Pros and Cons with Building a PC

Mar 17, 2014
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Which do you think is better? Discuss.

Pros for Building a PC:
Able to choose own parts
Overclock ability
No crap installed

Pros for Buying a PC:
Already built
Cheaper (companies buy in bulk)
OS, Mouse, etc come with PC

Cons are for you to discuss. Feel free to add more pros so :).
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,292
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Pros for Building a PC:
Able to choose own parts
Overclock ability
No crap installed
.

All those, and add the challenge to build a computer from parts... it's quite rewarding.

The biggest difference I see is in the general purpose machine, roughly the $400-600 range... it's hard to justify the cost of parts over a prebuilt machine, but again, it allows you to pick your own parts (i.e.: SSD, RAM, etc.)

Once you breach the $600 mark, building is clearly favored over buying a prebuilt.
 

Blain

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
23,643
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Con...

People read through some internet forums on building.
They only read enough to make them dangerous to themselves.
They go off half cocked and buy a collection of components.
They assemble (or attempt to), the parts, only to find out their system won't boot (or BSOD), for some reason or another.
They then being posting "Help me" threads on those same internet forums.
 
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mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
3,793
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That is false.

Not sure how you come to that conclusion. A company such as the one in the article buys more than 1 board at a time. That usually gets them a volume discount. I worked for a smallish shop and we received usually 10-20 boards at a time. The main site received likely 100 at a time to disperse to stores. Our company cost on most parts was generally lower than what I could buy them for at newegg or similar.

Does that mean it's always cheaper? Not really. But they do have better resources to acquire parts.
 

Morbus

Senior member
Apr 10, 2009
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What I did when I was 14 was get myself a nice spec list with a calculated price, ask a local small company that services in IT to build be the PC, they charged me the correct price for the parts plus a small fee for the assembling process, and off I went.

Back then I must have saved about 600€ on a 1150€ purchase (the computer and the peripherals, plus like 20€ for XP). That small company has always helped me whenever I needed help, but I usually don't, so I cannot complain on the support from, and I'm pretty sure I'd get a much worse service on big name companies. Specially considering my personal experience.

I've been doing this ever since. I never assemble the computer myself cause I'm a bit scared of the thermal paste for the CPU, and for a 30€ fee, it's easier and I save time if I just have them do it.

So I can say that, if you can pay a small company that works in IT at the enterprise level, or just some small IT shop that simply builds custom PCs, you're much better off.

Otherwise, I don't think building a PC yourself is a good strategy for the inexperienced user. But that experience that you may be lacking is easily "borrowed" from a friend or the internet, if you ask the right questions ("will this work") in the right places (here, for example). And if you listen and don't think you know better, despite having absolutely no background knowledge on the subject. If someone tells you a GTX760 4GB is a waste of money in comparison to the 2GB version, YOU LISTEN TO THAT ADVICE AND HEED IT LIKE IT'S GOSPEL!!!

Thanks for reading.
 

Insomniator

Diamond Member
Oct 23, 2002
6,294
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If you aren't specifically interested in computers/hardware then I wouldn't bother. Buy a console to game on, or if you have enough $$$ just pay for gaming PC's. It is too much work for the average person for it to be worth it if they don't actually enjoy the process. There is a decent risk of screwing things up and having no backup/return plan.

Its easy to all of us nerds on tech forums, but for a random person that wants to play bf4 and has no idea what a driver is its not so easy. If you want to learn, then yes its rewarding, fun and very worth it but if not then... no the savings alone is not enough.

Some day I'd like to learn to change the brakes and some other basic maintence on my car on my own -- but only because i'm actually interested in it. The savings does not outweigh the risk... moreso with brakes though i suppose.
 

monkeydelmagico

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2011
3,961
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Pro: machines that excell at the task you want them to do
Pro: Can usually build a speciality machine for cheaper than botique builder can do it.
HUGE Pro: No unnecessary junk or software you don't want/need.
Pro: High degree of customization and personalized machines
Pro: Wide range of configurations

Con: It takes some experience to become good at building them. This can be costly.
Con: It takes continuous study and effort to remain current. Can become outdated quickly, like a couple years.
Con: Your family/friends start bugging you to build/repair their machines. Some may argue that this should be a pro because we should all love helping our family/friends. I'd rather scrub their toilet than work on their computers. Way quicker and easier.
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
3,793
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Also, cheaper not found:

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/3dbPU
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/3dbPU/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/3dbPU/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Core i3-4330 3.5GHz Dual-Core Processor ($134.93 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard: MSI H81M-E33 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($44.99 @ Micro Center)
Memory: A-Data XPG V1.0 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($61.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Hitachi Ultrastar 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($48.00 @ Amazon)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Video Card ($149.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Corsair 230T Windowed-BLUE ATX Mid Tower Case ($88.17 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($19.99 @ Micro Center)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE DVD/CD Writer ($14.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
Total: $653.04
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-03-20 11:10 EDT-0400)

And, the plus side with building yourself, is you could select a case without a window if that was your preference. Or a different video card that better suited your game of choice. Or. Or. Or.
 

DSF

Diamond Member
Oct 6, 2007
4,902
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So let's discuss the actual article.

I'm going to try very hard to keep this from reflecting my own personal bias toward building your own.

1) The savings is $10. Given the fluctuations in pricing that he himself mentioned, that's almost negligible against a $750 budget.

2) A smart builder is not going to copy a parts list and price out the identical parts. He or she is going to look for which parts of the same type and quality are on sale. I would bet just by being willing to swap out similar parts that are on sale you could save at least $50 off Digital Storm's price.

3) The computer is promoted (at least in the article) as playing everything on max settings, yet it has a GTX 750 (or 750 Ti the way the author configured it). Something doesn't add up.

4) The price is before shipping. Between Amazon Prime and Shoprunner (for Newegg), both of which offer free trial memberships if you aren't already paying for them, nobody should paying shipping on computer parts except maybe the case.

5) I do think it's fantastic that a company is putting a capable gaming rig out there for a price that's not too far above what many people would consider for an office machine. Heck, it's less than what a lot of people who don't know what they're doing spend on their home/office machines.
 

piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
17,168
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The biggest danger I see is the newbee that tries to order parts based on the lowest price. It takes a lot of knowledge and education just to understand what is new and what is junk. But I think it is still fun to build your own computer and see it come to life.

Its Alive, Its Alive!
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
3,793
1
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The biggest danger I see is the newbee that tries to order parts based on the lowest price. It takes a lot of knowledge and education just to understand what is new and what is junk. But I think it is still fun to build your own computer and see it come to life.

Its Alive, Its Alive!

There is a good amount of truth here, but that is where forums help. Run the numbers time and again by people in the know, settle on some stuff, and place an order.

The only other thing is build inexperience. People that screw motherboards directly to cases (sans standoffs) are the type I am talking about.
 

piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
17,168
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Article dated 4/29/13. The build also uses 3rd generation Intel CPU. So obviously everything is out of date. Always look at the date of articles. You might read this and think it is cutting edge, but it is not. Just keep this in mind.
 
Mar 17, 2014
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Article dated 4/29/13. The build also uses 3rd generation Intel CPU. So obviously everything is out of date. Always look at the date of articles. You might read this and think it is cutting edge, but it is not. Just keep this in mind.

I think a person with a brain will know hot to read a date. Specifically, some people in this forum don't have a brain :rolleyes:. Thanks for playing, newb.

Totally out of line. In case anybody was wondering, this is an example of how not to post in GH.

mfenn
General Hardware Moderator
 
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code65536

Golden Member
Mar 7, 2006
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I used to take a hybrid approach. Buy a prefab system, then upgrade and customize it. In one extreme case, I bought a Dell server for use as a desktop, but it only had a x8 PCIe slot. The slot was actually sized for x16, but they placed a plastic spacer inside to prevent x16 cards from being inserted. So I had to remove that with a power tool.

These days, I assemble from scratch.

Prefabs are cheaper only on the low end or if you find a really slick deal. But you'll also have to live with their choices of hardware, which I often find myself not agreeing with, like pairing an i7 with a lower-mid-range GPU instead of an i5 with a upper-mid-range or even high-end GPU, or the lack of SSDs, or the use of 7200RPM drives as storage drives. Even their choice of keyboard and mouse are not what I would make (Microsoft ergonomic, please!). Once I figure in the cost of "fixing" their hardware choices, it's cheaper for me to just assemble my own.
 
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DSF

Diamond Member
Oct 6, 2007
4,902
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I think a person with a brain will know hot to read a date. Specifically, some people in this forum don't have a brain :rolleyes:. Thanks for playing, newb.
I'm not trying to flame, but there is a certain irony to someone with a join date of this month calling people out as newbs.

Is there a particular reason you believe he's wrong for pointing out the date on the article? It seems to me he did what you asked and discussed.
 

piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
17,168
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It is really hard sometimes to find articles on the Internet by searching that are up to date. A lot of computer parts retailers often have articles that are a little out of date. That does not mean this site is bad or anything. Dell sells a lot of yesterdays technology. A lot of retail computers are old before they go out the door. There is always something newer or better a month or two after you purchase it. Less then 30 days after I purchased my last processor in January 2014 it dropped in price a little.

Haswell processors have been out for months now, so if people are still buying Ivy Bridge that would not be a good idea unless they were offering a reduction in price. In reality there was not a lot of improvement between Ivy Bridge and Haswell CPU's. If you look at specific processors there may be some significant differences that might make a difference like a better IGP or more Cache RAM or with a motherboard better compatibility with Win 8/8.1.
 

bononos

Diamond Member
Aug 21, 2011
3,889
158
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Article dated 4/29/13. The build also uses 3rd generation Intel CPU. So obviously everything is out of date. Always look at the date of articles. You might read this and think it is cutting edge, but it is not. Just keep this in mind.

Which article are you referring to ? Evangelho's "Its actually cheaper.." article is dated 3/12/2014 and was talking about a i3 Haswell build.
 

pcsavvy

Senior member
Jan 27, 2006
298
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BIY or Pre-built comes down to knowledge factor, budget and willingness to troubleshoot if needed.
There are resources on the internet but there are some excellent books out there too. I always recommend Scott Mueller's book Upgrading and Repairing PC's. It is an excellent resource that covers the history of pc's, hardware and touches on the various Os'es. It is not written at PC's for dummies but it is readable for someone who has no idea what the difference between 1155 socket and 1150 socket. But it definitely is not a quick read.
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,292
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Its easy to all of us nerds on tech forums, but for a random person that wants to play MW2 and has no idea what a driver is its not so easy. If you want to learn, then yes its rewarding, fun and very worth it but if not then... no the savings alone is not enough.

Rewind to November 2011 and that's me. I think my first post here at AT was prebuilt vs DIY. A little reading, a little YouTube... and I became an instant computer expert! :sneaky: Well... maybe.

The biggest danger I see is the newbee that tries to order parts based on the lowest price. It takes a lot of knowledge and education just to understand what is new and what is junk. But I think it is still fun to build your own computer and see it come to life.

True that... and incorrect expectations. I bought many of the components for my first build on Black Friday... on sale. While I lucked out and wound up with some very good components (i5 2500K, Giga mobo, SeaSonic built Corsair PSU, ) I also wasted a fair amount of money needlessly spent (OCZ 64GB SSD, HAF922 case, 750w PSU, 500GB HDD... )
 

mvbighead

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2009
3,793
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Which article are you referring to ? Evangelho's "Its actually cheaper.." article is dated 3/12/2014 and was talking about a i3 Haswell build.

I was wondering how I go that that wrong... turns out I didn't.
 

Imaginer

Diamond Member
Oct 15, 1999
8,076
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The biggest advantage of buying a customized machine that is specified to your liking from a company (in lieu of assembling the PC yourself from individual components) is that you aren't the support and thus alleviating such from your hands.

I know I say this and it will come to no surprise and a "well duh I am good at supporting my own machines". But think of it from another angle. You have to keep track on each component warranty should things go wrong, you need to be not only aware on a hardware level of problems, but on a software level as well with the drivers and OS you put at it - meaning being very troubleshooting savy. It is even more off road should you decide to favor a free OS.

In terms of cost to benefit analysis. You are trading off a sound, contracted warranty system and support backing in favor of a more time demanding process should things go wrong.

In short, another analog is making a hot rod from scratch - empty chassis, finding an engine block, all the works - versus a drive train warranty and selecting the features and models catered to your driving and cargo needs. Not to mention, a typical homeowner's garage isn't remotely enough space to assemble the vehicle in a timely manner. Possibly even impossible in an apartment life unless you rent a garage space to work in.

Yes, component wise, it CAN be cheaper. One can even have fun to place the components in place, build a custom case for it, modifying a case for the PC components, etc. Pretty much like a RC hobbyist or a RC plane enthusiast selecting the engine and parts. But one has to know what they are doing or things can go wrong - meaning one has to have a good knowledge of assembly, disciplines of assembling components, and basic troubleshooting mindsets all while keeping an open mind and going over all possibilities.