Making a cheaper computer:
There has been a lot of talk about lately about using small inexpensive PCs to run Artemis. Two of the main ones that I have been hearing about are the Kangaroo and the lenova 3000. These are basically Stick computer made to attach directly onto the back of the monitor into the HDMI port. Ultimately I think small PCs like this are going to be the future on the game at cons. However it is also possible to build some very inexpensive PCs yourself if your willing to do the building yourself.
***See bottom for non-DIY options***
My own set up:
I own 8 of the PCs that we use to run my bridge and I have probably spent about $300 on them. Some of that is because Ive got a friend in IT and the rest is me scavenging/ buying PC parts on E-bay. Most have been tinkered with, 3 I have built from scratch.
****This wont be a guide on how to assemble a PC, but more about what to look for when building a cheap computer for Artemis. PLease be advised that I am not responsible for anything you do while building a computer (make sure everything is unplugged before you start touching anything)*****
Things I have learned along the way;
-You need a CPU, Motherboard, video card, PSU and hard drive to make a computer (a case is nice, but not technically needed for it to be a working PC).
-Getting to know a guy in IT is a good way to get Old PCs. Also look for universities selling surplus equipment
-I have read that any PC that runs Windows XP will run Artemis. That is probably true, but in my experience it wont run it well, especially at higher lvls. If a used PC wont run at least Vista I don't want it. If it runs Windows 7 you should be fine for any station except for Fighters or the Server.
-4GB seems to be the magic number when it comes to ram. It will run with 2GB, but again, it will have trouble with higher levels.
-Some CPUs have integrated GPUs. Amd E-350 and E-450 are excellent example of this as is the pentium I3-550 (there are others, but those are the ones I am familiar with).
-If you buy a motherboard that has a CPU in it with an integrated video processor it saves you a bunch of money and assembly time.
-Fighter stations are surprisingly graphic intensive.
-The GTX 260 is a VERY common video card that can easily handle server or fighter duty.
Buying the parts
Power supply: I pulled a good number of my PSUs from old computers that were too old to run Artemis well. Turns out they work pretty well on (slightly) newer machines.Most of the scavanged PSUs were around 400watts which wrk well for motherboards with integrated graphics processors and basic HDDs. When I have needed to buy a new PSU I was able to get a basic 600 watt model for about $25.
Motherboard: As I said earlier buying a motherboard/CPU combo with an integrated graphics proccesor saves a lot of time and money. My two work horse computers were made with MSI E350IA-E45 motherboards which uses the AMD E-350 APU. I got one for $20 on ebay and the other for $40.
Ram: I did have some old RAM laying around that I used for two of the PCs that I built but I was able to buy 2x2GB ram sticks locally for about $25
Hard drive: About 80GB is what I look for in a hard drive. Again, I was able to get some HDDs from my IT friend, but when I did need to get a hdd I was able to buy some used ones on ebay for around $15
Cases: I honestly have no idea. I integrated the PCs I built into the consoles themselves. However, an ATX case is pretty universal, so if you have an old computer laying around the case may work.
So there you go; A PC for under $100 that will run Artemis well.
When you need more graphic power:
GTX 260: This must have been a seriously popular card back in the day, because these are super easy to find. A card first released about 7 years ago, I have found it one Ebay for around $25, but I got lucky and got 2 of them for $20.
There is another option as well that I havent done a lot of research on yet, but that I feel like I should touch on; There is an emerging market for mini PCs. Pcs that are tiny, relatively low powered with low power consumption. Often they are small enough to fit in your hand, have a power brick, can run windows 10 and generally come with 2GB of ram. They can also cost under $200. As I said, I haven't done much research on them, but they have a lot of potential.
One that I did find that seems like a good PC solution is the ZOTAC ZBOX E-350. they come in different version, but I have seen them for as low as $40 for a refurbed unit. I would suggest upgrading to 4GB or Ram though. They are about 7.5" X 7.5"