PC Upgrade - Looking for advice


Over a year in, I’m still very happy with my Dell XPS system, which is the first fully pre-built main system that I’ve gotten in over 25+ years of PC gaming.

The whole “best” parts thing for PCs can easily bleed into the pseudo-superstitious nature of audiophiles. PCs are effectively digital systems. Yes, there are some differences by manufacturer and not all of part “X” are the same, but for the most part (e.g., 95%+) performance is the same. Durability/failure rate differences may exist, but I’m definitely in the camp of spend less and upgrade more frequently (e.g., a 2-3 year cycle) due to the very steep price curve for PC parts, as you approach the enthusiast end. I haven’t had a major part failure that I can recall, besides a power supply here or there because I kept transplanting them into new systems, for years.

My Dell was easily at least 40% off of the best I could do on PC pricepicker for the cheapest variants of the same parts, much less whatever I deemed to be the “best”. Do the pre-builds save cost by using cheaper components? Sure. But they also save costs by volume discounts, supply agreements, and saving on retail channel costs. Plus, for a volume manufacturer, you have the assurance that your specific mix of parts will play together well, which isn’t always a guarantee with a custom.

Overall, I’d say source your own parts if you’re trying to build a bleeding edge system. But if you’re going for mid-range, I good pre-built, at a sale price, is very, very hard to beat.


I’m frankly not sure what this means. This admittedly bleeds into the hobby budget thread that I started, but I can technically afford a whole lot of PC. That doesn’t mean I want to overpay. PC costs use to be more of a mega purchase, back in the day (after adjusting for inflation) but they’re not that big, nowadays.

For me, the limits are more of what extra % performance am I getting for my additional % spend. It’s not a dollar cap based on financial sacrifice.


I dunno, say you have a budget of $1,500, you start with the CPU, then a motherboard, etc etc until you’ve figured out the best balance between performance and price.


Really glad I bought some components of my new machine from Amazon. On my first build attempt, one RAM channel wouldn’t work and I narrowed it down to a couple slightly bent pins in the CPU socket. I tried to fix that with a sewing needle and completely jacked it up - anywhere else, I assume I would have to eat the cost of bent pins and buy another motherboard for $240.

With Amazon, just return it for replacement (you have a month to do it) and a new one is at your door in 2 days.


I was thinking the same thing. If someone doesn’t want to put on the time to figure out exactly what they want and why, then might as well go with “bucket o’ parts”. I probably spent 40 hours researching parts on my last build, but I enjoy that.


This is a bit of an aside, but where is that thread? That topic has always interested me, and I looked for it after I read this but could not find it (I looked at your post history).


You can go on a PC tech forum, start a thread that says “this is my budget and this is what I will use it for”, and people who live for this stuff will post an entire list of recommended parts. Then go to a store, add all those parts to cart, pay the fee to have them put it together, test it, and install windows (Brian paid a fair bit, which is fine, but you can get that for $150 AUD over here which translates to ~ $110 USD).

If you’re not willing to pay $110 USD to have parts put together and tested, then why even talk about pre-built machines where the margins are higher.

It’s really not that hard to do the above, you don’t need to do any research beyond which store has a good rep.


OK, fair enough, but that’s not what SlyFrog was talking about. They were talking about throwing in “random” parts.


It’s here: Spending $ on hobbies


Personally, I wouldn’t have gotten a pre-built if it cost more than putting it together myself. At least here in the states, it’s easy to find deals on pre-builts that are substantially cheaper than self-assembly.

My system is over a year old, but at the time I bought it for $800USD, it was a ridiculous deal: i7-7700, Radeon RX 580 8GB, 24GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB NVMe SSD, 1TB 7200 HDD.


My god, I even posted in it. Apparently I need more hobbies that help memory.

I tried running Warhammer 2 last night. It’s the first game that the load times literally made unplayable. But I’m wondering how much of that is the GPU (a 1050 or 1050 TI if I recall correctly - I’m away from the computer right now) and how much of it is the lack of having it on an SSD.


Ah, I see, fair enough. My only exposure to pre-builts are the marketed overpriced ones, and putting the parts together myself is half the fun of a PC upgrade for me so don’t pay much attention to the market.


It’s really what it comes down to. You put a value on your time, a value only you can assign, and there is no shame in whatever that value ends up being.

The last machine I built lasted 4 years. Im (obviously) not a hardcore gamer. This Christmas I’m replacing the internals. The only bits that are getting reused are the case, PSU, and optical drive. The rest is pretty much garbage due to advances in chipsets. Bit of a bummer, as the old i7 is still serviceable for lots of applications.

Anyhow, ammortized over 4 years, how much did I save making my own over a prebuilt? Maybe a nice dinner per year? But that wasn’t the point. I enjoyed the process.

I enjoy the process less now. For this build I’ve leaned pretty heavy on friends for advice, and we’ll see how much I enjoy the assembly.

Anywho, @SlyFrog, hope the above helps in the decision process. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. This stuff is so ephemeral.


Best of luck to you in that.


Sly - this is the only way I felt comfortable doing this. I remember when I dumped Newegg when returns became a chore. I don’t know how it is now there, but they were total jerks last time I had to deal with them.


BTW - as an aside - this build I just did. From “scratch” but also a Frankenstein build with the crazy # of drives, fans, and custom case that is the most unfriendly thing ever made cause I had no concern except shooting all hot air out the top when I designed it… was by far the easiest build I’ve ever done in my entire life.

  • It was also the easiest/best overclocking experience I’ve ever had in my life hands down.

  • It was also quite relaxing seeing everything boot right up, run quiet, and be so speedy.

The mix of Gigabyte Z390 Aurus Pro Gamer, Intel 9700k, 16 Gig of DDR4 mem (2 sticks of 8 so you have dual channel), and a Samsung 970 M.2 - it’s just been sublime so far. (I run at 5.1 GHz, all 8-cores, all the time). Surprisingly, it actually runs cooler than my old mobo/processor. I’m honestly not sure how that happened.


Ever see a Silverstone Fortress FT-02?


I hadn’t even heard of this CPU and I have been spending the last month reading about CPUs alot, so strange.


Oh, I’m not worried about assembly. I did it for a living in galaxy far far away.

In a weird coincidence, I recently visited a guy whom I’d built a machine for back in ‘07. It was still running, supporting some arcane software that only ran on XP. 11 years!


Haha major typo! 9700k