Recycling Old Computer Parts When Building a Budget Computer
The three main components every computer builder needs to buy new are the motherboard (mainboard), CPU, and memory. These three components are the most important parts because they alone dictate what capabilities a computer has. However, many components from a previous computer can be recycled into the new machine. The technology of these components does not change often and are identical to the ones in computers many years old. Most notably, the optical drives such as DVD and CD, floppy drives, sound cards, network interface cards, USB cards, and even the case of the computer can be reused in the budget computer. Even the operating system can be reused according to most licenses as long as it is installed on only one computer at a time.
One component that has not changed much over the last few years is the hard drive. Although they get larger and larger over time, most people find that they do not use the space they have now so why get a larger hard drive for the budget machine? Recycle the hard drive and save yourself the expense of buying storage space you will not use.
Sound cards present an interesting dilemma. Many motherboards come with built-in sound. Unless you are into heavy gaming and video editing, the on-board sound should suffice for now. Remember that if it turns out that the on-board sound is not enough, you can always purchase a separate sound card down the road. Save yourself the expense up front and see if the on-board sound is enough.
One component that has a huge impact on the computer’s graphics ability is the video card. Gone are the days when the CPU handled graphic calculations. The video card handles all video processing and memory independently. Video cards run the gamut from the very cheap (under $50) to the very expensive (over $1,000). This is perhaps the most difficult decision you will face in building your budget PC. Recycling an old video card is probably not the way to go because video card technologies often change several times in a year. Here you need to strike a balance between power and price.
If you are into gaming even as a minor use of your budget computer, look at the minimum and recommended video cards of the games you intend to play. This will provide a guideline as to which card is for you and what you will need to spend to get it. You can always upgrade your card down the road, but going just a bit further than you think you need is a good idea. This way the card has a better chance of surviving through the life of the computer.
If you have only basic video needs such as checking e-mail and word processing, you may be able to forego a new video card all together and buy a motherboard with built-in video capabilities. In addition, recycling your old video card is an option. Be careful, however, because a card from even a few years ago will most likely not be compatible with modern motherboards. Again, striking a balance between power and price is the key.