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View Poll Results: Do you build your own computers?
Yes 51 78.46%
No 2 3.08%
Sometimes 12 18.46%
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Old 2nd July 2008
JMJ_coder JMJ_coder is offline
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Default Do you build your own computers?

Hello,

Do you build your own computers from components (i.e., motherboards, CPU, RAM, etc.) or buy pre-built computers (Dell, HP, Soekris, etc.)?
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Old 2nd July 2008
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I find it more economical to build my own desktop systems. Laptops are a different story. I like having the choice of every component in the system, especially things like power supplies where pre-built computers are known to skimp on.
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Old 3rd July 2008
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Grrr...


I've never been able to build my own computer thanks to family... Who would have made made it 100,000 times more painful then losing an index finger.


All of my systems are pre-built, although I've taken them apart and put'em back together again on occasions.


In the future, given the economical freedom, I would never buy a pre-built unless I had to (business reasons) or just needed a system -- the difference between a computer to use (buy) and a 'personal' system (build).


I would *very* much like to one day build my own laptop, since I understand their internal structure less then desktops.... but the probability of that ever coming to fruition is about the same as winning the lotto.


Next computer I get, I pray will be a custom built one, without having to kill anyone in the process.


Why:


<probably a rant>
The Story of SAL1600:


The original plan of attack was to build my own system, dedicated for running BSD and XP -> work on BSD, game on XP.


For $1400 I had a nice AMD based system lined up + LCD + great GPU + UPS !!! Plus every single thing I wanted out of the system, including a pair of 250GB Seagate's and a lone stiffy drive.


Then my mother started going on about "what if"'s (vote of no confidence?) and my brother started getting pissy. So I ended up looking at an HP that would hopefully fit my needs and make my mother STFU.

Which then set off my brother again which lead me to a Intel based Gateway machine which got them both to SHUT UP -> My mother because it was pre-built, my brother because it was 'high performance (at the time) and more upgradeable' but still not what I really wanted.


The result?

I spent $1600 instead of $1400

The machine works but she is the most headache giving b**** I've ever had. Every thing along the way has had it's quirks and I had to threaten to sell it in order to fix one problem with the computer -- don't ask!!!


I also got a piece of crap graphics card and tv tuner instead of my dream card, which also died a few years later.

I had to buy a new sound card, which sucks under windows but works wonderful with FreeBSD and Linux 2.6


And I got stuck with 1 500GB drive (of a brand which I've been told had bad failure rates once upon a time) and a card reader that sat unused until this year.
</probably a rant>

The system has been to much of a royal pain with the seven fires of heck to use for any of it's original purposes beyond gaming.


The lesson:


_N_E_V_E_R_ listen to family when building _Y_O_U_R_ computer !!!
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Old 3rd July 2008
JMJ_coder JMJ_coder is offline
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Hello,

Quote:
Originally Posted by TerryP View Post
The lesson:


_N_E_V_E_R_ listen to family when building _Y_O_U_R_ computer !!!
WOW! Expensive lesson to learn. It was _your_ (as in they wouldn't use it) system? And _you_ paid for it? Maybe I'm less diplomatic, but I would have told them give me the money and I'll buy whatever you want, otherwise thanks for your opinion and I'll be sure to note it in my logfile!
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Old 3rd July 2008
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I've turned away from tinkering with hardware. These days, I just want something that fulfills my needs and just works for the cheapest price. If I have to build then so be it. If companies like CyberPower that build custom computers can make and ship one to me for a good price, then that's great too. Actually, I like custom computers. I just hate name-brand ones. I don't necessarily have to build it though, but it has to be to my specs. I particularly like Shuttles as well.
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Old 3rd July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BSDKaffee View Post
I find it more economical to build my own desktop systems.
Building a system is balancing a number of trade-offs. How important is minimizing I/O latencies to how large a drive should be used; how much memory should be installed, to how fast a processor should be purchased. Back when I built my own systems, I went with SCSI drives (& ten years ago, IDE couldn't hold a candle to SCSI performance...) which produces very nimble systems, but the overall cost was not competitive. Nevertheless, my last system lasted for nearly eight years & was still competitive performance-wise to what could be purchased at a store today.

A number of these same systems have been moved to different cases, & some components have been swapped out, but a number of these systems are still in use today. It was an expensive past-time, but then I've gotten a lot of use out of those machines, they lasted a long time, & I learned a lot from the experience.

I would recommend that everyone go through the process at least once as it will clarify a number of misperceptions we all hold at one time or another. Just be prepared to see it through to completion; otherwise, you simply have an assortment of parts which may not be in use. Given the short half-life of computer hardware, letting stuff sit around truly is a waste.
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Old 3rd July 2008
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I love to put together my own computers and the one I am typing from is built by my own hands. That being said building a computer is only cost effective if you are building powerful workstation. There is no way that I can bit the WalMart prices on
individual low end machines used for Web surfing, email, and document processing. There is no way that you can bit the DeLL on the low level servers (I do not like Proliants) or when you have to deploy 10s of desktops.

If you like me have lots of used older machines (including laptops) the hardware tinkering is a MUST. There is so much (almost free) older commodity hardware in U. S. these days but finding the one that just work is a miracle. Most often one I need at least two-three older desktops in order put one which is perfect working order. The same goes for laptops and I am not shy of playing with laptop hardware too. Servers are another story and they can often be found in pristine condition. However even in the case of servers always helps if you have at hand some extra RAM and SCSI drives. I also usually have tens of network cards at my hand too.

Getting the older non-Intel hardware to work is even more challenging and often Ebay
is the only place where one can find the missing components. I do not like MAC hardware so I am talking mostly about SUN hardware (OK I like SGI hardware but that is like treasure hunting).

Once I mastered the skill of playing with the older hardware I came to realization that I can get any kind of computer almost free. My ThinkPad A20p was paid $20 (was missing CMOS battery). All PIII that I have are paid no more than $5. My former
Tauting U10 (SUN's clone) station was paid $40. I had PowerEdge 2500 server PIII 2x 1.2 Xeon with 6 x18 GB SCSI hard drivers bought for $90. Netra SUN servers are less than $100 on Ebay. The list goes on and on. The DeLL Optiplex P4 with 512 MB or RAM and 3x10GB of hard drives that is my second desktop machine is paid $50. (with the parts I put
it cost no more than $80 and I added DVD-RW, 256MB RAM, two hard drives and a ZIP drive).

Best,
OKO

P.S. The one that I am writing from is Intel Core 2 Duo with 3GB of RAM, DVD-RW and 160GB SATA hard drive. Its cost
to build was $450 about 15 months ago. I think that is slightly less that one has to pay for it in the stores these days
but the one in the store probably comes with 19" LCD monitor and that pleasure would cost me an extra $200. My solution was to use old DeLL CRT monitor which I got for free. So sure. I have saved money and I had cutting edge hardware last year BUT.

Last edited by Oko; 4th July 2008 at 12:37 AM.
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Old 3rd July 2008
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I buy CPU and mainboard and Ram and VGA and ... everything one computer need and build it , I never buy prebuild computer , because I think they do not use best component for make best computer , from ten years ago , I build my computer and never buy pre build computer.
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Old 3rd July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMJ_coder View Post
WOW! Expensive lesson to learn. It was _your_ (as in they wouldn't use it) system? And _you_ paid for it? Maybe I'm less diplomatic, but I would have told them give me the money and I'll buy whatever you want, otherwise thanks for your opinion and I'll be sure to note it in my logfile!

In my case, it was a cut of my Grandmothers 'long lost' inheritance (who I would prefer to the computer!).

As for the system? Purely my 'personal' machine and *originally* designed that way.


I got higher specs then I originally planned for but much lower quality parts, not what I wanted for the design and more headaches, but it works (with kicking) although it's been more trouble in the long run.


One thing that I especially like about the ideal of building ones own machine -- you can make sure it frigging works with your operating system more readily then an off the rack Dell
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Old 3rd July 2008
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I always use second hand stuff (With the exception of hard disks) ... Basically I just replace a part when it's broke or if I can get a better part free or cheap (Like graphics, or CPU).

Yeah, I'm a cheap ass ... But this actually works rather well, since I don't need a quad core CPU, 8GB RAM, and who knows what else to run vim and mutt...

Another advantage is that I've rarely had any hardware problems with BSD ... Since all the hardware has been around for a while...
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Old 3rd July 2008
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DIY is the best you can get and to some degree I'm working like Carpetsmoker.
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Old 3rd July 2008
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Well, I needed a new graphics card, but I got a all-in motherboard cheaper.
It is not exactly building my own machine as it is just plugging memory, a CPU and a hard drive.

Next step, forget the CPU and go for the Jetways and VIAs
Stop multi-booting and forget hypervisor capable machines.
For a home office / small office, budget and redundancy puts hypervisors out of competition.
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Old 3rd July 2008
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@Oko,
That's interesting getting those systems so cheap. I'll have to look into that. So far, I have not had to buy any system in 7 years or so. As Windows users "upgrade" their OS, they give me their "old" boxes though I have built a few for those same people.

As a hardware engineer who used to build systems with wire and TTL gates, it's not an issue.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mfaridi View Post
I never buy prebuild computer , because I think they do not use best component for make best computer
Absolutely! Most off the shelf boxes seem to be 2nd rate, or at least no "bleeding edge", but that's one way they keep the prices down and reliability up.

I forgot about this. The one and only time I did buy a system was for my wife's business. She needed a new box quickly, when Quickbooks just wasn't able to run efficiently on her old one after an upgrade. I did the research and ordered one from Dell (she gets a national business discount). At the time, I thought all such things had AGP slots. When she gave it up, and I "inherited" it, I was unable to improve the graphics since it could only run the onboard graphics chips.

Another reason why I vowed I would never buy another off-the-shelf unit again.
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Old 3rd July 2008
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Not only is it usually more economic to build your own machines, it is also alot of fun. Historically, I've had to make exceptions for things like notebooks or the occasional high-availability web server, but even those are, to one degree or another, customizable.

I like designing a machine and researching the ways the hardware will interact - tracking down components and, ultimately, putting it together. Of course there's also the slow accumulation of odd components that wind up making up some new machine.

And, since sustainability has become more accessible, there's also a certain kind of satisfaction that you get when you put together something efficient and powerful that doesn't cause your power bill to increase suddenly.

I think it's also helpful for people who work with computers frequently to have an understanding of which components they use and how they work together.
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Old 3rd July 2008
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>it is also alot of fun.

Yes doing this at home for leisure, but doing it for friends and relatives is sometimes like hardcore-work
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Old 3rd July 2008
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One of the main reasons why BSD rocks is that it runs amazingly well on old hardware. At craigslist, I can get MB with CPUs for like 20$ and these are just a year old hardware that still can perform pretty good with a good kernel tweak. I'm tempted to make my own clustering setup with all these cheap mb, cpus, etc at cragislist. Setup a redundant firewall setup with openbsd. Or web clustering setup for virtual hosting with freebsd. The choices are endless. BSD works amazing with all this. Take advantage of all the computers people don't need and build your own frankenstein monster powered by BSD!
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Old 3rd July 2008
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I build a pair of routers out of Dell Optiplex machines running openOSPF and ifstated for failover - I think I paid 30 bucks for the pair. The 4-port cards I installed in them was a little more expensive, but they got the job done.
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Old 3rd July 2008
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Working for a webhosting/colocation company, we learned the hard way that building your own servers doesn't scale in a large business environment- we eventually relented and went the way of Dell. For servers, Dell and HP really kick butt compared to cheaper do-it-yourself solutions. Don't believe me? We have about 300+ Dells in our network now and they just don't quit. And for what you get they are pretty cheap...

For gaming/personal machines, though, I really like building my own- I don't mind picking the best of what I want to be in a single machine, instead of having to live with a "pretty-good system" that's missing some particular feature I really wish I had. It usually makes component upgrades easier as well, extending the life of my personal machine by at least a few years. And although Dell/HP/Others really do use quality parts on the servers they sell, I find time and time again that with desktops they will sack you with the lowest common denominator parts so they can preserve their razor-thin margins.


So for business, the time and the money wasted on building multiple machines on a regular basis can be better spent... getting customers, for instance. That's always good. But once at home... ah, nothing like tinkering around with a kick-butt desktop you can be proud to know every inch of.
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Old 4th July 2008
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Before I was hired, and we started using FreeBSD and Linux on the servers, the school district bought Dells and HPs. Uber-expensive servers with semi-high-end parts (at the time -- think 8+ years ago). They all came with high-priced support contracts (that have only been used two or three times in their lifetime). Each server was about $15,000 CDN.

Since then, I've done the research online and in print, and have hand-picked the parts for our servers. The original rackmounts were dual-P3s with SCSI drives and redundant PSUs for ~$10,000 IIRC. Clunky 4U boxes, but they did the job for about 4 years.

Then we replaced them with 2U dual-Opterons with more memory and SATA harddrives with 3Ware RAID controllers and Tyan motherboards. Used the same hardware in different cases (rackmount and mid-towers). Every server we have is now one of these. Cost less than $8000 each, have 4x the storage space, several times the CPU/RAM performance, and remote management cards.

This year, we started purchasing 5U servers to use for storage (24x drive bays) and virtualisation. Just changed motherboards, CPUs, and RAM. The RAID controller and drives are the same. For 5 TB of disk space and 4x redundant PSU (instead of 2x), we pay less than $9,000 CDN.

The beauty of going with custom built systems is that we get hardware that we know will work with our OSes (Debian Linux mainly, FreeBSD, and a couple Windows Server 2003). We get generic hardware we can service ourselves, and local support if we need it (mainly just replacement parts on warranty). No proprietary crap. No missing drivers. No hassles.

Our desktop diskless systems are under $150 CDN now, and have basically become applicances. Since we do our own hardware vetting, testing, and recommending, we get exactly what we need.

This summer, we're tossing the last of the old Dells and HPs, and we honestly won't miss them. (Especially the Toronto business hours for support.)
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Old 4th July 2008
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Well, for my main workstation I won't to run BSD's but didn't won't to have no name brand computer like Dell, HP, Sony,...etc. Label on it. Plus i love to tinker with hardware anyway.
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