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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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Same thing, two different approaches.

by admin In reply to Finally...

So you start with an oem os and end with a custom or start with a custom and modify it towards an oem. Either way if you get it right for your app then it should be the same thing. I just know how to start from scratch with MS stock. If I was more knowledgable about a specific vendors mods I could go the other way, whichever is more efficient.

IMO the point is, no one doing this for long will tend to leave out of the box software running on a business network if they stay in the biz for a while.

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:) - I think I know which side you fall

by rdunn In reply to Dell versus Build your ow ...

My guess is that that this discussion is taking place because you would rather build the PCs - normally management doesn't know much about that sort of thing, but you want to get the full gammit of opinions so you can be more informed. :)

I thinkit's a great discussion and we should all really be aware of the pros & cons related to this topic.

The question always comes up when I talk to people from other companies, and by reading these posts, I'll have better knowledge on how to answer them!


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Billable Time = Cost to employer

by ghstinshll In reply to :) - I think I know which ...

Is the $100 per machine you save the company going to be worth the thousands in salary that your company is giving up by letting you champ that project?

This is a big factor that I didn't even think about. I work for an accounting firm, and one good term every eager tech needs to keep in his back pocket is "don't waste a dollar to save a penney". I had this in trying to refurb portable HP printers and their document feeders, etc... It cost $299 for the new "firm standard", and was asked by my manager not to waste too much time on the old printers to save a few cents, when the cost of the new printers is already justified in the speed and efficiency they get over the old ones anwyay...

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Rob - you are correct

by maxwell edison In reply to :) - I think I know which ...

Mine is a relatively small office (40-50), and I, alone, am the whole IT Department. Since the life cycle of a computer is around 4-5 years, we buy no more than a dozen computers a year.

I could buy a Dell (without monitor) for around $800, or Icould build a similar specified one for around $700. The Dell argument suggests that the time it takes me to build a box is not worth the $100 savings. Even though I disagree with that (it only takes about 30 minutes to put the pieces together, and I would want to remove Dell's OS and reinstall mine), I contend that the considerations are much more than just the dollars, but the scores of intangibles that are difficult to put a price on.

For example, Dell's $800 machine has integrated video, nic, and sound, and the installed RAM is shared with the video. So out of 256 MB RAM, for example, the video would be stealing 64 MB of it, denying the system much needed memory. My $700 box would have a dedicated video card (brand of my choice) with its own RAM. Because of these kinds of things, not only can I save $$, but it will result in a better machine. The same theory applies to the other components as well. Another example is the supplied CD drive - a 48X read only drive in the Dell, or a faster read only and/or a read/write in the "Maxwell". This is just one of many points I'm preparing for a discussion on the subject.

Another point I'll have will be in the form of specifications sheets for two different computers (but I won'treveal which is a Dell and which is a "Maxwell"), describing the computer much as a catalogue would. I'll pass the specification sheets to the others asking which is the better computer. Of course, no one will be able to answer that question - no one except me, of course.

I'll post more of my opinion later on.

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Just make sure

by madroxxx In reply to Rob - you are correct

That you don't let your desired result taint the scientific result in pricing the two machines against each other.

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better late then never

by dustcatcher In reply to Dell versus Build your ow ...

Happened to stumble across this doing a search. Thought this might give you some insight on Dell's vs white boxes.....since I've been doing it longer than dust.

It will depend on your business needs and the capabilities of the IT department. I oversee about 35 offices at about that many locations in about a 1000 mile radius. Our offices range from 3 people to 50 for a total of 450 employees. I have my vendor build my PC's to my exact spec including an image disk (if I'm so inclined). I spec every component. I may use two vendors (better for competition) but it doesn't matter because the hardware is the same. Neither of my vendor's are local and I have never met them in person. One is over 300 miles and the other is 1000 miles. So distance is not a factor other than shipping. I have used one of the vendors off and on for about 20 years. The other, I have followed the sales person from one business to another with very few if any problems in service of support. I keep in contact with both regardless of who I'm using that way I'm always covered. I use the OEM for rma's thus eliminating any middlemen. All parts are covered (mb, cpu and ram are limited)I have less than 1% rma on new boxes. When my hardware standards change for a PC we burn a new image. I upgrade my mb (asus) 2-3 times a year based on a price point. In other words I don't buy the latest CPU unitl it is below the price point of about $400 (cpu & motherboard....leading edge not bleading edge). I use the smallest hard drives available for the workstations (Ibm's or Seagates). We don't store much on them. I only use Adaptec cards and Seagates in my servers. Video cards 1-2 times a year(nvidia). I can beat the price of a comparable Dell and set it up quicker. Why do I use a white box?

1. Their flexible....If a tech has a spare PC when he is traveling to remote offices and has a couple other parts (switches, routers, etc) he's capable of fixing just about anything and everything on the network.
If a server crashes I can step the local admin over the phone through the process of pulling a controller, hd and ram from the server and installing it in a workstation in about a half hour and I have a temporary server(we actually train them to do this).

2. I can upgrade it relatively inexpensively compared to a Dell. Which gives me a longer useful life and possibly some salvage value.
For example: I just upgraded and AMD 200 server to a Intell 2.4g server for less than $800 (server case, mb, ram) pulled the Adaptecs and hard drives from the old and installed in the new. Quick and simple, no hassles, no headaches and no dell drivers.

3. I don't have to worry about voiding a warranty. All of the parts I use are backed by the OEM warranty and I go strait to them for RMA's.

4 mamintenance is cheaper and usually quicker and I'm not dependent on a third party. I can purchase my parts just about anywhere for less.

hope this helps.
4. Clones provide a level of fault tolerance that I can't get with Dell's unless I invest in more equipment.

5. All of my drivers are supported on the web were you may have to dig to find support for Dell drivers. For example try installing win98 on a gx270.

6. They are faster.

If don't have a competent tech department you may want to go with Dell's. If you are building them your to your vendor. He may build them to your specs for a nominal fee and still be competitive with Dell.

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Posting in Discussions AND Q&A

by maxwell edison In reply to Pros and Cons - Dell or B ...

The advantage of posting an issue in both the discussions section AND the Q&A section is, of course, increased exposure. I've noticed that many members routinely visit one or the other, but not both.

I used to spend hoards of time at the Q&A section, but I don't answer too many questions any more. (DKlippert passed me on the points list like I'm standing still - wait, I HAVE BEEN standing still.) I guess I've become a glutton for punishment, so I've exposed myself to the various insults these discussion threads seem to generate.

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Are proprietary parts an issue

by maxwell edison In reply to Pros and Cons - Dell or B ...

It used to be that most pre-manufactured computers used proprietary hardware.

For example, if you had a Compaq computer and you spilled some clam chowder on the keyboard, and you further discovered that the dishwasher not only cleaned the keyboard, but also rendered it inoperative, then you would have to buy a replacement proprietary keyboard directly from Compaq, not from the ACME computer supply store down the street. (And, of course, the proprietary keyboard cost 4 times the dollars.) This proprietary issue would apply to just about any other component as well - hard drive, memory, etc.

Dell used to be this way, but I'm not sure if that is the case anymore. Any thoughts on this issue?

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Cost Of Proprietary Parts

by humenick In reply to Are proprietary parts an ...

Having been in the computer game for some 10 years in Australia I have found that components for Dell, HP, IBM etc units are in excess of 100% dearer than common generic brands. E.g. Power Supply for a HP unit $135au compared to $49au generic brand. Availability and sourcing components in Australia in a hurry is almost impossible, especially under warranty. The units maybe cheap but repairing is another matter.

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by dragonbones In reply to Are proprietary parts an ...

Yes, Dell use to be proprietary. I remember trying to track down memory for my first dell P5.
So far I've yet to run into an proprietary issue with the new Dells. I've been able to repair all the PII and newer systems with over the counter parts except the motherboard. Not all of them have the standard ATX form factor, ie... the ports aren't in the standard ATX configuration. An example are the usb and network ports are on the right instead of by the ps2 ports.

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