How To's & GuidesThe easy $250 outlet HTPC on a Friday night

The easy $250 outlet HTPC on a Friday night


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I can easily go overboard on a HTPC build but can I do it the other way? Can I make a cheap HTPC that actually performs? This is not really a build. It is more of a bargain hunt. Let me show you how I did it this on a Friday night.

$250 HTPC

Outlet PCs – Really?

Large PC manufacturers sell refurbished or “scratch and dent” PCs. Sometimes, like at Dell and HP, they sell them for under $300. Sometimes under $200!

Why buy a PC already assembled? Well, if you are going to build your own PC you can hunt around for parts and deals, but when it comes to the OS you are going to have to pay from $85-$100 for Windows 7. This means your home build with “new parts” is always going to be a minimum of $200 or more.

Last week I got a 15% off coupon from Dell and started looking for a cheap Dell Windows 7 PC. I finally found one and ordered it. They are actually listed quite regularly if you do not mind refreshing the page often. It took me a couple of hours checking about every 10 minutes before it popped up.

Make sure the Outlet PC you order has Windows 7 Premium!

$250 HTPC

I had also ordered a CPU on sale from TigerDirect recently. These deals also pop up all the time on other sites like Newegg.

$250 HTPC

I also get 10% Bing Cashback from the the CPU order! Sweet. $255.53 minus $6.70 CB is $248.83!

Why the Dell Inspiron 546?

I am Dell guy. You might be a HP person. You might even like another brand. It is cool either way. I like Dell because they have all of their support online and it is easy to find their specs and the service tag information. So why the Inspiron 546 model?

  • AMD CPU Socket
  • Four memory slots
  • Four SATA connections
  • HDMI connection

$250 HTPC

$250 HTPC

Do not like Dells? Go to HP. You could also do the Compaq CQ4010f Desktop PC at the HP Outlet for $319 plus 10% Cashback which puts you at $287 (no tax).

$250 HTPC

This unit comes with the same AMD Sempron LE-1300 Processor so upgrading the CPU would be easy!

Let me show you how easy it is…

X4 Phenom CPU Change Video

AMD CPUs are usually less expensive and should suit you fine for a HTPC.

Optional HTPC Aftermarket Upgrades

A HTPC would be connected to your home stereo and might be driving a large flat screen TV. You can find 5.1 sound cards for under $20 online and 512MB video cards for about the same. You could trade out the processor cost for these two parts and still be under $250.

$250 Performance?

I am not going to run super cool tests or benchmarks. Not for $250. I will let Microsoft numbers show you some basic information. Its a $250 PC.

Out of the box from Dell:

$250 HTPC

After “used freebie” 512MB 4350 Video Card installed

$250 HTPC

After X4 Phenom upgrade:

$250 HTPC

Stupid Aero rating is always the lowest! Anyone know how to increase this easily?


Overall I am very happy with outlet purchases. Five of my PCs are from the outlet and work great.

Can you have performance for $250? I think so. If you are looking into a HTPC or even a second PC I would suggest looking at outlet PCs. With coupon codes or Bing you can get some great deals. If 5.1 sound is not something you want to add then you can find outlet PCs that have it as part of the system. If you familiarize yourself with a certain model or case size you can lurk around the outlet and wait for the good deals.

Next week I will install a $54.99 Blu-Ray from Newegg!

See you next Friday night.


Timothy Daleo
Timothy Daleo
Timothy Daleo is a Project Resource Analyst and Oracle Applications Trainer in Pasadena, California. In addition to financial analysis, Tim has been developing training materials since 2003 and supporting direct projects through various auxiliary databases since 2005.


  1. Dell also has really good deals sometime on off lease stuff ( Around Thanksgiving 09 I noticed a 33% off coupon good there. Picked up a mini tower Optiplex GX620, P4 3.2HT, 1 gig DDR 2, 160 gig hd, DVD burner, no o/s, under warranty till Aug 10 for $153 shipped. I added a 500 gig and 750 gig hard drives that I already had, installed WHS and it's been happy ever since!

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