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Have you ever built your own computer?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / August 23, 2012 9:48 AM PDT
Have you ever built your own computer?

-- Yes. (Tell us about it)
-- I tried but failed. (How so?)
-- No, but I'm considering it.
-- I've never considered it. (Why not?)
-- Does rebuilding one count? (Tell us about it.)
-- The word "build" and I don't belong in the same sentence. (Why?)
-- I want to, but I'm afraid (Why?)

Vote here:

Note: This post was edited by its original author to update link on 08/23/2012 at 4:54 PM PT
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Definitley DO
by Seabird / August 24, 2012 9:30 AM PDT

I have built my own computers right from the word go. Around 20yrs and rebuild a new one about every 3yrs, sometimes sooner if something wrong.(Love It). Keeps my brain working. Never bought one from a shop.

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Used to build my own machines
by toddemiles / August 30, 2012 6:44 AM PDT
In reply to: Definitley DO

I used to build my own computers when there was a big price difference. That has pretty much disappeared however. You can customize a Dell to your hearts desires and get close to the price it takes to build one. And get a warranty when parts don't work right.

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Have you ever built your own computer?
by gunnerds / August 24, 2012 9:44 AM PDT

Yes many of times. And I have built them for friends and family as well. To me it came easy.

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Started when Cnet was a baby.
by Palebushman / August 24, 2012 10:56 AM PDT

Thanks to a dear old friend CPK, who was in IT back in the UK all those years ago, I started to build my own towers and the doing the same for friends. As the years have gone by though, it is cheaper to by the machines ready made now except......... If you are seriously into gaming or flight sims etc: building your own rig certainly makes sense and very rewarding.
Still love building and repairing rigs, for folk who can't in this field, I have even gone to the extreme of repairing motherboard tracks that have been cut by a screwdriver slipping off a CPU spring! Pressing the 'On' button and hearing everything whirring back into action, rather than a sickening bang, was very gratifying.
Nothing comes up to the wonderful feeling of putting something together that works beautifully, especially in this awesome field of IT.

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by DownOne / September 6, 2012 11:42 PM PDT

<a href="">yes I did<span id="INSERTION_MARKER">

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by Bob_Meyer / August 24, 2012 10:05 AM PDT

Sometime in the mid 1990's I acquired a box of components from a co-worker who had upgraded a PC that he built. I bought a few more bits and pieces and put them together into a (mostly) working PC. After a trip to the computer store, I replaced the CDROM drive and then it all worked. My son used it for a while. It was an interesting exercise, but after it was all said and done, I had built myself a used PC. It was clear that even with free labor I couldn't compete on price or quality with PC companies. That's still true today. Most of the PCs I buy today, 4 so far this year, are laptops rather than towers. You don't see a lot of home-built laptops.


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Yes, since around 1984 or so.
by TerryMZM / August 24, 2012 10:25 AM PDT

I have a bit of trouble remembering exactly when I first built a couple for myself, I was building and specifying them for some control systems at work in the same era. Today I have to really watch the economics of the build/buy question. If I'm to build one for a student child of a friend who is going after an engineering degree, I can save some money by building it, but not as much as I once could. If the computer is going to be used for e-mail by grandma, I'd advise buy a cheap one (with a great big monitor and a full size keyboard). Cheap computers from the big-box stores are adequate for office type work, like writing papers. The cheap computers might last all the way through a 4 year school, but that would be if they were taken care of very well, with no nose dives off the desk and no nachos in the cooling vents. There are some good books out today that explain exactly what you need to do to build a computer, check your local library. Or browse a good bookstore; I've seen some in bookstores but have no idea how much they cost.

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The economics of the build/buy question ...
by Gerdd / August 24, 2012 1:57 PM PDT

yeah, that is the crux of it, isn't it?

Let me leave aside for now the stores that will sell branded computers off the shelf in configurations that you can then take or leave. I tend to frequent the other type of stores that work from components, the same way I would. (The branded configurations don't always consistently contain the same components, either, it seems.)

Now, the "component based computer stores" will also offer you ready-made configurations in their advertizing. But they will typically build one only when you order it. Fair enough.

What I find is that the "great deals" are usually configured to use up outdated components that need to be sold off. Last year's processors, hard drives that are a bit too small for me and memory modules that will use up all the slots to come up with an adequate figure (like four 256MB modules instead of one 1GB module, to give you an example of a few years back.)

Okay, such a machine, sold for a fair price and used in a context where more would be overkill is a good deal. But I tended to ask for the bigger drive and more memory in fewer modules (for the above example I might have asked for 2GB in one module.) By the time you are done with that you might as well have started from scratch, selecting a better motherboard to start with, etc.

So, nowadays I just do that. I don'T start from a cheap bundle and then replace most of it before I buy (still better that afterwards) but I ask myself what I want first and then start configuring. Yes, with upgrades in mind (within reason.)

Upgrades: We are mostly still working with a technology that is highly modular - your next hard drive or optical drive will easily replace the old one or run alongside it. But when it comes to memory and processors the story is a bit disappointing. When the faster processor you always wanted becomes cheap enough you will probably discover that it isn't THAT much faster anyway - in your system. And the old memory that your motherboard will hold has not come down in price as much as the new modules being advertized - in fact it is now exotic and will probably cost more than it did back when you first bought that machine.

So I replace mobo, CPU (with fan) and memory as one unit, most of the time. And I see that as essentially "a new machine."

But you don't always need the latest greatest specs, either. The machine that I am typing this on is running with the once incredible amount of 1GB of Rambus (!) memory (Don't be afraid, go ahead, google it!) AND its mainboard IDE interface cannot support drives > 128GB. I have bigger systems - I need them - but this one somehow survived.

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Yes since the early mid 90s
by netsiu / August 24, 2012 11:40 AM PDT

First computer was a Gateway ith Win95. Upgraded OS to 98 and the 98se. Struggled with some video upgrades and then when no longer able to upgrade built y first and as PLUG N PLAY has advanced dought I will ever by ready made.

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building your computer
by migalfest / August 24, 2012 1:10 PM PDT

I decided to build my own computer early last year. I spent a lot of time watching youtube videos and checking forums on building computers. It took about 3 months before I felt I had learned enough to attempt to build my own. My current rig has a motherboard with built in video with slots to accept dual video cards, hdmi output. Has an amd triple core cpu that the motherboard allowed me to unlock a fourth core, has 2Gb ram that can expand to 4 Gb and has a 1 Tb hd with room for more hard drives. Total cost without a monitor was around $350. At the time a redi-built computer would have run about $700. I can still add a BR player/writer and still it would be a deal.
A person has to just read up on what they need to know in order to do it.

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I have mine custom built
by Bocskor / August 24, 2012 1:41 PM PDT
In reply to: building your computer

I have a friend who has a computer business on the side, out of his house. He's built my last 3 computers and he's repaired them or gotten me out of computer jams of my own making. I know I pay more for a custom build, but I know each component that goes into it...all good quality. Bob also brings the computer over to my house, sets it up and makes sure it's all working. He installs the OS and updates the drivers after installation.

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A Superb Pastime
by ciggy110 / August 24, 2012 7:55 PM PDT

I am 73 and have been building and repairing computers for family and friends for 10 years or more, The sense of achievement when you press the button and everything fires up OK is great . Over a period of time you find you can talk people through a repair over the phone, it's all very stimulating and keeps the old grey matter in tip top condition.
The last few years I have been repairing Laptops as well which is more fiddly, the problems start with just taking the case apart without breaking anything because of hidden screws and flimsy plastic bits and pieces. With shops charging excessive fees for repairs I have found my circle of friends has grown considerably over the years but only when their PC breaks down!! (lol)

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always built
by thenosbod / August 24, 2012 8:46 PM PDT
In reply to: A Superb Pastime

I have always built my own desktop computers. Built to my specifications and needs.

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I did build my own pc but will never do it again.
by randyb55 / August 24, 2012 10:27 PM PDT

I did build my own pc but will never do it again. I went to Saturday morning workshop and with instructors help I built a pc. The experience was interesting and helpful but I decided that having a pc from a company was a better path and less costly. The built pc died 2 years later after I tried to add memory. I am too clumsy.

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build your own rig
by roger3094 / August 25, 2012 2:28 AM PDT

Both the wife and I build our own computers, we have nine desktops in our home, all networked, one is a server. We have biult several for friends and neighbors also. I suggest you go to Tiger Direct and subscribe to their email list. They frequently have bare bones kits at very reasonable prices and we have never had any problems with any of these kits. You do save money compared to buying all the parts seperately or buying a comparable ready made rig. You will have to buy an OS for it, but they again have sales on these frequently and you don't have all the bloatware that comes with a ready made rig.

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Other places for components.
by TerryMZM / August 25, 2012 5:38 AM PDT
In reply to: build your own rig

In addition to Tiger Direct, you should check out and, both have a wide selection of components, operating systems and good prices. Newegg also frequently runs specials which include free shipping. Read the customer reviews and learn what brands and models are working out well for customers and which are lemons. Be careful with the prices on operating systems. Micro$oft has recently begun to heavily enforce its policy on OEM priced editions of Windows 7. Essentially this means the OS is good for one install on one system, period. And I would recommend Windows 7 over waiting for Windows 8. Windows 8 is a piece of junque! Even with the proposed introductory pricing, it is way over priced. It would still be over priced if they paid people the $39.00 to take it off their hands! Once a few more application programs get written for Linux, I'll be there as it is the best OS out there.

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Built some older stuff
by ezbesthost1 / August 26, 2012 10:30 AM PDT

I built a couple of Pentium III and IV a few years ago from parts lying around. I aim to put together a smoking hot machine next year and power with Win8 system builders edition.

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: Have you ever built your own computer?
by stahu / August 27, 2012 6:01 AM PDT

I just had one built and would NEVER attempt it myself.

I had mine built by the professionals at IO Software in Flint Michigan and am VERY happy with what they built me. It works VERY well and performs BETTER than an HP that I previously bought from Staples that was supposed to run my old Windows XP software IF I upgraded to Windows 7 Professional. It didn't, but they were nice enough to refund my money, (over $700).

I told the people at IO Software what I wanted to do, and they built my machine to do it. Everything runs good and it even runs a program my old HP ran for about two weeks until Windows installed service pac II on my machine. It never ran again on that machine. This one, with service pac III, now runs it again.

Why would I want to go thru the drudgery of building something I wouldn't know would work because of compatibility problems. You can waste a lot of money just because you don't know what works with what.

The people at IO Software KNOWS what works together, they even took my DVD burner out of my old machine (it was working fine) and also installed a new one in my machine, so I now have two burners. If one fails, I have a back-up.

Now this isn't a fancy machine, but it does what I want it to, and it all added up to $323, of which $20 was labor to put it together. The machine is faster and has at LEAST as good graphics and sound as my old HP which I installed optional graphics and sound cards into for over $950 when it was new seven years ago.

I'm not connected with IO Software in any way and there may be other people around that will do as good a job, but for MY money, I wouldn't touch it myself when we have professionals around that will do it at the reasonable price IO did it for.

I'm as happy as a kid with a new toy.

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A good way of learning your own pc inside and out
by markandcheryl / August 28, 2012 9:49 PM PDT

We did this, and found it, if not simple then certainly easier than anticipated. The only thing I will say is if you are going to buy one item that is expensive, dont bother about a fancy case with flashing lights and all, buy a good above the spec you want, motherboard, with a warrenty of years rather than months, and upgradable. Thats the one thing you wont want to replace or keep upgrading. The next thing should be a decent work horse of a power supply and then hard drive. The rest is all down to choice. Follow the instructions for each item, and research forums for conflicts and issues with each before you start shopping. Dont be afraid to ask for help, or to use older periphials. I have a great cd rom drive that cost me the earth 12 years ago. It has outlived two dvd drives in that time and is still going strong. The front doesnt match the pc case but what the heck, it works a charm still. Looks arent everything. Above all take your time and enjoy the experience.

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Option 3
by DerekRose81 / October 16, 2012 8:16 PM PDT

No, but I'm considering it. I had a friend that used to do it, and he taught me.

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