One of the most common dilemmas computer enthusiasts face is whether to build their own computer systems or buy a ready-made computer off the shelf. Both approaches have their merits and their drawbacks, and it is important to weigh the pros and cons of each. No one solution is right for every person, and weighing the costs, hassles and benefits associated with the build vs. buy decision is the best way to go.
One of the most important things to consider in the build vs. buy decision is the value of your time, and how long it will take to build your own computer system rather than just drive down to the big box store down the street and buy a ready-made computer. If you enjoy tinkering with computers, this might not be an issue, but if you think you will have to put off well-paying projects to build your own PC, you might need to take a look at the value of your time and reevaluate your decision.
Your ability to be a bargain hunter and a smart shopper is another big factor in the build vs. buy decision. By watching the bargain boards and shopping sites on the Internet, you can find some exceptional bargains on computer cases, hard drives, DVD burners and video cards, but those components will probably not be on sale at the same time. In order to truly build a bargain system and beat the prices of the big box stores, you need to have the patience to accumulate those super cheap components over time.
You can increase the value of your bargain hunting and get a better return on your time and money by purchasing enough components to build several computers. When cases go on sale, buy two or three rather than just one. The same goes for hard drives, memory and other components. When it comes time to put it all together, you can build two or three computers, keep one for yourself and sell the others.
Ability to Customize
One big advantage of building your own computer instead of buying one off the shelf is the ability to customize and get just what you want. When computer manufacturers build PCs for the mass market, they include components that will be acceptable to the greatest number of people. Those basic systems are generally made for people who do mainly email and web surfing, with perhaps a little bit of word processing or spreadsheet work for the office. True computer enthusiasts are unlikely to be satisfied with these basic systems, and chances are they will need to make a lot of upgrades if they buy an off-the-shelf system. The cost of these upgrades, added to the cost of the computer itself, could be as high or higher than a custom-made home-built system.
Computer users who truly need a fully customized system should definitely consider building their own. By building your own computer, you can have total control over what is on the inside, making it easier to customize the box, improve performance, and troubleshoot any issues that might arise in the future.
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