When shopping for a computer…

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Shop for computer

To build your own PC or buy a Pre-Built?

It depends on you, there’s no absolute right way to buy a PC.

Advantage to buy a pre-built PC:

1)     Discounted Windows Licenses for big system builders – Pricing is better

2)     Warranty – one warranty united for

3)     Support – Get support from the company

Advantage of custom or “boutique” system builder:

1)     Customize ability – offer range of options with different components you can install

2)     Quality – when you buying mid-range to high end customs system from a reputable builder, they’re using better component, your PC will likely run cooler, be quieter and last longer

3)     Time – Troubleshooting a PC can take a long time. If you don’t have a garage full of spare parts to use for diagnosing an issue, lots of people don’t have a bucket of graphic cards on hand and they just don’t want to deal with that. Speak in a bucket of graphic cards, the reason that many of us have such thing is related to benefit:

a)      Picking everything for yourself and building your own PC, you can save a few bucks and you can have fun doing it

b)     Infinite customize ability and upgrade ability – because you’ve been thru a lot of the actual building at the first place, you never have to be afraid of the guts again and upgrading is easy

c)      Community – the PC enthusiastic community is a great one to be a part of, they’re all rest associated with the building with yourself, and you have no one else to point to if you break something but at least you have other folks who’ve been there before to help you thru it

How to buy a right PC – Pre built:


Power users need the best, and that means quad-core. AMD’s Phenom line and Intel’s Core 2 Quad, Core 2 Extreme, and newest Core i7 families of processors offer four-core solutions that will give you maximum power and the best possible protection from technology extinction. Want even more juice? Look for a processor that the manufacturer has overclocked (pushed to a higher speed rate), or one with an unlocked multiplier so you can tweak it to your own specifications. You might need to pay more attention to cooling with overclocked CPUs, but the speed bump you get might be worth it.

2)     MEMORY

Don’t consider anything less than 2GB—it’s the bare minimum you need for a good experience in Vista. Also check to see whether your machine uses DDR2 or newer DDR3 RAM. The latter, which is used exclusively with Intel’s new Core i7 family of processors, can operate at faster speeds but is also more expensive, and you can’t use DDR2 RAM in DDR3 sockets, which might cause problems if you want to upgrade later. Also pay attention to RAM speeds, measured in megahertz (MHz): The higher the rated speed, the better the RAM will perform—assuming your motherboard supports the speed.


It took the gaming industry a while to catch up to the DirectX 10 (DX10) train, and now that it has, most of the biggest titles use it. Since DX10 is more demanding (and visually impressive) than its predecessor, DX9, you’ll want the most powerful card you can afford—look for one with at least 512MB of graphics memory, and get more if you can swing it. If you have deep pockets, go for a multiple-card setup using NVidia’s Scalable Link Interface (SLI) or ATI’s Crossfire technology—depending on your hardware, you can use up to four graphics cards in each setup for the maximum in image-crunching potential.


The faster a drive’s rotational speed, the better your system will respond, and the quicker your applications and games will start. Though 15,000rpm drives are available, they’re noisy and cost-prohibitive—stick with a 10,000rpm drive for your OS and programs. Complement that with a second drive of 200GB or larger for bulk storage


Two DVD±RW drives is overkill—go with one DVD burner and a DVD-ROM drive, and you should be all set. High-capacity Blu-ray drives are becoming increasingly popular, but few PC games at this point require them, so you probably won’t need to bother with one yet. Adding one to your system later will run you about $200 if you want just a reader—or around $500 if you want one that writes Blu-ray discs, too.

6)     CASE

Performance PCs need space for both components and cooling, and a full-tower case provides the room for both. Make sure airflow is adequate and that the case provides enough bays to add drives later. Some performance-PC makers offer liquid-cooling systems as an option, but it’s unnecessary unless you have extraordinary cooling needs (say, for overclocked components) or are trying to reduce operating noise. (In the latter case, you can quiet a PC far more inexpensively by opting for larger, slower-spinning fans.) If you plan on running multiple graphics cards, pay attention to your rig’s power supply (you might need a unit that can pump 700 watts or more), and the number of expansion slots available (the newest cases come with 10, to accommodate four-card SLI and CrossFire setups). Also, look for USB, FireWire, external Serial ATA (eSATA), and audio inputs on the case’s front panel for easy access. A multiformat memory-card reader is convenient, too.

7)     SOUND

Definitely spring for a dedicated sound card. The speakers included with a PC in this price range should take full advantage of the sound card’s abilities. Most top cards support immersive 7.1-channel surround sound. Whether you want seven or eight speakers (and the wires they entail) is your call.

8)     MONITOR

You’ll definitely want a monitor that takes advantage of the power of your graphics card. Look for a wide-screen LCD monitor measuring at least 20 inches. (A 24-inch monitor will have enough pixels to play Blu-ray movies in their full 1080p resolution, and allow you to blast through games on a 1,900×1,200 desktop.) Also pay special attention to the LCD’s pixel-response time: the lower that number, the smoother the picture. Gamers will want a 6-millisecond or faster pixel-response rate.