Written by Defcronyke Webmaster on 2011-07-12
This article is about Tower PCs (more commonly referred to as Desktop Computers).
If you are more interested in Laptops, check out the sister article:
PC Laptops Can Be High-Quality Too.
There are some common misconceptions amongst consumers these days with regards to purchasing new computers. I regularly hear people saying they opted to buy a popular brand of non-PC computer because they wanted to get the highest quality hardware, or the best value for their money.
It's true that most non-PCs come built with the highest-quality hardware, but that doesn't mean you can only have an affordable high-quality computer if it's a non-PC. It may come as a surprise to many consumers, but much of this high-quality hardware they speak of is also available for building into PCs, and it's quite a bit cheaper than the non-PC vendors would like them to believe.
Like it or not, when you buy a popular brand of anything in this world, you are paying extra for the "privilege" of putting their corporate logo on your things, so they are using you as paid advertising. Only you're not the one who's being paid (unless you're talented and lucky enough to be sponsored). You should not be paying extra for this great advertising service which you are providing to these companies, rather, they should be hiring you and paying you for providing that kind of service.
Sometimes going with a certain brand can give you access to things that aren't available (or affordable) with any other brand. This leads to another widespread misconception amongst consumers, which is that they think their non-PC computer is the only kind that can do X or Y, or serve some particular purpose. Well, a PC can run a combination of windows and Linux/BSD, either on their own, or all at the same time, and with that combination of operating systems there's pretty much nothing you can't do that you could on a non-PC. Almost everything found only on a non-PC has some equivalent program for the PC that does the exact same thing, and sometimes they are even capable of using the same file formats.
A third misconception is that their non-PC is better because it's flashier. Clearly those consumers have never tried Linux. It looks almost the same as a non-PC operating system, only there aren't so many control panelish windows full of tons of tiny icons that you need to go through to set things up. Linux is free, it enables you to do more things for free than any other operating system, mainly due to the GNU Project, and many free production-quality programs work better on Linux than on a non-PC operating system. It's true that a non-PC might have a default theme that looks more visually stunning than Linux, but no-one's stopping you from using whatever theme you want. The reason a Linux-based operating system doesn't default to a really graphic-heavy theme is because it takes more RAM to display pretty themes, and people who like free operating systems usually want to get the best performance by spending the least amount of money.
I will now show you how you can buy all the parts you need to build a really high-quality PC that is comparable to a popular high-quality non-PC, and still have enough money left over to hire someone to build it for you. You will notice that it is significantly cheaper than a non-PC equivalent.
This is an Intel Xeon 2.66GHz system with 2 processors and a total of 12 CPU cores (24 cores if you count hyperthreading), with 8GB of server-grade RAM (can support up to 144GB), a really fast 1TB hard drive, great dedicated video and audio hardware, dual gigabit network interfaces, and a fast Blu-Ray/DVD/CD writer.
All parts listed below are available for home delivery. If you don't know anyone who can build a computer for you, simply call some local computer shops, and I'm sure at least one of them will be willing to do it for you for a reasonable price. If no shops will do it, look for some independent IT contractors, they'll be happy to help you.
Now on to the parts... (prices are in Canadian dollars)
Non-PC Quality PC
$149.96 + $38.19 shipping
Intel Xeon X5650 Westmere
$1,079.99 + $7.74 shipping
Kingston 8GB DDR3 1333
$143.99 + $9.99 shipping
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB
$87.99 + $10.74 shipping
ATI FirePro V5800 1GB 128-bit GDDR5
$404.99 + $10.74 shipping
Creative Sound Blaster
$149.99 + $11.49 shipping
ASUS Z8PE-D18 Dual Intel Xeon
$449.99 + $14.19 shipping
LG Super Multi with LightScribe
$94.99 + $7.24 shipping
Antec TPQ-1200 1200W
$279.99 + $14.99 shipping
$199.99 + $6.99 shipping
Subtotal for all Hardware and Software:
Example Tax (ON HST 13%):
Total for all Hardware and Software:
A comparable non-PC system that's fairly popular these days retails for about $4999.99 before tax, which is $5649.90 when you add 13% HST.
Any reasonable computer shop or independent IT contractor should be able to build your system for under $250 if you provide the parts. If you need to hire someone to build this high-quality PC for you, the total cost for everything should be about: $5065.95.
To be honest, this price is a bit of an overestimation, because it assumes separate shipping costs for each individual item you buy, when in reality most parts can be bought from the same store. If you buy that much stuff all at once there will probably be some shipping discounts.
So if you buy the non-PC Quality PC system instead of a popular non-PC alternative, you will be saving about $583.95. An 11% markup just for access to a certain operating system and a flashy case with a giant logo hardly seems worth it to me. I don't know about you, but for me that is a lot of money to pay for little to no extra benefit.
This is just one example of a really high-quality PC that most people probably can't afford, but the savings are proportionately similar when comparing cheaper PC and non-PC systems.
I make no guarantees that this system recipe will work in any way at all, or that the parts will be compatible, but it will probably work, and if you don't believe me just show the part list to someone who is qualified to build computers. They should be able to verify that the non-PC Quality PC system will work. You have been warned. Prices listed might occasionally be out of date.
Did this article save you some money? Toss me a few bucks from your savings if you're feeling generous.