Strawberry Perl works well
For a long time I used Active State. When I has changed laptop I thought I'd give Strawberry Perl a go and I know that I prefer it although I'm not sure I can articulate why.
file associations can be set up automagically by the installation process (I'll accept corrections on this), meaning that double clicking on a .pl in the explorer will Just Work.
Totally correct. Except that the process opens in a command window which closes when the script ends. So, it is necessary to add a delay to the end of the script if you want to see any output. But it is not onerous to type perl script.pl at the command prompt.
If you want a cheap Linux box & are prepared to settle for 4Gb of RAM, consider a Raspberry Pi.
That was exactly what I first thought!
There is an 8Gb version. However, standard Raspberian is a 32 bit OS so cannot access more than 4Gb. There is a 64 bit version of the OS in beta form and it seems likely that a stable release will be along before too long.