Buy? Build?

I have two primary desktop computers on the go right now. One is pre-built (Acer Veriton with Windows 7 Pro) and one is home-built (Linux Mint 17.)

There is lots of information out on the Web about whether you should buy a prebuild desktop or buy your own, so I’ll just add some personal comments about which way to go.

  • Have exact requirements? Best to roll your own then. With a prebuild you can specify the exact model of CPU, motherboard, case, hard drive etc. I wanted a particular AMD processor in my home made machine and the rest followed on.
  • Want to save money? Dollar for dollar the home built unit can be cheaper but likely you’ll just spend the difference on better components like a solid state drive.
  • Want Windows 8? You are going to get that with any new prebuild. You’ll also get a lot of crapware (although less if you go with a commercial grade unit.) You’ll likely pay less for your Windows licence, but you will have limited flexibility if you have problems and need to reinstall the O/S.
  • Want a warranty and technical support? Well, a prebuild is the way to go then.
  • Want a quality unit that just works? You can get this with a prebuild if you are careful and spend a bit more for a commercial unit. Watch out though. My Acer Veriton has quality components, but its graphics and power supply were wimpy. I had to upgrade the power supply and add a decent graphics card to run my train sim, even though I have a really good i5 processor in the unit.
  • Want to learn something? There is no better way to learn about how a PC works than to build one from scratch. Take advantage of the excellent videos on YouTube and the parts choosing facility of sites like Newegg to get started.
  • Want to run Linux? It’s important to choose a particular processor if you want to run AMD Linux graphics with one of their APUs (a slightly trailing edge one works better.) Your choice of wifi unit will also be important if you want one in the desktop. So is your choice of discrete graphics card (here Nvidia might be a better option.) It seems best to choose a home build here to be sure.

So to sum up, if going with Windows it’s a toss up whether to buy or build (as long as you can modify the prebuild as needed.) For Linux it’s a no-brainer – build your own, avoid the Windows tax and make sure what you have works great with Linux.



Published by Ray MacDonald

Ray MacDonald is a retired food scientist who lives in Almonte, ON.
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