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How Much Does It Cost To Build A Desktop Computer

For those with either special requirements or else wanting certain components going into a desktop unit, building the system yourself can definitely save on money. Specifying the parts out can too result in a higher quality system that potentially outlasts a pre-built.

Desktop Options & Component Pricing

Outlining what the system will take will help determine the total cost being spent. But a basic no frills desktop can be put together for as little as $550 and just a couple hundred dollars more can boost performance & build quality substantially.

  • Do It Yourself Custom Builds - when shopping parts, one way to reduce costs is to shop select parts outlets. For example, Microcenter, who has been known to offer price match guarantees (requires approval) along with certain combo deals, like discounts for pc builders on purchasing motherboards and processors at the same time for an approximate $30 off. But they are just one.

    Case: low end cases start at around $35 that accomodate an ATX configuration. Better cases, such as the Antec P280 for example, roughly at $120 has (6) right angle drive bays & (3) fans along with cable routing and noise deadening features. Also, some quality cases can be used the second time around, thus saving over the price of new at that time. Though keep in mind that many motherboards now set the connectors around the outer perimeter that may cramp old case setups.

    Power Supply: more reputable power supplies can last months and years beyond lesser power sources. A 120,000 hour rated power supply may cost $110 or so but at the same time, in all fairness, these too are known to fail. Noting that many power supplies that ship internal to the case are a weak spot for many pc builds. Some power supplies are equipped with detachable connectors at the base, making a re-install much easier and less time consuming.

    Cooling Fans: many cases end up having fan slots unused. Adding extra fans is an inexpensive line item that can prolong the life and performance of hardware components by guarding against heat. Most 120 mm case fans cost $12 to $30 with some cheaper yet these are installed in about a moment inside the yet-to-be-loaded, stock case.

    Motherboards/Processors/RAM: most motherboards fall in the $110 to $250 range, but some do cross $500 and then some. An Asus Z87 is near $240 endowed with Tuf components and a claimed five year warranty. For processors, a most basic Intel dual core starts near $75 though Intel Quad core intro level processrs begin at about $200 and rise depending on requirements (some contain HD graphics). AMD's are overall much less expensive, for example, the AMD a4-4000 Richland Dual-Core is only about $45 while they also offer a 12 core at under $175 like the AMD A10-7850 Kaveri but actual performance comparisons will vary with that of Intel. RAM has become relatively inexpensive, about $85 for 2x4 GB DDR3.

    Drives - popular with many bare bones systems is the specification of a moderate quality hard drive. Popular is the Western Digital Blue 500 GB 7100 RPM that costs close to $60, with the WD Black Cavier less than twenty dollars more. For more on hard disk drives and solid state drives.

    Video Cards - except for intense applications like gaming, image or video processing and perhaps large screen viewing - decent DDR3 PCI express graphics cards are now priced at under $140, under of course many DDR5 cards. The GT 640 video card is known for providing great performance for the investment with some right around $100 depending on brand label.

    Sound Cards: - onboard sound is common unless speakers are planned for home theatre or gaming, that would surpass onboard capabilities. PCI Sound cards, for 7.1 channels are roughly around $75. An alternative could be a motherboard with an optical connection for playing direct through a nearby hi-fi system.

    Controllers: - like the Asus Thunderbolt PCI expansion card (Asus boards) achieve faster transfer speeds (up to 10 GB) given the approximate $80 investment.

    Keyboard/Mouse: - both are around $30 for bottom line wired devices. These can exceed $300 for when combining mechanical gaming keyboards and mice. For more on the keyboard and mouse.

    CD/DVD Players: - prices have plummeted so, that OEM DVD players can be had for a paltry $15 for a 16X or 24X. For Blue Ray, expect an extra charge of perhaps $40 to $75 depending on speed and brand.

    Software: a typical Windows 7 or 8.1 operating system will run $100 to $140 depending on Home or Pro version. For Microsoft Office applications, those on a tight budget might want to consider free apps like LibreOffice that operates similar to Microsoft Office suite, or even Google Apps. Firewall & antivirus software aside.

  • Build To Order Systems - quotes from builders normally include an itemized sum of each item at retail amounts, which may or may not be padded pricing. They also may tack on a modest "build fee" of about $40 to $75 or more which is listed on a quotation. But costs being charged can swing vastly from one builder to the next, as much as 40% to 70% and higher for the same or a similar configured system. An $1,100 system by one builder/parts supplier may transtate to starting prices of over $1,800 by another "premium" builder, sometimes assembling the unit in their own branded case - apparantly taking advantage of the high-priced custom build mindset that has taken root within many consumers.

  • System Builds By Predetermined Spec - these are featured systems, that profile common customer requests. Predetermined specs offer the advantage of providing a starting point for the customer to go by, that could be at somewhat reduced price points. To illustrate, $600 can purchase a system housing an Intel Core i3 3.4 GHZ dual core processor in combination with an Asus motherhboard & a Crucial 120 GB solid state drive, 4 GB Kingston DDR3 Ram along with a keyboard, mouse and micro ATX minitower at Dalco Electronics. Just one example.

Other Purchase-Value Considerations

Dependability and longevity can result when specifying higher grade or more reputable parts and components - instead of reburbished or recertified parts - assuming one has the wherewithal. That can potentially lower effective costs of operation during longer periods.

Testing the computer prior to actually putting it to use - the burn-in process, as it is known, can flush out any questionable parts that happen to have been assembled. Having this done or doing yourself can save on downtime and aggravation.

The "time to build" - especially if the desktop is needed soon - can be reduced by finding larger parts inventories. By simply questioning order takers live as to their available stock, before the time of purchase, snags can be avoided that might otherwise delay the shipment and thus result in a shorter build cycle.

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