Purchasing a personal computer in the new millennium

It is easier to let your fingers do the shopping for a new personal computer now than at any time in history.  You can purchase everything you like from one of the various online retailers, find a nearby location selling the computer of your dreams or even purchase it directly from the manufacturer.

Despite the convenience of shopping online, it is amazing how difficult it is to compare the different systems.  The easiest differences are memory and disk space, but the real challenges is which generation of which processor, what power supply, or does the memory speed make a difference? The challenge definitely increases when you don’t want the same computer that most of the companies are selling.

If you want a new computer or something a bit special, why not just build it? This line has probably been uttered to many friends and neighbors by their technical friend. Honestly, most people really don’t want to see the inside of the computer but there is real savings to be had and not only just money.

“If you want something a bit special, why not just build it?”

Like most things there is an easy way and a hard way to this task.  I am not going to dwell on the hard way, as there are people who not only love putting together their computer.  They build computers for their friends and acquaintance where no budget is too big or too small.  These people write blogs on computers, do youtube videos or work at techmagaizines

The easy way is obvious in retrospect.  I suggested to my friend to purchase the parts and one Saturday morning put it all together.  Due to her hesitance, I suggested go to the computer store and ask them about building it for her.  She can go in with the general specs, walk around the store picking up the parts and leave it to the tech guys to assemble it.  Without any fear of that some fan is facing the wrong way or something plugged incorrectly on the motherboard.

This has to be a real win for the small computer store.  They sell the parts, perhaps some software and charge a fee for putting it together. You get the best parts that you can afford and while simultaneously having a machine built for your particular workload.

Description Price
MSI G210 1GB D3 PCIE DVH (graphic card) 31.99
EVGAMEM 16GB 8X2 D3 2133 DIMM C11 (ram) 84.99
MS OEM WIN7 PRO 64BIT SP1 OEM (operating system) 139.99
INLANDPRO ILSILVER 400 WATT ATX PSU (power supply) 24.99
ASROCK AMD 970M PRO3 MATX (motherboard) 24.99
WD 1TB 3.5 MAINSTRM BLUE HD (hard disk) 39.99
AMD BOX AMD FX-8350 BLACK ED (cpu) 149.99
IPSG LG 24X DVD BURNER (dvd drive) 14.99
Subtotal  569.91
Tax  41.49
Build fee 130.00
Total $741.40

Save more money!  Get higher quality components!  More ram or hard disk space!  Where is the catch ?

Well, depending on your shop you might need to setup the operating system or install drivers.  If there is a problem with the graphics card or hard disk you may have to purchase a new part or speak with the manufacturer yourself.  If you don’t know exactly what you want in a computer you may need to do some research.

Depending on the requirements the new system will be either cheaper than purchasing from a big manufacturer, or it may cost exactly the same.  If it isn’t cheaper then why bother?

The odds are you will be getting more ram for the dollar perhaps even twice as much. Your computer may have a better quality hard disk, a faster CPU or even a special raid card.

Most people don’t purchase a new computer every year or two, but rather wait for it to break or because it is necessary because the old one won’t run the new operating system.  The “custom built” computer may even have enough horsepower to survive the next operating system upgrade cycle.

It is likely that whatever you build it will be better than a new brand name computer that has a small disk, memory slots all full of small memory cards, a small power supply or an old CPU.  You will probably have this system for 3 – 5 years. Perhaps longer if your demands don’t change and the computer still runs. In my family, they wait until they get a call from the Smithsonian museum looking for donations.

Why not get the best from your computer budget.


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