I prefer a custom-made PC manufactured by me.
My PC's have the features I need--and none of the "crap" I don't need--because they're designed and manufactured by me.
When you buy an "off-the-shelf" computer such as HP/Compaq, Gateway, Emachines, etc you are getting a box filled with parts from whatever vendor was offering the lowest price this week. Since cost is the overriding concern, reliability is not something the manufacturer worries about--except of course that they want most of the machines to outlast the 1-year warranty and then drop dead as quickly as possible after that. While the computer is working, it comes with lots of "garbage software" on there to slow it down, and the OS and application software you've paid for are on a hidden "recovery partition"; no disks are provided. Once it breaks down, the repair costs are outrageously high, and the software you've paid for will not function on a different PC.
When you build your own computer, you are free to install quality parts that will provide years of reliable usage. You can install a quality power supply, quality motherboard, quality optical drives and hard drives, and so on. You are also able to obtain features that the "big boys" such as Dell and HP/Compaq no longer wish to provide, such as a built-in floppy drive, serial and parallel ports, and so on. And of course there's no "garbage software" to slow things down, and all of the software comes on genuine OEM disks purchased from the reseller where you bought the computer parts. If for some reason your custom PC breaks down, or you need to upgrade, the software you've paid for can still be installed and used.
And the cost savings of purchasing a brand name "ready-made" PC versus buying the parts yourself (which are vastly superior in quality) is not that much. Rather than pinch a few pennies and go with an OEM box that isn't going to last, I'd rather pay a little bit more and use the best quality parts so I can have a computer that will last for years to come.
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