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What Is a Barebones PC?

A computer motherboard.
A power supply is one of the basic components commonly found in a barebones PC.
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  • Written By: D. Grey
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 26 October 2014
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A barebones PC is a pre-assembled kit of computer components, usually intended to serve as a base for a computer builder to work with. These barebones systems generally include only the basic parts of a full personal computer system, which may only consist of a case, motherboard, and power supply, although other parts, such as sound cards or video cards may be included. A barebones style kit may be a good starting place for first time computer builders who would like to learn more about how a computer is put together. In addition to barebones PCs, other barebones packages are available for laptops and servers.

An individual might wish to purchase a barebones PC as a base to build from for several reasons. He might already have spare parts and not need to buy a fully built PC; he might not be able to afford a PC, or he might want have a bit of a head start in learning about the process of building a computer. A barebones PC will almost certainly be cheaper than buying a system that has already been assembled, but users should keep in mind that they will need to not only add the necessary hardware for the unit to function but the software as well, including an operating system. Doing a price comparison before purchasing a barebones PC and comparing the unit's specifications to the parts the builder plans to add is often a good starting point.

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For experienced computer builders, starting a project using a barebones PC may be a way to save time. If the barebones system comes with adequate hardware to support the other components the builder wishes to include, it may be easier to begin with. Users should be aware of what the barebones PC is compatible with because it is possible that the motherboard or power supply might not support the parts the builder plans to add. In this case, it may be necessary to seek out a barebones system that does come with adequate parts, although it is possible to just swap out parts that may need to be upgraded. It is worth noting that this may not be the most cost efficient method.

Other systems are also made as barebones systems, including laptops and servers. Barebones laptop systems may be referred to as "barebook" computers, and like a barebones PC, will usually only include the basic components of the machine, which might consist of the case, motherboard, and display. Barebones servers, again, include only the basic elements, but may be useful for server administrators who need to quickly put together a machine with spare parts or who would simply like the flexibility of building a custom system with some components already assembled.

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