> I am about to buy a new computer that I will mostly use for Linux but
> occassionally will need to run Windoze for work and games
> I am deciding between buying a standard Dell-type system
> (e.g. Dimension 8200) vs. building my own from components. I am
> looking to spend ~$1500 not including monitor.
> I have extensive hardward and software hobbyist experience, but want
> advice on what to do here.
> The following factors (if true) would lead me to favor building my
> own. Please comment on whether they are true and significant
> 1. Significant price/performance advantage (> 10-20%)
No. Dell buys stuff in huge volumes and gets corresponding
discounts. You don't. But then Dell marks up those costs
to make their own profit. In the end, you typically get the
same stuff at the same price when you build it yourself,
IME. (If you're not careful when purchasing components the
home-built can actually cost more than a mass produced
Quote:> 2. Better Linux hardware compatibility
This is possible because with the home built you can select
the motherboard, the modem, or whatever other components
might cause problems. But you can usually find out from the
manufacturers website what chipsets they're using and sort
out compatability issues by choosing a Dell model that has a
Linux-supported chipset on the motherboard.
Quote:> 3. Better expandability/upgradeability (e.g., more PCI or memory slots))
It'll likely work out the same either way.
Quote:> 4. Better quality
If you choose high quality components for a home-built you
know what you're getting. You don't necessarily know what
brand of hard drive (for instance) that Dell will be using
the day they build your system. But generally Dells are
reasonably reliable. And buying those high quality bits at
your local computer store will mean that the home built
could be (much) more expensive than the Dell.
Quote:> 5. Availablity of good quality web reviews on how to choose and where
> to buy "best" hardware (e.g., motherboard, video, sound)
"Best" is way too subjective. What's best for the reviewer
may not be best for you. Unless the reviewer makes his/her
criteria very clear and it is near-perfect match for your
needs, a review doesn't mean much.
Quote:> 6. Good, low-price stores or mail-order sites where I can buy multiple
> components (I don't want to have to order from 10 different places)
Shipping is always a killer on mail order. And who know
when it'll arrive and in what condition. At least with a
Dell system they'll tell you when it'll ship and it'll
arrive on time, in good condition, and with a warranty.
Quote:> All other things being equal, I would probably prefer to go with the
> standard Dell since it will save time and hassle.
Generally, I recommend people only build from scratch when
they have specific requirements that cannot be met by other
systems. One thing I dislike about home built systems is
the lack of a single warranty contact. It is up to you to
figure out which component went bad, then ascertain whether
or not it covered by a warranty and who to contact for
replacement/repair. With Dells and other similar systems,
you just call Dell and let them deal with it.