Help! Should I buy or build a system?

I am new here and I have been reading various posts as I try to figure out if I should buy a system or build one. I think I have the ability to do it (I took the software and hardware classes for the A+ certification back in the day and I took four semesters of the Cisco networking academy), but I wonder if it is worth the effort for what I will get in performance.

In late November I actually ordered a Dell - Studio XPS 8100 Desktop from Dell Direct which was suppose to be delivered on December 27, 2010. There was a mix up with the order and Dell did not seem to care other to say that I could re-order the system. I told them I would think about it. I typically get computers that are on sale and off the shelf. This time I want to get a stronger computer. I would like to run three monitors on it and have excellent performance.

I have been told different things about running multiple monitors. When I ordered the Dell, I was told that it would support 3 monitors with the video card that came with it. Later I was told in a Dell on line chat session by a Dell rep that it would not support 3 monitors. The rep said that I would need to go the the Alienware line for that, but I'm getting off the subject.

I guess what I am asking the community is there a significant gain in performance, by building a custom system. My budget is $1000 - 1500 for the CPU only. I do not have a pressing need for this computer, but would like to have it up and running in 4-6 weeks.

I suppose I could just purchase the Dell - Inspiron Desktop / Intel® Core™ i3 for $599 from Best Buy and put 2 more video cards in it and drive on.

I also have the option of buying the computer and having a person assemble it for $150.

Any and all help or advice you can offer will be greatly appreciated.
32 answers Last reply
More about help build system
  1. I could put together a build that will rape anything you could buy from a Boutique for a total of 1500$
  2. Building your own is like getting married a dog. It's a lot of fun, and gives you a sense of participation, but it's also a commitment and endless work that no-one else is going to do for you.

    Buy a Dell - get support. Build your own - support your own, with our help. Buy from some other company - get more caring support? If you want to get into that, welcome to the hobby. If you want the computer to be an appliance that does what you want and never demands anything from you, find a vendor who makes you more comfortable. It's an entirely personal choice. Me, I'm on my third or fourth home-build, and my twenty-sixth year with my first wife. Fiddling around with both gives me great pleasure.

    Three-monitor support depends on the video card. Some support three, some don't, some require HDMI connections to the monitor and some still use VGA. AMD has tried to lock up the three-monitor market, calling the feature "Eyefinity." Here are some moderately expensive current-best-of-breed:,2803-4.html
  3. No point buying a dell computer. Even if you would put 2 more graphic cards in it, it would get bottlenecked by the CPU. And even if you would, you would have to buy a MOBO that supports that many GPUs. And there is even more things that you would have to upgrade.

    So just build your own.

    Just post a new thread. With similar name to '' New rig $1500. ''

    Also use the sticky to ask for a new built setup. Then just put a comment that you would like 3 monitor setup atd.

    Hope this helps :)

  4. Buying an OEM system does saves you time, but building your own could save you some money ($300-400) but in most cases it usually just allows you to get more for your money (in other words faster, better components, brand name components, etc.).

    And building your own also allows for overclocking or easier upgrades down the road, specifically changing your CPU since some OEM system like those from DELL are less overclocking friendly or flexible in terms of upgrades.

    However building your own can be annoying if you don't enjoy trying the identify the right parts for your build, at the best price, or if you don't feel comfortable or trust yourself enough to build a system. It is rare but you can actually damage the part(s) during the build if you are not careful.

    If you have the money to spend, you could always buy a premium OEM desktop system from a company like Digital Storm or CyberPower, but again these are targeted to gamers and are usually expensive. But in most cases you might get more help or advise of what to buy for your needs.
  5. If you can build it - do build it. Better parts for less money. Period.
  6. From a cost -analysis type basis at the lower end of the spectrum($400, $500,$600) price points, you can't beat a Dell or other pre-built, the economies of scale work against you. That being said, as you move up the scale towards more expensive machines, you can definitely get more for your buck by building it yourself. I ordered the parts for a new PC and spent about $1500.00. To get the same machine from a Dell or other boutique builder, I would have spent way north of $3000.00 and would NOT have been able to pick the parts I wanted.
  7. Wow ! Thanks for the quick replies. I'm still trying to figure this thing out. It appears that just adding two video cards to a low end Dell is not possible. I might check out some of the custom prebuilt systems as well.

    Thanks again.
  8. you can check out ewiz there good sell parts and now put systems together for you prices look good very customizable looks good check it out i bought a couple things from them arrived fast and in excellent condition heard about them on good deal sites you can pick every part individually or no part and add your own like video card

    15% off your purchase (max savings of $15) with coupon HELLO2011 (Expires 1/10/11 or after first 2,000 uses)

    might only be good on parts
  9. Looking over this ewiz thing and it basically still looks like a rip off for what you could piece together yourself.
  10. Thanks again for the replies. I guess I'm still not clear on the possibility of just putting two video cards in the i3 Dell I mentioned above or another system that may be more robust. I guess I'm looking for the in-between of building a system from scratch and just taking a system off the shelf. Anyone know of a good compromise between the two.

    Again, all advice and suggestions greatly appreciated.
  11. just putting two video cards in the i3 Dell the power supply won't be powerfull enough theres another 100 bucks if it even works with there motherboard might have to buy a special one from them
  12. What about a refurb system. I usually try to stay away from refurb anything, but maybe that would be an option. Where do refurb systems come from anyway? Anyone had good luck with any?
  13. Also I forgot to ask, but I have a local person with experience who will assemble a system from parts ordered from newegg for $150. This guy has certifications and been in business for a while. Is $150 a fair price?
  14. look at the AMD Phenom II PC builds at ewiz prices seem reasonable if you don't want to diy
    AMD Phenom II X4 Processor 965 (3.4GHz) AM3, Retail have them use the retail fan cheaper ?
    Antec Three Hundred No PS Mid Tower Gamer Case (Black
    Asus M4A785T-M/CSM Socket AM3/ AMD 785G/ DDR3/ HDMI/ A&V&GbE/ MATX Motherboard
    Samsung SpinPoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB SATA2 7200rpm 16MB Hard Drive
    Samsung SH-S223C/BEBE 22X SATA DVD+/-RW Internal Drive (Black), Bulk w/o Software
    Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Power Supply
    you can buy youe own video card on sale piece of cake to install
    total for that setup is 385.75 plus shipping 400- 150 =250 price the cpu and case on newegg
    ewiz is a trusted website gogle it for yourself can't see how you can beat that
    MSI N470GTX Twin Frozr II GeForce GTX 470
    Galaxy GTX 460 768MB $93 after $60MIRs Tigerdirect
    GeForce GTX 460 Sonic 1024B 160 ar microcenter
    forgot memory add another 50
    Kingston KHX1600C9AD3K2/4G DDR3-1600 4GB(2x 2GB) CL9 Memory Kit
  15. Building your own is also a great learning experience (if you care about that).
  16. Thanks for the replies. I like the Newegg pc combos. I also forgot to mention a wireless network card. Any suggestions? Also any thoughts on the $150 assembly fee?
  17. Build it. NOTHING comes close. And you don't need to pay anyone to assemble anything. It's easy enough.

    Just get the components and try to assemble. If you encounter any problems, just create a new thread.

    I know I speak for everyone here when I say that we'll see your build to the end. Just get an anti-static wrist strap and a Philips screwdriver. There's enough info available online for you to invent another architecture.

    If you're still not convinced, take apart your existing system and try to put it back together. You'll be more confident. Just replace the thermal paste when you put it back again.
  18. plus when you get a dell or hp they use there own case power
    supply and the motherboards seem to be made special for them getting any info for trouble shooting is hard to find and there bios usually won't let you overclock anf there psu are usually just enought to power the system ?and if you put in parts you might lose support ?
  19. they'll put it together free enter coupon code superbiiz they have intel builds too
  20. Thanks for the replies. I'm thinking of the build below: Any advice or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.


    ZOTAC ZT-40407-10P GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

    ZOTAC GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) ZT-40407-10P Video Card
    Item #:N82E16814500174
    Return Policy: VGA Standard Return Policy

    NVIDIA Free Just Cause 2 + Mafia II Coupon

    NVIDIA Free Just Cause 2 + Mafia II Coupon
    Item #:N82E16800999242
    Return Policy: Limited Replacement Only Return Policy

    Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

    Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    Item #:N82E16822136319
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    CORSAIR XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMX6GX3M3A1600C9

    CORSAIR XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory
    Item #:N82E16820145258
    Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy

    HP 24X Multiformat DVD Burner Black SATA Model 1270i LightScribe Support

    HP 24X Multiformat DVD Burner Black SATA Model 1270i LightScribe Support
    Item #:N82E16827140041
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    COOLER MASTER Silent Pro RSA00-AMBAJ3-US 1000W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V v2.92 SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

    COOLER MASTER Silent Pro RSA00-AMBAJ3-US 1000W Power Supply
    Item #:N82E16817171049
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
    -$20.00 Instant

    Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders

    Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders
    Item #:N82E16832116762
    Return Policy: Software Standard Return Policy

    COOLER MASTER R4-BMBS-20PK-R0 Blade Master 120mm Case Fan

    COOLER MASTER R4-BMBS-20PK-R0 Blade Master Case Fan
    Item #:N82E16835103069
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound

    Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound
    Item #:N82E16835100007
    Return Policy: Consumable Item Refund Only Return Policy

    COOLER MASTER ELITE 335 RC-335-KKN1-GP Black SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

    COOLER MASTER ELITE 335 RC-335-KKN1-GP Black Computer Case
    Item #:N82E16811119161
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

    Intel Core i7-870 Lynnfield 2.93GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor BX80605I7870

    Intel Core i7-870 2.93GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor
    Item #: N82E16819115213
    Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy

    ASUS P7P55D-E LX LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

    ASUS P7P55D-E LX ATX Intel Motherboard
    Item #: N82E16813131634
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy
    -$30.00 Instant
    -$17.99 Combo
    $10.00 Mail-in Rebate Card
    Grand Total: $1,223.90
  21. Couple of things:
    1. go for the 1TB WD HDD, It's not that much more expensive and the performance will be better.
    2. The 1000w cooler Master PSU is way overkill. Get a Corsair, Seasonic or Antec in the 750-850 range. The CM might be cheaper, but If you cheap-out on the PSU, you will pay for it later.
    3. unless you are getting an after-market cooler, you won't need the AS5 thermal compound. The stock heatsink &fan have thermal compound already applied.
  22. Thanks !
  23. +1 for the last post. But what about the samsung F3 1tb hdd. I have read its faster than the wd on some posts
    And do you really want to run multiple monitors?? Cause your MB has just 1 pcie slot and I am not sure the 460 will run a 3 monitor set up alone. In any case pick a better mfg on the card. No offense to anyoe owning a Zotac, but MSI, Gigabyte, EVGA, Asus, make better cards.
  24. Thanks for your reply. Can you suggest a better MB that would fit with the rest of my system?
  25. I'm not an Intel guy but think you might want to check on the 460 running 3 monitors. I know you can with an mid level AMD card. Your MB selection limits you to one card which is not a big deal unless you want to run dual cards some day. Something like this
    gives you the ability to run a second card in the future. I dont know who suggested it, but someone said post again in home built with a title like 1500$ build suggestions. That might be a good idea. In the mean time I am going to try to figure out if the 460 can run 3 monitors, I think 2 might be the max for one card. I did read about a Zotac card that has 3D in the name that runs up to 4, but not sure if that is dodgy software from zotac or what.
  26. I have learned that a single 460 will not run 3 monitors. So, time to look for a card that will. You will save $$ going with smaller psu, might be well used on the video card eh? Isn't this fun??
  27. Wow ! This gets complicated fast. I really want to run 3 monitors so I guess I could change up the Mother Board and just run 2 video cards. Is it better to run 2 cards or 1?
  28. Lets take a look at some single card solutions. What does your budget allow you for a video card?
    It is always best to run a single card solution if you can get what you want from the 1 card.
    This card should do it. Similar performance to 460 with multi monitor capabilities
  30. If you can go up to a 6870, better still, but its 240$$ card min.
  31. I'm not really married to a particular budget figure, but I didn't want to go over $1500. If I can spend $100 - 200 more and get more capability and I will use that capability then I am more than willing to do that. What I really don't want to do is go to all this trouble and have a computer that will not support 3 monitors. Someone earlier had posted a link to a computer build that was on Newegg and reviewed by Tom's hardware for about $1700. I'm trying to find the sweet spot for price/capability. I guess that is what everyone is trying to do. I'll check out the other card. Thanks again for all the replies.
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