Build or buy?

  F1Chris 01:56 18 Aug 2009

So I've decided after 6 years it's time to say goodbye to the old P4 2.6Ghz and say hello to all those games I can't play by investing in a new PC, mainly for gaming and photo editing. Since I don't buy PCs often I want a pretty good system that'll keep me going for a few years, overclocking when it slows me down.

A self build sounds appealing because I assumed it would prove cheaper, but is it? My budget is up to £1k and while I'm flexible what I'm looking at is...

Intel Core i7 920.
6gb DDR3 RAM
Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R/ASUS1366 P6T-SE or similar
Radeon 1GB HD4890
500GB-750GB HD
650W Be Quiet Dark Power PSU
Coolermaster or Antec case
22-24" TFT
Windows 7
..and a few other extras.

I've priced this up using Ebuyer and Scan and it pretty much hits the £1k mark, as do the following systems..

click here
Eclipse Titan - PC Advisor best buy

click here
Palicomp Core i7 Blitz

I can configure a Cyberpower system to a similar spec too.

So to finally get to the point. Is it worth me building a system or just buying one of the above and getting the odd extra (new keyboard/mouse) thrown in and of course, the warranty? I'm struggling to see the advantage of a self build, other that the satisfaction.

  Si_L 02:18 18 Aug 2009

and I am very excited at the prospect. I can't help you if you decide to go down the build route but let me add my two cents.

First off, I totted up the total cost of my components, and then went on several websites to try and match as close as I could to the same spec. My own build came out cheaper on every site, and by a good chunk too (that also includes the Desktop Option site - don't get anyone started on their customer service but I have found they have good prices, and I wanted the lowest quote).

Secondly, if you self build you don't get the warranty of a shop bought one, but I think I am right in saying that each component will have its own warranty anyway, just keep hold of all the receipts. Also, many shop built computer warranties become void if you tinker with the PC, something I very much dislike and was the driving force behind me wanting to build myself, plus I wanted to build specifically a very quiet PC.

Last thing to consider is the fact that if you build yourself, not only is it exactly to your spec, but you are sure of the brand and quality you are putting in the machine. I'm sure many manufacturers cut costs by including the odd no-name brand to save a few pence. Also, by building yourself, you will gain a far better understanding (if you haven't already) of how your computer hardware works, which is always a bonus.

  Si_L 02:24 18 Aug 2009

Article hear that sums up the pros and cons nicely: click here

Interesting that they say that cost is usually a downside to a self build, I have found the opposite true. However, it also says "The cost disadvantage does not always hold true though. As the more money one is willing to spend on a computer system, the more likely you will be able to save money by building the PC yourself."

So I would definitely check prices carefully, as I have found building to be cheaper and I'm only looking to spend £350-400 on mine.

  laurie53 07:07 18 Aug 2009

If you've never built before the self satisfaction alone makes it worthwhile.

  ened 08:57 18 Aug 2009

From a personal point of view I decided to build my own some years ago because I wanted to break free of the 'experts' who weren't.

You have complete control every step of the way and if something goes wrong you have done it and know what you have done, therefore you know how to rectify it.

Many beginners buy a computer and expect it to work like a car. They will, but you need to follow basic protocols.

When you buy a pre-built, pre-installed system that has very probably not been checked thoroughly you are paying for something that could have built-in incompatibilities which would be easy for the creator to sort out. But then you come along and stick some software in which he probably wouldn't and start getting the Blue screens.

With the help of this forum and this click here I would always recommend building your own.

  961 09:10 18 Aug 2009

I started building my own because I found after sales so poor especially being out in the sticks where the faults were never suitable for an on-site, it always had to be back to base with all the down time that entailed

You normally won't save much money but you will gain the knowledge you need to put the thing right if something goes wrong. That is worth a load of dosh. Added to which you can build for quality rather than use the cheapest components

Start with a good case and good motherboard. If you are a little nervouse build the first using a ready assembled and tested motherboard and processor

The Build your own web site is well worth consulting

  ened 09:19 18 Aug 2009

I should have added that eBuyer is a really useful site to check both compatibility and reliability.

For each item they usually have a 'people who bought this also ....' section and their reviews are useful as well.

  interzone55 09:21 18 Aug 2009

A couple of points to ponder whilst you decide.

If you buy a pre-built PC you'll have one point of contact for warranty claims

If you build it yourself you'll be a the mercy of the myriad shops where you bought all the bits. Did you buy the hard drive from Acme Computers, or from Honest Dave at the computer fair.

As others have said, building a PC is very satisfying, but it can be frustrating. I once had a problem with a blue screen when installing windows. The Hex error code pointed to a problem with RAM, so I changed the RAM twice (incurring a restocking charge each time as the shop tested the RAM as OK). On the fourth attempt I had a brainwave and changed the VGA card and it worked straight away - the faulty RAM was on the graphics card.

You'll learn a lot from building your PC, whether this is worth the frustration and probable additional expense is down to you to decide. Remember that the likes of Dell and HP buy components by the truck load, so they can build a PC far cheaper than you or I.

One final point. Unless you like the phone ringing at all hours day & night, never, ever build a PC for a friend or relative - you'll simply become their personal tech support...

  Picklefactory 09:27 18 Aug 2009

I've built 3 now. In my experience I don't really think I saved any money, but as mentioned above, I felt confident in the fact that I had personally selected all the components, so I knew exactly the quality of each piece. I also gained plenty of satisfaction in knowing that it had been very carefully assembled by me.

Downsides are that I had to do plenty of research in checking component compatibility and prices, so it was quite time consuming.

I would definitely suggest trying to source as many components as possible from one supplier (I tend to stick with Ebuyer as personal choice), as P&P costs can add a significant chunk onto your overall price, so you can save plenty by making one large order. My 1st build I failed to do that, and P&P alone came to over £40 for everything.

If you choose to buy complete, DEFINITELY check out plenty of reviews of whoever you are considering as a supplier. For me at least, I would happily pay extra to use a company with a good reputation for quality and service rather than save a few quid and potentially have a nightmare experience later on. Peace of mind is worth cash to me. I know Si_L has used Desktop/PC option with limited success, but personally poles and barges come to mind when you read the vast amount of painful reviews from their customers. I think he is in a pretty small minority there.

If you want satisfaction and a bit of a challenge, then build, but do be aware, as Si_L pointed out, you have no overall warranty. You have individual warranty on the quality of the parts, but if you have chosen badly or pick incompatible parts or make any errors in assembly, you carry the can. If you'd rather keep the onus on the supplier then buy.

  ened 09:52 18 Aug 2009

On alan14 point about warranty.

Firstly I would say that today's components are extremely robust and prepared to a high spec. The chances are that, if you have assembled a machine and something doesn't work, it is your mistake rather than a part.

Maybe I have been lucky but I have built six machines for myself now and needed to send nothing back.

I try to get as much as possible from eBuyer because they are competetively priced and offer free P&P.

  tigertop2 09:53 18 Aug 2009

Starting 18 months ago I have now built 6. Previously I had never even looked inside a PC. But in doing so I have learned a lot and can fix things when they do go wrong, often using the good advice you get from these forums. Go ahead and do it -you may save money and reduce PC downtime in the future

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