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January 28, 2023, 08:37:39 pm
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Author Topic: 50 Dollar Club  (Read 352 times)
Onio
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« on: January 22, 2023, 03:22:50 pm »


Howdy! I like cheap computers. I think they're fun, liberating, and have a lot of character. I also think it's a fun challenge to get as much bang for your buck as possible. Thus, I created the $50 club, and I'm inviting people to submit computers that they regularly use, which are reasonably valued around that price point.

Eligibility for Submission:

1.) Device's estimated value should be around $100 or less.
2.) Device should be something you enjoy using and you use it often.
3.) Bonus points for customization, mods, and upgrades.

To join, submit a description of your computer and why you're fond of it, a photograph or two, and a link you want me to include on the club webpage (kudos if you set up a dedicated page on your site for your computer  8) )

Just PM me on the forum :)
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Gans
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« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2023, 06:18:54 pm »

As one of these vultures, that loves to crawl around scrapyards and fish out working technology, I'd win this if it would be a competition.

Flatscreen monitors in the old 4:3 format you get for free here. If the border around the screen is thicker than a thumb, the monitor is worthless. Sad, because the screen quality of the old monitors is perfectly fine to work with them, if you can deal with low resolutions.

For a friend I bought a 6 year old desktop for 50 Euros (so it's less than 50 dollars). Bulky desktop, but very powerful machine. Desktops have fallen out of favour for the portable laptops, so you can get Desktops very cheaply.

Scrap can be found all over the board here at my place. It's a very long time ago that I spend any money on a computer. The scrap has a high enough quality here. That silver one is a 2006 dual-core machine with WinXP/Salix from my last workplace. You could get a Windows XP machine for less than 20 Euros, if you have to look on the used market.

My favourite machines have risen in market value, but I got them for free a couple of years ago. but a P3 Win98 machine costs more than 50 dollars now. The Eizo bomb (the huge CRT monitor) too. Geez, was it heavy to carry home... my thin arms were shaking for three days! But it was worth the pain. It has an unbeatable image, but it will probably blow up in a cloud of smoke one day.

I love this about computers, that with extremly little money, lots can be achieved. But this requires to gain some knowledge and the right links on the web that help you...


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brisray
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2023, 12:51:23 am »

I like cheap computers, even better if they're free.

People give me their old, ancient ones and I refurbish them and give them to whoever wants one. It usually takes three old ones to make something that might last someone a couple of years. These are some I was recently given.


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Onio
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2023, 12:11:59 pm »

I love this about computers, that with extremly little money, lots can be achieved. But this requires to gain some knowledge and the right links on the web that help you...

Yes! I think it's a mindset I'd like to promote as well. Have considered creating a separate website for this purpose and for the club, perhaps as a way to share information about the topic.

Btw, nice pcs ;) I've got an Acer Veriton too, from the same era! Not sure exactly which year it is, but it has that case. Do you know the maximum amount of ram it supports? I've been thinking of bumping the ram up in mine, adding a few spare hard drives I have sitting around, and using it as a home data server.
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« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2023, 04:53:06 pm »

These are some I was recently given.

You've got yourself a light scribe drive there! I had one years ago but I never got a chance to use it. Technology Connections did a whole video talking about them a few years ago!
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Gans
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« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2023, 07:19:35 pm »

The Acer Veriton 6800 has four slots for DDR2 RAM, which can take up to 4 GB. It's a dual-Core machine from 2006. Windows XP is good for online games (TrackMania, Flatout2, Armagetron). Old Salix 14.1 has an excellent video editor (Kdenlive). Rendering times are dreadful (it can take hours for small videos), but it plays even high-res videos. Mainboard needed a complete replacement of all capacitors (like most computers of that era). The machine dropped onto cobblestones once. Cracked case, but no performance lost. Even more performance gained with maximum RAM. An SSD would boost it even more, but nah, grunty HDDs are lying everywhere for free, better deal.

Total cost: 0 Euros and 0 Dollars
The Computer - from previous workplace
4:3 Monitor - from my uncle's workplace
Windows XP license - found in the trash on some burned disc
Linux (Salix 14.1) - for free from the web
4GB DDR2 RAM - from my current workplace
AGP Graphics Card - raided from an abandoned computer on the sidewalk (always carry a screw driver with you)
PS/2 Keyboard and Mouse - found in a dumpster outside (be curious)

(okay, replacing the capacitors did cost like 15 Euros...)

Leaking capacitors are a problem for most machines of around 2006. They aren't build as solid as the previous computers of, let's say, around 2000. Also, these machines decending from the volcano-like end-phase Pentium 4 are degrading much faster because of the heat. A Pentium 3 would be more reliable, but has less power and that limits what can be done with the computer of course.


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brisray
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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2023, 05:22:10 am »

Lightscribe was short-lived mostly because it was a pain to use. The covers rarely turned out the way you envisioned them in the editor. I tried those printable sticky paper covers, but I found the disks kept jamming inside slot readers. That caused a bt of swearing getting them out of a car CD player. The best solution was the pre-made printable cover CDs and DVDs. You could use any image editor to design the cover but you needed a printer capable of taking the disks to print them.

I keep everything for far longer than I should. I've got drawers full of old power supplies, cables and expansion cards that were practically obsolete when I got them. I think I've still got some old VESA bus cards around somewhere and a bag DDR2 RAM.
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Onio
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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2023, 06:33:46 pm »

It's a shame that Lightscribe didn't work out as intended. I've forgotten all about that until now, and now I remember how cool I thought that was when I was a kid! I definitely wanted one. I remember making those custom sticky paper covers, and those then getting the CDs jammed in the optical drive, haha. My dad wasn't happy. I really thought the world was my oyster just because of those simple things.

DDR2 still feels like yesterday to me. I don't know if I ever handled DDR3? My last PC died in 2012 and I survived on a Macbook Pro from 2013 - 2021. Finally got a new tower a couple years ago.. feels good, man.. Still really like my Macbook. I intend on keeping it around as long as possible. It might be joining the $50 club in a couple of years. The design still feels fresh nearly 10 years later!
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brisray
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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2023, 12:40:52 am »

This might have been the best buy I ever made. It's my original "Server in the Cellar" from 2003. It was a MMX 200MHz machine with 30Gb drive running Windows 2000 Pro and it cost me a whole $25 when a local college were selling off some old computers.


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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2023, 08:46:37 pm »

I don't have any of my old towers anymore, but I still have two craptops. My favorite is the Intel Inspiron E1408, which runs horribly, gets really hot, and almost always needs to be plugged in, but at least looks cool and can run Debian with the same dotfiles as my daily driver.
I got it for free when I was helping my sister move houses, since she told me she was just going to throw it away if I didn't want it. ;D

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« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2023, 01:20:28 am »

I just wanted to say thanks to you for making this club. :pc: It has been a great time talking to people about their old or obsolete machines.
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brisray
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« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2023, 08:17:04 pm »

A little bit off-topic but I reuse as much as I can. Someone gave me this American Micro computer a long time ago. I've forgotten what was originally in it, but the sticker says Windows 2000 Professional.

I've updated it quite a bit since then! I use it mostly for video editing so it's got a bit of video IO hardware in it. I don't play games so the graphics card is good enough for hardware acceleration for the editors.


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Onio
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« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2023, 08:43:24 pm »

I just wanted to say thanks to you for making this club. :pc: It has been a great time talking to people about their old or obsolete machines.

Thanks for suggesting I post about it here!  ;D

A little bit off-topic but I reuse as much as I can. Someone gave me this American Micro computer a long time ago. I've forgotten what was originally in it, but the sticker says Windows 2000 Professional.

I've updated it quite a bit since then! I use it mostly for video editing so it's got a bit of video IO hardware in it. I don't play games so the graphics card is good enough for hardware acceleration for the editors.


That's a sweet looking machine.
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brisray
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« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2023, 10:49:34 pm »

It is a quick machine. I upgrade it every couple of years by going down the lists at PassMark CPU Benchmarks and other places until I find something sensibly priced and get that.

At the moment the AMD EPYC 9654 CPU is tops by miles, but I think my wife would have something to say about the $12,000 for it, and it probably wouldn't be very nice.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2023, 10:53:21 pm by brisray » Logged
thesolitarygamer
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« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2023, 11:16:51 pm »

Reading this thread is making me want to find a old machine, refurbish it and play old games on it. Wonder how hard it'd be to find an old computer that can take an old fashioned Voodoo GFX card...
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