What is your current affordable desktop/laptop setup?

I’ve learned so much about cellphones, plans and where to find awesome deals from so many contributors here over the last few years....Thank you all so much! What’s your affordable (under $500) computer set up? Tablet/Laptop/Desktop? While my use case would be stock trading and property management, I’d enjoy hearing about your budget ( or not so budget) set up.

Hi Chosen.
As a semi-retired PC Tech Consultant I quit doing anything with windows for myself and my clients a while back - and we are all much happier being 100% Linux users now - so my question in return is this:
Are you open to that, or only asking in order to do some windows stuff more affordably ??

I am a semi-literate Windows user, and I played with a couple of Linux distros in the past (Ubuntu, Cinnamon) I like the day to day use, but got lost in some pretty basic tasks, like adding a printer, or hooking up via WiFi. Has that aspect of Linux gotten any easier?

I'm hoping for a super-cheap Windows laptop. (I need Windows for specific programs). I use desktops for most stuff, but my old laptops are finally becoming too old even for me. (Windows XP)

Hi EZ,
Certainly open to Linux! Used Linux Mint but my experience has been limited to that.

For Linux info on this forum, see this thread: https://www.nthcircle.com/forum/general/3010-what-linux-distro-s-are-you-using-and-why?start=0

In the past, it has been a bit of a problem connecting printers to certain Linux distros, but I do think it has improved. So much depends on what distro one is using in addition to what printer and what PC one is using, for an uncommon printer, the age and quality of a PC, and a Linux distro that is not top of the line, can make for a convoluted process. I have a cheap, uncommon Pantum printer that most Linux distros lack the drivers for, so I must find the driver online, download and install it, and then use terminal commands to convert it to the proper file format before it can be installed. Quite the hassle compared to my Samsung printer that most major Linux distros already have support for the driver which is automatically installed when the printer is connected. Yet, I think many Linux distros have expanded the number of printers supported, and if not supported, the Linux forums are vast resources of information on how to connect problematic printers.

Re--Wifi---I don't think there are many problems connecting to wifi on the most popular Linux distros, depending on the PC one has, but some less popular distro sometimes come up short with support for the wifi drivers for some PCs.

For my desktop, I've been using a Beelink J 34 mini PC ($175 new)with 8 GB of RAM, which came with Windows 10 installed on a 128 GB eMMC drive. But the PC also has space for a SSD drive, so I installed a 240 GB SSD (about $40/$50, I think)in it and installed two Linux distros on it, which I prefer to use rather than W10. Also, it's connected to a Samsung 27" monitor ($200). So, all in all, the set up comes in at under $500.

I'm fond of the space-saving PCs, but I still keep a big Gateway tower PC around as a back up. I find it interesting that tower PCs are mostly empty space inside, although having CD drives, card reader ports, etc. integrated into them is a big plus over mini-PCs.

Greetings Chosen & All.

Isamorph's rig sounds very nifty !!
He is also correct that printers are much less of a problem than they once had been under most better Linux distros.

[color=green]An example:
A client's rather old Toshiba (XP) NB kept misbehaving, so I was called upon to scrape the data off of it & then provide a newer HP NB to replace it with Ubuntu Mate installed.

That having been done - just for yuks - I installed Ubuntu Mate on the old NB - and guess what ??
It gets used here for playing YT videos by my partner, as her ancient desktop PC has become balky - and that old NB hasn't failed here even once yet.

My own desktop PC has these specs:
OS: Ubuntu 18.04.5 LTS x86_64
Host: TA970
Resolution: 1360x768
WM: Metacity (Marco)
WM Theme: TraditionalOk
Theme: TraditionalOk [GTK2/3]
Icons: mate [GTK2/3]
CPU: AMD FX-6300 (6) @ 3.500GHz
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 8400 GS Rev. 3
Memory: 7937MIB

And it is quite snappy along with being utterly reliable.
My old Brother laser printer on USB was recognized & ready to use with zero actions needed on my part, and even my old Canon USB scanner can be plugged in anytime & just work without any additional actions required.

The only problem I've run across was trivial IMO;
On the 1/2 dozen or so brand new HP NBs that I've made ready for use - the in-built Wifi was not recognized.

The solution in each case was just plugging in a $5 nano Wifi dongle, and poof - all fixed.
This problem may have been fixed now that U/M 20.04.1 is out, but I haven't tested to see if that has been fixed in it yet.

Lastly - for myself and all those whom I assist, the preferred desktop paradigm is the very plain, unobtrusive old school classic style desktop without any docks or other domineering 'features' like Unity and now Gnome3 are centered upon.

HTH ??

Personally, I would not even bother with Linux if my business software was written only for Windows or vice-versa.

Linux to ME is too unfriendly from an end user perspective. Not enough software choices. Driver issues. Forced to use terminal commands for relatively common tasks. Also, too many acronyms as directory names (probably because users have use drop to terminal so often).

Anyway, Black Friday is coming up so look at the ads and see what looks good. Me telling you what my setup is basically pointless since what a deal is considered good today is not the same as what was a week ago, a month ago, and of course years ago. For example, I have the AMD FX6300 + GeForce 8400 GS (think that GPU was free after rebate years ago) as well. Would that be suitable purchase today. No way unless it was free or close to it.

Be aware that not all Black Friday deals are good though. Not even all stores even bother with desktops anymore. Choose a few pc's from the BF ads and prioritize which ones you would accept because doorbusters deals are sold out are almost instantly.

Manufacturers like Dell, Lenovo, HP, and Microsoft typically have lukewarm deals for BF, but there is no harm in seeing what they have available this year. If a desktop is what you want, I would think your best chance is with with Staples, Office Depot, or maybe Best Buy. There are more BF choices with laptops as you could add stores such as Walmart, Amazon, and Costco.

This is year is all screwed up with the pandemic as not all the BF ads are out yet. Keep any eye out when they are released and be aware of the individual stores' return policies should you change your mind and find a better bargain during this upcoming holiday season.

@JS - after reading & re-reading the quoted text below, I can only think that it MUST refer to sometime prior to around 2010 - because since then things have changed for the better in HUGE sorts of ways:

From the standpoint of any determined & committed M$ user who likely only considers M$0ffice & 0utlook, etc. to be THE desired apps, there remains some truth in the above.

Drivers are already, mostly a non-existent, non-problem as already explained earlier in this thread.

And funniest of all - NOBODY is forced to use the terminal 'often' - or at all, anymore, really.

A recent article said this quite well:

So, yes=>
Moving AWAY from all M$ products IS very much possible for many people.

Yes, it IS quite possible UNLESS one is a gamer, OR if those folks absolutely require daily usages of some special purpose s/w which ONLY runs on very certain h/w & s/w that MUST have windows.
All of which just is as it is, and is 100% perfectly fine - and also is NOT what the very average office or home user needs or uses.

Here is an excerpt from an article that (IMO) describes my own chosen path rather well:


In all my decades of this work & specifically since so much became internet-centric, here is EXACTLY what I have seen the most=>
Most PC users need an office suite that is compatible with the M$ file types - PDF readers & creators - some image handling s/w - an email client - and up to date browsers - with a reliable PC & OS as the foundation for that stuff.
And so long as the above described setup 'just works' - they are absolutely fine with it.

The stress-free way to venture forth into Linux is via getting a liveboot ISO, correctly placing it on media (USB is much faster than any optical media) - then booting the live distro to see what is good, or not.

If that distro, when booted live works well & suits you - then you may proceed to install it from that same media & ~99% of the times it will work the same installed as when livebooted.

Possible exceptions:
1 - If the destination h/w has been very firmly locked down by its maker and/or via BIOS/UEFI/GPT;
2 - If the user is desiring to keep that 'other' OS as a dual booting option.

Both of the above can be handled with success, but can be a bit complicated for anyone not versed in the peculiarities encountered from those possible complications.

The most important things, as relate with the reply above this one:
1 - Discrete driver installation is usually NOT a Linux sort of thing;

2 - Live booting has no 'gotchas' AT ALL in most situations - but is a terrific way to see & test a Linux distro without making any permanent changes UNTIL those changes may be desired.

Many recent & well known Linux distros are aimed right at new Linux users and have very non-threatening & simple to navigate installers, especially those like Ubuntu, Mint, etc. .

2 other, simple things to consider here:
There are some OSes which may be based upon other, better distros, but either are very buggy (i.e. Q4OS, Zorin...), and/or may have demanding Desktop Environments (DEs) which are unfavourable for new users UNLESS they have very new, high spec h/w.


I make no quibbles with anyone pointing a finger at me as being a 'Linux Enthusiast' or even a 'Linux Zealot'.
For me, in my uses and those of the many folks I assist - Linux has the right amount of goodness and meets our needs very well with incredible reliability.
As a desktop OS it can be very easily satisfying IMO.
Leaving windows and M$ behind are very happy features of my life & I have also been very happy in helping others to experience that goodness.

I don't know what your requirements are for a laptop but Walmart will have 3 on sale 11/11

So inspired by this unique mini PC set up with both Windows and Linux and right on budget. Starting my own custom build. Ya’all are amazing! Thanks again!

There's a deal at Amazon on the Beelink J 34 for $180-$20 w/coupon = $160. But you might want to look at other mini-PCs for better deals an specs.

I think it way before 2010 when it was "cool" to use M$ when referring to Microsoft. People still do that now in 2020 when MS is not even the top player in any consumer market anymore? If you made a good point somewhere in your response, I missed it because I quit reading it after a quick glance revealed M$ written so many times.

Dearest JS:
Thanks so very much for following my posts around with your snarky criticisms.

Frankly, your (or anyone's) approval or otherwise matter NOT AT ALL to me, so I suggest aiming your trolling behaviours at someone who will actually give a hoot.

Aside of that:
Since you are clearly a member of the TL;DR tribe, your credibility is very, very low anyhow as you aim criticism at folks who make efforts to be helpful WITHOUT comprehension of what they posted.

My only curiosity here is this:
Aside of other trolls perhaps - do internet trolls ever actually make, have or keep any friends IRL ??

I ask this because it seems as if such folks must be very, very solitary or even lonely such that they visit & post at online gathering places ONLY to agitate other folks by way of disagreement, discontent and/or outright offensiveness rather than making efforts at being helpful towards other folks.

When one is not safely hidden behind a screen (as IRL...), such behaviours reliably tend to repel other people UNLESS those others have some desires to bring about arguments or other sorts of battles.

Personally I prefer windows. Better GUI and software compatibility and doesn't look like it has been designed by programmers and techies. I got bored with all the sudo and apt things and wading through distros. I just want my OS to work.

But I don't spit on linux fans either. Choice is good and if some people prefer it then good for them. Windows is not without its flaws either.

BF is a good time to buy obviously. There are lots of good inexpensive windows computers these days and amds ryzen chips are at the top of their game right now. No need to go to linux to save $.

Very affordable windows devices are already getting advertisements from places like BJs in advance of BF.

As to this position statement...:

That you do not spit on Linux folks is very appreciated by this full time Linux user !!

Given that many, many non-techie folks world-wide are happy with the GUI, s/w selections, lack of any needs to visit the CLI (terminal) pretty much ever - AND especially its incredible ability to just work for many months without any needs for rebooting, there will always be folks who are quite sure that is isn't so good - and that is OK, even if it is not very correct factually anymore.

My advice is, and has been for most of a decade already=>
Don't knock it until you tried it at least several times since it has improved so very much.
(And thus far I've not had a single other person frown upon it at all after they've tried it for themself.)

Yes tried many times over many years and believe it or not did not like what I saw. Anyway this is veering the topic off course so will leave it at that.

Well, I'll go ahead and weigh in.

I'll start off by sharing that one of my superpowers is that I can write forward and backward-- in cursive.

It's not something that I ever practiced or learned, it's just something that I've always been able to do. I can effortlessly write a paragraph in cursive that you can then hold up to a mirror and it will look perfectly fine.

I'm not quite as comfortable when I write backward-- I wouldn't want to have to do it 100% of the time-- but it's not difficult for me to do.

I tell you that because that is my experience with Linux. I can use it effortlessly but it's not quite as comfortable as Windows and I wouldn't want to have to do it 100% of the time.

And it's not uncommon to have to configure something or have to do some weird thing that ends up taking 4 hours to figure out how to do-- when it would have taken 5 minutes, in Windows.

Chelle's First Rule of Computing:
Every minute that a computer saves you, it will eventually take back.

In the case of Windows it will be recovering from a virus or blue screen of death.

In the case of Linux it will be configuring something that should have been easy but, in the process of trying suggestions that you found on the internet, you break three other things and end up doing a fresh installation and have to set everything back up again.

So, what do I use?

90% of my computing is on a Chromebook. It just works. I use Google Docs, which has compatibility with Microsoft. It's basically virus-proof. (It verifies the operating system on every boot and if there are any discrepancies it replaces it with a fresh, virus-free copy without messing up any of your stuff.) It's fast. It boots up almost instantly.

5% of my computing is on a Windows laptop. I won't bore you with the specs but it's a refurb that I bought on Groupon last year for about $170. It looked like brand new, when it arrived, and I've never had a lick of trouble out of it. When I use my Windows laptop I almost always use it as a Chromebook. (I open up Chrome and work from within the browser.) I also use it for Quickbooks and a few other Windows-only programs.

5% of my computing is on Linux. I used to dual-boot Linux in my Windows laptops but Linux runs great in tired old laptops and I've accumulated enough old laptops to dedicate several to various distributions of Linux.

My favorite distro is Mint with the Cinnamon desktop. Truthfully, when I use Linux I tend to use it like a Chromebook, as with Windows. A cr@ppy old laptop that can't reasonably run Windows anymore will usually run Linux pretty easily. If I'm going to be someplace where my laptop could get damaged or stolen I just grab one of my Linux laptops that could fall down a cliff without me shedding any tears.

I didn't mean to be so verbose. I guess I just got on a roll.