How to save money on your next computer

Stuck buying the same old HP of Dell from Future Shop? Build your own computer.

Instead of buying your next computer online or from a retailer, why not build your own?
You will probably get a better computer, with better parts and have a little fun in the process.
It might cost slightly more than buying one already made but the difference won’t be much if you shop around.
Generally, the extra cost comes from upgrading components from bare-bones to high performance but that works for store bought computers as well.
The kit in the illustration from Tiger Direct is only $360.  It needs an operating system which if you are on the cheap could be a free copy of Ubuntu, which for all intents and purposes looks and acts like Windows.
You won’t be running expensive Microsoft programs on Ubuntu since it is Linux but they have parallel programs for most of the chores we do on our computers.  Considering that people are using their computers mainly on the Internet cloud, the decision is easy.
How hard are kits? They take basic mechanical skills to assemble. The tricky parts are  carefully placing the CPU on the motherboard and making sure all the wiring is correct. There are plenty of diagrams, online help screens and videos to step you through the process.

Tiger Direct Kit
The Tiger Direct kit is not the cheapest one they offer but it does have the latest Intel i3 550 cpu and a good Asus motherboard.
Here’s the total to build a fully functional kit:
Tiger Direct Kit
Motherboard Asus P7H55
CPU Intel i3 550
Power Supply 400 watt
Case PowerUp Mid Tower
Memory 4 GB DDR3
Hard Drive 1 TB Seagate Barracuda
DVD burner Lite-On $       360
OS Windows 7 OEM Home 64 bit $       100
Keyboard Microsoft 4000 $         44
Monitor LG 22″ widescreen $       155
$       659
Use Ubuntu and take away Windows 7 $       559
Not bad for a complete computer.  The warranty on all the parts is much longer than either HP or Dell provide, although you might be inconvenienced in sending the parts back.

Comparable Dell  Inspiron 580
The closest Dell I could find was $170 more than the Windows kit and $270 more than the Ubuntu kit. Here’s the skinny.
Dell Inspiron 580
Motherboard Dell
CPU Intel i3 550
Power Supply Dell
Case Dell
Memory 4 GM DDR3
Hard Drive 1 TB
DVD burner Included
OS Windows 7 Home 64 bit
Keyboard Dell
Monitor Dell 23″ $       829
The Dell should have better service than a build-your-own but that’s not necessarily true.
I’ve been trying to get my Windows 7 upgrade and Adobe Premiere Elements disks from Dell for more than a year. After awhile, you just get tired of the lies and put-offs from Dell’s support staff.

Knowledge and sharing
Building your own computer adds to your knowledge base of what you are working with every day. The kits are moderately difficult but once you’ve done one, the next is easy.
After three tries at getting a quiet computer last year, I built my own from scratch. It was fun to research the latest and greatest quiet components. It’s used in a music studio where fan noise ends up in the song.
If you have children, building a kit computer as a project can be a fun way to spend time, other than watching TV.
My next kit computer is in my mind and might be a Christmas project. Who knows?
Kit computers are available from Tiger Direct,, and All of them have great customer service. My boot drive was failing last week and NCIX had one at my door the next day.
Prices changed regularly, usually downward, so the prices shown are as of today.  I get no commission from Tiger Direct or anyone mentioned in this article.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

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