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Custom Computers Versus Off-The-Shelf Computers

A common question we encounter while providing IT services in Bozeman is whether to custom-build systems from parts. The basic idea is that if you start from the level of parts, you can design a system which is better suited to the exact things you’re doing, and it’s worth the extra time and effort because you can often get good deals on the parts.

On the other hand, you have to wonder just what all that time and effort is worth. And on some level, you have to think that when you walk into just about any electronics store, they have all these pre-configured and pre-assembled computers that could be up and running in a matter of minutes… instead of waiting several weeks for parts to be delivered, and spending hours putting them all together.

As you might guess, our computer technicians get to see both sides of this question. You see the people who are doing everything custom-built, and the people who are buying everything off the rack, and all the points in between. You also get to support both kinds of configurations, and see exactly what the real cost is for both options.

What shouldn’t surprise you, when you think about it, is the reality that you simply can’t get the same deals on parts that the big companies get. If you’re not buying thousands at once, you just can’t demand the lowest possible price on your components. Even when you add in a profit margin for the machine, the end cost is significantly lower than a custom job.

So the next question is, when someone providing computer repair in Bozeman needs to work on the machine – whether to upgrade it or to fix something that’s broken or failed – which one really comes in with a lower total cost of ownership (TCO)?

You might think that the custom machine comes in with a better review on this front, but in truth… the preconfigured system wins again. The machines you get off the shelf have usually been constructed with careful attention to things like system airflow, cable ties, and appropriate driver installation. In many cases, the custom system simply doesn’t have the same level of detailing, and the internals of the machine look almost like a bowl of spaghetti.

Another option which shouldn’t be overlooked is the warranty that comes with most off-the-shelf systems. When something goes wrong on a custom box, it’s often hard to know which component has caused it, which company provided it, and who is responsible to provide a replacement – if there’s even a warranty involved. Sometimes, the system doesn’t even have any warranty protection… and that’s why the components appeared to be such a good deal.

As they’ve been saying for decades, when something looks too good to be true… it probably is. It may look like a good deal to build your own machines from parts, but it’s a short-term savings, and you end up paying for it in the long run. Whether it’s finicky drivers, lack of warranty coverage, or just plain inconsistent performance, custom machines are almost always a liability in the end… not an asset.

If you are looking for knowledgable computer technicians in the Bozeman, Montana area please give Bigsky Computer Solutions a call at 406-579-1591 for consideration. We will be happy to speak with you about how we can better handle your business IT needs and possibly save you time and money.

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