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Low end build vs Prebuilt

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January 17, 2012 2:18:48 AM

Ive done some reading and formed my own conclusions, but want to get other opinions. I am deciding between a new build or a prebuilt system. From what I have read, there is not a significant cost savings when building a very low end system vs buying a prebuilt (prob Dell) system. This seems to be especially true when you dont have a hard drive or Windows 7 that can be used on the new machine, and that is the situation I am in. So all that under consideration here is my decision:

Approximate Purchase Date: This week to two months
Budget Range: $400-600
System Usage: Surfing internet; Excel; Light Gaming (Old school stuff, Ultima Online, 6 year old RPGs, I understand that if I want to play any game from the last few years I will need a massive overhaul), streaming Netflix
Parts Not Required: Keyboard, mousem speakers, monitor
Preferred Website: Newegg, Amazon, TigerDirect
Counrty: US
Parts Pref: If I build, I would probably go AMD for budget reasons
Overclocking: No
SLI CF: No
Monitor Res: 1920x1080

I am struggling between 3 options.

Option 1 ($500): Buy a Dell 620 with i5 2320, 6gb RAM, 500gb hard drive, windows7, the usual rest
I would then either add a Radeon 6450, or upgrade the power supply and add a slightly better card

Option 2 ($530): http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?I...

Buy this DIY combo and build it. Prob overkill for what I need, especially the GPU, then I would either have to buy Windows 7 or try and use the Windows 8 beta once it comes out (is that possible without owning Windows 7?)

Option 3 (~$450):

PS ($59): CORSAIR Builder Series CX500 V2 500W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU ($115-150): Either a Zambezi 4Core pr Llano
AMD FX-4100 Zambezi 3.6GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD A8-3870K Unlocked Llano 3.0GHz Socket FM1 100W Quad-Core Desktop APU with DirectX 11 Graphic AMD Radeon HD 6550D
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory ($40): Not sure about this, open to opinions
2 G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD ($85): Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MoBo ($~80): No clue here
Case ($40-50): Open to anything
DVD-R ($20) - Anything will do


So at the heart of the matter is build, overbuild or buy. My initial thoughts are that without having a hard drive to use or Windows 7, I may as well just buy new. That way I get a 2nd gen i5 and Windows 7 at the expense of a cheap power supply and ultra budget ram. Then in a year or two, or if I want to play newer games, I can roll forward the hard drive, OS, and processor and have a base to build from.

Does that idea make sense, or will I bet getting a better computer at a slightly cheaper price if I go with the budget build? Sorry for the long post and thanks for any help, let me know if I need to give any additional information. Also, I have never built from scratch before, but have updated plenty of components, and outside of dealing with bios I am fairly comfortable with the idea of builing, but definately do put some value on having it show up ready to go.

More about : low end build prebuilt

January 17, 2012 2:20:10 AM

You will have better quality parts and a longer warranty if you buy the parts separately and build the computer.
January 17, 2012 2:48:25 AM

I agree with azeem40. If you buy a pre-built, you have no control over the parts you are getting. You could be getting a bad mobo that dies prematurely, a junk PSU, etc. Try this build.

AMD A8-3870K Unlocked Llano 3.0GHz Socket FM1 100W Quad-Core Desktop APU with DirectX 11 Graphic AMD Radeon HD 6550D AD3870WNGXBOX $144.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Crucial Ballistix sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model BLS2KIT4G3D1609DS1S00 $44.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

COOLER MASTER HAF 912 RC-912-KKN1 Black SECC/ ABS Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case $59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CORSAIR Builder Series CX430 V2 (CMPSU-430CXV2) 430W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply $44.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS F1A75-M LE FM1 AMD A75 (Hudson D3) SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard with UEFI BIOS $89.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS 24X DVD Burner - Bulk 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS - OEM $18.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HITACHI HDS721050CLA362 (0F10381) 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $79.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM $99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: $584 before shipping and taxes (if applicable)
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January 17, 2012 3:07:28 AM

hp deskjet's build is nice, but I would switch the hard drive for maybe a Samsung if possible or failing that one of Seagate or Western Digital. Hitachi has the highest failure rates of all four of them and Samsung the best.

I would probably use an Antec EarthWatts 430 instead of the Corsair 430 as well.

Not super thrilled about having to go with Llano, but its not the worst thing in the world when you are on a low budget.

The Windows he chose isn't legal, and it would be a good idea to trade it out for an upgrade CD if you already have a legal copy of XP or Vista.
January 17, 2012 4:56:06 AM

hpdeskjet's build is nice
and i think windows is legal
but go with lower ram(6 or even 4) or it'll be a overkill
January 17, 2012 5:07:38 AM

ubicray said:
hpdeskjet's build is nice
and i think windows is legal
but go with lower ram(6 or even 4) or it'll be a overkill


Technically speaking the oem copies of windows are only legal when someone buys the system from you. That being said, you could give the system to your brother, wife, etc, and buy it from them for a dollar, and it would be legal.
January 17, 2012 5:25:37 AM

I wouldn't buy a dell if you're counting on upgrading it anyway. As you say the power supply is low quality, and the BIOS settings are inaccessible (well maybe this has changed nowadays, just my experience from quite a few years ago) , the case is difficult to work with and you don't get spare case fittings, SATA cables etc. Nothing wrong with going the pre-built option and you might get slightly more bang for your buck at this budget but if you already know you're going to upgrade it yourself I recommend you build it. That way you're saving money and headaches in the long term.
January 17, 2012 5:31:30 AM

While it would be a more powerful system if you built your own, having a prebuilt isn't nearly as horrible as some people make it seem. I used a Dell Inspiron 519 with an nVidia 9800gt for 4 years as my gaming rig, and never had any issues whatsoever with the parts. And as for their power supplies being low quality, the one that's in my Dell is a Delta, and they are known as one of the better PSU manufacturers, though that doesn't mean that's the brand they use in everything.

If you can and are willing to build your own system, it is the way to go. Just don't be scared away from using a well known companies pre built system.
January 17, 2012 3:36:42 PM

jeremyp1979 said:
Technically speaking the oem copies of windows are only legal when someone buys the system from you. That being said, you could give the system to your brother, wife, etc, and buy it from them for a dollar, and it would be legal.


Actually, no it isn't. Microsoft states this explicitly on their website.

Aside from the fact that the license can only be transferred once (from you to the brother/wife/etc) the single user clause prevents your brother/wife/etc from letting you be a user on the computer that they own.

http://www.microsoft.com/oem/en/licensing/sblicensing/p...

This link clearly is on Microsoft's official website and clearly is talking about /oem/ licenses, and it states right up at the top:

There is a growing market for "do-it-yourself" home PC hobbyists who assemble PCs from components for their own use. Microsoft retail software licenses are the appropriate licenses for the do-it-yourself market. OEM System Builder software is not intended for this use, unless the PC that is assembled is being resold to another party.

It can't get much more clear than that. If you want a DIY computer, you use a retail (non-OEM) license.

Trust me, Microsoft already thought of all the stupid licensing tricks people would try to pull and they are about 10 steps ahead of you. They don't have dozens of professional lawyers on staff just so people can squeeze by through loopholes.

Buying and using an OEM CD at least gives MSFT some money for their property which makes it better than straight up bit torrent downloading a hacked version of the OS for free, but it still isn't any sort of legal.

The cheapest legal thing for a DIY person to do is to acquire (or most likely already have acquired) a license of XP or Vista and then buy a legal upgrade CD. It costs the same as an OEM cd and it is completely legal. You just agree not to use the old prior version license anymore and you are fine.

- Edit - If you are on a micro budget and you need a legal copy of Windows to use on the PC, then it is extremely difficult to make a better computer than an OEM computer for less money. The only time it makes sense to build your own is when you get out of the micro budget range.

They pay rock bottom prices for parts and add a pretty wide margin on the sale. At the low end, their margin doesn't account for much in the way of RL $, as the parts get more expensive their margin goes up faster than the prices of the parts does. Once their margin becomes more than the cost of a legal OS license (~$100 for an upgrade CD) it becomes more efficient to just build it yourself. That point doesn't happen until you start to get into the high 3 figures range.
January 17, 2012 3:46:26 PM

i always go for building my own. that way you know every part is going to be a good quality part unlike the hardware they use in pre-built systems where they can put any cheap fail prone parts in it to cut costs. i am looking at you HP
January 17, 2012 3:49:00 PM

Ok then buy it for your Brother and just use it with his username :D 
January 17, 2012 4:23:33 PM

Tell your brother to buy everything and build it and sell it to you at cost.

That would be legal.

The elbow grease would have to be his, though, not yours.

It doesn't matter whose username is used by who. It matters that one legal entity uses the copy of the OS. For a corporation (a single legal entity) that means anyone in the corporation can use the copy of the OS (using the enterprise license, obviously).

You and your brother are separate legal entities. You have different SSNs, for example whereas everyone working at a company uses the singular EIN (equivalent to SSN for companies). Therefore you can't logon with his information and be using the OS in a legal way.

Feel free to actually read the license terms or consult with a lawyer trained in these sorts of laws.
January 17, 2012 4:32:07 PM

I do not think Microsoft is going to come in and bust down your doors to look at whos using the computer...stop the pettyness..

or just buy a student upgrade and get a copy to use for the upgrade, or have someone in college get you one.
January 17, 2012 4:39:22 PM

It isn't pettiness, according to the terms of use of this website, we cannot advise someone to do something illegal and if someone is suggesting an illegal thing that we should advise the legal thing to do instead.

I know there is a whole culture out there where doing illegal things is OK in the new millenium and all, but people should seek to do the right thing to the greatest extent possible.

Especially if the legal thing to do is no more costly than the illegal thing, which is the case quite often since upgrade CDs cost about the same as OEM CDs do and most people are using legal copies of Windows already.

Even if this website didn't specifically say that advising people to do illegal things was against the TOS, I would still advise people not to do illegal things.

Laws exist for a reason and that reason isn't just so people can happily break them. When laws are broken, society as a whole suffers.
January 17, 2012 7:21:48 PM

"Appropriate" and legal are two different things. I understand what MS says but that's not what they DO. They sell millions of copies via retail outlets like newegg... who are they selling these licenses to?
If MS really wanted to prevent you from buying and using an OEM version for your own computer, they would require a business license or such. They sell them to anyone though, and so have no legal ground.

A full retail copy, or for that matter a full retail UPGRADE copy, is a better way to go when possible, of course. XP Pro had a different licensing scheme... you can legally do a clean install of Win 7 upgrade as long as you have an XP Pro license that you "burn" in the process.
Full retail copies can be transferred to new systems, making them more valuable in the long run.

Here is some further reading on the subject:
http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/is-it-ok-to-use-oem-wind...;siu-container
January 17, 2012 8:09:46 PM

Be the confusion of this Ed Bott guy as it may, their policy seems to be pretty clear.

I can't find any conflicting information on the official Microsoft website saying that OEM licenses are OK.

If this Ed Bott guy is right about the timeline, that means that it has been a minimum of 2 years since any conflicting information has existed.

Moreso, according to him Microsoft has done everything within their power to get rid of all conflicting information from the Internet.

Sounds like a pretty clear position to me.

For my part, I am glad that they offer OEM system builder licenses to stores so that hobbyists trying to get a business going can buy them and install them on PCs they intend to sell to others.

It would be sad if such people legitimately trying to start businesses and employ people had an even harder time competing with DELL than they do now.

Such people could never be competitive if they had to pay full retail every time for Windows when DELL is paying 1/6 as much per license.

Not like it isn't hard enough for them as it is.

Additionally, I am not going to be me (or anyone who I have advised if I can help it) who MSFT is going to choose to make an example out of in their multi-million dollar piracy lawsuit.

I don't see how non-microsoft employees on microsoft forums (sorta like us here) saying something that directly contradicts the EULA can be "legally confusing". If a non-official source contradicts an official source, I don't think it is confusing.

In other news, it is legal in many places to sell police radar detectors, but it is not legal for whoever buys it to put it in their car. Unlike Microsoft, if the police catch you doing this they will throw the book at you for it.

This seems to be the same sort of situation to me. The onus is on the individual to do the legal thing. The onus is not on the store nor the manufacturer of the equipment to ensure that the laws are being followed.

I highly doubt "but I bought it off Amazon, so it must be legal" would actually hold up in court if MSFT suddenly decides to crack down by suing people in court.

Anyone who uses an OEM CD is clearly just rolling the dice and hoping they aren't called into court over it.

Even if you aren't called into court over it, it is still clearly wrong, regardless.

- Edit - Funny thing, I tried to find any other source other than Ed Bott who attempted to analyze this situation from a legal perspective and all I found so far is 100 pages that all link back to his page or use quotes from his page or things like that.
January 17, 2012 8:31:29 PM

You can build yourself a solid i3 rig for under $400 not counting OS.
I recently built mine for $350 and used some really decent quality parts.

Is there any way to make it legal to use an OEM copy for yourself?
I was under the impression it was okay as long as you don't rely on Windows support. PCMaximum with their builds always show Windows 7 OEM being used for personnel use.
January 17, 2012 8:50:44 PM

Near as I can tell, if somebody you know bought it and installed the OS on it, they could sell it to you at cost and it would be legal.

You would have to call that person for tech support instead of Microsoft, though.

Anyone who suggests OEM licenses for personal use must not read the license agreements very well, regardless of how high profile they are.
January 17, 2012 10:09:35 PM

Raiddinn said:
Near as I can tell, if somebody you know bought it and installed the OS on it, they could sell it to you at cost and it would be legal.

You would have to call that person for tech support instead of Microsoft, though.

Anyone who suggests OEM licenses for personal use must not read the license agreements very well, regardless of how high profile they are.


So it is perfectly legal by Microsoft terms for me to do this:

Have computer illiterate parent buy Windows 7 OEM; have her install it (me helping), and then I pay her for the price of Windows 7 OEM?
January 18, 2012 12:55:18 AM

She should probably do all of it by herself, to get rid of all sense of impropriety.

If you are doing the work, it sounds like you are the builder yourself.

These things are meant to be used by people who build and sell computers for a living, by the way. Just in case it is unclear.

Customers don't walk DELL through the install process.
January 18, 2012 1:14:11 AM

Raiddinn said:
She should probably do all of it by herself, to get rid of all sense of impropriety.

If you are doing the work, it sounds like you are the builder yourself.

These things are meant to be used by people who build and sell computers for a living, by the way. Just in case it is unclear.

Customers don't walk DELL through the install process.


I see. So I guess I could be in the clear if I built it, and then had her pay for the OEM windows and Install it, and then pay her for it.

January 18, 2012 1:22:35 AM

I doubt the defense would be solid in court.

It is better if you don't do any of the building yourself or assist in any way with it.

If I were Microsoft, I would make the case that anyone who assisted with the building was the "System Builder".
January 18, 2012 1:31:01 AM

Raiddinn said:
I doubt the defense would be solid in court.

It is better if you don't do any of the building yourself or assist in any way with it.

If I were Microsoft, I would make the case that anyone who assisted with the building was the "System Builder".


I am not looking for it to hold up in court, but to just be legal and comply with the EULA.
I built it, yes. So if I went to a PC Repair Shop and had them install Windows, and they put
on an OEM edition, that would be wrong (by EULA standards)?
January 18, 2012 1:42:48 AM

Find someone to do the whole process from start to finish without any help at all from you. That is the best thing I can tell you.
January 18, 2012 1:47:04 AM

Raiddinn said:
Find someone to do the whole process from start to finish without any help at all from you. That is the best thing I can tell you.


By whole process, you mean the whole install? Because the build is already done. LOL
January 18, 2012 1:55:34 AM

Yes, that is what I meant.

If you are going to be the system builder, you should definitely not use an OEM CD. Use an upgrade CD if you already own a copy of Windows XP or Vista or just use a regular retail copy.
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