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Building my first PC vs. purchasing from dell

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February 14, 2011 2:42:51 AM

Hi guys,
this is my first time here so I apologize in advance if I posted in the wrong section.

I am planning to get a new computer with an Intel i5 750 processor. I heard that the new i5 lineup (2400 or something) is coming out again so i think prices for the 750 should go down. But I want to know if it is better to build my own i5 setup or to wait for dell to re-introduce their XPS 8300 with i5 2400. I have done a basic run through of the stuff I need and they amount to about the same price. About $970 for the build with monitor and shipping, and $999.99 for the dell XPS 8300 with monitor.

It's my first time and I would like to hear from you guys the experts. If you think I should build my own can you give a basic list of components you would recommend.
I'm going for around $900 - $1000 before taxes with monitor and windows 7 included.

Thanks
February 14, 2011 3:19:24 AM

Your budget is good enough to go either way, however, I would recommend the Dell if you aren't experienced with building. One reason is that buying a full legal copy of Windows will cut into your budget considerably and OEMs like Dell can get the license much cheaper.

Windows 7 Pro will run you $260-300 of your budget.
Windows 7 Ultimate will run you $270-320 of your budget.

I wouldn't want to go with Home or Basic, they suck.

And the newer i5 2400 would be worth getting. Right now the boards are just awaiting a fix for the SATA ports. So just consider the cost of all your parts, and the cost of a legal Windows system and see what hardware you can afford with it. At least with the Dell the software part is 1/3 the cost when it is preloaded.

Edit - Home Premium might be ok, but stay away from Basic.
February 14, 2011 3:26:38 AM

Quote:
Building is EASY. I'd go build over prebuilt.


Building is easy, but if this is your first time and you don't have someone with you to help you, things can go wrong and you'll be pulling your hair out. If you do want to build, try to get a barebones kit that already has discounts on the board, case, CPU combo. Some kits will provide you with everything you need to get going. But if you have never built before and have no one there in person to help you... OEM isn't a bad way and will still last you a long time unless it's s Compaq or a budget model, LOL :kaola: 
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February 14, 2011 3:37:32 AM

I built mine January 4th or so. Glad I did. I highly suggest you don't center your build around a processor... what do you seek to do with your computer? That dictates what you're centering it around.

$900-$1000 will build you a beast if you DIY. The value you get for gaming is seriously so much more worth it.

Build your own pros and cons:

PROS: Value. Value. Value. MORE VALUE.
Squeezed the value out of my money to the max!

CONS:If some of the parts are DOA or go wrong you will have to THINK and use time and your brain to go through an RMA process for an individual part, as compared to DELL where you just complain and send it to them.


Caveats:
1)I had someone to help me. Only thing that I needed help with is my aftermarket cooling for my CPU, that was scary.
2)I have MSDN, Windows 7 for free so that made my build cheap.
3)I pulled a risk and hunted for cheapest deals for individual parts instead of buying at once. The risk? Instead of returning to retailer (NewEgg), I bet that all my parts are not DOA and if they do I'll have to do manufacturer RMA.

coolermaster elite 430 $30ar
ocz stealthxtream ii 600w $30ar
his 5850 $under 180
amd 955 be (quad 3.2ghz, ez oc) $under 150
gskill ram $50
ocz vertex 30gb ssd $40ar
samsung hd hd322gj $50
hyper 212+ cooler $9ar

SO CHEAP. For tiny bit under 700 I got a machine that can destroy any games I throw at it at 1080p. If I spent the money buying a prebuilt and upgrading let's say the graphics card... I would have to take a considerable hit on performance.
February 14, 2011 4:48:57 AM

Quote:
What exactly do you need someone for? Turn a few screws, install the cpu, plug in a few sata cables and your done


I know you automatically assume everyone asking questions already knows the answer, but we do not live in your closed world. In the real world, some people have an understanding about computers from the get-go. Some people don't know anything. That is why there are OEMs to sell pre-built computers. The first time you build a computer, people who don't know a lot will need help. They make stupid mistakes like too much thermal paste, or have 4 memory slots and use the first 2 instead of 1 and 3 to get dual channel. They wire the head to the case switches and lights wrong too (usually get the polarity backwards). Also, for first timers, when a part is bad they don't know how to troubleshoot.

If all the parts he buys are good, and he has a basic knowledge of a computer's internals, then he is fine. But when something goes wrong, he will be right back here asking WTF happened? I've even seen first timers trying to force DDR2 into a DDR3 slot and similar. But by your logic that would work out just fine? Haha.

To the original poster... Let me rephrase my first assessment. If you already have a good understanding of CPU sockets (so you don't buy the wrong CPU for your board), RAM types (to match your CPU and board), installing expansions like graphics cards and hard drives, and you know exactly what to do if something goes wrong... then build the computer yourself. Also you need to ask yourself how much memory do you want and decide on a 32 or 64 bit OS. I have seen countless first timers just use their old XP disc when trying to build a new PC and things just won't work out the way you want.

If you do not have a clear understanding of what I'm talking about above, I suggest you do a lot of reading and watching guides of building computers before you start to build your own if you don't have someone to help you.

If you don't like troubleshooting, just want it to work trouble free out of the box, and want to have someone to bitch at when your computer does has a problem, buy the Dell. Most people learn about building computers from first upgrading their old ones. So if you have upgraded a CPU or memory before, then you could adventure into a whole build. Just keep a checklist of all the things you need, but don't forget the cost of a legal operating system taking a big chunk of your budget. If you don't have someone to help you, keep a working computer on the internet so you can ask questions here at Tom's. Also, you will want to keep a cool head, don't be impatient or angry if things don't boot up the first time. If something is giving you trouble, sit back and think about it and ask questions here. Some people's first build will be a great success and give a pleasant sense of satisfaction from doing it yourself. Other times something might go wrong, so a cool head and knowing all the right terms to ask about will save you a lot of grief.

So which ever way you go, good luck. And I will tell you that your first successful build will make you feel good. When you buy an OEM, that new feeling is gone quickly, when you build yourself... the feeling lasts longer. LOL. :kaola: 
February 14, 2011 5:54:28 AM

1965ohio said:
And I will tell you that your first successful build will make you feel good. When you buy an OEM, that new feeling is gone quickly, when you build yourself... the feeling lasts longer. LOL. :kaola: 


True. Story.


On one point I'd like to give my 2 cents about, I think you can get by if you are a fairly tech saavy person who has the ability to poke their head around manuals, online guides (like here on Toms and many more websites), etc...

That's what I did. I'm at a much higher tech level than the average person and I gained sufficient knowledge to put my computer together despite never really touching hardware before. If one of my parts was wrong out of the box I would've struggled to get through it but I think if I gave it time, I would've figured things out with the help of friendly people who are willing to give input on forums.



February 14, 2011 6:45:09 AM

Maybe it is different in the states but over here you can order your parts from an online store and ask them to put it together for you for a small fee (20-30$). For people wanting the versatility of a DIY build but withouth the proper amount of know-how.
February 14, 2011 2:01:14 PM

OK, even if you don't want to build your own, there are still better options than going a Dell, HP or other mass-produced vendor - they cut corners and limit (if not totally exclude) upgradability.

There are plenty of specialist builders online that will produce better systems for the same money - I'm sure the US contingent of these forums will suggest the best ones.
February 14, 2011 2:44:38 PM

There is also a warm fuzzy feeling when you buy a cheap used higher end OEM and mod it out way beyond what the OEM intended :) 
With that said it depends all on the OPs mentality.
Some people are Do It Yourselfers and dont mind the aggravation
In the long run the experience gained from building your own system will be invaluable.
It always comes down to the car analogy
Some people just want to turn the key and go and never look under the hood
Other people HAVE to know how it works
Only the OP knows what type of person they are
They stated that either building their own or buying OEM costs the same for what they want.
So without cost as a factor it comes down to
if they have the DIY mentality....
February 14, 2011 2:55:33 PM

1965ohio said:
Your budget is good enough to go either way, however, I would recommend the Dell if you aren't experienced with building. One reason is that buying a full legal copy of Windows will cut into your budget considerably and OEMs like Dell can get the license much cheaper.

Windows 7 Pro will run you $260-300 of your budget.
Windows 7 Ultimate will run you $270-320 of your budget.

I wouldn't want to go with Home or Basic, they suck.

And the newer i5 2400 would be worth getting. Right now the boards are just awaiting a fix for the SATA ports. So just consider the cost of all your parts, and the cost of a legal Windows system and see what hardware you can afford with it. At least with the Dell the software part is 1/3 the cost when it is preloaded.

Edit - Home Premium might be ok, but stay away from Basic.


Where are you buying your OS from ?? Windows 7 PRO OEM (same as you'd get from DELL) $129 and Windows 7 Ultimate OEM $179 Not sure where you got the $260 - $320 from !! -- Sure you can pay more for the FULL version but you would not get that from DELL and you do not need to for a build yourself rig either if you compare like to like the OEM version is what you look at !

Plus for an $999 system why limit yourself to a ATI HD 5450 like the Dell includes (they almost always under match the GPU to the rest of the system because they want to skimp on the PSU (they include a 460W one !) which then limits the upgrade options when you find the GPU doesn't perform to expectations and you wind up spending another $200-$300 toupgrade the PSU and GPU to get decent performance) - you can do much better than that on a DIY system and get great performance in games etc. but as others have said already you'd need to know what the system is to be used for before being able to pick the best parts for the build.
February 14, 2011 4:03:04 PM

JDFan said:
Where are you buying your OS from ?? Windows 7 PRO OEM (same as you'd get from DELL) $129 and Windows 7 Ultimate OEM $179 Not sure where you got the $260 - $320 from !! -- Sure you can pay more for the FULL version but you would not get that from DELL and you do not need to for a build yourself rig either if you compare like to like the OEM version is what you look at !

Plus for an $999 system why limit yourself to a ATI HD 5450 like the Dell includes (they almost always under match the GPU to the rest of the system because they want to skimp on the PSU (they include a 460W one !) which then limits the upgrade options when you find the GPU doesn't perform to expectations and you wind up spending another $200-$300 toupgrade the PSU and GPU to get decent performance) - you can do much better than that on a DIY system and get great performance in games etc. but as others have said already you'd need to know what the system is to be used for before being able to pick the best parts for the build.


I'm getting it from here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Yes, that is the full version. When buying an OEM version they state this:

Use of this OEM System Builder Channel software is subject to the terms of the Microsoft OEM System Builder License. This software is intended for pre-installation on a new personal computer for resale. This OEM System Builder Channel software requires the assembler to provide end user support for the Windows software and cannot be transferred to another computer once it is installed. To acquire Windows software with support provided by Microsoft please see our full package "Retail" product offerings.

Requires the assembler to provide end support... so if he runs into a snag with his Windows OS and calls Microsoft... they will tell him to contact his assembler. As for myself, no need to buy either, I live in China right now and can buy it for $1 outside and the key still works, so go figure.

For a first time builder, he should buy a full version OR an upgrade version just to cheat the license and save a couple of bucks and still have support.

But what do I know, nothing I guess. Most people illegally download their software anyways. When you buy a full retail or upgrade retail copy, you still have someone to bitch at if there is a software snag. If you buy OEM from Dell or somebody, you have one central company for all your snags and complaints. If you buy OEM version software for yourself, better be ready to support it by yourself too.
February 14, 2011 7:53:54 PM

Thanks guys for the help, but I have the same concerns as 1965ohio mentioned. The prebuilt Dell costs 999.99 but it has OS included. If I build a computer myself the OS itself will cost $150 or so. This is where the scale tips. A self built computer would be cheaper if only OS was free.

I'm going to list all the components of the computer I plan to build and could I please get you guy's recommendations or comments please?

HDD
Western digital caviar blue 500gb
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

Processor
intel i5 760 (or i5 2400 suggestions?)
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

RAM
gskill 8GB
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...

Mobo
Asus 1156 mobo
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...

DVD drive and OS are obvious

Suggestion for case and PSU?

Monitor already purchased ( the asus 20' widescreen LED on sale at $119)

GPU recommendation? I looked into the Radeon HD 5770 it looks good to me. I'm looking for light gaming, nothing heavy but able to last at least till next year.

Recommendations or comments? Feel free to change anything or comment as this is my first time.
February 14, 2011 7:56:48 PM

Mainly the computer will be used for light gaming, videos, movies and such. I wanted the i5 processor because it will last me through the years. My last dell purchase was a 2.2 Ghz celeron processor and it quickly became outdated after one or two years. not making the same mistake again.

and oh yes I live in Canada, so any products u mention must be able to be bought from newegg.CA or ncix
February 15, 2011 12:06:09 AM

I remember when i bought my 1st computer lol it was a Gateway with a quad core 2.4ghz phenom with 4gigs of ram on windows vista 64..i bought it for $599 not including the graphics card i bought that was another $230. I bought it so i can play Age of Conan which it did until they messed it up with the patches and it ran slow. So I ended up looking at computer components on newegg and from there i saw everything you needed to buy to build a computer. I watched a ton of videos on youtube on how to build a pc, putting on heatsinks etc. But man do i regret on buying a pre-built pc especially for a gamer like me. I felt like i wasted $800 for nothing. Because now im in a process of building a new pc when they re-release sandy bridge. But ever since i purchased the gateway the pc industry has become a big hobby of mine. Maybe i don't regret buying the gateway because of it but if i can do it all over again i'd build my own since i know how to build a pc now.
!