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  • ckryan - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Concerning the opening disclaimer, often times it's just a better idea to recommend a pre-build system for friends and family (especially lower-end systems for your less technically-inclined family members). And when geography gets in the way, that goes double.

    Fact is, when you add in the Windows license, it's sometimes hard to actually build lower-end systems cheaper. Even if price weren't a factor, building and shipping systems and then supporting them for your distant family members is just not worth the trouble. I learned that lesson the hard way recently, as even the most ridiculously simple problems quickly spiral out of hand. True, a budget system might have a much more generous warranty on each part than the manufacturer's paltry P&L offering, but try explaining that to your lil' sister 450 miles away when her system that you built her just died.

    Obviously, if you're building something more than a dual-core and IGP system you may wish to consider your options. But I for one have come back around to the idea of buying pre-built systems for family and friends as the situation arises. I outfitted a family member with a slimline HP Llano system (the system I built for her died from a motherboard failure -- which is now my fault apparently) so I wouldn't have to FedEx a system back and forth.

    When the HP dies, she can take it up with them.

    Totally worth it.
  • Eugene86 - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Yep, did the same thing a few times now except that I ordered a Dell for them. As much as I love building systems, it's not worth the hassle if something goes wrong because it's automatically YOUR fault... Reply
  • Grandpa - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Exactly! I always recommend a few and suggest they check the reviews. Been burned by the "it's your fault" too many times. I won't even try to help people any more. Most of the time they don't listen to good advise either. Reply
  • jamyryals - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    I too learned this lesson the hard way.

    It's a lot of fun to do the research, comparison shopping to get the most for your money, and ultimately end up building a machine. However, the support expectations placed on you when something goes wrong is extremely taxing on both your time and the personal relationship.

    The business environment dictates components are not over-engineered and are not designed to last for 5+ years. They are designed for a price point with as many features and reliability they can attain at that price. Something will likely fail. If it does not, then you are an outlying data point.

    TL;DR - Always recommend other people buy from a system vendor. If you can convince them to get a warranty.
  • freezervv - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    "Fact is, when you add in the Windows license, it's sometimes hard to actually build lower-end systems cheaper."

    You probably aren't getting your Windows licenses in the right way for home use, then. ;)
  • mrseanpaul81 - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    I always learn something new on here... I mean I heard about technet but never bothered to find out how it really works. I am about to sign up for the subscription right now, ITS AWESOME!!! (I was thinking about building a rig for the living room flatscreen tv... so something with a small form factor but maybe a discrete graphics card too. The cost of hardware + windows license made it like above my budget. But with technet, it is definitely possible) Reply
  • puttersonsale - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    wait a sorta confused after looking at this. This is just a subscription to evaluate and test so you can deploy with more ease. For 200 bucks a year i could see why some people would need it but for home use?

    Am i missing on something here? sorry for being little slow but i sorta wanna know so maybe i'll subscribe if i need it....I actually own small business and we may need this....Might help me save on work...seems like i am always fixing someone's computer.

    Worse thing is even after training people....they have to listen to best practices or else its all for naught.
  • meorah - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    You're not missing anything.

    Technet subscriptions aren't intended to be used as permanent licenses and are only legally valid for that 1 year (after that you are supposed to uninstall the software and reinstall new software if you renew your subscription). That being said, the software doesn't self-destruct after a year, all your updates continue to work properly, and your software capabilities never really expire... you're just running software that used to be legal and isn't anymore.

    If you own a small business its worth getting the professional subscription just for the 2 free support calls.

    Really the intended purpose is self-paced training on the majority of products that MS makes for back-office and data-center IT workers, so you can evaluate a beta product or a server platform without having to worry about it self-destructing after a 30 or 60 day trial *cough* VMWare *cough*.

    Its a great deal if you always have to keep up with the latest software and do lots of compatibility testing for new versions of products you rent under their volume licensing with SA.

    The CE credits are kinda nice, too.
  • vanadiel - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Just a couple of things I wish to clear up concerning Technet subscriptions.

    "Only one user may install the software on your devices and use the software only to evaluate it, even if you obtained a server license. You may not use the software in a live operating environment, in a staging environment, or with data that has not been backed up. You may not use the evaluation software for software development or in an application development environment."

    So you will be breaking the license agreement if you use it in a business environment, or a live operating environment, or if you use it for training purposes for IT workers.
    If you want to use it for that purpose you have to upgrade to an MSDN subcriptions, or volume licensing.
  • Penti - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    It's not intended or licensed for production. It is that simple. It's pretty much like all the other MSDN subscriptions. Except that your allowed to use MSDN software to say test your apps on as a developer. A real MSDN subscription is probably what most needs.

    This pretty much regards to both though.
    "Software is licensed for evaluation purposes only-not for use in production environments. TechNet Subscriptions include the most recent Microsoft software version. Visit Microsoft Software License Terms for details on your use rights for evaluation software and other components of the TechNet Subscription product."

    Your pretty much paying Microsoft to be a betatester that can't use the software in production.
  • just4U - Friday, December 02, 2011 - link

    While we all learn this lesson (earlier or later..) I still find it's better to build a system for family or friends. Most of mine last 5+ years and if they have a problem they send it to me. Why? Well, waiting waiting weeks to get it fixed for starters.. or having to take it into local shops where they will charge you 1-300+.placing you into the que.

    I put my foot down long ago and am firm with them. None ever blame me any more (even tho I know .. and likely some of you do as well..) that occasionally it's something we did or didn't do that caused the problem.

    I do however think we get the shaft on the OS. Microsoft should be offering better on OEM. We drive the industry as much as others do even if it's not on the same scale. Not that it matters though.. SInce we can't get into building little smart phones and are pretty much locked out of the lap top section we are a dieing breed.
  • Samoht - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    "even in their high end desktop machines, to say nothing of anything south of a large."
    Just out of curiosity, what does that mean? I have never heard that expression before, but then again I do not have english as a first language.
  • Draconian - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    South of a large = less than $1,000 Reply
  • Draconian - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    If you're going to go with a pre-built gaming desktop and you're on a budget, you gotta go with either Cyberpower or IBUYPOWER.

    Newegg was selling this PC for $459 this past weekend, even though the price jumped back up to $600.

    You can get a decent $700 gaming PC on Newegg, or get one pre-built from either company and get a 3 year warranty.
  • jigglywiggly - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    horrible list
    midrange 1200$?
    Are you guys out of your minds?

    I cud find a better prebuilt anywhere.
  • KoolAidMan1 - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    yu cud also lern 2 spel Reply
  • bruf - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Great idea and I agree with previous posts, for friends & family it's definitely the way to go especially when you have dozen of "clients". ;)

    I'd like to see a similar guide (with different budget/profile) for notebooks, especially in the crowded 500$ market. Is it something you've started working on or that we could expect in the next few weeks/months?
  • Lunyone - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Your ideas of Budget & Midrange systems seem a bit too high! I would opt for a budget system at or about the $300-500 range, depending on needs and budget of coarse. Midrange should be around the $600-800 price range, but that is just my opinion.

    When building for most people (friends/family) I can't beat Dell, HP, Gateway, Acer, etc for the budget low end. If I could get Windows for about $20-30 (without using a student discount) than I could be close to their prices (if I don't charge for any of my work/time). This would be nice, but it isn't the case. The OEM's get the best pricing, so I can't/won't ever get to the really low end of the market.
  • Grandpa - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    If you're not building a gaming system, why not use linux and save all that money. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Buy an ex-business SFF desktop like an Optiplex. mostly well built, quiet, small, cheap, and plentiful.

    I got a core 2 duo optiplex sff for about $100 delivered. threw in some spare ddr2 I had, and installed windows 7. it came with a radeon x1300 with dual display capability even.

    this is still more than enough than most people need unless they game or are a power user. unbeatable ..
  • tomek1984 - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    "Sometimes there are also situations where we'd be better off just recommending a pre-built desktop to family than damning ourselves to being tech support at all hours for the next few years"

    I gave up recommending/building custom computers for my family/friends long time ago, it doesn't get me laid if it works well but if doesn't I become 24/7 support tech. Average user doesn't need latest and greatest hardware, because they simply don't know how to take advantage of it any way. So even though i don't believe it myself when I get a question "where should i buy a new computer", i just tell them Bestbuy or Wallmart, it saves me a lot of headache later on
  • Iketh - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    I'd rather see a laptop buyer's guide. That's what I recommend the average user buy nowadays (and they prefer it anyway). Reply
  • superccs - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    You can substitute the 3Gbs drive for the 6Gbs drive and save enough to get the 4gb memory upgrade and a Hyper212 HSF at no added cost.

    No bulldozer systems? : / Such a shame. Global foundries conspiracy.
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Of course there are no Bulldozer systems. These are supposed to be systems someone might actually want to buy. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Zing! Reply
  • AmishPcFreak - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    So my 19 year old unemployed brother-in-law needed a new system (he had asked me to build one for him previously and I deferred graciously) and this past weekend I helped him get this system from Office Depot on black Friday:

    HP Pavilion p7-1108p Desktop Computer With AMD A4-3400 Dual-Core, 6GB Ram, 1 Terabyte HD, Windows 7 64 bit--- no monitor, total cost $380

    It was using integrated graphics of course, but it has a PCI express slot and I donated an old 8800GTS card I had lying around gathering dust.

    Whammo! Once the card was installed he was cruising at super fast speeds playing his steam games like a fool.

    Told him 'get a job' and left the room. Hope that keeps him covered for a while and the GTS holds out.
  • aylafan - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Did you wait in line on Black Friday to buy this? Costco/Sam's Warehouse is selling the HP Pavilion - AMD A6 Processor Quad-Core, 6GB Ram, 750-1Terabyte HD, Windows 7 64 bit for $399. If you wanted a 22 inch widescreen monitor with it then it is an extra $100. Maybe, the price is exclusively in my area, but it's extremely cheap. Reply
  • johnnype - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Thanks for this article. I'd love to build my own system but real life makes such a task inconvenient to say the least. In fact real life is all but forcing me to forget gaming on a desktop and go with a laptop instead even though I promised I'd never do it again after the last XPS I bought many moons ago.

    So, any advice on a good sub $1500 gaming laptop? I'm about to pull the trigger on a Cyberpower X6-9300 and up the RAM to 8GB for a total cost of $1388 but I'll pass if you think it's a bad idea. Thoughts?
  • frozentundra123456 - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    I am happy that someone addressed the fact pre-built systems do have their place. I would, however, agree that the prices are pretty high for the categories he selected.

    Also, for low end prebuilt systems, I think most people would be satisfied with a Dell or HP from Best Buy another B/M retailer. Even Costco has a nice selection of PCs and I believe they extend the warranty for another year. Personally, unless I was buying a gaming PC, I would rather look for a good sale at a local store and not have to deal with shipping, especially if a return or repair is needed.

    I also thought that a table or chart would have been nice summarizing the components for each system (CPU, ram, graphics, HDD) rather than having to go to the manufacturer's site to look up the detailed configuration. I also was confused if the price he listed for each configuration included a monitor, and if so what size and kind.
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Not sure how the Euro-Dollar conversion works out at the moment (usually 1:1 in the past), but I built my brother a PC at the beginning of this year that was kinda high-end (X6 1090, HD6950, 8GB, pretty much silent). He is playing BF3 on high @1080 easily. That worked out to be 900€. And yes, that is with a case, PSU, ODD, HDD etc. as well, not just upgrade of the CPU/GPU.
    Anything above that component list (replace the AMD CPU with an Intel 2500k if you want or the HD6950 with a GTX570), I consider in the territory of enthusiasts who either need to drive a 27"/30" panel or do professional work on the PC.

    So, saying 1k$ (or even 1.2k$) is anywhere near the realm of midrange, is hard to believe.

    And on that Pudget system, does it even have a dedicated GPU? Buying quality is fine, but that's just a rip off.
  • Iketh - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    You didn't read the first page did you? Reply
  • geofharries - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    If you're a Canadian, I really recommend shopping at <a href="">NCIX</a>. We've bought both fully customized and pre-built machines from them, and in all cases, get terrific customer service and buying assistance.

    In fact, if you go the custom PC route, just pick all of your desired parts and NCIX will follow up with recommendations or changes (if necessary) at no extra charge. Compared to the Dell, HP and Lenovo's of this world, NCIX, and others like it, are worth branching out to try something different.
  • Tigashark - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    I just checked "War Factory" out of curiosity as I built a similar system today for a friend...

    I dropped all the parts onto their website... and a similarly configured system, including windows cost ~ $400-450 more when Compared the one i just built from newegg (at regular prices)

    Admittedly I went with the 880g because he isnt a hardcore gamer and the built in HD4250 is ample for browsing and video playback.. and went with a PhenomX6 1090t becuase he intends to do photo editing, so for the budget it fit perfectly.

    But still... for 400 more I easily could throw in a GF 570 and turn it into a well performing gaming system and still have some change left over AND totally outperform the WF system in every way, with better quality parts too...

    Not dissing that particular vendor... but also not seeing the value for a 35% markup over newegg pricing..

    Then again ive had people ask me if "this is a good prebuilt" for gaming and took one quick look and seen GF520 so... very much a case of buyer beware ...

    Shopping around pays off too..
  • Penti - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    I have actually never really got why you would want a store/internetretailer built or boutique built machine built on retail components, it's not like they would give any sort of support that would be acceptable to ordinary home users. From a real systems vendor you can get better prices, less overhead and simply machines you can't build cheaper yourself, since they order their parts according to their specs from the contract manufacturers and ODM's. The only drawback is that it can be hard to get a machine configured properly for example for gaming. However when it comes to quality and formfactor you can hardly build a machine like HP's workstation lineup with z800, z600, z400 and z200. Chassis the boutique builders and other small system builders use don't compare. Reply
  • Scannall - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    A couple years ago now I was about to build a gaming rig. And right as I was getting ready to buy parts, I saw a really good sale on a Cyberpower PC that was just about identical to what I was going to build. And it was just over $200 LESS than buying the parts and building it myself. So, I went the pre-built route instead.

    When Ivy Bridge comes out I'll look at building a replacement. Maybe I will see another sale? Only time will tell.
  • Penti - Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - link

    Alienware is btw a bit on it's way out just like Voodoo PC was thrown out of HP, you'd be better off just buying/getting a XPS line PC. Most of the time. The Auroraline seems pointless. On another note at least the MAINGEAR Shift looks better when it's built with a custom chassi which other small vendor systems don't use most of the time. All still have stock retail components though.

    For 1200 you get a whole gaming machine with SSD when you build yourself yet you recommend a Puget system that starts at above 1200 USD without a graphics card. When you get an XPS 8300 with 560Ti/6870 for 1200 for example. They are only not options when you need faster graphics cards. (Preinstalled any way). But you can get the Alienware Aurora or HP H8XT with a better graphics card like GTX 580 for about 1500 dollars for the HP and about 1800 for a Aurora with 2x6870, so I fail to see the value of the Pugets systems here. Your recommended configure for the Deluge A2 is 2200. Maybe you should take a look at systems like HP h8xt when it's prebuilt machines we are talking about anyway. I see no reason to promote Puget and AVADirect really any way. Btw for ~900 you can at least get a PC with GTX 550Ti graphics. Yet you recommend a machine for 800 with way worse. Sentinel as suggested costs 1000 USD.
  • MrCrispy - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    1. If you want a pc for normal usage, buy a Dell/HP. They go on sale all the time (Dell pretty much have a coupon always), there's the Factory Outlet etc. Just can't beat the price, esp if its refurb/used.

    2. For a more custom pc, pick Cyberpower/iBuypower, and pick your own parts. Both have an excellent selection and you pay maybe $50-$100 max premium over Newegg, which when you count the Windows license comes out to a wash. And these go on sale too. If you don't like something, you can always replace/fix/upgrade it since it is a custom build unlike the specialized cases/mobos used by option #1.
  • Toughbook - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    I was recently in the market for a desktop, having never actually built one myself, I really wanted to try it. Being self employed did not help with the time factor too well, so I ended up going into my local MicroCenter and got a Lenovo K330 for $649.00. I feel the specs are pretty darn good, but I can't seem to figure out what segment this would fall into. Any help out there?

    Nvidia GTX 520
    1TB 6Gbps HDD
    Intel 82579 Lan
    USB 3.0 x2
    6GB Ram
    16N1 Card Reader

    I just can't seem to find a comparable unit at this price. I had an Intel 80Gb G2 SSD laying around that I wasn't using and made it the boot drive and geez this thing screams!
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    A 2300K would be an interesting bargain if it existed. I had to double check, because I was certain only the 2500K and 2600K were unlocked in the SB line.

    And they are.
  • LoneWolf15 - Saturday, December 03, 2011 - link

    I find that if you want solid, reliable, without being flashy, the Dell Vostro desktop line gets the job done. The 260 minitower can be had in no-frills configurations (sans monitor) for $300-400, the 460 for a bit more. Reply
  • Johnbear007 - Sunday, April 01, 2012 - link

    lol this article is just a few months old and warfactory is out of business. This is why you should still build. Reply

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