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Should I be buying workstations and servers from Dell/HP or build them myself?
What exactly are we paying these companies extra for?

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marked as duplicate by voretaq7 May 15 '14 at 16:05

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

There's a third option you left out: leasing. – dthrasher May 3 '09 at 2:27
Although it deals with servers, the "professional realm" answer for desktop systems is generally the same as the linked duplicate. – voretaq7 May 15 '14 at 16:06

It depends on the value of your time, and your exact needs. If your time is not a concern, or if you need something very specific, then build away. Otherwise, buying a complete, tested, supported system is probably a better move.

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Without a doubt, buy them already built. Your time is too valuable to waste building them. With Dell, HP, etc you'll get a standard, tested configuration and, more importantly, you'll get support in the form of someone to come out with spare parts to fix your server when things go wrong.

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You will find that when it comes to very cheap low-end configurations the prices from Dell/HP/etc are very competitive because of the remorseless competition at this level.

But as soon as you start creating a high-end system they make big margins. Upgrading with extra memory, graphics card and hard drives and the will notice price soon skyrockets. Completely out of proportion to the cost of the components themselves. So my advice...

If you want cheap commodity level machines then they are a good source. For high-end machines then they are very expensive and you can save alot of money buying the components and putting them together yourself.

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What exactly are we paying these companies extra for?

Warranty and tech support. The value of the time spent to assemble them.

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If you're doing this at any kind of large scale, you'll probably want to buy, if for no reason other than the fact that you might want support down the line if a lot of issues start popping up.

For personal use, though, I always build. As far as geek pleasures go, there's nothing like knowing exactly how tight each screw is fastened in your system and how many of each port/slot you have available. Beyond that, there's the fact that you are able to choose each and every component to best suit your needs, and you're the one who makes the decision on where to skimp. Once you choose your parts, build your machine, and start using and upgrading it, it really becomes your "baby" in much the same way a lovable car or pet would. I always find that hand-built machines, even one's that aren't mine, have a certain "soul" that you just don't get in a Dell or HP.

As for the time argument, it only takes on the order of an hour to build a system anyway, so I don't think there's any reason for people on this site not to.

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You're paying for support for your parts until the server is EOL'ed. If under warranty, they come onsite to exchange the fault part and replace with another one (I won't say it's a new one).

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Systems for myself I always build from components, but that's because I'm picky about exactly what components go into my systems. Systems for people who don't care about performance I'll sometimes purchase pre-built, but just as often I'll build it myself. (I enjoy the work.) For my own machines, I will normally go for higher-end memory, a CPU that is at the peak of performance per dollar, a carefully chosen motherboard, and so on. This is significantly more expensive to purchase relative to the low-end machines.

I am completely comfortable supporting myself should any problem arise, and in any case I am more likely to be able to support myself than most companies are.

People who are not so comfortable supporting themselves -- and businesses who have different needs than I do as an individual -- pay for warrantee and support as much as for the hardware. Also, when you're a corporation, you want a collection of cookie-cutter identical machines to ease support. It's also easier to let someone else assemble them when talking about the numbers a corporation might use.

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Service. When the hardware fails, make sure you can have them there and replacing it for you with working stuff within a day. Dell has always been good with me for this.

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