How to Build a Cheap Android PC

How to Make a Cheap Android PC From Computer Parts

A typical CR2032 motherboard battery

If you already have old computer parts, you may want to try installing Android on either an old computer or on parts pulled from used computers. If you take this path, you’ll need to find a version of Android that supports PC-hardware, also known as x86-compatible hardware, along with x86-compatible hardware. Sometimes the computer you already have will work; others, it will not.

Android Operating Systems for PC Parts

The most important part of your DIY Android PC is its operating system. There are different flavors of installable Android. Some are designed for mobile processors while others work on any former Windows computer.

  • Bliss OS: Bliss OS is the product of an open-source, non-profit organization. It’s my preferred Android for a desktop computer.
  • Android-x86 Project: The Android-x86 Project is the original version of Android for desktop computers. Its code allowed for all the other Android x86 operating systems to exist.
  • OpenThOs: This is an open source version of Android for desktop.
  • PrimeOS: PrimeOS is a privately developed OS designed for devices. It also has a version for computers.
  • Phoenix OS: A Chinese-language OS. Read our Phoenix OS installation tutorial to save you time and effort.
  • Android for ARM: Some Single Board Computers come with installable Android versions, such as the Raspberry Pi.
  • Chromium OS At present, Chromium OS (which is the installable version of Chrome OS) cannot run Android apps. There are two major distributions: CloudReady (how to install CloudReady), which does not have Android apps in its future, and Arnold the Bat, who is still working on Play Store functionality.

Best x86 Android Motherboards

Don’t buy a PC motherboard for an Android project. A custom Android PC from off-the-shelf x86-compatible parts is more likely to have problems. If you absolutely need to buy one, use an Intel Atom motherboard. While almost every motherboard will boot Android, the problem is that many features, such as sound and ports, won’t function properly.

Older processors designed for the mobile markets, such as the Intel Atom series of processor, work best. For example, the Asrock Q1900-ITX motherboard’s audio worked in Android. That’s because the Realtek ALC662 audio chipset is fully supported by Android x86. The ALC792 and ALC892 chipsets may or may not work properly. When audio doesn’t work, I suggest using Bluetooth speakers.

Best Networking Card for Android Computers

build an android pc - wifi bluetooth combo board

If you’re building from scratch and your networking card doesn’t work, buy an Intel wireless card. Of the models that I’ve tested, Intel’s cards are the most likely to work. We’d recommend the Intel 3160 for its combination of rock-bottom pricing and decent performance. If you have a slightly larger budget, the Intel 7260 is a much better card.

Android PC Parts That Don’t Matter

The rest of the parts, such as the case, storage drive, monitor, and power supply, do not matter. If you do purchase any component, consider a solid state drive (SSD) instead of a hard disc drive (HDD). That’s mostly because Android as an operating system wasn’t designed to use an HDD.

What Parts Should You Use for an Android PC?

You can build your own Android computer using two methods: an SBC or used parts. Using an SBC is both cheap and results in a reliable computer. Using PC, or x86, parts is far less reliable but can cost very little.

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