PC war: To build or To Buy – 1

One of my goals in 2006 is to get a new PC. I started saving at the beginning of the year and I figured it was time to start the PC process. I had some decisions to make.

  1. What kind of pc do I want, PC or notebook? For me this is easy. I have a play laptop that is almost 5 years old but it does the job. I have a work laptop which is about a year and a half, and I have a ancient desktop that I use as a test system. What I need is a powerful desktop.

Decision: Desktop

  1. Do I want to buy it or build it? This took some research. After looking at lots of sites that specialize in powerful PCs (www.alienware.com and www.abs.com,), I looked at customizable PCs by Dell, HP, and Toshiba. My goal was compare all the sites to what was cheapest, but to get an idea of how much a computer made the way I wanted it would cost. The cost came in close to $4,000 if I bought if from one of these companies. Ouch. So I wandered over to www.newegg.com and www.tigerdirect.com and looked at some pricing for the raw components that I would want. Even with some upgrades that were not available via prebuilt PCs, I still came in under $3000. If I build it close to the specs of a Dell, the cost came in around $2000. The numbers made it easy.

Decision: Build it.

  1. How long will this take? Well I am a geek, so I could do this without reading books because I already know a lot about hardware. However, part of the fun of this project is learning. I took a glimpse through my local library’s online catalog and picked 4 books that are the most recent and covered my topic, which was building a powerful desktop PC.

Decision: I figure between the reading, the researching parts, and putting everything together, it will take around 40 hours. This time includes the extra time I will spend reading material online on the subject.

After I decided all this, I started looking online at processors that were available to get an idea and something perfect happened. I have been hearing about Intel’s Conroe for almost 4 months. Conroe is the name given to Intel’s new processor. It is a dual core that has been redesigned from the ground up. Preliminary benchmark testing (testing against other top of the line processors to see how it measures up) found Conroe to be promising. According to Tech news sites, Conroe is thought to launch at the end of July or early August of 2006, however, that has not been confirmed yet.

If the reports are true, this gives me a couple months to get my research done and figure out if Conroe is right for me (AMD vs Intel deals with my processor decision).

I emailed a couple other computer friends of mine (yes computer people can and often do have friends) and asked their opinion. I am sure some of their responses will be interesting.

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