Question Looking for a cheap $300-ish prebuild as a backup PC to toss a used GPU into

Jun 15, 2020
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So my currently desktop bit the dust, and it could be a while until I diagnose the problem and get it running again since it could be anything it and getting/returning parts will take a long time. Issue is, that was my only desktop that isn't using tech nearly two decades old, and my laptop also died the other day.

I need a computer, preferably a desktop, soon... but I also don't have the budget to just build a new PC. Since I have been planning to get a backup PC anyway to use for any troubleshooting/hardware maintenance and testing without taking my main PC offline, I figured I could get a cheap prebuilt as a temporary backup PC that was at least close to what I had. The desktop that failed was a i7-3770K system with 32GB of RAM and a GTX 1070 (upgraded from GTX 670 SLI). I know I can't come close to getting the same performance out of my 1070 at this pricepoint, but that's fine, I can make do with less demanding/older games until I get my main desktop running.

I saw several used/refurbished workstations that either had a 3770K or a Xeon that was somewhere close to that CPU for around $250-300. I figured I could get one of those, a cheap 256GB SSD if they don't already come with a SSD, and a used $50-60 GPU on ebay (possibly in the GTX 700 range) just to hold me over until I can get my main system working again, and that way I have a backup/testing system as well. The main issues were the size as many are low-profile systems (had to filter them to mid-towers and full-towers) and the PSU as many of these systems have a weaker PSU that likely can't handle such a GPU, and even if the PSU isn't something proprietary it would cost too much to replace it (Not to mention I kinda don't want to deal with all the re-wiring as I already might have to do that with my main desktop).

The two I got my eyes on at the moment are a Dell Precision T3610 for $300:

And a HP Z420 that has many configurations, but a default one with a E5-1620, 32GB of RAM, 1TB HDD, a Quadro card, and A Win10 Pro license was $250:

I also saw a variation of the above with a 6-core E5-2640 CPU for $200... but with 8GB of RAM, 500GB HDD (not much of an issue as I will just put a SSD in it and use the HDD for storage), and no OS. The higher-core CPU is nice, but I don't think I will benefit from what I will be using it for over having more ram and a valid Win10 Pro license.

Both of those are mid-towers so I should have enough room for a GPU, and come with a CPU that is around what I had in my desktop as well as a Windows license. The main issues I have with each of these are possible PSU. The Dell models can have either a 425 or 685 Watt PSU. The 685 should be sufficient for what I am going to use it for..... the 425 not so much. And the problem is they don't list anywhere what PSU it comes with, and I am willing to bet they are all the 425 version, plus the PSU is proprietary:


The HP one supposedly comes with a 600 watt PSU which should be enough:


Although I am not sure how reliable that information is in terms of refurbished units, although the PSU also appears to be standard.... but that also means it can be more likely whoever refurbished it could have tossed in a weaker PSU if they refurbished a unit with a dead PSU.

Anyone have any opinions about either of these two? I can't afford to spend too much, especially since I will need to spend money fixing my main desktop as well and in almost all cases will need to buy a cheap used GPU to put into these, and I couldn't find any deals for around $300-ish that would work. Are these good options? Or does anyone have any better options for what I am trying to do in this price range? I highly doubt I can build a system for this price, especially if you factor in the cost of a Windows license.
 
Hi!

I can say from eyeballing the pic of the HP Z420 you posted, there dont appear to be any PCI-E power cables from the PSU. It's also using a Quadro 600 which apparently only draws 40 watts, so would draw all its power from the slot.. Doesnt fill me with confidence that you'll be able to change the GPU in there. I guess something like a 750Ti/1050Ti without external power requirements could work, but you should still check on the PSU anyway.

The Dell is using a Quadro K4000 (link to specs page) which according to specs requires 1x6 pin PCI-E power connector, so although it might be a 425W PSU model it at least has a power connector.

FWIW the Quadro K4000 is a slightly nerfed GTX 660 and performs around the level of a GTX 650Ti. So you might be able to game a little on it as is. I havent tried to game on a pro card myself so I'm not sure how well that works. You also could almost certainly throw a card in there that didnt require a power connector in that case like the ones mentioned above.

Can you email Newegg and ask for confirmation of the PSU specs? I assume their customer service would be able to find out for you.

Otherwise that all I have, hopefully someone elsearound can help you a bit more if you need.
 
Jun 15, 2020
16
5
4,515
I did message them just now, though they are a 3rd party seller so I have no idea if and when they might respond, or if they even just have no idea if their inventory could be a mixed bag. The PSU lacking the proper power connectors for the GPU isn't even something I considered, thanks for bringing that up.

EDIT: They messaged me back saying that I can message them after purchase about which PSU I want.
 
Last edited:
I did message them just now, though they are a 3rd party seller so I have no idea if and when they might respond, or if they even just have no idea if their inventory could be a mixed bag. The PSU lacking the proper power connectors for the GPU isn't even something I considered, thanks for bringing that up.

EDIT: They messaged me back saying that I can message them after purchase about which PSU I want.

Nice, which one did you go for?
 
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Jun 15, 2020
16
5
4,515
I just placed an order for the Dell one and messaged them about the PSU, hope everything goes smoothly. Issue is it might arrive at latest the 28th, that's really cutting it close to January (there were some events I wanted to do that will end in December).

Now I just need to shop for a SSD and GPU to put in it. SSD will not be a problem, but it's being a little tricky trying to find an appropriate GPU for around $50-60 on ebay for it. You would think GTX cards that are 7-9 years old by now would be cheaper...
 
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