“Show me any model of Mac, and I guarantee I can build a PC of superior specifications for a fraction of the money. And that's the bottom line. Why pay Apple's ripoff prices for under-specced hardware when you can put together superior, highly-customisable hardware yourself for 'peanuts'...
White box PC
One of the biggest advantages of assembling your own PC called a 'white box' PC is one of cost. Doing so can often be the cheapest way to get a computer, or offer a bigger bang for the buck. Albeit not always...
On one hand you're not paying for assembly, but on the other hand you're not getting any bulk buying discounts the large manufacturers will be getting in that you're only buying one of each. As such, check prices before assuming. Not forgetting to include the cost of the OS and any ancillary bundled software. And if the difference is negligible, ask yourself, is it really worth the hassle?
It's not that difficult, it has to be said. Many do this for the simple enjoyment of doing so. Okay, you'll need to know what parts are compatible with each other, but as long as you know what you're doing, the actual assembling should be straightforward. The hassle comes when it doesn't go according to plan.
What if you've stuck it all together and it just doesn't work? What bit is it that's causing the problem? Or what if there's a niggling issue that's not quite right? Say for example, there's a problem with the graphics. Who ya gonna call? You call the graphics card manufacturer, they tell you it's an issue with the motherboard you got. You call the motherboard manufacturer, they say it's probably a Windows bug. You call Microsoft, they say it's probably a graphics card driver issue. So now what? Ghostbusters? (sorry, had to get that in)
Contrast that with a pre-built PC; if it doesn't work , you go to the PC manufacturer and insist they sort it out. That's what you paid them for. Simple.
Okay, that's probably a nightmare scenario. But don't let anyone ever tell you home-builds are risk free. They're not.
However, there is a 3rd option. There are hundreds of independent PC specialists who will assemble a PC for you from off the shelf parts. They might be a little more expensive than doing it all yourself, but at least they're (hopefully) knowledgeable, and if it goes wrong, it's up to them to sort it out... just so long as they're reputable and still around to do so.
As opposed to a Mac?
Okay, so that's the hardware. Pre-built PC vs. DIY built PC. But when it comes to DIY built PC vs. Mac, there are some significant further considerations. For instance, all the big bullet-point specifications for bargain basement prices ain't gonna mean squat if you want to run OS X without jumping through any hoops. That's pretty much the point of a Mac. Of course how important that is to you, only you can say.
See reason 3 for a closer look at what else you're paying for when you buy a Mac.
So in summary...
...quite simply, this comes down to priorities. If cost is your overriding concern, you enjoy the 'tinkering' with computer hardware, and you have the knowledge to do so, then the DIY PC makes a case that is hard to ignore. But if you want the polish and qualities of tight integration that a Mac gives you, not least of which is the ability to run Mac OS X, then for all practical purposes, you'll have to forgo the DIY option and hand over your cash. That's just he way it is.
Page content last updated 11 September 2010