Site that makes gaming computers for anywhere near cost of components?

I’m not incredibly cheap. I don’t mind paying people for their labor.

At the same time, most of the sites I have seen that build gaming computers seem to want to charge you $1,500 for parts that are worth $800-1,000 (if that, as you rarely know the specific brands, memory, etc. that they are using).

Has anyone had good luck with a place that will actually charge the hundred or two hundred dollar premium that their hour of labor to put the thing together is worth?

If you think all it takes to put together a computer is one hour, (and I’m trying to be polite here), you’re off your rocker.

When I build a machine for a client, there’s typically one to two hours invested in hardware assembly, since I always test on the workbench before assembling in the chassis. Windows installation itself can be done in as little as 30 minutes these days, but then you’ve got the various utilities, drivers, Windows updates, and freeware that need to be installed, which adds at least another hour or two, depending on how much stuff the client wants.

Then throw in system optimization, tweaking, and final burn-in, and the total bill for labor can be upwards of 6 to 8 hours. Add up to 4 more hours if they’re getting sleeved cables and lighting, or and additional software.

Obviously, the assembly line shops and Dells of the world might only spend two hours start to finish building a machine, but if you’re ordering from a boutique, you better respect the hard work and attention to detail that goes into a custom gaming rig.

The problem is, these guys aren’t doing those things.

I don’t want Dell because I don’t want junk. I’m not asking for something custom built requiring system optimization, etc. I’m asking for an “assembly” line system that has an 8800 GPU in it as opposed to an onboard piece of junk. I’m happy to select a “packaged” computer, I’m just looking for one that has actual gaming components instead of onboard everything, 300W power supply, etc.

So they can be done much more quickly, they’re not making the computer “special” for me, regardless of what they say.

In any event, it is all fairly irrelevant to my basic question (it was my mistake for even talking about how long it takes them to do it).

Is there a reputable place where I can buy a computer containing $800-1,000 of parts for a smaller markup than the typical $500-1,000 I keep seeing?

Why not buy a barebones system and build it to your spec? It’s fairly cheap, and would have exactly what you want. No warranty but no associated cost of one either. If you order enough hardware from most places you can even buy the OEM version of Windows that you want.

Retailers always want a mark up. Always. Sounds like you don’t want to pay that, so from someone who’s done it for years, you should try rolling your own once. It’s much easier than you might think.

Also Machfive, don’t forget that even mid sized shops image the PC’s. That takes down the install time a bit, and prevents a few problems along the way (typos, clicking the wrong button, etc.) Most of the boutiques are now owned by the big boys anyway.

CyberPower has a good rep and seems to charge a fair price for most components. That said, you’re always gonna do better shopping for individual components, since you’ll always be able to take advantage of sales, rebates, etc. that way.

I was happy with the system I got from Cyberpower, but be warned that they are sloooooooooow. It was easily a month from when I made my order to when I actually got it.

Yeah, I’ve actually made my own in the past, just don’t want to go through the hassle of doing it again.

However, avoiding the hassle is worth $100-200, not $500-1,000, so it looks like I’m going to have to bite the bullet and do it myself.

I will take a look at Cyberpower first though. Does anyone else find it humorous that waiting for something for a month in the computer world probably is worth a hundred or two hundred dollars total on some computers just in the depreciation?

That’s fair enough, I assumed you were talking about shops that actually put the work into a machine. What are some of the sites you’ve run across that were rip-offy?

I keep wavering between my desire for the convienience of getting a no-worries system and the savings of doing it myself.

I can put a system together and have it up and running an OS with all my drivers installed in 2-3 hours assuming no bullshit. I’d value my time spent doing this at around $80-100.

However, if shit hits the fan it can end up taking several hours of time to track down the problem, and the weeks spent RMAing stuff is a huge hassle. The last system I built had some issues with defective RAM, and I probably wasted 9-10 hours with it plus several weeks of waiting on RMAs. Costwise that was completely not worth it.

If there was a shop where I could get a $1,000 component-cost computer put together, tested, and shipped to me for say, $1,200, I think I’d jump on that. I don’t see that happening though, so I’ll continue rolling my own for now.

The last time I upgraded, I went to a local place that charged me a whopping $15 to assemble the computer with no OS.

One issue is that a company building a PC for you has to support that PC. If you buy the components for a system, you’re expected to troubleshoot/support yourself. So they not only figure in the cost of labor, but also the fact that you’re getting a system warranty and tech support as well.

And though a small number of users will actually use support, they have to spread those costs out among all users. It’s like car insurance in that respect.

One of the companies I work with has bought most of their equipment from Ava Direct and seem to be pretty happy with them. I haven’t used them personally.

That’s a fair point, provided that the site doesn’t tack on extra cash for the warranty anyway (or disclaim or give a 30 day warranty).

And just to augment this information, if a site uses an OEM version of Windows (which they probably will because it’s significantly cheaper) then MS makes them 100% responsible for supporting said Windows. That can be a lot of money, particularly if your clients aren’t very knowledgeable.

I just got a new system from Mwave this weekend. They charge $80 on for assembly, and they have great part prices overall (often comparable to newegg). The quality of the build was excellent, and even the packing of the computer itself was top notch. I actually used to use them for all my machines back in the 90’s, but when I moved to California I stopped using them because I’d have to pay sales tax, which I realize now was a mistake since even with tax my build came out cheaper from them than any other place I could find. Plus I got the machine in a few days, which was a pleasant surprise after waiting a month or more for other builders in the past.

Here’s what I had built from Mwave just last week with the prices so you can compare. I actually went a little overboard with the PS and MB to keep the option of later going SLI open, so this build could easily come in a couple of hundred less with a non-SLI MB and smaller PS.


INTEL CORE 2 QUAD Q6600 $271.00

PATRIOT PDC22G6400LLK 2GB KIT (1GB x 2) $101.75



(^This case rocks, worth every penny)


WD 150GB RAPTOR WD1500ADFD 10000RPM 16MB SATA-150 3.5" (Retail) $257.40




I get almost 12,000 3dmarks and I haven’t even OC’d the thing yet (with the massive cooler the CPU idles around 20C, so I think this rig should OC very nicely). Bioshock under DX10 with all options high I am usually getting around 60 fps with rare dips to as low as 30 (at 1280x1024, the next upgrade is a widescreen monitor now that I have the pixel pushing power to back it up).

With an OS (I had vista installed and to minimize any risk in adopting vista I slapped in my old XP hard drive so I can boot form either if I need to) shipping and tax I ended up spending a little over $2100. On most gaming computer sites that I checked out this would have been $3K+.

Yeah, I’ve been looking at mwave and it seems pretty awesome. Velocity Micro is another decent choice.

Thanks for the tip. This is pretty cool.

When we upgraded a short while ago, I built one machine, mine, and ordered my wife’s from Ava Direct. The cost of them building it was reasonable–something like a couple hundred bucks or so over the component costs. Build quality was very very good, with excellent cable management, etc. Sadly, the mobo croaked in a weak and UPS picked it up yesterday for its journey back to Ohio for fixin’. Same mobo I used too in my build, but I guess it’s always a crapshoot.

But their support people were good and courteous. The only downside other than that bad mobo (which can happen with any build) was it took three weeks from order to delivery, but again, not that uncommon. Newegg got me my parts in three days, add another for construction and the DIY route was a lot faster.

VM’s good, but I wouldn’t exactly call them “budget-oriented.” I’d say they sit somewhere between the low-priced mass-market vendors (i.e., Dell, Gateway, etc.) and the grossly overpriced boutique vendors (i.e., Alienware, Voodoo, etc.)