, who is in charge of tech around here and who won't be home for another two weeks. I'm in the Dallas area, incidentally. The computer I think might be bumped out of rotation is an old Sony vaio desktop- old and kinda slow but still functional (my mom's been using it for what you want for the last couple of years), and it has the bonus of coming most likely for free- gotta talk with my family obviously, but as we got it for free, I don't imagine passing it on would be a problem. Email me if you're interested.
posted by MadamM at 8:43 PM on May 22, 2008


pawnshop? There was something on myfox dfw a week or so ago mentioning it is a buyers market.
posted by doorsfan at 9:09 PM on May 22, 2008


Look around for a place that does leases to large corporations and then sells off the old ones as they rotate through - I bought a box for like 60 bucks a few years ago to use in a MAME cabinet that cam with an OS installed (but not Excel. Or a monitor.)

Also, watch the curb! I tend to grab systems I see being thrown away just because there are usually some components (the power supply, the CD, floppy or hard drive) that work just fine. Sometimes the whole thing boots right up.

And what Rock Steady said. When I was in college I'd have traded a mess of computer building for a couple good meals.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:11 PM on May 23, 2008


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