Best Of Tom’s Hardware: How To Build A PC

Purchase Price

Online Merchants

Considerably lower operating expenses allow online merchants to price products far below those needed to keep the doors open at local showrooms, but shipping costs can kill any hopes for big savings. Per-item shipping often gets better as more items are added to the order, so the savings attributed to buying online are maximized by purchasing from the fewest possible sources.

A difficult cascade of questions may consume a buyer as he or she considers many sellers, many parts at various prices, and several different shipping rates. The easy path is to pick the single vendor who provides the best deal for the complete list, but this is not always possible. Keep in mind that single-item shipping rates listed through shopping engines should drop significantly as order size increases, and if this doesn't happen it's time to check the next vendor on your list!

Local Stores

Local stores must increase prices to cover their higher operating expenses, but they usually receive items in large enough quantities to reduce per-item shipping charges, savings they pass on to you. Consider the example of a single stack of DVD-R media: online pricing might be $6 plus $8 shipping, totaling $14. If a local store bought 100 stacks at a 10% discount, squandered that 10% savings on bulk shipping, and added a huge 50% markup, they'd still be able to sell them for $12...saving you $2 and several days' wait.

"Loss leaders" are another way for buyers to save when purchasing locally. These are items that larger stores such as Best Buy or Fry's Electronics sell at a slight loss in order to lure buyers in, hoping sales staff or glamorous displays will convince the purchaser to "pick up a few more things on the way out." Relying on one-time deals often requires substituting a lesser part to get a better value, however.

Service

It's often said that "you get what you pay for" and service is one area where local stores are able to outperform online rivals. Because small shops are constantly trying to build their reputations, and because they deal in lower volume, they're usually willing to go the "extra mile" to please each customer. Larger electronics chains focus on volume rather than service, and would rather sell you another part than figure out why the one you have isn't working. Online merchants expect you to have enough knowledge to figure things out on your own.

Consider the situation of dealing with an incompatible part:

  • Smaller, locally-owned shops will usually offer free advice, inspect the item for free if you believe it's defective, or diagnose it in your system for a reasonable fee (that's not to say all of them will). On the other hand, they may not be willing to provide a 100% refund if you try to return a "new" part in "used" condition.
  • Most online merchants don't provide adequate tech support, instead going directly to the return process while charging a 15% "restocking fee" for any returned item that they've deemed non-defective. You'll have paid shipping both on the delivery and the return, and your 15% fee will go towards someone else's "open box" price reduction.
  • Favoring irresponsible buyers, "big box" retailers might give you all your money back if you come up with a good enough reason (or plausible excuse) for the return.
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  • mi1ez
    that 1996 gaming case showndown linked to on page one is 2006. disappointment!
    1
  • mi1ez
    Page 7:

    Or for those of us in the uk, check out
    scan.co.uk
    ebuyer.co.uk
    overclockers.co.uk
    4
  • mi1ez
    Quote:
    Align one hole perfectly with the standoff and affix a screw, then push the board into alignment for a second hole before tightening the second screw.


    DO NOT install your motherboard like this. Have all the screws in place before tightening.
    3
  • mi1ez
    Quote:
    The newer 8-pin versions were originally meant to address phenomenally power-hungry Pentium D and Prescott-based Pentium 4 processors, but many modern AMD and Intel processors are efficient enough to once again work from 4 pins.


    However, when overclocking 8pins will give you far more stability and is highly recommended.
    2
  • 13thmonkey
    'windows rarely exceeds 16Gb even with temp files'

    Except for the fact that the hibernate file =RAM size say 4Gb, and outlook files (can't be moved from C:) another 1Gb, then know ing how to move personal folders and swap space to another drive, I'd suggest that rarely exceeds 25Gb might be more appropriate.
    0
  • kyzar
    13thmonkey'windows rarely exceeds 16Gb even with temp files'Except for the fact that the hibernate file =RAM size say 4Gb, and outlook files (can't be moved from C another 1Gb, then know ing how to move personal folders and swap space to another drive, I'd suggest that rarely exceeds 25Gb might be more appropriate.


    Do you mean the Outlook pst can't be moved from C? I've three customers in the building here that I've moved all the 'local' Outlook data to a network drive...
    0
  • 13thmonkey
    kyzarDo you mean the Outlook pst can't be moved from C? I've three customers in the building here that I've moved all the 'local' Outlook data to a network drive...


    I investiagted that for a while and found nothing to help, but I guess it can be done though. I was running a 30Gb ssd as a system drive (vista 64) and it kept creeping up to 25Gb+ will all folders on a different drive etc.

    However in an article about building a system to have the fairly advanced need to move certain systems files around or turn them off, without actually stating that you'll need to do it is a bit of a discrepancy, i'd bet that 90% of people that know how to run a light installation of windows already know how to build, and that 90% of those that don't know how to build but might want have limited windows installation/customisation skills. So it appears that the article is aimed that software literate but hardware illiterate people, seems like a really small group to me.
    -1
  • mi1ez
    Anyone checked these comment out in the forum? they're under "Windows 7 Versus XP: Which Belongs On Your Netbook?"
    0
  • waxdart
    Now I’ve stared to want to edit the home videos and make something. I’ve been thinking its time to upgrade my whole rig. No idea what I want to get. Not even too sure I can be bothered to self build of get a premade. A few years ago the margin was just in favour of self built. No idea these days. Any ideas?
    Price range is cheap as poss without being crap.

    Editing HD video and games is the point. Looks like I’ve got a few weeks read.
    0
  • drkw
    To Waxdart: A 4-core CPU for fastest rendering.
    Also an Nvidia 8000 series card or ATI HD46xx upwardsfor accelerated render.
    0
  • drkw
    To Waxdart: A 4-core CPU for fastest rendering.
    Also an Nvidia 8000 series card or ATI HD46xx upwardsfor accelerated render.
    0
  • Alatheia00
    For UK readers, from personal experience the cheapest retailers are pricelover, ebuyer, tekheads, for pc components all customer service was similar across these companies. When purchasing a monitor be sure to compare prices online as i am currently looking for a 23" Dell SP2309W and ebuyer are selling it more than £20 higher than ebay (I know grey area, however the chap has sold several thousand items and has a 99.5% record. My best advice is shop around use online forums to ask questions, motherboards.org and be patient resist impulse buying. Here are some more etailers from the UK, Misco, dabs, pixmania ( really cheap on selected items), oyyy.co.uk (good for monitors), scan, aria ( Has a hd 5830 up for £160). Best of luck.
    0
  • Alatheia00
    For UK readers, from personal experience the cheapest retailers are pricelover, ebuyer, tekheads, for pc components all customer service was similar across these companies. When purchasing a monitor be sure to compare prices online as i am currently looking for a 23" Dell SP2309W and ebuyer are selling it more than £20 higher than ebay (I know grey area, however the chap has sold several thousand items and has a 99.5% record. My best advice is shop around use online forums to ask questions, motherboards.org and be patient resist impulse buying. Here are some more etailers from the UK, Misco, dabs, pixmania ( really cheap on selected items), oyyy.co.uk (good for monitors), scan, aria ( Has a hd 5830 up for £160). Best of luck.
    -1
  • sam_p_lay
    For UK, Microdirect, Novatech and Saverstore are also good, as well as CCL. Aria are excellent, check out the 'Superspecials' and 'Deal4Today' sections. Got a Gigabyte EX58-UD3R (usually £140+) there for £120 and a Core i7 920 D0 (usually £200+) for £170. Other than those, eBuyer, Dabs, Scan and Overclockers are the first ports of call, and I have seen great prices on Pixmania.
    0
  • sam_p_lay
    Overclockers are great for memory (saw 6gb OCZ DDR3 1800 CAS8 on there for £105), and Scan are excellent for mobos, as well as a great selection of cases. Aria Superspecials also had a 1gb XFX Radeon 4870 for £80 a couple of weeks ago!
    0
  • andybird123
    for UK users; stay well clear of SCAN.co.uk

    I've used them twice, both times i bought an "own brand" scan item that arrived DOA and took weeks to get any kind of response and refund.
    0
  • 13thmonkey
    andybird123for UK users; stay well clear of SCAN.co.ukI've used them twice, both times i bought an "own brand" scan item that arrived DOA and took weeks to get any kind of response and refund.


    used them lots, returned items, not had any trouble, refunds take a while with anyone including amazon... I think own brand is generally an issue, although with nvidia etc. its just a re-badge.
    0
  • mi1ez
    ^+1

    Never had a problem with scan before. I never buy own brand products where my PC's involved!
    0
  • wildgunman999
    I'm almost ready to start buying, but I'd like you good folks out there to check my components and tell me if I'm straying. My pc is to be used as an office /word processor pc, but I do a li'l bit of video editing and I generally want a pretty good and fast system. My list includes:
    1. AMD Phenom II X4 Quad 955 Core 3.2GHz Processor 4 x 512 KB Boxed - Black Edition
    2. Gigabyte GA-MA790X-UD3P Motherboard Phenom II X4 Socket AM3 AMD 790X ATX RAID Gigabit Ethernet
    3. Kingston ValueRAM Memory DDR3 Non-ECC CL8 DIMM 1GB (need two)
    4. Western Digital Caviar Blue 250 Gb 7200 Rpm Sata-ii Internal Hard Drive
    5. Samsung SH-S223L/BEBE Internal 22x DVD Writer Drive SATA Lightscribe - Black (OEM)
    6. Corsair VX Series, 450 Watt, ATX, PS/2, Power Supply, UK Version (CMPSU-450VXUK)
    7. Asus EAH4350 SILENT/DI/256MD2(LP) Graphics Card Radeon HD 4350 256MB PCi-E DVI VGA (90-C1CM1F-H0UANAKZ)
    8. LG L1734S 17 inch LCD TFT Monitor 1280x1024 700:1 5ms - Black/Silver
    9. Hercules Muse LT PCI sound card
    10. Edimax EW-7128G Wireless LAN PCI Card 802.11b/g 54Mbp (Ralink)
    11. Antec Three Hundred Midi Case


    I know i'll need a few extra fans for the case, but will I need a CPU-cooler, or will I get one with the processor? And do I need a 'controller', or is it bundled along in there somewhere?
    Even more importantly, can someone confirm that these components are compatible?
    Would appreciate any help, guys.
    0
  • wildgunman999
    I'm almost ready to start buying, but I'd like you good folks out there to check my components and tell me if I'm straying. My pc is to be used as an office /word processor pc, but I do a li'l bit of video editing and I generally want a pretty good and fast system. My list includes:
    1. AMD Phenom II X4 Quad 955 Core 3.2GHz Processor 4 x 512 KB Boxed - Black Edition
    2. Gigabyte GA-MA790X-UD3P Motherboard Phenom II X4 Socket AM3 AMD 790X ATX RAID Gigabit Ethernet
    3. Kingston ValueRAM Memory DDR3 Non-ECC CL8 DIMM 1GB (need two)
    4. Western Digital Caviar Blue 250 Gb 7200 Rpm Sata-ii Internal Hard Drive
    5. Samsung SH-S223L/BEBE Internal 22x DVD Writer Drive SATA Lightscribe - Black (OEM)
    6. Corsair VX Series, 450 Watt, ATX, PS/2, Power Supply, UK Version (CMPSU-450VXUK)
    7. Asus EAH4350 SILENT/DI/256MD2(LP) Graphics Card Radeon HD 4350 256MB PCi-E DVI VGA (90-C1CM1F-H0UANAKZ)
    8. LG L1734S 17 inch LCD TFT Monitor 1280x1024 700:1 5ms - Black/Silver
    9. Hercules Muse LT PCI sound card
    10. Edimax EW-7128G Wireless LAN PCI Card 802.11b/g 54Mbp (Ralink)
    11. Antec Three Hundred Midi Case


    I know i'll need a few extra fans for the case, but will I need a CPU-cooler, or will I get one with the processor? And do I need a 'controller', or is it bundled along in there somewhere?
    Even more importantly, can someone confirm that these components are compatible?
    Would appreciate any help, guys.
    0