Pre-Built High-End PCs vs. Custom Built High End PCs

Hi, so for software development, I have noticed that my 2005 rig is severely outdated and a new PC would be needed. There are a few questions that I need to ask however.

1 Are multiple cores (8+) needed for software developement?

2 What is the median price range?

3 Are workstation graphics necessary for this type of usage that does not include any 3D graphics?


All of this development is being done with a friend of mine who believes that these kind of high-end workstations should be bought prebuilt from PC manufacturers like Dell, Apple, IBM to avoid "low quality products" and for "better cooling". I've followed Tom's Hardware for quite a while to know that high quality products are easy to find and don't malfunction haphazardly. My friend who has 15+ years in PC building although does not believe this and says that it is obligatory to buy these 5000$+ machines for better quality. Is there anyone who has had malfunctions with their custom built rig using quality products? and has anyone had malfunctions with their pre-built workstations? Is it worth spending more money for pre-built PCs as opposed to custom-built rigs?

Also, can someone suggest a good PC build for me? The range is about $5000 US . AMD or Intel. Workstation graphics are not necessary however there is some gaming for me and I am eyeing the AMD 7950 0r 7970 right now. I have an unused 1 TB Seagate Baracuda hard disk that I can use. SSDs are a maybe, unless the Seagate is not fast enough on it's own. I have no monitors.
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  1. Honestly what I tell people is that a lot of times pre built computers may not use the greatest components. I've see a few of them motherboards shot after a year or so. You don't have to spend a lot to get a nice system, something like an i5 and a nice board with that 7950 and 8 gb of ram should serve you well.
  2. A custom build allows you to pick your parts, and ensure high quality components, something not guaranteed with a prebuilt system.

    What type of development will you be doing? I can't say what type of horsepower you need without more info, but if you are working on a 2005 system now, you probably don't meed much. You would be surprised how far $1000 goes in a custom build.
  3. Best answer
    There are pluses for both sides. Including a third choice.

    A pre-built is great as long as you know ALL the parts going into it. I have found that lots of times you will get a mixture of quality and not quite to spec parts so they can keep the overhead down. The good part is IF it comes with a great warranty, and shipping doesn't cost you an arm and a leg, then if something goes wrong with it they will fix it for you. However, you have all the down time while they do. This option has always been last on my list if I can help it.

    If you build it yourself and you know what you're doing then you KNOW all the parts are going to be quality parts without the unbranded parts stuck in. Plus, if something goes wrong you should be able to trouble shoot it yourself or here at tom's and this should help reduce the downtime. As long as you use quality parts and get compatible components you should not have any problems with it. I have built a few and every now and then I've had an issue or two but for the most part, everything works as it's designed, performs as planned and lasts a good long time.

    The other option that hasn't been mentioned is to go, (physically or online), to a place that builds them to order. You supply the parts list, including all the components brand names and specifications and THEY build it for you. There is usually some back and forth before the build is done for clarification and compatibility issues but the idea is that it gets build by someone who's competent and has experience with the added benefit of you knowing the parts are ALL quality components. They build it, test it, and usually give you a guarantee that it will work for you. Even if you have to pay a little extra for it, it keeps your hands out of the machine. But again, you have to weigh the possible down time and expenses if it needs to be sent off.

    In any of these cases, I wouldn't recommend any LESS than 4 cores with hyper-threading enabled (8 Cores theoretically) Anything less is starting to be obsolete. Even though not many processes use all those cores, that's just the trend. The new Haswell coming out only has 1 or 2 of the 14 new chips with less than 4 cores, and these are being geared toward tablets and ultrabooks. So I'd want at least that much in a desktop. And to top it off - Go with the Intel cpu. At this point in the game they can't be beat for performance by any stretch of the imagination.

    As for the graphics?? The new ivybridge has them built in, including 3D (if ever needed), and you can put your graphic card in for gaming, Get a motherboard that has the hybrid graphics so when the demand for graphics is low it will use the on-die graphics while saving on the power bill and while gaming, if graphic intensive, the video card will jump in and supply whatever it's capable of for your needs.

    If your friend has 15+ years experience at building computers why does he build them if it's better to buy them premade? Who does he build them for? Just curious. Maybe he doesn't want to build a $5,000 computer and be responsible if something goes wrong - it's ALWAYS a possibility no matter who builds it.

    Anyway, figure out which way you want to go and then we can go from there. I don't want to go to all the trouble to put together a parts list and you decide to go with prebuilt lol. OH, as for medium price range?? Your probably looking at closer to $2,500/$3,000 unless you're including Liquid cooling, Multiple cpu's and or multiple monitor setups and all that.
  4. Best answer selected by Exemery.
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