cheaper to build or buy?

By krazy252 · 14 replies
Sep 4, 2005
  1. hi my sister is going to university this year and she wants a new computer. she wants to spend around £300 (maybe a little more) what i wanted to know was would it be cheaper for me to buy a computer from say dell or pcworld or would i get a better spec if i built it myself? would the increaswe in spec be worth the time and trouble involved in getting the parts from the net and putting them together?
    i wouldnt mind building it the only problem would be that i dont know what are good parts to use and where to get the parts from but this i'm sure i can find from this site anyway.
  2. CWLG7691

    CWLG7691 TS Rookie

    Well, as I see it, that is trick question. Basically, it depends...

    Are you wanting just a word processor? Is she into games, internet, etc? If her use is basic, or minimial, I would just buy a dell or something. They have all sorts of sales, and usually come with monitors and printers. I doubt you could build a compariable system with monitor and printer for the same cost. Such is life with large corporations.

    Then again, it also depends on if you have any parts lying around. You would be suprised how many simple monitors you can get at garage sales nowadays. But once again, that depends on her use.

    Now if she is going to college to study computers, would rather play a MMORPG while defragging than attend a fraternity kegger, or will complian about a single degree of heat on her CPU, do you and herself a favor. Build it.
  3. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 5,746   +14

    well for $350 you won't get much. It is far better and cheaper to build than to buy in most cases.

    If she is just going to word process and not play any serious games, than a cheap, simple computer is sufficient.

    At the minimum have 512MB of ram, a 40GB hard drive, USB 2.0, and a parallel port ( to accomodate older printers).

    If she has tons of music and videos go with a huge hard drive (100+ GB), If not, 40gb is overkill for most people.

    Ensure she has an anti virus, anti trojan horse program like spybot and ad-aware, and a decent firewall like zonealarm.

    No need to purchase MS office for $350, use free open-office at also does PDF exports, DOC exports, and XML exports.

    No need for internet explorer, download Mozilla Suite or Mozilla Firefox. (suite is better)
    also FREE at

    No need for outlook either, download thunderbird - far better at

    Sunbird Calandar program is also available for download and free.

    I am a big promoter of open-source software......
  4. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,634

    Only problem is the wretched Operating System. Buy XP youself off the shelf and there goes a 4th or 5th of your budget. Save some money there by getting an upgrade disk, IF you have a disk for a previous OS.

    I would build your own, use simple parts, nothing fancy. You always have the option to upgrade later if she wants more power. Or else if you buy a cheap **** Dell or HP, there is little you can do with it upgrade wise.
  5. krazy252

    krazy252 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    thanks guys i think i might go for the building option and keep it basic, she isnt really in to her games and isnt the best with computers, just needs it for music and uni work. so can anyone suggest a motherbourd and processor to use the rest i think i could manage to get on my own.
    the software isnt an issue i can sort that out no prob.
  6. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,216   +483

    I know this is after the fact, but in my opinion if you're not building a high performance machine it's hard to compete with the larger corporations. I'd buy if it's a budget box, build if it's a performance box.
  7. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,452

  8. krazy252

    krazy252 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    thanks everone i think after the links that realblackstuff gave i've decided to get the £399 computer from it looks real good value for money.
  9. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 5,746   +14

    if you already have a monitor, you can save a few more bucks.
  10. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,452

  11. krazy252

    krazy252 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    thanks for the heads up i've come across this emachine which looks quite good all i need to do is pick up a cheap monitor.
    what do you recon its the emachnine 6260 at
    if you let me know i would appritiate it thanks
    if not theres a computer fair on in my town on the weekend maybe i could try and find one there.
  12. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,634

    The thing you have to worry about when buying a boxed, OEM PC like that is the upgrading and future it has. Does it have an AGP slot for video? Does it have at least a 300w power supply in case you add other parts later? Is there room in the case for a 2nd hard drive should you need one?

    If you just want to use the thing for 2 or 3 years and toss it, fine. But if you plan on keeping it up to snuff and adding/changing things as time goes on, build your own.
  13. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 5,746   +14

    300 watts ain't much for a power supply. I wouldn't recommend anything less than 450W for most new systems.
  14. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,634

    Tedster I agree, point is most of the OEMs come with MicroATX power supplies that are rarely even past 250W. And that ain't much!
  15. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,452

    If you think you'd be able to do any maintenance yourself (if ever required), that Mesh PC is still a good deal.
    If you want to buy at a fair, their motto is: "Here today, gone tomorrow". 'Nuff said
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