I recently purchased my first ever desktop computer. You know, a big black box you place on the floor and to which you attach a separate screen and a keyboard and a mouse by cords. It may sound weird that I've never owned a computer before, but I've owned several laptops and when I was young my family had one computer that everyone shared so it wasn't my own.
But now I have one! And it's amazing! And it cost only a few hundred bucks!
I used to think that the same that applied to my old laptops applies to desktop computers as well: if it's cheap, it'll work for a few weeks and then it'll slow down and the memory will be gone and it'll try to install some stupid updates you don't want or need and it crashes like all the time and turning the machine on takes at least five minutes. And yes - the better computers at the store did cost a fortune. And I didn't want to pay a fortune for something I couldn't be sure would work.
So what did I do? I used my connections. Yes. Connections is the key. The computers you see at electronics stores are that expensive because the price includes the actual assembling of the computer - the box, the processor, the memory, the motherboard, everything - plus they might add things you don't need. In order to decrease the added cost of the assembly and leave out the devices you don't need (for example, I don't need a graphics card), get friendly with someone who knows how to do it - or, better yet, learn to do it yourself. (To clarify, I'm not suggesting you trade any sexual favors for computer assembly services. You can totally do the assembly yourself, just google the instructions. Also, becoming friends with someone just so you can use them for financial gain sounds kinds shady.)
Basically, if you have a friend who knows how to do it, ask their help, or find out how to do it yourself. Luckily for me, I have a partner who's
a nerd assembled a computer before and who was amazingly kind and agreed to help me. We discussed what kind of functionalities I needed from the computer, and he figured out which processor I needed and how much memory would be adequate and so on. We went to the store, I bought the components, and he assembled the computer.
Hundreds of bucks - saved! A computer able to take my business to the next level - procured!