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Build or buy, Bloggie?

It's all about retail mark-ups, which are usually twice what the box cost when it came in the door. Do that with one box and $300 becomes $600. Do that with a bunch of boxes, shipped separately, and it can be $700.

Dear Bloggie,

I am currently in the market for a newer computer. I am debating between either buying or building a new one. I mainly use the one I have now for email, bills, playing solitaire and my grandson's use it to play games and send messages to their friends.

What is my best choice price wise - to build my own or to buy a new one. (My son will help me build one as he claims that is the cheaper mention)

Thank you,

Esther

Heathkit ad 1978Dear Esther:

Ah, yes, the old build or buy question. (I thought this 1978 Heathkit ad, from Dave's Computer Museum, might make a nice backdrop to our talk today.)

I remember, when I was just a little Bloggie, all those wonderful Heathkit ads. Build your own computer for less, they said.

(Wistful sigh.)

Unfortunately, it's much cheaper to buy than to build. A visit to your local Fry's will show you why.

Just go by and collect all the parts you will need to build a simple
computer, of the type you're describing. (These days that's a pretty low-end machine.) You'll need a motherboard, a case (with power supply), a hard drive, a DVD drive, monitor, and software.

Mark down the prices of these parts, then go across the store and check out the prices of the finished machines.

Not much different.

Then consider the cost of your time, even the few hours it might take you to put all this together.

Margins are now squeezed past nothing.

It's all about retail mark-ups, which are usually twice what the box cost when it came in the door. Do that with one box and $300 becomes $600. Do that with a bunch of boxes, shipped separately, and it can be $700.

Now there is a purpose to that parts department. If you're building a prototype and need a part, go to Fry's. If you want to upgrade your motherboard (but everything else works) go to Fry's. Need memory and your board can handle it? A second hard drive? Fry's can keep an old computer going for a good low price, for a time.

But build your own commercial machine? Uh-uh.

All that said, I actually got my latest desktop from an outfit that does just what you want done, called Feather Computers. The difference is they're buying those parts wholesale, then marking them all up to me. The result comes in below what Fry's charges for its name brand desktops and it works well.

Good luck!

Bloggie