Computer Pricing

So a coworker/friend is toying with starting an Internet cafe overseas. It looks like OSs such as Knoppix and Ubuntu are somewhat common in those setups, partially because they’re free, and partially because they’re easier to lock down.

So I went to Dell’s site, and began playing around with their configuration utility, trying to put together the cheapest machine possible. I figure we need like a 700 MHz processor, 512 MB RAM, and a CD drive. A hard drive is nice, but not necessary. (In fact, more secure.) My findings:

  • The system ended up costing $529, but you can lease it for $16/month. (This may actually be beneficial in this situation.)
  • The cheapest processor I could find was a Sempron 3400+, but the website never defines what this is. Knowing a little bit about computers, the only thing I’m able to tell you is that it’s almost certainly slower than 3,400 MHz.
  • “Windows Vista Home Basic” is the cheapest OS I could select. (They apparently sell certain PCs pre-loaded with Ubuntu… I’ll have to try to find them.)
  • Only having 512 MB didn’t surprise me, but I didn’t expect a 160 GB hard drive to be the smallest.
  • Remember the old days when a CD-RW was the sign of a pricey system, and if you could read DVDs on it, too, it was cutting-edge? Now I had the choice between that and a DVD burner.
  • No speakers are included. Given that it’s for an Internet cafe, I think this may be a good thing.
  • I deviated from my “cheap as possible” plan and sprung for a 13-in-1 card reader for $20 or so, figuring it’d come in handy in an Internet cafe.
  • The 56kbps modem is basically free. I removed it, but it didn’t take anything off the price, so I included it again. Better safe than sorry?
  • MS Works 8 comes ‘free’ with this install. No one likes MS Works, but I digress.
  • 1 year of in-home service is included. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone with the “Consumer” machines.
  • It includes Yahoo! Media Jukebox and 6 months of AOL. Two things we’d get to uninstall as soon as we took delivery of them.

Cynical rants about that stuff aside, though, it amazes me what you can get these days. I was reading through the circulars, and there are a lot of $800 laptops that can smoke any of my current machines. It’s hard to buy hard drives under 160 GB. (OTOH, it’s hard to buy hard drives over 160 GB for laptops…)

2 thoughts on “Computer Pricing

  1. Huh, I went through the Small Business one, and got a $499 machine. It runs XP Home, has a “Dual Core 3600+” processor and a gig of RAM (a free upgrade from 512), but only an 80 GB drive. I had to pay $30 extra to ‘upgrade’ from a DVD-ROM to a CD-RW/DVD drive, but the computer is otherwise the same. (No modem, which saved me $30 this time…)

    Dell’s Ubuntu machines start at considerably higher prices. Go figure.

  2. Dell currently has a deal for a dual-core with an 80GB drive, 512MB of RAM, and a free upgrade to a CD-RW/DVD drive for $259. It drops XP for in favor of including FreeDOS in the box (uninstalled). If you were going to install Ubuntu anyways, this could be a good bet.

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