Barebones Computer

What Does Barebones Computer Mean?

A barebones computer contains used computer parts, or shells of computers that usually include the tower. It is a platform or kit that is partially assembled and in need of additional hardware in order to make the PC run. Barebones computers are less expensive, and can be purchased from manufacturers or private computer builders who either tinker in the field or who operate full-fledged home businesses.


May also be known as barebones hardware, or simply barebones.

Techopedia Explains Barebones Computer

The hardware typically found in a bare bones computer includes:

  • Power supply
  • Motherboard
  • Cooling apparatus
  • Optical drive

Sometimes a media card reader or a hard drive are also included. If not, they must be purchased to make the system complete along with other items such as memory/RAM, a central processing unit and adapters.

Bare bones parts are available for a vast array of computers from various PC manufacturers. Sometimes manufacturers sell certain types of form factors that are more customized or specialized. In these instances, the power supply and motherboard are typically pre-installed and the purchase may include a parts guarantee.

In addition to the cost-saving advantages, barebones computers also allow the user to upgrade an existing PC to make it work better. Some techies make a hobby out of swapping barebones hardware from inept computers or from other tech hobbyists. This is considered a great way to recycle and reduce the number of computer parts that end up in landfills. In this way, the use of barebones computer hardware is a win-win situation.

However, computer reconstruction requires someone who knows exactly what they are doing and it can be a time-consuming process.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…