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Pros and Cons - Dell or Build Your Own

By maxwell edison ·

I won't say much about my opinion (at this point), but I'm looking for the pros and cons of buying Dell computers versus building your own. This will be for desktop computing, not servers.

Over the past many years, I've always built my own computers, but one of the company officers wants to consider buying Dells instead. We're assembling a list of pros and cons for either option. I have my list, but there's always room for more considerations.

I've also posted this in the Q&A section (top featured question). However, I'd like this to generate enough interest and activity to keep it on the featured discussions list (at least for one day), so if you want to post your thoughts here, then copy them to the question section, you'll get a share of a bunch of points. (One can never have enough points, can one?)

Thanks for your time.

This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

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Such language.

by rdunn In reply to No fu***n way....


By the way, "configuration" is different than using the base OS install. I would never expect anyone to just slap a server on the network without configuring it to coincide with network policies.

With regards to customizing the OEM's image. It doesn't take that long. Configure your base OS, then clone it - then save it. Why re-invent the wheel? And, if you need to, you can go all the way back to the original mfgr's OEM build CD for base reference (and you can order it from them if you need it in another OS, or earlier revision, etc.).

cont in next post

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Such language, part II

by rdunn In reply to No fu***n way....

Obviously your company has different directives, and that's cool - but see my view for a second.

Yes, you build the OS, but it's not the vendor's OS - so when you call them and say you've a problem with their PC, they aren't going to be very helpful if they find out you've set up your own OS image.

This can work for you: It is especially important if you have someone order a rogue Dell and you aren't around to build it. What then? The key is to not make yourself too key in the build process. If you do, then your TCO goes up. At my company, if a rogue Dell does end up with a base vendor image here, then I know it will work with all of our software. Let group policies take care of the rest.

Sure, I tweak it the image - adjustsecurity permissions, etc. - but I KNOW that a Dell out of the box will work with our environment without even touching the PC.

My point is that if you WANT the most support possible, you should not stray from the vendor's load (barring the cheesey apps, of course), that way they can easily recreate your configuration on their side to help you through issues.

I guess I don't understand why you can't see my point.

I do see yours. It fits your environment, so that's great - it's just that I am offering up all the options here that I can think of. Trust me on this one, I've dealt with OEMs enough to bring this to you from personal history. They are more apt to help you if you do have advanced technical issues if you are using as much configuration as possible.

And what's with the hostility?



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Cool, but...

by ghstinshll In reply to Such language, part II

I disagree with that thuogh. I remember all the individual config I had to do in one lab environment, until one friend of mine wrote me a VB Script to randomly rename computers to get them working on the LAN in less work after multicasting an image onto them... Hmmmm...

If people are ordering rogue hardware without going through IT, there's a major operational issue going on that would be a problem in most houes. If your theory about having things work like that works, then cool. I had no idea they could be that flexible... I remember LMT having multiple machines of different flavors, and all they had standard was the NIC and Video card, and the previous consultant from our office (bishop) thought that was standardized...

To me having to run through registry hacks (if u do) and uninstalling apps on every machine after you image it or pull it out of the box would be too much mundane work. I want to configure an image once, then roll it out and have it work, then have the same updates bring it up to speed on security, so all machines are the same, or in limited flavors.

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by ghstinshll In reply to Such language, part II

If people are ordering their own hardware from Dell, there's an inconsistency in purchasing, and it should all be decided at the CIO level when hardware is purchased, etc... Good OEM vendors supply machines for x amount of months because of this too, allowing your depts the ability to order the "compaq armada M700" for 9 months, in case you need to add additional machines.

If it's true or not, managers need to understand this and have all purchases channeled through one person or departmentin order to make sure things go smoothly for the company, too. Hopefully the company can get a good rep at Compaq or Dell and have themwork with this person to iron out a contract (CIO's croniez should organize) and then prices have been set. Then the company can go about it's planning and budgeting process to keep cost flowing under control in the PC purchasing arena, so that no one gets upset that they spent 100,000 more on computers in 2003 than they did in 2002 and be expected to take the hit.

I'm not harping on you Rob, I guess I'm just sharing what I think is best for business through my experiences during the late XC and post XC.

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that's just me being a ****

by LordInfidel In reply to Such language, part II

I come from the security world.

Which dictates, Never trust anything that you did not build yourself.

We are both basically doing the same thing. I just opt for the more secure of the 2 methods.

Your going to re-image the systems anyways, right?

So why beat around the bush with their pre-installed OS if you are going to manipulate anyways. Why not start from scratch so you know exactly what the install process was.

That is the major difference between what I am saying and what you are saying.

I "know" the exact install steps for every machine in my enterprise. I do not have to guess. And beleive it or not, there is a better path to installing things that will lead to a healthier, stable machine.

A case in point, installing Service Pack, IE, Office and hotfixes. I have found that by installing office before IE you run into more problems then if you install IE before Office. Then there is more problems if you install your sp then hotfixes, instead of sp, all programs then hot fixes.

Even Winzip and Realplayer has a install problem. By installing RealPlayer and then Immediatley after Winzip, IF real player's install process has not cleared, Winzip will not install. Then there is the default install ofReal vs MS. If you install Real after MS and leave the default settings, you will have issues playing media files.

These are some of the small reasons that I never leave an OS to chance. Regardless of who the installer is.

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Vender assistance

by toreador In reply to Such language, part II

I have to disagree with the comment that the vendor will not be helpful if the OS has been changed. I worked in a shop that had hundreds of Dells and the first thing I did was **** away the OS that was on the box when it was delivered and installed from scratch so it was configured the way I wanted it. I NEVER had any problem getting help from Dell when I contacted them. I must add here that the only reason I needed to contact Dell was to get replacement hardware. If for any reason there was a software issue the OS was reinstalled, who has time to fight with an OS when it is so easy to reinstall.

My two cents on the original question; buy the Dells for the users; build the super-powerful workstation that you, the admin, will be using.

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by ghstinshll In reply to No fu***n way....

Rob clarified me well, but I think that in that environment, it was the client's choice to do it that way. I forgot about that. We didn't totally manage the process, they had their grubby hands on it fromt he top, and powerfully dictated the process. We just had input on how to modify it to make it work. I didn't agree with everything that client did, leading to part of my bias towards blowing the entire machine away. If the hardware is certified for Win2k, then it's certified, and my image is the only thing that goes on it now.

Compaq cares less if we have our own image on it, but that the hardware has truly failed.

And to mention Toshiba, they were messed up in the heads then, and regardless of technology changes, I'll always pick another brand over Toshiba.

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by ghstinshll In reply to Clarifaction?

Oops, I can't spell.

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by rdunn In reply to No fu***n way....

We used this methodology when we were supporting 2000 users at one location (well, multiple locales but one region). Seemed to work without any hitches for us. Just work the OEM OS down to a bearable level, then clone it.

Also - the OEM's (and this might be because the Supply Management dept worked it out in our contract) bent to our will when we had any issues whatsoever with their loads. That was the caveat, tho' - we had to use their image and they would support it fully. But we neverfound a problem with it - the OEM tests the drivers and patches for stability.

I don't know how many people you support, but you can't expect every other support guy on your team to be as savvy as you (which you appear to be) and create an OS image on the spot for your environment when you aren't around, right? If you get hit by the proverbial bus, can someone get to your (routinely) updated documentation on image builds?

This is why it's easier to lay the support where it's due. Don't reinvent the wheel because of pride - tweak the existing image to your parameters.

I dunno - I hope I didn't say the wrong thing here, but it seems that we both feel pretty strongly about our views.

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Here is my stance.....

by LordInfidel In reply to Finally...

I'm a purist. (BTW- I am a very to the point direct person who curses alot, that's just who I am; most people on this board who have been here a while know that it is just my personality)

In my enterprise, we have several different types of systems. From the desktop, to servers, to specialty systems.

And I have purchashed large volumes of OEM systems thru dell. I like their hardware base.

But you nor I do not know everything they installed on there. And how many of your endusers need MSMoney and the default install of office? I know mine don't.

Uninstalling all of the extraneuous programs that are installed, cleaning up the registry, then installing your programs, actually takes longer then starting from scratch.

And ifyou start from scratch, you know exactly what was installed, and you should have an install record. (to the beckoning of my colleages I recently posted my security install docs for a 2k server install and linux).

So in answer to your question, no I do not do the installs myself. But I did develop the install process and my teams at our various locations do the work following my guidelines. When They need to build a system by hand, they follow an exact sequence to installing programs, and they do not deviate.

So instead of guessing what is installed, I know what is installed. I can walk up to any machine on any one of my networks and see if it was altered by the end user.

And I will state for the record, No Admin or help desk tech worth his weight in silicon, should be calling the OEM manufacturer about a OS related issue. Then oly time my staff will call the manufacturer is if a piece of hardware has physically failed.

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