performance:build or buy?

i need your opinion on this, guys. let's say i want to
spend about 1300$ on a new computer. what's better- build
the system myself or buy from the popular vendors like
gateway? what are the pros and cons? are there any good
vendors that can give me a custom configuration without
charging too much over the sum of the parts?
19 answers Last reply
More about performance build
  1. Short answer:
    I build my own. My recomendation will always be (unless some revolutionary event changes things) to build your own.

    From a performance standpoint, it's easy to build a better PC than the major desktop sellers (Dell, Sony, Compaq, ect.) produce.

    From a price standpoint, major sellers are sometimes hard to beat. Most major companies make their own motherboards and use the cheapest stuff on the market to build their computers. The ability to buy in bulk helps. Some companies use better parts, getting better performance and stability. However, this shows up in the price(Dell). Upgrading major brand PCs can be a real headache. Because they use every method available to cut cost, they often fail to support hardware not used in the initial setup.

    Another trick is vague specifications: "AMD 1 Ghz processor with 256 Mb Ram". What they don't tell you is they give you PC100 memory and a Duron 1 Ghz. Realize some companies are more specific, but most don't go through the effort of telling about the undesirable parts. This above example is in fact a rather old one. The point is, you will normally get the absolute minimum of what the specifications say.

    I was just begining to teach my cousin to build PCs. My philosophy is that people will never fully take advice on computers until they find out for themselves what works, doesn't, doesn't work well, or works very well. So I let him choose the parts.

    He managed to put together a system:
    K6-2+ 450 Mhz
    Gigabyte board
    128 Mb PC133 memory
    AIW 128 Pro
    SoundBlaster sound card
    Maxtor 20 Gb harddisk

    (all objects in <> were 'hidden' from the buyer)
    That stomped his family's Compaq:
    Athlon 700 Mhz
    <compaq proprietary motherboard>
    256Mb <PC100> memory
    <Intel graphic>
    40 Gb Harddisk
    <ESS Solo 1> (not bad cards)

    He can boot his and reboot it before theirs will boot.
    Granted computer maintenence played a small role and this is an extreme example, but a true one nonetheless.

    To sum things up quality parts are more valuable to you than sheer Mhz ratings. Take a look at Alienware or Falcon Northwest to figure out which parts too look for. You can get excellent computers from either of these, but you can build the exact same model yourself for quite a bit less money.

    Pain is the realization of your own weakness.
  2. Build. Right now building a pc yourself will be cheaper than buying one anywhere. Many companies list really cheap prices for computer especially on ebay and pricewatch. Most of them are cutting corners by using older motherboards(some are still using the k7s5a) or using micro-atx motherboards that have integrated everything. Building one yourself also lets you customize it with whatever you like. Most companies(if they have any) only offer a few choices regarding what type of motherboard, memory, cdrom, etc... you would like. Besides building computer is a learning experiance.

    "If you sign up for AOL now, we'll give you 1024 hours of slow service and disconnects free of charge"
  3. definately build your own.

    1 - You can choose the exact parts you want.
    2 - It will cost less
    3 - It will probably be faster!
    4 - You will learn a great deal, and be more confident of doing stuff if something goes wrong down the line, or u want to upgrade
    5 - modular, upgradable and expandable
    6 - The boast factor when your friends/relations see it.
    7 - Did i mention cheaper? :smile:

    <b>I am an Emotional and Intellectual Strumpet! :cool: </b>
  4. the only thing you miss out on is warantee. but the warantee comes with limits. if you open the case on most computers, you will break a warantee sticker and they wont support you if its broken.

    how do you shoot the devil in the back? what happens if you miss? -verbal
  5. I agree that you should buid. But, if you decide to buy make sure that your computer has an agp slot. My dad bought me an hp and is has only pci slots and onboard video although a did put a pci video card in its definitly not as good as agp
  6. As most have said already, building a computer is easy and cheap.

    If you do decide to buy a complete computer from a company, DO NOT buy Dell or Gateway. You will get [-peep-] parts from both companies, and there no way to get a top of the line system from them without going over $3000. They do not even garauntee that the will replace broken parts with new parts.

    I have ordered 3 computers from one company that I am absolutely thrilled about. You can essentially build ANY system and they will put it together for etc. I have not had to get service on them for any reason at all and they pay very close attention to detail in putting your system together.

    Check it out and tell me what you think.
  7. Also, I often find that companies such as dell and E-machines (Crap) often load up really bad pieces of software onto there computers that noone will ever use. When I reformatted my disk and reinstalled everthing as before (exactly) I had saved about 3gb of disk space which is a lot on my 19gb drive. And as a side disadvantage my e-machine came with a copy of windoes ME...

    My sig's faster than yours, and it overclocks better too....
  8. Build. You will get a box full of craps from Dell or other big brands for $1300. With this money, you can build a lot better system.

    <b><font color=red> Long live piracy! </font color=red></b>
  9. Agree with all the others, DIY (like my sig says ;-))
    If you don't feel comfortable building your computer (maybe it's your first time), ask a pro to build it and look how he is doing. Ask questions, why, how, etc. Next time you will be able to upgrade by yourself or build your new computer alone.

    Believe me, it's worth!

    DIY: read, buy, test, learn, reward yourself!
  10. Build your own. Most of what needs to be said has been said already. However, I can tell you why a warranty isn't worth your time. On many computers that you buy from a popular vendor it comes with an OS already installed. For example they often put Win ME on computers because they need to get rid of their copies in stock. If you choose to upgrade your OS they will not support a newer OS. So you are left with two options, live with an OS that causes more trouble than any tech support team can solve, or upgrade to an OS that runs well and not have any tech support.

    The better OS is the way I go and if you aren't getting support anyway, you may as well build your own.

    In a world without <font color=red>walls </font color=red>or <font color=green>fences </font color=green>, what use have we for <font color=red>Windows </font color=red>or <font color=green>Gates.</font color=green>
  11. Buy if you need the software, build otherwise.


    <font color=red>I'd like to dedicate this post to all my friends, family, and fans. Without them this post would never have been possible. Thank you!</font color=red>
  12. I can say this. I used to buy Dells, til I started becoming interested in computers. I decided at my next system would be built by me.

    I recently built that system, and I'll tell you; the feeling is indescribable. You just can't replace that feeling. The first time I powered up... well you know the feeling. It also saved money and gave me a sense of accomplishment. Took me only 4 hours from starting to finishing setting up the OS.

    So, yeah go ahead and build it.

    ...And all the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put my computer back together again...
  13. Yeah.

    If you already have all the software, then building a system is the best way to go.

    You can build an ass kicking gaming system for under $1000. Including a good 19" trinitron monitor.

    P4's @ 3600Mhz ()wNz J00 4LL!!!!!!
  14. Why I built mine:

    -Cheaper then buying
    -Better performance
    -Huge sense of pride (can show it off to friends as well)
    -Upgradeability and expandability
    -MUCH Cheaper ;)


  15. Hi, i used to buy, and spend around 2000 dollars for a new computer every year, then i found these forums, and thought i would give it a shot at building my own. about a year ago i spent about 600 dollars built myself a 1800+ system, and i must say i was scared to do this, but it was so easy, i will never buy another computer from places like dell, compaq, from now on i build. all i can say is give it a shot, it is not as hard as you think. and some of these guys here are a big help.

    I CANT TAKE IT ANYMORE,,<--- comes out of the closet screaming i am an AMD bieocth fan boy..
  16. I join the others. BUILD.

    Recent example that should be well within your specified budget. What you find on the market may vary:

    Ebay purchase: midtower 10 bay case (4 hidden+2 3.5) 4 5.25 slots) 450 W power supply under $60.00 delivered.
    Gigabyte GA8IEXP board under $150.00 delivered.
    This board is upgradable is primary reason. FSB will operate either 400 or 533. It has incorporated video, sound and network card which IMO equal qualilty of the vendors you cited, but board fearure can be shut off in favor of a card of your choice. Caution in selection of a AGP video card tho. Go for AGP 4X board video and avoid AGP 2X.
    DDR memory after rebate under $30.00 per PC2100 256 MB stick
    (was free the first of SEPT) We got 3 sticks
    CPU P4 of your choice. $150-$250 and up.
    16X DVD player under $50.00
    CDRW reader/writer under $50.00
    Floppy drive about $10.00
    Hard drive of your choice $50.00 to $100.00 after rebate.
    Keyboard and mouse under $50.00 probaly under $25 is you shop.

    This is a real life example as we did it. Most of the above I could do again. Sales and rebate offers vary by the week.

    Monitors are priced all over the place. I would say depending on your needs, under $300.00. We recently got some 17 inch monitors for under $100.00 and under $50.00 respectively.
    various cables under $50.00
    NEW and legal copy WIN XP in MS package with original key code $50 and up.
    Software of your choice may consume the balance of your budget depending on your shopping and what you have on hand.

    Before somebody says "prove it":
    <A HREF="" target="_new"> Ebay purchased computer case </A>
    <A HREF="" target="_new"> PriceWatch </A>
    <A HREF="" target="_new"> PriceGrabber </A>
    <A HREF="" target="_new"> FatWallet </A>

    Every working computer must be improved .... or replaced ...
  17. too bad you can't build a laptop!

    Life is irrelivent and irrational.

    <A HREF="" target="_new"> My Rig </A>
  18. Building is funner. If you don't think so, I have had good luck with They let you customize it yourself and the total price is low.

    John A
  19. prebuilt, rely on a do it right, cheaper (espesh if you need the OS & bundled SW/peripherals) but there will be a shortcoming somewhere, usually the soundcard is just onboard & cheap speakers

    DIY, you get out of it what you put in, buy the best get the best... have to buy at cost price rather than a co who get bulk orderings.

    no-one shouts louder than someone who is being ignored, or in the case of techies, to be heard over the noise of their PC's ;-)
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