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toupeiro
December 12th, 2007, 08:36 AM
So last week, I went to go buy some RAM for my friends computer. 2GB. The price of 2GB@DDR2-533 was $49.00 after tax. The price of 2GB@DDR400 was $185.00. So now comes the question. Is it worth building the upper end clone systems with todays hardware depreciation, or buying something pre-packaged?

I built the PC I am using (Athlon 64 x2 4200+) with 2GB of DDR-400RAM in the beginning of 2006. I bought the 2GB of ram for about 80 dollars at Frye's Electronics. I've built my own PC's since I was 14 years old and I put together my own first 486 with money I earned working for my uncles computer shop during the summer. After seeing the rate at which prices fluxuate today, is there really much value in building a system anymore? There was a time when new chips sockets weren't introduced so frequently, and when memory architecture would stay mainstream longer than it has lately. The benefit to building your own computer was always the amount of machine you could get for the money + the smaller cost to upgrade in the future. the future usually being around 2 years. Here I am just about 2 years later, and to upgrade just the RAM in my system would cost me double what it would have a year ago. It would also cost me a lot in startup costs if I decided to get a board, CPU's and RAM to jump up to the latest available, when the performance I am getting out of my machine today is not demanding that level of a change in the least bit. Either way, I am losing. If I step up to the next gen hardware, I'm out a lot of money and won't see much benefit based on the performance I get today, but if I don't then I am still stuck with the inflated prices of now last-gen hardware should I want a small performance boost on my current system Basically, the investment in custom machines isn't taking you as far today as it did just 2-3 years ago.

Is anyone else at this kind of a crossroads with building systems versus buying them?

Sef
December 12th, 2007, 10:51 AM
Building your system gives you the satisfactiion that it is yours and designed how you wanted it.

regomodo
December 12th, 2007, 10:55 AM
build it. it's a whole lot cheaper and you are able to make sure you don't get crappy bits

I couldn't find anything of the specs i wanted in a pre-built system when compared to bits. The proce difference was vast

grim192
December 12th, 2007, 11:02 AM
build it out weighs buying

grim

mips
December 12th, 2007, 01:01 PM
I know what you are saying. I nearly built myself a new pc a short while back because I'm battling to find a socket 939 X2 cpu. My pc is still plenty fast but I would like two core and a extra gig of ram.

I decided not to get a new pc but maybe get myself a dSLR camera as photography is a hobby I enjoy. Maybe somewhere along the line I will find a second hand cpu for peanuts.

n3tfury
December 12th, 2007, 01:05 PM
picking out the right hardware for your needs is harder than the actual build. build it

Black Mage
December 12th, 2007, 01:14 PM
When I build mine, I like to use overkill for a good price to make sure it last a few years. My last computer I built, I got an intel quad core for $250, so I think that can last about a good 5 years.

BTW, I was wondering, are there custom built computer cases where the logo can stuff can be customized to what you want it to be?

tszanon
December 12th, 2007, 01:34 PM
Here in Brazil, most pre-built pcs are...crappy. That's why I've been building my pcs for some years now.

Sure, I spend a lot more money, because computer parts are quite expensive, but that's the only way for me to be sure it won't suddenly die when most needed.

R_U_Q_R_U
December 12th, 2007, 01:40 PM
I am building a new machine when the new Intel chips are released in 2008. I always like to build my own; however, if you work for a company that has a Dell (or other) Employee Purchase Plan you can often get a pretty good discount on a reasonably good machine.

Also, if you look at the new Vostro line of small business computers you can get a pretty good deal. Especially if you have a coupon code for the specific machine.

On the whole, I would rather build me own just cause it is my design and comes with ZERO crapware installed!

Black Mage
December 12th, 2007, 01:54 PM
Discount? Employee only?

Not at www.newegg.com

And this is what I bought for my last comp: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115017

forrestcupp
December 12th, 2007, 02:23 PM
Is anyone else at this kind of a crossroads with building systems versus buying them?
I think a lot of people aren't really getting what you are saying. Of course it is better to build your computer, but it's getting to the point that it is not cheaper.

I'm with you. I have always built my own computers for the past 10 years. But it's getting to the point now that it is a lot cheaper to buy a pre-built one. So what I do now is look for one that is easily upgradeable. It definitely needs to have a PCI-e slot. Some cheap PC's have onboard video with no slot. It needs to have at least 2 or 3 empty PCI slots. It needs to have a decent size case with empty drive ports. Empty RAM slots, plenty of USB's, and the latest processor socket for longevity.

n3tfury
December 12th, 2007, 02:24 PM
Discount? Employee only?

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maybe you need to re-read his post. it doesn't say employee only.

Black Mage
December 12th, 2007, 03:36 PM
Well when building your own, what kind of specs are you looking for?

If your an average joe, go with the pre-built. Built if you want to maximize performance, the better price would be to build your own computer.

Like some of the towers, even by Dell, can be way over priced for what they over. We should get a comparison sheet going.

Black Mage
December 12th, 2007, 03:52 PM
Comparisons Dell vs Built

Dell's $1,099 Computer



Processor
Learn More
Intel® Core™2 Q6600 Quad-Core (8MB L2 cache,2.4GHz,1066FSB)

Operating System
Learn More
Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium with Digital Cable Support

Memory
Learn More
3GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz - 4 DIMMs

Video Cards
Learn More
128MB ATI Radeon HD 2400 PRO

Hard Drive
Learn More
750GB - 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache

Optical Drive
Learn More
Single Drive: 16X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/double layer write capability


Building your own



Processor
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor Model BX80562Q6600 -
Retail 279.99

Operating System
FREE with ubuntu

Motherboard
ABIT IP35-E ATX Intel Motherboard
4 Memory Slots
3 PCI slots
Retail 89.99

Hard Drive
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD7500AAKS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Retail 149.99

RAM
CORSAIR ValueSelect 1GB 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Desktop Memory Model VS1GB400C3 -
Retail 3 X 49.99
*Note that 3 gig of ram is an uncommon number

DVD-Drive
Sony NEC Optiarc Black IDE DVD-ROM Drive Model DDU1615/B2s - OEM
Retail 17.99

Thermaltake Armor Series VA8000BWS Black Computer Case -
Retai 129.99
*Note that it comes with power supply and fans!


Total: $817.92

And this could go up or down depending on exactly what you use. I just tried to match the dell.

So is it cheaper to still build your own?

snickers295
December 12th, 2007, 04:00 PM
Dell's Computer



Processor
Learn More
Intel® Core™2 Q6600 Quad-Core (8MB L2 cache,2.4GHz,1066FSB)

Operating System
Learn More
Genuine Ubuntu 7.4®

Memory
Learn More
3GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz - 4 DIMMs

Video Cards
Learn More
128MB ATI Radeon HD 2400 PRO

Hard Drive
Learn More
750GB - 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache

Optical Drive
Learn More
Single Drive: 16X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/double layer write capability



i build this AMD athlon mp pc myself so i would suggest building your own, that way you know everything you got and its cheaper too.

the reason i quoted, Dell actually sells ubuntu pre-installed PCs so if you don't want to build one, buy one of those!

toupeiro
December 12th, 2007, 05:12 PM
I think a lot of people aren't really getting what you are saying. Of course it is better to build your computer, but it's getting to the point that it is not cheaper.

I'm with you. I have always built my own computers for the past 10 years. But it's getting to the point now that it is a lot cheaper to buy a pre-built one. So what I do now is look for one that is easily upgradeable. It definitely needs to have a PCI-e slot. Some cheap PC's have onboard video with no slot. It needs to have at least 2 or 3 empty PCI slots. It needs to have a decent size case with empty drive ports. Empty RAM slots, plenty of USB's, and the latest processor socket for longevity.

This is exactly where I am at :) I love the feeling I've always gotten out of building my PC's over the years, but part of that satisfaction was knowing that I am getting better components and a level of performance that I can see over the pre-built alternatives at a better price. This is what is much harder to attain. When I go on dell's site and see the option to get a Geforce 8800, and the hottest quad-core chip you can get on the street, and they are going to throw in things like second disks or memory upgrades at discounts sometimes better than what I can find elsewhere, the scales all of a sudden start to lean in directions they previously would not. When I do build PC's, I lead towards a gaming edge without going extreme (I have an SLi Board, but am not utilizing it. I want the option should I ever need it)

When I do make a jump, I do jump ahead of mainstream, but in the past I've made the jump because an amount of time has passed to where I could see the effective value of that kind of a jump. For example, if I were to jump tomorrow, I would be scoping a dual socket dual core AMD board (capable of quad core) and no less than 8GB of RAM. But, for what I use my computer at home for, I know I could suffice with just the RAM because my CPU, mainboard, and video are not bottlenecks for me today. 6GB of DDR400 ram is a ridiculous cost though compared to say DDR2-533, I would almost be better off buying a new board and chip, but then my overall costs would be higher and what I would be getting back in performance would be less noticed given the shortened "end of life" period on hardware now. So, for the first time, it's really kind of a sucky place to be if you've been building your own systems for a while.

If I got a Dell, I would not be getting a system like what I described above, but that being said, I don't need a system like I described for home right now, which is why I'm against building it. By buying a machine, that has some limited upgrade paths, for video or memory for example, I am spending less on mainstream components, and can maximize that configuration and get more for the money I am spending. It seems like I would be getting more value out of that investment. Spending less money and getting more value out of it.

Maybe I'm taking the wrong approach alltogether. Perhaps what I should do is convince my work to loan me one of these. (http://h10010.www1.hp.com/wwpc/us/en/sm/WF06a/12454-12454-296719-307907-296721-3211286.html)

aaaantoine
December 12th, 2007, 05:19 PM
Back in April I built a gaming-oriented PC for less than $700. The build features a 7900GS and a pair of identical hard drives in RAID 0. The only thing it really needs is an extra GB of RAM (currently 1), and it would be a fine all-purpose PC.

But anyway, try getting a pre-built PC that comes with graphics >= Nvidia's 7900GS and also has a pair of drives in RAID 0 for less than $700.

toupeiro
December 12th, 2007, 05:23 PM
Back in April I built a gaming-oriented PC for less than $700. The build features a 7900GS and a pair of identical hard drives in RAID 0. The only thing it really needs is an extra GB of RAM (currently 1), and it would be a fine all-purpose PC.

But anyway, try getting a pre-built PC that comes with graphics >= Nvidia's 7900GS and also has a pair of drives in RAID 0 for less than $700.

my point is not that I couldn't make a PC that would be way cheaper than a Dell I could buy. My point is that for some of the components I would have to buy to build it that cheap today would cost me twice as much 6 months from now to maintain that 700 dollar system; and that in the long run I would have been better off spending 1,000 for the Dell system using architecture at the beginning of its life cycle, and bargaining out the video card on pricewatch to get the edge I want.

Black Mage
December 12th, 2007, 05:24 PM
The comparison above was just a Dell Computer picked at random, and I just tried to mimic the same exact specifications if I were to build my own, and it comes out to be cheaper.

So I'm still for building my own. And the specifications that I had were not the cheapest ones nor the best ones, just ones I choose at random. There are many more vendors and options if you choose to build your own.

And for the specifications, Dell generally makes the cheapest, with HP's being a little more expensive, and don't get me started on Mac.

hellmet
December 12th, 2007, 05:43 PM
If you're in the US, I'd advice you to buy crappy Dell. Get like 1 GB and get your RAM later. Dells won't last more than 1-1/2 yrs. So, by the time that h/w gets old, the computer won't work any longer, so you'd buy a new Dell, again.. and so on.

Warpnow
December 12th, 2007, 05:46 PM
I just bought an e6750 cpu and mb for $190, 2gbs of 800mhz OCZ gold ram for $30, a mid-line power supply for $40, a microatx lan case with handle for $30, and am using some optical drives I got for nothing a while back, along with a spare hard drive.

So, an e6750 (damn fast) with 2gbs of FAST ram for a total cost of ~$300?

You bet its cheaper to build. You can buy used optical drives or get them free after rebates pretty damn cheap/easy. Bargain shop for parts and build a cheap but fast machine.

Here is what you get with a pre-built system:

-Unreliable PSU that will fail in 2 years and doesn't have the power to support upgrades.
-Slow ram. They advertise amount of ram, not speed.
-Slow hard drives from companies without warranty plans. Seagate offers a 5 year warranty.
-Defective motherboards. I **** you not ^_~. Dell, Hp, ect, use defective motherboards alot.The AGP slot doesn't work? Stick in a pci video card. One of the ram slots doesn't work? Just put in one card. Sata doesn't work? Use IDE. Most of their consumers won't know but multiple times I've found systems of friends/family have motherboard problems.

Buy the cheapest part in every category and you're likely simulating how they build a Dell/Hp/Sony computer you see at best buy.

Black Mage
December 12th, 2007, 05:56 PM
When it comes down to it, if you know where to buy your parts from, its cheaper. That generally means not from the manufacturer and certainly not from Dell, HP, and Apple.

Just look for good sites. Like I posted before, I would start with www.newegg.com, they generally have GOOD deals.

Warpnow
December 12th, 2007, 06:10 PM
If you have a Fry's near you...their cpu/mb combos are pretty much unbeatable. Usually you get the package for the same thing the cpu costs on newegg by itself.

Black Mage
December 12th, 2007, 06:14 PM
A Fry's? Do they have a website?

ticopelp
December 12th, 2007, 06:15 PM
Definitely! I was at this very crossroads only days ago. My old machine, which has served me faithfully for years, was finally starting to wheeze and die. I custom-built it, as I have every machine since my first computer (my first computer was a pre-built wreck that the shop I bought it from never bothered to test -- I vowed never to trust anyone else to build my machine again).

Usually, I would just replace one or two parts at a time, trying to pick as decent an upgrade path as possible to keep my computer new -- but this time, I was going to need new everything; motherboard, RAM, video card, case.

I priced out a custom machine, and it actually ended up being very comparable to the Dell Inspiron 530 N -- actually, in most cases, pricing out decent hardware ended up being more than the Dell. So I weighed the pros and cons -- the fun and pride of speccing out my own machine and assembling it, versus the convenience of having a pre-built machine, plus being able to send a "political" message to Dell saying yes... people will buy Ubuntu machines.

I thought about it for a long time, but finally, I decided to go with the pre-built Dell. I paid $469 for a dual-core 1.8 Ghz, 1 GB RAM, 320 GB hd, and dual DVD-RW/CD-RW drives. It worked great out of the box -- although the first thing I did was wipe out the partitions and do a fresh install of 7.10. This is the first machine I haven't built myself in probably a decade, and so far, I couldn't be happier. Since I don't play many games or anything anymore, I'm not as worried about an upgrade path as I once was, and if this machine does happen to break, it won't be crippling to replace.

mips
December 12th, 2007, 06:31 PM
I am building a new machine when the new Intel chips are released in 2008.

I was seriously looking at a Intel Quad core until I relalised they just slapped two dual cores together on a chip. That's not the way to do it.

jpittack
December 12th, 2007, 06:32 PM
I wish laptop could be as easily built as desktops. It costs way too much to get decent graphics cards, RAM and a faster FSB on a laptop. I would say that every laptop should have at least 667 for a cheaper model, 800 at base. I have crucial's excellent RAM in my laptop, but its down clocked to 533 from its native 667. Dell doesn't allow me to overclock my FSB to help my system reach its potential. I may not notice it under Ubuntu, but under Vista, such a change would be greatly appreciated.

That said, I say build desktops. You know where the parts came from, what they are, etc. With AMD, they are trying to help those that build systems. The new Phenom processors work in a AM2 board. Who can complain about doubling cores (no matter how little of an effect it has today), keeping everything else, and only losing under 300 for it? I wish I had a desktop, just so I could enjoy building one.

On a side note. My brother needs a computer, it needs to be Windows based, but it doesn't need to cost a lot. The 300 dollar deals that stores run that come with a monitor and printer would be great for him. He might complain about it in a year, I will reinstall Windows, and he will stop complaining. Any one else that has needs beyond that, like gaming, should be building their own. If they don't know how, I don't mind someone else shelling out +2000 to make themselves happy.

Warpnow
December 12th, 2007, 06:33 PM
A Fry's? Do they have a website?


Their website is outpost.com but alot of their really good deals are only in-store. Last week I picked up my e6750 and motherboard, plus 2gbs of 800mhz DDR2 ram for $220.

Of course...when I go in...I always spend more than I what plan to...

Its like a store twice the size of a super wal-mart for PC parts and electronics.

Warpnow
December 12th, 2007, 06:38 PM
I wish laptop could be as easily built as desktops. It costs way too much to get decent graphics cards, RAM and a faster FSB on a laptop. I would say that every laptop should have at least 667 for a cheaper model, 800 at base. I have crucial's excellent RAM in my laptop, but its down clocked to 533 from its native 667. Dell doesn't allow me to overclock my FSB to help my system reach its potential. I may not notice it under Ubuntu, but under Vista, such a change would be greatly appreciated.

That said, I say build desktops. You know where the parts came from, what they are, etc. With AMD, they are trying to help those that build systems. The new Phenom processors work in a AM2 board. Who can complain about doubling cores (no matter how little of an effect it has today), keeping everything else, and only losing under 300 for it? I wish I had a desktop, just so I could enjoy building one.

On a side note. My brother needs a computer, it needs to be Windows based, but it doesn't need to cost a lot. The 300 dollar deals that stores run that come with a monitor and printer would be great for him. He might complain about it in a year, I will reinstall Windows, and he will stop complaining. Any one else that has needs beyond that, like gaming, should be building their own. If they don't know how, I don't mind someone else shelling out +2000 to make themselves happy.

It is cheaper to buy VERY low end systems because parts retain their value a little better than full systems, so you can buy a full system that's been sitting on the shelves somewhere for cheaper than the parts. That is only times its cheaper, though.

Tigerdirect/Newegg regularily run Pentoum D Mb/Cpu combos for about $100, add on a $20 case (from a store, cases cost a ******** to ship), ~$30 for ram (wait for a deal and this will get you like 2gb), $50 for a HD, $20 for an optical, and $30 for a psu, and you've got a better machine though for about $250.

If you have some old HDs/Optical drives sitting around, reuse them. Or the case. If you can find a CD/Case from a friend or a broken machine, you can prolly make the machine under $200, and monitors are cheap- check craigslist.

forrestcupp
December 12th, 2007, 06:52 PM
When it comes down to it, if you know where to buy your parts from, its cheaper. That generally means not from the manufacturer and certainly not from Dell, HP, and Apple.

Just look for good sites. Like I posted before, I would start with www.newegg.com, they generally have GOOD deals.

Newegg is good, but not always the best. I go to Pricewatch (http://www.pricewatch.com). You can look up the exact piece of hardware you want and Pricewatch scans all of the online stores for the cheapest price. It sorts these prices with shipping included, so you know you're paying the least possible. Some online stores give special discounts if you go through Pricewatch to get to them. That is where I go when I buy all of my hardware.

But it's definitely better to buy online instead of a store like Best Buy or Fry's.

Black Mage
December 12th, 2007, 06:55 PM
I thought about it for a long time, but finally, I decided to go with the pre-built Dell. I paid $469 for a dual-core 1.8 Mhz, 1 GB RAM, 320 GB hd, and dual DVD-RW/CD-RW drives.

For a computer with specs like that, buying it pre-built might or or might not save a few extra bucks but it probably wouldn't even matter. For that kind of a computer, I wouldn't want to even put time into building it, so I would get something like that pre-built, if I ever decided to buy it which probably wouldn't happen.

I mean, that seems more like an external harddive with a monitor than a computer.

DerekVOF
December 12th, 2007, 07:08 PM
If you're looking for an inexpensive solutions, try second-hand sellers. I had an old Compaq Presario that I was using until it died last week. After looking around I found these guys - http://www.intechraoutlet.com/ - who were selling older computers *dirt* cheap. I picked up a Dell Optiplex GX50 with a Celeron 1.2GHz, 512MB RAM, and 20GB HD + keyboard & mouse for *$35* + $25 shipping... Ordered it last Friday and it arrived yesterday.

It's a great little machine and runs Ubuntu fine. Although I've yet to figure out how to get Visual Effects going, everything else is great. If you're looking for a workhorse (not a gaming rig), these are great deals... Case isn't even discolored or broken.

ticopelp
December 12th, 2007, 07:46 PM
For a computer with specs like that, buying it pre-built might or or might not save a few extra bucks but it probably wouldn't even matter. For that kind of a computer, I wouldn't want to even put time into building it, so I would get something like that pre-built, if I ever decided to buy it which probably wouldn't happen.

I mean, that seems more like an external harddive with a monitor than a computer.

I think that's a ridiculous thing to say. At any rate, it's more than adequate for my needs.

Warpnow
December 12th, 2007, 07:58 PM
Well, its possible there is confusion because you said mhz when you obviously meant ghz.

ticopelp
December 12th, 2007, 08:07 PM
Well, its possible there is confusion because you said mhz when you obviously meant ghz.

Ah, my bad. I knew I shouldn't have posted before coffee. No, it's the Intel dual-core E2160 1.8 GHz.

I agree, 1.8 Mhz wouldn't be too impressive at all. :lolflag:

toupeiro
December 12th, 2007, 10:15 PM
Ticopelp>

Thank you for the feedback. It's good to hear someone at these crossroads that chose the pre-built option and was happy with it. I'm still not sure what I am going to do just yet, but I'll be making an expensive decision in about a month either way :P


Again, I think some of you still think I'm debating the initial system build cost, which I am not. I am considering the costs around the lifecycle of individual components to maintain an upgrade path as opposed to going with something pre-built which in some cases uses newer peripherals in smaller quantities (e.g. memory), than what you would choose on pricewatch to price bust the pre-built system. Like I said, I've built my own PC's for the last 14 years, I know that I can pricebust a pre-built system and get a performance advantage, but my debate is that I don't think I am really saving money over time anymore by doing so. In todays hardware turnaround, the money I save isn't justified if what I buy today is obsolete in a year to the point that manufacturing stops and drives the cost up for components. THe performance advantage I get from price-busting is much shorter lived because the rate at which hardware depreciates is much faster. If every upgrade has to include a new main board, processor and RAM within a year to avoid getting price scalped, when I may only be looking for 1 of those three components to provide the performance I am looking for, then I am not really saving much.

foureight84
December 12th, 2007, 11:32 PM
building is always better than buying. i have been a system builder for over 10 years. it's not as labrous as one might think. and like other members have stated, you can control what you want in the system. however, if you have not done it before, find a friend who has to help you. it can be a bit daunting when you run into failed hardwares. that is probably the only drawback to building your own system. with a prebuilt computer, if something doesn't work, you can exchange it or use warranty. however when you build your own, you have to troubleshoot and rma the part. this can be time consuming and frustrating.

gn2
December 13th, 2007, 12:03 AM
It is not possible for me to get a pre-built PC with all the parts in it that I would want.

I'm very fussy about noise and select every component based on how quiet it is.

Simply not possible to get a quiet enough pre-built PC without spending a fortune.

Only time I would buy a pre-build is a laptop :D

KiwiNZ
December 13th, 2007, 12:03 AM
I have in the past always built my own. Its my trade after all. But with my advancing years I decided , naff it , I dont want to anymore.

My latest desktop for home purchased a couple of months ago is a Dell 9200 . I am very pleased and the build quality is great.
Best of all , its silent.

Black Mage
December 13th, 2007, 12:15 AM
Question to the OP. If you buy a pre-built vs custom, and both go obselete in a year, and both are similiar prices, then what will you do?

And a good computer should last year 5 years. I had a MacBook Pro that was going on 5 1/2 year olds and I just replaced it. And it was dual booting Mac OS X and Windows. So if you get it powerful enough now, you shouldn't have to replace anything for atleast 3-5 years. I know people still using 6 year old days, so that is saying something.

toupeiro
December 13th, 2007, 12:42 AM
Question to the OP. If you buy a pre-built vs custom, and both go obselete in a year, and both are similiar prices, then what will you do?
.

I guess I don't have an example of this happening. If this happened, than that person had an even lesser sense of the technology they were buying into and the market trends. This also might happen if the person is an average e-mailer and word processor, and cares more about the dollar value spent today and less about the hardware lifecycle, but I am not that person. :) I do, however, have examples of what I described happening. Where I can trend a decade of system builds and lifecycle. -- either way, in most cases to maximize the performance boost you get for the price when building yourself, you usually make a smaller compromise on a few parts of the technology you are buying. In the short term, its worth it. Its probably not the fastest architecture out there -- but you can get more bang for the buck up front if you by a architecture a slight bit older and get a couple more GB of RAM or a bit faster chip. My point is, in doing this with todays depreciation, you are building a throw-away box because you are NOT going to spend $200 for RAM that costs $49 on a slightly newer architecture only 1 year later. But, if all you need is memory, you are wasting the value of your previous CPU and mainboard because of depreciation, not because of performance.

example: I COULD have gotten a system with DDR2-533 when I built my last system, but the costs were significantly more than DDR400. I could have gotten an AM2 socket board, but they were still developing 2 other socket-types and 939-pin was not all that old by this time. But, to keep the costs under pre-built, and get the quantities I wanted, it made sense to go with DDR-400. but those benefits are short lived. If you really think that you can get hardware 5 years from now for a system you built today with any value implied, you're in for a rude awakening. :) I turn hardware arond at work at LEAST every three years just to be able to continue supplying parts. 5 years is not practical anymore. People who have systems 5-6 years old probably aren't using them the way I am. A lot of software comes and goes in 5 years, and a lot of hardware changes. Another example: EIDE was around for YEARS, then SATA came in and in an extremely short amount of time relatively, you have SAS.

So the case in point of my position here is 2 years of use and inexpensive upgrades versus todays hardware depreciation timeframes. Can I get a base system pre-built, which supports emerging architecture cheaper than I can put one together because of mass development? From what I am seeing, pretty close. Is it a wiser long term investment to buy the baseline, and wait a bit, then buy the components at the pricewatch price when the next emerging architecture is released? From what I seen, most definately. I may only get 2GB of DDR7 or whatever it may happen to be years from now with the pre-built, but if I get the board and chip that supports it, in 6 months, I can get 8GB MUCH cheaper than I can if I bought a system which I cut and compromised on to get the current "sweet spot deal" and it only ended up supporting DDR5 or DDR6 which is no longer being manufactured.

dtrizzle
December 13th, 2007, 08:05 PM
It is cheaper to buy pre-made. Yes, quality will not be as high. However, computer makes used supply and demand to get the chips they need at the lowest prices possible. They are immune to the supply shifting because they simply buy what is in good supply and cheap.

Right now, if you build, you can probably come out ahead if you build initially when a new socket comes out. If you upgrade two or three years, you probably get a huge boost in performance for very little money. However, everything must go right. If memory standards change or the processor platform changes, the supply will shift and all the prices for upgrade will sky rocket. Then, you are forced to buy a new motherboard, memory, and processor to upgrade. At that point, it is no longer cost effective.

I got screwed buying an AMD Athlon Socket 939 at the end of 2005 with plans to upgrade the RAM and processor later. Little did I know, they switched platforms like a year later and now buying memory and a dual-core makes little sense because it is overpriced. However, this story would probably have a happy ending had I bought Intel LGA775 because that platform stuck around for a bit.

Lostincyberspace
December 13th, 2007, 08:08 PM
High end build it your self low end do your checking.