Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Reasons for building your own PC
1. Flexible case designs. Retail PCs come with desktop cases that are more alluring than ever, thanks to sculpted lines, shorter heights, and built-in conveniences like memory card readers and HDMI ports. Few PC users need eight drive bays and six PCI slots today anyway, except for niche applications.Go with a proper Antec, Cooler Master, or other respected vendor, and you'll never have a problem.
2. Stronger power supplies. Forget overclocking; some of the 250- and 300-watt PSUs that come with box store PCs can't even power a regular video card, unless it's a super low-end model like AMD's ATI Radeon HD 5570. Even if the wattage is there, an extra six-pin PCIe connector might not be.
3. Proper versions of retail motherboards. It's usually tough to figure out what motherboard is inside a retail PC before you buy it. But even if the board is from a respected vendor like MSI or Asus, there's a good chance it's a special, low-end version made specifically for the box-store PC vendor.
4. Quality parts you choose yourself. A retail PC may carry a storied brand logo on the front panel. And if you bought an Intel or AMD PC, you can probably count on that actual CPU being inside. But who makes the parts in the rest of the machine? Often, the vendor's support team won't know, either. That's because from week to week, a manufacturer may switch OEM suppliers for the memory chips, hard drive, optical drive, and other components.
5. No bloatware. Everybody knows about this one already. But we'll emphasize it here for a more subtle reason: It also pollutes the OS install discs that come with retail machines. Assuming you get any discs with your system, that is—which is increasingly rare. Sometimes the OS install files come conveniently preloaded on a separate hard drive partition, but if the hard drive goes, you're toast. Even if you get the discs, that means whenever you want to refresh the machine and reinstall the OS, you'll have to uninstall all that awful crapware all over again.
6. Coherent support policies. Buying a retail PC means you're stuck with whatever support system the vendor has in place. That was fine 15 years ago, when Micron and Dell PCs averaged $3,000 and came with luxurious phone support. That's no longer the case today.If you build your own PC and you know something broke, you can replace it yourself—with whatever part you want, and whenever you want. And in some cases, trying to figure out what the retail PC manufacturer .
7. Upgrade whenever you want. This is a corollary to the previous reason. If you add something to a retail machine, like a new video card or even extra RAM, from a different source other than the PC vendor, the company could choose not to honor the warranty when something breaks—even if it involves a different part of the PC.Build your own PC, and you can add a new video card or more RAM whenever your budget allows for it.
8. Building a PC is just cooler. Okay, we'll be totally vain with the last one. But it's true; we'd wager that plenty of frustration with Windows machines involves the bloatware and cheap parts that make up most retail PCs—especially now that Microsoft is finally selling an excellent version of its OS. By building your own PC, you can select quality parts—itself a fun and enjoyable process. And within a few hours, you'll know more about how to fix it down the road than you would have ever learned otherwise