Due to some problems I was having with my three-year-old Dell Inspiron 5150, I decided to get a new computer. Instead of buying from Dell or elsewhere, I ended up building my own computer from scratch. I purchased all the individual components, assembled them, installed the OS and drivers, and then installed all my software. I thought I’d share my experience as a first-time builder for those of you who have considered doing the same thing.
Here are the components I purchased:
- $97 Motherboard: EVGA nForce 650i Ultra 775 T1 (NewEgg | ZipZoomFly)
- $165 CPU: Intel C2D E6320 1.86MHz (NewEgg | ZipZoomFly)
- $134 RAM: 4GB (4x1GB) of OCZ Gold DDR2-800 PC2-6400 (NewEgg | ZipZoomFly)
- $66 GPU: MSI GeForce 7600 GS 256MB w/ Dual DVI (NewEgg | ZipZoomFly)
- $234 HD: 2x 500GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (NewEgg | ZipZoomFly)
- $40 PSU: Antec Neo HE 500w (NewEgg | ZipZoomFly)
- $0 Case: Ultra Wizard Mid-Tower ATX Case (NewEgg | ZipZoomFly)
- $0 Fans: 2x 120mm Powmax Typhoons (NewEgg | ZipZoomFly)
- $42 DVD-RW: Lite-On 20X (NewEgg | ZipZoomFly)
$778 total (includes shipping and after rebates)
I purchased most of the components at ZipZoomFly.com and NewEgg.com. ZipZoomFly is sometimes slightly cheaper than NewEgg, but NewEgg was quite a bit faster in processing the order and having it delivered. I recommend them both, as well as MWave.com and Frys.com. Amazon.com and Buy.com are worth checking out as well. Of course, you may also stumble across an occasional good deal at BestBuy.com, CircuitCity.com, OfficeDepot.com, and Staples.com. I found out about several of the deals from SlickDeals.net and DealNews.com. Thanks to my former Greek student Donnie McIlwain for the tip.
I already had a keyboard, mouse, speakers, and monitors, so I didn’t need to purchase them. I’m running dual Acer 22″ widescreens (great monitors for the price).
The only software I had to purchase was Windows Vista Home Premium ($90—student price). I’ve really enjoyed the stability and helpful new features in Vista.
The whole process was much easier than I anticipated. I assembled all the parts in about 2 hours (the hardest part was swapping out the plate on the back of the case with the one that came with my motherboard!), and it started up without any problems. Of course I did have to download Vista drivers for a few components, but that was easy enough. I’m very pleased with the results and the cost. Even though it was a lower-end build, it’s the fastest computer I’ve ever used. I will probably build from now on—unless I need a new laptop at some point.
- Enjoyment: I enjoyed the process of finding good deals on the components, assembling the parts, and ending up with a nice machine.
- Ease: I had experience with adding/replacing RAM, hard drives, and video cards, but that was the extent of my building experience. I was expecting it to be more difficult than it was, based on things I had heard and read online. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was.
- Education: I learned a lot in the process.
- Cost (or Economy, if you prefer): A comparable system from Dell would have cost me $200–$300 more.
- Time: I took a little more time than buying from Dell or elsewhere. Plan for several hours of research and a several hours for assembly and setup.
- Rebates: Rebates are a pain and time consuming. Your time might be more valuable than the money you will save by building.
Building a computer may not be for everyone, but the benefits may make it a good choice for you.