TechSpot: Buying a Budget PC - DIY vs. OEM

In a previous article, we compared the value of pre-assembled, performance-grade desktops from popular vendors to the DIY Enthusiast's PC recommended in our buying guide. That research left us with the same conclusion hardware buffs have harped on for years: getting your hands dirty results in cash savings as well as some higher quality components.

We are taking another look at the market, but this time focusing on sub-$500 desktops as we compare our Budget Box with two similarly outfitted machines from Dell and HP.

Before getting started, we have to admit that going into this we thought our Budget Box would have a hard time competing with the subsidized bloatware-infested desktops peddled by massive system builders. As it turns out, that's not the case at all.

Read: Buying a Budget PC - DIY vs. OEM

These articles are brought to you in partnership with TechSpot.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Facebook partners with MOL Global to make Facebook Credits available offline

Next Story

Microsoft sold around 10,000 KIN devices

26 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

kpo6969 said,
I went from a Dell to building one myself. Best computer move I ever made.

+1

My mom bought a Dell at one point (Dimension 2400) as a crossgrade from a system I built for her (out of parts I upgraded out of); however, it's replacement (when the onboard graphics went south) was another of my DIY specials (again, entirely out of my castoffs plus salvage from the Dell). The DIY special runs Windows 7 (which the Dell wouldn't be able to do), despite most of the parts being around the same age. (The critical changes were the motherboard and graphics; the motherboard I swapped in was the ASUS P4C800-E Deluxe, which was an enthusiast board of its day, and the graphics are AMD X1650 AGP. Despite the GPU's age, it supports Aero just fine and actually has decent performance for what it's used for.)

OEM pc's are horrible based on which brand and what the purpose of the PC is.
Dell,HP,Lenovo,Acer-good pcs for basic use
Alien ware and some others are good for gaming

DIY are the cheapest and most customizable way to build a ultimate rig

the only thing would be the warranty. a problem? send the whole thing at the shop and get it repaired. VERY handy for those who know jack poo about computer hardware.

Mouettus said,
the only thing would be the warranty. a problem? send the whole thing at the shop and get it repaired. VERY handy for those who know jack poo about computer hardware.

If you're building your own you typically know something about hardware. IMO, having a system die because the RAM is bad, buying a stick of of RAM and having the system back up in 15 minutes is less of a headache than having days of downtime waiting for Dell to carry out warrantied repairs.

I really don't see how everyone thinks pre-builts are the hassle free choice. Dealing with warranty repairs always seemed like a far larger hassle to me than fixing the computer on the spot, and dealing with RMA's later (once necessary computers are back up and running).

The real problem with the OEM is that they save money in crappy part, especially with lousy harddisk.

For example, for my macbook pro, i changed the stock harddisk with a Western Digital HD (not top of the line) and now my macbook pro generate less heat and increased my windows 7 ranking from 5.2 to 5.6

For me it's not so much the price, as I don't think building it yourself hasn't been able to compete with pre-builts for years in price. It's getting exactly what I want in a system. I get the final say, from motherboard and memory manufacturer to being able to decide if the screws holding it all together have pink sparklies on them. (It matters!) I get to make sure that there's no cutting corners because of price, and after researching the components I can make sure I'm getting parts that work best with each other.

Assembly time isn't an issue; if I really wanted to I could crank out a complete system (without software) in under 15 minutes. Pre-loaded software isn't a convenience for me; first thing I'd typically do with a pre-built system is erase the thing anyway. (You can keep your bastardized Windows installations, complete with a few dozen trialware apps, thank you.)

Of course, this isn't for everyone.. if you blow it up by shorting something out, that's on you, and chances are you just bought yourself a dead set of components. For me though, I've been doing this with my eyes closed since the 80's.

Jen Smith said,
For me it's not so much the price, as I don't think building it yourself hasn't been able to compete with pre-builts for years in price. It's getting exactly what I want in a system. I get the final say, from motherboard and memory manufacturer to being able to decide if the screws holding it all together have pink sparklies on them. (It matters!) I get to make sure that there's no cutting corners because of price, and after researching the components I can make sure I'm getting parts that work best with each other.

Assembly time isn't an issue; if I really wanted to I could crank out a complete system (without software) in under 15 minutes. Pre-loaded software isn't a convenience for me; first thing I'd typically do with a pre-built system is erase the thing anyway. (You can keep your bastardized Windows installations, complete with a few dozen trialware apps, thank you.)

Of course, this isn't for everyone.. if you blow it up by shorting something out, that's on you, and chances are you just bought yourself a dead set of components. For me though, I've been doing this with my eyes closed since the 80's.

Where DIY beats OEM is whenever you vary from the baseline configuration (and most folks do vary, even if it's something as simple as memory or hard drive, let alone the operating system). I have bought just one "OEM" system (my first); however, even that didn't stay that way long (the first change was a graphics card upgrade). Every system since I've built myself (none were what could be called high-end; they were all either middle-end or budget/value) for the simple reason that when you vary from that baseline, the cost of OEM goes up (often significantly); even Dell and HP have that problem.

I've been building myself for a few years now too and wouldn't go back.

I lost interest in supporting my own builds many many years ago.. I do not have the time or patience any more. Buy for me!!
Aside from choosing the parts, it really doesn't take that long

I lost interest in supporting my own builds many many years ago.. I do not have the time or patience any more. Buy for me!!

BGM said,
I lost interest in supporting my own builds many many years ago.. I do not have the time or patience any more. Buy for me!!

Couldn't agree more, although ALL 7 of my machines are other peoples refurbished junk!!

+The Teej - 1 hour ago
Says to me the OEM builds are more then suitable for most people. I'd go for DIY, but I could go for OEM out of convenience and still get a similar performance - especially if I do a clean reinstall.

The key to it all, the clean install.

In my experience of doing DIY for myself, i never end up sticking to the budget and always go over I'd say if you have a strict budget, go for OEM but otherwise i'd do DIY.

Says to me the OEM builds are more then suitable for most people. I'd go for DIY, but I could go for OEM out of convenience and still get a similar performance - especially if I do a clean reinstall.

The Teej said,
Says to me the OEM builds are more then suitable for most people. I'd go for DIY, but I could go for OEM out of convenience and still get a similar performance - especially if I do a clean reinstall.

that seems to be pretty much the bottom line.

DIY is best for most people who want quality parts/gaming PC etc. but for your typical average joe user OEM is probably overall better because of convenience and warranty etc.

I've never bought a PC at all (with the exception of an Amiga, which even then I stripped out of its shell and put into a tower and modified the hell out of it making it better than a Toaster The high end TV/Movie Amiga, not the thing thats toasts bread), even since the 80's. I've always built my own

BeLGaRaTh said,
I've never bought a PC at all (with the exception of an Amiga, which even then I stripped out of its shell and put into a tower and modified the hell out of it making it better than a Toaster The high end TV/Movie Amiga, not the thing thats toasts bread), even since the 80's. I've always built my own

I still have my old 4000. Haven't fired it up in years, but I have it. I still tihnk the hardware OS would allow it to generally run favourably these days, at least for a budget rig.

And a honey to program it was. Amiga FTW!