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  1. #1
    Network Hub Rath's Avatar
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    Opinions on system builders (UK)

    Hello all.

    First off, I'd like to clarify that I'm not entirely put off the idea of building a machine myself, however my confidence in my own abilities isn't all that high.*

    In the event that I decide to buy a pre-built machine, I've narrowed it down to one of four companies**, and I'm looking for people's opinions, both pro and con about each, based on experience of dealing with them and from eyeballing their websites.

    Scan
    Pro:
    -Of the four, Scan are the only ones I've had any actual dealings with, just ordering the odd small item here and there. So far they've not sent me anything faulty and the delivery times have been prompt as hell.
    Con:
    - They don't stock BitFenix cases, and I quite like the look of them in comparison with other cases.
    - Some components seem unnecessarily overpriced. Not that there's any way I'd actually consider getting power supply cables in a colour other than standard black, but if I was there's no way in hell I'd pay 75 extra quid for it.

    Cyberpower
    Pro:
    - Prices seem decent.
    Con:
    - Their website design makes my eyes hurt.

    PC Specialist

    I don't think I've actually heard of them until now and therefore have no knowledge of their quality.

    Overclockers
    Pro:
    - Big range of BitFenix cases, which I like.
    - Seem decently priced.

    Anybody have a machine built by any of these companies, or had positive/negative expereineces with any of them for any reason?

    *For instance, I'm aware through various reviews/videos that people have great difficulty getting a GTX 780 Ti to fit in a BitFenix Mini ITX case, the card being longer than the case itself, and the thought of customising the case to get the card mounted vertically fills me with a nameless dread.

    **Not even considering Alienware. Nothing against Dell as a company, my Windows Tablet is a Dell and it's fantastic quality, but the number of available choices for components on their system builder is far too limited for my liking.
    "Men shall never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." - Diderot

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Honest question. Can you do lego models? If you can do 8-10+ lego you can build a PC. I know nothing about the builders other than they are expensive, sorry.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
    http://playingitwrong.wordpress.com/

  3. #3
    Lesser Hivemind Node frightlever's Avatar
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    Most everyone seems to use these guys for picking parts and checking on compatibility by looking at completed builds. I think it's in the DNA of gaming to build your own system but if you absolutely don't want to then either Scan, Overclockers or Cyberpower should be fine, insofar as I've not heard anything particularly negative about them.

    My niece bought a pre-built Cyberpower system, via Amazon, last year and I looked it over for her. Seemed fine and not much more expensive than you'd pay for the parts (system builders get a discount on Windows making a DIY build start from around 40-50 quid in the hole before you really save money), though they didn't use the same PSU and RAM, for instance, that I might have. You'll pay a premium, obviously, on a custom build.

    If you're using Cyberpower to pick the parts and they're happy enough to accept the build job, then you should be fairly happy that you could just buy the parts yourself and slot them together inside twenty minutes, tops, and then install a fresh, clean, un-tainted with adware crap, OS onto it.

    There is a question about support if something goes wrong. If a miscellaneous part in your DIY build is crapping out, you could lose hours of your life trouble-shooting it. OTOH, that's my idea of fun.

  4. #4
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    While I've never had a pre-built from Overclockers I usually order my computer parts there and frequent their forums. They have a reputation for good customer service and I would personally feel confident buying a complete system from them.

  5. #5
    Lesser Hivemind Node sinomatic's Avatar
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    Have you considered Chillblast? I got my last two rigs from them and found them cheaper than OCUK, plus they have a decent warranty within the price. Last I looked they had bitfenix cases too, but they'd likely get you anything you wanted anyway (within reason) if you ask them, as I did.

    PCspecialist I used about 6 or so years back and they were good too, they would have probably been my 2nd pick. I've heard variable things about cyberpower builds but it's all hearsay so that's probably not much use, but I can't stand their website regardless. As I said, I found overclockers to be overpriced, in what I was looking at getting at least. Scan I don't know much about as system builders, though I've heard pretty decent things about them in general.

  6. #6
    Lesser Hivemind Node stoopiduk's Avatar
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    I spent a great deal of time looking around those exact sites for the PC I wanted, most seemed to go for lower-level PSUs or slower RAM than I was aiming for, or had weird cases with alien genitalia/bright ugly panels/ LEDs all over them.

    I spent around 1000 on my PC and believe the rig I wanted was about 20% more expensive pre-built, so if you have a friend who is comfortable putting the thing together for you, it's well worth the tip/pizza/beer to get them to help you out.

    Just a small warning, but I bought an overclocked mobo/ram/proc/heatsink bundle from OCUK.

    The main reason I did this was to avoid the fiddle of paste and installing a heatsink, but it turns out it didn't come assembled. The units all come benchtested to check the overclocked processor is OK, I thought that meant it would be put together, but that's not the case.

    That said, their customer service was faultless, the items all came well packaged and were delivered promptly. It's absolutely my fault for not checking whether the bundle came in one piece and I got a good deal on a decent processor and board, so all was well really.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    Honest question. Can you do lego models? If you can do 8-10+ lego you can build a PC. I know nothing about the builders other than they are expensive, sorry.
    Agreed. It's worth taking the plunge and trying for yourself. Trawl YouTube and watch someone build a PC from beginning to end, you'll see there's not much to it. I've been building PCs for many years and absolutely love it nowadays. The satisfaction you'll get out of putting the thing together yourself is worth the first time nerves.

  8. #8
    Network Hub Colonel J's Avatar
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    Seconded on the recommendation for OCUK's CPU/Motherboard/RAM bundles if you do decide to do your own build.

    On suppliers, OCUK have the best selection of most components but generally aren't the cheapest, though their weekly and daily deals are worth keeping an eye on. Buying a whole system worth of components from them could easily add 10% to the total cost compared with shopping around, which isn't insignificant. Also they don't have free delivery, which most other places do if you spend above the minimum. I look at OCUK to see what's available and then shop around to ebuyer, Scan, Novatech and Amazon. Sometimes OCUK wins on product range though.


  9. #9
    Activated Node Samsonite's Avatar
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    I would definitely recommend self-building - it is easier than ever. If you can get a friend to help then it may give you more confidence.

    I've used Ebuyer for the past 12 years - prices seem to be better than anywhere else, but the stock changes a lot so you may not for instance find the case you want (but they have plenty).

  10. #10
    Network Hub Rath's Avatar
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    Been doing some more browsing at Overclockers, and this is my starting point for building it by myself so far:

    "Men shall never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest." - Diderot

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    I'd recommend a GTX 970 instead of the 980. Almost as powerful, MUCH cheaper.

  12. #12
    Network Hub sendmark's Avatar
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    I got an oc mobo/processor bundle from Scan and put the rest in myself from various places using pc part picker. This has worked well for me and cost-wise it was pretty marginal between the bundle and selfbuilding those parts, even when checking components across all the sites above.

    Yes most of the system is just like basic lego, particularly RAM and GFX, and I would definitely recommend getting those yourself and the PSU (which a lot of companies either skimp on or give you something too expensive in a prebuild). However fitting a processor on mobo with custom fan can be a pain in the arse, so unless you're experienced or willing to invest time over marginal cost I wouldn't recommend buying them separate these days. Overclocking is not difficult but having it done for you and tested saves time for pretty marginal money.

  13. #13
    Network Hub Peter Radiator Full Pig's Avatar
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    Part picker is a great site, and is the one I would try to make my build in. They search for the cheapest prices from a few different sites, and if you want you can override that selection, and tell it to take the prices from site x (Say amazon, cause you like their customer service, or what have you).
    It automatcially locks out parts that dont work together, though you can turn that off if you want, even in one situation telling me that although on paper graphics card x wouldnt fit into case y, you can remove certain insides to make it fit. I was quite impressed.

    Building it yourself is actually very easy, the only slightly off putting part is the thermal paste, and putting the fan onto the paste, other than that, its just parts that click in together.

    I will also say I love my r4 case. It has sound dampanening padding all around it, and I seriously cant hear it over the sound of the idling computers next to me. It is on the expensive side, though I got one with fractals PSU supplied as well, so I probably came out even.

    Newegg recently put up new build videos on their youtube page, both Intel and AMD (though almost everyone says to get intel these days for gaming).

  14. #14
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    For what it's worth I wish I had built one. Got this PC originally from a small local firm who are no longer in business. I've been fine replacing components over the years: the only original parts are the HDD, and I'm amazed that's not gone yet - the DVD, but I hardly ever use that - and the PSU, but that was a big, chunky 1000W thing.

    But now the front panel's shot (audio sockets do not work), and the front fan really needs replacing (it's not cutting it with the graphics card I just got - Mordor and Crysis 3 threaten to melt my CPU). There's no way of getting to them without taking the case apart (no fancy hinged front door or anything) and I'm petrified of doing it myself, but the labour charges people slap on everything round here are insane...

    I just can't help but think I'd be a lot more confident about the whole business if I'd have just put the original build together from scratch. As it is I'm all "I need to take the whole thing apart?" ;_;

    But maybe it's just me.

    EDIT: Oh, and if you do go for parts or you want to check what works with what I echo everyone else here who's recommending PartPicker. Great site.

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    ^ I felt the exact same way actually, until I built a system for the first time. I've now done gradual upgrades to most of the hardware in that system, so I'm sort of on my second DIY system. I still have one single item left from my last prebuilt system though, an old Samsung Spinpoint HDD. That thing just refuses to die.

    Building it yourself does give you some more confidence when replacing stuff. Instead you get to worry about whether you got the cable management tidy enough, and every little odd sound from your computer can raise doubts about whether you assembled something wrong.

    By the way, which case do you have?

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sakkura View Post
    By the way, which case do you have?
    A Thermaltake M9 VI1000 series. It's not too bad, and it's held up quite well for its age, but it really isn't designed for big components - I had to take the air funnel thing on the side panel off when I replaced the motherboard and CPU, because the CPU cooler I'd bought wouldn't fit otherwise. Replaced the mobo with a smaller one, too, so the front panel cables are stretched as it is. :(

    (The audio sockets on the front panel may well be my fault, though, or simply bad luck - they just slid back inside the case over time, and now any plug that goes in there can't touch the contacts.)

    It's running okay, it seems, but it's clearly struggling with the heat off the new card - it dissipates reliably in the end, idle temps are low enough once it gets there (so it's not bad thermal paste or anything - heat was fine with the old card) and weirdly not every high-end game sends the CPU or GPU spiking up to dangerous temps, but the airflow definitely needs work. The front (intake) fan is still working, but it's the one that came with the case, so I'm hoping if I do get a new one there things will improve.

    EDIT: Oh, not that it really matters, but the machine was originally a built-to-order thing - I didn't put it together myself but I told the shop what I wanted.
    Last edited by Eight Rooks; 29-10-2014 at 11:50 AM.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Sakkura's Avatar
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    From what I can tell the front bezel on that case can just be pulled right off.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sakkura View Post
    From what I can tell the front bezel on that case can just be pulled right off.
    Huh. Would certainly be helpful if that was/is the case, I guess!

    The heat issue doesn't seem to be quite as bad as I feared, or at least it's manageable for now - Mordor doesn't send the temps spiking if I keep it on medium textures. But the fan could certainly do with being replaced anyway, and I'd still like to be able to use the front panel sockets again.

    I'll have to take a (cautious) look at it some time.

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