Why building your own PC still makes sense15 Nov 2010
Which such cheap PCs now available, does it really make sense to build your own? I think so, and these are the reasons why:
Despite the cheap PCs, there are still some direct savings to be made, obviously Linux users can save the Microsoft licence, but there are other savings too. For example you can re-use components from your existing PC, this might be a short-term way of you getting the PC that you want, and then replacing the components over time.
Already have a keyboard, mouse and DVD/RW? Reuse them - it’s more environmentally friendly and, if they fail later, then you can always replace them and thus stagger the cost. Why not plan to re-use your existing hard-drive, perhaps as a second drive or as a back-up drive, it’ll make it easier to transfer data. If you’re trying to save money then you could build your PC using on-board graphics and then plan to buy a decent graphics card at a later stage.
Another advantage to building your own PC is that you get to choose the compromises that are made. The cheapest components are incredibly cheap, so for example if you were planning to keep the base unit behind the sofa, then you could specify a £15 case, instead of a £100 case.
You also get to specify things like RAM - we’ve all gone to upgrade PCs, only to find that both slots have already been used - now you can make sure that you buy a single 2GB RAM with the knowledge that you can buy a second when you have more money.
It is this type of flexibility which still makes building your own compelling.
It is true that it takes longer to build your own, but I find the bulk of the time taken is in choosing the components, the build itself is usually no more than an hour, and I probably waste three hours in agonising over the purchase of the components! The only thing that is tricky is in deciding which way around the different connectors go, but generally the booklets that come with the motherboard are very helpful, and failing that the Internet is a wonderful resource.
The ability to repair the device is I find not so much down to your experience of the build, but in your confidence that all the components are standard off-the-shelf items. If you suspect that the graphics card is shot, then, buying a replacement is easy, because you know exactly what you need.
I tend to choose the CPU, then knowing the CPU I purchase a compatible motherboard, from there it is pretty simple to choose the case to fit the motherboard, and the rest of the items should be straightforward. PSU obviously needs to be sensitive to the case, but if you have gone for a standard ATX case, that should not be an issue.
Alternatively Lambda-Tek have a PC Designer to do this for you, I have not used it myself yet, but it looks impressive.
If you want a small form factor device than visit Lin-ITX, who have knowledgeable people on the end of the phone to advise you.