Michael Kanellos, one of the lead contributor to CNet's news.com (opens in new tab) has an interesting post where he talks about ultra cheap hardware and their relative worthiness.
Rather than cutting edge technology, he talks about obsolete technologies like the Athlon K7 500MHz which is on sale for around a fiver.
Auction sites like Ebay are flooded with such computer hardware. In fact, you can easily find dozens of cheap complete computers for less than £10 excluding P&P on ebay.
For example, a Dell GX100 featuring an Intel Celeron 600MHz, 128MB memory, a 10GB hard drive and a CDROM can be had for only £9.99.
The only catch with that being that there is no software or operating system. It is indeed paradoxical that software never loses value over time when compared to hardware.
But obviously, you can use open source software to breathe new life into old hardware. Indeed even an old Celeron 600MHz can be very helpful as a hardware firewall or a media centre using available open source solutions.
And believe me or not, it is much better to have a dedicated computer for a particular task than trying to lump all your applications together.