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When it comes to a new desktop, do you build or buy?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / January 20, 2012 8:32 AM PST

When it comes to a new desktop, do you build or buy?

- I build it myself. (Please explain why you do it.)
- I have someone else build it to my specs. (Why not do it yourself?)
- I buy it preconfigured, right off the shelf. (If youknew how,
would you build one yourself?)
- I buy it online, but customize the configuration. (If you
knew how, would you build one yourself?)
- Other. (What do you do?)

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Mostly Build
by ESUNintel / January 20, 2012 9:36 AM PST

I prefer to build my own system, because that way i not only have a say in what goes into the system, but also what size and type of case I want. I know that if I build the best possible hardware will be in my computer, and it also makes upgrading so much easier.

...but, there are times when buying might be the way to go. For example, if I rather not have a desktop or tower at all, I would just buy an iMac or Sony L-Series. I actually purchased a Sony Vaio L-Series last week because I wanted a touchscreen system to play around with Windows 8, and I didn't want a bulky tablet.

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by lenber / January 21, 2012 2:39 AM PST
In reply to: Mostly Build

You did not specify as why Window8?

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WIndows 8
by ESUNintel / January 21, 2012 4:14 AM PST
In reply to: Windos8

You mean why it might be better to buy for Windows 8 vs build?

Windows 8 does better on a touch screen. I've tried the Developer Preview of Windows 8 on regular laptops; however, it doesn't seem much different than Windows 7, and I think it's because I'm not getting the full user experience. On the Vaio L, the touch screen actually makes it fun to use.

There's really no way we can build our own tablets (or else I would be happy, because the Windows tablets out there are either too bulky or underpowered), and touchscreen monitors just aren't so common - which is why I went with the Vaio L, but there are other options from HP, Samsung, and others.

Then you also have the group of people that just want an all-in-one, iMac-like, system. Sure, there are bare bone kits out there, but they don't look as elegant as the all-in-one systems made by Apple, Sony, Samsung, etc...

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I've done both
by proseandpoetry / January 20, 2012 9:56 AM PST

I have built several computers for myself. In this way, I have control over the quality of each piece. But the downside of building your computer,for me, is that you have to throw down over a hundred dollars for Windows unless you can live with Linux. Unless you buy the super-expensive retail version of Windows, you can't reinstall it just anytime you get the urge. Bad! Unacceptable!

What I like to do these days is to get a little bit older Dell computer and either erase the hard drive or put in a new drive and install Windows XP Professional. With the Dell Reinstallation disk, I can reinstall whenever I get the urge. And I can put onto whichever hard drive the software that I choose.

If I don't like the installed video card, it isn't really expensive or difficult to get a different one and install it. Same for other pieces, such as sound cards, card readers, DVD-RW, etc. For me, the prebuilt computer is the way I choose to go, due to the exorbitant cost of buying retail versions of Microsoft WIndows. Too bad you can't install YOUR operating system that you paid a bunch of money for into all of your systems!

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Build or Buy?
by Zolar_1 / January 20, 2012 11:06 AM PST
In reply to: I've done both

NOW you all know WHY there is so much software piracy. Microsoft screw$ everyone. There is absolutely NO REASON WHY Microsoft should be charging sky high prices for a retail copy of Windows when Manufacturers may as little as $30 per license.

This is EXACTLY why I am against any form of software piracy prevention.
I cannot in good conscience want to eliminate piracy so that Microsoft or any other 'copyright' owner can get even richer off my back.

Note; I do legally own my copies of XP. I bought them from a local computer store.

Now, buying is a lot cheaper than building. However, buy makes things far too limited for me. You cannot upgrade when needed. You are limited on junk motherboards with very few memory slots or slots filled with cheap small modules that you must toss if you want more memory. You are also stuck with all the crapware that the manufacturer wants to toss on there. For years, many of the manufacturers made towers that did not conform to the ATX standard and you had to buy THEIR power supplies at ebay-kidney-selling-prices instead of reasonable prices at other places.

I build all my own. I can swap parts, upgrade when I feel the need or have to, and take pride that I did something myself the way I want it.

On both my XP boxes I did numerous upgrades over the years. Some because of hardware failures, others because I needed better equipment (can't tell you how many video cards I went through because ALL OF THEM are junk).

So, on this box I normally use Linux about 99% of the time. The other 1% of the time is because my spouse wasted a huge amount on money on Adobe and I want to make sure we get something for it.
And of course the occasional games that my 9 year old wants to play that are 'Windows' Only'.

So, if you want a killer box and have the money, build one and toss PCLinux on it (or Mint). Ubuntu is a huge bloated OS.

If you are lazy or cheap, then buy a budget box that is ready to go and plan on replacing it every 3 years.

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Reply to Lee Koo
by classicride72 / January 20, 2012 11:30 AM PST

I prefer to build my own. I use forums such as CNET to obtain expert advice and suggestions on components and compatibility. Then I get an experienced tech to install and hook up everything because I want the settings to be optimal and I'm not confident in messing around in the BIOS. Forums such as CNET are great when one needs expert advice and instructions.

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Other..what I am doing
by irishspirit7 / January 20, 2012 11:41 AM PST

About 5 years ago I bought my first laptop and a new desktop. The laptop was for myself and desktop for everyone
in the house. Both are Dell and I both went online and spoke with someone at Dell to help make choices for each. My desktop needs to be upgraded and because it is rarely used I will NOT buy another for some time. The laptop is an Inspiron E 1705 and I have Windows XP on it. Years ago I did a survey for Microsoft and got to choose from their
software, I chose the 2003 Windows Professional. I have done several installs with it. My laptop is VERY slow and I have been window shopping since last April for the perfect laptop for me. While looking it became very clear ( I read MANY reviews!) that for me buying from Costco was the best option due to their extended warranty and 90 day return policy. It does limit my choices a bit but I finally found one and ordered it on the 9th. I did a custom build on to compare prices and features. So I am getting a Dell XPS 17 Intel Core i7-2670 QM 2.2 GHz with Blu-ray Triple Writer 1 GB NVIDIA Graphics and a 1 TB Hard drive. It also comes with Microsoft Office Home/Student 2010 full version. I think once a computer gets 5 to 6 years old its time to buy new just for the technology.
Good luck with your decision!

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do you build or buy?
by pauly1651 / January 20, 2012 12:55 PM PST

If you know what you are doing, than building your own desktop is THE WAY TO GO!
There are 2 basic reason for this:
1. Because you get to choose the parts YOU want to put into the making of your custom machine.
2. Because YOU get to choose the software YOU want to put into the machine.

There is also a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when you build it yourself.
As for the cost, it's a toss up, it can be cheaper, but not always! I have noticed it is about even when I compare the cost of building to buying a premade PC.
I have built many computers for several people, including all the members of my whole family. Once you do this and you see the sense of happiness it brings to others and yourself, well, it's like having a cute, warm puppy cuddle up in your lap.
OK, maybe that's a poor analogy, but it'll do.

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new desktop - build or buy?
by susanai / January 20, 2012 4:02 PM PST
I put 'other'. I go to my trusty computer guy down the road and he makes it and I pay it. I like it this way. Oh, he also fixes it.
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a mixture of both
by fatwhiteguy / January 20, 2012 4:25 PM PST

Usually i will buy a system already put together, in the last case i bought a ZT computer from Costco, that had a really good Mother board and chip set (quad core at the time was state of the art, almost)..i dropped around six hundred bucks, mainly because it comes preloaded with lots costly software, then every time i got paid i would upgrade first the sound card (Sound blaster w/5.1) then an Nvidia video card, a better power supply,RAM and so forth. my intel experience rating is 5.9 and i can and do play the latest games and watch HD television and movies. instead of a monitor i attached an HD projector and my entire wall is my screen. i last upgraded my video and card last year, but ive had the same motherboard and chip set for,..coming up on 4 years now. oh and last fall i installed another 500 gigabyte hard drive. plug and play..just that simple. i hope that inspires you

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Reply to When it comes to a new desktop, do you build or buy
by GeneL52 / January 20, 2012 5:20 PM PST

I do all the research, and most the engineering and then have my desktop custom built. I am replying to this question for those who need large (or in my case-an Asus Supercomputer). While most people do not need a computer with twin Zenon X5670s with 24 gigs of RAM with 1 gig per thread, there is software that can only be run on such a large system ie: 3D graphics using Vue 10 Infinite. This is a totaly customized machine, built for high end graphics. It is also outfitted with twin nVidia GTX 480s in SLI configuration. With this much power, I would never attempt to build a computer like this. It uses 28.5 amps of 110 volt electricity and costs about an extra 35 dollars (US) a month to use.
And to those that think this is overkill, even a fairly uncomplicated image (10" long x 7" tall @ 300 ppi) takes an hour to render. The point I'm trying to make is, as your computer power needs increase, you can do the engineering; but use an expert to build the computer. Don't risk your life or the life of your family to shave off a few dollars.

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Techy build
by lawli56 / January 20, 2012 5:44 PM PST

Being an ICT Technician I generally build my own or upgrade. My main computer is in the same case I've been using for the last 10 years... but then it did cost me an arm and a leg to buy it with a view to future expansion... and I'm only just now looking for a replacement as it is a full tower and I need to downsize to a midi after moving to a smaller property and no longer having a seperate room for my computers.

Besides that, I like being able to choose what brands and parts I use to build it. I see no point in putting in something I don't use and I research each part for compatibility and reliability before buying. Plus I prefer a solid workhorse of a processor with plenty of memory to the fastest ones out. Being a tech I also need room for items such as a trayless hotswap bays (sata and ide) with adapters for 2.5" drives but I now use an external floppy drive if and when I need it.

Plus I rather like pimping my case. LOL!

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Build it myself
by jbaviera / January 20, 2012 9:38 PM PST

I prefer to build myself. I know the hardware AND software that goes into it, and I don't have the troubles of uninstalling the bloatware that comes with a pre-built system. It still takes a while to install the OS and other software I prefer, but it's worth the effort.

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I Build It Myself
by Flatworm / January 20, 2012 9:47 PM PST

When you build your own you get by far and away the best bang for the buck. I built the machine I'm typing on now -- a real screamer loaded to the gills -- for about $2,400 that outperforms units from Falcon Northwest or Alienware that would cost maybe $7,500. And you get to individually select all your components for your own needs and tastes.

Also, when you build your own, upgrading can be done with total confidence. You already know right where everything goes.

And it's fun. "Let's see... This wire goes here, and this one goes here (etc. times a hundred)..." It's like doing a little, and surprisingly simple, jigsaw puzzle. It's simple because almost everything is generally clearly labeled on the case and the motherboard, and when it's not (like the plugs out of the power supply) it usually has some kind of unique pin-out. Also, there are a whole slew of more-or-less useful little tutorials all over YouTube.

And then there's the satisfaction, that little twinge of nervousness before you plug it in and first throw the switch on the power supply and hit the system power button, followed by the wave of joy when everything works that first time "out of the box." AAAAAAAAAAhhhhhhh! And this is followed by the lasting joy of its blistering performance and your pride in having built it with your own hands.

I will never buy an off-the-shelf computer again in my life (well, except maybe a laptop).

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(NT) Buy as is and reconfigure for my needs ( software)
by cvacinc93 / January 20, 2012 11:00 PM PST
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When it comes to a new desktop, do you build or buy?
by ChrDWells / January 21, 2012 2:04 AM PST

The number one thought on this has to be "What are you planning to do with the computer?" This will dictate the software that you will need which in turn may very dictate the operating system that you need. The software that you have now may not function on an advanced system. Then you consider the amentties, what additional features do you need. After all this is considdered, there is a possibiltiy that these features are available in a desktop for a good price, or one that you can adapt, If not, you still can build it, and if you have the knowledge, then it will actually be a better computer, but you will not save money over the mass manufacturering of todays products.

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No Desktop but if...
by baggage1 / January 21, 2012 3:44 AM PST

I'd get a used box and gut it and start over. Since 04' been a laptop guy. Get non working and fix with max possible upgrade on mobo and maybe not cutting edge components but way less money. Pick up a very good board and decent cpu and memory. GPU's are where the money goes for speed these days... Laptop GPU's are limited by cooling but I find more fun to work on.

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For Desktop, I would definitely custom build it myself
by bill718 / January 21, 2012 4:38 AM PST

This way, I have over all control the quality of the machine at my targeted budget. To do that, I would do some online research for the component's features and price on few tech sites. Then, visit few online pc hardware vendors to compare the price. Actually, there aren't too many good vendors left out there today, find the one with competetive price and good service, I prefer to order the parts from one place only, easy for future RMA (accident do happen, u never know). Best of all, it fun to build ur own. Good luck and happy integrating.

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All of the above
by porsche10x / January 21, 2012 9:25 AM PST

Iv'e done, and do, all of the above. Long ago, I was a big supporter of building your own. Used to be, you could get a much better system for much less money. As the margins got smaller and smaller, the tables turned, and now I usually find I can't build a system nearly as cheaply as I can buy one, especially when you throw in the cost of windows, even OEM. Yes, sometimes the purchased PCs aren't quite as high performance or quality, but honestly, most of the time, it really just doesn't make any difference. I've done it for others, but I've also been saddled with being their tech support for the next five years. If it's for work, then I definitely buy. My company doesn't pay me (or anyone) to build PCs. If they did, the PCs would cost more than Porsches. I'd be an idiot to forego the factory warranty. The first time I had to fix one PC, the cost to my company would be greater than the cost of the PC, probably a lot more. I would still build one for home, just for the fun of it, or if I wanted something specific or higher end than I could easily buy. On the other hand, the stuff on sale, especially newer refurbs are just irresistible.

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by porsche10x / January 21, 2012 9:27 AM PST

Why did you pick "other"? Isn't this choice 2?

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by porsche10x / January 21, 2012 10:07 AM PST
In reply to: other?

Don't know what happened. This was supposed to be in reply to susanai.

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consider this...
by porsche10x / January 21, 2012 10:13 AM PST

I just bought a Dell I5 desktop, new, for $449. If I built something similar, for $449 I could buy the same processor, a motherboard (nothing fancy), and a copy of W7pro. That's it. I wouldn't have any money left over for ram, a hard drive, optical drive, a case, or power supply, or anything else.

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It's all about two things: WARRANTY and RELIABILITY
by letmepicyou / January 21, 2012 10:47 AM PST

Anyone that's ever built their own system knows 2 things. 1: If you scrape the bottom of the barrel, sure, you can build a REALLY cheap computer. 800 watt power supply for $25? Who could go wrong? And is that your case, or is that what happened when a Japanese toy robot made it with a Borg cube? Sure you can get away cheaply, but I have to be rigs always turn out more expensive. My video card and power supply cost more than most folk's entire system. But when you spend a bit more, you get a lot more. I can say, I think without hyperbole, that my PC Power & Cooling PSU could be drug beneath the Arctic ice by submarine, take a direct hit from a nuclear missle, and be shot into the sun with a rocket and it'd STILL produce a rock solid 12v+ rail. But all this takes us to...

2: When you buy your own stuff, you get WAY better than the 1 year warranty that covers every single part in an OEM pc. Most of the stuff in my tower has 3 year or 5 year warranties, some stuff is even covered for LIFE. Try to get a dead ram stick covered in an OEM pc 10 days after the warranty drops. Not only does the warranty of off the shelf parts blow OEM away, they always, always, always seem to last longer. Probably a result of the nature of manufacturing supply to rely on the lowest bidder...

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Why do I build my own desktop systems?
by dickgoodwin2003 / January 21, 2012 11:10 AM PST

I have built my own for many years. It lets me choose the components I want, with the quality I want, and at the best price I can find. When I am done, I am happy with the result, and, with the addition of a good UPS and/or surge suppressor, I have never had any kind of component failure for 20 years now. On the other hand, I have fixed many systems for other people, who bought them at the big box stores or online, cheaper than mine initially, perhaps, but in the long run, I think mine have been cheaper. Plus ... it's fun and I learn a lot. Happy - Sinbad

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Building My own System
by jbdenver / January 22, 2012 10:39 PM PST

I use my PC for video editing and graphics. Having a technical background, I research components when it's time for a new system. This way, I get what will work best for my needs.

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