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Thread: The cost of building

  1. #1
    Keepin' it Metal .Maleficus.'s Avatar
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    Default The cost of building

    After recently getting a new job selling computers at Best Buy, it's come to my attention that OEM computers are now getting to be very inexpensive (note that I didn't say cheap). Case in point - my mom's 6 year old HP just took a crap and she needed a new desktop. Of course I could have built her one but after thinking about it a bit, it seemed like a pretty bad idea. I told her about a deal we had going on a new Gateway and it was the obvious choice. Here are the specs.

    --Note: My mom is a Spanish teacher who uses computers primarily for Word/Powerpoint and checking her email. Very basic use, though she does like speed.

    Gateway GT5692

    AMD Phenom X3 8450 (2.1GHz) with a Coolermaster heatsink
    4GB PC5300 (2x2GB, expandable to 8GB)
    500GB Western Digital SATA HDD
    DVD+/-RW drive with Labelflash
    ATI Radeon 3200 with HDMI-out (256MB shared memory)
    Random motherboard with AMD 780G chipset
    15-in-1 card reader
    Vista Home Premium 64-bit

    As you can see, a fairly decent computer. With a free PCI-E slot, it wouldn't be bad at all for games, with a free PCI slot you could throw a TV-tuner in there and have a pretty nice media center, and for $550 you really can't go wrong. Vista Experience Rating gives it a 3.9 on graphics which is understandable, but everything else is at 5.2 or higher (scored two 5.9's). Turns out the 780G is actually a fairly decent overclocker as well, with 90-100% overclocks on the IGP (graphics core).

    Here's what I'm getting at though; do you think I could have built something comparable (or better as the case used to be) for the same price? Vista by itself is a pretty good chunk of that, and since I don't currently own it it would need to be added to the bill. To make it fair, speakers/mouse/keyboard would need to be added as well, since I got them in the box.

    So, can anyone do it (show me a parts list that's better or cheaper at equal performance)? Has building gone back to an enthusiast-only market? Is it now time to buy OEMs and swap out what you need for a little more performance boost? I'll have to pull the side off one more time to see if I can get a model number on the motherboard, but in the mean time, discuss! Being a system builder and OEM salesman, I'm quite torn on the issue. I love the feeling of pulling out a brand new motherboard, but if it's a waste of money I'm not being a smart consumer.
    Last edited by .Maleficus.; 07-23-2008 at 09:58 PM.
    RIP Bucko

  2. #2
    Indestructible Durrthock's Avatar
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    Default Re: The cost of building

    Just like I was thinking about my new computer (ill post spec's later) Your probably could have, but you wouldn't get the warranty or tech support, which can be helpful at times.

  3. #3
    Measure once, curse twice nevermind1534's Avatar
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    Default Re: The cost of building

    Did that gateway have any mail in rebates? If it didn't, that's a sweet deal for a prefab.

  4. #4
    Keepin' it Metal .Maleficus.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: The cost of building

    Quote Originally Posted by nevermind1534 View Post
    Did that gateway have any mail in rebates? If it didn't, that's a sweet deal for a prefab.
    Nope. Retail price is $549, which is why I jumped on it. Triple core, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive and a Radeon 3200 with HDMI-out. I thought it was a pretty awesome deal.


    Edit:
    Quote Originally Posted by Durrthock
    Just like I was thinking about my new computer (ill post spec's later) Your probably could have, but you wouldn't get the warranty or tech support, which can be helpful at times.
    This is true, however manufacture warranties really only cover manufacture defects, ie, lemons. I did go ahead and buy a service plan through Best Buy but I'm only looking at this part-for-part. Can something like this (tower, keyboard, speakers, mouse) be setup for $549?
    RIP Bucko

  5. #5

    Default Re: The cost of building

    When I've done the calculating myself, the cost of a legal OS has been the real difference. If you're using old parts in the build, that too can cut costs. I bought/begged/rebuilt the parts to build a basic, non-gamer system, wrapped in a heavily modded case for just under $200. No OS. Of course I didn't buy anything from a computer store chain. Their 'sale' prices are all 50% more then elsewhere, the service is usually rude and perplexing. As for a warrenty, personally I rather buy a new motherboard. It's easier then to have to deal with endless hours on the phone with tech support just to get the chance to get a refurbished part that just keeps getting sent out until some frustrated soul gives up and just ends up keeping it. Then there's the certain satifaction one gets from building their own system.

  6. #6
    duct tape can fix anything Tavarin's Avatar
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    Default Re: The cost of building

    The way I see the computer market, you save money as a system builder with high end gaming machines.
    You can always build a powerful gaming machine cheaper than any manufacturer will seel it, and can even save as much aa $1000.
    But as soon as you move into the sub-$1000 market the OEM system will always win in price, it's just the way the market works.

  7. #7
    Measure once, curse twice nevermind1534's Avatar
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    Default Re: The cost of building

    I just saw an HP on newegg with re-certified ram in it.

    Quote Originally Posted by moon111 View Post
    When I've done the calculating myself, the cost of a legal OS has been the real difference.
    My dad got an unlimited install xp from U-M, so I'm covered there, with xp, at least.

    Quote Originally Posted by moon111 View Post
    If you're using old parts in the build, that too can cut costs. I bought/begged/rebuilt the parts to build a basic, non-gamer system, wrapped in a heavily modded case for just under $200
    I nuilt my parents' computer for $120. I used an OEM DVD burner that was previously purchased from Computer Builders Warehouse for $20, and was in their old computer, and a hard drive that was in a computer out of the trash with a dead PSU, so those didn't count towards the cost. I got a new case and power supply for free with a MIR and a $30 off combo with my motherboard.

    Quote Originally Posted by moon111 View Post
    As for a warrenty, personally I rather buy a new motherboard. It's easier then to have to deal with endless hours on the phone with tech support just to get the chance to get a refurbished part that just keeps getting sent out until some frustrated soul gives up and just ends up keeping it. Then there's the certain satifaction one gets from building their own system.
    And the standard warranties aren't usually that long. I've seen a lot of dells where something breaks a few days after the 90 day warranty expires. Somebody even wrote into the paper about their $3000 ailenware computer that something broke in one day after the 30 day warranty expired. It sounded like the RAM, so it would have been an easy fix if he knew. I've also found that the extended warranties are usually rip-offs. The extended warranty might cover a part that would break, that would most likely be of lesser, or equal value, which is obsolete when it breaks.

  8. #8
    Indestructible Durrthock's Avatar
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    Default Re: The cost of building

    My dell that Ive been using for almost 3 years is still under warranty and when its gotten messed up Ive asked them "if something is broken will they replace it" and the will, Equal or greater value.

  9. #9
    Measure once, curse twice nevermind1534's Avatar
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    Default Re: The cost of building

    Quote Originally Posted by Durrthock View Post
    My dell that Ive been using for almost 3 years is still under warranty and when its gotten messed up Ive asked them "if something is broken will they replace it" and the will, Equal or greater value.
    I was just saying that something that breaks is usually somewhat inexpensive to almost nothing. Some manufacturers are also beter about this than others.

  10. #10
    ATX Mental Case Dane Bramage's Avatar
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    Default Re: The cost of building

    part of my job is to maintain the "fleet" at my small office. when i got here, we had only one "newish" computer (a dell) and the rest were older than dirt. so, over the last couple of years, i have replaced them all. generally speaking, i can build a good sytem (using bare bones kits from tiger direct) for under 700 bucks, but that doesn't generally include monitor/key/mouse. why just today i saw this kit at tiger direct. so... for 300 bucks, you can start with a pretty nice rig.

    but really, it's a double edged sword. i like to hand choose my hardware and sometimes the good deals just don't have great components. take for instance the Gateway in the OP. it came with a "random" mobo... heh heh... never heard of that brand

    tho, in the end, for mid-range systems, you can't beat the deals that the boxed systems offer. my mom bought a gateway herself and is perfectly happy with it.

    so really, i think you may be right. for the folks that just want a word processor/email client, a 500 dollar gateway is hard to beat.
    Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress.
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