Part 1 of this series discussed buying an off-the-shelf pre-built computer from your local retail store along with some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with those systems. Part 2 focused on the semi-custom options available through some of the major manufacturers’ websites. Part 3 looked into buying a custom-built computer from a local dealer/business. In Part 4 we will explore your last option: Design and build your own computer.
As explained in Part 3, if you decide on taking the custom-built route, you will have complete control over every component and aspect of your computer and its performance. By doing it yourself, instead of relying on someone else, you can save money. The reasons you save money are:
- You will be developing or utilizing your own personal knowledge of computers along with the skills involved in the designing, building and possibly troubleshooting of a computer, instead of paying for someone elses expertise
- You will be purchasing your own parts, thus avoiding any go-between mark-ups and can shop around to find the best prices
- You are investing your own time, rather than paying for someone elses
However, saving money comes with its own price. You must be prepared to invest a great deal of your own time. The amount of time required will be dependent upon your existing computer knowledge & skills and the time it will take you to acquire those that you don’t already have. Additionally, there will be several tasks you will need to accomplish before having a fully functional computer. They are:
- Develop a list of parts or components that will be required to build your computer, this includes all the necessary hardware and software
- Determine the specific parts you will use to build your computer
- Insure that all the parts you chose are compatible with one another
- Decide on the best place(s) to acquire the parts
- Acquire the parts
- Register all parts covered by individual manufacturers’ warranties
- Build your computer by assembling/installing all of the parts
- Install all the necessary software
- Verify proper operation of the computer and all of its parts
- Troubleshoot and resolve any issues discovered during the building or operation of the computer
There are some potential drawbacks to building your own computer. They include:
- There may be significant time involved before you have an operational computer, due to the time required for you to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills, it being necessary for you to acquire hardware or software you may have initially overlooked or encountering defective components which must be returned and the time before its replacement arrives
- You are the ‘go to’ person if you have any issues or problems with your computer, there is not a dealer or business to hold accountable
Do not be discouraged by the apparent amount of time, research, and work involved with building your own computer. If you do your homework, the rewards and self-satisfaction received by doing it yourself far exceed any downsides or drawbacks. There are numerous websites and forums on the internet dedicated to assisting all computer users, whether they are relatively inexperienced or full-blown enthusiasts.
This series of articles was intended to to provide guidance and options for helping the reader decide what type of computer would be best for them along with which option is best suited for their needs. There will be follow-up articles designed to provide readers with additional information and tools that will assist with choosing or designing a computer. Please feel free to submit any ideas for future articles that you feel would be helpful or questions you may have via e-mail or the comments section below.