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Build or buy a pre-made system?

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March 2, 2006 9:11:11 PM

Here are the parts I have selected so far.

-Antec PERFORMANCE TX640B Black Steel ATX Mini Tower Computer Case 400W Power Supply

-ASUS A8N-SLI Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 SLI ATX AMD

-eVGA 256-P2-N386-AX Geforce 6800GS 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16

-AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ Toledo 1GHz HT Socket 939 Dual Core

-LITE-ON Black IDE DVD-ROM Drive Model
-LITE-ON Black ATAPI/E-IDE DVD Burner With 5X DVD-RAM Write Model

-2xWestern Digital Caviar SE WD1600JS 160GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s

-SAMSUNG Black 1.44MB 3.5" Internal Floppy Drive

-CORSAIR XMS 1GB (2 x 512MB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400

My concerns about building are trouble shooting issues, and reliability. I have a 5+ year old Dell 4100 that works great, its just a bit slow, and only has a 10gb HD. I am interested in building a system, but I don't have the time to deal with tons of issues, and I don't have any experience. I want a system for digital photography, general home and internet use, and a game or two but not hard core. I have been looking at HP, and they have some amazing deals, you just need to clear the HD of all the extra junk. Dell is also an option since mine has been a champ. I have read many threads regarding home build nightmares, so I started getting cold feet. Any thoughts?
Thanks!
March 2, 2006 11:53:33 PM

Watch out though, once you build your first rig, it's like a disease, you want to build more!!!

Seriously though, do your homework and buy high quality parts and you shouldn't have a bunch of problems. It's really not that tough...
March 3, 2006 3:33:38 AM

Quote:
Watch out though, once you build your first rig, it's like a disease, you want to build more!!!

So true... I built one about a year ago and I'm already itching to build another. 8O

Make sure you follow the instructions in the manual that comes with your motherboard. Take your time doing your research and checking reviews. I think you would rather spending a few months researching and getting all the right products you want than spending a few days researching and buying it and then realizing a few days later after looking at some other benchmarks that you could've gotten a better item for the same amount of money.
Related resources
March 3, 2006 4:48:13 AM

depending on how comfortable u are with building a computer id say go for it. but a good idea would be, before you get into building the brand new computer, maybe take apart and put together the dell, just to see what its like, if u dont feel comfortable putting together 1200 worth of components then go to a local store like some1 said or buy a prebuilt, preferably buy one from monarch if u do, very nice systems at low prices. building isnt hard at all though, i built my first when i was 13... so im sure ull manage fine... i promise u its not as hard as everyone thinks, for some reason people think building a computer is like building a space shuttle, like prozac said, its just like a lego set (messing with a car is a lot more complicated IMO)..
March 4, 2006 3:22:21 PM

Thanks for the replies everyone. I am not too worried about the physical building of the computer, more just the trouble shooting should something go wrong. Sorry, I tend to be a pessimist. The suggestion to take my computer apart is a good one. I have actually been opening up computers at work just to look inside. I do have a friend from work who would be willing to help, but again, I guess my main concern is reliability of the parts I end up choosing. I have been researching this for months, and the above list is ever changing based on new reviews and write ups. The other temptation is that some of the HP's are so cheap, and they come with parts from suppliers on my list. I could get a rig for half the price of what I have listed, then upgrade the video card and power supply. That takes the fun out of it though, and I understand the addiction of wanted to build more. :) 
cr
March 4, 2006 3:59:18 PM

If money is a problem, then get a pre-built or have a local shop build one for you.

Maybe I'm one of the few lucky ones. I built my last two rigs (latest one in my sig) and had zero problems/issues. Just make sure you buy quality parts (good warranties) and do a little research to make sure the components will work together. Like others said, building is easy. My hardest part is always getting all the case wires (power, reset, hd,...) on the mobo but that's because I've got fat fingers and I'm not too steady with needle nose pliers either. :lol: 

My other machine is a P4 2.0Ghz on an Asus P4S333 mobo that I built in 2001 and she's still running strong with no problems, although she's showing her age. So, quality parts go a long way.
March 4, 2006 4:34:13 PM

Quote:
Watch out though, once you build your first rig, it's like a disease, you want to build more!!!

Seriously though, do your homework and buy high quality parts and you shouldn't have a bunch of problems. It's really not that tough...


Listen to this man.....he is wise beyond his years...(however old he is) I couldn't agree more. I started building my own a couple of years ago and it has become an obsession (not a bad one). I feel the need to build or modify a system every few months. I have 4 computers atm and a 5th on the way so watch out with that..... :wink:
March 4, 2006 5:32:21 PM

if your nervous about building your own system, and want to buy a prebuilt gaming rig, i recommend checking out IBuyPower they let you choose what parts you want, granted choices are limited but you still get options. And they don't overprice everything, I built a few systems on there site then went to newegg and used the same parts, they cost the same. Except with IBuy you get the parts pre-built, installed, and test ran. I know a few people who have bought from them, and love there systems.

But nothing beats the fun and excitment of ordering, and building your own rig. Want a decent pre-built i recommend IBuy, but in the same sense, building your own computer is just as easy and fun.

g-luck
March 4, 2006 6:58:21 PM

Quote:


-Antec PERFORMANCE TX640B Black Steel ATX Mini Tower Computer Case 400W Power Supply

-ASUS A8N-SLI Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 SLI ATX AMD

-eVGA 256-P2-N386-AX Geforce 6800GS 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16

-AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ Toledo 1GHz HT Socket 939 Dual Core

-LITE-ON Black IDE DVD-ROM Drive Model
-LITE-ON Black ATAPI/E-IDE DVD Burner With 5X DVD-RAM Write Model

-2xWestern Digital Caviar SE WD1600JS 160GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s

-SAMSUNG Black 1.44MB 3.5" Internal Floppy Drive

-CORSAIR XMS 1GB (2 x 512MB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400

My concerns about building are trouble shooting issues, and reliability. I have a 5+ year old Dell 4100 that works great, its just a bit slow, and only has a 10gb HD. I am interested in building a system, but I don't have the time to deal with tons of issues, and I don't have any experience. I want a system for digital photography, general home and internet use, and a game or two but not hard core. I have been looking at HP, and they have some amazing deals, you just need to clear the HD of all the extra junk. Dell is also an option since mine has been a champ. I have read many threads regarding home build nightmares, so I started getting cold feet. Any thoughts?
Thanks!


I just built a very similar system. It was a ton of fun. It's been ages since I built my own but this went pretty well. I got a Liteon DVD-R and it did not read the XP discs well, so that gave me a night or two of trouble. Then I swapped out the Liteons, exchanged for an LG CD/R DVD ROM w/ Litescribe and a Mad Dog dual side DVD-RW. After that, everything went very smoothly. Do not load the Asus overclocking software unless you expect to use it right then. I could not keep it from auto-running. I bought a book about building your own gaming box at borders and it applies well to non-gaming specific rigs. I also read:

http://www.pcguide.com/byop/index.htm

and a few other web-based resources. I'm really happy I put this one together. I learned a bunch of stuff about XP and got a significantly better machine than I would have by getting a mass produced box. The shopping process was fairly long for me and I ended up buying form numerous walk-up and Internet-order shops. I had great experiences with NewEgg, Tiger, CompUSA and OCZ. PC Club was a big let down. The good news is that my rig is the fastest, smoothest PC I've ever used. The kids are playing their games on it (and I am a little too) and it's running great. The Asus board was a little bit finicky at first, or so I thought but it turned out to be the bad Liteon CD drive. Who woulda thunk that? I've still got a few mods and tweeks to do, then I'll put some photos up on the web and show it off (not that it's anything special except to the kids and I).

One bit of advice: 2x1GB sticks don't cost much more and I think they are worth the cost if you do much multitasking and any gaming. Similarly, jumping up to 250GB drives won't cost much more either. Plan your partitions well. I read that 30GB was enough for OS + programs but I set up a 50 and am glad I did. The Asus phone support is actually pretty good. I'm glad I got OCZ memory (got it for very close to Corsair price, like 3 bucks higher) and got good, fast and free tips from one of their tech guys by email. One more thing: maybe jump up to a 500 watt PS. With 2 HD, 2 optical and that graphics card, you might pull some reasonably high currents from your PS. Pushing a PS to the limit is typically a bad idea. If you go for it, good luck!
a b B Homebuilt system
March 5, 2006 12:03:43 PM

I'd also opt for a 500 watt PS in lieu of the 400 watt unit....
March 5, 2006 12:37:20 PM

id recomend getting more ram than you actualy need...aplications will keep getting biger and demand more and more memory. plus its always nice to have a crap load of ram and then see your whole computer open at the same time :) 
March 5, 2006 1:40:27 PM

It really comes down to this...

Building your own computer is done for several reason but more importantly:

Customization. Some of us love to customize and pick EXACTLY what we want depending on budget, reviews, research and benchmarks.

Price/Performance Ratio. When you talk about entry level consumer computers you just cannot beat a prebuilt from somone like dell or HP. More often then not just the prices of the hardware are more if you buy seperate then if you get from dell or HP and they give out software, an OS, and a warrenty/tech support. But when you talk high end work/gaming computers they just take you to school and back. Build a computer on alienware and then price out the exact parts and see what you find. The rig Im getting will cost me about 1700$ shipped with monitor and everything, to get something not even as good out of alienware would be over 2300$.

Overclocking. Some people just love to push their hardware to the limit. Or just are froogle and buy parts that are made to OC (opteron 165 for example). The opteron 165 is 1.8ghz stock but could easily OC to 2.6 ghz makeing it faster then the opteron 180 which retails for about 720$ while the 165 (which when OC'ed out performs the 180 remember???) costs about 328$.



If the gaming your talking about is going to be something like BF2, COD2 or anything like that and you dont care about getting 70FPS at 1600x1200 with eye candies then you should go prebuilt as if the machine has a PCI-E card you can pick one up for 150$ and be golden.

If you go prebuilt just some guidelines and suggestions:

Go for atleast 512MB Ram (I suggest 1GB atleast)
Go AMD if possible (AMD A64 socket 939)
Dont spend alot of money on a graphics card or HDD from the pre builder as alot of times you can save alot more money by adding them yourself later.
March 5, 2006 1:58:00 PM

Quote:
if your nervous about building your own system, and want to buy a prebuilt gaming rig, i recommend checking out IBuyPower they let you choose what parts you want, granted choices are limited but you still get options. And they don't overprice everything, I built a few systems on there site then went to newegg and used the same parts, they cost the same. Except with IBuy you get the parts pre-built, installed, and test ran. I know a few people who have bought from them, and love there systems.

But nothing beats the fun and excitment of ordering, and building your own rig. Want a decent pre-built i recommend IBuy, but in the same sense, building your own computer is just as easy and fun.

g-luck
I checked out IBuyPower and its true, they ain't bad. They offer liquid cooling, extensive VGA options but I didn't see ATi though for us ATi freaks, many PSU options from no-name to Enermax, plenty of mobo options. If I didn't build my own computers I might actually take a look at them. And they don't overprice, granted you can of course make it cost a pretty penny.
March 6, 2006 3:02:42 PM

Thanks again for all of the input. I took a look at the IBuyPower site...not bad. I just got to the option for the OS, and chose none, with preformatted hard drive, which brings me to a question. I have Windows 2000 NT on my computer, and use it at work, and like it a lot. Would XP be that much better than W2000? The issues that Clue69Less had with the LiteOn optical drive? I read so many reviews that said they were good. I had Sony drives at first, then read CNET.com's review of the Plextor drives, then opted for the LiteOn. I will look into those again. Here is the HP I was looking at. It just seemed like a good starting point, with only the graphics card and power supply needing to be changed relatively soon. The mobo is an ASUS, but I don't remember the model off the top of my head.
cr
March 6, 2006 3:46:10 PM

Seeing you were considering the HP I had to jump in here, I had a clueless friend that bought one and I had a chance to look at it. The HP motherboard lacked any meaningful bios changes to be made, and it comes with a disk which has Windows Media Center, which is NOT Windows XP, it lacks features, and it is not a discrete disk. HP has gotten smarter and it's a lot harder to eliminate the 80 unwanted apps you will find. And I thought it was slower than it should have been maybe from the generic components HP uses.

On the positive side it did handle photos and printing/scanning very well and the included software is OK in integrating the above. But just think how you will be able to brag to your friends, and troubleshoot their problems. You can even become a genuine Microsoft System Builder :lol: 
March 9, 2006 6:12:14 PM

Build it, no shop will ever be able to duplicate the quality of components that you would buy yourself from a reputable retailer like Newegg or ZipZoomFly. Plus it will probably ring in a bit cheaper, leaving some extra cash in your pocket for periperals like a laser mouse & pad, or some new speakers.

Having built quite a few systems, from low-end boxes to gaming rigs, I can say for certain that troubleshooting can be a pain, but that's part of the learning experience. My worst involved a pair of needlenose pliers and a really nice Abit motherboard, I'll let you guess which came out unharmed, but it was obviously my own shaky hand that did it....lol....damn heatsink retention clip.

And if money is an issue when you decide to build, start with at least 1Gb of RAM (as a SINGLE module, NOT 2x 512mb's). You will be able to upgrade later very easily for around $80 just by slapping another Gig into the box.
March 9, 2006 6:32:24 PM

Build your own. Don't let the people asking for help with problems scaer you away. Remember there are not many "Gee, my computer is working great today!" topics. Let all those topics about problems give you confidence that if you have one there will be people here to help you and give advice just like in this thread.
March 12, 2006 6:14:48 PM

Quote:
Build your own. Don't let the people asking for help with problems scaer you away. Remember there are not many "Gee, my computer is working great today!" topics. Let all those topics about problems give you confidence that if you have one there will be people here to help you and give advice just like in this thread.


Gee, my computers are all working great today!

Even the ones I assembled!!!

Should I start a new thread?
!