Build or Buy a PC?

9 replies
Found 7th Oct 2008
With the great deals that we see getting posted from the likes of Dell is it cheaper to build or buy your own PC?

The more I keep thinking about the first option then tempting deals pop up for the latter that always get me caught in 2 minds on what I should do.

I'll post up a screenshot of my proposed specs and what I intend to use the PC for and a bit of guidance - be it on components or a better complete package that's available - would be fantastic.



PS: wasn't sure if it was best to put in requests or misc, apologies if it's in the worng place

  1. Ask
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  1. Ask
  2. PC

Original Poster

Right, so being a student I think I’ll be able to make a better PC for the money by building it myself.

I currently have a laptop but it’s getting a bit old now (5/6years) and I’m looking for something that I can do much more on than the normal tasks like word processing and internet browsing.

I’m a light gamer and play most games through Steam like CS:S, DOD:S and TrackMania. While gaming is not the sole use for the PC it would be nice to know I’ll be able to play games for a few years without having to upgrade at massive expense.

I also like to think that should I have to as a last result I’ll be able to sell the PC at get back a fair chunk of the money.

So, the specs:

As you can see I’ve tried to balance everything but I’m not too hot on what’s going on in the world of PC’s now days so I may be a little off.

Thanks for your help.


If I was you, I'd look up local PC repair people, and phone and ask them what it would cost to make that up for you. If you are confident enough to make one yourself, then go for it, Im sure it would be cheaper and maybe even fun! Keep an eye out in Toys R Us as they often have ex display models for less than half normal retail. My uncle made me a couple of PC's that were way ahead of their time and cheap as chips (he's no longer with us or Id ask him for you lol)

250GB hard drive is a bit small and I'd agree with gileswendes that a core 2 duo is a better bet. And you might want a mouse and keyboard. This would all push cost up by another £60 or so.

Probably get a better Dell for that price and no hassle! If it goes wrong they fix it. If your homebuild goes wrong, you have to find out what caused it and wait for ever to get defective part replaced.

I like knowing exactly what's in my PC but I tend to replace a few parts at a time. Wouldn't consider doing a whole new system build now. In fact, I would probably buy a laptop now they're so cheap. The days of home desktops are numbered. :roll:

Dual core/Core 2 Duo... What's the difference? Been years since i've built a PC so haven't kept up with all the scams perpetrated on users by chip producers (I gave up when AMD started using numbers to confuse people)....

retail cpu will have thermal paste on the heat sink so you can save 4.95

Original Poster

I'm confident with the building aspect of the PC, i've upgraded my laptop way above what it came with and have done many PC upgrades and case transfers.

250GB HDD is plenty big enough for me considering i've only got 80Gb in my laptop with about 20Gb's of space left and if needed I can always add another at a later date.

The E5200 is more than capable imo, especially since the mobo should allow me to overclock it quite nicely should I feel the need for more speed. The mobo also allows me to utilise the dual channel ram so i can grab another kit and upgrade that at a later date.

Arctic Silver 5 paste is some of the best stuff i've ever used and should help to keep temps low so less power is wasted by the fans working harder and is therefore quieter. The PSU is also efficient and a good brand name so i'm not risking a hardware failure by using a poor quality PSU.

The graphics card's performs well in benchmark tests and i'll be using DVI to connect it to my TV since the Xbox uses the HD composite and the 360 uses the VGA.

Wireless PCI means i don't have to run wires around which is a bonus for the price of the card.

I've selected an OS so everything is all above board & I don't like using Linux a great deal.


Dual core/Core 2 Duo... What's the difference? Been years since i've … Dual core/Core 2 Duo... What's the difference? Been years since i've built a PC so haven't kept up with all the scams perpetrated on users by chip producers (I gave up when AMD started using numbers to confuse people)....

With the benefit of hindsight it was actually intel using the numbers to confuse people, they cut the number of instructions their chip could execute every clock cycle so they could boost the clockspeed up to 3Ghz+. The PR system was just AMD's reaction so they didn't look hopelessly outclassed.

Dual-core is essentially two CPUs on one chip, virtually all modern CPUs are dual-cores or better (quad-cores)

Core 2 is intel's current range of chips, like Pentium 4.

Duo is what intel use to signify core 2 dual-core chips, (as well as an E at the start of the product name like E8500).

Intel also do Core 2 Quads such as the Q6600 and Q9550.

Pentium/Celeron are intel's budget CPU lables, most of them are just core 2 duos in disguise these days. The E5200 is IIRC a Core 2 'wolfdale'

Anyway, on with the thread.

When I first saw your list I checked the date to make sure nobody had revived an old thread, the P965 and 8600GT do look somewhat dated, although the CPU is bang up to date (it was only released at the start of september).

For the price of the motherboard I'd look for a P35.

Graphics cards at the moment have no clear choices at the low end, £45 seems a lot for an 8600 GT 256mb, it might be worth considering the 3850 512mb at £10 more.

If the case doesn't come with fans then I'd go for a 120mm one instead as it's quieter for the same amount of air, most cases these days support them (although do check).

For £13 I wouldn't expect much of the case.

I'd probably go for vista 64-bit unless you've got any legacy peripherals that only have 32-bit vista drivers written for them.

As for buy or build you just need to look around, but unless you can get what you want from one of the big system builders like dell it's cheaper to build (assuming you can resist the temptation to spend the money you're saving on better bits).

Dell seem to be reorganising their range at the moment and don't have as much choice as usual (they're still using the 3870 X2 for example), If anyone else can suggest anyone else like them that do cheap gaming systems I'd be interested too.

I would always self build places like Dell use cheap motherboards and now a days you would be lucky to get a XP/Vista DVD only a restore CD or a restore partition which installs all there c*** again. They also try to change things to make there systems harder to fix like there own be spoke parts like fans or strange DVI adaptors.
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