Building PC vs buying prebuilt...

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jskubick

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Oct 26, 2002
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Generally speaking, building your own system doesn't really save any money, but it usually buys you superior quality and performance.

Prebuilt computers are <b>notorious</b> for using OEM versions of name-brand videocards and the like. Most people think that OEM versions are just bulk-packaged, but otherwise identical. With regard to things like mice and joysticks, that's usually true, but with video cards, it's almost <b>pure fiction</b>.

ATI is the <b>worst</b> offender, but Matrox and nVidia have joined the race to the bottom too and freely permit computer makers like Dell and Gateway to buy their chipsets and build their own cards with inferior components -- but still imply that they're just as good in their marketing literature. Sometimes, the OEM versions use SDRAM instead of SGRAM or DDR. Usually, they have inferior RAMDACs compared to the retail-boxed versions. Almost without exception, they don't support refresh rates as high as the retail-boxed versions, and the upper refresh rates they DO support are compromised (smearing and blur caused by inadequate bandwidth, slower performance from inferior RAM, etc.) And in the case of REALLY high-end cards, probably have the GPU clocked 10-25% slower than the retail versions, have inferior heat-removal apparatus, etc.

Then there's the matter of software. Sure, prebuilt computers come with lots of bundled software. And increasingly, most of it is crippled (Adobe), time-limited (Symantec), or can only be installed as part of a complete system image (Microsoft), effectively screwing you if you want to wipe the hard drive clean of the crap they put there and do a proper virgin installation. In other words, their bundled software is worthless.

Finally, there's the matter of other components. Aside from niche manufacturers like Alienware, and possibly Dell, how many prebuilt computers actually come with 7200RPM hard drives? Or, better yet, CL2 DDR and something BESIDES a HSP Winmodem? Ooooh... Did I just hear a pin drop?

;-)
 

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