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Computer Purchasing Tips - Custom PCs

written by: Jesma•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 7/15/2009

In part three of "Computer Purchasing Tips", we'll explore the positives and negatives of having a custom computer built just for you. Get exactly what you need.

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    When you expressed your desire to purchase a new computer to certain "knowledgeable" and "computer-literate" friends, you may have heard the words "Build It Yourself". This is definitely an "easier said than done" situation for most people. To some, the idea of building their own computer may not only be scary, but also completely foreign. However, there are many professionals around who can and do build custom computers for a living.

    My personal recommendation is that, if you want to explore this option, you find a local, small computer store and repair shop. These businesses have the time, resources, and desire to build a computer that perfectly suits your needs and budget.

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    Pros

    Knowledgeable Technicians

    Experienced computer builders have an extensive store of knowledge and experience that they can put to use for you. They know every component that will be going into your machine inside and out, and how to configure everything for the best results. In addition, they have access to wholesale parts and know how to find the very best deals to save you money.

    Local and Convenient

    If you live in a town of a decent size, there will be at least one of these type of businesses that you can call or visit to discuss options. The people are local and can understand your unique needs and requirements. In addition, if you find you have any problems in the future, you can take your computer to be checked up on by the people who know it best - those who assembled it with their bare hands.

    Highly Customized

    Every aspect about your computer can be customized to meet your precise needs, as well as allow for future growth. This way, you know that you're not paying for things you don't need, and you can be confident your computer will do everything you expect it to.

    Easy and Convenient Upgrading

    Your computer can be easily built with future expansion in mind, and since the people who personally built it will be available to you for consultation, they can offer the best advice on what upgrades will allow you to continue using the same computer for years longer than normal.

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    Cons

    No Warranty/Guarantee

    Typically, a long warranty or guarantee on your computer won't be offered when it is custom-built. Each individual part of it will likely have its own warranty from the manufacturer, but the computer as a whole will probably not be warrantied or guaranteed by a small computer shop. If a warranty or guarantee is offered, this doesn't account for the possibility of the shop going out of business and not being able to honor it.

    Little or No Pre-installed Software

    When you purchase a custom-built PC it will probably not have any software installed on it unless you specifically request and pay for it. While large computer manufacturers may be able to work out deals with large software providers that allow them to give you software for free or for a discount, little stores do not have that luxury.

    Cost

    While sometimes it may be cheaper to have a computer built for you, usually this is not the case. Large manufacturers buy and produce in bulk, allowing them to sell for lower prices. Depending on how much you are charged for assembly and labor, the extra cost may or may not be passed on to you.

    Long Waits for Assembly

    It will take a thorough technician several hours to build, configure, and test your computer. In addition, parts will likely have to be ordered specifically for you and may take days to arrive. This can result in you waiting much longer than you want to. Expect to wait a week if you are having your computer custom-built, and do not be surprised if it takes longer.

Computer Purchasing Tips

Keeping up on the latest technology requires our constant attention. How do you know when you're getting the best deal? How do you know you're not getting scammed? How do you know what to buy and where to buy it? This four-part series is designed to answer these questions.
  1. Computer Purchasing Tips - Retail Store
  2. Computer Purchasing Tips - Direct from Manufacturer
  3. Computer Purchasing Tips - Custom PCs