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Thread: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

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    What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    I have not ever had a store-bought machine because all of mine have either been custom designed in the early days to my specification and all since then have been built by me. However I have been to other people's houses who have big name desktop machines and they have always been slow with seemingly cheap components. Such as a good graphics card but it is the cheapest of the cheap version where it has no casing around it and has a weak fan.

    Is this a typical thing that store bought means not as good? I personally just like to know exactly what goes into my machine so I always just build my own. I bet it is cheaper too, but I am interested in your opinions.

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    Re: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    Always custom build it's really not hard Youtube is your friend.

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    Re: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    I sometimes go into Dixons or Currys, just to laugh at their prebuilt specs and the asking prices!

    I started out on a cheap-ish self-build, but quickly realised that I could spend a bit more to get FAR more... and I would get lots of pritty pritty lights with it, too!!

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    Re: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    They are generally cheaper, and you get to pick components that suit your usage best. Of course this comes at a price which is your time (which probably doesn't take a long time for some).

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    Re: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    All you got to do is look at the prices of the pre built from the likes of scan and overclockers that should scare you for life. Did one for the neighbour the other day and then he asked about the warranty of the parts, he said just because of the warranty like the psu from corsair 7yrs he would rather have a personally built one. Cyrus well awful try and sell you a two year warranty on top of it
    JABULANI NONKE

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    Re: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    I don't think anything has changed.

    If you want to buy really cheap, then you can't beat a pre-built machine on cost and it was never going to be quick anyway.
    If you want good, then for example at work we use the Dell Xeon based workstations and they really are very good and the corporate support tends to be superb.

    For home use for anything in the middle, self build gets you a better machine in the short term and something that you can give mid life bumps to in the medium term.

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    Re: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    I've only had one pre-built PC (not including laptops!) and this was a nighmare to upgrade as it used a proprietary PSU, but the only reason I bought it was it was end of line and the entire system including Vista OS, keyboard and mouse came to less than the price of buying a full retail version of Vista and the CPU as a retail box version.

    I built all of my other PCs myself and quite a few for friends and family.

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    Re: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    I think both have their place. At the low end the economies of scale usually mean that pre-built is cheaper, at the very high end there are advantages to a pre-built too. In the middle it's not necessarily much cheaper to self build but you don't get forced in to buying unbalanced systems (how often do you see top end i7 paired with mid range gpu) and components you don't particularly want (brand of ssd/memory etc).

    I think we will see an uptake in custom SFF machines which are currently being called "steam boxes", but best to ignore the title. Her, there is an advantage with a prebuilt in that it can be designed top down and doesn't have to conform to particular form factors.
    The new Asus mini boxes, if priced right when they are released, could be great and I strongly expect the likes of Gigabyte and MSI to follow suit.

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    Re: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    Business success follows sale volume and margins. You'll get much better margins putting components in a case that 'get the job done' rather than super quality parts. Besides it's easier to sell cheaper components to non-tech savy buyers and especially when all those parts are hidden in a big dark case. If you care about getting quality and price on a desktop you should build it yourself or be prepared to fork out a hefty premium for 'quality/ elite/ enthusiast advertised models'.

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    Re: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    In the early days of PCs, you could save a LOT by buying bits and building. Of course, that brought smalmer OEM builders and integrators into the market, and system prices dropped. Big manufacturers sought volume by competing on price.

    For instance, one of my early PCs, in the days when '286 was state of the art, was just shy of £10,000. Bearing in mind that's about 30 years ago, £10k then bought a fair bit more than £10k does now, and it ain't chump change now. And, it was VERY highly spec'd. For instance, the 338MB hard drive (yes, Megabyte) was about £1500 on it's own, and a 150MB tape drive was clise on £1000.

    Anyway, for reasons others have already given, pre-built systems, other than from high-end or custom-builders, tend to be cost-trimmed wherever it's humanly possible, and especially where it doesn't show. So, that 1TB hard drive (for instance) the advertising boasts of is very likely to be the cheapest available, not the best, not fastest. The case may well have minimal expansion opportunities, the PSU just enough power but limited scope fof extras, and the motherboard may well have a minimalist BIOS with very little versatility.

    so, if I'm building, an extra couple of quid here, and extra fiver there, makes little overall difference to my build cost, and if it gets me what I want but costs £550 rather than a bare bones £500, I don't really give a hoot. I regard the extra £50 as damn goid value.

    But, for a manufacturer, if they want to compete with everybody else, increasing their costs by £50 makes no sense because the kind of buyers buying an off-the-shelf unit in PC World probably wouldn't understand what they were getting for their £50. To me, that £50 costs me £50. Oh well, who cares? But for the manufacturer selling 10,000 units a year, it's a £500,000 difference in profits, per year.

    So, it's about buyer expectations.

    Personally, I buy and build. My brother, however, tends to buy pre-built systems from John Lewis. Why? Because he's not as picky about maximising bang-per-buck, but DOES want simplucity if anything goes wrong. So for me, if something goes wrong, I gave to troubleshoot it. For him, it's a single item from a single supplier, so he gives it back and telks them to fix it.

    There is, in other words, a degree of risking hassle, time and effort in fixing it if you built it.

    And that, for me, is the real issue. If I build it, it's effort building, and perhaps troubleshooting build issues. And risk in fixing later issues. I am normally highly averse to making work for myself, and I understand my brother's logic in hassle-avoidance. Nonetheless, for me, the hassle is worth it to get EXACTLY the spec, and component quality, I want.

    But if you aren't fussy about exact component selection, then buying a half-decent system, from a company with good customer service makes for an easy life. Usually. And the older you get, the more that typically appeals.


    PS. Over the years, I've often hard very specific system requirement for specific purposes, be it a photo/video/audio production and editing system, a graphics workstation, a machine that's on 24/7 driving a radio transmitter but needing minimal power, or whatever. If you have very specific hardware needs, that alone might demand custom build, or home build.

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    Re: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    Oh, one more point. Many individual component markets are now pretty much like commodity markets. Product differentiation is minimal, and as a result, ir's HIGHLY competitive, and margins are driven down as a result.

    Some years ago, I had lunch with Finis Conner. If you don't know who he is, he and Al Shugart were the driving force and primary co-founders of Seagate. One point he made about competitive presdure in the hard drive market was that if you miss one capacity point, you have a very bad year. I.e. if you come up with a 720MB model, and everybody else does 740MB, you barely sell any.

    Do that twice, and you're out of business.

    Those kinds of component price pressures make it hard for mass sellers to compete on any much other than price, and are why they save pennies here, pennies there, on the "invisible" aspects of system spec.

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    Re: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    For me personally, although I started out with a pre-built Dell, I would only ever build my own. That's not for any cost or performance reason, although they are informing factors when actually putting a spec together, but is simply because I bloody well like doing my own thing. So it's my nature that drives me to do that - as it is, I think, with most PC builders.

    I don't think, though, that it's easy to generalise about the population as a whole. Plenty of really old people never have and never will have an sort of IT in their homes, but plenty of other post-75 year olds are quite the opposite. However, very few of them will do anything other than by off the shelf.

    Lots of young people have lots of technology but I think very few will have the time, inclination or funds to indulge themselves in building their own stuff. Lots of working people are probably in the same boat - they might think they know a bit and might even fiddle under the bonnet a bit but they'll never build their own, even though its really lego for adults.

    Those of us who do use these forums or those of overclockers or bit-tech etc. are, I feel, a hobbyist minority linked closely to the professional IT crowd.

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    Re: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    Quote Originally Posted by RobbieRoy View Post
    ....

    Those of us who do use these forums or those of overclockers or bit-tech etc. are, I feel, a hobbyist minority linked closely to the professional IT crowd.
    Agreed .... except of course to point out that a lot of people here, at the very least a significant minority, are themselves IT professionals.

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    Re: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    It's rather strange, but all of my friends that I talk to regularly would only choose pre builts, but they studied computer tech and the like throughout college and uni, so that is no suprise. However, I was talking to my father not long ago about the death of my old pre built, and he is the exact opposite, even though he has been a computer tech for about twenty years. He heavily supports pre builts and advises against building your own.

    I guess the divide is strong even with techies.

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    Re: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    I had one prebuilt pc, and i regretted it, it slows down to a crawl after 2 years, and spend quite a bit to get it to work again, my other pc is 5 years old and now I'm planning to build a new one this week or week after

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    Re: What are todays opinions of pre-built systems vs custom built by yourself?

    I think you have to look at added value, which in the high end/gaming world doesn't appear to be that much as it's all off the shelf components simply assembled.
    Sometimes the difference in price between pre and self builds can be negligible but you're quite likely to end up with components you didn't really want.

    If the likes of scan, chillblast, overclockers etc made well balanced systems to sit on shelves I think I might be more interested but they always have bizarre choices

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