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tad
08-30-2000, 01:19 AM
Hi,
Ive been looking into assemblimg a computer for the first time. It was interesting to note in the pc guide that self built compuiters are not necessarily cheaper than the bought ones. Now if i am to build one, is there a lot of risks i take (being a first timer and non professional), and can any of these be resolved by using discussion groups like these.

do try giving me an objective answer as to how often problems arise with self built computers provided i dont mess around changing configurations too often?

thanks

Rossgr
08-30-2000, 04:07 AM
Building a computer is one of those things that any 5 yr old, with 10yrs experiance, can do. I fully believe that it is the only way to go. Mainly because you are free to pick and choose components to match your pocket book and needs. You can upgrade piece at a time, as the money or need arises. It is a surprisingly forgiving process,i.e. If you get your IDE cables backwards, a common error, the system will not boot but you don't hurt anything. There are several other hardware boards where lots of advise and help are avialable, check Threshs Firingsquad and Ananatech for instance.

Good luck

der King Mongo
08-30-2000, 02:50 PM
I totally agree--the experience in itself is invaluable. The only thing you have to worry about when putting your system together is Electro-Static Discharge, which destroys components, but a $5.00 investment at Radio Shack in a grounding strap will make your components safe.

Yeah, you WILL save money going through an OEM, but if you want to learn about your computer, build it.

UPDATE: The only other caveat would be: you'll often get what you pay for. Also, when buying computer components, I prefer to go to a brick & mortar store, rather than ordering online. I'd rather pay a little sales tax upfront and have someone I can go and bitch at if the component is bad, rather than have to do an RMA with a retailer or worse, the manufacturer.

[This message has been edited by der King Mongo (edited 08-30-2000).]

Matt
08-30-2000, 11:43 PM
Building a computer is in my opinion the best way to go even though it'l cost more. The only real down side is that there is some guessing that you may have to do. Such as: the Motherboard comes with a crappy piece of paper containing 3-4 pictures that are supposed to be the instructions. The same may happen with other parts that are usually not found in the local walmart or office depot stores(i.e. the processor). And, I personally would rather blindly connect everything than wait around for 30+ minutes on a 900 number for some one to answer (this will depend on who you bought the stuff from). When securing the motherboard in the computer case it was a guess and check process for me as most of the OEM components I bought came with little or no instructions. But, I figured out where those darn plasic tabs, how to get the power source cables to reach the motherboard connectors, and what I didn't really have to assemble(heat sink rails) it all seem fairly easy from there.

Also, if you are looking into building a Slot 1 computer keep on thing in mind: NOT ALL SLOT 1 PROCESSORS MAY BE THE SAME!!!!!
When my processor fan died on my I bought new a PII heat sink and fan combo to replace the old one. But, when I removed my old heat sink ther were some notable differences. One used four rods that would go through the processor and protrude out the other end where a metal bracket would hold everything together. The new heat sink only used 4 or 5 tabs to latch onto the processor. Needless to say I had to swap the fans and continue using the old heat sink. But if the OEM processor you buy does not come bundled with a heat sink you may have a problem finding the correct heatsink to get especially if you are going online to buy one.

Charles Kozierok
08-31-2000, 12:30 AM
There are free resources online to help with the actual assembly, both Here on The PC Guide (http://www.pcguide.com/proc/pcassy) and elsewhere.

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Charles M. Kozierok ( ixlubb@PCGuide.com )
Webslave, The PC Guide (http://www.PCGuide.com)
Comprehensive PC Reference, Troubleshooting, Optimization and Buyer's Guides...

[This message has been edited by ixl (edited 08-30-2000).]

Samantha
09-01-2000, 09:48 PM
I am currently getting ready to buy a new PC. As with all my other home PC purchases, I considered assembling it myself, which whenever you ask in forums like this one, is what almost everyone will tell you to do.
After again researching prices on parts, I can tell you that if you want quality parts from reputable vendors there is not much, if any, cost saving. To my mind, there are only two reasons to build your own PC today, assuming you're building an entire system and not taking the incremental, pay-as-you-can, approach and given the low cost of quality systems today.

The first, and most compelling, reason is if you want to learn a lot about how a PC works. How much you might have to learn depends on what you already know, but even if you think you are fairly well-versed, there are many details and nuances with which you need to be familiar, not only to assemble the pieces, but simply to know what to buy. Oftentimes, you will read a good explanation of components, such as you find here in The PC Guide, and you think you understand what you need. Then, you go off to find the parts from vendors and encounter puzzling esoteric specifications or descriptions. Tin-plated or gold-plated RAM? Huh? Does it matter?

You can get assistance with ensuring that you are buying all the right components from the vendors. You'll get excellent help from some and awful help from others. However, you have no way of knowing what quality of assistance you're getting unless you verify with your own research.

Many people will tell you that assembling your own computer is a snap and that they've done it with no problems. That's true, it can be a snap, but some of these people have forgotten how much they know. It's also true that assembling a PC is easy as long as nothing goes wrong. When something does goes wrong, however, you can be faced with spending long hours, days, maybe even weeks, trying to figure out what the problem is. I know, because I used to spend alot of time helping people with their computer problems and often all they were trying to do was install a new component.

Of course, you can have problems with an assembled PC, too. Quality standards in the PC industry are really pretty dreadful. But, if you're careful about selecting your vendor, you get their technical help in solving the problem. And, they are responsible for all the parts of the PC working together, which is not the case if you buy parts from different vendors. You can find yourself in the the middle of a finger-pointing contest between different vendors. You also will generally get a better warranty on an assembled PC than on the parts individually, especially if you buy OEM parts to keep the costs in line with what you can purchase.

Also, while it's relatively easy to physically assemble the hardware, things get dicier with configuring the software that runs the thing. Try reading through a BIOS manual or reading the Web sites that discuss optimizing your system. There's more to getting a PC to run optimally than simply plugging in the parts. Identical parts can perform entirely differently.

So, if you really want to know alot about the workings of PC, yes, assembling your PC can be a great educational, if sometimes frustrating, experience. But, do it prepared to spend the time researching and learning.

The second reason for assembling your own PC is to get exactly the computer you want - that motherboard and this video card, etc. How important this is to anyone, though, depends pretty much on how into computers they are. If all you want is a good, serviceable machine, one can be had from most of the top-tier vendors for a good price.

Or, there are smaller, online assemblers that have more options in parts. Sys Performance (http://www.sys.com) in California, for example, will configure a system to your specifications. Monarch Computers (http://www.monarchcomputer.com) in Georgia, for another example, assembles for $40 from the large selection of parts that they sell and the parts prices as good as you'll find from other quality resellers. You have to be careful from whom you buy, but that's true of buying components as well.

Or, if you have a good local shop, they will often assemble a PC to your specifications. They'll also warranty the system for a couple years usually and be there to help, should things go wrong.

So, that's my counterpoint on considerations in deciding whether or not to assemble your own computer.


[This message has been edited by Samantha (edited 09-01-2000).]

Charles Kozierok
09-03-2000, 11:46 AM
Sorry I didn't respond to this earlier.

Originally posted by Samantha:
I am currently getting ready to buy a new PC.
Good for you!


As with all my other home PC purchases, I considered assembling it myself, which whenever you ask in forums like this one, is what almost everyone will tell you to do.
After again researching prices on parts, I can tell you that if you want quality parts from reputable vendors there is not much, if any, cost saving. To my mind, there are only two reasons to build your own PC today, assuming you're building an entire system and not taking the incremental, pay-as-you-can, approach and given the low cost of quality systems today.
I agree whole-heartedly, and say so in my Buyer's Guide. If you don't have any software, it will actually cost more to build your own.

I was going to respond point-by-point to the rest of your comments, except that I agreed with almost everything you said, and you covered it so thoroughly I had nothing really to add! I think you're going to do great with your new PC build, and wish you the best of luck. Keep us posted!

------------------
Charles M. Kozierok ( ixlubb@PCGuide.com )
Webslave, The PC Guide (http://www.PCGuide.com)
Comprehensive PC Reference, Troubleshooting, Optimization and Buyer's Guides...

ReddDogg
09-05-2000, 07:03 PM
It is quite a rewarding experience building your own p.c. Buying parts from brick and mortar building is wonderful when you have problems. I have had alot of luck with online auction ubid.com with my computer parts, I have found great deals from there. But, as with any auction, you have to use constraint and do your homework on what is deal and what is not a deal. I do not recommend buying at a trade show unless you have name and address of dealer and they are from somewhere nearby. I have bought some parts that were ripoffs, but some parts were good. If you want to buy online, use www.pricewatch.com (http://www.pricewatch.com) as a benchmark on what prices are good. you might not want to go for the lowballers on that site, but is a good guide to figuring out what ballpark the prices are going.

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Joe Redd
MCP