Cheaper ?
           How to not go broke, fixing or buying old relic PC's           

Avoid list 1: (and what years are best) History Matters!
  • Buy something better even a used PC from 2010 are vastly better. (no CCFL lamps as all are LED black lamped screens now, get one of these)
  • Avoid years 1999 to 2003 PC's with the China bad CAP.'s disease."Most of the affected capacitors were produced from 1999 to 2003 and failed between 2002 and 2005"
  • Do not buy Laptops with 2008 year, GPU chips. (for sure Nvidia, BGA solder ball horror)
Most folks just use a cell phone (smart) for their total needs.
Other folks find the tiny screen causes huge eye strain using a CELL phone, for any form of internet browsing etc.
The most cost effective would be a Chromebook. $120? (if you and stand using this alien to most folks, OS)
To me , cost and screen size wins and must run Windows 10, (so it has a future)

Why spend hard earned cash on a new $1000 grossly overpriced Laptop. (sure get a NOTE PAD)
The other good reason #4 is Window 10 may run on that 2010 or newer PC. 
Why not desktop, if you do  not need true mobility why not get a nice desktop and a newer 2010 Monitor . (and newer) so lets talk monitors first.

Cheaper Monitors:
Walmart has great listiings on  refurb Monitors, check it out and save cash.(as low as $47 + tax)

Avoid all monitors older than 2010 made they use short lived CCLF back lamp tubes.
If the manual for the Monitor shows, no mention of LED , avoid it, if the manuals mention "Toxic, Hg or Mercury" avoid it  (means CCLF is there and now useless this old)
In the year 2010 the wide screens were changed to LED backlamps first, then the narrow screens later (hint hint)
Avoid all things with the  4:3 old TV type aspect ratio,  go for only 16:9 wide screen PCs and monitors , see them all here at wonderful WIKI.
My HP CCFL screen back lamp tube avoidance list is here. (you will want at least HDTV compatilbity to  watch movies.)

Cheaper good PC's:?  Desktops are easier to repair, diagnose and use standard parts called the ATX standards.  That means parts are easy to find.
There great buys on super good Desktop PCs, for sure top brands. (no junk)
The key factor again is age, and most stores that sell these are called Refurbished.
Many sold like that are junk, the models sold are over 10 years old, or way older and are a RIP OFF !

Lets do Desktops that are prime, both maker prime and model prime (no dog allows, whoof whoof)
HP and Dell are the 2 top brands, I buy only American made (USA) PCs. (no better support exists by any other makers) (if Asian is your bag?, Asus is tops, or Acer are next)
(or the  HP Desktop Z600 that I love (my video server)

The Dell Desktops, to buy are the Newer Optiplex  series, but were made from 2010 to now, and most seen even below are way too old. (most nnn 3 digit models are too old except the below listed ones)
Year 2009 up and only Sandybridge CPU and newer even new Kabylake. below is my best bang for a buck model versions.

Here is my DELL PRIME list by #  Each PC comes in as many as 4 case sizes. (the larger ones are more standard)
The Dell 390  ,790, 990,  3010 (std PSU),  , 3040 > ($200 used) (front viewed)
Next choices if you have the bread (cash) are 4 digit only.
The  Dell nnnn 4 digit numbers, up to 7450 new 2017 up, the best ones are all CORE processors, not Core 2, NO DUO  but Intel Generation i3-i5 or i7-xnnn  (x =2 up gen)
Really do pick by the CPU Intel processor generation, ok?  Sandybridge,Ivy,  Haswell, skylake, kabylake.(in that order) Google you PCs model like  "Dell 990 spec" and read the spec, for processor class.

Next pick pick a PC with 4 RAM slots DDR (790/990) 
And if uses a standard ATX12v v.2.2 or newer PSU, (no custom PSU) MT case is my favorite (mini-tower)
The 3040-mT needs this to use standard ATX v2.2 up PSU.

The 990 is best bang for buck PC for sure!
A used 990 can be had for $90 to $124.  (ebay or at Walmart) Super good used PC bang for the buck. 

Optiplex wiki list is very good 2010 year up.
The Dells have 3 or more cases and mobo types.  

Walmart,  PC refurbs , near new for $77 or less some days, there are great deals on used Refurbs and even a waranty, (shocking) 2007 and newer is my rule. My rule is, it must run Windows 10 64bit or I walk on by.
EBAY also lists greast HP refurbs , look there too.!

Googling for Goodwill stores that have a DELL OR HP for sale works too, as does Ebay.
Endless choices for $50-$100 range.

OR? walk in to GW  store and , read the Microsoft sticker  COA tag W7  , and walk out for low cash.   ( I like the refurbs on ebay/amazon with w10 loaded for free)

Buy a great used  HP work-station XW4600 or newer, like this?

Any XW-nnnn ,  up are great desktops,  the best IMO.
Any Z400 up is even  better with Zeon processors. ! Really my twin CPU , based  Z600 is a jewel.!

I like HP , they are the best, for hardware and the best documentation of any makers (as is DELL),  some makers have ZERO DOC's other than color, plug in guides,  mostly useless, IMO.
Read the Xw4600 page. SEE?
Dell is HP equal in fact Dell has more older PCs indexed for manual and drivers than any other maker.(Dell support is THE  MAN ! Top Shelf)

Ebay has refurb computers to, some really nice quality workstations, not cheap PCs but top level WS and with W10 loaded fresh, even as low as $100,  (IMO one of the best deals there are on PCs)
Why own a desktop?, answer, the parts are standard and you don't need a NASA engineer to fix it , cool it or take it apart.  (ask a GAMER and can upgrade the GPU card at any time!)  
The worst PCs have no documents to support them and for sure no service manuals. Some only have a flier page,doc.  only (how to plug it in and turn it on, only)
Before buying any PC look at the support pages, for it at the OEM,  and make sure the  books are good and all drivers you need are three, or pass.

Good Laptops used are hard to find but there are 2 favorites of mine. (3 of the best PCs made by HP  are these)
The zbooks and Elitebooks and probooks are all good made by HP, top quality here, buy one cheep, mine is 8540w, and I upgraded it to W10 and SSD drive.
Do not turn on the BIOS PASSWORD and do not buy a PC with it already turned on. OK?

These are my Idea's on how to not RUN XP ever again, and not go broke.
  (I see a guy buying a Laptop for $1000 bucks and think, gee, I could buy 3 laptops with 5 desktops for that cash?)
If all you need is one home PC, get the ATX full sized desktop above and a  $120 chromebook for travel.  (why spend $1000?)

Every word on this page is IMO, In my opinion so is only that, and your opinion is always better, but I offer this page as food for thought only.

version 2.  5-9-2017 (all this is Opinion  only and am not paid to type.... I AM 100% RETIRED now. (this is not spam, nor are you tracked or exploited in any way ever by me) BTW: this is my Journal. (shared)