Stop buying computers! 2009-07-29 15:53:40
Every day I see people talk about some computer they bought. Some of them even brag about it. In reality, a store-bought computer is just about the furthest removed from a bragging right you can get. Assembling a computer is much easier than companies like Dell or Hp want you to think it is. Ignorance is a consumer's worst enemy, and companies use this to peddle their unreliable, underpowered machines with a huge markup to boot. And don't even get me started on Macs. There are so many reasons to build your own over a pre-built that it seriously makes me wonder why Gateway and the likes are still in business.
Putting together a computer might seem like something only tech experts could do, but it really is an easy task. All that's required of you is the time and effort to educate yourself. This is the basic checklist of parts you will need to buy:
Learning what's compatible with what and what parts to choose for your build can be the hardest part of the whole ordeal, but there's people willing to lend their time to helping you. Newegg has forums, as does Overclockers.co.uk, and there's even the computer construction crew right here on newgrounds. Overclock.netis also a good place to expand your knowledge about computers.
As for the physical assembly, there's countless guides on how to do it on youtube.
This is a main point for most people deciding on a computer of their own. When you build your own, it's cheaper. This is unconditional. Want proof?
Here's a low-end Dell computer. The most I would use this computer for is email and word processing, maybe playing some flash games.
Here's a computer with the same specs built on newegg. (Ubuntu is a great way to cut down on price for low end rigs)
Here's a mid range HP computer. It could do some decent gaming and probably run crysis on Medium/High to boot. It'll let you watch, edit, and compile 1080p media.
Here's a top of the line alienware computer. It's got all the bells and whistles, will max out Crysis, and has the kind of hardware that futureproofs you for about 2 years.
What happens when your premium pre-built computer breaks? One option is to bring it to geeksquad where they'll solicit you a new computer. The other is to call support for your computer and possibly end up having to pack up your computer to be shipped for testing. Not to mention most companies charge money for warranties.
To start, when you build a rig, you become your own tech support. Knowing how a computer works, you're much more able to troubleshoot yourself. Don't worry though, each manufacturer for your parts still has it's own tech support.
When you order your parts for a custom built computer, you have two safety nets. If something fails quickly, you can usually return it to the reseller within 30 days for a replacement. After that, your part manufacturers have provided you with either a 1 year, 3 year, or even lifetime warranty, for free! If you choose good brands, submitting an RMA is painless and easy, and some companies even cover shipping!
Before you even turn on your store-bought for the first time, there's software on it that you didn't put there. The usual package is an "antivirus" trial, the trial version of Microsoft office, and a bunch of manufacturer programs you don't need. In fact, the copy of windows doesn't even belong to you; it's licensed to the company you bought the computer from. Needless to say, when you build a computer, none of that crap is on there to begin with.
The ability to upgrade is a key factor in just how futureproofed your system is. Now, this is something that will differ from computer to computer, but I'll take my stepsister's Dell Dimension as a worst case scenario.
The case has two slots for hard drives, meaning you have the option to add another. Most normal cases off of newegg have 5 or more. The motherboard has a slot to put a graphics card in, but because the case is small, you're limited in what you can fit in it. It also has no mounting holes for additional ventilation fans, and a gaming graphics card would probably overheat in it. Worse, the motherboard is proprietary, meaning if you want to upgrade that, you can't because the mounting holes won't line up with anything you buy.
Most importantly, any computer you buy will have a locked bios, meaning you're even limited in the CPU and RAM upgrades you can get due to a bunch of settings you're not allowed to touch. But what's so great about these settings, anyway? For lack of a better statement, this is where shit starts to get heavy.
Overclocking is changing the settings of parts in your computer in order to make them run at higher speeds. Free performance. It's a school of knowledge in itself that you need to educate yourself on, but once you understand how to do it, it's very possible to make your processor and graphics card run 15% faster, or even more. What computer manufacturer is going to let you do that?
Please, listen to the advice I've taken the time to outline. It may be scary to personally handle hundreds of dollars of parts, but when your homebuilt rig is up and running perfectly, you WILL NOT regret it. If even one person decides to build a computer because they've seen this, I'll feel like I've done something. I'm just tired of seeing people get ripped off. To anyone who already knew all of this, give yourself a pat on the back.
TL-DR If you need this, you deserve to buy a Dell.