In the summer of 2004, I decided it was time to retire my old Dell and get a new computer. After looking around and considering a Dell, a Gateway and a few smaller shop products, I decided to build my own. I’m still using it, and it works like a charm.
Here are 6 reasons I rolled my own and why I’m glad I did:
1) I’m the neighborhood computer geek, yet I’d never built a computer from scratch. I sort of felt like a pretender. No more, and it was actually even easier than I thought it would be.
2) I am an Intel guy and all of the small shops tried to brow beat me into using an AMD chip. OK, maybe it’s hipper. Maybe even faster. But I wanted an Intel chip and now I have one.
3) I wanted many hard drives in a RAID array. Now Dell and probably others are offering RAID as an option, but they weren’t back then. Plus, by building one, I was forced to learn how RAID works, which helps a lot when a problem arises that needs to be fixed.
4) I wanted to create my own BIOS splash screen, with the name of my computer (KN-1- not very snazzy) and a picture of my kids on it. I make all of our friends watch my computer boot up when they’re over. One day, someone is going to be really impressed.
5) Upgradability. I can now change out any part of my system with newer parts and keep this computer cutting edge for a long time. I’ve changed the video card and the fans in my never ending search for quietness. When I need to I can switch out the motherboard, chip, etc. It is very hard to do that with a Dell or other commercial box.
6) Size and bays. Because I use my computer for making music and films as well as all the other stuff you use a computer for, I needed a tower- not a mini-tower. I have 6 hard drives (including 2 for music composing that are accessible from the front so I can take them out and carry them around), a card reader, 2 DVD burners, a crappy zip drive (never again) and a floppy drive (that I have used only during installation of the RAID drivers and the BIOS graphics), a Creative Audigy panel, some USB ports and a fan controller. There is no way I could get all of this into a Dell box.
In the past I have used computers from Micron, Dell, Compaq, HP, Fujitsu, IBM and a couple of no-names. Having built one and used it for over a year, I can honestly say I’ll never buy another pre-built desktop computer for my home office. Nothing beats a KN-1.