Pre-Built PC’s PC Hardware


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Pre-Built PC’s

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Online Data Topic starter
United Kingdom Administrator
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First let me start off by saying that I have over 10years experience with computers and their hardware and have a good understanding of how they work and what the large manufactures do.

So should you go to one of the major PC manufactures for a PC or get someone you trust to build one for you?

Quite possibly a pre-build will be cheaper and look like the best choice but lets take a closer look.

Well they might be cheaper but what motherboard, RAM, HDD, graphics card and PSU is in it, from my experience they tend to use the cheaper components which helps keep the price down, after all they only have to last a year to cover the warranty period, unless you took out an extended warranty in which case you have already covered the cost of some new components.

The best example is normally the motherboard, prices range in English pounds from about £50 to £200, and we all know that a pre-build is going to have the cheapest they can get away with.

Many times I have opened a case on a pre-build only to find a nice Intel CPU being used on a cheap VIA chip-set motherboard. It’s the CPU that sells the computer quite often they wont even mention the motherboard, best to keep hush about that.

Many people have no idea about the power supply in their PC, but decided they want a better, faster graphics card, they go to there local PC shop get a better graphics card, even get it working but don’t realise they are pushing the power supply to its limits, reducing the life of the unit and seriously risking it going bang and taking the entire PC with it. Normally pre-builds are fitted with a power supply that is suited to the computer, that’s fine until you want to up-grade something.

 One other thing that should be pointed out is that many pre-built PC’s don’t actually come with a Windows disk, that’s not too bad until your HDD fails and you are left with a dead computer and having to go out and get an HDD and a Windows disk, yes this does happen.

Recently I had a phone call from a chap that had a pre-build, the PC was 2 years old but had a dead HDD the manufactures didn’t supply a windows disk and after explaining to him what was going on and the price for a Windows disk, new HDD and an install and PC set-up he was flabbergasted, it was basically the same price of another cheap pre-build, but at least this time I fitted a quality HDD made sure it was cool by moving it away from heat sources inside the PC, I’m convinced the HDD had over heated as the PC got hot inside but nothing had been done to protect the HDD from over heating.

So should you get a pre-build? In my opinion the answer is no.

Either go to your local computer shop, by that I mean probably a small independent store not one of the big name stores, or get you local PC guru to build it for you.

Get them to build a computer for your needs, tell them what you want to do with it and let them build a custom PC that suits your requirements, you might even save money by not having unnecessary components or software and there is also a good chance that you wont need to up-grade for a good number of years.

Comments welcome.  
Posted April 13, 2010, 14:57:47 PM
Last Edit: April 13, 2010, 15:17:05 PM by Datahopa
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Online Freddy
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Yes I agree.

So far I have had only one PC blow up on me and it was a pre-built Compaq.  Basically the motherboard died.  Could I get a new MB ?  Yes I could if I wanted the same low spec one that it came with.  Compaq had used a non standard MB in a custom, non standard case - so I would have to spend a fortune on getting a replacement to match, rather than spending the money on a decent MB.  In the end I was lucky enough to find someone selling the bare bones of the compaq, so I got myself the replacement parts in the end.

After that I started building my own PC's and never looked back. The other thing is that it is fun to build your own PC and is very satisfying.  I love doing all the research to see what's out there and figuring out what I need to do what.   Cool
Posted April 13, 2010, 18:17:59 PM Logged

Offline Snowcrash
England Global Moderator
Posts: 2790
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I've always built my own PCs
Pre-built normally suck. esp if they have tiny on them. Luckly most have blown up now.
Some are ok but normally limited on upgrade options.
Get a good motherboard and guess it right with the socket, you should have a machine that works fine for 3-4 years (upgrades not included  Grin)

I first started with friends and a DX33 with 4MB RAM
This got upgraded to a AMD DX133 with 16MB RAM
I then went solo with Intel P1, AMD Athlon, Intel P4C, Intel Q6600 (current)

All in various guises of HDD, Graphics and clocking.
I've never built more than 4 PCs at the same time, done loads.

Here's looking to the future, something LGA1360 I hope
Posted April 13, 2010, 19:47:43 PM Logged
“I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Offline Carl2
United States Posts: 1190
Rank: Certified

  I was told it would cost less to build, not familiar with the sellers of components I frist tried tiger direct, at the time it would cost more to build.  Learned about newegg, better prices and more useful info on what went with what.  decided to try a build,  Gigabyte Mb went, sent to gigabyte returned with no problem, worked a short time and stopped working again.  I bought an Asus Mb to replace it.  The Asus Mb worked fine for a long time.  Another build I lost a CPU, replaced it for a fraction of the cost since it was older.  I'm buying fairly good quality parts that I expect to last.  I bought a HP Pentium Pro, it lasted forever, some good HP software came with it. 
  Both machines I have now have software to make backup disks. One for the OS and another disk for the drivers.  I trust HP but decided against them because of problems thay were having with the os, I was reading reviews.   The Asus which I am using now came from Best Buy, down the street, something deceint to get me on the internet.  While looking at components at newegg I saw computers and took a look.  I saw the Gateway, a 950 CPU, a Nvidia Gforce 285 video card, 9 Gb memory, couldn't beat the price, if I run into a problem I can return it.
  I enjoy building even with problems I've had.  I built a computer for my cousin as a gift for next to nothing, about $500.  After about 4 years it still runs great and is faster than a notebook.  I will say I like the motherboards they sell, The bios offers more options.
  I'd say a time to buy, a time to build and a time to wait.
Carl2
 
   
Posted April 14, 2010, 02:23:37 AM Logged

Online Data Topic starter
United Kingdom Administrator
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You know I’ve never seen a dead CPU in my years with PC’s, everything else yes but never a CPU and that includes pre-builds, custom builds and some pretty severe overclocking in my past. 
Posted April 14, 2010, 18:00:15 PM Logged

Offline Snowcrash
England Global Moderator
Posts: 2790
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Common faults I see are Hdd, memory and mobos. Often caused by overheating and/or overclocking.
Most common is dirt.

Only proc I've seen fail was due to alcohol and too much artic silver Shocked
Not me.

Posted April 14, 2010, 21:10:08 PM Logged
“I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Offline Carl2
United States Posts: 1190
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  Happened ages ago, not sure how or why, it wouldn't boot so i kept pressing the start.  Put another P4 in and it booted.  Makes me think of the days with viruses, worms that needed special tools, Something that would pop up and say the machine is infected, buy this to fix it.
Carl2
Posted April 14, 2010, 22:10:06 PM Logged

Online Data Topic starter
United Kingdom Administrator
Posts: 5195
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That’s another advantage of building them yourself, you can fix them when something goes wrong.

Have to agree with Freddy too its fun to build your own PC and is very satisfying.

Incidentally I have my PC modded in such a way that it’s very quiet under normal use, snowcrash modded my case with 4 switches that control the fans in the PC and I took apart the power supply and run a lead to one of the switches so I can slow down the fan inside the unit, so as im typing this my PC is almost silent, obviously when gaming or rendering I do have to manually turn the fans up.

Now the loudest part in my PC is the HDD under normal use, an SSD should help sort that out.

Posted April 16, 2010, 00:40:59 AM Logged

Offline Carl2
United States Posts: 1190
Rank: Certified

  I'd found some thermisters at Radio Shack that could be used to adjust fan speed, thought of comparing the outside temp to the case temp and have the difference in temp determine the speed.  Ended up just using a resistor in series with the fan to lower speed and noise.  They also sell fans with a sensor so the speed will depend on the temp.
Carl2
Posted April 16, 2010, 13:49:32 PM Logged

Online Freddy
United Kingdom WWW Administrator
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I think my graphics card does that - when I first turn the PC on it isn't even turning.  After a while, I guess as it warms up, it starts to spin.  Of course it could also be a fault lol
Posted April 16, 2010, 20:32:34 PM Logged

Online Data Topic starter
United Kingdom Administrator
Posts: 5195
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LOL, no its not a fault, they do that, my cpu fan does it too, so really the switches I have, that I should have said switch between 5 and 12 volt, adjust case fans and power supply fan.

Did consider having fans that adjusted themselves and I have used some before but I prefer doing it my self, yes im a nerd.  Lips Sealed Self-adjusting fans are a good idea though. 
Posted April 16, 2010, 20:47:44 PM Logged

Offline Snowcrash
England Global Moderator
Posts: 2790
Rank: Certified

All CPU and GPU fans are software controlled these days. CPU by mobo and works fine. GPU by GC driver and works ok.
For ATI cards there is a driver called 'ATI tray tool' which is good but problematic in vista and 7 (help me out here Datahopa). This driver allows you to change the set points for the fan speed so you can tweak it for your machine.
For all other fans the simplest solution (if you can solder) is a ON-OFF-ON toggle switch for each fan (or bank of fans) so you can switch between 5v-off-12v.
PM me if you want to know more.

A more elegant solution would be to do it automatically but this involves either electronics to measure temp and adjust set points or software in/out (even more complicated).
There are temp boards you can buy but I have no experience of this and the silly temp board that comes with my case is so useless and annoying (batt keeps screwing up and board beeps on power on) that I unplugged it  Huh? and now have no groovey blue dragon.

http://www.shopcomputerwizards.com/WIZARDS/IMAGES/Pics%20Going%20On%20Site/Cases/Dragon%20case.jpg
Posted April 17, 2010, 09:34:10 AM Logged
“I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
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