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building a computer better than buying one?

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Yes it usually is if you want a fast machine.

Last year I built my box which is a:

AMD64 3000+
1GB PC3200 RAM
ATI 9800 Pro 128MB
120GB HDD
CD-RW
A nice Antec case with PSU

The final price was about £400 I think, at PC world similer setups are about £800+

There are plenty of tutorials on the net, just google it. :)

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It's always better to build your own box in my opinion. That way you get exactly what you want, and buying parts at a local store will usually cost far less then buying a complete system. The overhead for a company like Dell or HP or whatever is going to be a lot more then that of a local parts store so you can get better prices.

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If you don't blow up parts while making it, yes. If you start trying to install your cpu without any heat gunk, without a fan, or if you buy incompatible parts or a powersupply that isn't strong enough you'll run into more trouble than it's worth.

Basically if you know what you're doing it is always cheaper. I say this with confidence, but you have to do a lot of bargain hunting. Check out NCIX and tigerdirect

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i built this about 2 months ago...

abit kn8 ultra motherboard
amd athlon64 3200+ (venice core)
1gb (2x512mb) ddr400
2x seagate 80gb sata2 hd
nec "everything" burner
evga geforce 6800gs pci-e 256mb
floppy drive
antec super lanboy case
antec truepower 480w psu

total cost including overnight fedex shipping was about $950. if you know what you're doing you can get a much better deal building your own than getting a pre-built.

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Technically Dells are very cheap, barely more than the equivalent home-built system, but most other providers have more overhead. Anyway the problem with all such companies is you don't have as much flexibility in the components of your system, which is really an issue if you have special desires, such as when I built a very quiet system. I used many fanless components and very quiet fans and heatsinks that no mainstream builder would ever use.

Also, if you put it together yourself then you know exactly how to take it apart, which means it's easy for you to swap out individual components without replacing the entire system, like if you want to upgrade the CPU but leave everything else.

The disadvantage is it can be a little frustrating at first when you're not sure what you're doing, and you have to do careful research to make sure everything you buy will work together and be reliable.

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It can be better as you get exactly what you want and sometimes you can scrape a better price for it, but also be aware that you tend not to get any support or warranty or anything - if it goes wrong there's no customer service number you can call. That lack of 'insurance' puts of a lot of people off.

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Quote:
Original post by westside_indie
I've heard that it's better and cheaper to build your own computer. Is it true? If so, any good tutorials on building a computer? Thanks!


This used to be more true in the past. These days the cost is often negligable, especially if you don't skimp on the case and cooling that most modern PCs require.

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For the more basic systems, it's not much cost difference between buying it from Dell. The more powerful computers get their prices jacked up higher, and then it's usually cheaper to do it on your own. No warranty though, so beware. Most of the parts I got had hardware warranties on them with the company, so if a part went bad, I could ship it back in.

I myself have built many computers, about 7 now, and know very well what I'm doing. It's best to start out messing around with an old, junked computer to get a feel for what you're doing. Take it all apart, put it all together, see if it turns on. I have had problems though, such as pins bending/falling off, equipment getting staticly shocked, so watch out, it can happen!

Good tutorial, it's what started me off a few years ago:

Clicky.

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Who needs tutorials? Ever played the toddler shape matching game? You know, the ones with the wooden blocks that fit through holes? Just don't put the square thingy through the triangle and you'll be fine!



and hope smoke doesn't start pouring out of your system and envelope your living room in flames

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IMHO It doesn't matter whether you buy or build. The benefit of building is - you know what is in your computer. You can control the quality of the parts. Generally with an off the shelf PC they use cheaper parts - but they also include a warrenty.

Its not the same as it used to be. Back in the day I could build a PC for half of what you could buy it for - now its not like that.

The biggest benefit of building is the ability to upgrade. You can get a new CPU / RAM / MOBO for less than half of what it would cost for a new computer. And basically thats what you will be looking to replace if you buy a new one anyhow (unless you're going for a new video card too.)

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If you want a cheap computer (i e, mid-grade parts, mid-grade performance, and below), buy one. You'll probably be able to find cheaper vendor-built machines than you can build yourself.

If you want a high-performance computer, then build one. The reason is that places like Dell start out cheap, but all the options you really want (faster CPU, larger hard drive, better graphics card) carry a huge mark-up -- that's where they make their money! Also, their higher-end systems (dual-core, etc) usually come bundled with useless junk you don't want, which also drives up their margins.

FWIW: Almost (over?) three years ago I built a 3.2 GHz Pentium IV with a Radeon 9700 Pro. That machine has held up extremely well, and is what I'm still posting this on (upgraded to a GeForce 6800 GT a year and a half ago). I'm now in the throes of building its replacement: An Athlon X2 4400+, GeForce 7800 GT, 2 GB of 2-3-2-5 RAM, and the crowning (and most expensive) part: Two 150 GB 10,000 rpm Raptor drives, in RAID-1 configuration. Yes, I'm shooting for sub-second link times :-) (For those who don't know: RAID-1 is usually faster than RAID 0 because it reduces seek latency. Throughput, which RAID-0 gives you, is seldom a problem with modern drives. Plus, with RAID-1, a drive dieing is not a catastrophe!)

Btw: I buy my parts from NewEgg, even though I live in California (and thus pay tax). They've always worked extremely well for me, and are always among the cheapest.

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Quote:
Original post by M2tM
Who needs tutorials? Ever played the toddler shape matching game? You know, the ones with the wooden blocks that fit through holes? Just don't put the square thingy through the triangle and you'll be fine!



and hope smoke doesn't start pouring out of your system and envelope your living room in flames


He's right actually. It's really not that hard to do it. All the shapes and colors of the connectors match where you need to stick in the motherboard.

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Quote:
Original post by M2tM
Who needs tutorials? Ever played the toddler shape matching game? You know, the ones with the wooden blocks that fit through holes? Just don't put the square thingy through the triangle and you'll be fine!



and hope smoke doesn't start pouring out of your system and envelope your living room in flames


Good point M2tM [grin], I believe you won't be a computer hardware 'professional' until you blow up at least one computer (I did).

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Quote:
Original post by Morpheus011
It's always better to build your own box in my opinion. That way you get exactly what you want, and buying parts at a local store will usually cost far less then buying a complete system.


Well, not far less but less. Store I usually buy my parts charged €40 for assembling a custom designed system, on a price of €1500 or more for such a system that's peanuts.

I did the math last week on buying versus building and came out at €1450 (ex screen) to build one from scratch or €1700 (inc. screen) to buy a very similar system from Dell. A similar screen would cost me around €300 when purchased at that store.
Dell would charge me €90 for shipping, I'd need something like €40 in gas and maintenance to the car to go pick up those parts.
Total price difference: €0.

Only real benefit: you get to choose your own components which may be of higher quality, better optimised to work together, and/or slightly better performant for your chosen purpose than when going with a ready-built system.

Quote:
Original post by Morpheus011
The overhead for a company like Dell or HP or whatever is going to be a lot more then that of a local parts store so you can get better prices.


Actually the overhead for that local store is quite high. Rental prices on property and warehousing are higher for them, and their staff is often more expensive too.
Of course that's offset in part by the larger bureaucracy in larger companies, but overall expect the margin on sales for the highstreet shoppe to be lower than that for an internet retailer.

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Quote:
Original post by Skeleton_V@T

Good point M2tM [grin], I believe you won't be a computer hardware 'professional' until you blow up at least one computer (I did).


Hmm.. I am not so sure I can agree to that :)
My first computer, an IBM with an Cyrix "586" CPU was the only computer I've actually bought. Each and every computer since I've assembled myself. My primary cause is that I really enjoy the scent of freshly-popped hardware boxes and that it is really fun to build.

Secondly, as someone else aready stated, you can maintain control of your components in another way compared to buyng a Dell, HP or Packard Bell. However, IF I was to buy an pre-assembled computer, I'd go with Dell without a 1/60s hesitation.

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I have always built my own rigs because of the advantage in quality of components and price. But homebuilt custom rigs are getting more and more common which is leading the manufacturers to increase the retail price of individual components. 3 years ago there were no $500 graphics cards. I remember when the TI4600 was the best card out and it cost only $300. I believe that soon it will not be any cheaper to build your own rig. The quality factor will still be present though.

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Depends on what you have more of, time or money. Also, what kind of service do you get? If my new IBM laptop breaks someone will be onsite within 24 hours. That cost $200 for three years I think.

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I used to work at an electronics store and I could see the Direct price from the vendors. The markup on computer hardware (complete systems not components) is almost zero. They make the money on warranties, software, upgrades, etc.

building your own computer:

advantages:
1. You get exactly what you want.
2. You don't pay for crap you don't need.
3. Everything is upgradeable (try upgrading a mobo on a dell).
4. Fun
5. Relatively cheaper (more savings the better the system).

disadvantages:
1. If it breaks, YOU have to fix it or pay for repairs (no warranty/customer service)
2. You have to pay retail for software (Windows, office, etc.). Not a big deal if you run linux but most people run windows and like word/excel/powerpoint. They think they are building this insanely cheap machine and then forget they have to fork out 100 bucks for windows and another 100-300 for office. However, manufacturers don't want to pay this cost either and are generally only bundling computers now with windows, so you would have to pay for most software anyway.
3. Takes some work/time to get the best deal on parts.
4. Takes some work/time to make sure that all parts are compatible.


I think that covers it. If you feel the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, go for it. As stated on this thread many times, the better the system, the more money you will save. And as mentioned, don't forget to add the cost of mandatory software into your expense. Some Dell's and pre-fabs come with software bundles that prevent you from having to fork out some extra dough for Office/Windows/ etc.

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Im going to leave my remarks as so. If you are looking to build get a nice little computer system, dont have that much in the way of funds, and/or are not pushing for every little piece of raw processing power that the average joe doesent have, you can get a dell for far cheaper then you can build it yourself (about 25% cheaper, even when you are using some generic parts) , the reason is that dell owns the factories, and builds loads of cheap parts, such as their motherboards and such, making profit in other areas.

When you get into wanting the bad boys with named brand parts, you could save good money by doing it yourself. Keep in mind that at this point, your talking a price break of at least $700 anyways, if you looking at a sub $500USD computer, for heavens sake get a dell, the price break for building your computer isnt there at that point.

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