Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

When does it make sense to build?

Last response: in Systems
Share
November 3, 2008 5:14:41 PM

Having just finished my Q6600/HD 4850/P45 build, which I'm very happy with, I now have a new build dilemma. My sister-in-law wants to replace her aging Dell with something new, something that she will be happy with for a few years. Being a realtor, her activities are email, web browsing, MS Office work and viewing pictures. No gaming, video editing or other fun stuff :) 

I think another basic Dell/HP would be the best bang for the buck. For roughly $575 she can get an E7200 with 4 Gb RAM, 500 Gb disk, integrated video, DVD burner and Vista Home Premium (64-bit) but no monitor. For $50 more she can get the Q6600 but I'm not sure she will notice the difference.

Maybe I'm wrong but I can't think of any performance reason to build her a system, e.g., I'm not sure she would notice if I overclocked it. The only good reason I can think for building it is that I, unfortunately, have become the expanded family's IT person (apparently being a chip designer means that I want to do PC support...) so I will select quality components and know what's in the box. And, of course, the build is fun to do.

Do you think my general advice to her is sound? Secondly, at what rough price or performance point does it make sense to do a build? I can certainly see that when you start adding a GPU, more memory, and/or bigger disks the off-the-shelf companies start getting expensive because they charge a lot for customization. I know it's an open-ended question but I'll like to get some opinions from people who have more build experience than I do.

Thanks.



More about : make sense build

November 3, 2008 5:31:12 PM

Yes, I think she's better off with a Dell/HP indeed. Those PCs are designed for people like her and she gets volume discounts because of it. For example if you build you spend $100 on Vista alone. I am estimating here that she can save $200 or so compared to a build.

It's better for you too because then you're off the hook if anything goes wrong.

I'm sure she doesn't need a quad or overclocking. What she would notice IMO is a 24" monitor. Check for packages. Where I live, Future Shop and Best Buy offer packages where you buy a PC like that and a monitor together and get a discount.

That being said, keep in mind that a lot of Dell/HP cheap boxes come with integrated graphics, which allow a single monitor and won't even let some games install (e.g. Sim Societies). Try to pick one with a HD 3650 or 8500 GT or similar.

November 3, 2008 5:36:35 PM

For basic use, a $575 Dell/HP is sufficient. Keeps you out of the loop in repairs and technical support also. We can hardly build the same for that price.
The Dell/HP will not be upgradeable.
Dell/HP computers are not overclockable.
Otherwise if you need those features build one yourself.


Related resources
November 3, 2008 5:37:35 PM

Quote:
her activities are email, web browsing, MS Office work and viewing pictures. No gaming, video editing or other fun stuff


Any computer produced in the past 9 to 10 years would manage these tasks. Of course, if she wants a thrill, build her something she can ride in to infinity and beyond. Like I did for my wife. :lol: 

Vista 64
E8400
ASUS Micro G35
4 GB PC26400
8800GTS 640

If you build her a system, explicitly outline any impending service contract and unless you owe her, put it in writing. Consider how much tech support you can give and compare that to the DELL you are so 'brilliantly' considering. :ouch:  Busy, gotta go maintain my wife's power system. :sol: 
November 3, 2008 5:45:04 PM

Thanks for the responses. The sad part is that she had a 3-year support deal with Dell on her current machine and they were generally worthless when she had a problem.

One last question: will the integrated video be ok with a 24" 1920 x 1200 monitor? I've always had a video card so I don't have any experience with integrated video.
November 3, 2008 5:59:12 PM

I think you can build a good system for a bit less.
I did a rough calculation that comes to $475.
Some sharp shopping on "black friday" might even do better.
I would assume that there are a few parts that you might be able to salvage, like the keyboard and monitor.

If you are going to support it anyway, then you are better off, knowing what is in it.
Your build will not have any "bloatware".

I would normally suggest a dell/lenovo/HP etc, because I don't want a support problem.
What I do is give my kids my old pc whenever I get the itch to build again. It lets me justify the build to my wife.

November 3, 2008 6:13:11 PM

I'm sure if you look for it you can find tom's 500 dollar gaming PC build. plus the cost of the OS you'd be looking at 600. This machine would be easier for you to diagnose and fix if you we're so inclined. Plus it would come with higher quality parts and no crapware.
November 3, 2008 6:25:53 PM

I would say your reasoning is sound, however if she simply wants a faster computer for a good price maybe using her old case you can upgrade her comp with monitor for the same price. https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.as...
A little more than they'd spend on the Dell, but this would give them upgradability, and blue ray, but if they dont want the blue ray, you can get a much cheaper monitor as well as drop the vid card and the blue ray player reducing the price over to $400. Anyhow hope it goes well
November 3, 2008 6:31:34 PM

forgot to add the vista, I was thinking of it then went to make dinner... sorry bout that but still even with the $100 oem version, cuz what good is ms support anyhow... still cheaper than the dell with a decent monitor
November 3, 2008 6:53:39 PM

The cost of the machine is $574 now.

I just checked the dell you were talking about, and it comes with free 3-5 day shipping. However, adding a modest 3 year warranty brings the price to $744. You can build if yourself for about $100 less before the 3 year warranty, and even then if you do a good job of checking out parts you should get components that come with a direct manufacturer's 3 year warranty anyway, so you're saving even more (like $270) by building it yourself.

Plus, I'm assuming that since you're the tech guy in the family you're going to get shafted with PC support regardless of where the computer comes from.

Personally, I'd build it for her.
November 3, 2008 6:55:25 PM

rakoth said:

One last question: will the integrated video be ok with a 24" 1920 x 1200 monitor? I've always had a video card so I don't have any experience with integrated video.


It should be fine for e-mail and surfing and Microsoft Office. However, it may have difficulty with Vista Aero. A dedicated card would allow some nicer settings (more eye-candy).
November 3, 2008 6:58:40 PM

I've always said, if you already own the software (OS and Office mainly) then it makes sense to build and not buy.
This is due to tech support usually being crap in the first place.

Also, Id recommend an AMD build becouse of the 780 southbridge, it'll drive a big monitor, allow her to watch HD video and the CpU's are cheaper too. Of course you should OC it mildly.

PS: I hope Nehalem didn't catch me recommending AMD.
November 3, 2008 7:08:39 PM

The general rule of thumb as I have heard it is if your looking to spend less than $1000 and are not gaming, go with an OEM build, above or budget gaming machine, build from scratch.
November 3, 2008 8:13:53 PM

First, thanks to everyone who responded. The feedback has been helpful.

Ryun said:


Plus, I'm assuming that since you're the tech guy in the family you're going to get shafted with PC support regardless of where the computer comes from.



This is exactly right.

The advantage of the OEM approach (with purchased support) is that it removes me from the loop until she has a problem, which may buy me a year or two. The advantages of the build approach is that I can put in decent components and easily upgrade it or O/C it later if necessary. I'll work out both scenarios and see what she wants to do.

Thanks again.
November 3, 2008 8:18:48 PM

Building a system for the sister-in-law means major brownie points from the wife(I assume it's your wife's sister and they actually get along)!
November 3, 2008 8:45:18 PM

slomo4sho said:
Building a system for the sister-in-law means major brownie points from the wife(I assume it's your wife's sister and they actually get along)!


It is my wife's sister. I get along fine with her as does my wife. My wife views my sister-in-law's computer questions and problems as a pain and a time drain on my part so whatever I can do to reduce them gets me brownie points.
!