My brother asked me to find/build him a gaming PC, with a budget of "..around $1,000.." So, I went to BestBuy.com to choose one of their gaming systems as a reference, you know, "Hey, the system I'm gonna build is cheaper then BestBuy and is much faster!" Only problem is, I'm having a little trouble beating this Gateway system I found on BestBuy's website. YES, prolly has a lot of cheap parts inside (power supply, stuff like that). He does NOT need a monitor, BTW.
BUT it comes with (1) Phenom 9600 CPU <Quad!>, (2) 3 GB's of RAM, (3) a 8800 GT 512MB video card, and (4) a 500GB SATAII HD. And it's $1,099. It's a Gateway - 9600 TV Desktop, Model: FX7020.
Man, once I start building a system online with decent parts, with similar main specs (Quad-core 2.3/2.4 both Intel and AMD, an 8800GT, 3 GB's memory, 500GB HD), my system ends up way more expensive!! PLUS still need an OS to load on it.
My question is, would any of you recommend just going with this Gateway/BestBuy system for a friend or family member, or build a machine by ordering parts online? For me personally, I'd prolly build a box. But for someone else, dunno, it's also nice to have that 1 year warranty on the whole thing.
Think I'm starting to answer my own question already. I keep digging, and am starting to build some good systems entirely on NewEgg for right around $1,000. This, even with a 8800GT and a Q6600 or 6850 CPU. HD is smaller, but he don't need a stinkin' 500GB drive...
People will post.... better parts ..... fun to do ..... better warranty.
Except..... the parts really are the same ..... like there is a difference between the Phenom that Gateway put into the machine and the one that you can buy yourself. The same can be said about every part. Sure Gateway takes a few shortcuts and eliminate some options, but do you really think they are lying about the parts that they put into the machine. BTW, the PSU will be often referenced as being better in the DIY market. Yep, maybe. Most likely not. Gateway must install a PSU that is reliable for the terms of their warranty. Since extended warranties can be purchased for up to 5 years.... hint, hint, the Gateway PSU must be half way decent.
Fun to do. Until you are doing it for a job. Or unpaid for another person.
Better warranty. Maybe. Let me tell you a secret. The first 1-2 seconds is the absolute highest failure rate in all electronics. After those first few seconds the failure rate is much smaller. After the first 30 days, the failure rate becomes a minor issue. Gateway wil bench test the unit for those first few seconds and continue the warranty for through the rest of the high failure period.
While the upgrade path is always cleaner doing it yourself, there are always problems when it comes to customer support with family and friends.
I say tell your brother to build his own or buy the Gateway. I would not build the computer for your brother.
IMO, if you buy branded systems, the bios "might" be locked. There is a possibility that you will not be able to OC it (If youre planning to). I'm not sure about this though ... my Uncles old gateway PC has limited BIOS functions.
I also totally agree with StevieD.
If I build systems for my family/friends ... and something went wrong ... I have to be there to fix it. Sometimes if the problems are minor, you can just do it over the phone and solve it (lucky). It is always easy if you live in the same house. IF not, you have no choice but to be there are fix it.
You might have issues with warranty with custom builds as well. Since all parts are sold separately, they all have individual warranties.
Example: Let's say you got a NO POST problem and this is the only desktop pc you got in your house. Sometimes, you get lucky by just removing one memory module, it posts! .. sometimes reseating some parts fixes the problem ... moving the memory to different slots .. blablabla etc. What if you're unlucky and after doing some frustrating basic/advanced NO Post troubleshooting steps, you can't just FIND whats causing the problem ... next thing you should do is get "known-good working parts" right? What if you can't find any? In my experience, its really hard but fun! Fun, in a sense that I learned a lot while troubleshooting it (my first build, years ago).
With Gateway/dell/hp/etc .. if you have problems, they usually send over a technician to fix it for you ... it convenient and easy .. but you won't learn anything.
I can also suggest that help your brother buy the parts and guide him (step-by-step) on building this PC. By doing this, he will at least have an idea on whats going on inside the box
I would build it myself. I hate having to pay inflated warranties for tech support and then an inflated price if the warranty is accidently let go. At least when you build it yourself many of the parts have either lifetime warranties, limited warranties or 3-4 year warranties...mixed bag of components. Sometimes the first 2 years your system is all quiet and works perfectly. You are confident that you don't need to extend the warranty and pooof sh..stuff happens then your stuck buying a extended warranty. I had an Alienware 51-m that went poof only having it for 1 1/2 years. I extended the warranty with the issue I had then they decided to tell me even though I called them on the very same issue I had that I haven't spoken to them in months and the problem was believed to be fixed and I had to buy another extended warranty and until i did, they were nasty and didn't want anything to do with me. Theyre customer service stuck up for the nasty tech rep. So i sent them a video of a friend of mine taking a sledge hammer to all Alienware products I had lol. I refuse to buy computers anymore...I simply build them myself and have never been more happy...both in my pockets and piece of mind. I've built one system and are putting a list together for an upgrade. Also if you ever run into trouble the forumz and googe/yahoo have a ton of information. This was how I was able to find a faulty RAM stick and since it has a lifetime warranty customer service quickly sent me the paperwork and a replacement. I was emailing a tech rep and sent him the results on memtest--and he confirmed it was a bad stick and got the ball rolling to replace it.
Also check out this book: Dude How to Build a Sweet PC. Lots of info and the Gateway/Dell/ALienware systems that custom build for you aren't telling you the whole story. They use a lot of 3rd party components block, you from upgrading, and waist of time tech support.
I agree with StevieD too. The smaller your budget, the more sense it makes to buy a prefabricated box. Usually these boxes are useless for gaming, which makes them hated in forums, but the one you found has an 8800GT and it will be fantastic.
Thanks guys. I am leaning more towards one of the these Gateway boxes.
BestBuy/Gateway also has a Q6600 box, w/ 3GB memory, and a 500GB HD. For $909! Problem is, it's got a 8500GT. Which actually is fine for what he wants to do now, but in a year he'll be wanting to play newer games at better rez.
If I can get them to upgrade the video card, and still keep the price of the unit below $1K, might just do that.