Buying a prebuilt computer

Seeing as I will be coming into a bit of money soon due to a bonus program at work paying out I decided it is time for a new computer. I currently have a low-level Compaq that I bought when the last computer I built got fried in an electrical storm. My wife needed a computer ASAP and I didn’t have time to built one proper. So I put up with this one for a while, but now I need something I can at least upgrade.

I was going to start looking into building a new one, but a recent thread stated that nowadays buying a prebuilt is even cheaper that building a comparable one. So, as far as I have seen, most of the major retailers (Dell, Gateway, HP, etc) sell decent comps, but they usually are not as upgradeable as I would like. I don’t know if this is only true of their lower end systems. My primary question is whether the Doper community could recommend a good online site for buying a prebuilt. (I live in MA, USA) My second question is at what point building becomes a viable option again. I have a decent keyboard, mouse, DVD-RW, HD and floppy, but these tend to be the lower priced components so is prebuilt still the way to go?

Thanks folks

Not being real knowledgeable here, but my take is this: if you want a high-end machine, it’s cheaper to build it yourself. I built my own (my first one ever, it was pretty easy) about, I guess, 8 months ago, spent about $2,600 IIRC:

[li]Athlon 64 3500+[/li][li]1 gig RAM (the best kind available at the time)[/li][li]160 SATA Hard Drive[/li][li]256 MB nVidia GeForce 6600 GT (or something like that)[/li][li]12x DVD/CD RW something or other[/li][li]Some super-nice ASUS motherboard[/li][li]Decent case w/ 500 Watts power supply[/li][/ul]

But, I also had to buy (included in the $2,600)

[li]19" Samsung LCD monitor (which rocks)[/li][li]MS Windows XP Professional[/li][li]MS Office Small Biz Professional[/li][li]Some decent Creative speaker system[/li][li]and probably some minor stuff I forgot about[/li][/ul]

This was far, far cheaper than similar pre-builts.

So I’m still, 8 months later, incredibly happy with what I did.

But if you’re looking for something more in the $1,000 range, I’d wager that pre-builts are probably fine.

You’re probably reasonably safe buying a Dell, and their mid-to-upper range systems shouldn’t be any less upgradeable than any other manufacturor.

For my home systems, I’ve bought pre-built machines from SAG Electronics and been happy with the hardware and build quality. I had to buy from a white-box builder rather than from one of the big-name shops because I wanted a box without an OS and apps preinstalled, and with Dell et al. that wasn’t an option.

How’s your case and power supply?

Assuming a good case and power supply, along with the rest you’ve detailed, I think you’ll be better off building one. If not, you can still get a decent case for cheap.

Then whadaya need? A mobo, a cpu/cooler, and some newer RAM. A few hundred bucks. If you aren’t some major FPS gamer, then your old video card (or a cheap one) should suffice as well.

Now you’ve got a real computer, and you don’t have to buy a new case, power supply, keyboard, mouse, HD, CD/DVD, floppy, and monitor every damn time.

I think your existing case/PS, and video card requirements are probably the determining factors in this decision.

This is good advice. The reason I had to buy everything is that my previous computer was a company laptop :slight_smile:

So I decided to build a semi-dream machine.

One thing to be very wary of with Dells, I’ve recently learned the hard way, is their repairability. We had a lightning strike outside our house (asploded a tree out front; it was very exciting) that fried something in my machine and it won’t turn on. Took it to Best Buy and paid 25 bucks for the diagnostic only to be told that they can’t fix it because Dells use proprietary parts (there’s another rant in there about how BB knew it was a freakin’ Dell when I dropped it off).

I’d already learned one way they make their parts proprietary: since it wouldn’t turn on, I immediately thought it might be the power supply, and I just happened to have a spare of the right type, but when I tried to put it in, found that Dell switched the power cord connector to the left side vs. the right, so the generic won’t fit in the case without cutting a new hole. Bastards.

So I’m most likely going to have to ship my machine to Dell to have them fix it, which is a huge hassle. If I buy another prebuilt, I won’t buy one from Dell.

You can usually get more for your money when you built it yourself, plus you don’t have to worry about proprietary crap. The only problems I’ve had were with power supplies; try to get a good one. If it fails, though, you can usually find a mom & pop place that’ll repair it a lot cheaper than replacing it.

There are countless places that build your system very similar to rexnervous’ specifications. But there are few that will let you buy as a kit so you don’t get charged the assembling fees which stack up the price. I have bought from twice. Their machines are exactly the same components that everyother system builder out there has to offer. Their choices are build your own or have them build it for you. They charge $90 USD for every system.

I would try to see if they could help you. even if you don’t buy from them, they’ll steer you in the right direction. Their prices pretty much match’s.

good luck

Oh yeah… they’re machines are not just for gamers.