The Advantages of Choosing to Build a PC

Many look at the those people who service and build PCs as technological geniuses. That’s not always the case. Myself for example. I grew up helping my father and older brother work on cars and trucks. I’ve assisted in changing engines, transmissions and everything in between. So I should be an ace mechanic right? WRONG. I wish I was. It would have saved me a lot of money over the years but the fact remains that with all of that experience, I can only change oil and spark plugs. Point being: I’m not at all mechanically inclined. I never had a PC in my life until the spring of 2000. I would purchase various computer magazines and I found PCs fascinating. If my computer was running slow, I wanted to know just WHY it was running slow and how to speed it up. So I learned how to upgrade my RAM. When I wanted to upgrade my optical drive, I did that myself. Little by little, I kept reading and modifying my PC and eventually it no longer had any of the original parts to it. The point is that if I can build a PC, I think ANYONE with half a brain can learn how to build a PC.

What’s wrong with purchasing a PC that’s already built?

Nothing. Purchasing a PC has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Let’s discuss some of them.

The advantages to purchasing a PC are as follows…. A New PC is likely to include a warranty and possibly “in home service”. If you are building a PC, only each individual part has a warranty. A hard drive company for example will NOT remove your hard drive for you, transfer data, and re-install your operating system. It is up to you to do all of that. A purchased PC will be all optimized when you hook it up. If you are building a PC, YOU will have to set up your BIOS and (in most cases) update it (and that can be a bit tricky for a newbie). You shouldn’t have to update your BIOS or do much tweaking at all on a purchased PC. Some companies like Dell and HP for example mass produce some particular PCs and offer them for a MUCH lower price than you could likely build one for.

Now the disadvantages of purchasing a PC are as follows…..Nearly EVERY major PC manufacturer receives compensation from companies like AOL, AT&T, McAffee and SEVERAL other computer product and Internet service provider companies. In exchange, your purchased PC will come with a BUNCH of programs that you have no use for or “trial” versions of certain software applications. Many of these programs are set to run constantly in the background and unnecessarily task your CPU and RAM. When I set up someones newly purchased computer in their home, It takes me about 15 – 20 minutes maximum and then another 45 – 60 minutes getting rid of all the useless stuff that the computer is ridden with and stopping things from constantly running in the background. You know those Dell PCs that you can get for as low as $299? Yes, it’s true. Dell can offer you a fully functional PC for under $300 in in many cases, ship it free to your door. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR friends. These low-end PCs are loaded with the cheapest processors, in most cases you have to stick with integrated video, they are not upgradeable at all (no, wait, I think you CAN add another RAM stick, but that’s IT) and they cram as much crap in these tiny cases as they can, thus minimizing air flow (heat KILLS PCs). Can you upgrade your purchased PC? You can’t tell from looking at it online or in the store and don’t expect the sales person to be completely honest with you. I had a customer at one time who’s integrated sound in her purchased PC died. She wanted me to install a sound card. No problem. I opened the tower to find that the motherboard only had ONE PCI slot and her dial up modem was plugged into it. Lucky for her, she used high speed Internet so we removed her dial up modem and placed a sound card in that PCI slot.

Now in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a “builder”. I would go so far as to say that I would NEVER purchase a pre-assembled PC. I’m very anti-Dell you could say. But I will admit that purchasing a pre-built computer rig DOES indeed have it’s advantages. However, there are advantages to building a PC and there are (though I hate to admit it) some disadvantages as well.

The advantages of building a PC are as follows…..Why would anyone buy a Corvette and never drive it over 30 miles per hour? Go to a major computer store and shop for a computer and watch them try to sell you a powerhouse. Sure, you can spend $4500 US on a new kick ass brand name PC but if all you’re going to use it for is surfing the web, email, and playing solitaire, you might as well have a Corvette and never go faster than 30 miles per hour. When you choose to build a PC, you can build it to do what YOU want it to do. Your tower can be any variety of the hot styles and colors, you can put as many bells and whistles on it when you build a PC. You can make sure that when you build a PC that it will be upgradable. You can build a PC a little at a time. There’s no need to shell out 100% of the cost right away. You can buy the case, then little by little when your funds permit, you can add to it. Though you’ll get a little bit of useless software included with your operating system, it will be MUCH less when you build a PC than it would if you were to purchase one.

And yes, there ARE (though it pains me to point them out) disadvantages when you build a PC. They are as follows…..Tech support? Look in the mirror. YOU built it, so now YOU are the most qualified to trouble shoot any hardware or software conflicts. You can get a new Dell PC these days for as low as $300. It’s not likely that you can build a PC of that quality for that money. (but who would want to, those PCs are crap) I will say however that companies like Dell and HP have come up with some decent and upgradeable PCs recently that boast plenty of power. A friend recently purchased an HP media PC with a dual core processor, PLENTY of hard drive space a kicking video all in one card, a removable second hard drive and an included wide screen 19″ flat panel monitor for about $1400 US. I tried, I really did, I priced several different pieces of hardware to try to come up with a comparable PC and monitor but I couldn’t build a PC of that caliber for $1400.

I didn’t let my friend’s HP sway me a bit though. I’m still “pro build” and suspect that I always will be. I’m a hardware freak. Hardcore. Down to the bone. When you build a PC, you can make changes during the construction. You can make your case look and perform as elaborate or as drab as you wish. I’d gladly pay more money, go without the “in home service” and tech support to be able to build a PC for myself. It won’t be a Dell. It won’t be a Gateway. It won’t be an HP or even an Alien-ware, It will be “Karl’s PC” through and through.

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