Build or Buy a new computer?

People often ask about what kind of PC to buy for video editing. I’m a firm believer in building your own PC. This is the only way to be sure of what you’re getting. If you can’t build you own, the buy from a builder like that use standard parts that you can upgrade yourself later. I recently built myself a new Hex Core system for video editing. I have a very simple formula: Buy an Intel processor with an Intel motherboard using the memory that Intel recommends for that motherboard and you can’t go wrong. The result is a system that Intel has actually tested for you and so you know it’s just gonna work. This time around I didn’t like options on the Intel motherboard so I went with ASUS. Because bought a processor and memory that SUS recommended, my system is extremely stable. In fact, it’s the most stable system I have ever built. A simple yet effective strategy.

Why can’t I just buy a Dell?

Let me warn you about what Dell does. They have a history or making parts that only fit into their PC’s so that you have to buy replacement parts from them. That’s right, they have their motherboards and power supplies specially designed to be non-standard and thus not upgradeable so that you have to buy replacement parts from Dell. These power supplies cost 2x what a normal one would cost. It is a huge rip-off! But it doesn’t stop there. They advertise that their computer comes with standard parts like the Creative Audigy 2 sound card but they don’t advertise too loudly that some features have been disabled to make it cheaper. In the one that I purchased years ago, they removed the MIDI support from the Audigy card! That might not be a big deal for you but my primary reason for buying the card was because I’m a musician who plays MIDI keyboards so that was quite a showstopper for me. They also disabled the digital input or output (I forget which). Then they sold me an nVidia GeForce 2 GTS graphics card with only half the memory of the retail version. Another Dell cost cutting measure.

So Dell has name brand peripheral makers like nVidia and Creative make special cards with disabled features just for Dell and they sell them as if they are the equivalent of the retail version. Beware. This is very deceptive marketing and I would never buy from Dell again.

Finally, I followed the instructions on the Dell web site on how to upgrade my Dell 8100 from Windows Me to Windows XP. They provided programs and drivers and BIOS upgrades and everything. Then when I called Dell for support, the first question they asked was, “Did you buy Windows XP from us?”. When I told them I had bought it locally, they informed me that they could not help me since they did not sell me the operating system. End of conversation.

So if you buy a PC from Dell. You must like this type of deception and abuse. Buy from custom builder or you can build your own cheaper and have better quality parts.

Footnote: I wrote this article before I moved to Mac. If you’re a PC user I would still recommend building your own so that you know what you are getting. After purchasing a 2008 Mac Pro and seeing the quality of the workmanship that went into building it, I was sold that buying Apple hardware was worth every penny and now I only buy Mac’s. Your milage may vary. 😉


About John Rofrano

John Rofrano is a Senior VASST Trainer and the author of Instant ACID, a book on Sony ACID Pro software, from CMP Books. He is also the developer of Ultimate S Pro, Vegas Pro Production Assistant, Mayhem, and other software plug-ins including the FASST Apps for Sony Vegas Pro NLE software. John has been a performing musician, singer, songwriter for over 40 years, and programmer and computer architect for the past 28 years. He is also a forum moderator at the Creative COW.