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Which Computer Brand Is Best?

We see just about every brand of computer in our repair shop. HP, Dell, Compaq, Sony, you name it. We are often asked which name brand is best, but really the answer is that none of them are. The best computer to buy is a custom built or clone.

Here is the problem... every major computer manufacturer uses at least some proprietary parts. That means that you can not replace those parts with anything other than parts from the original manufacturer. Most computer shops and individuals can not buy those parts from the manufacturer and must pay ridiculous prices to by them from other vendors on the internet. One good example is power supplies. Desktop computers have a power box inside that converts the 110 volt current from the wall plug to lower voltages in the computer to run the drives and fans. A typical power supply costs about $40, but for some Dell models that use a proprietary power supply, you may pay as much as $90 for it online and wait three days to get it. We have had situations where a motherboard went bad in a computer and the most cost effective way to fix the problem was to build a new computer in a new case using parts stripped from the old computer because the replacement proprietary motherboard was so expensive and a standard motherboard would not fit in the non-standard case. With a custom built system, you get all standard parts that can be replaced at your local CompUSA or Fry's.

The biggest advantage a clone or custom built computer has over the name brands is that you can typically work with the builder to configure a system that meets your needs exactly. No wasting money on fancy components you will never use. Only include the things you need. So if you don't need a 250GB hard drive, you can get a smaller one and use that money to increase the memory. Will you really use the memory card reader? If not, put that money in your pocket.

Another issue with the big name brands is the service after the sale. In many cases, all the phone support is handled from over seas by people reading from a script. Have a local computer shop build your custom computer system and you will have local service, usually with a more personal touch.As always, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.

Posted by Charles Swihart on 9/1/2005

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