Let’s start with a quick review of the pieces and what I paid:
|Antec P280 Case||$90 (may be higher now)|
|ASUS P8Z77-V LK Motherboard||$120|
|Corsair 500W Power Supply||$50 (400w would have been plenty)|
|Intel I7 3770-K||$320 (have seen as low at $299)|
|Samsung 840 250G SSD||$190|
|WD 1TB 7200 HD||$80|
|32G Kingston DDR3-1600||$200|
|Bluetooth v4 Dongle||$15|
|DVD Drive||$0 (had an extra, figure $30 new)|
All of those are not including sales tax and no attempt to buy anything on sale.
Looking at the list and the prices I paid it’s easy to figure out where to adjust your spend to fit your budget. I think that helps a lot if you’re debating buy vs build. So where could you cut corners?
If you went with a $60 case (save $30),a $40 power supply (save $10),the I5 (save $100, 8G (save $150), and an $80 1TB drive (save $190 with out the SSD) you’d save quite a bit: $480. That’s not as low as you go for a working PC (think Raspbery PI!), but it’s realistic pricing for a modern PC with up to date components.
Was it worth the effort? It was maybe 30 hours total, lots of reading. If you went to Amazon (or NewEgg, or TigerDirect) and ordered it all in one batch you’d spend an hour, then probably 2 hours to unbox and assemble – less if you’ve done it before. That’s not a lot of labor. The direct learning (re-learning/updating) was useful by itself, finding good knowledge sites is a win, and then there are the unexpected lessons – how much I appreciate quiet for example, and the lessons not yet explored – digging into Intel vPro for remote access to the machine. There is also the intangible part…I built this, it’s mine, and I think I’ll be more likely to do upgrades instead of buying again in a few years.
How is this machine different than you would get from Dell or Lenovo or HP? No support line, you have to deal with the vendor on any warranty issues. No crapware installed. You get to pick the OS. You have to invest three hours to order the pieces and assemble it, plus another half an hour to install whatever OS you prefer. The components will be at least as good as and in most cases better than what you get order it as a package. The cabling will not be as neat, but it will still work.
Should you build? For a machine for you, absolutely. If you shop smart you may find something close on sale or outlet sale that will save you effort, but it still won’t be as good in my view. For your parents/family/others? I’d vote no on that, because it makes you the support line – send them to whatever online retailer you like best and let it go.
That wraps up what has been a fun if moderately expensive project. I think my next project will be building or buying a NAS, something I’ve put off too long.