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Tech Tip of the Week: Buying a Budget PC: DIY vs. OEM

By Julio Franco
Jul 8, 2010
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  1. foreverzero89

    foreverzero89 TS Enthusiast Posts: 246

    yes, if you look for good deals, you can easily get an oen box that costs less than a diy build.
     
  2. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Posts: 6,075   +84 Staff Member

    You can find large sales, combo deals, rebates, open box discounts etc. by going the DIY route as well. In fact, it's probably easier to save a few bucks on your total build by going DIY since there's a greater chance of one or two items being discounted, as opposed to waiting for the price to drop on an entire machine.
     
  3. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,819   +922

    In a frivolous waste of time, I actually read the "builder's license" that comes with an OEM copy of Windows. It is actually stated that you're supposed to image the drive with some preinstall kit after making the initial installation. Which means giving out "restore discs" and not the OEM Windows discs. Anyway, I don't think the big boys buy Windows discs, just Windows licenses.

    I don't know what any of this means or what are the ramifications , I'm just letting you know I'm working on my reading skills to the best of my abilities.

    And now on to DIY:
    My personal approach is to create a bookmark folder such as "My New Computer", where I list the likely hardware purchases for a machine. Then I go through it periodically, checking for sales pricing, and comparing prices with the Email specials. "Free shipping, "Shell Shocker" and "Promo Codes" get my undivided attention. Generally I find that anything necessary / wanted, will cycle through in a 1 or 2 month period. I'm lucky enough to be near a "Microcenter", and sometimes they're actually cheaper than Newegg on a given item. IE, I bought a Cooler Master "Hyper 212" HSF for $19.95. While Newegg had it for $30.00. Likewise a Core i3-530 for $99.95 when it's usually $110.00 + at "The Egg". (This ignores the 6% sales tax in PA, which pretty much evens the price, but you walk out with the thing in your hand, how cool is that)?

    Anyway shop wisely, and don't forget, since you'll be using your credit card for mail order, you have to get that extra few bucks off everything, since you'll wind up paying interest on your stuff, and the savings will help to offset that.
     
  4. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 8,457   +228

    Well, fine. No problem. No offense but you contradict yourself a bit later. To wit:
    So you have changed or are planning to change RAM, video card, PSU, hard drive and optical drive. I thought you said you were too lazy to do all that. :)
     
  5. Night Hacker

    Night Hacker TS Enthusiast Posts: 112   +12

    To those that keep saying you have to buy an OS, no, you do not. You can get Ubuntu for free, it's a 64 bit operating system that will run quite a few Windows programs via WINE as well as a large number of software titles available for free (this could be worth it alone if you're on a budget). As for keyboard and mouse, come on, you can get them both for under $20, although a person building a new system probably already have a keyboard, mouse and probably a monitor.

    Even if it costs more, I still highly recommend buying your own parts as you can choose better quality parts that better suit your needs (or lower quality depending on your needs) and that will not only teach you more about how your system is built, but better prepare you for upgrading it in the future. It's EASY to go cheap, and save lots of money now.... but LONG TERM is key here. You won't be saving money if you buy cheap parts now and then have to replace some of them more often. I used to have to upgrade my computer every 2 years because I went cheap. After I decided to buy better quality parts, it cost me more now, but they lasted a few years longer which in the long term cost me much less, and saved the hassle of rebuilding/installing etc, plus you'll get the improved performance, something you'll never know with cheap parts.
     
  6. TheQuestian

    TheQuestian TS Rookie

    The point for and against OEMs is well-taken, I think. IMO, it's really not a worthwhile struggle trying to price-match a monitor-included-OS-included-value-box deal from Dell or Best Buy under $500. But I still wouldn't recommend it to my mother. I take into consideration the QUALITY of the components that the average user thinks "won't matter," like the power supply, motherboard, and chassis.

    Thinking carefully about it; what is the typical reason for replacing an OEM system? Catastrophic failure beyond reasonable repair. I take into consideration the likelihood of disaster (failed PSU, failed motherboard) and how much that is worth to me. Really, when it comes down to brass tacks, how important is your data, and how necessary is your machine? If the response is "not very," to both of those, then by all means, grab a great deal with the kitchen sink thrown in. But I hope you won't expect reliability (term papers, family photos, etc.), and won't depend too heavily on it a year or two down the line. Remember, these are the things that you once found overpriced.

    Surely, there are more reliable OEMs out there, but every wire and screw will be double-checked and double-tested before anyone in my family powers on a system, and I will sleep better nights. At least until someone needs tech support. ;)

    Just my $.02.
     
  7. "So you have changed or are planning to change RAM, video card, PSU, hard drive and optical drive. I thought you said you were too lazy to do all that."

    i changed the psu for the possibility of adding a vid card in the future. that took less than a half hour and requires no intimate knowledge of computer hardware. (take the old psu out, put new one in, match the connectors to the components; it's so incredibly simple.) adding ram or changing the vid card is even quicker. blu-ray only if the future mandates it. those things are minor compared to building an entire system from the ground up after buying all the individual components after doing the necessary research to know that they'll all work together. that's the stuff i'm too lazy for.

    my point is i don't have the time to **** around to do all the computer research, build a system from the ground up, and install an os on it. i want to just buy a box, take it home, and have it running in 10 mins of it entering the house. that's pretty hard to do with a diy.
     
  8. "The point for and against OEMs is well-taken, I think. IMO, it's really not a worthwhile struggle trying to price-match a monitor-included-OS-included-value-box deal from Dell or Best Buy under $500. But I still wouldn't recommend it to my mother. I take into consideration the QUALITY of the components that the average user thinks "won't matter," like the power supply, motherboard, and chassis.

    Thinking carefully about it; what is the typical reason for replacing an OEM system? Catastrophic failure beyond reasonable repair. I take into consideration the likelihood of disaster (failed PSU, failed motherboard) and how much that is worth to me. Really, when it comes down to brass tacks, how important is your data, and how necessary is your machine? If the response is "not very," to both of those, then by all means, grab a great deal with the kitchen sink thrown in. But I hope you won't expect reliability (term papers, family photos, etc.), and won't depend too heavily on it a year or two down the line. Remember, these are the things that you once found overpriced.

    Surely, there are more reliable OEMs out there, but every wire and screw will be double-checked and double-tested before anyone in my family powers on a system, and I will sleep better nights.

    At least until someone needs tech support. ;)"

    this is a ridiculous assertion. you're implying that oems are automatically inferior by measure of reliability because you think that the manufacturer has cut costs in quality in assembly. this is an assumption with very little imperical data to support it.

    most machines, be it oem or diy, break down because of improper use. this happens more to oems though because there are more people out there that buy oems that lack basic computer knowledge. the diy guys know how to maintain the machine that they put together. they're more computer-savvy. the average guy that bought that cheap dell doesn't. and chances are, that guy will be more likely to get a virus in his computer or do something worse on it. i don't like building my own computers. but like my the cars, i maintain my computers. my oem computers worked perfectly until the day i replaced them due to obsolescence. after all, in the end, the components in your diy are still mass-produced components that came out of china or something. and like oem boxes, those components were subject to the same quality control as oem boxes on the assembly line and thus are subject to the same tolerances as most other mass-produced electronics goods.

    also, if your psu or motherboard fails, your data is still there, safe on the hard drive (assuming, of course, you save often if you value your data to begin with). now unless your diy hard drive was hand built by gods or something, i don't see how you can guarantee that your drive is more reliable than my oem's. there's even a good chance they were built by the same company. in the end, if your data is so valuable, then back them up as you have always been reminded to do. that's the ultimate fail-safe.

    the overpriced factor is not due to the over-engineered-for-reliability's-sake aspect that you mentioned. it's for features that the average oem buyer will most likely never need nor notice. does the average oem buyer really need that ridiculously fast ram? does he really need a 10,000rpm drive? does he really need a huge heatsink and a noctua fan? does he need that radeon 5850? if the computer user is just using his computer for term papers, picture viewing, and the occassional mp3/movie use (things that even a $500 acer laptop can do), does he really need top-notch performance and a motherboard that supports overclocking?

    it's like a dslr vs point-and-shoot camera debate...
     
  9. TheQuestian

    TheQuestian TS Rookie

    While I'm afraid I don't share your passion in this debate, I don't mind addressing a few of your points. :)

    You suggested in your response that individual components are equally likely to fail or function, whether they be hand-picked, quality name brands (GIGABYTE, Seasonic, Corsair) or less-reputable budget brands (Foxconn, BIOSTAR, etc.). You claimed that name brand DIY parts are overpriced due to their advanced features that no average user would care about, and not their reliability, stability, or known reputation for quality. If this is your position, I believe this disagreement will a brief one. I simply think that is false. What exorbitant features would a $100 baseline GIGABYTE motherboard possess that a $50-$60 Foxconn board would not? A $50 Corsair power supply vs. a $20 no-name? $50 G.SKILL RAM vs. ValueRAM? I find it difficult to agree with you on this.

    These parts are not glitzy or glamorous. Games and advanced applications couldn't care less about which components are installed, performance-wise. They are built for long-term stability under extreme conditions. Reviews, word-of-mouth from long-time builders, and my limited personal experience have convinced me that I would rather build a system of reputable parts than opt for an OEM. I don't see what is ridiculous about that, but you are welcome to your opinions. After testing a rig for a week or so with reputable parts (during which time they are all covered under warranty), I feel 95% certainty that any failures are very unlikely for the next 4+ years. With lesser quality parts (built for short-term stability), I simply don't. That is all I have to say about it. Happy computing. :D
     
  10. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    Dell will send you the OS disk if you call them, and identify yourself as the original owner. If you are not, register as new owner first.
     
  11. Building your own system is a great and maybe essential learning experience but not practical for saving money.

    The savings of $70 is a total wash because of the time spent putting it together, the possibility of something going wrong, and no OS.

    Check out refurb OEM systems if you want to save money like the ones fro Dell outlet. I buy scratch and dent Optiplex models for work all the time. Sometimes you will have to order more RAM or a video card but the consistency is good in my experience.
     
     
  12. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 4,378   +98

    I thought it was a very good review, and offered something for everyone.

    While I have indeed previously built many systems for myself, friends and family, my latest computer was in fact a Dell purchased item.

    Simply because at £350 (inc VAT (taxes) and delivery) it was an absolute steal. I've not had a single issue with it whatsoever. I've upgraded it as I've owned it, like I do all my systems, but I can honestly say in the last 4-5 Dell purchases I've made, not one has played up or required any warranty repairs.

    It is indeed nice to purchase your own hardware and build your own system, its not for everyone. It's also not a case of just because you didn't purchase those items individually you've got a PC comprising of inferior quality parts either.

    Overall, I think this review achieved its aim - It fairly compared the choices, budgets and end results that can be achieved with the different builds. OS choice can be somewhat hard to quantify in all honesty - Just because a PC ships with W7 doesn't mean a new DIY build should include it. There are plenty of choices. I purchased my Dell with Vista, and immediately formated and then installed XP Pro on it. I then purchased several W7 licenses once it had been released and updated all of my computers from XP to W7. I never even used my new PC with Vista.
     
  13. pmshah

    pmshah TS Rookie Posts: 81

    On my recent visit to US I found something very strange. The prices of ram in India are practically half that of what is available on line in US. This too with brand names like Kingston and Transcend with genuine life time warranty honored by across the counter exchange. The motherboards and CPUs and hard disk drives come with similar warranty for 5 years. Even power supplies are sold with 5 year warranty.

    Most of the major brands have collection/exchange centers spread across the country. Companies like Intel and Seagate have their own courier service which collects from and delivers to your home!

    To top it all each critical item is independently warranted and one need not worry about handling the entire CPU.

    So if this price structure and warranty were to be reflected in your study the home brew PC would come out even better.
     
  14. What these comparisons lack are benchmark results to compare performance.

    Windows 7 and Vista have the built-in Windows Experience Index, and it is meant to compare performance. The budget box's graphics will probably score less than 3.0 and may have trouble running the aero interface - whereas the brand name boxes should run aero easily.

    I have not tested - but I believe that you need less RAM with 32 bit Windows than 64 bit. So you maybe able to get the same memory benchmark from 2GB 32 bit and 4GB 64 bit. I have also noticed that lower speed RAM will often achieve the same benchmark - and I think it is related to the processor speed.
     


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