September 1, 2013

Building a New Computer

Our primary computer is finally on its last legs.   I think the system is actually over 8 years old now.   Thats a long time to use a computer and its just not working all that well any more.  It seems to overheat and occasionally crashes.  I figure it is time to get a new one before this one completely dies on us.  

We decided to go retro and pretend like its 2004 and build a desktop computer.    Yes thats a desktop computer.  For you young 'uns out there a desktop computer is a large bulky box without a build in screen or keyboard that houses your computer components.  It is not designed to be portable.  Your great great great grandparents may have used them.

Kidding aside, we are getting a desktop for a few reasons.  First with a desktop I can upgrade it relatively easily.   I build my own computers so I can tinker with it and add drives,  memory or put in a better video card if necessary.  You can upgrade memory in laptops but usually thats about it.   Second reason I am building our own desktop is that I wanted an SSD drive in it.   It seems the price entry point for systems with SSDs is much higher and more often only seen in the $1000 level.  Third reason is that I thought I could get more power and features for less money by going with a desktop.  However in hindsight I'm not sure that really worked out.    Last reason that I decided to go with a desktop is my wife stated a preference for desktop systems. 

I thought about just buying a Dell system.    I'm building the system myself for a few reasons.   First the SSDs were only in the more expensive units and building one myself gives me more flexibility to pick the parts I want, second if I build it myself I know what quality of parts I'm getting and lastly for a system I build I wont have to bother with the excess software that OEMs usually put on systems.  

The system I'm building costs about $650 in total for the parts.   Through coupons, sales and promotions I was able to cut about $100 off that cost so I'm spending about $550.    I could have bought a cheap Dell desktop for around $300 and gone with lower performance build.   That would have met our needs right now but it wouldn't last as long.   We decided instead to spend the extra money and get a more powerful system that will hopefully last us longer.  Considering how much we use the computer its pretty worth it to spend a bit more for a better experience.

For most people I would recommend you get a basic laptop.   I think most peoples computing needs can easily be met by a basic $300 or $400 laptop.   If you do much of any gaming I would go for something with more power and often a desktop will be your best bet to get a good video card.



  1. Our desktop is still working pretty well, but I don't think I'll get another desktop after this. A laptop is so much more convenient. I see your point about SSD though. Hopefully, when we need to replace the desktop, the price will be more affordable.

  2. I've built 3 desktops in the past year (mine, my parents, and for a friend) and it's much easier than most people think. Like you said - it's very easy to upgrade in a few years and you save a ton of money. Dell likes to throw in an unnecessary amount of RAM and other things that the average person doesn't need. If you don't plan on gaming or graphic editing you can make a solid desktop for around $500 or even less for all your web browsing/e-mail needs. I'd recommend checking out pcpartpicker website - it's extremely helpful! Also the youtube tutorials done by newegg basically answered any questions I had too.

  3. The last time I acquired a new computer was 6 years ago, but at that point I built my own desktop for many of the same reasons you gave. It seems like were I to build one today, I would make that same choice. And unless something truly drastic or disruptive happens, I suspect my choice would continue to be the same in another 6 years. Or maybe I'm just a Luddite.


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