Custom Built vs Pre-Built PC’s?

gazfocus

Well-known member
Just curious how many of you on here have custom built PC’s vs pre-built from the likes of Dell and HP.

Looking at replacing a couple of PC’s and having a hard time decided between some Dell Precision’s and some Intel or Ryzen systems.
 

kslight

Well-known member
I come from a background of building PCs at home, but using Macs for creative work. My former employer used to buy the prebuilt mIcrocenter brand pcs. Without exception, the power supply would fail within 6 months, and I would replace it with a good one (not a cheap one). Repeat for many other components.. My current employer normally buys Dell…same thing, except even worse because the ones we buy use a weird proprietary size power supply, motherboard, etc…

I think if you’re going with a PC, a lot of the prebuilt PCs are built to a price, you’re better off spending the money on building something if you select good components.

When I needed a new computer at work, parts had become too hard to get and were 3x what they used to cost. It was cheaper for me to get a loaded m1 Mac mini than to build a good PC, so that’s what I proposed instead. No regrets. Of course that’s another prebuilt proprietary system, but I’ve always had good luck with Apple hardware reliability…I have multiple 10+ year old macs that are still running smooth.
 
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gazfocus

Well-known member
I come from a background of building PCs at home, but using Macs for creative work. My former employer used to buy the prebuilt mIcrocenter brand pcs. Without exception, the power supply would fail within 6 months, and I would replace it with a good one (not a cheap one). Repeat for many other components.. My current employer normally buys Dell…same thing, except even worse because the ones we buy use a weird proprietary size power supply, motherboard, etc…

I think if you’re going with a PC, a lot of the prebuilt PCs are built to a price, you’re better off spending the money on building something if you select good components.

When I needed a new computer at work, parts had become too hard to get and were 3x what they used to cost. It was cheaper for me to get a loaded m1 Mac mini than to build a good PC, so that’s what I proposed instead. No regrets. Of course that’s another prebuilt proprietary system, but I’ve always had good luck with Apple hardware reliability…I have multiple 10+ year old macs that are still running smooth.
Going down the route or an Apple computer would be my dream and actually is our long term goal as a business. At present though we are too far embedded into the Windows eco system and have too much software that is ‘Windows Only’.

All our current PC’s are Dell Optiplex (either 7040, 7050 or 7080’s) and we’ve genuinely not had an issue. We have some old Optiplex’s (3020’s) that if they go to sleep you have to reboot the pc to wake it up but that’s one of the ones being replaced.

The main issue we have is we often use a particular photoshop file that is about 1GB in size. The computers really struggle with it and I’ve heard that a 4GB+ GPU is ideally needed for photoshop. So, I’m either going to build some new custom PC’s or go down the route of the Dell Precisions.

The main advantage to the Dell at the moment is that GPU’s are insanely expensive, so where a GPU might cost me £400+ on it’s own, I can get the whole Dell system with a Quadro P2200 for £1150.
 

kslight

Well-known member
Going down the route or an Apple computer would be my dream and actually is our long term goal as a business. At present though we are too far embedded into the Windows eco system and have too much software that is ‘Windows Only’.

All our current PC’s are Dell Optiplex (either 7040, 7050 or 7080’s) and we’ve genuinely not had an issue. We have some old Optiplex’s (3020’s) that if they go to sleep you have to reboot the pc to wake it up but that’s one of the ones being replaced.

The main issue we have is we often use a particular photoshop file that is about 1GB in size. The computers really struggle with it and I’ve heard that a 4GB+ GPU is ideally needed for photoshop. So, I’m either going to build some new custom PC’s or go down the route of the Dell Precisions.

The main advantage to the Dell at the moment is that GPU’s are insanely expensive, so where a GPU might cost me £400+ on it’s own, I can get the whole Dell system with a Quadro P2200 for £1150.
Yes the GPU issue was a snag for me as well. A mediocre GPU was very overpriced and hard to find a happy medium, and I wasn’t going to recommend we buy some $1600 gamer video card either.

I agree that a prebuilt system seems like the cheaper way to go with GPU price gouging, but IMHO they cut the wrong corners to achieve that attractive price. I get around any incompatibility issues with a PC at my desk for running a couple of legacy Windows applications, and run Adobe CC on my Mac.
 

gazfocus

Well-known member
You raise a very valid point. With a custom build, you spend the money where you need it most and (if within budget) without cutting corners. Definitely something to think about.
 

chriscozi

Well-known member
I go with off the shelf HP or Dell for workstations because they are just utility computers and are easy to source.
Anything that requires horsepower I use either first a ProActive Technologies then an HP or Dell Server.
ProActive Technologies has outstanding products and service + 3yr warranties.
YMMV
 

Magnus59

Well-known member
Just curious how many of you on here have custom built PC’s vs pre-built from the likes of Dell and HP.

Looking at replacing a couple of PC’s and having a hard time decided between some Dell Precision’s and some Intel or Ryzen systems.
As the "IT guy" at work I used to build all the PCs myself, but in the last few years have been replacing as needed with Dell machines, mainly because we then have a single point of contact for support, drivers etc.
If you need something with extra grunt, but don't want to go to the expense of a server platform, look at the Dell Workstations with the Windows for Workstations OS. I replaced my home computer with one of these with an Nvidia Quadra graphics card last year and its performance is outstanding.
 

gregbatch

Well-known member
Off the shelf computers these days seem to come in two forms: inadequate home/office units, or those built for gaming, which is often expensive and visually impressive, but isn't always ideal for graphic design applications. A semi-custom PC will give the best performance for your money. A Ryzen 5 5600 will give excellent bang for your buck, with a top Photoshop benchmark that beats Intel and even their own higher priced multicore processors. Don't go any less than 32GB of fast RAM. A GTX 1660 graphics card will be plenty if you don't do video. Finally, a solid state drive is a must. Go with a M.2 NVME type SSD for the fastest possible performance. 1T is a good price point. A good builder will be sure you have a properly sized power supply and cooling. You can customize a liquid cooled Alienware with these specs for under $1700 at Dell. Though it is a gaming computer, Alienware tends to focus on performance over visual effects that are a waste of money.

ADD... If you don't need 10 bit color for matching on your monitor, my monitor is a 43" 4K TV. Extremely nice when working with multiple applications or working with a 60 column excel file.
 
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gazfocus

Well-known member
Off the shelf computers these days seem to come in two forms: inadequate home/office units, or those built for gaming, which is often expensive and visually impressive, but isn't always ideal for graphic design applications. A semi-custom PC will give the best performance for your money. A Ryzen 5 5600 will give excellent bang for your buck, with a top Photoshop benchmark that beats Intel and even their own higher priced multicore processors. Don't go any less than 32GB of fast RAM. A GTX 1660 graphics card will be plenty if you don't do video. Finally, a solid state drive is a must. Go with a M.2 NVME type SSD for the fastest possible performance. 1T is a good price point. A good builder will be sure you have a properly sized power supply and cooling. You can customize a liquid cooled Alienware with these specs for under $1700 at Dell. Though it is a gaming computer, Alienware tends to focus on performance over visual effects that are a waste of money.

ADD... If you don't need 10 bit color for matching on your monitor, my monitor is a 43" 4K TV. Extremely nice when working with multiple applications or working with a 60 column excel file.
Thanks for your view.

I have to be honest that most of the computers in our office are Dell Optiplex's and we've found them to be incredibly good value for money for business use. The last lot we purchased were Core i5 10600's with 16GB Ram and 256GB NVMe drives for around £500. Even going with a low end motherboard we would struggle to have built the systems for that price, especially if we included the cost of Windows 10 Pro.

The particular systems we are looking at currently are Dell Precision workstations. We've never looked at the workstation market before so I'm a bit unsure how they compare to other PC's if I'm honest. I'm an experienced PC builder (having done it as a business at one point), so feel that I can build a relatively stable computer, but whether that makes good buisness sense over buying a dedicated workstation PC with on site warranty support, I'm not sure.
 

gazfocus

Well-known member
I just thought I'd post an update on my decision...

I declined the quote for the Dell Precision this morning and have decided to build 2 custom pc's instead.

My reasoning in the end came down to the fact that Dell (and other manufacturers) cut corners in places that I may not even be aware of. The reviews I've seen suggest that the Dell Precisions get incredibly hot and start to thermal throttle, and the power supplies are often proprietary making it difficult to upgrade in the future. I'm not sure about the Precision line up but I know the current home PC's don't even have a 24 pin motherboard connector. Top that with the fact the Xeon CPU was only 6 core vs 8 cores in the i7, it just didn't make sense to get the Xeon.

In the end, I opted for buying two Quadro RTX 4000's off eBay for £525 each) and will build the two PC's around those. I figuredthat I'll be able to do the full build foraround £1300 with a much better GPU than the Dell would have had.
 

keith1

Well-known member
Happened across this. Seems a decent deal:
 

gregbatch

Well-known member
Happened across this. Seems a decent deal:
Seems like a good deal. The problem I have found with PowerSpec is cutting corners on the memory. High latency, sub-prime memory. That can make a perfectly good computer a dog.
 

gregbatch

Well-known member
I just thought I'd post an update on my decision...

I declined the quote for the Dell Precision this morning and have decided to build 2 custom pc's instead.

My reasoning in the end came down to the fact that Dell (and other manufacturers) cut corners in places that I may not even be aware of. The reviews I've seen suggest that the Dell Precisions get incredibly hot and start to thermal throttle, and the power supplies are often proprietary making it difficult to upgrade in the future. I'm not sure about the Precision line up but I know the current home PC's don't even have a 24 pin motherboard connector. Top that with the fact the Xeon CPU was only 6 core vs 8 cores in the i7, it just didn't make sense to get the Xeon.

In the end, I opted for buying two Quadro RTX 4000's off eBay for £525 each) and will build the two PC's around those. I figuredthat I'll be able to do the full build foraround £1300 with a much better GPU than the Dell would have had.
Just remember that the more cores, the less speed per core. Adobe doesn't take much advantage of cores, so it does't really benefit, which is one reason why the Ryzen 5 outperforms almost every other processor on Photoshop benchmarks.
 

Magnus59

Well-known member
I just thought I'd post an update on my decision...

I declined the quote for the Dell Precision this morning and have decided to build 2 custom pc's instead.

My reasoning in the end came down to the fact that Dell (and other manufacturers) cut corners in places that I may not even be aware of. The reviews I've seen suggest that the Dell Precisions get incredibly hot and start to thermal throttle, and the power supplies are often proprietary making it difficult to upgrade in the future. I'm not sure about the Precision line up but I know the current home PC's don't even have a 24 pin motherboard connector. Top that with the fact the Xeon CPU was only 6 core vs 8 cores in the i7, it just didn't make sense to get the Xeon.

In the end, I opted for buying two Quadro RTX 4000's off eBay for £525 each) and will build the two PC's around those. I figuredthat I'll be able to do the full build foraround £1300 with a much better GPU than the Dell would have had.
Xeon processors support error checking and correcting memory so are more stable and less prone to data corruption due to memory errors, whereas i7 processors do not.

The current i7 range of processors (i7 - 3770k for example) are limited to 2 memory channels, and a maximum memory bandwidth of 25.6GB. However Xeon processors reach far beyond this with 4 memory channels in total and subsequently an excellent 51.2GB memory bandwidth so Xeon processors can move significantly more data to cache.

Intel i7 processors have a maximum of 8mb of cache (only 6mb in i5 processors for example) whereas Xeon processors have much larger on-board cache than i7's and start at 10mb – 30mb for high end Xeon processors.

Xeon processors support multi socket configurations (an HP 820 CAD workstation for example supports up to 16 processing cores)

I have a Dell Precision workstation with an Nvidia Quadra as my home computer and it is a beast, no issues with overheating.
 

gazfocus

Well-known member
Happened across this. Seems a decent deal:
Unfortunately I’m in the U.K. so can’t access that link :(
 

gazfocus

Well-known member
Xeon processors support error checking and correcting memory so are more stable and less prone to data corruption due to memory errors, whereas i7 processors do not.

The current i7 range of processors (i7 - 3770k for example) are limited to 2 memory channels, and a maximum memory bandwidth of 25.6GB. However Xeon processors reach far beyond this with 4 memory channels in total and subsequently an excellent 51.2GB memory bandwidth so Xeon processors can move significantly more data to cache.

Intel i7 processors have a maximum of 8mb of cache (only 6mb in i5 processors for example) whereas Xeon processors have much larger on-board cache than i7's and start at 10mb – 30mb for high end Xeon processors.

Xeon processors support multi socket configurations (an HP 820 CAD workstation for example supports up to 16 processing cores)

I have a Dell Precision workstation with an Nvidia Quadra as my home computer and it is a beast, no issues with overheating.
The systems I was looking at used lower end Xeons and I don’t have the budget for a higher end one unfortunately. They also had standard DDR4 memory and not ECC ram.

The current range of Intel i7’s (the 11700k for example), has a 16MB cache and the 12700K which is what I’ve gone for has 25MB cache so it’ll be interesting to see how they perform.

I’m not disputing that xeons are a better processor but it’s the machine on the whole I needed to look at.

In the future, I’ll likely get a dual Xeon server and stick it in the server room and do my work on that via a kvm or something similar :)
 

grafix

Active member
Just curious how many of you on here have custom built PC’s vs pre-built from the likes of Dell and HP.

Looking at replacing a couple of PC’s and having a hard time decided between some Dell Precision’s and some Intel or Ryzen systems.
I purchased a Dell via Costco. Their package offered a largee capacity SSD at a lower price the direct. But be warned, I recently contacted Dell concerning the need for a copy of Windows 10. Since the warranty had expired they refused to offer assistance unless I paid for an extended warranty. They leave you hanging. In the future I think I will return to building my own.
 

PricelineNegotiator

Well-known member
If you buy Dell/HP/whatever pre-built computers, just be ready to only be able to upgrade the memory. You can't put a new GPU in any of their computers because they built them with 200 W power supplies and if you upgrade the power supply, it is too powerful for the motherboard and if you upgrade the motherboard you'll need to buy a new copy of Windows. It's easier to build for yourself for extremely fast builds, but if you just need an email machine get a Dell box and make sure it has 8 GB of memory and an SSD, nothing else is needed.
 
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Sorry if it is a little bit out of context but I can recommend the series secret shopper that linus tech tipps made.
For me it shows the main issue with prebuilts, they just want to sell and dont really care about your needs.
Another thing i am also always careful is the bloatware they already have on the machines and most of the time you have to do a whole windows reinstallation before you can use the pc.
 
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gazfocus

Well-known member
Thanks for the comments.
I’m in the process of cherry picking components that I want for a system rather than sticking with what Dell tell you you have to have :)

So far, I have a Core i7 12700K, 2 x 32GB Memory Kits (2x16GB DDR4 3600MHz), Quadro RTX4000 8GB GPU, and got a motherboard arriving tomorrow.
Ultimately decided upgradeability was most important for a high spec/performance machine.
 

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