I do not build computers very often, my daily driver is an Alienware and I am not ashamed of that. The fact is, I am generally too lazy to build out a PC to my spec, when I can generally just go buy a pre build with 99% of what I want at the time. This is not to say I have never built a PC, I have in fact build probably 50 or 60 computers over the years, I simply do not do it anymore. The last time I build one was when I needed a system to run my website on and I needed a lot of memory to run multiple virtual machines and a redundant RAID array, this was perhaps 6 or 7 years ago
A bit more than week ago, I was on vacation and having lunch with the wife where she works. I noticed an older Pentium brand processor sitting on the shelf for about $70, more out of curiosity than anything I asked what type of CPU it was, the wife said it was an Intel G4400 dual core 3.3 Ghz Processor that had been sitting in inventory for over 2 years and she would make a deal with me if I bought the MSI B250I Motherboard they had on the shelf for, that had also been sitting on the shelf for awhile. So I said, sure throw in some RAM and lets see what the bugger costs, it came to just over $200 with 8GB of Crucial 3200 RAM. Not too shabby really. I of course still needed a case and storage, so when I got home I went on Amazon and found a nice small form factor ITX case, yes, the motherboard is an ITX board. The motherboard supports an M.2 card for storage, so I decided to grab a 256 GB SSD M.2 card, with shipping and handling, it came to about $120 total.I got the case and m.2 card on Wednesday and was ready to put it all together. Two things I already had, was a 1 TB hard drive, that I intended to use as a 2nd drive to install games and store data. The second thing is I decided to use an old AMD R 5440 I had laying around. My experience with integrated video has never been good and with the current pricing of decent video cards being nothing less than outlandish, I figured this was a better option than not. The one thing I lacked was a copy of Windows 10. Yes, I know, I am a Linux guy, but I decided I should probably have at least one system in the house that ran Windows 10. However, for the moment, I decided just to install Linux on the thing until I decided where to get a copy of Windows from.
Assembly of the system took me maybe 20 minutes, sans cable management. System posted on the first power up, and I was mildly proud of myself. The install of Linux took another 20 minutes, and dame that SSD is fast, the fucking machine literally boots in 5 seconds. The next day, I looked around for what a copy of Windows would cost me, which was somewhere in the $130-$140 range, I was not thrilled about this, since that would constitute 25% of the cost of the machine. After thinking about it, I decided to sacrifice the Windows 10 virtual machine I had, that I never really used for anything. I removed the registration key from it, deleted the VM and then used it to activate windows on the new system.
Keep in mind, this is not supposed to be a power house machine, it is supposed to be an adequate secondary machine. I am pretty satisfied with this build, it has a low profile, it is quiet and it is reasonable fast with the M.2 card in it and even the 1TB spindle drive is not terrible.
Edit for update 12/12/2021:
Since I put this system together I have been on the hunt for a brand new in box low end video card for a reasonable price. Unfortunately that has not been easy, the only thing really available in the sub $100 range has been GT 710 Nvidia cards, which were total junk 10 years ago when they were first released. The lowest acceptable cards I could find like the GT 1030, were still going for at least a $150 and that was more than i was willing to spend for a slightly less junk video card. Best Buy had a Christmas sale and I was finally able to get a GT 1030 for $100. So I think for the time being, this system is done.