I'm trying to decide whether building my own computer would be more bang for the buck than buying a cheap offering from Gateway or Dell. (This computer will only be used for surfing the web). For about $400, I could get either of the systems below. Which system do you prefer and why?
Cheap System 1: Gateway DX430B
Processor Intel® Pentium Dual Core Processor E2140
Memory 1024MB 667MHz Dual-Channel DDR2 SDRAM (2-512MB modules)
Hard Drive 160GB 7200rpm Serial ATA II/300 hard drive w/ 8MB cache
Optical Drive 16x Super Multi Format Double Layer DVD-RW/DVD-RAM ±R / CD-R/RW
Chassis Gateway® 5-Bay uATX Case
Floppy Drive 15-in-1 Memory Card Reader
Motherboard Systemboard with Intel® G965 Chipset & 10/100 network
Power Supply 400-Watt Power Supply
Video Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator X3000 with Maximum 384MB Shared Memory (Dynamic Video Memory Technology)
Cheap System 2: Custom Build
Processor AMD Athlon 64 3200+
Memory Corsair XMS2 1GB DDR2-800
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 80GB
Optical Drive Pioneer 18X DVD+/-RW
Chassis Antec NSK4480B
Motherboard ASUS M2NBP-VM CSM (socket AM2; Nvidia Quadro NVS 210S/ Nforce 430B))
Power Supply Antec 380W (incl. w/case)
Video Onboard GeForce 6 GPU
Audio Onboard ADI AD1986A
Media Reader Ultra Products MD2 5.25" bay (ULT33069)
I'd say to build it yourself as well. Also, if your budget can handle it, switch to a AM2 5000+ Black Edition. For the money, its the best AMD CPU that can be gotten. As to buying or building, if you build it yourself, you'll learn a lot more about what makes the computer work, you'll probably have better quality control, and you'll be better prepared with knowledge when it comes time to upgrade anything.
For web surfing, basic office functions and some place to store some family photos. by all means get the Gateway. In the sub $500 budget range the prebuilt computers are just plain and simple a better value.
That leaves enough room to upgrade the mobo, case, PSU, Hard drive, or anything else
If you get that I say spend it on one of these 2 things: an OS (XP home or Vista Basic your choice either is about $90)
spend it on a DX10 video card so you can game a bit (for about $75 you can get either a HD 2400XT or an 8500GT) both will play any game out today, but at lower than max settings (in some cases LOW settings and resolution)
i say build your own as well.
you have more controll.
you will love the machine more.
on the otherhand, if you botch the build you are left ass-out-in-the-wind. though you will have better upgrade options, you can build a new machine in the shell of your old one (ain't ATX great?).
i had a gateway, and it was a great machine don't get me wrong, but it comes with built in limitations when viewed in comparison with something you can build yourself.
after my first build, only my wife will be getting factory built desktops.
It sounds like any difference in power will be marginal at this price range. Thus the main decision is whether, at the end of the day, a home-built system that you know well, and feel comfortable upgrading or building another computer later with manufacturer warranties, or a factory-built system that will have a factory warranty, and might violate a warranty if you upgrade.
Below $500, it's hard to beat the big boys for the money considering they include a legal copy of a Windows OS in the cost, which alone cost $100. Also, if you do build, STAY AWAY FROM Roswell PSU's. They are total garbage. Get a FSP Group if you do build.