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Dell Vs Homebuilt

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September 29, 2007 6:02:46 AM

Hey guys,

Looking at the $500 Budget Build article was great but it leads me to a question I've had for a while..

For the longest time now Ive seen dell as a good alternative for buying a low cost computer but HOMEBUILT being better when it comes to high end computers.

Looking at the 500 budget build article though I wonder whats really better after checking dell's site for a computer system around the same price.

In comparison it seems like the differences are:

Homebuilt:
Better processor
Better Video Card
Better Power Supply
No Monitor
No Software

Dell:
Processor is something like a X2 3800+
1gb of ram just like the budget setup
Comes with windows and office software
17" lcd monitor


What are your thoughts on this? I could be way off here and very well may be since I havent started researching dual core setups until now. Any kind opinions appreciated,

thanks,

Karim

More about : dell homebuilt

September 29, 2007 2:41:00 PM

You have to look at it in a few ways. Dell is a business. A homebuilder is not. Dell is famous for providing very inexpensive PC's to a large community at 1) low cost and 2) with allot more than a homebuilt can provide. Extra's like monitors, free printers and OS upgrades. The difference between a Dell and a homebuilt is this: Dell's basic PC's are built and geared to serve a larger community as a whole, a homebuilt budget system is built to serve a specific person's absolute needs. And also you have figure in the fact that not everyone knows how to build a PC. The knowledge of doing your own build is through testing and research on "how to" stuff. A basic Dell is more appealing cause all ya gotta do is click the "buy" button and "poof" your PC is at your door. A homebuilt system has to be manually put together and its performance is based upon the builder's attention to both detail and knowledge on how to make a PC run better (ex: cable management, thermal solutions, air flow management, etc...).

Dell computers do serve a purpose as do home builds. The basic college student who needs a PC real fast doesn’t say "let me go build one". They get themselves a cheap Dell that they know will fit the basic needs they'll need in college. Parents think the same way when buying for their kids. Companies do as well when buying cheap Dell servers to replace downed or old boxes (cause the cost to buy a cheap Dell as opposed to fixing your broken Dell is surprisingly cheaper in some degrees). Home builds cater to a person's specific need. A person who needs a computer that does EXACTLY this and that. You may think "well my why just customize your PC on a dell site" Not all customization options are what you’re looking for nor do they serve the needs you may want. That is why homebuilds are so popular because they give you the power to build it like you want it. Commercial PC's come with allot of software the average person doesn’t need nor use and this aspect is absent from the home build.

My personal opinion on Dell vs. Home build is that if you’re looking for something "for now" go buy a Dell knowing that in a year or so you'll need something better and you'll be chunking this new PC in the bin. But if your building something for now but want to improve it more and more as time goes by, build it yourself simply because it's easier to upgrade a home build than a commercial PC. Dell's are built NOT to be upgraded. I'm talking about major upgrades like motherboards and chips. Yea you can upgrade your memory, vid card and drives but try and fit a regular third party ATX mobo in a Dell case and you'll be shocked to find out you can't. Dell makes their own mobo's to fit in their own cases. What does that mean to us? That means they don't follow the global reference build schematic (screw hole positions being one of the major ones). From my experience I tested out trying to gut a old Dell 8300 and place a Asus mobo in it. Come to find out the hole positions to fit that ATX board were absent in the case. The cases are specifically built to only accept a Dell mobo. Yea I’m sure many people have moded Dell cases to fit 3rd party mobo's but why go through all that when you can buy a cheap case and build your own machine?

If you’re going to need a PC just to do basic stuff, go Dell. Cause then you'll have a warranty, get a nice free shiny monitor and maybe luck out and get a free printer you can sell on EBay or give away to a relative. But if your building for now and taking the future into perspective as well, then build it yourself. Dell is commercial but home build is personal. That's the big difference.
September 29, 2007 4:16:25 PM

You know, there were times I used to recommend Dell because of them being cheaper than homebuilt.
BUT, with retail prices being so DANG DIRT CHEAP these days, $500 will not just get you a decent rig, but a real high-end machine (OK, not with a 8800, but at least some 8600 GTS).

And dont worry about software, only thing thats included in Dells is MS Works and err... you dont really want that, just get OpenOffice. For the OS, some $90 XP Home SB will do just fine.
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September 29, 2007 4:36:01 PM

Bascote said:
Hey guys,

In comparison it seems like the differences are:

Homebuilt:
Better processor
Better Video Card
Better Power Supply
No Monitor
No Software





Homebuilt better? No, homebuilt is your choice. But better is not neccessarily true.

Take HP for example. Buried on the HP website in the specs of a computer will be a reference to ASUS. Yes, ASUS actually makes the HP mother boards. Which can be confirmed when you open the case and read the ASUS name printed on the MB. Who makes Dell's MB is not known to me, but we can assume it is a major board maker that just makes to Dell's specs so that you and I can't modify the Dell product easily.

HD's are going to be Seagate or Western Digital.

Dell just confirmed to me, whether correct or not is not known for sure, that Kingston produces their RAM.

Dell DVD/CD burners are usually Lite-On. Ok, Dell doesn't spec the fastest burner, but we all know the quality of Lite-On.

PSU's are generic. Yep. And standard warranty for 3 years on workstations, and up to 5 years on just about any computer with an extended warranty. Generic PSU are not bad, they are just not pretty, modular or rated to peak performance like the DIY PSU's. By the way, think Dell is going to risk a dual Xeon processor workstation loaded with 4 SAS drives, 64 GB of RAM and a nVidia Quattro 5000 series graphics card with a low quality, unrealiable powersupply? I don't think so. The stock PSU is used for that system, so it must be good enough for a basic system as well.

Dell may try to make modifying their computers difficult, but the quality of the parts are just as good (maybe better) than what we can buy in the DIY market.



September 29, 2007 5:15:05 PM

StevieD said:
the quality of the parts are just as good (maybe better) than what we can buy in the DIY market.


That is seriously the most idiotic comment i have ever heard. Do you work for dell or something?
September 29, 2007 5:25:54 PM

No, clearly he does not work for Dell or he would have mentioned that PC Power and Cooling is one of their main PSU suppliers. Clearly not "Generic".

The parts tend to be of high quality because warranty work tends to ber very expensive between phone support of the hardware issue and other matters. It's financially prudent to make sure the parts dont fail.

The average $500 retail box will be much nicer than the $500 home built IMHO. I've seen many threads on such builds, and none of them can match what I can find in a retail system.

September 29, 2007 5:37:23 PM

http://www.circuitcity.com/rpsm/oid/185190/bundleId/136...

X2 -4200
2GB DDR2
320GB HDD
17" LCD Monitor
Windows XP Home Premium.

In the matching system,
Please do not forget to include an Window Vista Premium and 17" LCD.
Keyboard, Mouse, and Media Reader Should also be included in your build.
(Total for this package is $490)
September 29, 2007 5:54:54 PM

you forgot to mention the instant rebate + mail in rebate cutting the original price in half :/ 

Price was:
$879.98
Instant savings:
-$160.01
You pay:
$719.97
Mail in rebates:
$230.00

Price after
rebates: $489.97

If you actually got that mail in rebate... it would be a good deal.
September 29, 2007 6:07:06 PM

ok- i tried to stop myself but I simply can't. If you think the dell's of the world are not using cheaper parts you are sadly a simp (sorry) Like others have stated it's a business how the hell you think they can offer nearly the same bits as a diy rig and add a monitor, printer ect, ect . They order stripped down MB's, and tier 2 parts that are of average OEM quality not retail quality. That said they do spend some decent engineering time with layout and keeping performance within an envelope that will generally insure it makes it's MTBF re;iably. They do serve a good place in the market, yet are no where near on par with a custom built rig by a knoledgeable builder. It all boils to taste, I recently built the rig in my sig (Q1) took an hr or so to construct and an hr to load OS, couple hours and a beer and I have (at the time) a rig worth much more than I could have bought pre built. anyway- good luck either way you choose to go.
September 29, 2007 6:13:32 PM

17" LCD - $150+12 Shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Vista Premium - $110+5 Shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Subtotal - $277. $223 Budge Remaining for a System.


Case - $16 w/Shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Power Supply - $45 w/Shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

X2 - 4200 - $70 w/shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Mobo - $59 w/shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2gb DDR2 - $50 w/shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

80Gb HDD - $46 w/shipping

DVD writer - $30 w/shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
---------------------------------------------------------------------
$316 for BASIC system. (Already about $100 over budget)

Still missing Mouse, Keyboard, Media Reader, Low End graphics adaper (The system had 128mb dedicated graphics)

September 29, 2007 6:15:50 PM

I've never failed to get a Rebate from a Major Vendor.
It's the joke places that fail to give rebates.
I actually cant recall the last time I did not get a rebate.

(Note: I included rebates in my NewEgg Build as well - It would have been rough otherwise.)
September 29, 2007 6:21:50 PM

fletch420 said:
ok- i tried to stop myself but I simply can't. If you think the dell's of the world are not using cheaper parts you are sadly a simp (sorry) Like others have stated it's a business how the hell you think they can offer nearly the same bits as a diy rig and add a monitor, printer ect, ect . They order stripped down MB's, and tier 2 parts that are of average OEM quality not retail quality. That said they do spend some decent engineering time with layout and keeping performance within an envelope that will generally insure it makes it's MTBF re;iably. They do serve a good place in the market, yet are no where near on par with a custom built rig by a knoledgeable builder. It all boils to taste, I recently built the rig in my sig (Q1) took an hr or so to construct and an hr to load OS, couple hours and a beer and I have (at the time) a rig worth much more than I could have bought pre built. anyway- good luck either way you choose to go.


How do they build cheap?

Oh it's easy.
It's called economy of scale.
Dell is getting it's parts for less than NewEgg is getting its parts.
NewEgg then needs to markup to sell to you.

But remember, we are talking about parts in a $500 system.
Not parts in a $2000 system.

I spent $120 on my last PSU.
No doubt that it's better than what they are including, but it's not making a $500 System Build.
Especially when you need to toss in OS and Monitor.
The last THG $500 build was over by a large margin and was still missing OS and lots of other components.

September 29, 2007 7:41:23 PM

This debate surfaces now and again, Wingsofzio, your post was well written and seemingly educated. Thanks. I've purchased Dell rigs (XPS 600) and I've built between 20-25 rigs myself. For many, I'd agree, buying a Dell is a good choice. No one that's ever had an XPS600 or seen one can honestly say quality parts and craftsmanship doesn't go into them. Do I love Dell? @#$%! no, but in my experience, they consistently build a quality product. Everything I've ever purchased from Dell has been built well, even the 30" monitor I just received. I imagine HP isn't that much worse. ...but if one wants to spend the time customizing their own rig and dealing with multiple sources when warranty work is needed a home build can be unmistakably satisfying. I'd not consider buying a Dell desktop again, personally. ...its too gratifying to customize, troubleshoot, and exploit my homebuilt rig.
September 29, 2007 7:46:24 PM

I cannot believe that this is really much of a question.

Of course Dell is good (if not better) when considering the generic "run of the mill" computing on the low and middle end. For the high end, they produce a great product, but charge you quite a bit for it.

When I went to the Dell site to compare what I was planning on, I was amazed at the overall cost. I built it myself, including the OS, etc for less than half of what they would charge for the same system. Yes, it did take me time to look around and filling our rebates, and of course putting it together, but for a high end system, it's fun to see what you can get for less.

I really do believe that companies like Dell and HP (and others) do make decent products for general computing. I don't believe that for the enthusiast that you'll ever be satisfied (difficult upgrades, etc).

September 29, 2007 8:52:15 PM

Personally I have owned two Dell computers. First purchased one in 2001 a Dell 8100 way back when the RDRAM craze was going on (yea I got suckered into it by the very clever Dell salesmen). I purchased a 2nd Dell in 2004 a 8300. It wasn't until late 2004 I realized that this was to be my last Dell. It was when the 7series video cards were coming out and PSU power started to be very important cause now they were being used to actually power video cards. I really wanted to get a Nvidia 6800GT card then found out I needed a min of 300W PSU. I figured 300W was low and I could swing it. I looked inside my Dell and could find no markings on the PSU as to what wattage it was. So I called Dell and asked them what kind of PSU I had and was shocked that my $1400 PC was being powered by a mere 250W PSU. What did this mean? There was no way I could ever upgrade my Dell. Not with a 6Series card nor with the newer (at that time) 7Series cards. It was then I seen that even if I dropped a good $2000 on their top of the line PC, 1 year later that PC would be obsolete because I’d need to buy ANOTHER WHOLE PC, not simply upgrade parts here and there to keep up with technology. My only gripe with Dell's are simply that, they provide no hope for the future technology. PC only takes older P4 and original Dual Core chips? With a homebuild you simply just install a new mobo. Not with a Dell, a whole new PC is in order. But in no way are Dell's cheap. I still own my original two Dell's for work purposes (simple stuff) but use my custom build for gaming and upgrading to future technology. That is one aspect homebuilds have over Dell, an HP or IBM, a homebuild will grow with you. A Dell will stay old from the second you open that box up. It will not prepare for the future. It will not allow itself to grow. It will be just as it came for now and forever until you buy a new one.

Don't be mistaken Dell's are not cheap. They do use good quality parts. Better than parts by companies like Asus, Lite on and other companies? No. You also have to factor this in, you get what you pay for. You think a starter Dell PC that cost $400 bucks will have a mobo that'll take many different chipsets? No, it's range is limited. It's built to specifically function around the technology that exist at its time. There are no bios upgrades you can flash to make your Dell mobo take a new chip or memory speeds. You get what you pay for, something that will be good you for now but two years from now if you want to upgrade to the newer stuff you'd have to reinvest in a newer model. Home builds allow you to prepare for the future. Yes, even though whatever you build will have used technology that exist at that time you still always have the easy option to simply upgrade. Compare the cost of simply buying a new mobo and chip, something that'll be like $300 to $600 to buying an entire new Dell system that'll cost you twice as much for technology that won't keep up with the world. These are the things we need to look at.
September 29, 2007 11:00:07 PM

Well, you can normally upgrade the PSUs in the retail systems.
It's quite common. And you can normally add a moderate GPU to those w/o upgrading the GPU. With bettering tech, newer GPUs don't even require more power unless you are looking at a GPU that costs more than the who "cheap" system.

Even "Home-Built" age.
A system built 2-years ago would likely need new everything but perhaps a PSU. Not really saving much.

The old 945 Chipset will not take much in the way of a Core2Duo.
The DDR RAM is really going to limit the system.
The AGP video card will not fit in a new mobo.
Even if you had a 7200RPM HDD, it would be slow by today's PRM standards with drastically higher densities.
And as you mentioned the CPU would need to be replaced.
The PSU may not even have the proper power connectors.

It's normally easier to just resell the old system and build fresh.
That way the new system is no comprimise.

And Remember, the cheap $230 of hardware parts you put together today are going to be really bad and not a good base. Remeber, That is all you have to spend after getting an OS and Monitor for the other system.

This is not to put down home-builts. That is all that I build for myself.
I need far more than the retails systems give and I spend far more than the entry level prices.

However, for the majority of people, the linked system is all they need and alot nicer than anyone could build for them for that price.
!