Build a PC vs. Pre-Built (Scoring a GPU in the Process)

Thorney

Posts: 75   +28
My last 4 PCs have all been what you call boutique builds, I always get a pro company to build them and I spec them as close to my ideal as possible. One from Mesh, Overclockers and two from Scan. My last PC cost £1899 with a GeForce RTX 3080 and that was a day one purchase I battled for. Be lucky to get a 3080 for much less than that right now. Only things I compromised on were the PSU and the case.
 

Aranarth

Posts: 95   +83
I just purchased an Alienware R10 for myself and it is a nice machine and a serious upgrade from my home built I7-2600k.

Configuration as purchased:
Alienware r10 in Black
Basic ethernet, windows 7 home, 8gb ram, 2tb hdd, Radeon 6800xt 1000watt ps, water cooling, bluetooth and ac wireless.

As delivered:
The same as above but with a Killer NIC instead of basic NIC.
Took one month to be delivered.

Upgrades:
16gbx2 3200mhz ram
2tb WD Black (750) nvme (boot drive) I had to scrounge up my own screw from my laptop parts bin to secure it.)
1tb corsair mx500 (older game storage)
3 corsair ml120 pro 2000rpm fans.
Swapped out front fan and top nidec 120x40mm server fan.
Top fan taken out and water cooler sandwiched between pair of corsair ml120pro 120x25mm fans linked by a pwm splitter.
Water block was reinstalled with reapplied thermal grizzly paste.

Completely reinstalled windows 7 home with windows 7 pro all latest drivers and firmware updates installed.

Machine has quirks:
If you hard power off the machine by holding down the power button you have to clear the cmos to get it to boot back up again. Not doing so gives you an undocumented blink code. (Common complaint on Dell forums.) I had to scrounge my own cmos jumper from an old IDE HDD.

Bios is not latest agesa so you cannot turn on smart access memory in drivers.

Ram needs to be installed in slots 2 and 4 for it to boot and run memory in dual channel mode.
Ram does run at 3200mhz when set in bios.

On the flip side, Machine is MUCH quieter at full load and a little cooler.
I have the fans biased to run at 60% minimum which is almost inaudible but still moving plenty of air. They take longer to ramp to max speed under full load and when they do it is still not so loud as the nidec server fan. (Nidec fan is just obnoxiously LOUD.)
PBO is enabled, 6800xt is not overclocked yet.

Monitor is a gigabyte ultra wide screen 3440x1440 144hz display.
Runs Borderlands 3 max all settings at an average of 100fps+ in all environments.

Would I purchase OEM machine again? HMM... Well... If I was in the same situation with a really old machine that was starting to choke on games and the top tier video cards were selling for twice msrp I guess I would. If things were normal, NO I would not.

Still my kids think the R10 case looks "KEWL DAD!" :D
 
Just be cautious about what you are buying. The dell Intel versions of the desktops come with 11th gen chips, but 10th gen motherboards/chipsets. Buyer beware and do research first!
 

duckofdeath

Posts: 381   +481
..Or, people could just show some self control and wait for things to settle down.

Just saying.
Yeah, true. But it is frustrating. I decided to build a new PC from scratch last summer. Getting pumped for the RTX3000 vs RX6000 wars. I decided to get a GTX1650 Super as a temporary GPU while I waited for the "real" GPUs to become available. Now, almost a year later, I'm wondering if I'll end up upgrading the MB, CPU and memory in that "new" build before I'll see a current gen GPU.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,506   +1,091
...or people could just show some self control and wait for things to settle down.

Just saying.

Youl be waiting a while. No sign of this shortage ending anytime soon. My guess would be 12 months from now we might see a decline in demand. And then maybe prices will fall. There is a reason Nvidia aren’t releasing a new range in 2021.

I hope I am wrong though. That would be lovely!
 

Geralt

Posts: 294   +357
TechSpot Elite
My computer (that I have myself built) can bring any of those pre-built computers to their knees. If you want to waste your money you can buy some of those expensive pre-built crap.
 
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Aranarth

Posts: 95   +83
My computer (that I have myself built) can bring any of those pre-built computers to their knees. If you want to waste your money you can buy some of those expensive pre-built crap.
In this the case the prebuilt saved me some cash.... All in all for all the quirks the machine is still decent and saved me about $500-$750.

The biggest downside is the the mainboard. I would have loved to have a well made mainboard by a well known maker with an up to date bios in there.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,256   +1,386
TechSpot Elite
In this the case the prebuilt saved me some cash.... All in all for all the quirks the machine is still decent and saved me about $500-$750.

The biggest downside is the the mainboard. I would have loved to have a well made mainboard by a well known maker with an up to date bios in there.
Yeah, those brand-in-a-box PCs skimp on the motherboards more than anything else because skimping on a mobo doesn't outwardly show in performance. It makes the biggest difference when it comes to expandability and reliability, two things that generally don't become evident until after the warranty period has ended.
 

Aranarth

Posts: 95   +83
Yeah, those brand-in-a-box PCs skimp on the motherboards more than anything else because skimping on a mobo doesn't outwardly show in performance. It makes the biggest difference when it comes to expandability and reliability, two things that generally don't become evident until after the warranty period has ended.
No worries, I'm been building computers for 30 years. Will still make a nice hand me down when the time is right.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,256   +1,386
TechSpot Elite
No worries, I'm been building computers for 30 years. Will still make a nice hand me down when the time is right.
Ah! So you're like me! My first build was a 286-16 on a Biostar baby-AT motherboard with 1 or 2 MB of SIP RAM (I can't remember exactly), two Seagate 20MB MFM drives using an RLL controller (which doubled their capacity but reduced their reliability) and an ATi EGA Wonder video card. That was back in June of 1988.

You'll remember the old-time names like Quantum, Kalok, Maxtor, Micropolis, Oak, Orchid, Diamond, S3, Matrox, 3dfx and Cyrix. It's amazing how the market has completely changed in such a short time.
 

Aranarth

Posts: 95   +83
Ah! So you're like me! My first build was a 286-16 on a Biostar baby-AT motherboard with 1 or 2 MB of SIP RAM (I can't remember exactly), two Seagate 20MB MFM drives using an RLL controller (which doubled their capacity but reduced their reliability) and an ATi EGA Wonder video card. That was back in June of 1988.

You'll remember the old-time names like Quantum, Kalok, Maxtor, Micropolis, Oak, Orchid, Diamond, S3, Matrox, 3dfx and Cyrix. It's amazing how the market has completely changed in such a short time.
Started with a Tandy 1000hx. 64kb boot eeprom to hold dos 2.11 so the machine had a read-only "SSD" before it was kewl. Booted in seconds. (8088 and 256kb ram which was eventually upgraded to 640kb)

Second machine was a 386dx with cyrix 387dx 4mb ram and yes a Kalok HDD. Drive went bad and we replaced it with a Quantum Fireball 100mb drive.

After that a string of 486, dx, dx2, dx4 etc from various manufacturers. K6-2, k6-III, etc. etc.

 

Aranarth

Posts: 95   +83
I should also mention I actually know what an "Avro Arrow" is.
I fully believe that was a real contender and should never have been cancelled... That Iroquois engine was state of the art for the time.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,256   +1,386
TechSpot Elite
Started with a Tandy 1000hx. 64kb boot eeprom to hold dos 2.11 so the machine had a read-only "SSD" before it was kewl. Booted in seconds. (8088 and 256kb ram which was eventually upgraded to 640kb)

Second machine was a 386dx with cyrix 387dx 4mb ram and yes a Kalok HDD. Drive went bad and we replaced it with a Quantum Fireball 100mb drive.

After that a string of 486, dx, dx2, dx4 etc from various manufacturers. K6-2, k6-III, etc. etc.
Ahh, the Tandy 1000 computers! It's funny you know because Radio Shack could have been a permanent leader in computers but, like with a lot of companies, some arrogant, corrupt and greedy CEO gained control of the Tandy corporation and did things to screw people over. I remember laughing at how the Tandy 1000 RL was being marketed as a "great home computer" while it had an 8086 at its heart and was more comparable to a PCjr with what it could do. Radio Shack was still trying to sell the thing for over $1,000 when the 386 was en vogue.

Underhanded measures that exploited what people didn't know about computers instead of truly trying to help them along brought what was once the greatest technology store on the planet to near extinction. The polar opposite of that was Gateway 2000, a company that became a giant success because it was founded on the principles of honesty, integrity and employee participation. Then, someone who wasn't the founder got ahold of it, and, like all CEOs who are obsessed with cost-cutting, the new CEO ran it into the ground. The once-awesome Gateway 2000 became a nearly-extinct subsidiary of Acer that just does craptops and tablets.

The funny thing is that when a company (ANY company) gets a CEO who actually has common sense (aka not out-of-touch-with-reality), that corporation becomes so successful and powerful that I often wonder how other corporations don't see this. Craig Jelinek of Costco is a perfect case-in-point.
 
You are holding up some time. No indication of this lack of finishing at any point in the near future. My conjecture would be a year from now we may see a decrease sought after. And afterward, perhaps costs will fall. There is an explanation Nvidia isn't delivering another reach in 2021.

I trust I am off-base, however. That would be dazzling!

Definitely, those brand-in-a-container PCs hold back on the motherboards more than all else on the grounds that holding back on a mobo doesn't apparently show in execution. It has the greatest effect with regards to expandability and unwavering quality, two things that by and large don't get apparent until after the guarantee time frame has finished. Interestingly, when an organization (ANY organization) gets a CEO who really has good judgment (also known as not withdrawn from the real world), that company turns out to be so effective and incredible that I frequently can't help thinking about how different partnerships don't see this. Craig Jelinek of Costco is an ideal a valid example.
 

mountains

Posts: 27   +36
If you do decide to do a more boutique oriented article, include AVA Direct as one of the boutiques in the comparison.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 211   +192
Youl be waiting a while. No sign of this shortage ending anytime soon. My guess would be 12 months from now we might see a decline in demand. And then maybe prices will fall. There is a reason Nvidia aren’t releasing a new range in 2021.

I hope I am wrong though. That would be lovely!
Graphic cards typically gets updated every 1.5 to 2 years, if you don't count those mid cycle refresh with marginally better specs, but same architecture. So no surprises that you won't see anything new from Nvidia and AMD this year. Moreover, there is no point releasing a new card at this point in time when they can barely produce enough.