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Building a PC - Need Help from PC Experts

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Postby beanoX3 » Mon Nov 27, 2006 8:08 pm

I've built my own computer for the past 8 years, and a bunch for my friends and family. If you do it right, it can be done cheaply and easily.

Main thing, don't skimp on power supply and heat management, especially if you're getting an Intel CPU. Get a good, well known brand of power supply. So often, people settle for a cheap $10 PSU that comes with a case and it fails, causing a bunch of headaches. If you're a beginner, it helps to have someone with experience next to you, but if you can find good instructions on the internet, you can get by.

The main thing you lose out on when building yourself is software, mainly the OS and a productivity bundle. Generally, the hardware can be bought cheaply, but in the end, the software cost equals or comes out to cost more than a pre-built computer from Dell, Gateway, HP, etc. Other option then is to go with a boutique store (like Falcon Northwest, Voodoo, etc), but they cost a bit more since they use better quality parts than the mass production brands.

So to answer your questions:
1) Depends on what you plan to use it for, but yes it's worth it.

2) Also depends on how good you are with tools and instructions, but computer parts aren't as fragile as they used to be. Follow instructions and guides, and anyone can do it really.

3) Hardware is cheap and can be much cheaper than store bought brands. But generally, the higher you get in performance, the more it costs the same as buying a high performance computer from a boutique store. Top of the line computer cost about the same as one from a place like Voodoo in the end as a home-built. As long as you don't opt for the $500 Ferrari red paint job that is, lol. Software costs can tack on a lot more than expected too. Also lose out on bundles and included stuff like printers, monitor, speakers, but after some time and effort searching, they can be found cheap too.

Overall, depending on what you plan to use it for, it's worth it. If you plan on using it for internet browsing and email, may as well buy the $400 HP from Walmart. But for gaming and video stuff, it's great and it's future-proof if you choose parts right.
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Postby bobbing_headz » Mon Nov 27, 2006 8:29 pm

beanoX3 wrote:I've built my own computer for the past 8 years, and a bunch for my friends and family. If you do it right, it can be done cheaply and easily.

Main thing, don't skimp on power supply and heat management, especially if you're getting an Intel CPU. Get a good, well known brand of power supply. So often, people settle for a cheap $10 PSU that comes with a case and it fails, causing a bunch of headaches. If you're a beginner, it helps to have someone with experience next to you, but if you can find good instructions on the internet, you can get by.

The main thing you lose out on when building yourself is software, mainly the OS and a productivity bundle. Generally, the hardware can be bought cheaply, but in the end, the software cost equals or comes out to cost more than a pre-built computer from Dell, Gateway, HP, etc. Other option then is to go with a boutique store (like Falcon Northwest, Voodoo, etc), but they cost a bit more since they use better quality parts than the mass production brands.

So to answer your questions:
1) Depends on what you plan to use it for, but yes it's worth it.

2) Also depends on how good you are with tools and instructions, but computer parts aren't as fragile as they used to be. Follow instructions and guides, and anyone can do it really.

3) Hardware is cheap and can be much cheaper than store bought brands. But generally, the higher you get in performance, the more it costs the same as buying a high performance computer from a boutique store. Top of the line computer cost about the same as one from a place like Voodoo in the end as a home-built. As long as you don't opt for the $500 Ferrari red paint job that is, lol. Software costs can tack on a lot more than expected too. Also lose out on bundles and included stuff like printers, monitor, speakers, but after some time and effort searching, they can be found cheap too.

Overall, depending on what you plan to use it for, it's worth it. If you plan on using it for internet browsing and email, may as well buy the $400 HP from Walmart. But for gaming and video stuff, it's great and it's future-proof if you choose parts right.


Very helpful stuff. Thanks beanoX. I am wanting to gear it more towards gaming (cause the one I have now is absolute junk for that).
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Postby A Fleshner Fantasy » Mon Nov 27, 2006 10:07 pm

If you really know what you are doing, you can probably save a fair amount of money. However, this will take a lot of reasearch- probably more than anyone here can explain to you, so depending on you financial situation, ability to assemble things, and time/patience for it, it really depends.
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Postby joelamosobadiah » Mon Nov 27, 2006 10:08 pm

bobbing_headz wrote:
beanoX3 wrote:I've built my own computer for the past 8 years, and a bunch for my friends and family. If you do it right, it can be done cheaply and easily.

Main thing, don't skimp on power supply and heat management, especially if you're getting an Intel CPU. Get a good, well known brand of power supply. So often, people settle for a cheap $10 PSU that comes with a case and it fails, causing a bunch of headaches. If you're a beginner, it helps to have someone with experience next to you, but if you can find good instructions on the internet, you can get by.

The main thing you lose out on when building yourself is software, mainly the OS and a productivity bundle. Generally, the hardware can be bought cheaply, but in the end, the software cost equals or comes out to cost more than a pre-built computer from Dell, Gateway, HP, etc. Other option then is to go with a boutique store (like Falcon Northwest, Voodoo, etc), but they cost a bit more since they use better quality parts than the mass production brands.

So to answer your questions:
1) Depends on what you plan to use it for, but yes it's worth it.

2) Also depends on how good you are with tools and instructions, but computer parts aren't as fragile as they used to be. Follow instructions and guides, and anyone can do it really.

3) Hardware is cheap and can be much cheaper than store bought brands. But generally, the higher you get in performance, the more it costs the same as buying a high performance computer from a boutique store. Top of the line computer cost about the same as one from a place like Voodoo in the end as a home-built. As long as you don't opt for the $500 Ferrari red paint job that is, lol. Software costs can tack on a lot more than expected too. Also lose out on bundles and included stuff like printers, monitor, speakers, but after some time and effort searching, they can be found cheap too.

Overall, depending on what you plan to use it for, it's worth it. If you plan on using it for internet browsing and email, may as well buy the $400 HP from Walmart. But for gaming and video stuff, it's great and it's future-proof if you choose parts right.


Very helpful stuff. Thanks beanoX. I am wanting to gear it more towards gaming (cause the one I have now is absolute junk for that).

Well then for gaming you have three options really.

1. Custom Build
2. Alienware
3. Custom Shop locally
;-D

What price range are you looking at?
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Postby Twisted Sister » Mon Nov 27, 2006 10:24 pm

I respectfully disagree... when it comes to high-end computers - YOU SAVE A TON BUILDING.

Check it out for yourself:

1) Go over to alienware, dell, and any other custom site.
2) Customize the computer to what you want
3) Review the specs
4) then price the exact specs (piecemeal) on newegg.com

It is crazy how much they profit from hardcore gamers. I priced a system on dell and alienware for about $4500

Cost to build (same configuration)... $2500

Again... that's $2500

Savings $2 grand. 8-o

Don't believe me... here's a simple test. Just go and put in a memory upgrade from 1 GB to 2 GB... they charge 2x's the amount of just doing it yourself. It's worse than buying options for a new car. :-t

I saw a program with the CEO of Alienware and Dell... they both acknowledged that the real profit margins in the computer industry (the complete box) is from high-end game machines. The Alienware CEO was BRAGGING that the customers just have a lot of money, but not a lot of knowledge or patience to build themselves.

The only time you should forget about building is for real low-end. You won't break even.

As far as software... other than the OS ($139)... the rest of the software included on PCs is a bunch of useless junk or spamware. Do I need Encarta? Do I need free AOL for a year?

Just give me the OS and I'll load the programs I need... I have to buy them anyhow (the useful ones never come standard).

I'm also going to build a new system... just waiting to see how Vista shakes out. I'll probably build in Feb or March.
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Postby joelamosobadiah » Mon Nov 27, 2006 10:35 pm

Twisted Sister wrote:I respectfully disagree... when it comes to high-end computers - YOU SAVE A TON BUILDING.

Check it out for yourself:

1) Go over to alienware, dell, and any other custom site.
2) Customize the computer to what you want
3) Review the specs
4) then price the exact specs (piecemeal) on newegg.com

It is crazy how much they profit from hardcore gamers. I priced a system on dell and alienware for about $4500

Cost to build (same configuration)... $2500

Again... that's $2500

Savings $2 grand. 8-o

Don't believe me... here's a simple test. Just go and put in a memory upgrade from 1 GB to 2 GB... they charge 2x's the amount of just doing it yourself. It's worse than buying options for a new car. :-t

I saw a program with the CEO of Alienware and Dell... they both acknowledged that the real profit margins in the computer industry (the complete box) is from high-end game machines. The Alienware CEO was BRAGGING that the customers just have a lot of money, but not a lot of knowledge or patience to build themselves.

The only time you should forget about building is for real low-end. You won't break even.

As far as software... other than the OS ($139)... the rest of the software included on PCs is a bunch of useless junk or spamware. Do I need Encarta? Do I need free AOL for a year?

Just give me the OS and I'll load the programs I need... I have to buy them anyhow (the useful ones never come standard).

I'm also going to build a new system... just waiting to see how Vista shakes out. I'll probably build in Feb or March.


Yeah, I don't think anybody would disagree with this. Nobody really thought he was looking at a high-end machine until he mentioned gaming a few posts up ;-D

You are right. You do save a TON. And you save hassle later. Say because you don't have the stupid wildtangent spyware that you would have if you went with HP or you don't have to try and uninstall McAfee so you can install your own Anti-Virus, etc., etc.
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Postby beanoX3 » Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:41 am

You don't save that much on the high end stuff unless you opt out of the unimportant options like the car paint and extended warranty. Certain high end products don't change in price no matter who builds it, especially graphics cards, RAM, and CPU. Extreme high end systems are actually cheaper to buy from places like Alienware, but only if you decline all the stupid options.

The RAM example doesn't really work either unless you're comparing the exact same type of chip and brand. Places like Falcon Northwest and Voodoo use only the best quality batches of chips for their RAM out of the millions of batches of churned out by various factories. Sure you can find some generic 1 GB RAM for real cheap, but it is nowhere near the same quality as the high-end Corsair brand that is popular among the boutique builders.

Then when you add in the stuff like 22" HD flat panel, 6.1 surround speakers, Logitech laser mouse, you really don't end up saving thousands like someone claimed. Hundreds maybe, but not thousands.
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Postby J2thez929 » Tue Nov 28, 2006 1:43 am

ecollegepc.com is a pretty nice site to take at if you want to customize your own. You can get a solid Intel 4 3.0ghz, 1 GB RAM, huge hard drive, DVD burner, 500+ wattAntec power supply, with nice Radeon or GeForce video card and other accessories for around $750-850. Plus everything else is customizable to your needs and wants. Not bad when you consider everything you will be getting. That is the route I would go instead of buying a PC from Best Buy or something and spending 1K plus for everything you want.
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Postby bobbing_headz » Tue Nov 28, 2006 1:52 am

Ok, first of all I'm looking to get parts somewhere preferably in Canada. I found tigerdirect.ca on my first search. They're Canadian but I really have no idea how good they are.

One thing I'm worrying about is the issue of compatibility. Is it a big problem when getting parts?

BTW, thanks for everything so far guys. You've been really helpful ;-D
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Postby joelamosobadiah » Tue Nov 28, 2006 8:41 am

bobbing_headz wrote:Ok, first of all I'm looking to get parts somewhere preferably in Canada. I found tigerdirect.ca on my first search. They're Canadian but I really have no idea how good they are.

One thing I'm worrying about is the issue of compatibility. Is it a big problem when getting parts?

BTW, thanks for everything so far guys. You've been really helpful ;-D


Tiger Direct is an excellent company from my experiences with them. ;-D

I have no clue on the whole Canadian thing. :-?
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