When I tell people that I prefer to build my own PC rather than buy from OEMs, people wonder why. They they go on to mumble something about OEM PC makers being cheaper. They're not, you know!
Here's an example. My ZDNet blogging colleague ED Bott, writing on his personal blog, details why he added a 500GB hard drive to his Dell himself rather than pay Dell to do it:
A few months ago, I replaced my Media Center machine with a new Dell E521. It came with a 160GB hard drive (not enough given that this system has two TV tuners and is constantly recording). I briefly considered paying Dell for an upgraded drive. But then I looked at the upgrade prices and said no:
Yeah, it didn’t make sense to pay $220 for a 500GB drive when bare drives that size are going for $129.
Ed's right. Dell want $220 for a drive that you can pick up for almost half that from online retailers. What's worse than that is the drive costs more than $220 because the price already includes the cost of the 160GB drive. I know that Dell need to fit the drive and provide support for it and all that, but that price is just crazy. If I was being robbed like that I'd expect the culprit to be wearing a mask and carrying a large sack with a dollar sign on it.
Ed then goes on to discuss the benefits of tool-free chassis design:
Dell’s BTX cases make the upgrade really easy as well. The side of the case pops off with no tools, the plastic drive holder snaps on and off with no tools ...
This is where Ed and I have differing opinions. I used to be a fan of the tool-free design but I'm no longer so sure. I've yet to see any tool-free system be as efficient using screws. They're great to begin with, but pretty soon you're left chasing rattles or wondering how to repair some broken piece of plastic.