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5 Major Benefits to Building Your Own Computer

August 13th, 2009

computer-custom-build-benefits.jpgBuilding your own computer from the ground up may seem like a hugely daunting prospect. However, there are many beneficial factors that come with doing this. This article highlights five of the major advantages in putting together a computer yourself.

1. Lower Cost: This is the most obvious contributing factor and is best illustrated with a simple example: Dell currently charges exactly $1999 for their XPS730X desktop computer. This comes without any fancy monitor, keyboard, or other peripherals; it’s just the base unit. The XPS730X is a pretty quick machine, but if you were to replicate the parts found or in some cases better them where applicable your total cost drops to $1000!

That’s right — the labour alone to build your beautiful new PC is 50% of its cost. Arguably you are paying for the brand as well, but with such huge charges you’d think your computer was being hand built in a secret laboratory by the CEO of Dell himself! The irony of the situation is that Dell is considered highly competitive in their marketplace, which consequently means other retailers could be worse.

If a 50% saving isn’t a good enough reason for you straight out, read on.

2. Quality of Parts: With the exception of a few retailers many store-built computers are affectionately known as ‘Dead-End Builds’. The reason for this is the quality of the parts used in their construction results in them being unable to outlast their own hardware.

Many retailers prefer to use generic parts or low quality parts because it’s cheaper and they can bulk purchase for their own needs. However with that the consumer is unwittingly receiving low performance hardware for severely inflated prices. Indeed, one should be particularly wary of computers boasting onboard graphical capabilities because they can potentially run at a fraction of the speed of a high end video card and, while quoting many of the same statistics, are merely worded very favourably:

“Up to 1GB Dedicated Video Memory!”

Such machines would most likely be able to handle today’s applications, but within a couple of years you would be hard pressed to run the latest games or programs. Couple this with the fact retailers will assemble their offerings in somewhat modest custom branded cases giving the consumer little room for upgrades or expansion, and the result is always the same: an outdated PC with a premature lifespan.

3. Exact Specification: Building your own PC gives you total free reign and limitless options to create your own unique animal. Computers are essentially a vast collection of third party hardware working under the rule of an operating system (usually Windows), so the consumers have the ability to ‘cherry pick’ the best hardware to suit their needs.

Motherboards, processors, memory, and other components all have specific rankings and speed ratings. Choosing the parts that are right for you is simply a case of understanding how these ranking systems actually work.

4. Upgrade Potential: The clever consumer thinks to the future when selecting hardware. The freedom to choose your own parts gives you the freedom to plan for later. A buyer may purchase 2 gigabytes (GB) of RAM for the time being, but select a motherboard able to house 12 GB and purchase more at a later date. This can be done with just about any component, and because you built it, there’s no warranty to void in the process.

This goes back to point two and the quality of parts used. Not only will the custom built computer last for much longer than a same price ‘Dead End Computer’, but you will have the option to expand your current machine’s capabilities or simply recycle the parts and put them towards a new custom build. The two most frequently changed pieces of hardware are the processor and GPU, so it is not uncommon for hard disks or memory to withstand two builds, saving money in the long run.

5. Satisfaction: Building your own computer is a very rewarding experience. Toiling for hours on what is effectively a very expensive jigsaw, for you to push the power button at the end and the whole machine whir into life, gives somewhat of a warm feeling inside. You may then look back upon your creation and the experience as a whole and recap what you now know. This will include things like how to choose the right hardware and understand the ratings, how to put everything together, how to plan ahead and most importantly, how to get around retailer’s fees.

Granted, there is a degree of electrical knowledge required when installing and configuring the most intricate of parts, but there is always help available in the form of step by step guides on the Internet. As a last resort, some new builders may enlist the services of their well known friend, the aptly labelled ‘one that knows about computers’. As unspecific as that may sound 9 out of 10 people will be able to think of a friend or relative able to do this off the top of their head. To put it another way, even if he or she charges you a fee for the time, you will still be beating the retailers hands down on price.

There you have it — five very good reasons to build your own PC. Hopefully this article has educated you in the art of computer construction somewhat and at worst, given you an insight on what to look out for from high street retailers. Happy building!

Matthew Foster is a freelance writer with particular interests in the fields of technology, business, and politics.

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