Like Computers? Me too. Like saving money even more? Yeah, me too. This is a huge dilemma for many. Computers are very expensive pieces of electronics that have to be replaced after just a few short years. And yet, they are absolutely essential to modern, 21st century life. For many people, including myself, they even provide an income. All of my work is done on my computers, and I need high performance equipment to do a lot of it. Computers have always been a major expense for me, and for virtually everyone else I know as well. However, I found one way about four years ago that helps cut down costs on desktop PC’s dramatically.
The solution is to build your own desktop from parts. Naturally this isn’t something that should be approached lightly and without a lot of background knowledge. However, if you know in general how the parts of a computer work and fit together, and are comfortable installing your own operating system and software, it is a very viable option. It really isn’t that hard (I built my first desktop from scratch when I was a sophomore in high school), and there a ton of resources online to help you make it happen. I’m proud to say that I have never bought a factory made desktop, and have been very pleased with both the cost savings I’ve seen and the performance of my computers.
To illustrate the cost savings, I did some shopping around. I first looked at desktops that you could buy. I decided to base my experiments off of the lowest model of IMac, which is $1200*. I’ll just bluntly say it, unless you absolutely need Mac OS, it is a complete rip off. The specs on that model of Mac are absolutely pathetic for the price.
I then went on to look at a Dell XPS desktop. Basing it off of the Mac, I configured it with an i5 processor, a 21.5 inch monitor, and dedicated graphics. It also had twice the amount of RAM and hard drive space, the only reason I didn’t lower them to make it even is because Dell doesn’t even let you get a high end computer with that low of specs (The Mac has a 500GB HDD and 4GB of RAM, and the Dell has double that). This Dell XPS costs $1040 the way I configured it.
Then, I went on over to Newegg.com. Newegg is the single best resource for buying computer parts. Everytime I need a computer part, they are always my first stop. Feel free to shop around outside of them, you may get lucky and find a better price somewhere, but I doubt it. In ten minutes on Newegg, I was able to find all of the same components as were in the Dell machine and put them all in my online shopping cart. This included the exact same i5 processor, exact same graphics card, same amount of HDD and RAM, same size of monitor, a fancy case and an adequate power supply. I also added in a copy of Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium and a DVD burner. I assume that you already have a mouse and keyboard around that you like, so I didn’t include those two items. Other than that, I included everything you will need to build a solid, high performance computer. The price? The base price is $925 for all those parts. Once you count in shipping, and then three promo codes (all of which were easily found right on the product description headline) and some mail in rebates, the price was down to just under $860. In other words, building a computer can save you $200 over buying one directly from Dell.com. You can also increase the savings if you consider other things, like using a monitor you already have, or going cheaper on the parts that you don’t utilize as much (like the graphics card if you don’t play games or do anything that requires lots of graphics processing). I’ve ran scenarios in the past that have easily pushed the savings over $300. It really is possible to save a massive amount of money by building your own computer.
So how exactly do you go about building your computer? First, you need to buy the parts. Like I said, Newegg is my one stop shop. Make sure when you are looking at parts that everything is compatible with each other. It is way beyond the scope of this article to discuss this in details, but, for instance, make sure that your processor and RAM are compatible with your motherboard. Here are the basic parts that you will need to buy:
- Optical Drive (DVD or Blu-Ray)
- Power Supply (Sometimes comes with case)
- Video Card (Sometimes built into processor or motherboard)
- Monitor (If needed)
- Keyboard and mouse (If needed)
- Operating System (Windows most likely)
Get parts from trusted brands with good reviews, it is worth doing the research to make sure you get quality.
Once the parts come in the mail, the fun begins. You’re going to want some sort of table or huge desk to work at for this, and lots of floor space for the various boxes. The process of actually assembling a computer is covered in literally countless tutorials on the web. Here are some of the ones that I recommend:
Putting the parts together can be frustrating, complex work. But once its done, the rest is easy. Just install Windows, and you are ready to go! Plus, you don’t have to deal with all of the “free trial” software that comes with pre built computers.
If you know what you’re doing, it is possible to assemble a computer in one or two hours. With a savings of $200 in the above example, you could essentially make yourself $100 an hour by going the home built route. Sounds excellent to me!
Have you ever built your own computer? Have any thoughts or questions? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!
*All prices and specifications are accurate as of this writing, but I do not guarantee that these specific items and prices will hold true for the future.