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Is a home built system worth the effort?

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July 13, 2010 5:04:10 AM

Hi Everyone,

I have been building systems on and off for about the last 15 years or so. I originally started doing it for my own systems in order to save money (by buying at 'cost' from wholesalers). I also found that I could make a little bit of money as well which was great.

I am noticing lately that it is hard to compete. With aggressive pricing at places like Best Buy, Tigert Direct, Futureshop, Canada Computers (the last two are Canadian retailers), it is almost impossible to sell someone a system as it is quite difficult to get close to their prices and make a profit. It just seems like it is not worth it anymore.

I have decided to build myself a new system. Here is what I was looking to build:

CPU: Intel Core i5 750
CPU Heatsink: CM Hyper TX 3 (I never feel safe using the stock heatsinks supplied by Intel)
Motherboard: MSI P55 CD53
RAM: OCZ DDR3 1333 MHz Gold Edition (2 x 2GB)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 5670 (512MB DDR5)
Hard Drive: Hitachi Deskstar 1TB SATA II 32MB Cache
Case: Antec Sonata III
PSU: Antec EarthWatts (500 watts)
Burner: Sony AD-7240S-OB SATA
Additional Case Fan: Zalman ZM-F3 (120mm)
Card Reader: Vantec Internal 58 in 1 Card Reader


This is hardly a kick ass system. I'm sure it will serve me fine (I'm not a hardcore gamer, just a web application developer who uses EditPlus, SQLYog, and some Photoshop). My cost on the above comes out to about $769 (tax not included).

Note that the price above does not include the OS. I figure it will be about another $100 at least for the most minimum Windows 7 version.

Now, I went to the futureshop website and did a search on 'i5 750' and I find this:

http://www.futureshop.ca/en-CA/product/gateway-gateway-...

(I hope the above link comes out okay in my post)

This system costs a little more ($950) but comes with 8GB Ram, the OS of course, a 1GB video card, etc etc.

Do I go through all of the trouble researching what I want to get, making sure all my components are compatible with one another, etc, etc... or do I just buy the PC from the big box store and pay a tiny bit more (or even a little less in some cases)?

A final note, if I am asking these questions, won't potential buyers ask them as well
(this is a rhetorical question... they always do)? Do I get out to the business? Do I even stop building my own systems?

Sorry for the long post.

I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
Larry

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a b B Homebuilt system
July 13, 2010 5:17:28 AM

I would still rate your build to be a better quality one. They use a 300W PSU, likely a cheap Passive PFC one that isnt 80+ certified so its nice cheap and inefficient, yours is higher quality, and far more powerful.

8GB of ram is useless to most people, unless they are doing lots of photoshop work or running multiple CS4/5 apps at the same time they wont get any benefit out of it over 4GB.

The memory on the GPU is the least important part, they have a 5570 while you picked a 5670, the 5670 is significantly more powerful than the 5570.

The MSI P55 board you picked it bound to be of higher quality, i know HP used to use MSI boards but they have since dropped down to ECS boards since they are cheaper, gateway likely has too.

While it seems like theirs is a good deal, yours has higher quality and higher performance components so it will perform significantly better than the gateway in many things, and the higher quality components will give it a better lifespan.
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 13, 2010 2:23:05 PM

There's a difference between a computer made with quality parts, and a PC made using cheapest junk the manufacturer can find.

In any custom builder, price out a system with quality components and you'll find they're on average $200-$300 price premium for assembly, labor and support.
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 13, 2010 2:33:17 PM

Exactly. A prebuilt computer pretty much guarantees the GPU and the CPU, everything else ends up being anonymous crap thrown in, if you are lucky you may get a prebuilt that lets you know the RAM (which is usually high latency and slow).

The system you linked is already more expensive than yours and inferior due to the weaker graphics card. So already it is a worse buy before including the 'mysterious 8gb RAM' the 'unknown 1TB Hard Drive', the 'anonymous Power Supply' which could die any time. Some crap motherboard.

So yes, it is worth building your own. If you really wanted to, you could beat their price even more by buying your own crap PSU, cheapass RAM, funky HDD and the lowliest motherboard you can find. Give it a go if you like to see even more clearly how much they rip you off

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July 13, 2010 8:58:43 PM

Thanks for the info guys! I feel better now. I figured my build would be better, just wasn't sure how much better. I guess I will build it after all (still have to wait about two weeks until my next pay cheque comes in). I'll let you know how it went.

P.S. I am assuming (hoping) the parts I picked out are compatible. From what I can tell they are. If I am mistaken, please do not hesitate to bash me :) 

Cheers,
Larry
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July 13, 2010 9:01:48 PM

Best answer selected by lpetro.
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 14, 2010 12:46:51 AM

Only thing that might not be, double check that the OCZ ram kit is at or below 1.65V as that is the max safe limit for the intel processors with onboard memory controlers(all of the i series), everything else i see should work together without issue.
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July 14, 2010 1:14:57 AM

Hi hunter315,

The memory voltage is my main concern. I have read that the iX boards are very picky about the voltages. I hear that 1.5 is the intel recommended maximum. The only issue I have is that all the RAM running at 1333MHz seem to be over the 1.5 mark. The particular RAM I am looking at seems to be advertised 'For Core i5'. Here is a link the memory in question:

http://www.canadacomputers.com/product_info.php?cPath=2...

The specs indicate that it runs at 1.65 volts.

I am not married to this memory however. It was one of the first ones I came across. If you have any alternatives, please share.

Thanks so much (thank you to everyone else who replied to this thread as well).

Larry
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a c 113 B Homebuilt system
July 14, 2010 2:54:48 AM

1.65 is the Intel maximum, not 1.5. Just confirming what Hunter has already said ;) 
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