Buying a Windows 7 PC
April 9, 2013 9:15 AM   Subscribe

I want to purchase a new computer before Windows 7 rotates out. I'm not sure what specs/etc I want from it, but I'd like it to cost $750 or less and to be able to run games at reasonable settings (maybe not current-gen ones, but definitely something like Oblivion from several years back without any problems.)

I'll be using this PC for a lot of media, so I probably want a huge hard drive instead of a faster SSD. Other than that, I don't really know what I need, other than that if I end up picking something out on my own, it'll turn out to be exactly what I don't need.

What are my options? I'd definitely prefer something where I don't have install any components after it arrives.
posted by LSK to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I probably want a huge hard drive instead of a faster SSD.

Ideally, you want both. A 250-ish gig SSD ($200) for your OS and applications, and a 2 TB spinner ($120) for your media. And, of course, a 3 TB spinner ($160) for backups.

That might be tough to do at your price point, though; we're up to $480 just on drives...
posted by kindall at 9:27 AM on April 9, 2013

Do you need a monitor as well?
posted by jsturgill at 9:32 AM on April 9, 2013

Response by poster: I've got two monitors already. A third would be super nice though.
posted by LSK at 9:39 AM on April 9, 2013

I've had a lot of luck with the Ars Technica guides over the years. When I want to build a new system, it's typically the first place I look.

The current Ars Technica "budget box" is ~$850. Their "Bargain box" is about ~$500. They go into some detail as to the trade-offs in both cases.
posted by bonehead at 9:46 AM on April 9, 2013

If you want assembled, btw, most shops like Newegg etc... will do that for you. The one I typically use, a Canadian supplier called NCIX, allows me to pick a parts list than ask for assembly and basic hardware testing for about $50.
posted by bonehead at 9:48 AM on April 9, 2013

Tom's Hardware has a great Build Your Own guide. Look at that link for other links too.
posted by deezil at 9:58 AM on April 9, 2013

Two days ago, I bought a computer from parts for $750 on the nose! If you are willing to buy from a few different places and have a friend who is willing to put it together, you could go for something like this.

If you prefer to get a prebuilt computer, consider this.
posted by a snickering nuthatch at 10:51 AM on April 9, 2013

For prebuilt boxes, I have been pretty happy with HP, though you might have trouble getting Win 7.

We picked up a cheapie HP Pavillion (p6-2330) for around $400 and it's been fine so far. Did come with Windows 8, which is a minus, but not a grotesque one, you can get used to it. My kids play Oblivion and Dragon Age on it just fine.

If you don't mind building your own, Tom's Hardware is full of helpful and clued in folks.
posted by mattu at 10:52 AM on April 9, 2013

If you end up unable to get a Win7 box and you want to make Win8 behave more like Win7 then this is a well spent 5 dollars. I'm actually rather fond of Win8 now I've made that tweak.
posted by Artw at 10:53 AM on April 9, 2013

Crud, I just noticed my prebuilt suggestion is a Win8 box. Here's a prebuilt with win7, well under budget (it will easily run Oblivion, but it's not cutting edge).
posted by a snickering nuthatch at 11:02 AM on April 9, 2013

If you decide to go with a vendor like HP or Dell, look into their refurbs. You may find some Win7 configurations there.
posted by evilelf at 11:06 AM on April 9, 2013

Gonna go against the grain of new/refurbished here and suggest Craigslist.

Desktops don't get beat up like laptops because they don't really ever move. I got a system off of there(and yes, I had to do some assembly but that doesn't mean you would) that can run any game, including ones that just came out last week at maximum settings for that price. I also have an SSD, terabytes of storage, SLI video cards, and the seller threw in a really nice monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers. Oh, and of course windows 7. I spent about as much as you want to.

I'd go on there and just browse through the computers by owner section for a few days. Amazing deals come up pretty regularly, and people dump desktops for cheap. Mine came out of the immaculate condo of a couple in their 30s and looked like it hadn't even been powered on more than a few times. I even got most of the boxes and all the receipts/manuals/stickers/extra cables.

"Used" is not the devil, and got me so much more than I ever could have afforded otherwise. Even now this system would cost a lot more than I paid to build something comporable off newegg or something. And especially from dells, for examples refurb page + upgrades.
posted by emptythought at 11:53 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

A Mac mini runs Windows 7 or 8 very capably and would be up to $300-350 under your budget, if you go refurbished, or about $150 if you get it new. Either way, that's enough to throw in a FireWire or USB 2 external hard drive from Amazon or Newegg and still be under your $750 budget. Nice and quiet, too, so it's a good media server if you have this near your TV and don't want a fan making constant noise.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:26 PM on April 9, 2013

Have a look at the slickdeals hot deals forum. There is right now a 20% off coupon for various Dell outlet machines. I have also seen deals there for new PCs in your price range. It might take some patience, but if you are not in a hurry . . .
posted by nostrada at 2:28 PM on April 9, 2013

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