Custom build or Store bought?

Now, i was really wondering if i should custom build my new comp, or just go out to best buy and get one already made. I've been planning on building my own, but the thing is, i've never built a comp before and i dont want to screw it up considering its going to be a gaming comp not just something im practicing on that wouldn't matter if i screwed up.
I posted on these forums asking for hardware suggestions, and i realize that if i custom build im going to need ALOT of parts. Case, fans, mobo, processor, ram, harddrive, dvd drive, cd burner, and parts that i dont even know if i need like system coolers (other then fans) and like heatsinks which i hear about but i dont even know what they are!!

But, if i go to best buy i can go get a p4 2.8ghz, 512mb ram, cd/dvd burner, 160gb hd, probably 1 fan, for like 900 all ready for me.

What shall this newb do?
29 answers Last reply
More about custom build store bought
  1. Three things:
    1. What's your budget?
    2. How much time do you have on your hands?
    3. Do you have any friends that have experience building them?
  2. There is no doubt that the better choice is to build your own, because this way it will cheaper and also you can get exactly what you want. On the other hand, since you haven't tried this before I am only suggesting that you go for it only if you have a friend that can help you. If there is nobody, then I think it's a risk and I wouldn't reccomend it. It's not something too difficult but since this is the first time that you will be building a system, you'll need a lot of help by someone that has done it before.
  3. There are a few things to consider...

    I think that pre-built systems (Dell, Gateway etc..) are generally a bit cheaper, my build cost me more than I thought it would. The problem with the pre-built systems is that they tend to be a little less 'upgradeable'. If you build a system yourself, you know exactly what is in it and you should know what your future options are as well. Obviously with a pre built system you generally get a bunch of bundled software, some of which is usefull.

    Warranty and tech support would be included in a pre-built system...your tech support for a home build is right here at THG :smile:

    It depends on your knowledge of computers, I found it quite rewarding to build my own, I am constantly tinkering...
  4. I don't know what kind of system is this, but what I know is that it is IMPOSSIBLE for a pre-built system to be cheaper than a custom made system. Show me an example that says the contrary !!!
  5. Here's the thing. Building a pc isn't hard. Getting everything configured correctly (drivers and such) is actually harder than putting all the hardware togeather. There are however, ALOT of simple small things that can go wrong that can seriously flusterate you while building a pc if you aren't experienced in figuring out what the problem is exactly. Most of us here would be more than willing to give you a hand if you run into any problems if you post on the forum, so hang on to yer old pc until your new one is built. I took the build your own pc plung back in the late 80s on a 3200$ system (massive 486dx50 hoo-rah!). It took me a few tries to get it right, I forgot some basic things like setting the master/slave/standalone on the ide drives, but I did get it togeather and it did perform quite a bit better than anything storebought would have performed (I had *boggle* 4mb of video ram! and a 2400 baud wang internal modem!) I've never looked back and it actually started me down the roading of doing comp sci as a career.

    If you feel you can be patient and ask questions if something doesn't go right the first time, if you feel you won't panic if it doesn't turn on when you hit the power the first time, and if you feel like you think you can do it... try, it's really not that hard.

    If you get a sinking sickening feeling in your stomache and you are afraid to try, don't do it. You'll just stress yourself out and ruin a fun experience because you weren't ready to do that yet.

    You will need the following parts (some may be integrated on the motherboard however)

    CPU (amd or intel)
    CPU Fan (Buy a RETAIL CPU package and it will come with a decent fan.)
    RAM (2 chips totaling the ammount of ram you want if dual ddr)
    Motherboard (make sure its the right mobo for the chip type!)
    Video Card (or integrated)
    Sound Card (or integrated)
    Hard Drive (SATA or IDE)
    Floppy Drive (Optional, but I'd recommend one)
    CD-Rom (Optional, but I'd recommend one)
    Case (Pick a good one with most of the fans built in)
    Power Supply (A good one is critical)
    Monitor (if you already have one you're going to use skip this)
    2 Power Cables (Usually get 1 with Case and Monitor both)
    1 IDE Cable Per 2 IDE Devices (Usually comes with motherboard)
    1 Backpanel for case (Usually comes with motherboard)
    1 CD Audio cable for each cd/dvd drive (Usually get with Drive)
    1 Tube of good thermal paste (don't get thermal glue... artic silver is good for intels, amd actually has recommendations you must abide by and artic silver voids the warrenty)
    2 dozen thumbscrews to make life easier. (Thumbscrew good)

    You may need to purchase case fans to untilize all the open spaces inside your case for fans, but that isn't a requirement. You won't need to purchase any heatsinks. The motherboard, vidcard, soundcard, ram, etc all come WITH fans/heatsinks as required and unless you are overclocking quite a bit, they are sufficent. The cpu will also come with a fan/heatsink if you bought a retail chip, if you bought oem you're going to need thermal compound and a aftermarket fan/heatsink combo.

    That's pretty much the list, I'm sure I'm forgetting something off the top of my head, but its the vast majority. Oh and a bit of patience :)

  6. I don't see how buying all retail components and assembling them yourself is cheaper than buying from an OEM.

    Don't get me wrong... I would never buy a Dell, HP, IBM or anything pre-built. However, when building my comp, I selected all retail components... for warranty purposes. Knowing that OEM components are cheaper, I don't see how I could build a PC cheaper than I could buy one. My computer cost me a lot more than $699; and I bought all of my parts wholesale. If I had sold it all retail at the time, it probably would have cost the customer at least $2500 (CDN) retail.

    Here's what I have:

    SPI 350W PS
    Lian-Li PC6089A alumninum case
    Gigabyte 8INXP motherboard
    Intel Pentium 4B 2.53GHz
    512MB PC2700 DDR-RAM
    ATi Radeon 9700 Pro
    Sound Blaster Audigy 2 OEM
    WD 60GB HD (8MB cache)
    LG DVD/CD-RW combo (16x DVD 48x24x48 CD/RW)
    Floppy drive

    Now granted, I could have saved a bundle by going with a cheaper case... but I still think an equivalent system from an OEM probably would have been a bit cheaper. I just don't like the trade-offs that come with getting an OEM comp.

    <font color=red> If you design software that is fool-proof, only a fool will want to use it. </font color=red>
  7. Do you know any one who has build a puter before? You don't know anyone. PM Crashman and ask him if he can build it for you.
  8. aight, for example, THIS hp costs $799.00:

    Intel 2.6c Processor w/HT
    WinXP Home
    512MB PC2700 DDR SDRAM
    120GB UDMA HD
    48x24x48x CD-RW
    16X DVD-ROM
    V.92 Fax/Modem
    10/100 Base-T Network Card
    7-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader
    Integrated Intel Extreme Graphics
    Integrated AC97 Sound
    HP Mouse/Keyboard
    Case/350w PS

    Lets build this pc... (gag):
    Intel 2.6c Processor w/HT - $169
    WinXP Home - $131.00 (could really go oem for $79)
    512MB PC2700 DDR SDRAM - $72 (2xSamsung 256mb)
    120GB UDMA HD - $78 (maxtor)
    48x24x48x CD-RW - $33 (compaq even)
    16X DVD-ROM - $24 (compaq even)
    HP Mouse/Keyboard - $23 (Aspire PS/2 Black Optical Combo Set)
    7-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader - $27 (mitsumi)
    V.92 Fax/Modem - $8 (Lucent 56k v.92)
    Motherboard - $79 (IS-10)
    [Integrated] 10/100 Base-T Network Card
    [Integrated] Intel Extreme Graphics
    [Integrated] AC97 Sound
    Case - $45.00 (Raidmax Model 268WUP w/350W PS)
    Total - $687.00 (that price includes S&H)

    and mind, I wouldn't touch that system with someone elses hands.

    The actual arguement isn't so much that it's cheaper to build your own, the arguement is that you get a much better pc using a given ammount of money building your own than you would buying it from a manufacturer.

    Personally, I'd be more inclined to go with something like...

    Motherboard - Abit IS7-E - 85.00
    Processor - Intel 2.6C 800 MHZ FSB - 169.00
    Ram1 - Corsair CMX256A-3200C2 - 59.00
    Ram2 - Corsair CMX256A-3200C2 - 59.00
    Video Card - ATI Radeon 9600 Pro 128mb 8xAGP - 134.00
    Hard Disk - Western Digital WD1200JB 120GB 8MB 7200RPM - 93.00
    Case - Raidmax Model 268WUP w/350W PS - 45.00
    CD-RW - Lite-On 52x32x52x - 32.00
    Floppy - Teac 1.44 Floppy Drive - 12.00
    KB/M - Logitech Optical Desktop KB/M - 28.00
    Windows XP - Home Edition - 131.00 (Again, only $79 really)
    Sound - AC97 Integrated
    Total - $847.00 Inc/S&H

    Oh and the 47$ extra, you can tack at least a portion of that for s&h on the hp system (if you get it online) otherwise this system is just 47$ more because I wanted a decent ps in the case and a nice looking case and a decent vid card on it with some extra fans to cool the case... oh yah and this isn't running at 533mhz fsb like the hp.

    Edit: So you can buy a hp for 800, the same system performance wise for 690 if you build it, or a system that would eat either of those for breakfest before they had even bothered to boot up for 850. Yah definetly it's cheaper to buy from an oem... *cough*

    Shadus<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by shadus on 12/08/03 02:50 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
  9. You have to start sometime. Better sooner than later. Put it of now and you risk sinking into the dark and ignorant masses of technicaly unaware people forever.

    <font color=blue>If the <font color=yellow>laurel</font color=yellow> is to big for your head, it becomes a hoola-hoop, and you have to keep your butt really busy.</font color=blue>
  10. One way of getting into it is to go to BB and get a cheap comp and then later you can start nosing around inside, reading up on stuff, buying new parts to upgrade (like a video card for starters, you'll be lucky to get a FX5200 in a BB comp).

    <A HREF="" target="_new">My PCs</A> :cool:
  11. It's easy to do. There's no soldering or anything, all the parts have obvious slots they fit in with notches to make sure you get them in the right way. If you have a computer already (which I'm sure you do as you're posting on here), then keep it on and tuned into the forums so you can ask questions as you build.

    Some day I'll be rich and famous for inventing a device that allows you to stab people in the face over the internet.
  12. Well
    Motherboard - I've heard good things about that, so seems fine to me
    Processor - I wanted to get around 3.2, so i guess i could oc a 2.6 to 3.2
    Ram1 - I wanted to use two 512mb of sumtin, not sure if PC3200 will be good. Someone told me i needed like PC4000 to overclock to 3.2
    Video Card - I already have a NVidia Geforce FX 5600 Ultra, i bought it for like 100 bucks at fry's electronics.
    Hard Disk - The western 120gb 8mb buffering 7200rpm i've heard good things about.
    Case - All i know is i want a nice, sturdy case, with at least 5 fans.
    CD-RW - That lite-on seems fines to me considering i'd rarly use it anyways.
    Floppy - i rarly use that too
    KB/M - Logitech Optical Desktop KB/M seems good enough
    I already have Windows XP Professional
    Sound - I wanted something quality so ??

    I play lots of online gaming, so i wanted some good speed and upgrading/overclocking ability. Already having windows xp and the vid card saves me some money, so some other parts can get increased (not sure which, you tell me :) or i could just save the money)and i have around 1,100 to spend, so i wanted to get something good!
    Also, i dont know what OEM means :)

    Motherboard - Abit IS7-E - 85.00
    Processor - Intel 2.6C 800 MHZ FSB - 169.00
    Ram1 - Corsair CMX256A-3200C2 - 59.00
    Ram2 - Corsair CMX256A-3200C2 - 59.00
    Video Card - ATI Radeon 9600 Pro 128mb 8xAGP - 134.00
    Hard Disk - Western Digital WD1200JB 120GB 8MB 7200RPM - 93.00
    Case - Raidmax Model 268WUP w/350W PS - 45.00
    CD-RW - Lite-On 52x32x52x - 32.00
    Floppy - Teac 1.44 Floppy Drive - 12.00
    KB/M - Logitech Optical Desktop KB/M - 28.00
    Windows XP - Home Edition - 131.00 (Again, only $79 really)
    Sound - AC97 Integrated
    Total - $847.00 Inc/S&H
  13. Well, i do know someone who has built a computer before, and is really good at it, but he moved to another state. Also, i know someone at school who builts comps, but 1) i don't really know him that well and 2) he just fiddles with junky comps and tends to have problems with the finished product.
    I was wondering if just using the phone for help would be fine, or did someone actually need to be here? Cuz i get free long distance on my cell phone and could easily call one of you comp dudes for help :)
  14. Just my two cents, but the computer im using is the third i have built. i used to buy those compaq, dell, gateway computers, but there is nothing like building your own. not only is it cheeper, but you know what your getting. and the possibilities are just about endless. give it a shot it is not as hard as you think, and you can get support from all kinds of forums. oh,,,, and it is hella fun

    assumption is the mother of all *uckups
  15. I wouldn't get the IS7-E, I'd get the IS7. It cost around $10 more and includes Intel's ICH5R with SATA RAID controller, and a 1394 Firewire controller.

    <font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
    <font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
  16. There is a guide to building a pc on this site.. now it's a bit outdated.. but all in all its still the same.
    I taught myself how to build a pc back in the day.. off of the web. So i'm sure anyone can do the same.

    You can build a good system for prolly 800 dollars since you have a vid card and windows already. That's if you're going intel. AMD will always be cheaper and if you are planning on OC'ing then most likely would be your better bet for saving cash.
    But.. it would be nice to have one of those AMD fx chips. :)

    If you build your own.. just make sure to use the plastic mounting screws that your case provides.. and not metal screws. Or you'll be shorting your mobo out in a heartbeat.
    Learned that the hardway...cuz i r idgit.

    p4 2.8 533fsb
    intel mobo
    1gb rdram pc 800
    radeon9800 pro
    120gb seagate s-ata
  17. Hehe... This is a forum filled with enthusiest, so I'd imagine that most people will tell you to build. My opinion is this:

    If you enjoy screwing around with computers, are picky about your hardware, have the time & patience to build, and have the ability to support your machine -- build.

    If not, buy a DELL.

    Do not, under any circumstance, buy a Compaq presario. I'm a programmer by profession, but the last company I worked for also did warranty work for HP and Compaq (now they have merged) and the Presarios were absolute junk. My buddy bought one (despite my protests) and his Athlon 1900 came with a whopping 200W power supply!!!

    Here's the deal:

    If you buy a PC from Best Buy, I GUARANTEE that they will not use componants that are of the quality you'd buy for yourself. This includes slower/cheaper memory, skimpy power supply, proprietary case, etc.

    They will cut corners. People come into the store and look at the following things: Memory, HD, and CPU. They *might* look at the graphics and/or sound card... but often times they don't.

    My WD Special edition 80GB HD > a cheapo maxtor 5400 80GB HD
    My Corsair DDR400 memory > cheap/slow compaq memory

    Unless you spend a fortune on an alienware type machine that is built for demanding gamers, you can expect these things.


    Not everyone wants to worry about all this crap, and that's OK. While people here are overclocking and trying to squeeze another 10% of performance out of their machines... most people just want something that works. A slower HD and slower memory might drag you down a little, but maybe that little boost doesn't mean so much to you.

    In this case, buy a DELL.

    In my experience, they use solid componants and MOST IMPORTANTLY, they offer good support. I've had HP's, Compaqs, Gateways (my company gets me these machines) and their support sucks. If you need a part, you have to jump through all kinds of hoops. If you buy a DELL, you will pay more up front, but the support will make up for it in the end.

    Most people overlook support. It's not something tangible, but it's a VERY important aspect of a new machine if you aren't comfortable supporting it yourself.

    Lastly... I prefer to build my own machines. I enjoy playing around with them, trying to squeeze out that extra 10%. I also enjoy knowing EXACTLY what's inside and having the things that I specifically want. It's no different from people who hotrod cars or whatever.... it's a hobby and it's definitely the way to go if it's something you enjoy :)
  18. nooo don't tell people to get DELLED!!!! that's just wrong! how could u! DELLING people!!! may u burn in computer building hell!!

    RIP Block Heater....HELLO P4~~~~~
    120% nVidia Fanboy
    FX5700Ultra, the next Ti4200? seems so
  19. This might be a idea if you want to build a computer Look into getting upgrading and repairingpcs 15th edtion. Its this years book so it updated. Talks about everything to p4 3.2 ghz northwood to athlon64. It just missed the p4 3.2 with L2. Thing is they have it setup where it you can download updates. Look at in the book store. It will tell you have to build and how to fix problem.
  20. Building a P.C is not hard if you can understand what the motherboard manual is explaining to you for connecting all the wires and cables.
    If you know what each component is an what its function is then you could install them to the correct locations.
    BIOS settings that detail the new hardware so it functions correctly is another matter.
    I would agree with Pitsi that you should have a friend that has some experience setting up BIOS settings and loading system drivers.

    If you think you want to try this on your own you can email me at I will mail you back my telephone number and any help you need installing the hardware you can ask me.

    Barton 3200+ 400MHz
    A7N8X Deluxe
    2x512 KinstonHyperX PC3200
    GeForce FX5900
    Maxtor DiamondMaxPlus9@80Gig
    SONY CD 52x
    SONY RW 52x/24x/52x
    SONY DVD 16x/40x
  21. Here's my suggestion, you definitely have enough knowledge of computers to post questions here in this forum so I suggest you BUILD. The experience you get will be the money you save when it's time to upgrade. There is basically no difference as far as money is concerned if you buy a complete set. building on the other hand gets you hands-on experience on the inside of your computer. Have you ever bought a car without opening the hood? Needless to say, you then have a tailor-built PC to your specifications and needs when you build. :smile: The XPerience is FREE. And WORTH it!!!

    I will never buy a complete PC again from any store! One thing, have somebody next to you who has the patience, understanding and experience with computers, just in case you get into a jam.

    Or post here.

    <A HREF="" target="_new"><font color=blue>My System </font color=blue></A>
    <b><font color=blue>VAGABOND<font color=blue></b>

    <b><font color=blue>Just horsing around!!!<font color=blue></b>
  22. ROFL
  23. As Crash said IS7. Ram buy OCZ PC4000 copper.
  24. Yah the pc4000 would be better if you're going to oc very far. A good case also is an antec lanboy or a xaser III. If you want alot of fans go with the xaser. As far as sound goes try the Audigy 2 ZS... gaming wise its bout the best sound there is, for an audiophile its a bit lacking though... you'd have to ask someone else for a good option for an extreme audiophile. If you're going to seriously oc and want the best performance possible you may want to go with a IC7 or P4C800 Deluxe instead of the i865 solution (there are very good oc's on both really).

  25. Quote:
    I don't know what kind of system is this, but what I know is that it is IMPOSSIBLE for a pre-built system to be cheaper than a custom made system. Show me an example that says the contrary !!!

    I guess what I was getting at was that I wouldn't build a computer with 'cheap' parts like OEM's do...Always buy a good quality psu, good memory, high quality drives, a good vid card (as opposed to integrated), good heatsink and fan, and a mobo capable of some overclocking etc..

    Sure you could build one for less, but what quality would it be...

    <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by spitoon on 12/09/03 07:25 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
  26. Right on! Don't tell him to get Delled Gipnor!!

    [sarcasm]The only way to go is to get a Mac![/sarcasm]

    I think I'm going to throw up.<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Vapor on 12/09/03 01:06 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
  27. I would go home built. Some of the store or OEM PC's maybe cheaper, but you have to look at all the parts. Typically store bought PC's may not have a higher end motherboard and may not be able to overclock at all, or just a little bit, due to trying to keep the cost of the motherboard down... If you look at the gamer boards say an ASUS Republic of Gamers board (ROG) or the higher end MSI boards... If you look at the ROG boards in the reviews, you usually find those run the fastest and most configureable. Also you will pick out good memory brand, where the store bought may not use Corsair or G.Skill or other high end parts... they probably use generic RAM. Also check the HDD specs.. 5400, 7200, 10,000RPM?? I find the OEM/Store bought offer what sounds like good packages, but in the end, most tend to be generic and work ok at stock, but anything more and trouble for me would happen. I have built 12 PC's for friends and family, and it is easy to wire it up. Everything will fit only where it needs to go, so you have little to worry about.

    I would invest in a GREAT motherboard, a Great Processor, good video card, and great memory. That is the foundation to an awesome PC. You may choke a little when investing in an ASUS ROG board, but ever since I used one ROG to build an AMD system, that board what just amazing in every way... I loved the idea of having a plug to into a port on the back, and plug into the USB port on a laptop, and when you booted up you could watch it post on the laptop and even overclock it on the fly while the thing is running, the laptop will have access to everything needed to OC. It had some other great features, such as a GREAT sound card and the layout was among the best. The other ROG I had survived 3 processor upgrades and I just changed out the CPU/GPU and I was back with a fast system that would put me back on top. Also you will know everypart in your PC and that will help you alot.

    Sorry about the rambling, but if your going to do it right, lay a good foundation... and if you have to rework the top, you can do so in steps...

  28. This topic has been moved from the section CPU & Components to section Systems by Mousemonkey
  29. dude..... it is from 2003
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