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Old August 11, 2010, 07:23 PM
Timid newbe Timid newbe is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 12
Default To build, or not to build: that is the question

Far be it for me asking , but I'm having trouble deciding whether to have a new system built by a respected third party or to do it myself. I've never built one before, though I have upgraded my Power Mac (Yes. I'm moving to W7), so it's not as if I haven't plumbed the depths, albeit briefly, before now. But from "scratch" involves a bit more effort. The build would consist of the following (more or less):

●Silverstone Ft02 case (I like its conservative looks and its approach to thermal management; a bit large though)
●Asus P6X58D Premium or Rampage Extreme III Mobo (either would do, though the Rampage has more features/toys such as ROG connect/Bluetooth that can allow you to adjust parameters through an iPhone, for ex. It does seem to be having teething troubles though)
●Sapphire 5870 Vapor X 100281VX GPU (seems to get good consistently good reviews)
●Core i7 930 CPU (Again, gets very good reviews; easy to OC if one so desires; reasonable price compared to Extreme line)
●CPU cooler (thinking Gelid Tranquillo, but have an open mind. Needs to cool well, especially in an OC situation and fit the case. No offense, but No H2o cooling)
●6 gigs RAM (brand agnostic at this point)
●Two hard drives (either WD "Blue" or WD "Black", with
SSD (for booting/programs) a possibility in place of one of HDs. But SSD = $$$ per gig)
●Card reader (might as well be built in; one less thing on the desk)
●Optical drive (plain Jane or fancy Blue Ray/ burner)
●Windows 7 Pro or Home
●Corsair HX 1000W PSU (new AX 1200 PSU a possibility; 1200W is a bit much, I admit. But it's single rail versus multi-rail, with me preferring the former. One might want to CF in future).

All told the bill for parts (from Newegg), including California sales tax, ranges between $2,220+ to $2,320+ approximately (the difference is due to W7 home versus W7Pro or AX1200W/HX1000W). The proposed price from the system builder is approximately $2,820 to $3,120 depending upon configuration, plus shipping of $88.00). They will install some lighting tubes and color matched cabling (FT02 has window) if that means anything, but it would amount to only $40.00 or so. And yes: it is possible that I could source parts where tax isn't applicable, thus lowering the costs a a couple of hundred, but perhaps at the cost of RMA services if needed. Quite frankly I'd like to deal with one parts source.

The "built" one would come with a warranty (1 year) and lifetime tech support (I don't know what happens if they go out of business or I die, though ). Obviously, they would build it, test it, burn it in, wipe its nose, etc. One pays for that, of course. But the differential would amount to some $500/700 dollars--not a lot of money in the larger scheme of things, but still that could be, say, a Dell U2410 Monitor, a second GPU, or a nice KB and rodent (or having the trees trimmed in my yard). Not having to be my own tech support is a bit appealing as well.

There are intangibles, of course. I have to admit that building your own (BYO) is, in the abstract, appealing, and unlike some, I am actually willing to read the manuals and follow them (assuming that they can be followed). One learns more about the gadget by way of BYO, as well as having more control over the parts choices as well. And though I might like to believe that this is the best of all possible worlds (well, not really, Actually, not at all), I also know that it is filled with things such as DOA mobos, GPUs, bad customer service and who-know-what-else, all of which aren't abstract or at all appealing. By the way the machine is envisioned as being a great all-rounder, i.e., snappy day-to-day performance and good to great at gaming/CAD. It's replacing a 8 year old PowerPC Mac.

I do have the time (assuming that it comes together reasonably well) to build as I don't work at the moment, aside from preparing for my next CCNA course. But I'd like it to be done by early September, as I have the class starting and will need thing by then. I also need to become more familiar with W7 by then as well.

Since I obviously don't know that the brevity is the soul of wit, your opinions please. Is it possible that someone with two college degrees could do this and live to tell the tale?
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