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Author Topic: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?  (Read 6129 times)

techidave

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why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« on: January 22, 2011, 08:19:14 PM »
I have a client wanting to purchase a new desktop computer.  It will be used basically for only email and web surfing.  So I went looking to see if I could come up with a good deal for them.  I looked at the price of buying a system as well as the possibility of me building one.  But when I compare an HP, Dell to what I can build one for, mine is several hundred dollars higher and I haven't even tacked on any labor yet!

I am not talking about a high end machine either, but wanted something to last them a number of years.  I realize that I cannot compete with the big guns but I would think some of the system builders would be more competitive than they were.  My findings were they were only a few dollars cheaper than my build.

I have looked on the online stores of officemax, walmart, dell, HP, newegg, tigerdirect, zipzoomfly to name a few.  Plus I looked on pricewatch also.

My specs were an Intel D55PJ board running i3 3.02 ghz and 4gb of ddr3 ram and a 500 or 750gb WD 7200rpm-32mb hard drive.  Also a decent case like a Antec 4482 case.

Am i missing something here or is this just the way it is???

Renegade

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2011, 08:27:49 PM »
What were the price comparisons like? (The HP/Dell vs. what you found.)
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techidave

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2011, 08:45:03 PM »
$400 to 500 or so and for my builds and the online builders it was around $700 or more. 

4wd

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2011, 08:54:58 PM »
HP, Dell, etc have the benefit of volume, (purchase/sales/labour), in the case of PCs using All-in-one type motherboards.

For anything that requires more customisation than an AIO motherboard solution then you'll start saving your money but usually only if you don't count the labour.

It usually works out cheaper if:
a) You build it yourself, AND
b) you're building for yourself, (because you don't consider it labour :) ).

Just FYI from MSY here:

Intel D55PJ                     - $89
i3-550                           - $129
PQI 4GB                         - $45
WD 1TB                         - $62
Coolermaster Elite RC-335 - $74  (The Antec you mentioned isn't avail., this looks decent.)
LG DVD-RW                    - $22
Total                             - AU$421

Do it even cheaper by going with a non-Intel board.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2011, 09:09:02 PM by 4wd »

Renegade

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2011, 09:07:44 PM »
b) you're building for yourself, (because you don't consider it labour :) ).

I suppose it's "love" then?  :o
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4wd

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2011, 09:09:39 PM »
I suppose it's "love" then?  :o

Up until you install Windows on it  :P

app103

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2011, 09:18:03 PM »
For just email and web surfing you really don't need very much, but there are some really nice machines that can be had inexpensively.

Maybe you'll find something good on this page.

I suppose it's "love" then?  :o

Up until you install Windows on it  :P

They do sell stuff without an OS.  ;)

If you don't see anything today, check back, because their merchandise changes constantly. And if you do find something you like, don't take too long to think about it because stuff sells out fast. Keep your eyes open for HP & Dell business class machines. They are usually better built than the consumer grade ones. Anything that doesn't come with an OS, check the manufacturer's website to find out what drivers they have. Some of the much cheaper machines are older and only XP drivers are available.

And don't forget to check out their prices on parts. Might be cheaper to get something a little less than what you want and take advantage of a good price on a few upgrade parts for it.

techidave

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2011, 09:25:24 PM »
4wd.. your prices are Australian dollars, correct?

AU$421

techidave

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2011, 09:31:19 PM »
I have purchased from Geeks before.  It looks like most of their stuff is refurbs, which in my opinion are too high priced for a slightly used computer as compared to a new one.

4wd

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2011, 09:45:49 PM »
4wd.. your prices are Australian dollars, correct?

AU$421

Yes, as I said, just an FYI from our semi-nationwide discount computer parts store.

MSY - If you're interested, no where near the range of Newegg.

Paul Keith

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2011, 03:16:13 AM »
Coincidentally:

Quote
Laptops surprises me, I would think that now would be a great time to buy a previous (chip) generation laptop, as the new gen ones are just coming out (ie, Sandy Bridge this year). Maybe the April one is because it's a lull. It's almost the end of the school year, and no one buys a laptop for summer. But I still feel like now - probably more realistically in a month - would be a great time to buy a prev-gen laptop.

Or, a brand new one. I got a great deal on a Sandy Bridge Toshiba earlier this week. I'm still a little baffled at the deal I got. It was even 15% off on Amazon from like…the day it was released. Haven't gotten to play with it yet (it's being delivered today), so I guess there's still the possibility there's something wrong with it.

Quote
@Aaron Crabtree: It's like you said - now IS a good time to buy a laptop. The article doesn't take technology shifts into account. You can now either get a laptop with a previous gen cpu cheap, or pay a bit extra for a Sandy Bridge based laptop that will last you a lot longer. Prices won't fall significantly by April, except maybe some brands/models may be slower to switch. Now is definitely the time to start looking.

via Lifehacker

Unfortunately I don't really know how to take advantage of this opportunity either.

Too many additional apparels nowadays to figure it out.

Example, do I need a Tonido plug or not? http://www.tonidoplug.com/

or here's an Amazon review saying the laptop has no E-sata port:

Quote
Great machine and a great value for the money but no eSATA port. The specs indicate at least one USB 2.0/eSATA combo port. Bought one last week at Office Max with the expectation that I would be able to directly connect my older eSATA external drive. No such luck. The computer does has a USB 3.0 port so I had to buy a BYTECC eSATA to USB 3.0 adapter from Amazon (which by the way works great) to retain the speed of the eSATA connection.

The machine is noticibly faster than my 6 month old i3-350 Toshiba. I will give it 5 stars because of the outstanding value even though the lack of a direct connect eSATA port was a small problem.

Stoic Joker

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2011, 08:35:36 AM »
A dell Vostro (basic business machine) with close to those specs shouldn't be to hard to get for around $500 if you get it without the monitor. If they just need Email an web (this is the "close to" part), go with a 32-bit OS and 2GB or RAM.

Avoid HP if at all possible (it never ends well), they tend to garbage up a machine with multimedia frills that break, and most of the parts are astronomically priced. I've yet to see an old one that somebody was still happy with (toaster level disposable).

app103

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2011, 09:42:56 AM »
A dell Vostro (basic business machine) with close to those specs shouldn't be to hard to get for around $500 if you get it without the monitor. If they just need Email an web (this is the "close to" part), go with a 32-bit OS and 2GB or RAM.

I have a Vostro...fantastic machine! I would recommend it to anyone that was looking for a PC and didn't want to build it themselves. They are built to last and Dell is willing to stand behind them for a long time, especially if you pay for the option of an extended warranty...much longer than most companies. That was part of the reason why I bought a Vostro.

Avoid HP if at all possible (it never ends well), they tend to garbage up a machine with multimedia frills that break, and most of the parts are astronomically priced. I've yet to see an old one that somebody was still happy with (toaster level disposable).

I have owned both a HP consumer grade PC (Pavilion a847c from tigerdirect) and a business class one (dc7600sff from geeks.com) and I will agree with you as far as the consumer grade ones goes. Not a good experience and it died a horrible premature death due to inferior parts that were made of plastic when they should have been metal. Not only that, but their software bundle they force on everyone really stinks, they install hidden crap that should not be on a pc without the user's knowledge and can cause problems (outdated versions of Python), and the CD burner they included wouldn't work with any software other than the outdated demo they provided in their crappy bundle. It didn't come with OS and drivers disks and instead had a restore partition.

I have been happy with the business class machine though. I am not sure if it was HP's doing (probably not) but the included software bundle was a good one that actually made sense (OpenOffice, AVG free, CD Burner XP, VLC, etc), had OS & driver disks instead of a restore partition, the burner works with up to date versions of popular burning apps, and the parts that should be metal, are.

I have purchased from Geeks before.  It looks like most of their stuff is refurbs, which in my opinion are too high priced for a slightly used computer as compared to a new one.

Yes, most of their stuff is refurbs, but they do also carry new stuff. My HP dc7600sff was not a refurb, was the same specs as this one, except that it also came with XP Pro, a keyboard, mouse, speakers and was $150 (over 1 yr ago). I repeat...it was new, not a refurb. Very nice little machine that was much better than the $800 consumer grade piece of HP junk that I had, with similar CPU/RAM specs.

Carol Haynes

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2011, 09:52:38 AM »
Try building from a barebones system upwards - all you have to add are CPU, Memory, HD and DVD drives plus an OEM version of Windows.

I have found I can build new machines very quickly and can make a reasonable profit charging similar prices to Dell and HP. Difference is my machines are higher spec: quadcore AMD CPU, 8Gb DDR3 RAM and 1Tb Hard disk. Comparably priced machines are usually dual core, 3 or 4 Gb, 0.5 Tb.

The other advantage is that I know exactly what has gone into the build.

A good barebones unit is ASUS V6-M4A3000E (about $140 US) which comes with case, PSU and motherboard with  integrated Radeon 3000 graphics and 7.1 surround sound. Ideal for office work or internet machine. You just plug in CPU and heatsink, memory and attach a hard disk and DVD drive (one SATA cable supplied and one PATA cable supplied with a few screws). Could do with a slightly more powerful PSU if you want to add a separate graphics card but is perfectly adequate as a standard build. Also runs near silent and cool. Windows 7 installs all hardware automatically so setup is quick and easy.

40hz

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2011, 01:01:02 PM »
There's a lot of good reasons for building a PC. But doing so primarily to come up with the lowest cost 'box o'chips' isn't one of them.

You may be able to offer your client better value at specific (usually $700 USD and up) price points. But once you go below that you really can't compete with volume OEMs. Especially when you consider a copy of Win7 costs them less than $40 per shipped machine.  

For that, the solution is to get a better quality low-end machine from one of the 'big boys' and judiciously upgrade and tune it for your client. I've had good luck with HP and Dell for that. Catch them on sale and you'll never be able to match their price for what you get.

Many of these inexpensive "business" machines work quite well once you clean out the crapware and do some performance tweaking. HP in particular benefits hugely from that. I have a client that just bought a few inexpensive HP biz desktops. Performance was meh despite having fairly powerful AMD multicores. Some driver and OS updates combined with wholesale crapware elimination turned these little guys into a pack of very sprightly workstations. Add in an inexpensive RAM upgrade plus some system tweaks, and now they almost sing!

Which further reinforces my conviction that on low to low/mid level hardware, setup and system maintenance are as (or even more) important than the hardware. This is where a small computer business can best add value.

You can't compete with the big OEMs on hardware or OS pricing. They can't compete with us for doing all the things you need to do to pull maximum performance out of the hardware. It's too time consuming for them. That's why they take the easy way out by cutting hardware prices to the bone; do the simplest (bordering on braindead) system setup imaginable; and boost revenues by collecting bounty payments for installing junk.

For them, it's all about volume. But for us it's all about performance and customer service.

To which I say: Vive la différence!  :Thmbsup:

« Last Edit: January 23, 2011, 01:15:51 PM by 40hz »

Ath

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2011, 01:14:52 PM »
You hit the nail right on the head, 40hz :Thmbsup:

40hz

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2011, 01:31:06 PM »
@Ath- Thx, but it's really nothing new when you think about it...

It worked for guitar boutiques for years. Start with a decent quality guitar like a Strat, then set it up correctly, actually finish the frets properly, and replace any cheap hardware or electronics with "the good stuff."

Coming out of one of these boutiques, a reworked ($1,200 factory list) Stratocaster will set you back somewhere around $2200. Which seems like a lot until you discover this reworked 'axe' now compares very favorably with $5000+ custom shop guitars. (IMO, they're often better sounding than the expensive custom-builts.)

PCs aren't all that much different. You have giants that only complete the first 90% of what they sell correctly.

Which leaves that highly visible remaining 10% of the task for us to profit from.  :D
« Last Edit: January 23, 2011, 02:52:11 PM by 40hz »

techidave

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2011, 04:41:41 PM »
Thanks for the tips.  some of them i was aware of and some of the stuff I wasn't.  After doing a quick search on the Asus system that Carol mentioned, it appears its not available in the US.  Asus motherboards are but not those type of barebone systems.  I can find Asus m/bs in a different case on Tiger Direct but those Power Up cases are not getting very good reviews.

Somebody correct me if I am wrong.

Carol Haynes

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2011, 05:34:38 PM »
I did a google search in the US and came up with a few - which is where I got the price from. Having said that I can't find it on the ASUS USA site.

This is the one I was looking at http://uk.asus.com/p...lkouN&templete=2

You can import them because they are dual power (but you might have to supply a power cable).

I was impressed with the BB because it has a nice looking case and the mobo has reasonable expandability and also has AT style keyboard and mouse connectors if you want to keep your USB ports free. It also worked out quite a bit cheaper than a mobo/case/psu bought separately.

4wd

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2011, 08:22:41 PM »
A good barebones unit is ASUS V6-M4A3000E (about $140 US) which comes with case, PSU and motherboard with  integrated Radeon 3000 graphics and 7.1 surround sound.

Nice Carol  :Thmbsup:

~AU$132 here - I'll have to remember to look for it next time someone asks me for a computer.  Always liked the way you fit practically AMDs entire CPU line into the same socket, (AM2, AM2+ and now AM3).  You could scale the processing power to the end requirement easily.

Carol Haynes

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2011, 04:02:10 AM »
Thanks - yes they are and pretty quick and cheap to set up from the bare bones package.

wraith808

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #21 on: January 24, 2011, 09:59:17 AM »
@techidave - I used to do this for clients, and got out of it, because the price of standard PCs is now quite a bit less.  I've even contemplated not building my family's computers other than mine, because unless you're concerned with performance, it's just not worth it.  There's also the added bit of getting support with your computer- helpful when I'm supplying my mom, since she can go to them first :)

techidave

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #22 on: January 24, 2011, 10:09:25 AM »
I understand wraith, but in this case I have client that I am not sure he knows how to purchase anything off the internet.  In this case it will be easier for me to buy it, mark it up some, and then set it up for him.

wraith808

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #23 on: January 24, 2011, 11:05:58 AM »
^ Watch that markup trap, though.   If at a later time he gets more tech-savvy, and sees the difference, he might not understand the value of the mark-up, and it might degrade the relationship.

... ask me how I know  :-\ ...

Stoic Joker

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Re: why is it so difficult to pick out a new computer?
« Reply #24 on: January 24, 2011, 11:21:39 AM »
I understand wraith, but in this case I have client that I am not sure he knows how to purchase anything off the internet.

Get their CC info and place the order for them (I've done this a few times in the past to save both ends some anguish)

In this case it will be easier for me to buy it, mark it up some, and then set it up for him.

I'm with wraith808 on this one ... easy to get burnt.