This is part of my Computer series of blog entries, click here for the others.
Ok almost everyone, and every business needs a computer to do their day to day business. For most people a computer is a large purchase. For some businesses that buy hundreds of computers it can be a major part of their budget. So getting a good price on this major purchase is very important.
What I am about to tell you is a secret that the people in the computer industry do not want you to know, in fact when I was running my retail store I have fired people for telling customer this. The secret is this, computers are very easy to build, and you can buy the parts directly and shave off 30-50% of your purchase price. It has always been cheaper to build your own but recently it has become very easy. The parts are designed to work together, and you can mix/match them almost any way you like.
If you think that this is an off the wall idea then you would be very wrong. The large computer companies are called Tier 1 Companies in the industry. The rest of the companies that sell over 100,000 computers a year are called Tier 2 Companies. The rest are simply called White Box, the industry word for Generic. For the last 5 years the white box makers have been gaining market share, according to intel they sold over 57% of their CPUs in the white box channel. During this same time the number of computer stores has fallen dramaticlly. So how can this be, the answer is because millions of people and business are building their own computers. The number one largest user of computers in the world, Google, has never purchased a server or workstation, they have built them all. Microsoft is the same way, so is many of the fortune 500 companies, and millions of smaller businesses. Many shop online, or they go to stores that sell parts. Fry’s Electronics has built an empire on this with mega computer stores selling parts, but Frys is over priced, has very little help and it is hard to return things to them so I would never suggest you buy from them. The best bet is your local computer company, if you are in Arizona call on us to provide your hardware, if you are outside of AZ you can still call us for advise, we can even tell you where to get the best deals online. It is now said that as many as 1/3rd of all new computers are built by the end user, so why are you not doing it. Let me tell you how.
So here is how you do it. First you need to buy the parts. Only buy new products from a good company and you will be good. Pick out the CPU you like, I usually suggest AMD because they are good, but in reality it matters little, as for most people any $80 cpu will do. Now you get a motherboard that supports the CPU, just look for any new one that has the same socket. I like MSI the best for motherboards, they are high quality and well priced. Basically every new computer uses DDR2 memory, so buy that, I would get at least 2GB if you plan to use vista. Next you need a hard drive, again for most people just get the size you need then find the best price. For most businesses the 160GB is the best to shoot for. I like WD for the brand but others will also do, just make sure it is SATA. Now you need a optical drive, I suggest a DVD burner, they do everything and only cost a bit more. I usually suggest people get a card reader for all that digital memory. Last you need a case to put the whole thing into. The case will come with the powersupply and most will be good for basic systems, for really advanced systems with lots of extras a good powersupply is a good investment. That is it, you have everything you need to get started. Guess what, you can do all this for well under $250.
Now lets talk about ad ons. For most business systems you really don’t need a video card, just get a motherboard that has one on board. You only need a video card if you want to run two monitors or if you play 3D video games. If you play games then there is much more to consider, I will talk about that at a later time, but mostly this is a business blog. You may also want a new keyboard, mouse, speakers or monitor with your new computer.
When you get all the parts simply open the case and start putting everything in. I suggest putting the drives in first, then the motherboard, then the CPU, RAM and connect all the wires. Don’t force things but use firm pressure where needed. The hardest part is connecting the case wires to the motherboard, but there is a chart in the motherboard book if you get lost. Next you boot on your OS disk, install the OS, then install the drivers.
Doing all of this may take 3-4 hours the first time but you should save at least 300-500 by doing this, and for most people they don’t get paid $300 for 4 hours of work. For a business that is buying 20 computers they probably just saved over $8,000 and even if they don’t want to build the computers they can hire someone to be an IT person for a month for way less than that much.
By building the computer you also will get some added benifits, first the parts are much higher quality then most name brand computers. Next if anything goes wrong with the computers you have common parts that are easy to replace, unlike the pripority computer parts most large companies sell. Lastly you get a clean OS installed, without all of that added on spam and advertising that the large companies put on all their computers.
So next time you need a computer buy the parts and build it, you get a much better deal that way, even if you need to hire an expert to help you.