On the inside, computers are all the same.
All computers use a processor and memory to crunch the numbers, a hard drive to store the numbers, and a motherboard to hold it all together. Plug in a monitor and keyboard, and you’ve got a computer!
Manufacturers like HP®, and Apple® put together standard parts and sell “pre-made” computers (such as this iMac® pictured to the right). Although fast enough for typical use and competitively priced, these systems use second-rate hardware with limited upgradability.
A big problem with pre-made systems is that they don’t last very long, at least not in a useful way. After a few short years, even the most expensive pre-made systems will start to slow down. This is because most manufactured systems are built with cheap (and/or integrated) parts that have limited upgradability; and with no capacity for upgrades, the only way to speed-up an aging pre-made system is to replace it with a brand-new computer!
Pre-made systems are poorly designed with this kind of “planned obsolescence” in mind: manufacturers purposefully use inferior hardware, so that their products become unusable in a short time. And when consumers incorrectly believe that they have to buy a brand-new computer every few years, manufacturers make more money from selling more pre-made systems!
But don’t despair: on the inside, computers are all the same, and there are alternatives to pre-made systems!
Custom Computers and Long-Term Value
Did you know that it is possible to build high-performance custom computers, for less than it costs to buy “pre-made” systems?
Since all computers use standardized components on the inside (for example, Intel® processors), you can choose your own hardware components to create a fast, rugged, and truly custom machine.
To build your own computer, first pick a motherboard (along with matching processor and memory), choose a hard drive, video card, and PSU, and then wire it all together in a case. Install the operating system, update the hardware and software, and voila! You now have a fast and reliable computer, built with the latest technology and high-quality components.
When you build your own computer, you get to choose the hardware that goes inside. If you want a huge hard drive with lots of storage space (or even better, a state-of-the-art solid state drive!), you can install it. If you’d rather spend your money on a super-fast processor and RAM, you may do so. And if you want to customize your machine with extra USB ports, a Blu-Ray drive, or even an old-school floppy disk drive, guess what? You can!
But the main advantage of owning a custom PC is that when you choose the hardware components, you know that you’re getting the best available hardware that is ALSO upgradable. Pre-made systems lack this feature, because manufacturers don’t want you to upgrade: they want you to buy a brand new computer when your old one slows down.
When you build your own computer, you get an upgradable and “future-proof” system that will stand the test of time. However, assembling a computer requires extensive technical knowledge: this is where I come in!
My Custom PC
I use my computer for photo editing, multimedia and video streaming, 3D gaming, and other graphics-intensive applications, so it’s important for me to stay up-to-speed with a reliable machine that does what I need it to do.
When I first decided to build myself a custom PC, I had no idea I’d be using the same computer over 6 years later! I’ve done a few inexpensive hardware upgrades in that time, but the computer is still so fast that I don’t need to buy a whole new system. Realistically, I plan on using this computer for at least four more years… giving my custom PC a useful lifespan of 10 years.
In my opinion, assembling a custom PC is the best way to buy a new computer: the long-term value gained from choosing quality, upgradable hardware makes building a custom PC extremely cost-effective. Dollar-for-dollar, a well-built custom PC is faster and more reliable than a pre-made, and over a longer useful lifespan.