To buy or build a computer? That is the question

Even though a new computer is really cheap now, building your own computer is still a cheaper option. The new parts are available at rock-bottom prices for everyone. The only thing that beats these prices is to buy an up to date, second-hand system.

About buying a completely new package

Just go to the Dell website for starters. They have unbelievable deals on some pretty powerful computers. They come with the new Windows Vista and a 17″ or 19″ LCD screen. WOW! And they always have a special like:  “buy a system this week and get a bonus ram stick” etc.. They are also very nice looking systems and come with a warranty.

There are other places that are sometimes cheaper. Look in your local paper for computer advertisements. There is always a better deal if you shop around.

The main reasons for buying a new computer are:

  • It probably has a warranty
  • You can use it almost immediately when you get it home.
  • You have the support of a retailer if anything goes wrong. (Sometimes?)

The reason not to buy a new computer as opposed to building one:

  • You can’t afford it.
  • They don’t have “you beaut” (Aussie term for great) extras like video cards etc.
  • They look like everyone else’s.
  • They usually break down just after the warranty runs out.

Building a computer with new parts

If you had to weigh up the money side of things, when building a computer it can really add up quick. , the prices have dropped dramatically and now it is sometimes cheaper to buy new parts rather than second hand. Assuming you will use your old monitor, keyboard,  mouse, here is a list of the bare minimum components you will need.

  • A computer case with power supply.
  • Motherboard with onboard video, sound,  network.
  • Processor
  • Some Ram
  • A Hard drive
  • Cd drive (DVD burners new = $50 Including postage from eBay, even cheaper to pick up)
  • Power cords, IDE or SATA cables
  • Speakers
  • Maybe an extra case fan
  • An operating system disc

I recommend ITSBITS on eBay for the best prices, especially if you can pick up. (in Petrie, QLD) They have 1gig DDR ram for $58 and DVD burners for $36.50. And heaps more!!

Reasons why you should build your own computer:

  • For the experience and great satisfaction involved in using your own machine.
  • Knowing everything about your machine because you chose its components.
  • Having a computer custom made for your particular using habits. Maybe for video editing or recording live music.
  • You could build a new computer cheaper than you can buy it in the shops.
  • It may also have better quality parts.

Reasons you should not build your own computer:

  • If you are inexperienced you need to do extensive research which takes time.
  • It turns out to be very expensive if you ruin a component when installing it.
  • You could choose the wrong components that do not work together smoothly.
  • Something could go wrong and there is no backup support.

Building a computer with second-hand parts

Sometimes the second-hand parts prices are very close to the new price, therefore I would stick to the new.

Another option is to buy a second-hand full computer system. This can be a lot cheaper than a new and can be just as fast and reliable. You will be amazed at what stage people upgrade their computers. Some are not even out of date yet. Be aware that there may not be a warranty with used computers. But you can pick something up for a third of the price of a new one!

I have been building new and old computer systems for a long time now. The best way to start is to experiment on a few old computers and work your way up. Good luck with whatever you decide.

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