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Homebuilt vs Prebuilt

Last response: in Systems
October 10, 2011 5:39:26 AM

I am currently on a 2002 fossil of a laptop that my dad gave me... Needless to say, I'm upgrading soon (within 3 months). I'd like to get a desktop computer with two monitors for around $1000. I'm trying to decide if I should build my own or get one from a retailer (such as or a computer company (such as

From what I understand, building your own can be more expensive and a headache, however, it does give the satisfaction of knowing you did it and helps you better understand how it works. So I'm not sure what to do. Here are some of the things I'm looking for out of a computer:

Approximate Purchase Date: Anytime between now and 31 Dec 2011

Budget Range: Before Rebates doesn't matter/After rebates around $1000, as high as $1200 if it's worth it

System Usage from Most to Least Important: multi-tasking, slim-no loading times, surfing, watching movies, casual gaming, burning movies to harddrive/watching them from harddrive game emulators

Parts Not Required: I need everything. wireless mouse and keyboard, speakers (cheap is fine), and two widescreen monitors (18"-22")

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: is fine. Doesn't really matter as long as they're cheap.

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: Must be intel processor. i5 or i7. nvidia graphics, tower size or bigger (none of that tiny crap)

Overclocking: Nope. Dunno how

SLI or Crossfire: Not now, possibly in the future

Monitor Resolution: one monitor needs to be 1080p. as long as the other is decent and the same size, no big. As an idea for monitors, I found these: with this ZXP20F740G$W11 coupon code, 2 monitors is $321.30 Any better options?

Additional Comments: No bling. Almost utilitarian is a plus. brushed steel-esqe things. and I like blue! =D Card reader is a must. I already have a 2tb hdd i plan on adding to it, however, i was thinking maybe a small ssd (around 32gb) for the operating system would be good. Fast is a must. I'm tired of this slow computer I have. Wireless card isn't necessary. I'll be wired to the internet at all times. Must have a good graphics card (my current laptop can't even play youtube videos without freezing, let alone DVDs...), tv tuner would be nice (to watch/record tv shows) but not necessary.

Upgradeability: I probably won't do much in the way of upgrading overtime expect possibly: adding a second graphics card, adding USB 3.0 ports, adding more memory, and adding more HDD space. Just easy things. I want this computer to last for 5 years or so at a decent speed, so If i have to put a little more into it to make that happen, I will.

I hope that's enough information for you gurus. Tell me what you think! Homebuild or Prebuilt? =)
I found this prebuilt. It comes with one monitor... Idk, just more information.

More about : homebuilt prebuilt

October 10, 2011 7:24:47 AM

Hi there,

Well, I am a big fan of building computers myself. This is mainly because manufacturers like HP, Dell and Acer have a tendency of putting cheap and terrible components in the computer "because you cannot see them". Thus I prefer to build my own so that I can choose high quality components that won't blow up instantly. If you are going to get a computer pre-built by your local computer store rather than buying one off the shelf.

Now, choosing the system I suggest that you get a Sandy Bridge based system with the Core i5 2500. For you there is no point getting a 2500K (Overclockable edition) as you do not wish to overclock or use integrated graphics. For this system you need an Intel 1155 socket motherboard with preferably a z68 motherboard

MONITORS 2 of these $310.00

CPU -- $210.00 Core i5 2500

Motherboard -- $150 GIGABYTE with SSD

RAM -- 1333 MHz is max that Sandy Bridge uses

Power Supply -- Don't skimp on this! Corsair 650 Watt $85

GPU -- - GTX 560 is all you need $190

CASE -- With some blue too.

HDD -- Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB $60

OS -- MS Windows 7 Home $100

Total $1223
October 10, 2011 7:46:12 AM

ukee1593 said:
Hi there

Related resources
October 10, 2011 7:48:12 AM

Sorry about that
a b B Homebuilt system
October 10, 2011 7:52:54 AM

The advantage to a home built is that if you have the technical expertise... you can build the exact PC configuration that you desire - IF you have the technical expertise. Building a PC is far more than just assembling the components in the PC case. It does not come with many if any assembly instructions to speak of other than the mobo. It does not come with tech support. It is not cheaper than buying a Prebuilt PC.

The advantages to a Prebuilt is it is usually cheaper than the individual components if bought retail. The unit is fully assembled and tested. It may come with some tech support and/or warranty. You plug it in and it's ready to use.

While I encourage folks to learn how to build a PC, it's not all that easy and not for everyone one, so weight the pros and cons carefully before you decide as you could end up paying far more to have someone repair your home built than buying a Prebuilt if you are unable to make the home built work reliably.
October 10, 2011 8:29:01 AM

Hmm. ukee: Your GPU link is the same as the Memory, and an OS isn't included in that. So that would add like $100. Is i5 sufficient or should I aim for an i7? (i almost typed i8 haha). Love the case! =D

Still not convinced I should make my own. My Dad and brother would be able to help, they've both built their own computers before, so I'm not worried about messing it up. The main deciding factor for me would be quality for the money.
October 10, 2011 8:54:02 AM

If you wish to learn more about computers anyway, building your own can be great. Another good way to go is to find someone to build it for you, then picking the parts yourself. This is what I did originally.
Building your own is usually a bit more expensive, but not by too much if you spend some time hunting prices. Also, most of the price difference is probably due to the fact that you will pick motherboard and powersupply that will last longer and have better options for upgrading in the future (Thus saving money later, when you need something better)
As for headaches, I find that it is alot of work to properly compare prebuilt units, there are unjustifiably many models in my oppinion.

For your budget, it will be hard to get both a decend i5 and a decend graphic unit.
If you can squeeze it in, the Radeon 6870 would be good for mid-range money.
Perhaps you have examples of games you expect to play?
October 10, 2011 9:00:04 AM

I actually forgot the HDD too. Oops

If you want to save some money on that build, you can opt to go for a slightly cheaper motherboard without the 20GB Cache SSD. This is $90 which is significantly cheaper than the one listed in the build, but would be significantly slower. The Intel Smart Response SSD can achieve 50% better performance than a standard HDD by placing the most used files on the SSD as a Cache. This is also a lot simpler and cheaper than getting a dedicated SSD.

Another place to save money is by getting a cheaper set of monitors. I chose 21.5" as this is the most common monitor size. Something like this ASUS 19" would save some money and should still be large enough for most purposes. (Save $100 aprox)

That should bring the price down to just over $1000. Make these choices where you see fit.

To get an idea of how to build a computer, I suggest that you take a look at the Newegg video guide. I've found it to be quite good and it'll give you a good idea of what is involved in building a computer.

Also take a look at the guide here on Toms. It is very extensive and detailed.

I don't mean to pressure you into building your own computer, but if you have some help around you ... then go for it. If you do chose to buy a prebuilt I suggest that you either get one built at a computer store or you get a HP. Dell and Acer desktops are abysmal. 90
October 13, 2011 5:05:33 PM

Okay. So I think I'm going to put my own together. I've done some research and chosen some parts. Tell me what you guys think. Mainly, I'm looking for compatibility issues, and making sure I don't have a bottleneck on speed somewhere. Also, is there somewhere I could trim the cost? So tell me what you think. Advice please!

1. Case

Sentey ATX mid tower

2. Power Supply

Thermaltake Modular 750W 80+ Bronze
$80 (MIR $20)

3. Motherboard

MSI P67A-G43 with SATA 6GB/s, USB 3.0
$115 (MIR $20)

4. CPU

I7-2600 3.4GHZ

5. Memory

Ripjaws DDR3 1333 8GB (2x4GB)

6. Video Card

Gigabyte Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 1GB GDDR5
$130 (MIR $20)

7. Storage

(I also have a 2TB mechanical drive I will also add for storage. The SSD is for the OS)

8. Optical Drive

DVD Burner Combo Drive

9. Operating System

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit System Builder

10. Monitors

LG 21.5” 1080p
$120 ea Total $240

11. Keyboard/Mouse

Microsoft wireless combo

12. Card Reader

New Harbor all in 1 3.5’ internal

13. Free Stuff

Kingston 4GB Mirco SDHC card
Free ($7.50 value)

From Amazon Before Shipping: $875.83
From Amazon Shipped: $905.79
From Newegg (Free Shipping): $300.95
Total rebates: $60 for mobo, gpu, and power supply
Total 1146.74

Best solution

October 14, 2011 5:27:09 AM

Taking a look over and will post comments soon ...


Overall that build looks pretty good. The RAM, Motherboard, and Processor that you have chosen are all compatible. I will make some notes with reference to your numbering regarding the edits that I would make.

1. Since you are a first time builder, I suggest that you buy a case from one of the bigger and more well known companies such as Antec, CoolerMaster, ThermalTake, or Lian Li if you can afford it. Some of the no-name brands can get a little medieval inside and their drive bay system and access can be quite difficult to work around. I suggest that you have a look at the Antec 300, Or the Cooler Master 690, Or the Cooler Master HAF 912. Trust me, you do not want to go too cheap on your computer case as this is the part that you trust to hold all your expensive parts, AND the part you have to look at every day.

2. Power supply. That power supply is 750 watts which is overkill for the system you have listed. I am also not sure whether Thermaltake's PSUs are good quality or not. You'll want to buy a PSU that uses Seasonic as the OEM. These are the best. The cheapest PSUs that are Seasonic made are the Antec True Power Trio, Neo Eco, NeoPower, and True Power new series. For your use too, 500Watt is more than enough, and 650 watt would be enough if you wanted to SLI those GTX 550 Tis. The Cheapest I'd go would be this Antec 520 Watt The Corsair 650 watt in the earlier build would be better though. There is also no need to get a modular one. Modular power supplies allow you to completely disconnect the unused cables from the unit to save space. This is not necessary as in a large tower case the unused cable bundle can be tied to an unused drive bay.

3. That motherboard looks alright. The Intel Z68 chipset does offer some more features like Intel QuickSync for faster video encoding, but not really important unless you intend to use them. The other suggestion is to get The GIGABYTE motherboard that I suggested in the earlier build. This would eliminate the need for a SSD boot drive as the Intel Smart Response Technology and the 20GB cache SSD will cache your most used programs to reduce loading times. This work out about $40 cheaper as you don't need to buy the SSD, but you will have to reformat your existing 2TB HDD and install it as a boot drive. . While it is simpler to set up the SSD cache system with Intel Smart Response, it is slower than a SSD boot drive system. Therefore you may still prefer to have a normal boot SSD.

6. That Video Card is good. Beware though that it will not play modern games like Battlefield 3 that brilliantly. For a little more you can get a run out model of the GTX 460 which offers more some more grunt. GIGABYTE GTX 460 Overclocked will offer most performance at a low price (will be comparable to standard GTX 560)
ASUS GTX 460 (Cheaper but not as powerful as it is not overclocked)
Both these cards should run fine on a 500 Watt PSU. Take a look at the games you play, and would want to play before you make this decision. If you are still unsure post up a list of your games and let us decide whether buying a GTX 460 over a 550Ti is worth it.
Please note: Factory overclocked cards come with a full warranty.

7. For that SSD. Please note that the SSD you have chosen is NOT SATA III, it is SATA 3.0Gbps (SATA II is 3.0 Gbps, and SATA III is 6.0 Gbps confusing isn't it ;) ) I suggest that you get the OCZ Vertex 2 60GB. They are excellent speeds, excellent quality, and an excellent price at the moment. AMAZON:

Other than that, your build is fine. Please review my suggestions and post back if there are any issues

I just remembered too: is often a little cheaper for buying computer parts. If you have one of these stores nearby you might want to take a look at it.
October 24, 2011 12:45:14 AM

Best answer selected by hafheim.