General discussion


OEM or Retail?

By jkaras ·
Hey everyone,
I'm starting to build a pc at the home and am trying to get the most for my money. As I scan the net for the best deals for parts I'm confused why or why not to buy an OEM hard drive with a 3 year warrantee vs. a retail in the box with a 1 year warrantee that is 50+ dollars more? Everyone I ask gives my criptic answers for and against. Why spend more money for less warrantee? Are they actaully rebuilt parts or sold for mass distribution giving a great price? Also why is the manufacturer's site the most expensive? You would think they could keep the price somewhat competitive and still post a substantial profit. Any input would be appreciated, and it's good to be back, have a drunken good fourth with friends and family that's safe.

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Hey there

by Cactus Pete In reply to OEM or Retail?

OEM devices are not necessarily spec'ed exactly as the retail version are, and may require different drivers to work with your OS. That's the usual condition for 'white box' hardware. You've pointed out, also, that the items may be refurbished, but the box should denote that if it's the case.

The manufacturer tries to not compete with their distributors. Otherwise, no one would sell their products. Selling their own stuff for a somewhat more than marginal price increase serves only to catch those few people who would never think to buy anywhere else, or who would not otherwise buy the products in the first place. Either way, the manufacturer is then not competing with their partners.

This all falls back to economies of scale, aswell. The retail stores are better at selling to consumers, that's their purpose. The manufacturer's supply [for sale] relative to the retail stores' supply is much smaller, driving the price up.

It's buyer beware no matter which way you turn, so just spend the time to KNOW what you're getting, and whether it will all work together as expected.

Look at all the specific part numbers, and look up the specs on each. Good luck, have fun, and welcome back.

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Great points

by jkaras In reply to Hey there

Thx, I see your point on the manufacturer but it's not even close to a price. Why bother to post it was all. I didnt realize that there would be different drivers, thats something for me to consider but saving 60 dollars and getting the same warrantee extended 2 years is still pointing me in that direction. Do you know how to determine of sites whether they are referub or new? By the mdl no#s or a good ole fashioned sticker on the part? ANy horror stories with them or good times as a hole?

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The box

by Cactus Pete In reply to Great points

The seller must tell you if you're buying something that was previously used. But that might be just as fine print on the box.

If you're particularly concerned, call the manufacturer! They may refer you to one of their distributors, but you can find out eventually.

I'm not up to speed on which sites might carry lists of parts, but Guru et al. might have, as there are others here who have more frequent experience building their own boxes. [Mine last long enough I only do this once in awhile. pat pat - but I even buy retail boxes when i's more appropriate for me.]

My trick in the past has been to see a retail box I like and emulate it, or better it, with individual parts. There are lots of online suppliers out there who have tiny, tiny margins. Shop around, and watch the part numbers.

I generaly start searches for cheap parts at but I've just started getting into Also, I subscribe to maximumpc [seen at, but the mag is MUCH better than the site].

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Stay with name-brand PCs

by Jim Phelps In reply to The box

Unless you know a lot about this kind of thing, with lots of experience, I would go with a name brand PC, either new or refurbished. For example, Dell sells new and refurbished PCs on their website. Sometimes you can get a very good deal on a refurbished Dell, WITH a warranty.

A few years from now, when some critical part goes out, you can go on the Dell web site and find out exactly what was in there, so you can be sure of getting a compatible part.

Compaq puts a spare part number on EVERYTHING, and so if you match the spare part number, the part WILL work.

I've seen too many cases where the "no name" companies buy no-name junk parts for the PCs they sell, just to shave a few pennies off of their cost. What will you do when two years and one day have passed (i.e. the warranty has just expired), and your system board goes out, or your CPU needs replacing? Unless you are very savvy, you won't know for sure what will be compatible.

I know how this kind of thing works. Ihave seen lots of underhanded practices and outright lies on the part of some of these companies. (Not all, just some.)

I saw a case once where a friend of mine had purchased a computer with 8 megs of RAM (this was a while back!). He wanted to install more RAM. Guess what? There were 8 SIMM slots, and 8 1-MEG SIMMS installed! He either had to throw out some or all of the RAM he had, or he had to go back to the same guy he purchased the system from for a warranty upgrade!

I knew the guy who sold him the computer, and he was one of the kinds of dealers who would buy the cheapest junk he could find, to shave a few pennies off of his cost.

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Hope things are different in the USA

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Stay with name-brand PCs

Here in Australia anyone who knows how to put in a RAm chip knows that you NEVER buy a name brand PC as you pay twice the money for half the capability. To go and buy a HP, Dell or IBM you generally have to buy from a large retailler. That means what is on the shop floor was bought by their purchasing people over 4 months ago and was based on a spec that was older still. Most Name brand purchases are 8 months or more out of date and priced as if they ahd the just released gear. I have seen namebrand Celeron 1.6 ghx being sold for the same money that you can by P4 2.4 ghx plane Janes.

If you know how to put a PC together and intend to do it yourself, then go with plane Jane and OEM because you are not going to get any sort of warranty over the manufacturer's warranty on each item unless you are a qualified tech.

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Dell Refurbs

by Jim Phelps In reply to Hope things are different ...

I'd say that if you do put one together yourself, stick with name brand parts, and make sure you document everything. These are the two deficiencies of "clone" pcs here in the US.

Many of the big PC companies (e.g. Dell) will sell you one of their own PCs, refurbished, with a warranty. I've seen some very good prices on their web site. Perhaps Dell doesn't sell refurbs in Australia? (I don't know, I'm just asking)

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USA IS different

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Dell Refurbs

The only way you get a refurbished Dell here in Aust is to buy a 2nd hand one a refurbish it yourself. Dell, HP etc only sell new here.

Parts are a mixed lot but most items are known brands (ie ASUS, ABIT, GIGABYTE, Nvidia, Creative, IBM, Seagate, Maxtor, Intel, AMD, etc) for most componets but power supplies, cases, keyboards, speakers and mice you have a real grab bag of choices (and some names change weekly).

However, most reputable suppliers will replace faulty gear from any supplier within the warranty. Some will even give an extended warranty if you buy components for a full system and have them put it together or it is put together by a qualified tech that they have checked out. One of the best suppliers in my area is (DON'T FORGET the AU or you end up at a Colorado Ranch), check them out and you can see the sort of range we get here.

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Dell USA vs AUS

by Jim Phelps In reply to Dell Refurbs

Go to the following web site:

It is found by following the link to "Small Business" purchases, having first indicated that you are in the United States.

There you will find refurbished systems for sale, with warranties.

I searched the Australia Dell web site, but I found nothing for Refurbished systems.

I checked your "Cougar" web site, and you're right -- there is a tremendous amount of apparently good quality parts and supplies there.
The reason I suggested to the original poster that he purchase a name-brand system was based on the kind of advice he was seeking. He didn't seem like someone who was an expert in this field. And as you probably know, if you don't know what you're doing when trying to assemble a PC from scratch, you'll probably make some mistakes, including not documenting exactly what you purchased, and how to contact manufacturers in case of failure down the road (so you can obtain compatible parts).

Hardly anyone I know documents that kind of information, except for the major PC manufacturers. It is all on their website for you to refer to later.

Interesting to see this difference between two similar countries.

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One other comment

by Jim Phelps In reply to Dell Refurbs

One other advantage to buying a referb: I CAN GET OFF-WHITE, INSTEAD OF BLACK! I'm really tired of having black or gray forced on my by virtually EVERY PC manufacturer.

Last year my wife purchased a new Dell, but kept her old monitor. The black ugly Dell sits on the floor -- "out of sight, out of mind"!

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Jim just for your information

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Dell Refurbs

here in Australia the big boys in the computer industry don't rule like they do in the States over here most computers are built by the small guys and the companies like Dell, HP, Gateway and the like are the bit players because the small shops can offer abetter service than the multi-nationals. So for that reason Dell doesn't sell refurbs they off load all their ex lease units to specalists who sell these units at redicilious prices like $500.00 AU with all the bits and pieces and loaded with Windows whatever and all the nice software but without the install disks. How they get away with this is beyond me because Microsoft is pushing hard and quite a few local companies have been taken to court for selling secondhand computers without theinstall disks. Mostlyhowever MS launches Court action and these are settled out of court with the companies name and the properiter being named in a MS "Enforcment Bulletin" which I recieve a copy of at least every two weeks. Now I'm not apposed to someone ripping off MS getting caught but it is going a bit far when you get a reputable company selling off 10 tradeins a year agreeing to pay MS $250.000 AU just because the second hand units didn't have the install disks.

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